NORML Responds as Ex-House Speaker Signs On With Marijuana Industry Leader

It has been announced that former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, along with former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, have joined the Board of Advisors for Acreage Holdings, a multi-state corporation operating in the medical and recreational marijuana space. The company holds licenses for dozens of cannabis businesses in the United States.

Boehner, in comments to the press, made it clear that he has reversed his long held opposition to marijuana legalization. In an interview with Bloomberg news wire, he stated: “Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position.”

In response to this announcement, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri issued the following statement:

“John Boehner’s evolution on marijuana legalization mirrors that of both the American public in general and Republicans specifically. Recent polling finds that over 60 percent of Americans support adult use marijuana legalization and, for the first time, this percentage includes a majority of self-identified Republicans. Allowing states the flexibility and autonomy to set their own marijuana regulatory policies is consistent with conservatives’ long-held respect for the Tenth Amendment, as well as with the party’s recent embracing of populism.”

Altieri continued, “Regardless of motive, former Speaker Boehner is still held in high regard by a large percentage of the GOP membership and voter base. We look forward to his voice joining the growing chorus calling for an end to cannabis criminalization. Anything that expedites the ability for patients to access this safe and reliable treatment alternative, and that facilitates an end to the practice of arresting otherwise law abiding citizens for the possession of a plant should be welcomed with open arms.”

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Building A Better Medical Program In Pennsylvania, One Flower At A Time

As a longtime Pennsylvanian, I have gotten used to the slow drudge of progress and the archaic mindset of our policymakers in this state. With that said, we did manage to pass a Medical Marijuana Law two years ago this month, though the law became a skeleton of its robust beginnings. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act was enacted earlier this year, as the first facilities began growing, processing, and dispensing cannabis-derived products (oils, tinctures, topical, vapes, and pills). The program has seen many pitfalls in its infancy, including supply shortages, a lack of qualified doctors, and many other shortcomings yet to be addressed. But public response has been phenomenal, with nearly 30 thousand patients have registered in the program’s first few months.

Recently the Department of Health (parent to our state’s Medical Marijuana Office), announced the second round of applications for permits for growers/processors and dispensaries. Our state also made a bold move and announced that it would be one of the first states to offer permits for clinical research of medical marijuana. As a crescendo to all of that, yesterday the PA-DOH MMJ Advisory Board convened two years after the program’s inception (as was written into the law) to make recommendations to the Department of Health, its committees, and the Governor. The formation of this committee was included in the law, to act as an independent voice to meet and make recommendations periodically, composed of doctors, law enforcement, government officials, and patients advocates.

The Board’s recommendations included adding indications (to the 17 already in place), adjusting rules, and adding flower (to be vaped) as a form of medication. The addition of flower was our biggest ask of this committee. Yesterday’s proceedings were only a first step and are merely “recommendations”. The Secretary of Health has up to one year to act upon yesterday’s recommendations, and that will include the political bureaucracy of committees making recommendations as well as studying and implementing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate any of these changes in the law. This is FAR from being law, but Secretary of Health, Doctor Rachel Levine, has been a proponent of the program thus far, and we are hopeful for swift action in Harrisburg.

What will this mean for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients? The added indications will create a more inclusive program. The inclusion of flower to the program will provide added relief to many patients, including those with PTSD. Optimistically, this NORML Executive Director sees this as an even greater victory as it puts into place all of the instruments necessary to handle the eventual statewide LEGAL sale of recreational marijuana. Like any new idea, PA’s program has its’ faults but is growing faster than anticipated. I believe that these ongoing Advisory Board reviews are our best hope for a more perfect program for everybody. As an advocacy group, Lehigh Valley NORML will continue to push our politicians for more reform, until we get it right. In the end, we fight for the people – and the people want this reform. The patients need these reforms. And we DEMAND them!

Jeff Riedy is the Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. Follow their work on Facebook and Twitter.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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The FDA Wants To Hear From You About Marijuana Scheduling

…At least that’s how the public comment process works. 

This year, the United Nations World Health Organization is due to review the current international classification of marijuana, THC, cannabidiol, and other related compounds and preparations this year. In the lead-up, the WHO is asking member nations submit feedback, of which no nation is more influential than the United States.

Between now and April 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comment from “interested persons” (I.E. you) regarding the international Schedule 1 Status of marijuana under international agreements.

We have made it incredibly easy for you to make your voice heard and need you to join your voice with thousands of other NORML members in making it clear: Cannabis does not fit in a controlled substances agreement, let alone Schedule 1.

Click here to submit a comment. 

Right now, we are collecting comments and will be delivering them by hand to the FDA offices on April 23rd.

In the action alert, you will find a pre-drafted comment that we encourage you to amend and include any other important aspects you deem worthy. You can draw additional information from our Factsheets and About Marijuana pages to expand your position for these public comments.

Don’t forget, democracy is not a spectator sport. Go on record with the FDA and fill out a comment to recommend the international descheduling of marijuana NOW.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/6/18

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

I first want to bring your attention to some key developments happening at the state level. Proponents of a 2018 medical cannabis ballot measure in Utah achieved a signature milestone last week, a representative from the Lt. Governor’s Office said that officials have already validated 117,000 signatures from registered voters — more than than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the state ballot.

Also at the state level, The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs announced plans to solicit public comment on how marijuana is classified under state law and whether any change in its classification status is warranted. The Division will solicit comments during a series of public events, known as “informal conferences,” in Newark and Trenton later this month. The Division also will accept written submissions.

At a more local level, the Albuquerque, New Mexico City Council approved a proposal to decriminalize marijuana, Portland, Oregon is using $ 300,000 in marijuana tax revenue to fund a public education program about safe driving, and voters in Naturita and Berthoud, Colorado approved ballot measures allowing marijuana businesses to operate.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act 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.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Connecticut

House Bill 5394 is pending to develop a plan to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana in the state and to provide for substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs and measures.

Update: HB 5394 was approved by the Joint Appropriations Committee by a 27-24 vote on 4/5. This marks the first time any committee in the state has ever approved an adult use legalization measure.

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

Missouri

House Bill 1488 seeks to establish provisions regarding the legalization of marijuana as well as establish certain licensing requirements.

Update: HB 1488 will be heard by the House General Law Committee on 4/10 at 5 PM or upon adjournment (whichever is later) in House Hearing Room 5.

MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

New Hampshire

Senate Bill 388 is pending, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. It already passed the full Senate last month.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis.

Update: The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 388 on 4/11 at 11am in LOB room 206.

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

Tennessee

SB 1710 and HB 1749 would permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: Senator Steve Dickerson, sponsor of SB 1710, killed the bill for this year due to the lack of support from the legislature, but HB 1749 is still scheduled to be heard by the House Health Committee on 4/10.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana extracts

California

Expungement
Assembly Bill 1793 is pending, “to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

Update: The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on AB 1793 on 4/17 at 9am.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past convictions

Employment Protections
AB 2069, to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients. The bill would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Update: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee will hold a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/18 at 1:30pm.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for patients

Alaska

Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

Update: SB 184 was approved by the Judiciary Committee and referred to the Finance Committee on 3/29.

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past convictions

 

Other Actions to Take

Hawaii

House Bill 2729 seeks to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status. The bill already passed the full House last month.

Update: The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved HB 2729 with amendments on 4/6, and will now go before the full Senate.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

Oklahoma

Legislation is pending, HB 3468, to create the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission, contingent upon the results of State Question 788, the statewide ballot measure that would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis. NORML endorses State Question 788.

Should the voters decide in favor of SQ 788, the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission would serve to address any issues related to the medical marijuana program in Oklahoma and ensure the swift implementation of the provisions outlined in SQ 788.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission

Georgia

House Bill 65 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible to receive an authorization for CBD therapy to include those with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain. The bill also creates a study commission to review and make policy recommendations with regard to whether the state should provide in-state production and distribution of CBD products. Lawmakers failed to take action this session on separate legislation which sought to establish rules regulating CBD production and dispensing.

Update: HB 65 was approved by the House and Senate, and now awaits action from Gov. Nathan Deal.

GA resident? Click here to email Governor Deal in support of medical CBD expansion

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 282, to allow for the possession and retail sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products containing zero percent THC. Under this proposed legislation, Kansas citizens would not need to be a part of a patient registry or be diagnosed with a certain qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products. The bill was already passed unanimously by the Senate earlier this year, and the full House last week, with amendments.

Update: The Senate did not agree with the House’s proposed changes, so a conference committee of three members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses. The report from the Conference Committee is now available, and will require approval from both chambers.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD sales

California

Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions safely conduct transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

SB 930 would allow financial institutions to work with licensed cannabis businesses to issue certified checks and conduct payroll for certified California employees, pay their state and local taxes and fees while lessening the burden on local government to collect and manage large sums of cash, pay their rent, and invest in California’s economy

Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 at 1:30pm in Room 112.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

Maryland

House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program. The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.” It already passed the full House last month.

Update: HB 698 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/4, and will now go to Governor Larry Hogan for his signature or veto.

MD resident? Click here to email Governor Hogan in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Missouri

Senate Bill 547 and House Bill 2034 seek to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp.

If passed, the bills would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp. Both bills have already passed their respective chambers.

Update: A hearing is scheduled for SB 547 in the House Agriculture Policy Committee on 4/10 at 12PM or upon conclusion of morning session-whichever is later in HR 1. HB 2034 is still pending in committee in the Senate.

MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp modifications

Iowa

Senate File 2398 seeks to establish The Iowa Industrial Hemp Act. The bill would allow the Department of Agriculture to establish a research pilot program that engages in the licensed cultivation, production, and marketing of industrial hemp.

Update: SF 2398 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/4, and now awaits action in the House.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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New Orleans: Marijuana Possession Arrests Plunge Following Enactment Of Decriminalization Ordinance

Minor marijuana possession arrests have plunged in the city of New Orleans following the adoption of a municipal ordinance one year ago that called for fining rather than arresting low-level offenders.

According to data made available last week, just one percent of encounters between police and someone accused of possessing marijuana resulted in an arrest between June 2016 and May 2017. In prior years, over 70 percent of such encounters resulted in an arrest. In those cases, some 75 percent of those arrested were African Americans.

Under Louisiana state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are punishable by a term of incarceration of up to eight years, depending on whether the person convicted is a repeat offender.

In March of last year, members of the New Orleans city council voted 7 to 0 in favor of legislation permitting police to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders (defined as those who possess 14 grams or less), including repeat offenders. First-time violators are subject to a $ 40 fine while subsequent offenders may face fines of up to $ 100. In recent years, nearly 60 municipalities in states where cannabis remains criminalized have enacted local ordinances either partially or fully decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

According to a study published last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the enactment of recent statewide decriminalization laws has similarly resulted in a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests while having no adverse impact on youth use patterns.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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The gentlemen from Kentucky rise to speak for hemp

By Paul Danish April 5, 2018

When U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced last week that he was going to introduce a bill to legalize industrial hemp, there was a sudden collective intake of breath among the nation’s journos, the likes of which hadn’t been heard since the last 4/20 celebration at CU Boulder.

Rand Paul, Kentucky’s other GOP Senator, will be joining McConnell as an original co-sponsor of the bill.

McConnell said his bill would “finally legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.”

He added that he was “optimistic that industrial hemp can become sometime in the future what tobacco was in Kentucky’s past.”

The journos’ surprise stemmed from the fact that the only two demographics in the country that still oppose the legalization of marijuana are Republicans and geezers.

But hemp and U.S. Senators from Kentucky go back a long way. All the way back to Henry Clay.

Clay grew hemp on his estate, Ashland, and was a leader in introducing the crop to the state, importing seeds from Asia.

In 1810, he favored legislation requiring the U.S. Navy to use domestically grown hemp for its rigging. And in 1828, he favored a tariff bill, known as the Tariff of Abominations in the Southern states, that imposed a $60-a-ton duty on imported hemp ($1,100 or $2,400 in today’s dollars, depending on how inflation is calculated).

During the 19th and first part of the 20th century, Kentucky was the country’s major hemp-producing state.

In the 19th century, hemp was mostly grown for fiber. It was used for ship’s sails — the word canvas derives from cannabis –— and lines (or ropes, as land lubbers would say). It was also used for clothing; a lot of the home-made clothing called homespun was made from hemp (as opposed to flax or cotton).

But as a fabric, hemp took a major hit from the invention of the cotton gin, which made the production of cotton fiber more economical.

The extraction of fiber from hemp stalks required them to be dried in the sun and then beaten to break the cellulose inner cores, or hurds, and loosen the fibers from them. Henry Clay had more than 50 slaves to do the job.

(Hemp did benefit from “King Cotton” in one surprising way; hemp cordage was used to bind cotton bales.)

The hemp equivalent of the cotton gin, dubbed the decorticator, wasn’t developed until the 20th century.

Just about the time hemp seemed poised to take off as a major 20th century crop — a 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics described a number of major uses and called it a “New Billion Dollar Crop” — the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed, and hemp became collateral damage from reefer madness. The war on drugs ensued and Cretans finally succeeded in declaring it a controlled substance and outlawing its production outright in 1970.

But it’s hard to keep a good plant down. In 2014, McConnell, with an eye toward resurrecting Kentucky’s hemp industry evidently, attached a rider to the Farm Bill that shielded state industrial hemp research programs from federal meddling.

It was the same year Colorado’s re-legalization of marijuana – and hemp – kicked in. Today 80 percent of U.S. hemp production, while tiny, occurs in Kentucky and Colorado.

Hemp producers usually make a point of saying that you absolutely, positively can’t get high from the hemp they grow. If so, it’s because they’re using strains that have been deliberately bred to have absolutely, positively no THC in them. Other than that, there is absolutely, positively no biological difference between marijuana and hemp.

The difference lies in how they are grown. Hemp plants are grown close together like grass. That way they’ll grow up tall and stringy. Marijuana is planted with the plants further apart, so they can bush out and produce more flowers (or buds as we call ’em). But the individual hemp plants will still produce flowers at the top.

Henry Clay’s hemp would probably get you high, but not very high, just like any pre-1970 hemp crop before the THC was bred out.

Speaking of Henry Clay, hemp is again being grown at Ashland, his estate.

Last October, the Kentucky Hempsters, an advocacy group, held their second annual “hemp-infused” fundraising dinner there, which featured a five-course meal with each dish incorporating hemp foods (sans THC, alas) and show-casing the hemp plant’s edible side.

Chef Jeremy Ashby’s Dinner Menu

CONTINUE READING…

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NORML Chapters Continue State-Level Push for Marijuana Law Reforms

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

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

Virginia

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

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

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

Colorado

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

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

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

California

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

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

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

Maryland

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

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

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

Delaware

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

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

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

 

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Utah: Proponents Of 2018 Medical Cannabis Ballot Measure Achieve Signature Milestone

Proponents of a proposed 2018 medicalization initiative have gathered an estimated 160,000 signatures and appear poised to place the measure on the November ballot.

Last week, a representative from the Lt. Governor’s Office said that officials have already validated 117,000 signatures from registered voters — more than than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the state ballot. Proponents of the measure, the Utah Patients Coalition, still have approximately two more weeks to collect additional signatures.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

In recent days, both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a March UtahPolicy.com poll.

In 2014, Utah became the first non-medical cannabis state to explicitly permit qualified patients to possess CBD-infused products. However, that law provided no legal in-state supply source or distribution for the products. This legislative session, lawmakers approved separate legislation permitting the Department of Agriculture and Food to contract with a third party to cultivate cannabis for the purpose of manufacturing marijuana-infused oils and other related products, but only for those patients who are terminally ill.

Utah is one of at least four states where voters are anticipated to decide later this year on marijuana-related ballot proposals. Oklahoma voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January. In Michigan, proponents of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act have turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. State officials must certify a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters. According to a March 2018 EPIC-MRA poll, and commissioned by Michigan NORML, 61 percent of voters say that they would vote ‘yes’ on the measure “if the election were held today.” In Missouri, backers of a voter initiated effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have surpassed well over 200,000 signatures. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 qualified signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts by May 6, 2018 in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Studies: Marijuana Legalization Associated With Reduced Opioid Prescribing Trends

The enactment of marijuana legalization laws is associated with a significant reduction in the number of opioids prescribed and filled, according to a pair of studies published online today in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

In the first study, investigators from the University of Kentucky and Emory University assessed the association between medical and adult-use marijuana laws with opioid prescribing rates and spending among Medicaid enrollees. They reported:

“State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing. Moreover, the implementation of adult-use marijuana laws, which all occurred in states with existing medical marijuana laws, was associated with a 6.38 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing. … [T]he further reductions in opioid prescribing associated with the newly implemented adult-use marijuana laws suggest that there were individuals beyond the reach of medical marijuana laws who may also benefit from using marijuana in lieu of opioids. Our finding that the lower opioid prescribing rates associated with adult-use marijuana laws were pronounced in Schedule II opioids further suggest that reaching these individuals may have greater potential to reduce the adverse consequences, such as opioid use disorder and overdose.”

The full text of the study, “Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees,” is available here.

In the second study, University of Georgia researchers evaluated the association between the enactment of medical cannabis access laws and opioid prescribing patterns under Medicare Part D. They reported:

“This longitudinal analysis of Medicare Part D found that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state instituted any medical cannabis law. Prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 3.742 million daily doses per year when medical cannabis dispensaries opened. … Combined with previously published studies suggesting cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid mortality, these findings further strengthen arguments in favor of considering medical applications of cannabis as one tool in the policy arsenal that can be used to diminish the harm of prescription opioids.”

The full text of the study, “Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Prescribing in the Medicare Part D Population,” is available here.

Both findings are consistent with those of numerous prior studies finding that cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, mortality, and overall prescription drug spending. A compilation of these studies is available in the NORML fact-sheet here.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/30/18

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

I first want to bring your attention to a key development at the federal level. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he will introduce a bill to legalize industrial hemp next month. The legislation will not only change hemp’s status under the law but will also set aside federal funds to support its cultivation.

At the state level, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has made dramatic changes to the state’s regulatory program. Changes include: reduced cost of the medical marijuana registry for patients by 50%; reduced cost for veterans, seniors, and those on disability by 90%; expanded the qualifying conditions list to include Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, and other conditions; and other much needed technical fixes.

Also at the state level, Iowa regulators offered medical cannabis dispensary licenses to five businesses, and North Dakota activists say they’ve collected more than half the signatures they need to qualify a marijuana legalization ballot measure.

At a more local level, New Orleans, Louisiana marijuana arrests are dramatically down following the enactment of an ordinance that allows police to issues summonses for low-level possession.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act 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.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Connecticut

The Connecticut Legislature is considering several bills to to regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana to adults. HB 5111 and HB 5112 are still pending in the Joint Committee on General Law, and HB 5458 died in a House committee last week.

Update: The General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held a hearing on 3/28 on another proposal, HB 5394, to develop a plan to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana in the state and to provide for substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs and measures.

CT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization efforts

South Carolina

Legislation is pending, H 3521 and S 212: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions. If passed, the bill would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

Update: The Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved S 212 on 3/29 on an 8-6 vote, after it was approved by the subcommittee on a 3-2 vote last week. H3521 was tabled after the House Medical, Military, and Public and Municipal Affairs Committee held a hearing, but the Chairman didn’t put the bill on the agenda.

SC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

Tennessee

Medical Extracts
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program in Tennessee.
The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749/SB 1710 was significantly amended at the request of the sponsor. As amended, the measure depenalizes the possession of CBD extracts by qualified patients, and also provides protections to those from out of state. It does not provide an in-state regulated supply system for CBD products. Members of the House Criminal Justice Committee approved the amended bill on 3/28.

HB 1749 will be heard by the Health Committee on 4/3, and SB 1710 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee also on 4/3.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD extracts

Medical Cannabis
Legislation is pending, HB 830 and SB 1119, to establish a medical marijuana access program.

The bill would provide qualified patients with access to cannabis therapy through licensed dispensaries or pharmacies, under the supervision of a certified practitioner. The bill would also prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient.

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

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, S2426 and A3740, to further expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

The measures provide doctors the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to any patient for whom they believe it will provide a benefit.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, SB 388, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis. Currently there are only four licensed dispensaries operating across the state to serve an estimated 3,500 patients.

Update: SB 388 passed the Senate on 3/22, and now awaits action in the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee.

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

 

Additional Actions to Take

California

Legislation has been introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg [D], SB 930, to assist financial institutions to safely conduct transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 at 1:30pm in Room 112.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, HB 2729, to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. It already passed the House earlier this month.

Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status.

Update: HB 2729 will be heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday 3/29 at 10:50am in Conference room 211.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

Oklahoma

HB 2913 is pending: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes. It already passed the House unanimously earlier this month.

Update: HB 2913 was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee on 3/27, and is now awaiting action from the Appropriations Committee.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a hemp pilot program

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It was already approved by the Senate last month.

Update: SB 263 was approved by the House on 3/28 by a 123-1 vote. It now awaits action from the Governor.

KS resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of hemp research

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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