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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 18, 2019

    Marijuana FieldState lawmakers have approved a series of bills reducing penalties for marijuana possession offenses and strengthening and expanding legal protections for medical cannabis patients. The measures now await action from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is supportive of the changes.

    DECRIMINALIZATION

    Senate Bill 323 amends minor marijuana possession penalties. The measure reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 15 days in jail — to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in instances where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, remain punishable by the possibility of jail time.

    Once signed into law, the reduced penalties take effect on July 1, 2019.

    MEDICAL CANNABIS

    Senate Bill 406 expands medical cannabis access and provides important new patient protections. It expands the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy to include those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, severe chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, and neuropathy, among other newly specified conditions. It also enacts explicit legal protections prohibiting employers, social service workers, and hospitals from arbitrarily discriminating against patients solely for their medical cannabis status and/or for their failure to pass a drug test. The measure prohibits regulators from placing limits on the percentage of THC or other cannabinoids in therapeutic products and it establishes reciprocity with other states’ medical cannabis programs.

    Separate legislation, Senate Bill 204 establishes regulations and procedures for the storage and administration of certain medical cannabis products to students in school settings.

    INDUSTRIAL HEMP

    House Bill 581 regulates the commercial production of industrial hemp and hemp-extract products in a manner that comports with provisions in the 2018 federal Farm Act. Under the legislation, “The department of environment shall issue permits … to extract, process or engage in other manufacturing activities regarding hemp, including manufacturing intermediate hemp-derived products and hemp finished products.” The effective date of the Act is July 1, 2019.

    LEGALIZATION

    House-backed legislation that sought to legalize the possession of marijuana by adults and regulate its commercial production and sale stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, after the Chair failed to call the bill for a vote. Nonetheless, Gov. Lujan Grisham has announced that she will add the issue to the agenda of the 2020 legislative session.

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate February 28, 2019

    Here in New Hampshire, there has been a great deal of progress in the last few years. Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature, ranging from legal hemp production to adult-use marijuana legalization, and the fight for freedom has never been more widely supported than now. New Hampshire residents overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization; in a recent poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, 68% of New Hampshirites support full marijuana legalization, and the New Hampshire General Court is finally listening to the will of the people and is pushing for meaningful marijuana reform.

    There have been so far been eight major reform bills introduced in the New Hampshire General Court during the current legislative session.

     

    — Bipartisan bill HB 481 would legalize the personal adult-use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana. It passed the House on 2/27/2019 by a vote of 209-147. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

    For more information on this bill and to send a message to your State Senator in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    — Bipartisan bill HB 399 would allow those convicted of past marijuana offenses to file a petition with the court to expunge any criminal records of the possession of three-fourths of an ounce of marijuana or less. This bill passed the House on 1/31 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

    For more information on this bill and to send a message to your State Senator in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    — Bills SB 175 and HB 461 would expand the qualifying conditions under New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program. S. 175 would allow physicians to recommend marijuana to any patient they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use, and HB 461 would allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from moderate to severe insomnia, moderate to severe anxiety, or Lyme disease. S. 175 was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee and HB 461 was referred to the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee on 1/03/2019.

    For more information on these bills and to send a message to your State lawmakers in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    — Bipartisan bill HB 459 would legalize the production of industrial hemp in the state of New Hampshire to be in compliance with current federal hemp regulations and establish rules for such production. It was referred to the Environment and Agriculture Committee on 1/03/2019.

    For more information on this bill and to send a message to your State Representative in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    — HB 350 would expand the number of medical professionals eligible to recommend medical cannabis by allowing physician assistants to issue recommendations to qualified patients. It was referred to the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee on 1/02/2019, which recommended that the bill “ought to pass with amendment” and will soon be brought to the House floor for a vote.

    For more information on this bill and to send a message to your State Representative in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    — HB 335 would expand access to medical cannabis by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensaries licenses in certain geographic areas of New Hampshire. It has passed the House and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

    For more information on this bill and to send a message to your State Senator in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    — Bipartisan bill HB. 364 would permit qualified patients to grow up to fourteen marijuana plants (two mature and twelve seedlings) and to possess up to six ounces of homegrown medical cannabis for their personal use. It was referred to the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee on 1/03/2019.

    For more information on this bill and to send a message to your State Representative in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    — HB 366 would expand New Hampshire’s list of qualifying conditions for the State’s medical marijuana program to include opioid dependence and withdrawal. It was referred to the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee on 1/03/2019.

    For more information on this bill and to send a message to your State Representative in support of this legislation, click here.

     

    Though reform is inevitable, it will not happen without activists such as yourself making your voices heard in the name of personal freedom. We need your help to keep fighting to legalize marijuana nationwide. Please send messages in support of the bills summarized herein to spur sensible marijuana reform in the Granite State.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 9, 2018

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly reaffirmed today that provisions lifting the federal prohibition of hemp will be included in the finalized language of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill). The must-pass legislation is currently being debated by leadership in conference committee.

    “If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there. I guarantee that,” McConnell told reporters in an exchange first reported by Marijuana Moment and The Hill. He added: “I don’t want to overstate this – I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not – but I do think it has a lot of potential. And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”

    The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’)

    Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, which permits states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

    Lawmakers are seeking to finalize and pass the 2018 farm legislation prior to year’s end.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 8, 2018

    United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today announced that he has secured provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to further expand and facilitate state-regulated hemp production.

    In a press release, McConnell acknowledged that provisions in S. 2667: The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 have now been incorporated into the Senate’s version of The Farm Bill (aka The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) — must-pass legislation that is approved by Congress every five years. Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee will consider the legislation on Wednesday, June 13.

    Senate Bill 2667 expands upon provisions (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill that permit states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

    In 2017, state-licensed producers grew over 39,000 acres of hemp, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    “Securing the Hemp Farming Act as part of the 2018 Farm Bill has been a top priority of mine,” said Senator McConnell. “I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues on this and many other issues important to Kentucky agriculture as we move towards consideration of the Farm Bill.

    He added: “As a result of the hemp pilot program, which I secured in the 2014 Farm Bill, Kentucky’s farmers, processors, and manufacturers have begun to show the potential for this versatile crop. Today’s announcement will build upon that progress to help the Commonwealth enhance its standing at the forefront of hemp’s return to American agriculture. I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues and my partners in Kentucky … to grow hemp’s bright future.”

    Senate Bill 2667 provides states and/or Indian tribes with “primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 2, 2018

    A three judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition filed by the Hemp Industries Association challenging the DEA’s authority to establish a new administrative drug code specifically for marijuana extracts. The DEA first announced the proposed rule change in 2011, but did not enact the new policy until January 13, 2017.

    In a decision filed on April 30, the Court rejected petitioners’ arguments – opining the DEA’s classification of marijuana extracts does not conflict with the provisions of either the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the ‘Farm Bill) or the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which limits the Justice Department from spending federal dollars to intervene in state-sanctioned activities involving marijuana or industrial hemp. The Court also dismissed petitioners’ argument that the rule substantively amended the federal Controlled Substances Act. Justices opined that such extract products, including those containing primarily CBD, were already classified under federal law as schedule I controlled substances.

    The DEA has long contended that it possesses broad regulatory authority over “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L.,” including “the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.” The agency includes among this definition products containing cannabidiol or any other non-THC cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant. It further states, “[T]he Agricultural Act of 2014 does not permit entities [who are not registered with the DEA] … to produce non-FDA-approved drug products made from cannabis.”

    Over a dozen states have enacted legislation in recent years exempting certain persons who possess extracts high in cannabinoid from criminal prosecution. Legislation to approve the retail sale of CBD extracts to adults in Kansas is awaiting gubernatorial action. Indiana lawmakers approved a similar law in April. Several pieces of legislation seeking to exclude CBD from the federal definition of marijuana are pending in Congress. In 2015, Nora Volkow, the Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, publicly acknowledged that CBD is “a safe drug with no addictive effects.”

    Petitioners say that they intend to appeal the ruling.

    The case is Hemp Industries Association et al., v. US Drug Enforcement Administration et al., (No. 17-70162).

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