Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/18/19

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

U.S. Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) this week introduced HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

Additionally, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. House lawmakers introduced The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 (HR 601), to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

At the state level, patients in Ohio and Oklahoma now have access to medical cannabis, as sales began in both states this week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York and Governor Gina Raimondo (D) of Rhode Island both included plans for cannabis legalization as a part of their budget proposals in their respective states.

A medical cannabis access bill was signed into law in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill was defeated in the Virginia House this week.

At a more local level, Westchester County, New York’s district attorney will no longer prosecute low level cannabis possession cases; Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin approved two different advisory questions to appear on an April ballot; and Oklahoma City public schools will now allow students to be administered medical cannabis by a caregiver while at school.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list, and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, House Bill 5595, to permit the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over.

The measure allows adults to cultivate up to six cannabis plants in their own homes; provides for the expungement of prior cannabis possession convictions; and allows for home deliveries.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

West Virginia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2331, to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use, but it would give localities the authority to restrict or ban the retail sale and production of cannabis through county referenda.

WV resident? Click here to urge your lawmakers to amend this bill to benefit all consumers

Washington, DC

Legislation is pending, The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act, to permit the retail sale of cannabis to adults in the District.

The measure allows those 21 and over to legally purchase personal use quantities of cannabis from licensed retail outlets.

DC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of retail sales

Indiana

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1540, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would impose a class C infraction for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which translates to a civil penalty punishable by a fine between $ 100 and $ 200.

IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Nebraska

Senator Anna Wishart (D) has re-introduced legislation, LB 110, to allow qualifying patients with certain debilitating conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis.

If passed, this bill provides registered patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

Update: LB 110 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Comittee at 1:30pm on 1/25/19 in the Warner Chamber.

NE resident?  Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical access

Washington

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HB 1131 / SB 5155, “Allowing residential marijuana agriculture.”

This bill allows adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

Update: HB 1131 is scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Commerce & Gaming at 8:00am.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

Kentucky

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon introduced Senate Bill 82, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would impose a civil penalty for any “personal use quantity”of cannabis, punishable by a $ 100 fine.

KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Legislation is pending, House Bill 136, to permit physicians to authorize access to medical cannabis for any patient whom they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use.

The measure allows registered patients to use, possess, and cultivate specified quantities of medical marijuana.

KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical access

Iowa

Legislation is pending, Senate File 1012, to amend marijuana possession penalties for first-time offenders.

Senate File 1012 reducea criminal penalties for possession of 5 grams of marijuana or less from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $ 1,000, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and/or a $ 625 fine.

Criminal penalties for all subsequent offenses would remain unchanged under these legislations.

IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of a first time penalty reduction

Oklahoma

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 305, to protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.

The measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume medical cannabis off-the-job in accordance with state law.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Legislation has been introduced in Oklahoma, Senate Bill 325, to restrict access to medical cannabis in the state.

The measure would allow counties within Oklahoma to hold a referendum on whether or not to restrict or ban the production and sale of medical cannabis in their jurisdiction.

OK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to restricting medical access

Alaska

Senator Tom Begich has re-introduced legislation, Senate Bill 8, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

The measure prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law.

AK resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of record sealing

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 37, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.

HI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis in place of opioids

Florida

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 372, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis inhalation rights

North Dakota

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1417, to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

The proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of eligible patients by permitting providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with neuropathy; opioid use disorder; opioid withdrawal; migraine; rheumatoid arthritis; and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
  • Allows physicians to explicitly authorize select patients to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Arkansas

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1150, to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis access law.

The measure expands the pool of applicants eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with a wide array of conditions, including asthma, ADHD, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury, among other diagnoses.

AR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Colorado

Legislation is pending in Colorado that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Other Actions to Take

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, House Bill 5442, to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in Connecticut.

The measure would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with generalized chronic pain.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2387, that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

The measure would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

AZ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

New York

Legislation to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana for dogs, cats and other pets in New York State is pending in the Assembly (A. 970) Health Committee. The bill would allow veterinarians to recommend marijuana for our furry companion animals.

NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanding medical access to pets

Mississippi

Legislation is pending, House Bill 625, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

MS resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of hemp production

Washington

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

WA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of hemp production

Wyoming

Legislation is pending, House Bill 171, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

WY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of hemp production

Florida

Legislation is pending, H. 333, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of hemp production

That’s all for this week!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri Discusses AG Nominee Barr and Legalization on CBS News

Earlier today, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri made an appearance on CBS News to discuss Attorney General Nominee William Barr’s recent comments regarding marijuana legalization and how he would handle states that have reformed their cannabis policies if he were confirmed as the next Attorney General.

“It really falls to Congress at this point to take the initiative and to deschedule marijuana entirely from the CSA so the 47 states that currently aren’t in compliance with that act don’t have this untenable position with the federal government…[By opposing legalization personally] Barr finds himself in a dwindling minority on this topic, recent polling shows about 68% of all Americans support ending prohibition and legalizing marijuana. There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube on this.” – NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri

WATCH:

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Marijuana is a Medicine, Not a Menace

I am delighted to report that more and more government officials are promoting sanity in pot laws. Cannabis crosses political parties and generational lines.

Good weed gets you high whether you think the last attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was a Neanderthal or you think Beto O’Rourke should be the next Democratic presidential candidate, which I do.

I was right 50 years ago when I said as a Hofstra University college student on Hempstead, Long Island in New York in 1969 that pot should be legal. A half century later,  I am still correct. Only the weed is a lot better.

Over the years, I have learned that if a man stands his ground, and there abides, the whole world will eventually come around to him. Today, in 2019, 65 percent of America and apparently 84 percent of Wilton Manors agrees with me.

The legitimate powers of government should reach no further than controlling acts which are injurious to others. Freedom means having the right to be stupid, whether your parents or partners approve or not.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Pot never should have been criminalized. Outside of making North Dakota a state, locking people up for smoking weed was one of the dumbest things our government has ever done.

In Florida, our new Commissioner of Agriculture is Nikki Fried, a Jewish woman and law graduate who will give new meaning to the High Holy Days. She supports the legalization of marijuana.

Nikki has said she will be appointing a statewide Director of Cannabis to her agency. Man, I have held that position my whole life. Weed makes everything better, from sex to food to reading SFGN.

More seriously, on the right side of the aisle, cannabis has found surprising supporters. Importantly, in Florida there are people like Congressman Matt Gaetz, a northwest Florida Republican who I would ordinarily have nothing in common with, outside of sports and fast cars.

However, Gaetz is amongst a cadre of Republicans, like the former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, who have actively promoted a new direction for federal marijuana policy. Damn, it’s about time.

Congressman Gaetz has already partnered with newly elected and young Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York State, to revise the Neanderthal laws.

Last year, when Attorney General Sessions called for a crackdown on cannabis, Gaetz stated it was a “cruel plan that harms some of our most vulnerable fellow Americans. I have seen children who have been helped by medical marijuana when all other treatments have failed. Some have gone from surgeries and seizures to baseball games and homecoming dances.” He’s right.

Cathy Jordan has suffered from ALS since 1986. When I met her back then, she was given 3-5 years to live. Along with the power and love of her devoted husband, smoking medical marijuana has kept her alive.

When Elvy Mussika was acquitted of growing pot in her Hollywood backyard in 1988, she was nearly going blind from glaucoma. The THC in cannabis reduced the intraocular pressures in her eyes, and thirty years later, she can still see.

Right now, despite 32 states moving in an opposite direction, cannabis is still regulated as a “Schedule 1 drug.” This means that the regulated substance has “no medicinal value.” Come on, we all know better by now, especially all those bar and restaurant workers that hang out after work in the alleyway by the Alibi in the Manors.

Encouragingly, the new nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, also stated in his confirmation hearings yesterday that he would support a continuation of the Obama Era regulatory guidelines.

These rules allow those states that have invested in medicinal marijuana laws to continue to rely on the rules generated by previous attorney generals. This allows dispensaries operating in those states to continue to run their business without fear of being raided or shut down.

Florida residents also passed a constitutional amendment to provide for medical marijuana two years ago. The regulatory system is flawed, and Florida’s new governor has said he will fix it. Now would be a good time.

Unfortunately, the first week in office for Ron DeSantis presented no encouragement. His legal team went into the Court of Appeals and argued that the legislative ban on smoking marijuana be upheld.  His actions make his campaign promise hollow.

A Leon County Circuit judge had previously struck down the smoking ban, but the decision was stayed after the State of Florida appealed. DeSantis could have made history by killing the appeal. He did not. He made the argument for maintaining it.

During the oral arguments last week in Tallahassee, an appellate panel of judges interrogated Florida officials about whether the legislature had not usurped the will of our citizens by using its political veto power to override an amendment its citizens overwhelmingly supported.

The Department of Health told the judges that since smoking causes cardiovascular and respiratory health problems, the Florida legislature could limit delivery methods to protect the public. I call BS on that.

It does not matter what side of the political aisle you are on, Americans have learned that cannabis is a cure, not a cancer. Let’s hope Ron DeSantis learns that as well.

Our citizens voted for smokable medical marijuana. A lawmaker in the state house should not make that choice. You should make the call, by yourself, with your partner, in your own house. Nothing less than your inalienable right to free choice is at stake.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Legislation To Produce And Research Cannabis Introduced

A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has introduced The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 (HR 601), to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and urge them to support the measure. 

The act ends the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes, by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers.

To date, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse designates the University of Mississippi to be the sole provider of marijuana for FDA-approved research. However, many of those familiar with their product have criticized its quality, opining that it possesses subpar potency, is often poorly manicured, and that it does not accurately reflect the wide variety of cannabis products and strains available to consumers.

As the result of a lawsuit, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner in 2007 ruled that expanding the pool of federally licensed providers would be “in the public interest.” The agency ultimately rejected her decision. More recently, in 2016, the DEA changed its position and amended regulations in a manner to permit additional applicants to apply to federal licensure to grow marijuana. However, the United State’s Attorney General’s office has thus far failed to take action on any pending applications.

Other provisions in the measure explicitly permits VA physicians to provide information to patients regarding their eligibility in clinical trials, and provides a “safe harbor” for universities, clinicians, and patients participating in federally-approved trials from federal interference.

Click here to send a message to your federal lawmaker and urge them to support the measure. 

A similar version of this bill was passed in the House Judiciary Committee in 2018 yet was not taken up by the full chamber.

At the time the bill passed committee, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano praised the effort, saying, “The federal hurdles in place that currently discourage clinicians from engaging in clinical cannabis research have long been onerous and irrational. It is high time that lawmakers recognize this problem and take action to amend it so that investigators may conduct the same sort of high-quality clinical research with cannabis that they do with other substances.”

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Gubernatorial Report Card: Learn Where Your Governor Stands on Marijuana Policy

US Governors Marijuana MapTo kick off the 2019 state legislative season, NORML is pleased to release our 2019 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

“Following the publication of our 2018 Scorecard, there has been a dramatic shift in opinion among elected officials in favor of marijuana policy reform,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Never before have we seen so many governors go on record and pledge their support for legalizing the responsible use of cannabis by adults. As a result, we expect there to be unprecedented levels of legislative activity at the state level surrounding the need to regulate the commercial cannabis market in 2019 and in 2020.”

Key Findings

Twenty-seven US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (22 Democrats, 5 Republicans)

Of these, nine US governors – all Democrats – received an ‘A’ grade; this marks a significant increase since 2018, when only two governors received ‘A’ grades. They are:

Gavin Newsom: California
Jared Polis: Colorado
Ned Lamont: Connecticut
JB. Pritzker: Illinois
Gretchen Whitmer: Michigan
Tim Walz: Minnesota
Phil Murphy: New Jersey
Kate Brown: Oregon
Jay Inslee: Washington

Ten governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 1 Republican)

Eight governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans, 4 Democrats)

Fifteen governors – all Republicans – received a ‘D’ grade

Four governors – all Republicans – received a ‘F’ grade

Four governors received no grade because of insufficient data

Of the 24 Republican governors receiving a letter grade, only five (21 percent) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher

Of the 22 Democratic governors receiving a letter grade, all of them (100 percent) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher

Among the 20 governors taking office for the first time in 2019, six (30 percent) received an ‘A’ grade. All are Democrats.

Seven governors received a raise in their grade since the publication of NORML’s 2018 report. They are:

Jay Inslee – Democrat, Washington: to B+ to A
Andrew Cuomo – Democrat, New York: from C- to B+
Tom Wolf – Democrat, Pennsylvania: from B- to B
Ralph Northam – Democrat, Virginia: from B- to B
David Ige – Democrat, Hawaii: from C to C+
Jim Carney – Democrat, Delaware: from C to C+
Greg Abbott – Republican, Texas: from D- to C-

The Takeaway

There exists now, for the first time, significant political support among US governors for marijuana policy reform. However, this support is more partisan than ever before. While almost half of all Democratic governors are now on record in support of adult use regulation, no Republican governors publicly advocate for this policy. This partisan divide is not similarly reflected among the general public. According to national polling data compiled by Gallup in October 2018, 66 percent of the public – including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – favor legalization.

The results of the 2018 midterm elections also show that advocating for marijuana legalization is a successful campaign issue. Several newly elected governors – such as Ned Lamont of Connecticut, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, and Tim Walz of Minnesota – actively campaigned on a pledge to legalize the commercial cannabis market, while two additional governors – Gavin Newsom of California and Jared Polis of Colorado – have prominent histories as marijuana law reform advocates. One governor, New York’s Andrew Cuomo, moved decidedly in favor of legalization during his re-election campaign.

This shift in political support among governors bodes well for the prospects of the passage of successful legislative reforms in various states in 2019 and beyond. While to date only one state – Vermont – has moved to legalize adult marijuana use via legislation (as opposed to the passage of voter initiatives), NORML anticipates that as many as four to five additional states (e.g., Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and Rhode Island) may similarly do so in the near future.

Click here to see the full report

 

Acknowledgments

This information is continually changing and was last updated 4/12/2018. If you have an additional public comment that we do not have a record of or any additional information please email [email protected].

Important and timely publications such as this are only made possible when concerned citizens become involved with NORML. Please consider making a donation today so we may continue to work towards legalization and providing you the tools necessary to be an informed voter.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Attorney General Nominee Commits To Leave State-Legal Marijuana Programs Alone

In Senate testimony today, nominee for Attorney General William Barr committed to not use the limited resources of the Department of Justice to prosecute state-regulated and compliant marijuana businesses. His statements came response to questions from Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) — each of whom represent states where marijuana is legally regulated for either medical or recreational purposes.

“It is encouraging that William Barr pledged not to enforce federal marijuana prohibition against the majority of US states that have reformed their laws. With this commitment, Congress has a clear mandate to take action and end the underlying policy of federal criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In an era when 47 states have laws on the books that defy the Schedule 1 status of cannabis, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle.”

Supporters of reform efforts can easily contact their elected officials by visiting NORML’s Action Center.

In January of 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what is known as the Cole Memo, a 2013 Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole to US attorneys in all 50 states. This memorandum directed prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and not to prosecute those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale — provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

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. Additional states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

Members of Congress in recent years have approved amendments protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” However, this amendment does not provide protections to state-regulated activity governing activities specific to the adult use of marijuana.

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 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 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 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.

Click here to contact your elected officials in support of pending reform efforts. 

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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New Legislation Introduced To Protect State-Legal Marijuana Programs

Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act essentially would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000+ workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty, and that is what states and businesses would have with Congressman Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from potential rouge US Attorneys under a Department of Justice likely to be led by known drug warrior William Barr.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and tell them to add their name in support!

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.

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.

It is critical that federal officials protect our progress. Send a message in support of HR 493 now!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/11/19

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

As the first full week of the 116th Congress comes to a close, we have another new federal bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). HR 420 (yes, you read that right): The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Also, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) are joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

At the state level, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington launched a new program and began granting pardons to those with past criminal misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions on their record.

At a more local level, the commonwealth attorney of Norfolk, Virginia will stop prosecuting all misdemeanor cannabis possession cases. And Dayton, Ohio completely decriminalized cannabis possession, as the city commission decided to eliminate the existing $ 150 possession fine.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Regulate Like Alcohol: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

North Dakota

Rep. Shannon Roers Jones (R) introduced legislation, House Bill 1155, to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would impose a civil penalty of $ 200 for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as for the cultivation of up to two marijuana plants.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2134, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit patients to grow up to nine cannabis plants in a locked, enclosed facility, and to possess up to three ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

Update: SB 2134 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on 1/16/19 at 10:30am.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1272, to expand access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

The proposed changes are:

  • Allowing providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with Anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, autism, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
  • Allowing physician assistants and naturopaths to recommend medical cannabis to their patients;
  • And allowing for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting North Dakota.

A separate provision of the bill seeks to eliminate the option for patients to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes. NORML opposes this provision.

Update: HB 1272 will be heard by the Human Services Committee on 1/14 at 9:15am.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and urge them to amend this bill

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 399, to permit those convicted of past marijuana offenses to seek an expungement of their criminal records.

If passed, HB 399 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana. Lawmakers decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2017.

Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold an executive session for HB 399 on 1/17 at 11am.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Legislation is pending, House Bill 364, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit patients to grow up to two mature plants and 12 seedings, and to possess up to six ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 364 on 1/15 at 2pm.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation

Legislation is pending, House Bill 366, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid addiction, misuse, or abuse.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 366 on 1/17 at 2:30pm.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

Legislation is pending, House Bill 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 350 on 1/16 at 11am.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, House Bill 335, to expand access to medical cannabis in New Hampshire.

The measure would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 399 on 1/15 at 1pm.

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of additional dispensaries

Kentucky

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 80, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.

The measure would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and cultivate up to 6 mature, and/or 6 immature plants.

KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon plans to file legislation in 2019 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Under existing law, minor marijuana possession offenses are categorized as a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 45 days in jail.

KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Tennessee

Lawmakers will consider legislation in 2019 to allow qualified patients to access marijuana-infused products. While NORML believes this legislation is limited in scope, it is an important first step in legalizing and regulating medical cannabis access in Tennessee.

TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical access

Virginia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1557, to expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oil program.

The measure would allow Virginia’s licensed practitioners to recommend and pharmaceutical processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis oil. Under existing state law, medical cannabis oil may contain no more than five percent THC, greatly restricting its therapeutic potential and medical efficacy.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Georgia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 10, to reduce the penalty for minor marijuana possession offenses.

Under this proposed measure, the possession of up to one half ounce of marijuana would be reduced from an offense punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $ 1,000 to an offense punishable by a maximum fine of $ 300. However, the offense would still remain classified as a criminal misdemeanor.

GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

Colorado

Legislation is pending in Colorado that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

New York

Legislation is pending, S. 490, to allow qualified patients the option to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of herbal medical cannabis inhalation

Legislation is pending, S 219, to explicitly permit children and developmentally disabled individuals with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered at schools and other facilities, and require school districts and facilities to create policies for medical marijuana administration.

NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

Indiana

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1130, to protect out-of-state patients who possess medical cannabis while visiting Indiana.

Under this measure, patients who are registered to use medical cannabis in those 33 jurisdictions that permit it may legally bring up to 30 grams of their medicine with them while visiting Indiana.

IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protecting out of state patients

Other Actions to Take

Missouri

Legislation is pending, House Bill 440 / Senate Bill 2, to facilitate equity among those licensed to operate in the medical cannabis industry.

The measure would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to prioritize licensing applications submitted by women and minority owned business applicants.

MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of equity within the industry

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

The measure seeks to “establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp in new Hampshire so that farmers and other businesses in the New Hampshire agricultural industry can take advantage of this market opportunity.”

NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

South Carolina

Legislation is pending, H 3449, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 8, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

The measure seeks to “legalize the production of industrial hemp in the state and to establish rules for such production.”

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

North Dakota

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1349, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

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HR 420: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act

This week, Congressman Earl Blumenauer reserved HR 420 for his legislation, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

A decades-long champion of cannabis reform, this marks the first time that Blumenauer has staked out the specific bill number 420. His focus however, is ever on the goal of reform, telling Forbes, “While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek, the issue is very serious. Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives.”

The legislation would deschedule cannabis, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit. Further, marijuana would be removed from the enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matters concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales, to a newly renamed Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to ensure compliance with state laws and prevent illegal trafficking of the substance.

In the 115th Congress, the bill had 26 cosponsors – compared to 19 cosponsors in the 114th.

Will you tell your Representative to cosponsor the bill? Click here to send a message in less than 20 seconds.

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Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Announced

Today, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced, with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

First founded in 2017, the Caucus has been a pivotal element in our ability to build broad bipartisan support for legislation that would address every aspect of reform, from ending criminalization to research to veterans healthcare.

“The Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Congress is clearly out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward with legalization last November.”

“Over the last decade, I’ve worked to build understanding and consensus on the need for reform and our movement is cresting. I’m looking forward to working alongside Reps. Lee, Joyce, and Young to build on the bipartisan work we’ve done to end the senseless federal prohibition on marijuana once and for all.”

The addition of Rep. Lee brings much-needed diversity to the Caucus’s leadership, as she will become the first woman and first African-American to serve as co-chair. A longtime champion of reform efforts, Rep. Lee introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the last Congress which received the highest number of cosponsorships of any legislation that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in history.

“For far too long, communities of color and women have been left out of the conversation on cannabis. I am committed to ensuring that marijuana reform goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice reform so we can repair some of the harm of the failed War on Drugs. We must also work to build an industry that is equitable and inclusive of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition,” said Rep. Lee.

By joining, Rep. Joyce becomes the first leader in the Caucus to come from a state that has yet to pass an adult-use regulatory program. A longtime supporter of reform efforts himself, Rep. Joyce stepped up in the last Congress and introduced The States Act, legislation that would ease the tension between federal prohibition and state-legal programs, as well as was a cosponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act entirely.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in leading the effort to implement responsible, commonsense cannabis policies,” said Rep. Joyce. “It is critical that we protect the rights of the states across the country, like Ohio, that have already done so at the state level. The federal government’s interference in this arena has stifled important medical research, interfered with doctors and patients making treatment decisions and harmed state-legal businesses. I look forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer, Congressman Young, and Congresswoman Lee to advance sensible cannabis reforms that will benefit our nation’s veterans, patients, and businesses across the country.”

The continued efforts of the Caucus will lead to increased levels of support for reform at the federal level and fosters an all-around positive element to promote effective government solutions.

“Since the initial launch of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus we’ve seen an exponential growth in interest, legislation, and membership many would not have expected”, said Young. “The idea of States’ Rights has been a central tenet of this movement and one that I believe will ultimately carry the day. I encourage all Members to join us in this debate and explore the varying issues.”

In the 115th Congress, NORML hosted a number of events in cooperation with the Cannabis Caucus, including policy briefings with travel writer Rick Steves, former US Attorneys Barry Grissom and Bill Nettles, and victims of criminalization as part of “The Faces of Prohibition.”

We look forward to continuing to work with the growing group of congressional allies who join the Cannabis Caucus to end federal marijuana criminalization once and for all.

You can email your Representative now to tell them to join their colleagues in the Cannabis Caucus by clicking here.  

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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