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  • by NORML April 14, 2020

    In recent days, numerous states have taken steps to ensure that state-licensed cannabis facilities are explicitly permitted to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In several jurisdictions, lawmakers have designated these operations to be ‘essential’ to the health and well-being of the patient community. In others, regulators have either relaxed protocols or moved forward with new, emergency rules to facilitate expanded access – such as permitting patients to seek telemedicine appointments and allowing dispensaries to permit curbside pick-up and home delivery.

    NORML is encouraged that lawmakers and regulators are moving expeditiously to take these common-sense actions. State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said, “The reality that a growing number of jurisdictions have taken these important steps is further evidence of the degree to which above-ground cannabis access is now widely recognized to be an essential part of the fabric of our society, and is regarded as being crucial to patients’ health and welfare.”

    Below is a summary of the policies currently in place governing retail cannabis access during the COVID-19 outbreak. NORML will continue to update these policies accordingly in the coming days and weeks.

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director April 9, 2020

    Here at NORML, we take our work seriously. With so many unsubstantiated claims being made regarding cannabis and staying safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve compiled a list of resources for consumers and ways your activism can thrive during social distancing.

    Responsible Consumer Safety Tips

    Download tips

    NORML’s Responsible Consumer Safety Tips

    As a member of our NORML family, we earnestly care about your well-being. We all know a large part of what binds cannabis consumers together is community and sharing. However, while we are living through the current pandemic consumers should be more mindful of day-to-day consumption practices. Read and download NORML’s consumer safety tips.

    A NORML Reminder: Beware of COVID-19 Cure All Claims

    NORML wishes to reiterate its message that the public beware of online misinformation surrounding the use of either cannabis or CBD as a potential remedy for COVID-19. Read more.

    Download memo

    Download memo

    NORML Cannabis Policy Guidance Memo for Protecting Public Health During COVID-19 Crisis

    NORML and its national network of advocacy chapters released a memo to state lawmakers, regulators, prosecutors, and other interested parties providing guidance on how they can take emergency actions to better promote public health and welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more and download the memo to send it to policymakers in your community and state.

    States Taking Action to Ensure Uninterrupted Retail Access to Medical Cannabis During COVID-19 Outbreak

    Numerous states have taken steps to ensure that state-licensed cannabis facilities are explicitly permitted to maintain operations during the crisis. NORML is  tracking which states have deemed retail cannabis as essential services and which states have made allowances for curbside pickup, delivery, and telemedicine. View the up-to-date list.

    Urge Congress to Provide Small Business Relief to State-Licensed Cannabis Companies

    Representatives with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) recently reaffirmed that state-licensed cannabis businesses are ineligible for financial aid opportunities because marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Contact your federal lawmakers in support of this needed change to protect small businesses.

    NORML’s Voting Guide to Legalize Marijuana in Your State

    Despite the ongoing crisis, the November elections will still hold major implications for the future of legalization and other reform measures. Now, you can help NORML build the most comprehensive voter guide for cannabis ever created. Smoke the Vote already provides you with the voting records of all federal candidates, and we’re working on the state level candidates. View the guide and submit information for candidates in your state.

    We know these are tough times for many individuals and families. Working together and with the support of our communities, we will be able to get through this. If you are in a position to do so, please consider making a generous contribution to ensure that NORML can continue fighting for not just your rights, but the freedom and liberty of all responsible consumers. 

    Donate Now

     

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 2, 2020

    Eleven US Senators — Michael Bennett (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) — have sent a letter to leadership urging lawmakers to permit licensed cannabis operators to qualify for loans and other forms economic assistance available from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

    The Senators write:

    Over the last decade, there has been a clear shift in public opinion toward supporting the legalization of cannabis in the United States. Some states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, have legalized both the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis. States collected an estimated $1.3 billion in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales in 2018. However, SBA’s current policy excludes small businesses with “direct” or “indirect” products or services that aid the use, growth, enhancement, or other development of cannabis from SBA-backed financing. Consequently, small businesses in states with some form of legal cannabis must choose between remaining eligible for SBA loan programs, or doing business with a rapidly-growing and legal industry.

    Just two weeks ago, a representative from the Administration acknowledged, “With the exception of businesses that produce or sell hemp and hemp-derived products (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334), marijuana-related businesses are not eligible for SBA-funded services.”

    The Senators close their letter stating, “We strongly support ensuring that SBA loan programs are made available to all cannabis small businesses.”

    While the letter specifically calls for these changes to be made as part of the traditional appropriations process, which will not be concluded until September 2020 at earliest, one additional pathway would be to include legislative language in the next anticipated bill to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In this time of crisis and unprecedented federal support for the economy, with hundreds of billions of dollars being issued through the SBA to support small businesses, time is of the essence. To that end, NORML has called for SBA access to be included in our recently issued policy memo.

    Supporters of these changes can contact their federal lawmakers with NORML’s Action Center here. 

    Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NORML has been working with its Congressional allies to move forward several pieces of legislation, such as HR 3540: The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act, and HR 3884/S 2227: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act – which would both “prohibit the Small Business Administration from declining to provide certain small business loans to an eligible entity solely because it is a cannabis-related legitimate business or service provider.”

    The state-licensed cannabis industry employs more than 240,000 American workers, over four times the number of American workers as does the coal industry. The majority of these businesses are small-to-medium in size.

    Additional information about HR 3540: The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act is available online here.

  • by NORML March 23, 2020

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws wishes to reiterate its message that cannabis consumers and others beware of online misinformation surrounding the use of either whole-plant cannabis or CBD as a potential remedy for the COVID-19 virus.

    In this time of crisis, some predatory marketers are seeking to profit by selling a host of products under a variety of false or unsubstantiated claims. Some of these marketers are explicitly targeting cannabis consumers.

    For example, one recent CBD provider recently received warning letters from the US Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission for improperly marketing the agent as a key component of its COVID-19 prevention package.

    In Oregon, the state Attorney General ordered a Portland CBD retailers to remove misleading advertising claiming that the compound may boost one’s natural immunity to the virus. 

    In Vancouver, Canada, an unlicensed CBD distributor has come under fire for opining that their products can “help your body defend against COVID-19.”

    And according to a recent article in Forbes.com, e-mail mass marketers are spamming in-boxes with what purports to be a Fox News article promoting CBD oils and gummies as a novel COVID therapy.

    Yet despite these and other claims, including those spreading on social media, there is as of yet no substantiated clinical data supporting either the prophylactic or therapeutic use of cannabis products in the treatment of COVID-19. 

    In fact, because COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, NORML has previously suggested consumers – and in particular those patients who may be at greater risk – to either limit or altogether avoid their exposure to combustive smoke of any kind. (A greater discussion of these cannabis safety guidelines are available from NORML here.)

    Concluded NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri: “If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. During these difficult times, we encourage people to be skeptical of any unsubstantiated claims, particularly those circulating online, surrounding the use of cannabis or any other uncorroborated treatment for COVID-19.” 

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director March 16, 2020

    NORML Family,

    I wanted to reach out personally to you to address the current public health situation that is directly impacting all of our lives, and to discuss what this means for our shared goal of ending federal marijuana prohibition going forward.

    Since its founding in 1970, NORML has always had its doors and phone lines open to assist cannabis consumers across the country. Rest assured, that is not going to change. 

    We are taking this current public health emergency with the highest level of seriousness and precaution. While our physical office in Washington, DC is closed, our national staff possesses all of the tools they need to continue our operations unhindered while telecommuting from home. We are also encouraging all of our chapters and volunteers across the country to do the same and to follow the advice and protocols provided by the CDC, state officials, and most especially, by their local departments of health. What this ultimately means for you is that our phone lines are still open to field your questions and concerns (202-483-5500), and you can still reach out via email at norml@norml.org if you need assistance.

    For the past 50 years, we have worked together to combat our nation’s unjust marijuana laws. By doing so, we have also fostered a community. During this trying time, we must come together to protect this community, as well as the health and safety of others. We all need to take the COVID-19 threat seriously, and NORML encourages our members to keep up-to-date with CDC guidelines and advice regarding best practices here, as well as to follow the regional advice of your local health departments. This means practicing social distancing as much as is feasibly possible, and also staying indoors to the largest extent you can — especially if you are among those who are most vulnerable, such as elderly medical cannabis patients. For the time being, as is being advised, you should avoid attending large gatherings, instead taking a serious look at the opportunities afforded to us by modern technology to communicate and host events virtually through online platforms.

    Responsible Consumer Safety Tips

    Click here to view

    As a member of our NORML family, we earnestly care about your well-being. We all know a large part of what binds us together as cannabis consumers is community and sharing. However, while we are living through the current pandemic we should all be more mindful of our day-to-day consumption practices, and how the choices we make impact not only ourselves, but also those we care about. As long as cultures have consumed cannabis, the practice of sharing a joint among friends has been a common social practice. But given what we know about COVID-19 and its transmission, it would be mindful during this time to halt this behavior. 

    The cannabis community should take similar precautions when it comes to various other conduits for marijuana, including bowls, bongs, pipes, vape pens, etc. Avoid direct sharing and continually keep your personal collection clean, using 90%+ Isopropyl Alcohol is an effective and affordable way to clear any germs or pathogens off your pieces. Further, because COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, some of you may wish to limit or avoid their exposure to combustive smoke — as this can put undue stress and strain on the lungs. Alternative delivery devices, such as vaporizer heating devices can significantly mitigate combustive smoke exposure, and of course, the use of edibles or tinctures can eliminate smoke exposure entirely.

    To the extent you are able, it is also best to know where your cannabis is coming from. Cannabis from the unregulated market may potentially possess molds, pesticides, or other unwanted adulterants that could hamper one’s immune system. Whenever possible, try to obtain a lab-tested, regulated product – though we fully understand that most people in our country still live in a state that enforces prohibition and this is not a realistic option. This advice is especially pertinent for portable vaping devices, as unregulated products have been known to contain vitamin E and other dangerous additives that can harm the lungs. We also encourage everyone to remain vigilant of online misinformation (like any claims cannabis or CBD can help cure or protect against this virus) and to beware of potential scammers promoting similar claims.

    We know these are very anxious times for many of us. They are also difficult economically for many. Here at NORML, our staff and volunteers and loved ones are no different than you. During this time, we all share the same concerns: staying safe, taking care of our families, paying bills, and putting food on the table. While NORML has always been overwhelmingly sustained and funded by our grassroots supporters, we will be largely suspending direct fundraising asks at this time out of respect for the economic impact this situation is having on all of our lives. You should always be putting yourself and those you care about first. If you happen to be in a situation where you feel comfortable making a donation to NORML at this time, we certainly would be appreciative of any contributions you can provide. But no one should feel obligated to do so if it means placing any further undue financial strain on themselves.

    Lastly, I want to reassure you that we will indeed get through this. While marijuana law reform may not be a top priority for our legislators, the media, and the broader public for the time being, history informs us that these crises do not last forever. As an organization that will celebrate our 50th birthday later this year, we’ve survived through many difficult times. Many of those times it seemed like our issue would never return to the center stage and that our fight for justice would be waylaid. But every single one of those times we came out the other side stronger as a movement and continued to make advancements. This time will be no different. 

    NORML, with your efforts and support, has fought for your rights and the rights of all Americans for five decades and we certainly won’t be stopping now. In the coming weeks you will continue to hear from us about important marijuana news and about several projects that you can engage in from home to fight for our shared values. Let’s stand strong together as a family connected by those values and get through these difficulties united. 

    Be kind and care for yourself and others.

    My sincerest regards,

    Erik Altieri
    NORML Executive Director