(KY) Hemp legislation passes House Agriculture panel

For Immediate Release

Feb. 13, 2019

Hemp legislation passes House Agriculture panel

FRANKFORT—Kentucky would expand its definition of industrial hemp to match language in the recently signed 2018 Farm Bill under legislation that today cleared the House Agriculture Committee.

House Bill 197, sponsored by House Agriculture Chair Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield, would expand the definition to include the seeds of industrial hemp—formally called Cannabis sativa L.—derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids and isomers, among other components. That is the same definition found in the new U.S. Farm Bill, signed into law late last year, which removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Until last year hemp was outlawed nationwide since 1970 under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The 2014 federal Farm Bill, however, allowed states to engage in hemp research pilot programs under certain conditions. Industrial hemp has been grown in Kentucky since 2014 under a state-regulated research pilot program.

The committee today also approved House Concurrent Resolution 43, also sponsored by Rep. Heath, which asks social media sites Facebook and YouTube and web marketplaces eBay and Amazon to revisit policies that some users say interfere with marketing of hemp-based products.

“Multiple industrial hemp business owners across the Commonwealth encountered an unnecessary obstruction in marketing efforts when their key marketing platforms, such as Facebook, unpublished their web pages” even through production and marketing of industrial hemp and hemp products are legal, the resolution states.

If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, HCR 43 would formally request that the four internet companies “quickly reexamine their policies relating to industrial hemp businesses.”

Both pieces of legislation now go to the full House for consideration.

–END–

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Veterans Medical Marijuana Access Legislation Introduced In House and Senate

Today, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 33 states that regulate it. Passage of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act ends this discrimination against veterans and prevents sanctions against VA doctors who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment to their patients.

Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers now!

“The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would provide crucial medical and civil protections for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country. It is unconscionable that these brave individuals who protect our nation’s freedoms would be treated as criminals when they return home just for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership by Senator Schatz and Rep. Lee in putting forward this legislation.”

“Historically, veteran and military communities have long been at the forefront of American social change, catalyzing the widespread acceptance of evolving cultural norms and perceptions surrounding racial, gender, and sexual equality. The therapeutic use of cannabis by veterans follows this trend and members of Congress should follow their lead and pass the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act,” Strekal concluded.

“In 33 states, doctors and their patients have the option to use medical marijuana to manage pain—unless those doctors work for the VA and their patients are veterans,” Senator Schatz said. “This bill gives VA doctors in these states the option to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans, and it also promises to shed light on how medical marijuana can help with the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

“As the daughter of a veteran, I am committed to ensuring that our veterans have access to the quality and comprehensive medical care they deserve – including medical marijuana. The current federal prohibitions on cannabis are unnecessary, harmful, and counterproductive,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The federal government should never stand between our veterans and their medicine. This critical legislation is a long overdue step to empower veterans and their doctors to make informed health care decisions, without political interference.”

You can read NORML’s Fact Sheet on Marijuana and Veterans Issues HERE.

A copy of the bill is available here.

A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition. A 2017 review of over 10,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for the treatment for chronic pain in adults.”

Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act by clicking here now.

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The State of Cannabis Reform in Indiana

During the 2018 legislative session, state representative Jim Lucas (R-69) introduced his first medical cannabis bill, HB 1106, which quickly gained three co-authors after being assigned to the House Public Health committee. Fellow Republican Sean Eberhart (district 57) joined Lucas along with Democrats Sue Errington (district 34) and Chuck Moseley (district 10) on the bill, offering bipartisan for the reform.

Citing the short session and limited time for hearings, public health chairwoman Representative Cindy Kirchhofer (R-89) opted instead to hold a hearing for House Resolution 2, authored by Representative Math Lehman (R-79) along with co-authors including herself, Representative Chris Judy (R-83), and Representative Vanessa Summers (D-99), which called for the legislative council to assign the topic of medical marijuana to the interim Public Health committee as well as requesting that the federal government remove cannabis from the Schedule I category in the Controlled Substances Act. Lehman’s interest in advancing the conversation originates in part from his friendship with his mentor and former state representative Tom Knollman, who refuses opioids in the treatment of his multiple sclerosis and is an advocate for legalizing cannabis. Citing the diametric opinions involved in this topic, from individuals such as Knollman citing their personal experience of the benefit on one hand to law enforcement and other organizations warning against going down the route of legalization on the other, Lehman explained that he thought it was time for our state to begin looking into the evidence as well as the experiences of other states and the overall impact on society.

HR 2 passed out of committee and was adopted by the House in a unanimous 94-0 vote, leading to the interim Public Health hearing that took place on October 18th of 2018. Numerous individuals testified in favor, including I.U. oncologist Dr. Alan Greenspan, Illinois state representative Tim Butler, as well as Marshall county prosecutor Nelson Chipman, who testified in a break from the official stance of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Council (IPAC), an organization that has maintained a persistent presence at hearings involving any potential legalization of cannabis including agricultural hemp and low-THC hemp extracts.

During the discussion following testimony, state senator Mark Stoops (D-40) proposed a recommendation to create a state regulatory agency or commission to asses the impact and effectiveness of various regulatory schemes for a medical cannabis program, given the evidence and potential of cannabis for a variety of conditions and the number of states that have already instituted medical cannabis programs. His original language was amended to only specifically mention conditions for which there is a high level of evidence, based on a list of evidence levels provided by lay committee member Dr. Richard Feldman, although this motion was voted down by committee members and instead a statement claiming that the committee failed to reach a consensus and recommended further study was agreed upon by the committee.

There were varying reasons for opposition to Stoops’ motion, from wanting to hear from constituents before voting in favor (Senator Vaneta Becker), to concerns about creating a new commission to evaluate regulatory options. “I am opposed to creating another government bureaucratic agency and believe that it is not taxpayer friendly,” explained state representative Steven Davvisson (R-73) to constituents in the Facebook group Concerned Taxpayers of Washington County, defending his vote against Senator Stoops’ proposed recommendation to constituents. “It doesn’t matter what the committee recommends because a bill still must be brought forward in the General Assembly and I’m sure there will be many bills addressing this topic.” True to his prediction, a record number of cannabis bills have been introduced for consideration during the 2019 session, including a total of 13 that pertain to either medical or decriminalization.

“I understand many people have concerns about this issue,” Representative Davisson added, “but ultimately any recommendation from the committee would have only been exactly that, a recommendation. It could have been accepted by the General Assembly or ignored. By not reaching a consensus on the topic neither positive or negative, it will still be open for discussion in the General Assembly.”

With what amounted to a neutral recommendation and a call for further legislative discussion, one might have thought that when the House Public Health committee convened in January for the start of the 2019 session that they might have heeded that call by scheduling a hearing for one of the several medical cannabis bills assigned to the committee. While a hearing might not lead to the passage of a bill, it would have at minimum provided the opportunity for the type of detailed discussion requested by some interim committee members.

Senator John Ruckelshaus (R-30), who served on the interim Public Health committee and is the ranking member of the Senate Health and Provider Services committee, commented on the summer study process at a Hamilton County town hall on January 26th. “I must admit that that committee was not a robust committee. It was not a committee where we really got (I’m not going to say ‘into the weeds’) into the true depth of the issue because one of the things we really didn’t get into was to study about the other states, whose doing this right, whose doing it safe. I want say from my heart with this issue that I am open to this issue because some of you know the story about my son, who is a quadriplegic. I know how families suffer, I have seen families suffer, I have seen individuals suffer, so this is very important to me and I know this is sweeping the country right now.”

While Senator Ruckelshaus was not satisfied with the breadth of the testimony at the interim hearing, the summer study process was originally billed as a comprehensive look at the issue. “Study committees are a great tool for the legislature to fully review issues. While the federal government has yet to recognize the use of medical cannabis, we plan to fully review the issue,” Representative Cindy Kirchhoffer claimed in the lead-up to the hearing. “There is no guarantee that legislation or policy changes will come from study committee, however this is a great chance for citizens to actively engage in the legislative process and share their thoughts on this complex topic.”

With the number of speakers both supportive and opposed scheduled into a several hour hearing, many speakers rushed through their presentations in order to allow time for everyone to speak. In a phone conversation, Senator Ruckelshaus explained that the type of discussion he would like to see on this issue would involve several days of hearings where legislators can really dive into the details of how other states are implementing medical programs and which ones have the best practices that could be implemented in Indiana.

“In Indiana we must do it right, we must do it safe,” Ruckelshaus stated in his final comments at the Hamilton County town hall. “So again, I am open to this concept, but we need to have more discussion.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there will be any further discussion at all this session, at least not in a manner which allows public participation or the possibility, however faint, of advancing legislation. Representative Kirchhoffer explained that in lieu of hearing any of the medical cannabis bills assigned to her committee, she wants the Senate to take up the issue this year because the Senate Democrats made medical cannabis part of their 2019 legislative priorities. The Democrats, being the minority political party, do not hold any committee chair positions and therefore do not have any further ability to advance this conversation beyond the bills they have introduced.

The fate of non-hemp cannabis in the Senate rests in the hands of two individuals: Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-5) and Senator Mike Young (R-35). Senator Charbonneau is the chair of the Health and Provider Services committee, which was assigned two cannabis bills: S 357, Karen Tallian’s bill establishing a medical cannabis program, and S 287, introduced by Senator Mark Stoops, which would create a defense-to-possession for those whose doctors certify in writing that they have a terminal illness or serious untreatable disease. Karen Tallian also filed a decriminalization bill, S 213, which was assigned to Senator Mike Young’s Corrections & Criminal Law committee.

In a recent interview with Fox59, Senator Charbonneau told reporters that he was unwilling to consider allowing use while it is still illegal under federal law, offering little hope for a hearing in his committee this year. While Tallian’s bill would offer a more complete medical program, Stoops’ bill stops short of legalizing use per se or even setting up a legal or regulated supply chain, instead merely offering a defense to possession for those with terminal or untreatable conditions. This reform would circumvent any perceived or real concerns with state legalization in spite of federal law, although Senator Charbonneau has not yet responded to any queries asking if he would consider hearing this bill.

Senator Mike Young, who authored the 2018 bill legalizing low-THC hemp extract, would not commit to a hearing for the decriminalization bill assigned to his committee, however he did make the following statement on the Indiana NORML Facebook page in response to a question about whether or not he would be willing to comment on the possibility of hearing S 213 in his committee: “Only to say that I have 70 or so bills assigned to my committee. I have only 7 possible hearing dates available and have already had three meeting totaling 13 bills heard with one carryover. Which means I only have four dates left where I can hear 12 bills of the 57 that remain.”

“He has said that he will hear certain bills as time allows,” his legislative aide, Andrianna Hji-Avgouti, stated in an email. “As of right now, he has them prioritized and that is how he chooses what to hear in committee.” It is unclear how far down the list of bills assigned to his committee that S 213 is prioritized, although this offers the slight possibility that Senator Young has at least not completely ruled out the possibility of giving it a hearing.

Meanwhile in the House, several bills offering different iterations of cannabis decriminalization have been assigned to the Corrections and Criminal Law committee chaired by Representative Wendy McNamara (R-76). Bills assigned  were introduced by both Republicans and Democrats, including Jim Lucas (HB 1283), John Young (HB 1460), Heath VanNetter and Mara Reardon (HB 1658), Ragen Hatcher (HB 1540) and Dan Forestal (HB 1658).  When Representative McNamara’s press secretary was asked if McNamara would be willing to provide a quote for this article on whether or not she planned to schedule any of these bills for a hearing, the request was responded to with a simple, “Rep. McNamara is unavailable for an interview”. While full legalization and even the implementation of a medical access program are still the source of contention in the Statehouse, considering some form of decriminalization is not completely anathema to legislators. Representative Lehman, while stating up front that he will likely never support full legalization in Indiana, said that the topic of decriminalization in some form has merit and is worth reviewing.

From outside the Statehouse, it can seem as though the issue is in a gridlock that might never be broken until it is too late for some Hoosier to access the therapeutic uses of cannabis or to avoid the criminal consequences of possession, but legislators familiar with Indiana politics behind the scenes are noting an increasing willingness to see this as a serious rather than fringe issue. “I think that there is momentum building, just not as fast as some of us would like,” Representative Shane Lindauer (R-63) told us. Lindauer is Vice Chair of the Public Health committee and co-author of Representative Lucas’ medical bill, HB 1384. “Please continue to encourage members to contact their state Representatives and Senators,” he said, offering advice on how to continue to move this issue forward. “I understand that sometimes it feels like that doesn’t get us anywhere, but I can assure you that if done respectfully, it will register.”

While the decision not to hear bills exists in a political environment that includes lack of support from Governor Holcomb, the current state of cannabis reform in Indiana and the potential progress that could be made this session rests largely on the shoulders of a few committee chairs, none of whom have thus far opted to schedule hearings for the cannabis bills assigned to their committee. 2019 might not be the year of measurable progress (although it is certainly not out of the question), but it is absolutely the year that the General Assembly becomes aware of the fact that this issue can’t be shuffled around forever without adequately addressing it.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

 

 

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S. 420 Introduced To End Federal Prohibition And Regulate Marijuana Nationwide

Senator Ron Wyden has introduced legislation in the Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act — to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matters concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales — thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 420 now!

“Senate Bill 420 is another sign that the growing public support for ending our failed war on cannabis consumers nationwide is continuing to translate into political support amongst federal officials,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “If we are truly going to move our nation towards sensible marijuana policies, the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act is paramount. Annually, 650,000 Americans are arrested for nothing more than the possession of small amounts of marijuana and now is the time for Congress to once and for all end put an end to the national embarrassment that is cannabis prohibition. With marijuana legalization being supported by a supermajority of Americans while Congress’ approval rating hovers around 20 percent, ending our country’s disastrous prohibition against marijuana would not just be good policy, but good politics.”

Upon introduction, Senator Wyden said, “The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed. It’s time Congress make the changes Oregonians and Americans across the country are demanding.”

Representative Earl Blumenauer, who will carry the House companion legislation, said, “Oregon has been and continues to be a leader in commonsense marijuana policies and the federal government must catch up,” said Blumenauer. “The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced. The House is doing its work and with the help of Senator Wyden’s leadership in the Senate, we will break through.”

Legislative text for the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act can be found here.

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 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. Instead, 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.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/8/19

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

This week, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden introduced legislation in the Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act — to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference.

A subcommittee of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on cannabis business banking issues next week.

At the state level, activists in Texas, Maryland, and Kentucky gathered in their state capitols alongside state and local NORML chapters to lobby for sensible marijuana policy reform legislation.

Activists in Mississippi have already collected thousands of signatures in hopes of qualifying a medical cannabis ballot initiative for the 2020 ballot.

A Georgia bill to reduce marijuana possession penalties was defeated in a senate committee this week. So was a Mississippi medical cannabis proposal.

At a more local level, efforts are underway in Ann Arbor, Michigan to put a cannabis social use question before voters on the 2020 ballot. Clark County, Nevada officials deferred consideration of a proposal to allow social cannabis lounges in the county.

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

Actions to Take

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

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2362, to allow those with certain past cannabis-related arrests or convictions to petition the court to have their records expunged.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2400, to provide courts the discretion to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of certain crimes.

Under existing state law, marijuana possession (of two pounds or less) carries a mandatory minimum sentence of four months in jail and/or a $ 1,000 fine.

AZ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of removing mandatory minimum sentences

Colorado

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

Update: The Senate Health & Human Services committee recommended the bill be passed with amendments on 2/6. The bill will now go to the Senate floor for consideration by the full chamber.

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

Update: The bill was approved unanimously by the full House, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.

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

 

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, Proposed Bill 350, to limit patients who use medical cannabis in compliance with state law from seeking civil actions if they are discriminated against by their employer. NORML opposes this legislation.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in opposition to restricting patients’ employment rights

Legislation is pending, House Bill 5442, to expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis by allowing physicians to recommend it to those with generalized chronic pain.

Update: HB 5442 is scheduled for a hearing in the Joint Committee on Public Health on 2/11.

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

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 45, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid withdrawal.

Update: SB 45 was heard by the Joint Committee on Public Health on 2/4, but no action was taken on the bill.

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as a substitute for opioids

Florida

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 182, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

Update: SB 182 was approved by the Health Policy Committee on 2/6 with some more restrictive amendments, of which include requiring patients to get a second opinion from an unrelated physician in order to be authorized to smoke medical cannabis. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee on 2/12/19 at 4:00 pm, 110 Senate Building.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and urge them to pass a bill without arbitrary restrictions

Democratic State Senator Bill Montford re-introduced Senate Bill 384, which would allow qualified patients to be administered medical marijuana in schools.

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access in school

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, House Bill 708 / Senate Bill 686, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of small amounts of marijuana for adults.

Update: SB 686 was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee on 2/7.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.

The proposed changes:

  • Expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients;
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to possess up to two additional manufacturing or processing facilities separate from their production facilities; and
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis and cannabidiol products

Update: HB 673 was approved by the Committees on Health on 2/8, and now awaits action from the Judiciary Committee.

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

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1524, 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.

Update: The Committee on Labor, Culture, and Arts approved SB 1524 on 2/6

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

Iowa

Legislation is pending, SF 104 / HF 221, to expand Iowa’s narrow medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

If passed, this bill would establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program that provides qualified patients access to physician-authorized medical cannabis via licensed providers.

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

Indiana

Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 1540 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.

Separately, House Bill 1283 would impose a class D infraction for the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana, which translates to a civil penalty punishable by a fine of up to $ 25.

A third measure, House Bill 1658, would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana.

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

Kentucky

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon introduced Senate Bill 82 / House Bill 265, 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

Maryland

Legislation is pending to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use in Maryland.

House Bill 656 would permit adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to four marijuana plants in their home.

House Bill 632 would amend the state’s constitution by putting a question before voters on the 2020 ballot regarding whether or not the state should regulate marijuana sales. If approved by voters, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

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

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 862, to protect state-sanctioned medical cannabis patients and their caregivers from housing discrimination.

The measure would prohibit landlords from arbitrarily refusing to provide housing access to an individual based solely on their possession or consumption of medical cannabis.

MD resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of housing protections

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 864, to protect registered medical cannabis patients and their caregivers from employment discrimination.

If passed, this measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against qualifying patients who legally consume cannabis off-the-job.

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

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, House Bill 481, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants. The bill would also establish a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the regulated market.

Update: The bill is scheduled for a full Committee Work Session on 2/12/2019 at 10:00am in LOB 204

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

New Mexico

Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.

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

Oregon

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 420, to expand upon Oregon’s expungement law.

The measure would direct the Department of Justice to automatically conduct a review of past misdemeanor cannabis convictions, and to “set aside” offenses that are no longer a crime under state law.

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

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2687, to protect medical cannabis patients who require organ transplants from being deprived treatment solely due to their status as a medical cannabis patient.

OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protections for patients needing organ transplants

Rhode Island

Legislation is pending, H. 5290, 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.

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

Tennessee

Legislation is pending, SB 256/HB 235, to decriminalize the possession small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee.

The measure would decriminalize criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

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

Legislation is pending, SB 486/HB 637, to provide qualifying patients access to medical cannabis via licensed retailers.

The measure would allow registered patients to use, possess, and consume medical cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

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

Legislation is pending, HB 883/SB 686, to allow individuals convicted of certain cannabis-related offenses, upon the completion of their sentence, to petition the court to have their records sealed.

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

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. The bill was already approved by the Senate.

Update: SB 1557 was approved by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions on 2/7.

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

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1719, to 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. The bill was already approved by the Senate.

Update: SB 1719 was approved by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions on 2/7.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing registered agents

Wyoming

Legislation is pending, House Bill 278, to regulate medical marijuana access to qualified patients.

The measure would allow state-registered patients who possess a recommendation from their physician to use, possess, and access medical cannabis via licensed providers.

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

That’s all for this week!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Texas Marijuana Policy Lobby Day

On Thursday, hundreds of Texans joined us at the Texas State Capitol to discuss marijuana policy with legislators! For this historic day, over 400 Texans registered to participate, covering all thirty-one senate districts and three-quarters of the house district. It was a beautiful representation of how important reform is for Texans.

We provided a training session for our participants that covered an overview of the legislative process, review of priority legislation, what to expect from their visits and Q&A. We provided training packets for them to use in preparation for their visits, including voting records to check where their legislators have historically stood on the issue. Participants then crafted a message to place on their postcards which they delivered to offices along with policy overviews and then requested their Senator and Representative co-sponsor important legislation. Pictures of the event can be found here. Livestream of the event can be found here.

The changes that I have seen over the last 14 years in Texas are stark. The first lobby day I ever participated in only had a few dozen dedicated Texans holding the torch for freedom. At that time, legislators had a harsh opinion of our work. But today, we have a record number of bills and have created a huge change in public opinion in the Capitol. The import of these drastic changes over the years are not lost and I am so thankful for all of the work that Texans have done to destigmatize marijuana.

We want to thank our coalition, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, for helping to continue to elevate and expand these lobby days. We are so appreciative of all of our volunteers who made this event possible. Additionally, RAMP and DFW NORML made it possible for more Texans to participate by arranging buses to bring them to Austin.

Lastly, we still have a lot of work to do this session. Brush up on our advocacy training. Catch up on the bills and participate in our action alerts! Stay tuned to us via social media and our newsletter to track how the bills are progressing and know when new action alerts are put out.

Please support our work during this session by becoming a member, making a one-time donation or becoming a sustaining donor.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths with NORML’s Fact Sheets! For more information follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website!

 

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Cannabis Advocates to Rally in Kentucky

The Kentucky chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KY NORML) is assisting Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana (KY4MM) in its lobbying efforts Feb. 5 with constituents from across the state seeking cannabis reform.

“There are several meetings made for constituents to meet with their legislators on both days. KY4MM has been extremely important in helping to get all of our supporters to come together. It’s vital that we speak as one voice for a medical program.” said Matthew Bratcher, KY NORML executive director.

Patrick Dunegan, Executive Director for Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC), “We should not be prisoners of an imaginary border for our health”, referring to Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois becoming emerging medical cannabis markets.

There are four bills pertaining to the legalization of cannabis during the 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-33, is sponsoring a medical cannabis bill (HB 136) that allows doctors to recommend cannabis therapy as part of patients’ treatment regimens. “It is time to allow doctors to have this option for their patients,” Nemes said Jan. 9 during a news conference.

Fairdale Republican state Sen. Dan Seum, R-38, has proposed SB80, which would allow responsible adult use of cannabis. Seum recently told lawmakers he “smoked a joint” instead of using potentially addictive opioids during colon cancer treatment. “And guess what? No nausea,”; Seum said last month.

Other cannabis bills on the 2019 legislative agenda include a Cannabis Possession Decriminalization bill (SB 82) sponsored by State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, which would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use; and Democratic state Sen. Perry Clark’s “Shauna’s Law”; (SB83) which provides workplace protections for public employees who fail a drug test related to use of a legal industrial product, such as CBD.

Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia are among states bordering Kentucky that have approved legislation pertaining to medicinal marijuana.

Following Tuesday’s lobbying session, KY NORML is hosting a Cannabis Community Forum at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Plantory, 501 W. Sixth St., Suite 250, Lexington, on the second floor of the West Sixth Complex. The forum includes an educational seminar on cannabis, a review of House Bill 136 (HB136) and an expert question and answer session.

The following day, KY NORML returns to the capitol with KY4MM, and Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC) to continue lobbying efforts, culminating with a Rally from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. Scheduled speakers include Rep. Jason Nemes (R-33), Rep. Diane St. Onge (R-63), Sen. Dan Seum (R-38) among others.

For more information regarding the Feb. 5 and 6 lobbying sessions or Tuesday’s Lexington forum, contact Matthew Bratcher at [email protected] or Jaime Montalvo at [email protected]

KY NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to influence legislators for the expansion of our hemp industry, implementation of medicinal cannabis, and laying the foundation for responsible adult use.

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NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Marijuana Legalization in NY & Driving: Response to NYS Association of Police Chiefs from Roc NORML

The New York State Association of Police made a statement opposing legalization of cannabis for adult-use in New York, in response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he plans to pass legislation April 1st, with the budget, that will legalize cannabis for adult-use in New York. The New York State Association of Police said traffic safety is a major concern, citing an increase in vehicle-related fatalities by 62 percent in Colorado the first year cannabis was legalized in the state.

Roc NORML is the Rochester chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and we want to make sure the public is aware that statement is simply not true. Here are the number of vehicle-related fatalities, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation:

Year
Total Number of Vehicle Related Fatalities
% Change (+/-) from previous year
Notes
2002 743 2 years before medical legalization, the largest number of vehicle-related fatalities in the last 17 years
2003
641
1 year prior to legalization
2004 667 +4.1% Sales began January 1
2005 606 -9.1%
2006 535 -11.7%
2007 555 +3.7%
2008 548 -1.2%
2009 466 -15.0%
2010 450 -3.4%
2011 447 -0.1%
2012 474 +6.0%  Adult-use passes by ballot
2013 481 +1.5%
2014 488 +1.5%  Adult use-sales go into effect
2015 547 +12.1%
2016 608 +11.2%
2017 648 +6.7%
2018 620 -4.3%  Four years into adult-use sales, net fatalities below 2002 despite rise in population and increased miles traveled
Total % change from pre-legalization (2003) until 2018 = -3.3%
Total % change from pre-legalization (2003) until 5 years post (2009) = -27.3%

Source: Colorado Department of Transportation

At the same time, we should also acknowledge the overall population in Colorado has increased significantly, an increase of 13.2% as estimated by the US Census. Furthermore, when we look at states that haven’t legalized cannabis for adult-use, take Alabama for example, we see similar trends related to number of vehicle related fatalities.

The conclusions we can draw from this data are as follows:

  • – Legalization does not lead to a decrease in road safety, and the argument can even be made, with this data, that roads become more safe after legalization;
  • – We need to approach this topic in the same way we approach any other substance that doesn’t have a biological field sobriety test associated with it, like Ambien or Xanax, and we need to put responsibility in the hands of the consumer and expect them not to operate a motor vehicle if they are intoxicated from the substance; and
  • – As advised by the American Automobile Association (AAA), we urgently need more research, and we shouldn’t put arbitrary “per se” driving limits for the presence of THC, as they improperly classify motorists who are not behaviorally impaired.

While we can understand law enforcement’s hesitancy to embrace legalization after their efforts against the plant during the War on Drugs, we want to urge them to consider the benefits we’ve seen in other states that have legalized. Most notably, law enforcement from those states have increased the rate at which they solve more serious crimes, like automobile theft and assault, as well as an overall decrease in serious crimes, like murder and rape.

Roc NORML is dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of responsible cannabis use and we look forward to continuing these conversations with local law enforcement. Please visit www.rocnorml.org for more information about how you can get involved and follow ROC NORML on Facebook and Twitter.

You can read more about marijuana and psychomotor performance on NORML’s factsheet here.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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AG Nominee Reiterates Non-Interference Stance

First reported on Forbes, William Barr, former Attorney General, advocate for increased incarceration, and current nominee to be the next Attorney General reiterated his stance in writing to not “go after” state legal marijuana programs and expressed support for increased research.

His statements before the Judiciary Committee 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.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

“William Barr is incredibly wise to acknowledge that the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to the marijuana reform movement. Now is the time for the Department of Justice to work in good faith with the Senate Judiciary Committee on legislative solutions that address the senseless waste of law enforcement’s precious time and resources due to the failed federal policy of prohibition and criminalization.”

Below is a clip of NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri discussing Barr’s nomination with CBS News shortly after he made the first comments in committee.

For background, 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 has 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.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Maryland: Baltimore Prosecutor To No Longer Target Marijuana Possession Offenses

Officials will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses in Baltimore, as per a new policy unveiled today by the office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.

Under the plan, which takes immediate effect, the office will also move to expunge the criminal records of an estimated 5,000 citizens previously convicted for cannabis-related offenses. The office’s decision to cease targeting minor marijuana violations is similar to actions recently taken by prosecutors in a number of major cities, including St. Louis, Missouri; Westchester, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Norfolk, Virginia, among others.

Commenting on the new policy, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The State’s Attorney for the city of Baltimore is to be commended for taking this proactive stance. Branding individuals — many of whom are at an age when they are just beginning their professional careers — as lifelong criminals for minor marijuana possession offenses results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, professional licensing, and student aid, and serves no legitimate societal purpose. This change is a recognition that marijuana criminalization is a disproportionate public policy response to behavior that is, at worst, a public health concern. But it should not be a criminal justice matter.”

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said at a press conference that the new policy will provide “a major step forward in making Baltimore city safer, fairer, and more equitable, and even more just.”

The Office will continue to take action against felony cases involving the possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, though prosecutors will refer all first-time offenders to diversion programs.

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