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Virginia NORML

  • 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 NORML April 5, 2018

    Legalize marijuanaSince the beginning of the year, NORML Chapters throughout the country have been busy organizing lobby days for the 2018 legislative session. With the hope of reforming various aspects of their state’s marijuana policies, NORML affiliated activists have been meeting with state representatives to educate lawmakers and their staff about the advantages of ending marijuana prohibition and encourage support for over 100 pieces of legislation nationwide.

    In addition to organizing more lobby days than was previously done in 2017, many NORML chapters including Delaware NORML, Denver NORML, Illinois NORML, and Lehigh Valley NORML have scheduled multiple lobby days for their 2018 legislative sessions. To date, NORML chapters have organized and/or participated in nearly 30 lobby days in 16 states. From fighting for employee protections in Colorado, Oregon and California, to pushing to expand access for patients in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and working to pass legislation to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in Delaware, NORML chapters have been working overtime this legislative session.

    Virginia

    Members of Virginia NORML, led by Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, have been focused on securing access and protection from prosecution for all patients since 2016. This session, their hard work finally paid off with unanimous passage of HB 1251 and SB 726 to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis oil law by removing qualifying conditions and instead allowing doctors to decide when to issue a recommendation.

    “Virginia will be the first state to expand a hyper-restrictive single qualifying disorder program to include any diagnosed condition. This didn’t happen because of industry dollars or high powered lobbyists, it happened because two moms wouldn’t take “no” for an answer,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini.

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

    Colorado

    There’s an effort underway in Colorado to define off-duty marijuana use a legal activity under Colorado’s prohibition of legal activities as a condition of employment law. Democratic Representative Jonathan Singer is leading the effort in the House, but proponents – consisting mostly of members of Denver NORML, Colorado NORML, and Southern Colorado NORML – are working to lock down a Republican sponsor before the bill is introduced to encourage bipartisan support.

    Also in Colorado, state lawmakers recently formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus to facilitate discussions on how to best address the various areas of public policy that have been impacted since voters approved the state’s marijuana legalization measure in 2012.

    “This kind of caucus is something we at the national level have been looking at for quite some time,” says NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji, who’s based in Denver. “Since the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, it just made sense to have something similar at the state level.”

    California

    Members of California NORML are also working with state lawmakers on a bill that would bar employers from discriminating against workers because of their status as a medical marijuana patient, or a positive drug test for medical marijuana use. NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. While law-abiding and responsible adults in some states have the legal option to consume marijuana in the privacy of their homes, they still are at risk of losing their employment as a result of a positive drug test — even in instances where the use took place on weekends or after-hours.

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director of California NORML shared her thoughts on the effort: “Eleven states protect medical marijuana users’ employment rights in their laws, but not California. Cal NORML is sponsoring AB 2069, the Cannabis Worker Protections Act, to give workers in California the same right to use medical cannabis as opiates and other prescription drugs, as long as their use does not impair them on the job. Supporters can write to their representatives in favor of the bill at and join Cal NORML at our Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, 2018.”

    Follow California NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

    Maryland

    Members of Maryland NORML focused their time on lobbying members of the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee in favor of HB 1264 / SB 1039 – a constitutional amendment that would put a question on this November’s ballot to let the voters decide on the issue of marijuana legalization and retail sales.

    While that effort was not successful, Maryland is now in a position to expand the amount of personal possession of marijuana that is decriminalized from 10 grams to 30 grams as SB 127 continues to move forward after passing in the state Senate.

    Follow Maryland NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

    Delaware

    Members of Delaware NORML lobbied for legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults. The Delaware Marijuana Control Act regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. It allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. It does not permit people to grow their own marijuana.

    Hosting three lobby days already this year with a number on the way, Delaware is one of the states that we expect to achieve reform this decade.

    Follow Delaware NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and support their work here.

     

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director February 8, 2018

    Virginia NORML has been focused on securing access and protection from prosecution for all patients since 2016. This session, our efforts paid off with unanimous passage of our Let Doctors Decide legislation, supported by the Joint Commission on Healthcare, in both the House and Senate.

    Patients like Nikki Narduzzi, who is now our coalition director at Cannabis Commonwealth, will now have the same rights that were initially granted in 2015 to only intractable epilepsy patients. I have spent hundreds of hours with Nikki in the halls of the General Assembly, in Committee rooms, in district offices, in coffee shops talking to Virginia legislators about this groundbreaking expansion legislation.

    “Little did I know, in 2015 when I attended my first local Virginia NORML chapter meeting, that patient advocacy would become such a large part of my life,” said Nikki. “For the past three years, I have been supported and mentored by courageous advocates like Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, Jenn Michelle Pedini who has worked tirelessly in the trenches to bring medical cannabis access to ALL Virginia patients.”

    Virginia will be the first state to expand a hyper-restrictive single qualifying disorder program to include any diagnosed condition. This didn’t happen because of industry dollars or high powered lobbyists, it happened because two moms wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. We were pushed aside by other organizations interested in working for only small patient groups. We were railroaded by partisan antics more than once. We stood our ground, we pushed forward, and we prevailed.

    Read more here: http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/2018/02/06/advocates-cheer-bills-passage/

    To get involved or to stay up-to-date on the latest marijuana-related news in Virginia, make sure to visit our website at http://www.vanorml.org/ and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 19, 2011

    Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country.

    ** 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 to make the changes they want to see.

    Connecticut: Lawmakers have introduced a pair of bills to reform state marijuana laws. House Bill 5139 amends state law to “authorize an individual to use marijuana for medical purposes as directed by a physician.” Lawmakers passed similar legislation in 2007 only to have the measure vetoed by then-Gov. Jodi Rell. Newly elected Gov. Dan Malloy has been a past supporter of medical marijuana law reform and indicates that he is inclined to sign HB 5139 into law. A separate bill, Senate Bill 163, amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction, punishable by a nominal fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. This measure would similarly reduce penalties for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Both measures have been referred to the Joint Judiciary Committee. If you reside in Connecticut, you can take action in support of both bills here.

    Illinois: Illinois state legislators are considering a pair of bills to reform the state’s marijuana laws. Lawmakers this week reintroduced House Bill 30, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which allows qualified patients to possess and grow marijuana for medical purposes. The bill already has strong support among lawmakers, as a previous version of the measure was approved by the Senate and only narrowly defeated by the House. Separate legislation, House Bill 100, amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine) to a “petty offense” punishable by a fine only. Both measures have been referred to the House Rules Committee. If you reside in Illinois, you can take action in favor of both measures by clicking here and by becoming involved with Illinois NORML.

    Rhode Island: House Bill 5031 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. The measure has legislative support. In 2010, members of a special Senate committee advocated for the decriminalization of adult marijuana possession offenses, finding that over 91 percent of the state’s marijuana arrests are for possession only, and that of those first-time offenders are sentenced to incarceration, defendants on average were sentenced to 3.5 months in jail. House Bill 5031 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which may be contacted here. If you reside in Rhode Island, you can take action in support of HB 5031 at NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

    Virginia: There is disappointing news to report from Virginia. On Monday, January 17, lawmakers on the House Courts of Justice, Criminal Subcommittee decided on a voice vote to “pass by indefinitely” legislation, HB 1443, which sought to reduce criminal marijuana penalties for first-time offenders. Virginia NORML, which backed HB 1443, co-organized a Lobby Day to coincide with Monday’s hearing and vote. An estimated 75 citizens participated in the day-long event, about a dozen of whom testified in favor of HB 1443. (You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of the measure here.) Unlike in past years, no one, including representatives of law enforcement or the state prosecutors office, testified publicly against the measure. Del. Morgan, the sponsor of HB 1443, has already vowed to reintroduce a similar measure next year. You can read a full report on Monday’s Lobby Day and hearing, as well as what you can still do to help, by clicking here.

    Washington: Senate Bill 5073, which seeks to expand Washington’s twelve-year-old medical marijuana law and creates greater legal protections for authorized patients, providers, and caregivers. has been assigned to the Committee on Health & Long-Term Care and has been scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 20 at 1:30pm in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building. For more information on this measure and tomorrow’s hearing, please visit here.

    To be in contact with your state officials regarding these and other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.

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