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SB 5798

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 9, 2010

    Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.

    ** Remember: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.

    Washington: Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation into law last week that expands the state’s nearly twelve-year-old medical marijuana law. Senate Bill 5798 allows additional health care professionals including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. Presently, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis.

    Washington is the first state to codify these recommendation rights into law. Senate Bill 5798 takes effect on June 10, 2010.

    Maine: State lawmakers approved legislation this week establishing guidelines for the establishment of state-authorized medical marijuana distribution facilities. As approved by the legislature, LD 1811 authorizes the creation of up to eight nonprofit medical cannabis dispensaries – one for each of the state’s public health districts. Under the measure, dispensaries may legally “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply or dispenses marijuana or related supplies and educational materials” to state-authorized medical marijuana patients.

    Patients and/or their caregivers will still be allowed to cultivate their own medical cannabis under state law. However, patients will now be required to join a confidential state registry in order to be able to legally possess and grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services will oversee the new medical marijuana programs.

    Last November, voters approved Question 5, the Maine Marijuana Medical Act, which amends existing state law by: establishing a confidential patient registry; expanding the list of qualifying conditions for which a physician may recommend medicinal cannabis; and by allowing for the creation of state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries. In 1999, 61 percent of state voters approved the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. However, the law did not establish a state identification registry for qualified patients, nor did it address regulating the distribution of medical marijuana.

    Democrat Gov. John Baldacci is anticipated to sign the dispensary measure into law imminently.

    Ohio: House lawmakers this week introduced House Bill 478, the Ohio Medical Compassion Act. The act would allow state-authorized patients to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The bill allows for authorized patients or their designated caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana, but only at designated registered sites. Patients are allowed to possess up to 200 grams of usable cannabis (about six ounces) or 12 mature plants under this proposal. To support this measure, visit the Ohio Patient’s Network or NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

    Pennsylvania: Minor marijuana possession offenses in the city of Philadelphia will be no longer be prosecuted as criminal misdemeanors, according to a policy change announced this week by new District Attorney Seth Williams. Philadelphia NORML had been lobbying for the policy change after publishing a report which found that African American males comprised an estimated 83 percent of all persons in Philadelphia arrested for minor marijuana possession offenses.

    Under the new policy, which is anticipated to take effect later this month, prosecutors will charge minor marijuana possession (defined as 30 grams or less) as ‘summary offenses’ rather than criminal misdemeanors. Defendants will be required to pay a fine, but will not face incarceration or receive a criminal record. Under the previous District Attorney, the city criminally prosecuted some 3,000 minor marijuana possession cases per year.

    You can read further details regarding this policy change here, here, and here.

    To learn about pending legislation in additional states — and how you can get involved, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 16, 2010

    Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.

    ** To first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.

    Washington: House and Senate lawmakers gave final approval last week to legislation expanding the state’s medical marijuana law. Senate Bill 5798 will allow additional health care professionals – including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners – to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. Under present law, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis. Washington lawmakers are the first legislators to codify these expanded recommendation rights into law. The measure now goes before Democrat Governor Christine Gregoire for final approval. Contact information for Gov. Gregoire is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    New Hampshire: House lawmakers voted 214 to 137 last week in favor of House Bill 1653, which would amend penalties for possession of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction. The vote prompted Democrat Gov. John Lynch to threaten to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. New Hampshire residents are encouraged to contact their members of the Senator and the Governor in support of this measure by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Hawaii: Members of the House Public Safety Committee and the Public Health Committee last week approved Senate Bill 2213, which would allow for the establishment of licensed ‘compassion centers’ to engage in the controlled production and distribution of cannabis to state-authorized patients. The Senate had previously approved the measure by a 20 to 1 vote. The bill now awaits action from the House Judiciary Committee. You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of the bill here. Senate lawmakers previously approved a separate marijuana decriminalization proposal, SB 2450, which also awaits action from the House.

    Kansas: Members of the House Committee on Health and Human Services will hold an informational hearing tomorrow on House Bill 2610, which seeks to legalize the medical use of marijuana to authorized patients. NORML representatives will be testifying at tomorrow’s hearing and have also provided written testimony to the Committee.

    Tennessee: State lawmakers will be holding a pair of hearings this week and next week regarding the Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act. NORML has retained a state lobbyist to represent the interests of our statewide affiliates, and will be taking a lead role in the upcoming hearings.

    For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 11, 2010

    Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.

    ** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.

    Washington: Senate lawmakers voted 37 to 11 in favor of Senate Bill 5798, which seeks to expand the state’s nearly twelve-year-old medical marijuana law. As approved, SB 5798 allows certain health care professionals – including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, and advanced registered nurse practitioners – to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. Under present law, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis.

    Senate Bill 5798 now awaits action from House lawmakers. The measure is scheduled to be heard by members of the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Thursday, February 18. You can contact members of the House in favor of the bill here.

    New Hampshire: Members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 16 to 2 today in favor of House Bill 1653. As amended by the Committee, this proposal reduces the penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses (up to 1/4 of one ounce) from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine to a nominal monetary penalty of no more than $200.00 (and no criminal record). You can contact your member of the House and urge them to support HB 1653 by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Washington, DC: Members of the DC City Council’s Committee on Health postponed their first hearing (scheduled for today) on implementing the District’s new medical marijuana law because of inclement weather. The hearing will likely be rescheduled for next week. (Check here for new date and time.) You can read NORML’s written testimony to the Committee here.

    Tennessee: On Tuesday, February 16 from 9am-2pm, Tennessee NORML is hosting a legislative “Day on the Hill” at the capitol in Nashville to lobby on behalf of the the Tennessee Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act. To participate in this event and show your support for medical marijuana law reform in Tennessee, please visit here.

    For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.