medical marijuana

  • 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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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 20, 2019

    In New Jersey, there has been a great deal of progress in the last few years. Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature, ranging from legalization to expungement, and the fight for freedom has never been more widely supported than now. New Jersey residents overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization; in a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University,  62 percent of New Jerseyans support legalizing the responsible adult-use of marijuana, and several members of the New Jersey State Legislature are finally listening to the will of the people and pushing for meaningful marijuana reform. However, marijuana reform has stalled in the past few months. It is urgent that these measures get to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

    There are three major reform bills in the New Jersey State Legislature during the current legislative session.

    • S. 2318 would allow for expedited expungement of records for those previously convicted of a marijuana crime upon passage of decriminalization or legalization measures in the state of New Jersey, as long as those past violations are no longer considered a crime under state law. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/22/2018 and is still stuck in committee. The passage of this bill is incredibly important; legalization alone does not provide a clear roadmap for expungement and the millions of people whose lives have been altered by prior marijuana-related convictions may still be left with the stain of those convictions even after legalization is a reality in New Jersey. For more information on this bill (and similar measure S. 3205) and to send a message to your state lawmaker in urgent support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 2703 and A. 4497 would legalize marijuana for personal adult-use in the state of New Jersey and provides expungement relief for people with certain past marijuana offenses. The bill was voted out of committee on 11/26/2018 and is now on its second floor reading and waiting for a scheduled vote. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 10 and A. 10 would expand patients’ access to medical cannabis through several means. It would allow doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient they believe with benefit, phases out sales taxes on medical cannabis, and establishes additional legal protections for patients and caregivers. It also allows for additional growers and providers and expands on the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. S. 10 is in the amending stage as of 1/31/2019, and A. 10 most recently passed the Assembly Floor on 1/31/2019. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

  • 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.

  • by NORML January 24, 2019

    Three medical cannabis bills cleared the Senate Committee on Education and Health this morning and are headed to the Senate floor.

    Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 would clarify last year’s landmark Let Doctors Decide medical cannabis legislation. It seeks to redefine allowed dosage limitations and formulations, and expand patient access and reduce patient cost by adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants to the list of those authorized to issue written certifications to patients. Currently, only physicians may register with the Department of Health Professions to issue certifications.

    “Last year we passed unanimously the historic Let Doctors Decide bill that expanded patient access to our medical cannabis program,” said Senator Dunnavant, a medical doctor from Henrico. “We got a lot of things right, but there are some screws that can be tightened so the law better benefits the health and well-being of all Virginians.”

    The bill would also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to dispense medical cannabis preparations beyond the current definition of “oil” and in doses proven effective for the variety of disease processes for which doctors will recommend these therapies. Pharmacists at these facilities would be allowed to compound creams, sprays, capsules, suppositories, lozenges, and other preparations typically dispensed at compounding pharmacies.

    Senator Glen Sturtevant’s (R-10) SB1632 seeks to allow medical cannabis administration on school property and at school events.

    “Virginia students and their families depend on new, safely produced and regulated cannabidiol and THCA oils to treat a host of potentially debilitating conditions. However, current laws cause significant burdens for families who need to provide these medications to their children, and cause serious disruptions every single day at school for students” said Senator Glen Sturtevant.

    ”This bill would authorize the Department of Health Professions and school boards to adopt the necessary policies for school nurses to administer these medications just like other medications administered to students, like antibiotics and Advil. This streamlined approach will keep kids in school and reduce classroom disruptions so that students can focus on their academic success.”

    Colorado, Illinois, and Florida allow school nurses to administer medical cannabis to students. Delaware, Maine and New Jersey allow medical cannabis use at school, Washington allow schools to create their own policies, and West Virginia directed education officials to create rules for use at school.

    Delegate Chris Hurst’s (D-12) companion legislation, HB1720, is before the House Courts of Justice Committee, which will decide the fate of the bill Friday afternoon.

    Senator Dave Marsden’s SB1719 would allow “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.

    “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.”

    Track these bills and all marijuana-related legislation in the 2019 General Assembly here.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!


  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 10, 2018

    Up until a few years ago low-income housing that received federal subsidies were required to maintain a “drug-free” environment. This meant that if anyone living in subsidized housing was caught possessing and/or consuming marijuana onsite, everyone living in the property was at risk of being evicted.

    Fortunately, in 2014 the Obama Administration amended this policy to no longer mandate evictions which provided some discretion to housing management. As a result, the decision is now left to property management so they can insist on a “drug-free” environment, but are not required by law to impose such restrictive policies.

    Unfortunately, due to inconsistencies between the various policies adopted by property management companies and limited knowledge of the law, marijuana patients residing in subsidized housing are losing their homes. A situation that is becoming all too common. Most recently, John Flickner, a 78-year-old wheelchair bound medical marijuana patient, was evicted from his low-income senior housing facility in Niagara Falls for using medical marijuana that was recommended by his physician.

    In response, Lynne Patton, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional official announced that she is working to resolve the ongoing conflict between federal and state marijuana laws as it applies to tenant rights in federally-subsidized housing.

    “State & federal law needs to catch up with medicinal marijuana usage & require private landlords to legally permit the same. Period,” Patton wrote. “Regardless, my team is already working with Mr. Flickner & a local grantee to place him in permanent housing again, as anyone else in his boat.”

    Read more here: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/trump-official-wants-to-legally-permit-medical-marijuana-in-federally-subsidized-housing/

    That’s why NORML is supporting the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act, which would prohibit property owners of federally assisted housing from establishing standards to prevent access to federally assisted housing to anyone who engages in the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana as long as they are in compliance with state laws.

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