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NORML Blog

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 12, 2019

    After months of negotiation, Governor Murphy and NJ state legislators have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the state of New Jersey. Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

    Though this is a monumental step towards expanding personal freedoms for New Jerseyans, the fight is not over. The bill, yet to be released, still needs to garner enough support in the New Jersey state legislature in order to get to Governor Murphy’s desk. We need urgent action from New Jersey residents to make adult-use cannabis legalization a reality in the Garden State.

    Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

    New Jersey ranks second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color — who are arrested in New Jersey for violating marijuana possession laws at approximately three times the rate of whites — financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, and engenders disrespect for the law.

    It’s time for New Jersey to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of its residents by joining the 10 states (and Washington DC) that have passed sensible marijuana reform.

    Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

    This week, the Minority Cannabis Business Association unveiled their Municipal Ordinance model on how localities can administer new business licenses in a fashion that promote minority entrepreneurs and ensure that the emerging industry will not be dominated by a flood on new investors who have not been harmed by the consequences of prohibition.

    As states continue dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were most negatively impacted by our oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied as best as possible and be given the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. With states beginning to define this new industry, the newly created licensing bodies should prioritize ease of access to the market for consumers and those who were previously targeted by anti-marijuana laws, in addition to supporting small businesses and diversity over corporate greed.

    “The Model Ordinance is a statement from the communities we represent to the local lawmakers, regulators, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders who are building our nation’s cannabis industry one town at time–social equity is not only possible, it should be the industry standard moving forward. Our work gives those actors the tools they need to make equity a present reality in our industry rather than a lost opportunity,” said Khurshid Khoja, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee.

    Communities of color have disproportionately suffered for decades because of our racist enforcement of marijuana laws and that must be addressed in the age of legalization through policies such as these equity programs and expungement of previous charges. Historically, African-Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both ethnicities consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.

    Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union report The War on Marijuana In Black and White (2013) concluded: “[O]n average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small Black populations. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”

    “With this ordinance urban centers across the country will be able to access the economic opportunities created by equity programs and we look forward to supporting that work across the country,” Jason Ortiz, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee and Vice President of MCBA said of their new model ordinance.

    You can find the MCBA Model Ordinance to share with your local lawmakers HERE.

    You can find the NORML Factsheet on the racial disparity of cannabis criminalization HERE.

    You can follow MCBA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, plus learn more at https://minoritycannabis.org/

  • by NORML March 11, 2019

    Happy birthday, NORML!49 years ago, Keith Stroup founded NORML to end marijuana prohibition. Now, 10 states and DC have legalized the adult-use of marijuana, and more than two-thirds of the country has legalized medical cannabis. We’ve moved mountains, thanks to good people like you.

    support norml

    Our birthday wish this year is simple: let’s legalize America. Today, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating the progress we’ve made and stand strong with us in the fight for freedom.

    Happy birthday, NORML!

     

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator March 8, 2019

    Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    This week, a bipartisan coalition of more than 100 co-sponsors has reintroduced legislation in Congress, The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act), HR 1595, to allow state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to engage freely in relationships with banks and other financial institutions.

    Activists in Nebraska, along with two pro-legalization Senators, qualified a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative petition to begin collecting signatures from registered voters in the state.

    North Dakota’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors last week in Fargo; and registered out-of-state medical cannabis patients will now be able to access their medicine while visiting Hawaii.

    Governor Mark Gordon (R) of Wyoming signed industrial hemp production legislation into law.

    A marijuana legalization proposal in Hawaii was defeated after it failed to pass through two committees before a key deadline last week.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list, and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Actions to Take

    Federal

    End Prohibition: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of this important legislation

    Alabama

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 96, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    The measure would reduce the penalty for the possession of one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $6,000, to a non-criminal violation punishable by a maximum fine of $250.

    AL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Arkansas

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 440, to prohibit the availability of cannabis-infused food and drink products for qualified patients.

    Update: SB 440 was heard by the Senate Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development Committee on 3/4, and then by the Senate Public Health, Welfare And Labor Committee on 3/5, but no action has been taken yet.

    AR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to a ban on edibles

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1518, to remove hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the state’s list of controlled substances.

    Update: HB 1518 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/11/2019.

    AR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of descheduling CBD

    Colorado

    House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

    Update: HB 19-1028 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on 3/14 at 2:30pm in Room LSB-B.

    CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Delaware

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 24, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

    The measure would give doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use.

    DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of letting doctors, not politicians, decide when to recommend medical cannabis

    Florida

    Multiple pieces of legislation are pending to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

    Update: SB 182 was approved by the full Senate by a 34-4 vote on 3/7. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

    FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of repealing the ban on smoking

    Legislation is pending, H. 333, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: H.333 was approved by the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee on 3/6.

    FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    Georgia

    House Bill 324 seeks to expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.

    The pending legislation seeks to establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

    Update: HB 324 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/5 by a 123-40 vote.

    GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical CBD access

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1383, that would decriminalize certain marijuana possession offenses. The bill would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to three grams of marijuana, punishable by a $200 fine.

    The measure would also establish a system to expunge certain past cannabis convictions.

    Update: HB 1383 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/7, and now heads to the Senate.

    HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Iowa

    HSB 234, would remove the cap on allowable THC, and allow physicians assistants and advanced registered nurses to recommend medical cannabis to patients.

    Update: HSB 244 was approved by the House Public Safety Committee on 3/7.

    IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Kansas

    HB 2163 / SB 113: The Veterans First Medical Cannabis Act regulates herbal medical cannabis access to qualified patients. It prioritizes access to veterans — who will be first to be granted access under the law. Sixty-days after the law becomes operational, other patients will then be able to apply for access.

    Update: SB 113 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on 3/14 at 9:30am in room 118-N.

    KS resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Kentucky

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 136, to permit physicians to authorize access to medical cannabis for any patient whom they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use.

    The measure allows registered patients to use, possess, and cultivate specified quantities of medical marijuana.

    Update: HB 136 was approved by the House judiciary Committee by a 16-1 vote on 3/6. The bill will now go to the Rules Committee for consideration.

    KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Maine

    Legislation is pending, LD 942, to require health insurance companies to reimburse patients for their out-of-pocket medical marijuana related costs.

    Update: LD 942 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate on 3/14/2019 at 1:00pm in Cross Building, Room 220

    ME resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of reimbursement for medical marijuana costs

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 864, House Bill 794, and House Bill 1239, to protect registered medical cannabis patients and their caregivers from employment discrimination.

    If passed, this measures would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against qualifying patients who legally consume cannabis off-the-job.

    Update: HB 1239 is schedule for a hearing in the House on 3/11 at 1:00pm. HB 794 is scheduled for a hearing in the House on 3/13 at 1:00pm.

    MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

    Minnesota

    Multiple pieces of legislation are pending regarding the regulation of adult use marijuana in Minnesota.

    Companion legislation, SF 619 / HF 420, seek to permit the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults in Minnesota.

    Additionally, companion measures HF 717 / SF 897 would establish a task force “to advise the legislature on the legalization, taxation, and regulation of cannabis production, sale, and use by those 21 years of age or older in the state.”

    Update: SF 619 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy on 3/11 at 1:00pm in Room 1100 Minnesota Senate Bldg. HF 717 was heard and approved by the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee on 3/5.

    MN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Legislation is pending, HF 766 / SF 1070, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

    The measure would:

    • Authorize each dispensary to open four additional locations in specified areas throughout the state
    • Allow specific formulations of medical cannabis to be administered to qualified patients on school grounds

    Update: HF 766 was heard by the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee on 3/5, and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Commerce Committee on 3/12.

    MN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Missouri

    House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

    Update: HB 341 was approved by the Rules Committee by a 6-1 vote on 3/6.

    MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

    The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants.

    Update: HB 481 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee on 3/14 at 11am.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 364, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    The measure would permit patients to grow up to two mature plants and 12 seedings, and to possess up to six ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

    Update: HB 364 was approved by the House of Representatives on a voice vote on 3/7, and the bill now heads to the Senate.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

    A separate proposal is also pending to permit adult use marijuana sales, Senate Bill 577, with retail stores being regulated and operated by the state government as opposed to being privately operated.

    Update: SB 577 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/4. HB 356 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/7 by a 36-34 vote. The bill was amended so that retail stores would be state-run instead of being privately owned and operated, and would require consumers to keep receipts for their legally purchased marijuana, or risk facing prosecution. The new version does not allow for home cultivation and also reduces the legal possession limit from two ounces to one.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Senate Bill 406:

    • Allows medical practitioners to recommend medical cannabis for several new conditions, including PTSD, Parkinson’s, and severe chronic pain;
    • Prohibits employers from taking adverse action on an employee due to a positive drug test result or their status as a patient
    • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
    • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
    • Protects patients who require organ transplants

    Update: SB 406 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/2/2019. The bill was then approved by the full Senate on 3/7/2019. The bill now heads to the House.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Senate Bill 323 removes the threat of jail time as a penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing up to one half an ounces of marijuana.

    Senate Bill 408 reduces the penalty for the possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, but does not remove the threat of jail time.

    Update: Both bills were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/2/2019. SB 323 was then approved by the full Senate on 3/5 by a 30-8 vote, and will now be transmitted to the House.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of possession penalty reductions

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    Update: SB 204 was approved by the House Health & Human Services Committee on 3/6. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Committee on 3/9/2019.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis for patients at school

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 477, to protect the rights of parents and guardians who participate in the state’s medical cannabis access program.

    The measure states that an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient “shall not in itself constitute grounds for intervention, removal or placement into state custody of a child in that individual’s care.”

    Update: SB 477 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/8.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of parental protections

    Oklahoma

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2612, to strengthen and clarify medical cannabis patient protections.

    Key provisions of the proposal include:

    • A patient or caregiver license cannot be used to deny eligibility in public assistance programs
    • Patients cannot be denied the right to own, purchase, or possess a firearm or ammunition.
    • Employers cannot refuse to hire, discipline, discharge, or penalize an applicant or employee because of one’s status as a medical patient or positive drug test result
    • Reduced application fees for disabled veterans

    Update: HB 2612 was heard and approved by the Senate Committee On Rules on 3/5.

    OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of strengthening patient protections

    South Carolina

    H. 3660 / S. 366: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act would regulate medical cannabis distribution and access, but it prohibits the inhalation or smoking of herbal medical cannabis.

    Update: S. 366 is scheduled for a hearing in a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee on 3/13/2019 at 10:30am in Gressette Room 308.

    SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access

    Legislation is pending, H 3449, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: H 3449 was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on 3/5.

    SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    South Dakota

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1191, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program that will operate in compliance with newly enacted federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 1191 was approved by the Senate on 3/5, but it did not get the supermajority needed to pass. Members of the Senate reconsidered the bill on 3/6, and approved it by a 21-14 vote.

    SD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    Tennessee

    Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 357 was approved by the full Senate on 3/7/2019. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on HB 844 on 3/13/2019.

    TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

    Utah

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 431, to allow those with certain misdemeanor cannabis convictions to have their records automatically expunged.

    Update: HB 431 was heard and approved by the House Economic Development and Workforce Services on 3/5. The bill was then approved by the full House on 3/7, and now heads to the Senate.

    UT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

    Senate Bill 161, that would strengthen protections for medical cannabis patients, and make other technical changes to the state’s nascent medical cannabis access program.

    The proposed changes:

    • Provide certain employment protection for a state or political subdivision employee who declines to participate in a job duty required by the state’s medical cannabis laws;
    • Repeal a provision allowing courts to discriminate against a parent based solely upon their lawful use of medical cannabis during a custody proceeding; and
    • Amend the decriminalization provision to include protections for parents and legal guardians of certain minor patients.

    Update: SB 161 was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 3/4. The bill was then considered by the full House on 3/7, and they decided on a voice vote to postpone consideration.

    UT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded medical proctetions

    West Virginia

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 2538, to allow the State Treasurer to select financial institutions to provide services to licensed marijuana businesses.

    The measure mandates that the “Commissioner of Financial Institutions shall not prohibit, penalize, incentivize, or otherwise impair a financial institution from providing services to a person or entity involved in a medical cannabis-related business functioning under the Medical Cannabis Act solely because the person or entity is a grower, processor, dispensary, owner of any proportion, operator, employee, patient, caregiver, family or household member, financial broker, or other similar person or entity of a medical cannabis-related business operating in accordance with the Medical Cannabis Act.”

    Update: HB 2538 was approved by the full Senate on 3/5, and will now be transmitted to the Governor.

    WV resident? Click here to email your governor in support of banking access

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    Lawmakers in several states have recently moved forward legislative proposals to either legalize or decriminalize marijuana-related activities. Here is a look at where some of these efforts currently stand.

    LEGALIZATION

    New Hampshire: By a margin of 209 to 147, House members voted late last week in favor of House Bill 481, which legalizes the possession and cultivate of personal use quantities of cannabis by adults, and establishes a licensed system of commercial production and retail sales. The measure awaits action in the Senate and faces opposition from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who has pledged to veto any legalization bill, “regardless of what the language looks like.”

    New Mexico: Members of the House voted 36 to 34 in favor of HB 356, which establishes a system of licenses, state-run marijuana retailers. Members of the Senate have until March 16 to act on the bill.

    Vermont: Members of the Senate last week passed SB 54 by a vote of 23 to 5. The measure expands existing law to permit the state-licensed production and sale of cannabis to those age 21 or older. The measure now awaits action from members of the House.

    DECRIMINALIZATION:

    Hawaii: House members approved HB 1383, which removes criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses (up to three grams) and expunges past criminal convictions. The measure now heads to the Senate.

    New Mexico: Members of the Senate on Tuesday voted 30 to 8 in favor of SB 323, which reduces possession penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis to a $50 fine and no criminal record. It now goes to the House for further action.

    OTHER REFORM BILLS

    Florida: Senate members this week overwhelmingly approved legislation, SB 182, to lift the ban on the smoking of medical cannabis and/or the possession of herbal formulations of the plant. House members are expected to address the measure on Wednesday.

    New Mexico: Members of the Senate overwhelmingly (33 to 2) passed SB 406 to expand greater medical access and to limit discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere against qualified patients. It now awaits action from the House.

    Virginia: Legislation is before the Governor to expand the pool of health professionals who can approve cannabis therapy to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The measure, SB 1557, also permits qualifying patients access to a broader spectrum of products containing both plant-derived CBD and THC.

    West Virginia: Legislation (HB 2538) to facilitate banking access for the medical cannabis industry is awaiting action from the Governor. If signed into law, it mandates that the “Commissioner of Financial Institutions shall not prohibit, penalize, incentivize, or otherwise impair a financial institution from providing services to a person or entity involved in a medical cannabis-related business.”

    For a complete summary of marijuana-specific bills pending statewide, visit NORML’s Legislative Action Center here.

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