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  • by NORML March 28, 2019

    In the first of what is anticipated to be multiple Congressional votes to address the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, the House Financial Services Committee today voted to advance The SAFE Banking Act, HR 1595, 45-15.

    Currently, thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships. This ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis — an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of these business’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.

    Help us keep up the momentum on the way to the House floor. Contact your representative today using our action alert HERE.

    NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

    “This is a positive step forward to address an untenable tension between state-legal cannabis marketplaces and federal marijuana prohibition. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. In order to best support the states that have had the good judgment to license and regulate businesses to produce, manufacture, or distribute cannabis, it is critical that Congress address the lack of basic banking services and amend federal law accordingly and the SAFE Banking Act is one pathway to address this situation.”

    “Ultimately, the banking issue is just one symptom of the toxic and cruel policy of federal marijuana criminalization. In order to truly bring the vibrant marijuana economy out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to end federal prohibition and the discrimination the comes with this failed policy.”

    “This will certainly not be the last hearing of this Congress to have a high-minded conversation about marijuana and we expect a full hearing on prohibition to be scheduled in the months to come.”

    Committee Chair Maxine Waters stated:

    “Though it is just one component of broader reforms that are needed to, that are related to marijuana. I have long fought for criminal justice reform, and deeply understand the need to fully address the historic racial and social inequities related to the criminalization of marijuana. While H.R. 1595 is the only aspect of these efforts that are within the committee’s jurisdiction, as the bill moves forward, it must be a part of holistic approach to considering these reforms. In short, Congress must take the long view that all these efforts – and I will work to ensure that when it comes to passing H.R. 1595 that the House does not take a ‘one and done’ approach but that we will also comprehensively work especially with our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee on a series of marijuana related reforms. So I would urge all of my colleagues so support H.R. 1595.”

    Representative Ed Perlmutter commented:

    “The SAFE Banking Act is about public safety, accountability and respecting states’ rights. Our federal banking laws were designed to prevent illicit activity and help law enforcement do their jobs. These laws need to be applied to legitimate marijuana businesses and employees in order to improve transparency and accountability and help root out illegal transactions. Most importantly, the SAFE Banking Act will get cash off our streets, reducing the risk of violent crime and making our communities safer. While Congress has stuck its head in the sand on this issue for many years, this Committee showed leadership today and I want to thank my cosponsors and members of the Committee for their support.”

    Representative Earl Blumenauer (Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus) said: 

    “This is the most significant step we’ve seen so far toward addressing our outdated federal marijuana policies. We’ve actually gone through the process, fully debated, and seen broad bipartisan support. I applaud the outstanding work of Chairwoman Waters and Representatives Heck and Perlmutter for making this possible. The SAFE Banking Act solves a major problem for the state legal cannabis industry and its success moving through the committee is a signal of how we can move forward with other critical proposals.”


    According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrests for the commission of violent crimes (518,617) in 2017. Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over last year’s annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade.

    Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

    Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

    Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

    Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 25, 2019

    Big news out of Connecticut today, as a bill to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana has passed through a critical vote in the General Law Committee with a 10-8 majority. In addition to legalizing adult-use and establishing a regulated retail market, the bill also includes strong social justice language that incentivizes minority participation in the state’s marijuana market. It also establishes a commission that would be tasked with studying the impacts of provisions not already included in the legislation, such as homegrow and microbusinesses.

    Next up for the bill is a vote in the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 28th. Should it pass through committee and successfully pass a floor vote, the bill will go to the governor’s desk. Governor Lamont has been very vocal about his support for marijuana legalization in the state, frequently referring to reform as one of his administration’s top legislative priorities.

    If Connecticut successfully passes and enacts marijuana legalization into law, it would become the first state to pass a regulatory framework for the retail sale of marijuana through the state legislature, rather than as a ballot measure for popular vote.

    Major reform is within reach in Connecticut. If you’re a Connecticut resident, click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in urgent support of legalization!

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  • by NORML November 26, 2018

    Senate and Assembly lawmakers voted on Monday, November 26, in favor of legislation that seeks to regulate the adult use marijuana market.

    Members of a 26-member joint committee decided to move forward the legislation: Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act. Lawmakers will engage in further debate on the measure prior to voting on the bill on the floor.

    “Today’s Senate and Assembly votes are a victory for common sense and for sound public policy in New Jersey. We look forward to lawmakers on the Assembly and Senate floors acting swiftly to approve this legislation to send to Governor Murphy to sign into law.” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “New Jersey holds the dubious distinction of ranking second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color, violates civil liberties, and is an egregious waste of public resources that can be reprioritized elsewhere. The people of New Jersey are ready to move forward. Their representatives should approve this legislation this year and replace the failed practice of prohibition with the sensible policy of legalization and regulation.”

    Key provisions of the initial drafts of the legislation are available here.

    Governor Phil Murphy campaigned on a platform that includes legalizing the adult use marijuana market in New Jersey, stating: “Decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see. If these are our goals – as they must be – then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults.

    Fifty-eight percent of voters support “completely legalizing the possession and personal use of recreational marijuana,” and 79 percent support “allowing an individual to clear their record” of a past marijuana possession conviction,” according to an October 2018 Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 1, 2018

    NORML Recommends:
    YES on Amendment 2
    NO on Amendment 3
    NO on Proposition C

    Voters this November have the opportunity to make Missouri the 32nd state to allow for the physician-recommended use of marijuana, and based on the latest polling data, they will likely do so.

    Therefore, the important question before voters is no longer if the Show-Me State should legalize medical cannabis access, but how Missouri will do so.

    That is because not one, not two, but three medical marijuana measures (two constitutional amendments and one statutory measure) will appear on the ballot on Election Day. But not all of these measures are created equal, and it will be up to voters to decide which one of these three is ultimately in the best interest of Missouri’s patients.

    On Election Day, NORML urges voters to stand with New Approach Missouri and vote “yes” for Amendment 2. Quite simply, Amendment 2 — unlike its competitors — puts the interests of patients first.

    Amendment 2 will let doctors — not legislators or bureaucrats — decide if marijuana is the appropriate option for their patients. Every day, we entrust physicians to use their discretion with regard to assisting their patients in making the right decisions. Amendment 2 upholds the sanctity of the patient-doctor relationship and leaves these important medical treatment decisions up to those who know best: Missouri’s practicing physicians.

    While a competing effort, Amendment 3, proposes the highest tax rate in the nation for medical cannabis products sold at retail (15%), Amendment 2 would set one of the lowest. The revenue raised by the retail sale of medical cannabis will go directly to the Missourian Veterans’ Health and Care Fund and will be used to help provide those in the state who put their lives on the line with necessary health services.

    While much has been written about the obvious flaws of the competing constitutional amendment, Amendment 3, these criticisms are worth repeating. While Amendment 2 is supported by a diverse coalition of patient advocates, Amendment 3 was funded entirely by one person, who drafted his amendment for his own personal benefit. It also puts this same funder largely in charge of overseeing the state’s medical marijuana program. This is hardly in the best interest of Missouri patients.

    Amendment 2, on the other hand, places the program’s oversight in the hands of the Missouri Department of Health. It also creates a robust statewide system for production and distribution of medical cannabis, with strict deadlines in place to ensure that qualified patients do not have to unduly wait for dispensaries to become operational.

    Finally, and most importantly, Amendment 2 is a constitutional amendment, which makes it more resilient to legislative tampering and intervention. By contrast, lawmakers can choose to amend Proposition C largely at their discretion, regardless of what voters decide.

    If you read each of these proposals closely, one clear choice emerges. Amendment 2 creates a broad and patient-centric program that is designed to be implemented in a timely manner and withstand any legislative challenges along the way. The other two can’t say the same. Not all ballot measures are created equal and that is why we encourage all voters to support the superior one this Election Day. Vote YES on Amendment 2. Vote No on Amendment 3 and Prop C.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director October 31, 2018

    Music legend David Crosby is the star of a new radio advertising campaign in support of Measure 3. The radio ad will be premiering on Thursday, November 1st in markets around the state and will run through Election Day. David Crosby is a musician, songwriter, author, and activist who was the founding member of two of the most iconic rock bands, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Byrds. He also serves on the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ Advisory Board.

    In the ad, Crosby says: “Hi, I’m David Crosby. You may know me for my music, but today I’m here to talk to you about marijuana. This election, North Dakota has the chance to take a new, sensible approach to marijuana by approving Measure 3. Measure 3 would end the arrest of adults in North Dakota for marijuana, letting the police focus their resources on violent crime. It would remain illegal for minors, but we wouldn’t be spending any more your tax dollars needlessly locking up our fellow citizens for possessing a plant that is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. Let’s end adult marijuana arrests and respect individual freedom. Vote Yes on Measure 3 on November 6th.

    Commenting on the ad’s launch, Crosby stated: “I feel a responsibility to stick up for those people who have been punished as a result of this oppressive and senseless policy. I believe that people should not be arrested or go to jail for the responsible use of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol, tobacco, or most prescription drugs. I’ve looked at the success of states like Colorado and Oregon that have elected to move in a different direction. That is why I’m proud to support Measure 3 and encourage all North Dakotans to vote Yes on November 6th.”

    The Legalize ND campaign was enthusiastic to receive Crosby’s support. Campaign spokesman Cole Haymond commented: Legalize ND is humbled and honored to have the support from David Crosby. A voice like his will surely turn some heads as we quickly approach the election. Measure 3 supporters are fully energized and ready to turn out to vote.

    The initial ad buy covers Bismarck, Grand Forks, and Minot media markets including KLXX, KBYZ, KQHT, KCJB, and KZPR.

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