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  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate April 27, 2018

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

    A lot of action was taken in Congress this week.  A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has introduced legislation, the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis. The act ends the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes, by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers. And Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has publicly announced her intention of filing legislation to protect lawful medical marijuana users from housing discrimination. The forthcoming measure explicitly permits qualified patients to consume marijuana in federally-assisted housing, including public housing and the Section 8 housing program.

    Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced his intention to include the language of the Hemp Farming Act as an amendment to the 2018 version of the federal Farm Bill, which Congress is expected to take action upon in May. Sen McConnell also placed the bill on the Senate calendar using a procedural move that permits the issue to be voted on the Senate floor without going through the committee process first.

    At the state level, Michigan election officials have confirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure, The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, have gathered enough signatures from registered voters to place it on the ballot this November. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to grow and possess personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

    Also, Governor Jeff Colyer of Kansas, Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska have all recently signed legislation into law to establish industrial hemp pilot programs in their state. On a similar note, the New Mexico Supreme Court has allowed two bills to become law that were previously vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez, clearing the way for farmers to obtain licenses from the Deptartment of Agriculture to grow hemp for research and development purposes.

    Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act 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 at the federal level.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

    The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

    Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    Vermont

    H. 167, which regulates the retail supply and sale of cannabis to adults, passed the Senate last year prior to stalling in the House. Lawmakers have placed H. 167 on the calendar for action for 4/17. Separate legislation, H. 490, to also regulate the retail production and sale of cannabis to adults, is still awaiting action from the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs.

    VT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of regulating the retail sale of cannabis

    Pennsylvania

    Senate Resolution 258 seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. If passed, the resolution would urge Congress to take action to amend federal law so that states could regulate cannabis absent undue federal interference.

    Update: SR 258 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/25.

    PA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of descheduling cannabis

    Illinois

    Medical
    Senate Bill 336 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.

    Update: SB 336 was approved by the Senate 44-6 on 4/26. It now awaits action from the House.

    IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

    Expungement
    House Bill 2367 provides for the automatic expungement of past marijuana possession or paraphernalia violations.

    The measure mandates the automatic expungement of any citation for a civil law violation of either: subsection (a) of Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act, or subsection (c) Section 3.5 of the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act. It also would allow those with certain past criminal marijuana convictions — those that occurred prior to the decriminalization of such offenses — to ask a judge to have the conviction expunged.

    Update: HB 2367 was approved by the Restorative Justice Committee on 4/24 by an 8-2 vote. It is expected to be considered by the full House on 4/27.

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

    California

    Assembly Bill 2069 would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Update: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee held a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/25, and then approved the bill. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of patient employment protections

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    New Hampshire

    House Bill 1476 seeks to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use. The bill already passed the House last month.

    Update: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 on 4/25 to recommend that HB 1476 be sent to ‘interim study,’ but the bill is still expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks.

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

    Iowa

    Senate File 2372 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabidiol (CBD) law. The measure will remove the arbitrary 3 percent cap on THC content, and would allow doctors to recommend CBD to those suffering from chronic pain as well as to any other patient for whom they believe it would benefit.

    Update: The Iowa State Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 13 to 3 to approve the bill on 4/23.

    IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical CBD expansion

    Illinois

    Senate Bill 2298 would expand the state’s industrial hemp law by allowing individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program.

    Update: SB 2298 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/24.

    IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp expansion

    California

    Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 930 was heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 4/25, and was then approved by the committee. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

    That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

  • by NORML January 10, 2018

    thumbs_upToday, the Vermont state Senate approved a measure that would legalize the possession and limited home cultivation of marijuana. Under this legislation, H. 511, individuals 21 years of age or older would be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate a limited amount for personal use.

    “While prohibitionists like Attorney General Jeff Sessions desperately try to force our country to return to the dark ages, his flailing seems to be for naught, as Vermont is now positioned to be the first state to legalize marijuana possession by legislative action,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “The American people have made their position clear, it is time to move away from the failed policies of the past and to move in the sensible direction of legalization. Vermont will likely be the first state to take such an action this year, it is unlikely to be the last with New Jersey, Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut and others likely to give legalization legislation serious consideration during the 2018 legislative session.”

    H. 511 was approved by the state’s lower chamber last week in a 81-63 vote. Now that it has passed the state Senate, the bill will be sent to Governor Phil Smith for his signature. Despite vetoing a similar effort last year, Governor Scott has stated he would likely sign this renewed effort.

    Passage of legalization in Vermont in 2018 would be a legislative first. To date, all eight states that have enacted legalization of the adult use of marijuana, as well as the District of Columbia have done so by a direct vote of the people.

    One in five Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute, and the majority of citizens reside someplace where the medical use of cannabis is legally authorized. As is evidenced by Vermont lawmakers’ actions, it is clear that the Trump administration is not going to be able to cease this momentum in favor of the enactment of rational marijuana policies.

    “For the second time in two years, Vermont lawmakers have rejected the failed Flat Earth policies of marijuana prohibition,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said,”The majority of Vermonters, like the majority of the American public, desire to live in a community where responsible adults who choose to consume cannabis are no longer criminalized or stigmatized. Governor Scott would be wise to provide Vermonters with this path forward, rather than cling to the failed policies of the past.”

    WANT TO CHANGE THE MARIJUANA LAWS IN YOUR STATE? CLICK HERE TO EASILY WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN SUPPORT OF REFORM.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director April 6, 2017

    arrestedUnited States Attorney General Jeff “Marijuana Consumers Aren’t Good People” Sessions has issued a formal memorandum calling on members of the Justice Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety to “undertake a review of existing policies,” including federal enforcement policies with regard to cannabis.

    The memo was sent on April 5 to 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice component heads.

    The Attorney General has requested a report back from task force members by no later than July 27th. You can read the full memo here.

    The release of this memorandum provides us with a general time frame during which to expect any formal announcements from the new administration with regard to addressing marijuana policy — specifically whether the Justice Department will respect state legalization laws.

    In the interim, members of Congress can remove all of the bite from Jeff Sessions’ bark by approving the bipartisan Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which prevents the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

    Speaking recently before Congress, Attorney General Sessions said that his job is to enforce federal law. Let’s change federal law to ensure that our reform victories remain in place, and so that we can build upon these victories in the future.

    CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN SUPPORT OF RESPECTING STATE MARIJUANA LAWS.

    But while the Justice Department contemplates its next move, state politicians are taking action. In recent days, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo.

    “Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

    Political and social change rarely comes from the top on down, it comes from the bottom up. That is why it is imperative for you to not only contact your federal officials in support of changing policy, but also to continue to push for change at the local and state level.

    Click HERE to view pending federal and state legislation and easily contact your elected officials in support of them.

    Click HERE to find a local NORML chapter in your area and get involved. NORML Kansas City this week successfully placed marijuana decriminalization on their municipal ballot and saw it pass with 71% support. This is the kind of positive change a group of committed volunteer citizens can bring to their communities.

    A people united will never be defeated and together we WILL end marijuana prohibition nationwide.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director January 8, 2017

    Marijuana medicineGOP lawmakers in Wisconsin have a track record of opposing efforts to reform marijuana laws in the Badger State, but a recent comment from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has some marijuana advocates hopeful for progress during the 2017 legislative session.

    “If you get a prescription to use an opiate or you get a prescription to use marijuana, to me I think that’s the same thing,” Vos said, a surprising position after years of GOP opposition to legalizing any form of marijuana. “I would be open to that.”

    Of course this came as a surprise to many, especially after Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Governor Scott Walker have both repeatedly stated that they will continue to oppose any effort to advance the issue in the state of Wisconsin. Regardless of the lack of support from GOP leadership, Sen. Van Wanggaard is expected to sponsor legislation that would make it legal to possess cannibidiol (CBD) – the marijuana extract known for treating seizures associated with epilepsy – during the upcoming legislative session.

    Read more here: http://m.startribune.com/in-wisconsin-signs-of-gop-softening-on-medical-marijuana/410016665/

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate October 27, 2016

    Governors Scorecard

    With the 2016 election only days away, NORML is pleased today to release of our first ever Gubernatorial Scorecard. Inspired by NORML’s Congressional Scorecard, this extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to every state governor based upon his or her comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

    Public opinion in support of marijuana law reform is at an all-time high. Nonetheless, few federal lawmakers are espousing views on cannabis policy that comport with those of the majority of their constituents. As a result, most legislative activity specific to marijuana policy is taking place at the state level. America’s governors are our nation’s most powerful, state-elected officials and they therefore play a key role in this ongoing legislative debate. NORML’s new Scorecard provides voters in all 50 states with pertinent information regarding where their governor stands on issues surrounding cannabis policy.

    KEY FINDINGS

    • 28 US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (17 Democrats and 11 Republicans)
    • Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
    • 17 governors received a ‘B’ grade (11 Democrats and 6 Republicans)
    • Nine governors received a ‘C’ grade (5 Republicans and 4 Democrats)
    • 13 governors received a ‘D’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Seven governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Two governors received no grade because of insufficient data
    • Of the 31 Republican US governors currently in office, 11 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (35 percent)
    • Of the 18 Democratic US governors currently in office, 17 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (94 percent)

    THE TAKEAWAY

    Similar to the findings of NORML’s Congressional Scorecard, this gubernatorial analysis affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are typically more progressive than the views held by the highest elected officials in their states — 56 percent of whom received a passing grade from NORML. For example, while sixty percent of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only four percent of state governors voice support for this position. Governors overall are also far less supportive of legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis than are their constituents – approximately 80 percent of whom back these type of reform measures.

    Governors ScorecardAlso evident is that gubernatorial support for marijuana law reform falls primarily upon partisan lines. While over 94 percent of Democratic governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (one Democrat received no grade), fewer than 40 percent of Republican governors did so. Further, all of the governors who received either a ‘D’ or a failing grade from NORML are Republicans. Conversely, both of the governors who received a ‘A’ grade from NORML are Democrats. This partisanship lies largely in contrast to voters’ sentiments, as the public tends to view many aspects of marijuana law reform, such as the regulation of medicinal cannabis, as non-partisan issues.

    Commenting on the report’s findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “It is apparent that voters’ views regarding marijuana policy have evolved significantly over the past decades. Yet, the positions of their governors have not progressed in a similar manner. Constituents ought to demand that their lawmakers legislate on behalf of policies that more closely reflect marijuana’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

    To read how NORML’s grades were calculated and to review the individual profiles for the governors of all 50 states, please visit: http://norml.org/us-governors.

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