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legislation

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 25, 2019

    Big news out of Connecticut today, as a bill to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana has passed through a critical vote in the General Law Committee with a 10-8 majority. In addition to legalizing adult-use and establishing a regulated retail market, the bill also includes strong social justice language that incentivizes minority participation in the state’s marijuana market. It also establishes a commission that would be tasked with studying the impacts of provisions not already included in the legislation, such as homegrow and microbusinesses.

    Next up for the bill is a vote in the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 28th. Should it pass through committee and successfully pass a floor vote, the bill will go to the governor’s desk. Governor Lamont has been very vocal about his support for marijuana legalization in the state, frequently referring to reform as one of his administration’s top legislative priorities.

    If Connecticut successfully passes and enacts marijuana legalization into law, it would become the first state to pass a regulatory framework for the retail sale of marijuana through the state legislature, rather than as a ballot measure for popular vote.

    Major reform is within reach in Connecticut. If you’re a Connecticut resident, click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in urgent support of legalization!

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  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 20, 2019

    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.

     

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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 8, 2019

    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.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director March 7, 2019

    Today, we stood with Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Don Young as they introduced the Ending Federal Prohibition Act and Marijuana Data Collection Act. While these two bills are overtly about addressing the failures of marijuana prohibition, what they are truly about is accepting reality.

    This legislation is about accepting political reality. Currently, ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use of marijuana and thirty-three states and DC have medical marijuana programs. When you additionally factor in decriminalization and marijuana-specific CBD laws, there is, in fact, only 4 states in this entire country that are actually in compliance with federal law and the controlled substances act. This tension between state and federal laws is and remains untenable. If states truly are the laboratories of democracy, we need to fully deschedule marijuana from the CSA and allow them to move forward with reforms to their marijuana laws, unimpeded by federal law. This is not just good policy, but good politics. The American people are sick and tired of our failed prohibition. 68% of all Americans support legalizing marijuana and well over 70% believe this is an issue that should be governed by the state, not the federal government.

    This legislation is about accepting scientific reality. While there is still more we can learn, there are over 29,000 peer-reviewed studies on cannabis in existence – we know enough to say that it does have medical applications and that it is objectively less harmful of a substance than currently legal alcohol and tobacco. As long as marijuana remains a Schedule I substance, federal policy remains ignorant of this fact. Descheduling marijuana through the Ending Federal Prohibition Act would ease hurdles to research and the Marijuana Data Collection Act would allow us to learn from the real world experience of states who have already moved forward with adult use or medical marijuana.

    This legislation is about accepting economic reality. The legal marijuana industry in this country already employs over 200,000 Americans in full-time jobs, nearly 300,000 when you include ancillary industries. That is six times the number of jobs currently in the coal industry and over twice the number of Americans working in the textile industry. It is also generating billions of dollars a year in revenue across this country. Despite this economic boon, marijuana businesses are still unable to utilize financial services and face issues regarding taxation that no other legal business faces. This legislation would be a huge step forward in treating the legal cannabis industry like any other legal industry in this country and allow us to truly embrace its job creation and revenue potential.

    Perhaps most importantly, this legislation is about accepting moral reality. Despite our progress, marijuana prohibition still results in over 600,000 Americans being arrested every year on simple marijuana possession alone. Worse still, these policies are applied in racially disparate ways, overwhelmingly those arrested are people of color or members of other marginalized communities. Whether an arrest leads to incarceration or not, having a charge for marijuana possession on your record has life-altering collateral consequences. Americans with a criminal marijuana record lose access to federal financial aid for higher education, have a hard time finding gainful employment, can risk losing public housing, face issues with child protective services, and see their future permanently altered or dreams deferred for nothing more than possession of a joint. Descheduling marijuana would open the door to finally ending marijuana prohibition nationwide and bring to a halt these draconic policies that have ruined so many American lives.

    The overwhelming majority of the American public has accepted these realities and it is time for their elected officials to do the same. It is time to pass the End Federal Prohibition Act, close this dark chapter in our nation’s history, and move on from the failed policies of prohibition and towards the sensible policies of legalization and regulation.

    CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TODAY IN SUPPORT OF THE ENDING FEDERAL PROHIBITION ACT!

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director February 14, 2019
    Virginia SB1719 passes the House of Delegates

    Virginia SB1719 passes the House of Delegates

    Originally posted on the Virginia NORML Blog

    Richmond, Va — Virginia Senator David Marsden’s SB1719 has passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and the Senate, and is headed to the governor’s desk for signature.

    SB1719 allows “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities, and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

    “This law will ensure that patients who may be physically incapable of picking up these life-changing medicines on their own will have access to them from throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Marsden, of Fairfax County.

    Virginia NORML members with Senator Dave Marsden

    Virginia NORML members meet with Senator Dave Marsden

    It is patients like Tamara Lyn Netzel, a teacher from Alexandria who suffers from multiple sclerosis, who stand to benefit from this legislation.

    “Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease with severe symptoms that come and go, so I’ve accepted at some point I may not be able to drive a car safely or leave my home,” said Netzel. “It is comforting to know I will still be able to send my husband to get the medicine I need.”

    SB1719, which passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate, will also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to transfer products between the five state-authorized facilities, ensuring that patients have access to a wider range of products. It will also prevent the limited availability of products that could result should a provider experience crop failure.

    “Allowing the exchange of various products between licensed processors will create better product selections for patients, depending on their need, regardless of their location in Virginia,” said Senator Marsden. “I am proud to be part of this effort.”

    SB1719 ensures that patients will greater access to the medicines they need, a key element of continuity needed for the success of any health system.

    “Patient access is critical to the success of Virginia’s medical cannabis program,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “These bills help ensure that all patients are able to obtain and use the necessary therapeutic doses of their cannabis medicines regardless of location or physical ability.”

    Other medical cannabis-related bills are still making their way through the legislature. Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 expands Virginia’s medical cannabis program, adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and allowing a wide range of full therapeutic-strength formulations to be dispensed.

    Delegate Chris L. Hurst’s HB1720 and Senator Glen Sturtevant’s SB1632 would authorize school nurses to administer and registered student patients to use Virginia-approved medical cannabis products at school.

    “We’ve received emails and calls from concerned parents throughout the Commonwealth who are worried their children could be expelled for using their doctor-recommended medical cannabis oil at school,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “Delegate Hurst’s and Senator Sturtevant’s bills would provide a much-needed solution for these families.”

    Track this and all marijuana-related legislation on Virginia NORML’s 2019 legislation monitoring page.

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