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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 Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 18, 2019

    A.1617, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), has been re-introduced this legislative session. The bill would legalize the adult possession, use, and regulated sale of marijuana.

    Over the past twenty years, many New Yorkers have been negatively affected by the harms of prohibition in New York. With people of color accounting for nearly 85% of those arrested annually, the MRTA directs the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana to these communities. Because structural racism is ingrained in marijuana prohibition, it’s important that the MRTA both ends marijuana prohibition and promotes racial justice.

    Significant steps are taken in the amended MRTA to ensure racial justice and a small business-friendly industry, including:

    • Creating a micro-licensing structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, which allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
    • Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
    • Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses.

    Our communities can’t wait. The decades of marijuana prohibition had created a stain on the fabric of our society, and urgent action is needed to begin to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs. Adult-use cannabis legalization must be passed in the state budget, and support for the MRTA goes a long way towards making that a reality. Freedom simply cannot wait any longer.

    Click here to send a message to your New York State Assemblymember in urgent support of this effort.

     

    We also encourage you to plug in with Empire State NORML. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their webpage HERE.

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  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 13, 2019

    In news that bodes well for the future of cannabis legalization in the state of New York, both chambers of the state legislature have included legalization language in their annual budget proposals.

    Both budget proposals also address the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions, implementing social equity programs in the state’s growing marijuana industry, and diverting tax money earned through the legal cannabis industry to benefit communities that have borne the brunt of the most brutal aspects of marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs in New York.

    Though Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal does not allow for the personal cultivation of marijuana plants, the NY General Assembly’s budget proposal does promote home cultivation upon the legalization of adult-use and retail sale of cannabis in the state. If home cultivation is included in final legislation and is signed into law by the governor, New York would help reinvigorate legislative support for the practice, which has waned considerably in other east coast states that are exploring legalizing cannabis for adult-use.

    The legal allowance of home cultivation in private residences is a core tenet of NORML’s Attributes of Adult Access Regulations. Read about home cultivation and our core tenets here.

    Though it remains to be seen if the Empire State will legalize cannabis for adult-use in 2019, we cannot let up in our fight for the personal freedoms of New Yorkers. As always, we need your help to make sensible marijuana reform a reality in New York.

    Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in support of cannabis legalization in New York.

  • 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 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.

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