Survey: Three Of Four Military Veterans Would Consider Using Medical Cannabis

Seventy-five percent of military veterans say that they would consider using either “cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option,” according to member survey data compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The organization represents over 400,000 veterans nationwide.

Under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the Department of Veteran Affairs are forbidden from providing medical cannabis recommendations, even in jurisdictions that legally permit private practitioners to do so.

“Federal lawmakers must stop discriminating against veterans with regard to matters of marijuana and health,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “These men and women put on the uniform to defend this nation’s freedoms and it is the height of hypocrisy for the federal government to deny them rights afforded to the millions of other Americans who reside in states where access to medical cannabis is legally recognized.”

Overall, 83 percent of respondents expressed support for legalizing medical cannabis access, and 68 percent believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs “should allow for research into cannabis as a treatment option.” Proposed federal legislation to direct the agency to conduct clinical trials on the use of cannabis for PTSD and for other conditions is currently pending in the US House and Senate.

Twenty percent of those surveyed acknowledged having previously used cannabis for medical purposes. Other studies have estimated that as many as 41 percent of veterans acknowledge having consumed cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Available data documents that cannabis is effective in the treatment of chronic pain and may potentially mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, along with other conditions commonly facing veterans.

Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Veterans Issues,” here.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Patients Frequently Substituting Cannabis For Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Patients authorized to legally use medical cannabis frequently substitute it in place of benzodiazepines, according to a pair of new studies published this week. Benzodiazepines are class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety. According to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control, the drug was attributed to over 11,500 overdose deaths in 2017.

In the first study, Canadian researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and benzodiazepines in a cohort of 146 patients enrolled in the nation’s medical marijuana access program. They reported that 30 percent of participants discontinued their use of anti-anxiety medications within two-months of initiating cannabis therapy, and that 45 percent did so by six-months. “Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter,” authors concluded.

In the second study, investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed over 1,300 state-registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of opioids and benzodiazepines. They reported that 53 percent of respondents acknowledged substituting marijuana for opioids, and 22 percent did so for benzodiazepines.

These findings are consistent with numerous other papers — such as those here, here, here, and here — documenting patients’ use of cannabis in place of a variety of prescription drugs, particularly opioids and anti-anxiety medications.

Full text of the study, “Reduction of benzodiazepine use in patients prescribed medical cannabis,” appears in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research here.

An abstract of the study, “Pills to pot: Observational analyses of cannabis substitution among medical cannabis users with chronic pain,” appears in The Journal of Pain here.

Additional information is available in NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship between marijuana and opioids,” here.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/1/19

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

At the state level, activists in Florida and Missouri gathered in their state capitals along side state and local NORML chapters to lobby state lawmakers in favor of sensible marijuana policy reform.

John Fetterman, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, is beginning a state-wide listening tour to find out where PA residents stand on cannabis legalization.

Several mayors across the state of New Jersey are calling for automatic expungement provisions to be included in the state’s marijuana regulation bill, and are threatening to ban retail sales in their jurisdictions if state lawmakers pass legislation without it.

At a more local level, officials will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses in Baltimore, Maryland, as a new policy was implemented by the office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.

Manor Township, Pennsylvania is considering a proposal that would decriminalize cannabis possession. And officials in San Francisco, California are considering a proposal to allow marijuana to be socially consumed and sold at temporary events.

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 2555, to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession.

The measure would impose a civil penalty of $ 100 for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

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

California

Legislation is pending, AB 286, to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of temporary lower taxes

Legislation has been reintroduced from last year, Senate Bill 34, which would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions. Last session, the measure was vetoed by Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protecting compassionate care programs

Legislation has been re-introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg [D], SB 51, to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

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

Colorado

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

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

Update: SB 19-013 was heard by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on 1/31, but no action was taken yet. Separately, HB 19-1028 is awaiting final consideration from the full House.

CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of adding autism and opioid use to the list qualifying medical conditions

Connecticut

Legislation is pending, House Bill 6849, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit medical cannabis patients to grow up to six cannabis plants.

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

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

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

CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of adding chronic pain to the qualifying medical conditions list

Florida

Legislation has been filed, Senate Bill 372, and Senate Bill 182, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

Update: S. 182 is scheduled for a hearing in the Health Policy Committee on 2/4/19 at 1:30 pm, 412 Knott Building

FL resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of your right to inhale herbal medical cannabis

Legislation is pending, House Bill 557, to allow access for out of state medical marijuana card holders to access their physician recommended medication in Florida.

The bill would establish what’s known as reciprocity, allowing medical marijuana card holders visiting from outside of the state to purchase medical marijuana while visiting Florida.

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

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.

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to purchase one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six cannabis plants in their own home.

Update: SB 686 was heard by the Committee on Judiciary on 1/31. The committee will vote on the bill on 2/7.

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

Iowa

Legislation is pending, SF 77, to expand access to certain medical cannabis products in Iowa.

The proposed changes:

  • Allow physicians to recommend low-THC medical cannabis oil to any patient whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use; and
  • Raises the cap on THC limits from three percent to 13 percent.

Update: On 1/31, subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary committee recommended that the measure be passed.

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

Legislation is pending, HF 93, which seeks to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The measure would impose a civil penalty of $ 25 for for the possession of up to 42.5 grams of marijuana.

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

Legislation is pending, SF 104, 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 expansion

Missouri

House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.

Update: HB 341 was heard by the Special Committee on Criminal Justice on 1/31, but no further action was taken on the bill yet.

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

Mississippi

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1371, to allow qualified patients to use and possess medical marijuana when authorized by a physician.

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

A separate measure, Senate Bill 2643, would establish a defense against criminal prosecution for individuals who can provide evidence confirming their therapeutic need for medical cannabis.

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

New Hampshire

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

If passed, HB 399 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana. Lawmakers decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2017.

Update: On 1/31, HB 399 was approved by the House of Representatives on a voice vote. The bill will now be transmitted to the Senate.

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

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.

Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 481 on 2/05/19 at 1:00pm, Reps Hall.

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

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

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

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs is holding a work session on HB 335 at 10:00am on 2/7/19, Legislative Office Building 212

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

New Mexico

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

Update: On 1/30, the Senate Public Affairs Committee recommended that the bill be passed.

NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis to be administered at school

Legislation is pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.

Senate Bill 323 removes the threat of jail time as a penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing up to one half an ounces of marijuana.

Senate Bill 408 reduces the penalty for the possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, but does not remove the threat of jail time.

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

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 406, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The proposed changes:

  • Allows medical practitioners to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from cannabis therapy;
  • Allows primary caregivers to obtain a license to grow medical cannabis;
  • Removes medical cannabis use as a violation of probation or parole;
  • Protects patients who require organ transplants

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

Oregon

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 639, to allow the social consumption of cannabis by adults in licensed and regulated establishments.

The bill allows the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to issue licenses for permanent cannabis consumption venues as well as cannabis events.

OR resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of social consumption sites

Rhode Island

Legislation is pending, S. 161, to expand access to medical cannabis in Rhode Island

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

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

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

Virginia

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1719, to expand access to medical cannabis for certain patients.

The measure would allow “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

Update: SB 1719 was unanimously approved by the Senate. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

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

Senator Glen Sturtevant has filed SB 1632 and Delegate Chris Hurst filed HB 1720, which seek to permit any student who is a registered Virginia medical cannabis patient to use Virginia-allowed medical cannabis oil on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity.

Update: SB 1632 was unanimously approved by the Senate. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis for patients at school

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.

Update: SB 1557 was unanimously approved by the Senate. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.

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

Vermont

Legislation is pending, S. 54 to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee heard public testimony on S. 54 on 1/31, and will consider the bill again on 2/6.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulating cannabis sales

Washington

Legislation is pending in the House and Senate, HB 1131 / SB 5155, to allow adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home.

Update: On 1/31, SB 5155 was heard by the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce, but no further action was taken on the bill yet.

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

Wyoming

Legislation is pending, House Bill 234, to reduce certain marijuana possession penalties.

The measure would amend certain felony possession offenses to criminal misdemeanors.

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

That’s all for this week!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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NORML Chapter Newsletter

Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

NORML Chapters Organized and Energized for State Legislative Sessions in 2019

“That’s why dozens of NORML chapters are organizing citizen lobby days to advocate for the end of marijuana prohibition and other reforms ranging from depenalization and expungement, to workplace drug testing and social consumption.”

Read more from NORML.org!

Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Chicago NORML Continues Push for Diversity in Cannabis Industry

“Recognizing the short window of time available to shape the cannabis industry in Illinois, Chicago NORML and BlackRoots Alliance plan to bring the issues of racial equity and restorative justice in the cannabis industry to the forefront of the public’s attention.”

Read more from In These Times!

Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Mid-Missouri NORML Hosted Medical Marijuana Panel Discussion

“Because voters approved Amendment 2 in the November general election, the panel will discuss how medical marijuana will work in Missouri, along with what constitutional rights people have when dealing with police.”

Read more from the Missourian!

Follow Mid-Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Texas NORML Hosted Advocacy Training for 2019 Legislative Session  

“The Texas chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hosted an advocacy training day on Saturday with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.”

Read more from the Austin Business Journal!

Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Virginia NORML Hosted 2019 Cannabis Conference and Lobby Day

“About 150 people, including health care providers and attorneys, attended the Virginia 2019 Cannabis Conference, held by the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.”

Read more from WTKR News 3!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Washington NORML Continues to Make Home Cultivation a Top Legislative Priority

“Bailey Hirschburg of the Washington chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws contended that all other states with legalized recreational marijuana have allowed home-growing for recreational use.”

Read more from Crosscut!

Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

NORML Leaders in the Media

Ashley Weber, Executive Director, Colorado NORML

“It’s about getting to know your representatives, and writing them daily if something’s important. Make appointments, become an acquaintance with them.”

Read more from NORML!

Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Brian Seamonson, Deputy Director, Madison NORML

“I think it’s there and people are coming around,” Seamonson said. “They’re not being afraid to talk about it anymore.”

Read more from Wisconsin Public Radio!

Follow Madison NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Chris Cano, Executive Director, Central Florida NORML

“The method of ingestion for someone utilizing medical marijuana should be between them and their doctor, not the state legislature.”

Read more from WFLA News 8!

Follow Central Florida NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Cindy Cutler, Board Member, Virginia NORML

“We would certainly like to see other Commonwealth’s Attorneys follow the lead of Greg Underwood and would like to see our General Assembly this year address the decriminalization of marijuana.”

Read more from WTKR 3!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML

“Boone County voters clearly favor making marijuana possession enforcement a very low priority. It would be very appropriate for our prosecutors to do the same thing that the prosecutors in St. Louis County, St. Louis City and Jackson County have already done.”

Read more from KOMU 8!

Follow Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

David Phipps, Communication Director, Indiana NORML

“CBD is usually the first step most states take, because it does not have THC in it. Or it has extremely low amounts.”

Read more from My Wabash Valley!

Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Doug Green, Legislative Director, Empire State NORML

“They are big, basically out-of-state corporations, some of which are publicly traded, and they don’t represent the communities that need to have equity in the industry, not just an opportunity for jobs or job training.”

Read more from Crain’s!

Follow Empire State NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“Keeping in place local bans on retail outlets and consumption rooms and keeping the state law allowing employers to continue to discriminate against workers for off the job abuse of cannabis, even for medical use.”

Read more from 790 KABC!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“Right now, the money from Measure D could be used for anything. We’re going to have to hold public officials accountable to make sure this happens.”

Read more from The Potrero View!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“We’re hearing rumors that there may be legislation in Sacramento this year to put into law a provision to strike deliveries around the state.”

Read more from SF Weekly!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“The positive socialization aspect of cannabis use is long-established and forcing people to consume only in their homes (if permitted) separates people unnecessarily.”

Read more from Cannabis Now!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“Lowering state excise taxes will help the legal marijuana industry gain a better foothold over the black market in California.”

Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune!

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

“We ask that he include cannabis law reform, ideally in the form of adult recreational legalization, in his upcoming budget proposal so we can finally put an end to the injustices of cannabis prohibition.”

Read more from the Green Bay Progressive!

Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

“They had on average a 25-percent reduction in both opiate overdose deaths and admissions to treatment for opiate addiction.”

Read more from the WTMJ TV!

Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Jax Finkle, Executive Director, Texas NORML

“I’m going to kick off the night talking about the Farm Bill.”

Read more from Dallas News!

Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

“The best way to combat illicit marijuana coming into your state is to develop a program opposite of prohibition.”

Read more from Fox 11!

Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

“It is going to be a business that wants to open up within the boundary of a municipality that will be the one willing to spend the resources needed to petition.”

Read more from the Daily Press!

Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“It’s time for the courts of justice committee in the Senate to advance this legislation. If it doesn’t get a floor vote we can only look to the controlling members of those committees who are not supporting what Virginians are demanding.”

Read more from WHSV 3!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“Cannabis policy will be the loudest it’s ever been on the campaign trail in 2019.”

Read more from the Richmond Free Press!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“Three quarters of Virginians support marijuana decriminalization or ‘fines not crimes,’ and nine out of ten Virginians support doctor-recommended medical cannabis.”

Read more from Alt Daily!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“These members are primarily prosecutors, former prosecutors, former law enforcement, and maintaining the status quo is something that works for them.”

Read more from Public New Service!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“Will Virginia eventually decriminalize personal possession of marijuana? Yes. Will it be in 2019? That’s very unlikely.”

Read more from Southside Daily!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“In 2016, we passed a bill that let us go forth and write a regulatory program that was based on Connecticut’s then-program, which was also low-THC, extraction-based products only and served to a small set of patients.”

Read more from WTVR CBS 6!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jesse Scaccia, Fundraising Director, Virginia NORML

“The facts and the research are on our side, we are very lucky that there are 10 states ahead of us with adult regulated use so that’s essentially ten case studies.”

Read more from 13 News Now!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jesse Scaccia, Fundraising Director, Virginia NORML

“Just as every Virginian should be able to enjoy a bourbon or a beer in their home, so they should enjoy marijuana.”

Read more from WAVY TV 10!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Josh Brard, President, Purdue NORML

“Marijuana became illegal not because of what it is but because of the propaganda behind it, and propaganda is just misinformation.”

Read more from The Exponent!

Follow Purdue NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Katie Clifton, Board Member, Virginia NORML

“We are very frustrated that the General Assembly is not listening to what the majority of voters are saying about marijuana legislation.”

Read more from WDBJ 7!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Kevin Oliver, Executive Director, Washington NORML

“I believe there will be a home-grow bill this year.”

Read more from the Inlander!

Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Lee Otts, Executive Director, Memphis NORML

“While we’re encouraged by republicans coming forward with it, we’re cautiously optimistic about what it should contain.”

Read more from Local Memphis!

Follow Memphis NORML on Facebook and become a member today!   

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“He was one of the first to go public that marijuana should be legal and has stayed with the fight all these many years. It’s great that we have him as a senior leader of the movement.”

Read more from Fox 17!

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“We replaced the governor and Gretchen Whitmer replaced the director of LARA and even in this first month they already have taken action to benefit patients.”

Read more from The Manchester Mirror!

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

“When these specialty medications are not available, it significantly affects the health and welfare of the people across the state. That should be a cause for concern for everyone involved.”

Read more from the Lansing City Pulse!

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Tom Gallagher, Board Member, Minnesota NORML

“A majority of Republican voters support legalization, so it is a bipartisan issue.”

Read more from KARE 11!

Follow Minnesota NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Tom Gallagher, Board Member, Minnesota NORML

“About 500 people per year have been going to prison in Minnesota for marijuana cases.”

Read more from WCCO TV!

Follow Minnesota NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets!

For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at [email protected] for help with starting your own!

Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

 

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Oregon: Cannabis Social Consumption Bill SB 639 Is About Civil Rights

Nearly 10 years after opening the first cannabis cafe in the United States, Oregon NORML (ornorml.org) executive director Madeline Martinez is appealing directly to legislators in Salem to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) that would finally legalize her trademark business, The World Famous Cannabis Cafe. Martinez played a crucial role in organizing local cannabis advocates to bring about Frederick’s legislation, Senate Bill 639.

Martinez says this isn’t just an issue of dysfunctional laws that allow adults living or visiting Oregon to purchase cannabis but not legally consume it, it is an issue of discrimination and equal rights.

“This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Medical marijuana patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are often the least likely to not have a safe legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis,†said Martinez.

Martinez points out that taking direct actions like opening a private social consumption space before public consumption spaces are legal to push the issue into the mainstream discussion and bring into question unjust laws is something that is much easier for white men, but dangerous territory to cross into for a woman of color. As a former corrections officer, Martinez says she knows how the law works, is friendly to law enforcement and firm that actions like hers are what propel the change of bad laws and make the cannabis space more welcoming to marginalized groups.

“You have to be bold, I never asked anyone for permission,†says Martinez. “When you don’t like the laws, you change them. All the gains in movements of social justice are made by people breaking bad laws. I have been called the ‘Rosa Parks of Cannabis’.â€

S.B. 639 is currently awaiting assignment into a Senate committee. If passed it would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate social consumption businesses and event spaces, allow for the sale of cannabis in these clubs, tasting tours on farms (similar to wine) and expanded legal cannabis delivery into private and temporary residences (like hotels).

A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives, H.B. 2233. The fundamental difference between the two pieces of legislation is that while S.B. 639 creates a legalized framework for indoor smoking and vaping, H.B. 2233 does not. Martinez says this approach further marginalizes the poor, who are disproportionately punished for public consumption.

“In Oregon, due to the Indoor Clean Air Act, cannabis consumers must find a place outside in the shadows and elements, which is unsafe and has become a social justice issue. Cannabis consumers should be treated with dignity and respect. We are deserving of safe, regulated spaces to consume out of public view. Only S.B. 639 would accomplish this goal,†Martinez concludes.

About Oregon NORML & Women’s Alliance
The mission of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is to further the social justice goals of the marijuana legalization movement post-legalization. Cannabis is legal but still not “normal†in our society; Oregon patients and recreational consumers still risk housing and employment discrimination and loss of custody of their children for choosing to use cannabis legally and there are not safe legal public spaces for social consumption. Oregon NORML believes that although it is legal statewide, conflicts with federal law still threaten the liberties of Oregonian cannabis users. For more information visit: http://ornorml.org/.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Oregon: Cannabis Social Consumption Bill SB 639 Is About Civil Rights

Nearly 10 years after opening the first cannabis cafe in the United States, Oregon NORML (ornorml.org) executive director Madeline Martinez is appealing directly to legislators in Salem to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) that would finally legalize her trademark business, The World Famous Cannabis Cafe. Martinez played a crucial role in organizing local cannabis advocates to bring about Frederick’s legislation, Senate Bill 639.

Martinez says this isn’t just an issue of dysfunctional laws that allow adults living or visiting Oregon to purchase cannabis but not legally consume it, it is an issue of discrimination and equal rights.

“This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Medical marijuana patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are often the least likely to not have a safe legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis,” said Martinez.

Martinez points out that taking direct actions like opening a private social consumption space before public consumption spaces are legal to push the issue into the mainstream discussion and bring into question unjust laws is something that is much easier for white men, but dangerous territory to cross into for a woman of color. As a former corrections officer, Martinez says she knows how the law works, is friendly to law enforcement and firm that actions like hers are what propel the change of bad laws and make the cannabis space more welcoming to marginalized groups.

“You have to be bold, I never asked anyone for permission,” says Martinez. “When you don’t like the laws, you change them. All the gains in movements of social justice are made by people breaking bad laws. I have been called the ‘Rosa Parks of Cannabis’.”

S.B. 639 is currently awaiting assignment into a Senate committee. If passed it would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate social consumption businesses and event spaces, allow for the sale of cannabis in these clubs, tasting tours on farms (similar to wine) and expanded legal cannabis delivery into private and temporary residences (like hotels).

A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives, H.B. 2233. The fundamental difference between the two pieces of legislation is that while S.B. 639 creates a legalized framework for indoor smoking and vaping, H.B. 2233 does not. Martinez says this approach further marginalizes the poor, who are disproportionately punished for public consumption.

“In Oregon, due to the Indoor Clean Air Act, cannabis consumers must find a place outside in the shadows and elements, which is unsafe and has become a social justice issue. Cannabis consumers should be treated with dignity and respect. We are deserving of safe, regulated spaces to consume out of public view. Only S.B. 639 would accomplish this goal,” Martinez concludes.

About Oregon NORML & Women’s Alliance
The mission of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is to further the social justice goals of the marijuana legalization movement post-legalization. Cannabis is legal but still not “normal” in our society; Oregon patients and recreational consumers still risk housing and employment discrimination and loss of custody of their children for choosing to use cannabis legally and there are not safe legal public spaces for social consumption. Oregon NORML believes that although it is legal statewide, conflicts with federal law still threaten the liberties of Oregonian cannabis users. For more information visit: http://ornorml.org/.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Urge Kentucky Lawmakers to Support Medical Cannabis Reform Today!

 A medical cannabis bill has been filed in the Kentucky General Assembly every year since 2013. In that time around a dozen other states have passed medical bills, eight more have joined Colorado and Washington in full legalization. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have voiced support for state governments deciding their own policies.

Nearly 80 percent of Kentuckians support medical marijuana., according to a 2012 study issued by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. So, in seven years why hasn’t Kentucky moved forward?

Cannabis reform has stalled recently because of opposition from Kentucky’s Senate leadership. Their opposition shouldn’t be the final word. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says more research is needed, while state Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, erroneously compared cannabis to “snake oil remedies of the 1800s,” according to a WDRB-TV report.

It’s understandable lawmakers want reliable data before making a decision. The good news for Kentucky legislators is the data already is available.  The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more than 26,000 published studies/reviews across 24 databases regarding cannabis available to read online. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has summarized a group of FDA approved randomized clinical trials, finding evidence for cannabis as medicine. The organization concluded marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance is an obstacle to further research.

Kentucky’s Senate leader has taken a contradictory stance.  Stivers has requested studies from the American Medical Association or Johns Hopkins University, but he should know he is asking for research prohibited by cannabis’s Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

This should bring advocates and opponents alike together on the issue. We can all agree on objective scientific data.

I invite Stivers, Bentley, and others asking for more research to join their voices with ongoing bipartisan efforts to reschedule cannabis.  If the state Senate won’t get behind rescheduling cannabis, they are effectively asking to see research that can’t be conducted under federal law.

Sadly, it seems Stivers already has an answer for would-be medical cannabis patients.

“Have a bourbon,” he told the Courier-Journal.

Are we going to see the studies proving bourbon can provide the same relief cannabis can?

Stivers’ tasteless quip – or even more tasteless sales pitch -reveals a flippant disregard for the issue.  A 2016 study publishedin the Journal of School Health concluded alcohol use should be a target of school abuse prevention programs. The study cited alcohol as a more likely gateway to hard drug use.  The negative effects of alcohol abuse, both on the user and their loved ones, are well documented, so it’s odd Stivers and the Kentucky Senate lack the same concern for data and safety when it comes to alcohol.

A January 2017 review of trials by the National Academy of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering found conclusive evidence supporting cannabis use for the treatment of chronic pain.  The Journal of Clinical Oncology in a 2018 study found medical cannabis use provided a 41 percent reduction in opioid use, which signals a potential solution for our Kentucky’s opioid crisis that desperately needs to be addressed before more Kentuckians die at the hands of these powerful drugs that often are legally prescribed.  Are there studies showing the same potential in bourbon?

This isn’t a call to shift discussion towards prohibiting alcohol. We long ago rightly decided to allow adults to make a free decision to imbibe or not.  Kentucky’s Senate is steadfastly hesitant to allow a similar decision regarding medical cannabis even among doctors and their patients who could benefit from this medicine.

The best rebuttals some of our Senate has to voice in response to Kentucky’s seventh medical cannabis bill are juvenile attempts at humor and dismissals of the data at hand. The discussion must progress beyond verbal jabs and dismissiveness.

It can if more Kentuckians rally behind two pieces of Republican-sponsored legislation in the 2019 session of Kentucky General Assembly that kicked off Jan. 8 – state Rep. Jason Nemes’ Let Doctors Decide medical marijuana bill (HB 136), Sen. Dan Seum’s Responsible Adult-Use Bill (SB 80), Sen. Jimmy Higdon’s Cannabis Decriminalization (SB 82), and Sen. Perry Clark’s “Shauna’s Laws, which provides workplace protections (SB 83).

Seven years have passed and 33 states now have medical cannabis systems in place. It is time for Kentucky to join the discussion and catch up with the rest of America.

Call 800-372-7181 and tell your legislators to support cannabis reform this session and join us on February 6th at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort from 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm EST for a Rally for Reform!

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.

To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE or purchase some of our apparel below! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $ 5$ 10 or $ 20 to help us keep going

Looking to help in a more direct way? We are always looking for people to help out with any number of tasks! CONTACT US and tell us about yourself and what your talents are!

 

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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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.

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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