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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 22, 2009

    A number of state legislatures are actively vying to join Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington to become the fourteenth state to legalize the physician-supervised use of medicinal marijuana.

    Here’s how you can help make these efforts a reality.

    Illinois: This week the Marijuana Policy Project began running targeted ads in support of House Bill 2514 and Senate Bill 1381, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Acts. Both bills have already passed various legislative committees and are expected to receive floor votes imminently. If you live in Illinois and have not yet contacted your House and Senate members in support of these measures, please do so now by going here.

    Minnesota: A pair of bills (SF 97 and HF 292) seeking to allow for the use and distribution of medicinal cannabis have cleared committee and are expected to be voted on shortly by members of the full House and Senate. UPDATE! THE SENATE TODAY GAVE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO THE BILL! One potential hurdle: Governor Tim Pawlenty, who has voiced opposition to the measures. Tell the Governor that “it is unconscionable to deny this effective medicine to sick and dying patients” by going here.

    New Hampshire: UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! The Senate voted TODAY in favor of HB 648. Now only one man stands in the way of legal medical marijuana and that is Gov. John Lynch, who has expressed reservations about the measure. Please write or call him here.

    New Jersey: In February, members of the state Senate approved the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act by a vote of 22 to 16. Yet months later, leadership in the Assembly has still not taken any action on this measure, which has received the support of the Governor and the Attorney General. Please contact your member of the Assembly here, and urge him or her demand that their colleagues hold hearings on medical marijuana.

    New York: Lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly introduced legislation this week to legalize the state-sanctioned use and distribution of medicinal marijuana. The bills’ sponsors are confident that they have the necessary votes to pass medical marijuana law reform in both chambers. Further, according to news reports, Gov. Patterson is also privately supportive of medical marijuana law reform. If you reside in New York, please consider assisting this campaign by going here and by contacting your elected officials here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 26, 2008

    Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state.

    California: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Assembly Bill 2279 this week by a vote of 3-2. The measure now awaits action by the full Senate. (The state Assembly previously passed the measure 42-29 in May.) If enacted, AB 2279 would protect patients from employment discrimination on the basis of their state-licensed medical cannabis use in off-work hours. Californians are strongly encouraged to contact their Senators via NORML’s online advocacy system.

    Hawaii: Governor Linda Lingle said this week that she may veto House Bill 2675, which would establish a legislative medical marijuana task force to explore ways to provide legal cannabis for Hawaii’s state-qualified medical cannabis patients. If you live in Hawaii, you may contact the Governor via NORML’s online advocacy system.

    North Carolina: Lawmakers heard testimony this week in support of legislation (HJR 2405) seeking to establish a task force to study options for regulating the legal use of medical marijuana for qualified patients. House members did not vote on the bill. Residents in North Carolina are strongly encouraged to contact their House members via NORML’s online advocacy system.

    New York: The Legislature adjourned this week without calling for a Senate vote on Assembly Bill 4867B, which sought to allow qualified patients to grow and possess medical cannabis under a doctor’s supervision. This marked the second consecutive year the Assembly had passed medi-pot legislation, only have it die in the Senate. 

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 20, 2008

    Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state.

    California: A statewide sentencing reform measure, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA), has qualified to appear on the November 2008 ballot. If enacted, the proposal would amend the penalty for marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction — similar to a traffic ticket. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, which is backing the measure, “This single change will protect some 40,000 people a year convicted of simple marijuana possession from the serious and life-long collateral consequences of a criminal record.” You can learn more about NORA by clicking here.

    California: Via: California NORML — Senate Resolution SJR 20, which seeks to halt federal law enforcement from prosecuting state-sanctioned medical cannabis patients and dispensaries, is expected to be voted on by the full Senate imminently. Californians may contact their state Senator via NORML’s online advocacy system here.

    New York: The state Assembly passed legislation this week, A 4867B, which seeks to allow qualified patients to grow and possess medical cannabis under a doctor’s supervision. The proposal is now before the Senate Rules Committee which, unfortunately, has only hours to act on the bill before the legislature adjourns for the year. For further information on how you can become involved in this effort, please click here.

    Florida: Governor Charlie Crist signed legislation into law this week enhancing criminal penalties for marijuana cultivation. As enacted, House Bill 173 (The Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act), allows judges to sentence those who cultivate more than 25 plants in their home to up to 15 years in jail (or up to 30 years in jail if a child is present.) NORML podcaster Russ Belville examines the obvious futility and unintended consequences of this new law here

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 16, 2008

    Lawmakers in New York continue to debate legislation that seeks to legalize medical cannabis for qualified patients. Meanwhile, opponents of this compassionate and common sense measure argue that acknowledging the known therapeutic benefits of cannabis and protecting those who could benefit from its use inexplicably “exploits” the seriously ill.

    Unlike medi-pot opponents, I actually interact with cannabis patients. Often, they seek me out — writing me testimonials like the one below. Perhaps if more politicians and, God forbid, members of law enforcement shared in these sort of one-on-one interactions, they’d change their tune. Or perhaps, they would do what Presidential hopeful John McCain did, and simply turn their backs.

    Letters for June 16, 2008
    via The Oneonta Daily Star

    Marijuana works as a medicine

    Kudos for your editorial support in favor of legally protecting patients who use cannabis therapy under the guidance of their physician (“Medical marijuana makes sense,” June 7).

    While authoring the recent publication, “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature” (NORML Foundation 2008), I reviewed more than 150 clinical and preclinical studies assessing the therapeutic value of cannabis and its active compounds to treat symptoms — and in some cases moderate disease progression — in a variety of illness, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Nearly all of the studies cited in my work were published within the past eight years.

    Unlike many politicians and law enforcement officials, I frequently interact with medical marijuana patients. Many of them write to me daily, as do their physicians. Often they tell me stories like this: “I was recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor inside the left temporal lobe of my brain. I had surgery, and I’ve just started chemotherapy and radiation. The surgeon actually apologized for the fact that he could not write me a prescription for marijuana, but he told me it was safe to smoke. … Marijuana is saving my life right now; it has helped to kill my seizures, nausea, dizziness, and calm my headaches. If marijuana can help me with all my other problems in addition to possibly reducing the size of my tumor and extending my life, then why on earth would our government not allow me to have it?”

    Why indeed?

    Paul Armentano

    Washington, D.C.

    Armentano is deputy director of NORML and the NORML Foundation. 

    Television ads in favor of pending medical cannabis legislation are now airing in select markets of New York state. To view the ad, click here. To learn more about what you can do to support efforts to legalize medical marijuana in New York, please click here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 10, 2008

    So here’s an interesting ruling from the New York Court of Appeals finding that the possession of small amounts of pot in prison does not constitute “dangerous contraband” under state law.

    NY court: Small amount of marijuana in prison not a felony
    via The Associated Press

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s top court says small amounts of marijuana in prison do not represent “dangerous contraband” under the law and ordered lower courts to reduce two convictions to misdemeanors with shorter sentences.

    …The court majority says the test for “dangerous contraband” is its likelihood to be used in a way that causes death, injury, escape or “other major threats” to prison safety or security. 

    Naturally, this ruling raises the question: If cannabis can not be legally defined as “dangerous contraband” when it’s possessed in prison, then how can it be legally defined as “dangerous contraband” when it is possessed by responsible adults inside their own homes?

    Sounds to me like it’s time for another lawsuit.

     

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