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NORML Blog

  • by NORML March 25, 2019

    Today, the New Jersey state legislature delayed a key marijuana vote, possibly until November.

    According to a February 2019 Monmouth University poll, 62 percent of New Jersey adults support legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and 68 percent believe that legalizing marijuana would boost the state’s economy.

    NORML Political Associate Tyler McFadden said,

    “Voters and lawmakers both agree that the practice of treating marijuana consumers as second-class citizens must end. Unfortunately, legislative intransigence regarding how best to create a regulatory framework has resulted in, at least for now, a continuation of the failed policy of marijuana criminalization in the Garden State.”

    She added: “Criminalization is a policy that results in over 35,000 marijuana-related arrests annually in New Jersey — mostly for low-level marijuana possession. These arrests do not promote public safety, cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and disproportionately impact the poor and communities of color. It is pivotal that leadership continues to move forward to address and enact needed marijuana law reforms in New Jersey, including efforts to expunge past low-level marijuana convictions.”

    Finally, it should be acknowledged that, to date, no state has taken legislative action to regulate the adult use marijuana market. In every jurisdiction where regulations exist, they were enacted by a direct vote of the citizenry. Based on current polling in New Jersey, we have little doubt that, if provided the opportunity, Garden State voters would take similar action.”

    Senate President Steve Sweeney said:

    “While we are all disappointed that we did not secure enough votes to ensure legislative approval of the adult use cannabis bill today, we made substantial progress on a plan that would make significant changes in social policy.

    “Governor Murphy has shown real leadership in driving this issue. He worked with Speak Coughlin, with me, and with the bill’s sponsors and social justice advocates in a shared commitment to change failed drug laws and reform the criminal justice system.

    “This fight is not over. We need to learn from this experience and continue to move forward.

    “While this legislation is not advancing today, I remain committed to its passage. The Senate was very close to 21 votes and, with more education and advocacy; I believe we will get this legislation across the finish line.”

    According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrests for the commission of violent crimes (518,617) in 2017. Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over last year’s annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade.

    Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

    Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

    Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

    Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator March 22, 2019

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

    The U.S. House Financial Services Committee has scheduled to convene a markup on The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595 on Tuesday, March 26th.

    Activists in Oregon have filed a 2020 ballot initiative with the Secretary of State that, if approved, would allow social cannabis consumption sites and protect consumers from employment discrimination. Similarly, activists in Arizona are attempting to qualify a 2020 legalization ballot initiative.

    Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida signed legislation into law to restore patients’ right to smoke medical cannabis.

    Governor Ralph Northam (D) of Virginia signed legislation into law that will allow medical cannabis oil to be administered to patients on school property.

    Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York announced that marijuana legalization language will no longer appear in his budget proposal.

    At a more local level, city commissioners in Lawrence, Kansas voted 4 to 1 to reduce the city’s fine for cannabis possession to $1. And Steelton Borough, Pennsylvania passed an ordinance to decriminalize up to 30 grams of cannabis possession.

    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

    California

    Senate Bill 34 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

    Update: SB 34 was approved by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 3/20.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 223, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    The measure permits a parent or guardian to administer medical cannabis to their child patient on school grounds in a non-smoking and non-vaping form.

    Update: SB 223 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/26 at 1:30pm.

    CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

    Colorado

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

    Update: HB 19-1028 was approved by the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services on 3/14, and then was approved by the Senate on 3/20. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

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

    Connecticut

    Lawmakers in Connecticut have introduced a package of bills specific legalizing and regulating the use and sale of marijuana by adults, and facilitating equity in the industry.

    Senate Bill 1085 permits those age 21 and over to purchase and possess up to one and one half ounces of marijuana. The measure would also allow those with past marijuana possession convictions to petition the court to have their record expunged.

    Separately, House Bill 7371 would establish a regulatory framework for the licensed retail sale of adult use marijuana.

    Update: SB 1085 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/22, and HB 7371 was heard by the House General Law Committee on 3/22.

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

    Delaware

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 45, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders.

    Under state law, adults face civil penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses. Senate Bill 45 would make this policy consistent for juvenile offenders.

    DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions for juveniles

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 59, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants and nurse practitioners to issue recommendations to their patients.

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

    Georgia

    House Bill 324 seeks to establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

    Update: HB 324 was heard by the Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee on 3/21.

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

    Hawaii

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1383, that would decriminalize certain marijuana possession offenses.

    The bill would would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to three grams of marijuana, punishable by a $30 fine.

    Update: HB 1383 was heard and approved by the Committees on Judiciary and Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs on 3/19. The bill was amended to lower the fine from $200 to $30.

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

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure would protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination by prohibiting employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume medical cannabis off-the-job in accordance with state law.

    Update: HB 673 was heard and approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health on 3/21. The bill was amended to strip out provisions that would allow the sale of medical cannabis edible products and permit physician assistants to issue recommendations. But a provision to protect patients from employment discrimination was added.

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

    Senate Bill 1353 seeks to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 1352 was heard by the House Committee on Judiciary on 3/18.

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

    Illinois

    House Bill 902 – The Cannabis Legalization Equity Act would regulate the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of adult use marijuana.

    The measure would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 224 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to 24 mature plants in their home.

    Update: HB 902 was heard in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee on 3/19.

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

    House Bill 2493 allows those convicted of possessing up to 30 grams of cannabis to petition the court to have their records automatically expunged.

    House Bill 2734 would call for a review of past convictions and would establish a process to automatically expunge the records of individuals who were convicted of certain marijuana possession offenses.

    House Bill 2621 would allow individuals to petition the court for expungement of marijuana possession convictions for activity that has since been decriminalized.

    House Bill 3392 would automatically limit access to criminal records of individuals who have completed all court orders and have gone ten years without any additional felony or misdemeanor convictions.

    Update: All four bills were heard in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee on 3/19.

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

    House Bill 2980 / Senate Bill2023 would amend the Illinois Banking Act and the Illinois Credit Union Act in a manner that facilitates banks and other financial institutions to safely conduct transactions with licensed marijuana businesses.

    Update: HB 2980 was heard in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee on 3/19. SB 2023 was approved by the Senate Financial Institutions Committee on 3/20.

    IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

    A majority of the members of Illinois’ House of Representatives have added their names as cosponsors to a resolution urging lawmakers hit the brakes on the marijuana legalization debate.

    The resolution states, “Lawmakers should not rush irresponsible legislation purely for tax revenues but should consider the health and safety of Illinoisans as their first priority when considering the question of legalization.”

    IL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to stalling the legalization debate

    Kansas

    Legislation is pending, SB 233 / HB 2173, to establish an industrial hemp program to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 2173 was approved by the House Committee on Agriculture on 3/20.

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

    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 was heard in the Senate on 3/19.

    ME resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of reimbursement for patients

    Legislation is pending, LD 1374, to allow licensed dispensaries and caregivers to home deliver medical cannabis to select patients.

    ME resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis delivery services

    Maryland

    Legislation is pending, HB 33 / SB 893, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

    Update: SB 893 was approved by the Senate on 3/15, and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on 3/27 at 1:00pm..

    MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 857 / House Bill 17, to allow licensed dispensaries to sell edible medical cannabis products.

    Update: SB 857 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 3/15, and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on 3/27 at 1:00pm.

    MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis edible products

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 854, to mandate employers and/or their insurers to provide worker’s compensation for those who may require medical cannabis therapy as a result of an occupational injury.

    MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of workers compensation for medical cannabis

    Minnesota

    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: SF 1070 was heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy on 3/21.

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

    Nevada

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 228, to expand Nevada’s medical cannabis access program.

    The proposed changes:

    • Allows wellness service providers such as massage therapists, reflexologists, and structural integration practitioners to recommend and administer cannabis and hemp infused products for therapeutic purposes;
    • Prohibits a practitioner from refusing to prescribe a controlled substance to a patient solely because the patient uses marijuana; and
    • Establishes a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the state’s medical marijuana access program.

    Update: SB 228 was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/20.

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

    New Hampshire

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

    Update: The House Ways and Means Committee will hold an executive session on HB 481 on 3/27.

    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 three mature plants and 12 seedlings, and to possess up to two ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

    Update: HB 364 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/26/2019, Room 101, Legislative Office Building at 2:15 pm.

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

    Legislation is pending, HB 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    Update: HB 364 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/26/2019, Room 101, Legislative Office Building at 1:15 pm.

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

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: HB 459 was approved by the House of Representatives on 3/19.

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

    New Jersey

    Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act would regulate adult use marijuana sales and also provide for the expungement of certain past records.

    Update: S. 2703 was heard and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4497 was heard and approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18. The bills are scheduled to be considered by the full chambers on Monday 3/25.

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

    S. 3205 / A. 4498, would make more crimes eligible for expungement — including offenses involving controlled dangerous substances — and cut the wait time down to five years. It also includes a “clean slate” process that will wipe away all offenses at once for anyone who has a clean record for 10 years after their last offense. Many more serious crimes would not be eligible.

    Update: S. 3205 was heard and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/18, and A. 4498 was heard and approved the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18. The bills are scheduled to be considered by the full chambers on Monday 3/25.

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

    Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 10 seek to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

    The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis growers and providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It further expands the pool of licensed health professional who may recommend medical cannabis, and shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody. It also phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, amongst other changes.

    Update: A. 10 was heard and approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 3/18. The bills are scheduled to be considered by the full chambers on Monday 3/25.

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

    New Mexico

    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 House of Representatives on 3/16, and no heads to the governor’s desk.

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

    New York

    Legislation is pending, S.4117, that would prohibit the eviction of tenants for using medical marijuana for a certified medical use.

    Update: S. 4117 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee on 3/26 at 10:30am in Room 123 CAP.

    NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of housing protections

    North Carolina

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 168, to expand the state’s medical CBD exemption law.

    The measure expands the pool of individuals eligible for a medical CBD exemption to include those diagnosed with autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and Mitochondrial disease.

    Update: S. 168 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/20.

    NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded medical CBD exemptions

    North Dakota

    House Bill 1417 allows physicians to explicitly authorize patients diagnosed with cancer to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

    Separately, House Bill 1519 would permit providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with 13 additional conditions, including anorexia nervosa, anxiety, opioid use disorder or withdrawal, and autism.

    A third measure, House Bill 1283, would allow physicians assistants to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.

    And a separate measure, House Bill 1364, would permit edible medical cannabis products, as long as they do not appeal to minors.

    Update: HB 1417, 1519, and 1283 were all approved by the Senate Human Services Committee. HB 1364 was reported out of committee without a recommendation.

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

    Oklahoma

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 868 / House Bill 2628, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 868 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 3/18, and will now be transmitted to the House.

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

    Oregon

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 3169, which seeks to allow licensed cannabis businesses to safely conduct transactions with financial institutions.

    If passed, this legislation would allow banking institutions and credit unions to organize as limited charter cannabis financial institutions.

    Update: HB 3169 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Economic Development Committee on 3/25 at 1pm in room HR D.

    OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of banking access

    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 was approved by the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee on 3/20, and will next be considered by the full committee.

    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 heard in the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee on 3/21.

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

    Tennessee

    Legislation is pending, SB 256/HB 235, to decriminalize the possession small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee.

    The measure would remove criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Update: HB 235 was placed on the calendar for a hearing in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 3/27.

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

    Legislation is pending, SB 260/HB 234, to allow out-of-state medical cannabis patients to legally possess their medicine while visiting Tennessee.

    Under this measure, patients who are registered to use medical cannabis in those 33 jurisdictions that permit its therapeutic use may legally possess up to a half-ounce of cannabis while visiting Tennessee.

    Update: HB 234 was placed on the calendar for a hearing in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 3/27.

    TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of out-of-state protections

    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: HB 844 was heard by the House Rules Committee on 3/21, and will be considered by the full House on 3/25.

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

    Vermont

    S. 54 would establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

    Update: S. 54 was heard by the House Committee on Government Operations on 3/20.

    VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulation

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 58, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: S. 58 was approved by the Senate Committees on Finance, Agriculture, and Appropriations on 3/22.

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

    Washington

    Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.

    Update: SB 5605 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Public Safety on 3/25 at 1:30pm.

    WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of vacating past records

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1095 / Senate Bill 5442, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    Update: HB 1095 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education on 3/27 at 1:30pm.

    WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    Update: SB 5276 is scheduled for an executive session in the House Committee on Commerce & Gaming.

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

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 20, 2019

    A widely reported study appearing today in the British journal The Lancet alleges that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of psychosis cases in Europe are due to cannabis exposure, and that exposure to elevated levels of THC increases this risk.

    NORML has previously written on the data showing a multi-directional association between cannabis and psychiatric illnesses, and we have cautioned that those predisposed to psychosis or other disorders may be at higher risk for adverse events.

    That said, it remains premature at best, and sensational at worst to claim that a causal relationship exists between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders on the basis of this new paper. That is because, by the observational nature of its design, this study at best can only demonstrate a correlation.

    Nonetheless, despite this limitation, the authors boldly “assume causality.” Given the fact that such a cause-and-effect relationship remains unproven and there as of yet exists no consensus among experts that such causation exists, their assumption is, at best, highly questionable.

    Moreover, it is well established that those with psychiatric illness typically use all intoxicants at greater rates than do the general public, so the fact that those admitted to institutions for first-episode psychosis are more likely to consume cannabis than are those in the general population is hardly surprising. But it is not evidence that marijuana in any way causes the condition. Rather, this association may exist because many psychiatric patients are self-medicating with cannabis. Or, this relationship may persist because many people predisposed to psychosis are similarly predisposed to also using cannabis — a theory that is supported by many experts in the field.

    Perhaps most importantly, the fact that cannabis has been used by various populations for decades at disparate rates, yet rates of psychosis and other psychiatric disorders have generally remained static over this same period of time, strongly argues against a direct causal relationship.

    Finally, authors’ presumptions specific to the supposed disparate effects of cannabis based upon THC potency are also highly questionable. This is because subjects in the study self-reported their cannabis use. As a result, authors had no ability to verify the THC content of the marijuana consumed by participants. Further, the cannabis consumed by subjects in the study was largely obtained via black market channels — leaving the users equally in the dark with regard to its actual cannabinoid content.

    Nonetheless, despite these limitations, the concerns raised in this paper and others ought to be taken seriously, and they provide an argument in favor of greater regulation of the plant so that it can be better kept out of the hands of young people and those who may be at higher risk for an adverse reaction. But maintaining cannabis prohibition, unfortunately, achieves neither result. Placed in this context, these latest scare-mongering claims — even if taken at face value — do little to advance arguments in favor of tightening prohibition, and provides ample ammunition to wage for its repeal.

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate

    In some big news out of New Jersey, several marijuana reform bills have been voted out of their committees and are awaiting floor votes.

    Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497 have both passed out of their committees and are set to be voted on as early as Monday, March 25th. These bills would legalize the personal possession of one ounce or less of cannabis and would regulate and tax the adult-use and retail sale. Some highlights of this landmark legislation are-

    • Expedited expungement of past misdemeanor marijuana convictions
    • Taxing marijuana sales at three-percent, which will be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist
    • Incentives to promote socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry

    Governor Phil Murphy, one of the driving forces of marijuana legalization in the state since taking office in January, has already signaled his intent to sign a legalization bill once it gets to his desk. However, the margins in the New Jersey State Legislature are still very close, with a slight majority of the legislators being in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult-use in the state. With several state lawmakers still on the fence about legalization, input from residents of New Jersey is of paramount importance. Legalizing marijuana would result in dozens of positive impacts for New Jerseyans and cannot happen without the support of reform-minded residents who are committed to personal freedom in New Jersey.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of legalizing marijuana in the Garden State.

     

    Other legislation, Senate Bill 3205 and Assembly Bill A4498 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would allow for the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions after marijuana legalization is signed into law in New Jersey. It reduces the wait time for expungement and expands the list of convictions eligible for expungement upon marijuana legalization in the state.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

     

    Separate legislation, Senate Bill S10 and Assembly Bill A10 have both passed out of their committees and are awaiting scheduled votes. These bills would expand the state’s medical marijuana program to allow for greater accessibility and protections for qualified patients. It increases the amount of medical cannabis a qualified patient is legally allowed to purchase and possess, protects patients from losing their jobs or custody of their children simply because of their status as a medical patient, and phases out retail sales taxes on medical marijuana to make the program more affordable for patients.

    Are you a New Jersey resident? Click here to send a message to your legislators in support of this effort.

     

    ___________________________________________________

     

  • by NORML March 19, 2019

    In the first in what are anticipated to be multiple Congressional hearings to address the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, the House Financial Services Committee has scheduled to convene a markup on The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595 on Tuesday, March 26th.

    Thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships. This ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis — an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of these business’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.

    NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

    “This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. In order to best support the states that have had the good judgment to license and regulate businesses to produce, manufacture, or distribute cannabis, it is critical that Congress address the lack of basic banking services and amend federal law accordingly.

    “The banking issue is just one aspect of the failed policy of federal marijuana criminalization. In order to truly bring the marijuana industry out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to amend this, and many others, outdated and discriminatory practices.

    “This will certainly not be the last hearing of this Congress to discuss marijuana prohibition and we expect a full hearing on prohibition to be scheduled in the months to come.”

    The sponsor of The SAFE Banking Act, Congressman Ed Perlmutter said, “For six years, Congress has failed to act on the issue of cannabis banking, putting thousands of employees, businesses, and communities at risk. However, the issue is finally receiving the attention it deserves with the first-ever congressional hearing and now a scheduled committee vote. With 97.7% of the U.S. population living in a state where voters have legalized some form of adult recreational, medical or limited-medical use of marijuana, congressional inaction is no longer an option. And with broad, bipartisan support in the House, I look forward to the SAFE Banking Act continuing to move forward in the Financial Services Committee and on the floor of the House.”

    You can send a message to your member of Congress in support of The SAFE Banking Act here. 

    Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

    Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

    Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

    Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

    Send a message to your member of Congress in support of The SAFE Banking Act now!

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