Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Announced

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

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

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Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws,” said Rep.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cities Across Michigan Ban Legal Marijuana Sales

Since the passage of Proposition 1, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which legalized the sale, possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up last November, members of Michigan NORML have encountered a new challenge: municipal opt-out. Similar to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana like Colorado, California and Oregon, it’s up to municipal governments in Michigan to decide if legal marijuana businesses can operate within their communities.

To date, more than 80 municipalities in Michigan have imposed moratoriums or outright bans on the sale of adult-use marijuana. In some cases, like with the city of Troy where residents opposed Proposition 1, it’s due to a lack of support for legal marijuana. In other cities, municipal governments are simply waiting until they have a better understanding of how the new law will be implemented by state lawmakers before exploring rules and regulations for local licensing.

“I’m confident that many municipalities will opt-in after the State promulgates administrative rules and sample ordinance amendments are made available to municipal attorneys,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “Some of the municipal officials I’ve spoken with have expressed an interest, but they don’t really understand exactly how the process works and they said they’re awaiting guidance from State officials.”

Considering many who supported Proposition 1 believed passage of the new law was going to eliminate underground marijuana sales by providing access to a legal and regulated alternative, the decision by municipal governments to opt-out of the sale of adult-use marijuana appears to undermine the intent of the initiative and expectations of voters. We’re at a tipping point in America with regard to public support for ending marijuana prohibition, but there’s still plenty of work to do, especially at the local level.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets! Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

 

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Washington Governor Moves To Pardon Past Marijuana Offenders

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee today announced his intent to provide an expedited process in order to grant pardons to those with past criminal misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions on their record. It is estimated that some 3,500 individuals will have their criminal records vacated as a result of these actions.

“The Governor is to be commended for taking this proactive stance,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Thousands of citizens unduly carry the undue burden and stigmatization of a past conviction for behavior that is no longer considered to be a crime. Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that officials move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”

Washington is one of ten states where adult marijuana use is legally regulated. Several additional states have decriminalized minor marijuana possession. In recent years, over a half dozen states have enacted legislation permitting for the expungement of past marijuana-related convictions, and in 2018 California began the process of automatically reviewing and repealing past convictions.

“Branding these individuals, many of whom are at an age when they are just beginning their professional careers, as lifelong criminals results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid and serves no legitimate societal purpose,” Armentano said. “It makes no sense to continue to punish people for actions that are no longer considered to be criminal in nature.”

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/4/19

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Weekly Legislative Roundup of 2019!

Marijuana LegislationThe new Congress was just sworn in yesterday, and they are not wasting any time. U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) re-introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which protects those engaged in state-lawful medical marijuana programs from federal prosecution. Separate provisions in the bill exclude cannabinodiol from the federal definition of marijuana, permit VA doctors to authorize medical cannabis access to qualified patients, and remove undue federal barriers to clinical trial research to better assess the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.

At the state level, Alaska regulators have voted in favor of plans to permit on-site marijuana consumption at designated retailers. And lawmakers in Maryland are planning to establish a working group to explore marijuana legalization implementation, if and when voters approve a ballot initiative in 2020.

And at a more local level, Dayton, Ohio is considering a proposal to completely decriminalize marijuana and remove the $ 150 possession fine.

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

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

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

Join the Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, key Congressional allies have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

Click here to email your member of Congress and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus

Pennsylvania

State Senators Daylin Leach (D) and Sharif Street (D), as well as Rep. Jake Wheatley (D), plan to file marijuana legalization bills in their respective chambers this legislative session.

The measures would regulate the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

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

Vermont

Lawmakers will consider legislation this legislative session to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulation

New Hampshire

Pre-filed legislation seeks to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

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

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

 

Additional Actions to Take

Massachusetts

State Senator Jason Lewis announced plans to introduce legislation to protect responsible adult cannabis consumers from employment discrimination.

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

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

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, HB 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

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

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

Georgia

Lawmakers in Georgia will consider a proposal to expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.

The pending legislation seeks to establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

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

Virginia

Legislation is pending, HB 1839, to establish an industrial hemp program that is in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

The measure expands and amends Virginia’s existing hemp law to conform it “to the provisions of the federal 2018 Farm Bill by amending the definitions of cannabidiol oil, marijuana, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to exclude industrial hemp that is grown, dealt, or processed in compliance with state or federal law.”

VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of an industrial hemp program

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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 are 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!

California NORML Supports Legislation to Protect Cannabis Compassion Programs

“These programs are now threatened by Prop. 64, which requires that all donations be taxed at the same rate as if they were sold. Thus every pound of cannabis which is donated free of charge to legal patients is liable for nearly $ 1000 in state taxes.”

Read more from City Watch!

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

MassCann NORML Joins Mass. Grower Advocacy Council and the Mass. Patient Advocacy Alliance to Host Second Annual Harvest Cup

“We believe small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of the industry – the ‘mom-and-pop’ shops. That’s who we are and that’s who we believe will really make this industry flourish.”

Read more from the Telegram.com!

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

Virginia NORML Issues Advisory Concerning Synthetic Cannabinoids and other Psychoactive Constituents in CBD Products

“Four products contained the synthetic cannabinoid agonist 5F-ADB, a schedule I controlled substance that has also been identified in Spice and other so-called herbal cannabis products.”

Read more from the News Leader!

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

NORML Leaders in the Media

Radio: Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML

Radio: Paul Kirchberg, Executive Director, Connecticut NORML

Radio: Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

Alan Robinson, Communications Director, Madison NORML

“He believes marijuana is only dangerous because it is illegal, explaining that a friend of his consumed marijuana that was laced with fentanyl, something he said would not happen if cannabis was legalized and regulated.”

Read more from The Badger Herald!

Follow Madison NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Brad Forrester, Board Member, Michigan NORML

“One of the best and most important aspects of our law is that it really makes it very difficult for some average person who’s either using or growing a little bit of marijuana for themselves to get a criminal charge,” he says. “I happen to have been a victim of arrest for cultivating cannabis for my own use, so this is personal to me.”

Read more from the Rolling Stone!

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

Cindy Cutler, Board Member, Virginia NORML

“She’s advocating to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana, and Tuesday the Norfolk City Council officially endorsed that position with its 2019 Legislative Agenda.”

Read more from 13 News Now!

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

Dan Linn, Executive Director, Illinois NORML

“Dan Linn, executive director of the state chapter of the pro-cannabis lobbying group NORML, said cultivation centers have been frustrated because they have more capacity than is currently necessary for as few as 45,000 patients receiving state-approved medical cannabis cards.”

Read more from The Charlotte Observer!

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

Dan Linn, Executive Director, Illinois NORML

“Illinois would have to pass the law almost immediately in the spring session, have it have an immediate effective date, and then set rules and regulations drafted by the agencies that are going to oversee the program.”

Read more from One Illinois!

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

Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML

“Dan Viets says it will still be until next year for people to access cannabis. He believes that people who are allowed medical marijuana from states with legalized marijuana will be protected.”

Read more from KOMU!

Follow Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Dante Townsend, Founder, Chicago NORML

“Illinois currently has no black-owned medical dispensaries or cultivation centers. Townsend hopes cannabis legalization can both embolden black and brown entrepreneurs and spark reforms to the criminal justice system.”

Read more from the Chicago Sun Times!

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

David Phipps, Communication Director, Indiana NORML

“Phipps isn’t confident new Republican leadership under Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, will benefit the movement. He said the committees that review the bills are most responsible for hindering an open cannabis debate in the Senate, citing past decisions by Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, while she chaired the Health and Provider Services Committee.”

Read more from The State House File!

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

David Phipps, Communication Director, Indiana NORML

“Phipps said Indiana NORML coordinated much of the pro side of the argument brought before the committee. He said he agreed with Tallian’s assessment.”

Read more from NUVO!

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

David Phipps, Communication Director, Indiana NORML

“A lot of our followers are already going up there, and a lot of them are veterans seeking medical help, and they can’t get it here in Indiana, so they are going to go up north and get it.”

Read more from Fox 59!

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

Edie Moore, Executive Director, Chicago NORML

“If legislation is introduced that does not address our policy concerns, Chicago NORML, its supporters and community partners are prepared to push back until we are satisfied that every opportunity for advancement has been exhausted,”

Read more from NORML.org!

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

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

“Ellen Komp, the deputy director of nonprofit marijuana advocacy group California NORML, said her organization regularly fields phone calls from tenants that fear they will be evicted from their homes as a result of their marijuana use”

Read more from the Desert Sun!

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

Jax Finkle, Executive Director, Texas NORML

“Finkel said her group will be concentrating the bulk of its efforts during the upcoming session on expanding access to medical marijuana, as well as on decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot and on winning approval of hemp production.”

Read more from the Statesman!

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

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“We are in the middle of an (opioid) epidemic and we are taking up all these resources to send a person to rehab for using pot that could be used for a heroin addict,”

Read more from WY Daily!

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

Jeri Sheppard, Board Member, Colorado NORML

“Shepherd, a criminal defense attorney in Weld County who is also on Colorado NORML’s board, claims that most of what she sees while representing clients accused of cannabis crimes can be traced back to the failed War on Drugs.”

Read more from the Westword!

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

Jesse Scaccia, Fundraising Director, Virginia NORML

“Three quarters of Virginians are in support of decriminalization and I expect that number to rise as more people try medical and see the benefits and the days of reefer madness fall to the wayside,” said Scaccia.

Read more from 13 News Now!

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

Lauren Morgan Kie, Deputy Director, Kentucky NORML

“Kentucky’s children, patients and veterans deserve the right to seek relief with medical cannabis, which has been proven by countless studies to be a safe and effective alternative to damaging and dangerous pharmaceuticals”

Read more from the Richmond Register!

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

Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Rochester NORML

“We’re spending a lot of money right now on the black market and none of it is going back into the community.”

Read more from News 10 NBC!

Follow Rochester NORML on Facebook and become a member today!  

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“If you’ve got a few joints layin’ around, I’m happy to take them off your hands,” says Abel, who says he is celebrating tonight with an end-of-prohibition party. “This is a monumental day, but there’s still a long road ahead of us.”

Read more from the Detroit Metro Times!

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

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“The polling has changed pretty quickly over the last 10 years, and I think much of that is due to the fact that we’ve had medical marijuana in this state and people have grown accustomed to it being in our society and they have experience that their friends and relatives have benefitted from it and the sky has not fallen,”

Read more from MLive.com!

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

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“This is the last day of prohibition,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s significant and a milestone for marijuana laws in Michigan. But we still have a ways to go.”

Read more from the Chicago Sun Times!

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

Mikel Weisser, Executive Director, Arizona NORML

“Weisser expects the new initiative would also include provisions on home cultivation, reforming DUI laws and also funding. He tells us, he’d like to see some of the money raised through sales to fund law enforcement.”

Read more from ABC 15 Arizona!

Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

“Thompson supports new legislation that would get the records expunged of those who were previously criminally convicted of low-level marijuana charges.”

Read more from WWMT News 2!

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

Steve Vandewalle, Director of Development, Rochester NORML

“Advocate against workplace drug testing, because I think it could be counter productive.”

Read more from ABC 13 WHAM!

Follow Rochester NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Take Action

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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Nevada NORML: A Year in Review

With a new year on the horizon, members of Nevada and Las Vegas NORML wanted to take time to shine light on 18 of our most memorable moments from 2018. (It was hard to choose just 18!)

January 2018: Protested Jeff Sessions

We certainly didn’t expect the opportunity to protest Jeff Sessions alongside Congresswoman Dina Titus and State Senators Aaron Ford & Tick Segerblom at the Apothecary Shoppe Dispensary with every news outlet present, but it happened! We loved the chance to stand up for the State of Nevada and to be able to show our community that we are a strong voice of the people!

February 2018: Dr. Dabber became a sponsor

Yeah, that freaking happened! It was such an honor to have a company like Dr. Dabber, that we all know and respect, believe in our work and sponsor us! Together, we were able to provide record sealing services and great education throughout Las Vegas. They were even cool enough to offer hella deals to NORML members!

January – March 2018: Partnering with Harrison House

Throughout the earlier part of 2018, we had the great pleasure of volunteering for Harrison House, which was the 1st African American Guest House in Las Vegas during a very segregated time. In learning about Las Vegas’ history from a perspective that isn’t often discussed, we got a firm grasp on how marijuana has undisputedly been a tool used for oppression. This only reaffirmed that social justice needs to be a priority when discussing marijuana policy in this community. We participated in gardening and yard clean up at Harrison House, held a Black History month panel together, and helped with a Mardi Gras neighborhood celebration.

April 2018: “Setting the Record Straight” Program

Instead of hosting a 420 bash this past April, we decided to focus on having community impact through restorative justice. Finding lawyers like Garrett Ogata and Nick Wooldridge to refer prior marijuana conviction victims to, was invaluable! We created a dope set of resources to give to people interested in sealing their record and held an educational seminar educating them on the steps. We will continue to provide education on record sealing in Nevada throughout 2019 and help clients find financial assistance to do so when qualified!

May 2018: Primary Voting Rally

The 2018 midterms were NO JOKE. This was our first year dabbling in the candidacy aspects of things, but quickly learned the value of being an educated voter and focusing on primary elections. We held a press conference with our National NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, a voter registration event at 7th & Carson in downtown Las Vegas, and even did phone banking to encourage voting in primaries all throughout May. It was amazing to see an increase in younger voters registering!

June 2018: Collected 79 Candidate Surveys from across Nevada

Nobody said it was going to be easy, and it definitely wasn’t, but it was really rewarding showing voters statewide how candidates felt on specific marijuana related issues. Because of the hard work from National NORML, we helped produce the Smoke the Vote platform for voters to refer to, and the feedback we got was incredible!

July 2018: Social Use Venue Advocacy

The City of Las Vegas began drafting ordinances for social consumption this year, and we were proud to show up and voice our concerns on the record. Although it has still not been remedied, Las Vegas NORML members advocated strongly against 24 hr surveillance fed directly to law enforcement and raised concerns about mixing cannabis with alcohol. This will continue to be an area we advocate for throughout 2019 because of the intersectionality with criminal justice reforms and consumer protections. We hope that with the introduction of social lounges, tourists and residents will both have legal places to consume!

July 2018: Lobby Day in DC

Each year, NORML activists from around the nation gather in D.C. to engage their lawmakers in marijuana policy reform. We are proud of the relationships we developed with Congress throughout this time and are confident that we can achieve great things together! D.C. can be an intimidating place, but we are loving the chance to navigate it again in 2019.

August 2018: Public Meetings at Acres

Earlier this year, Acres Cannabis Dispensary was kind enough to offer their space in the Underground to Las Vegas NORML and our members! Every first Wednesday of the month, we host a free educational meeting that is open to adults 21 or older.  A huge part of our mission includes providing education to the community, so having this valuable space has been a huge blessing!

September 2018: Election Education & Voter Reinstatement

This past election cycle, we focused really hard on not only educating the community, but our board too. We worked really closely with Aaron from Restore Your Vote to learn more about how those with a criminal history can reinstate their right to vote. It’s a very common misconception that if you had a past marijuana conviction, you are ineligible to vote in Nevada, but we found out this is not solely the case. We are truly passionate about being a voice for those who have lost hope and love being able to provide resources to help educate them.

October 2018: Hung with Keith Stroup & National NORML

It’s not everyday that the founder of NORML is in your hometown! It was an absolutely memorable experience to have Keith here to help us host a voter rally at the World Famous ‘Cannabition’ Cannabis Museum in downtown Vegas! We even had the pleasure of meeting several other members of the National NORML board, too. We consider it a great privilege that we were able to show them our city and more of our work on a local level!

October 2018: Pumpkin Bongs at Cheba Hut

Our cool friends over at Cheba Hut Toasted Subs let us throw down some pumpkin carving for our October Informal with NORML, and we ran with it! Who doesn’t make bongs and steamrollers out of fall vegetables?!

November 2018: Jeff Sessions is OUT and Cannabis friendly legislators are IN!

What a relief that Sessions’ is finally gone and we can start to progress Marijuana policy at the federal level. Cannabis friendly Governors and Commissioners are taking over Nevada and the West in general. We have a lot of conversations to have with new office holders, but it’s never been easier now that 66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana!

November 2018: Herban Expo

Las Vegas NORML was the education sponsor for the inaugural Herban Expo at the Rio and coordinated over 25 educational presentations and panels over the course of 3 days! It was really impressive to see how much our community came out to listen to the speakers and the engagement it created. Herban Expo will 100% be back in 2019!

November 2018: 600 letters to Congress

Yep, you read that right…We collected 600 physical letters to members of Congress with the help of Denver NORML in just one weekend in Las Vegas! We set a goal, and people like you helped us reach it by making a small effort to tell Congress that marijuana reform is important!

December 2018: “Access for All” Patient Voucher Program

It’s been truly challenging for us to figure out a way to help patients in the state of Nevada because of regulation often making it impossible to provide medicine to those who need it. We are so eternally grateful that we have finally found local businesses like Sweet Cannabis and The Source to help distribute cannabis to patients who qualify. We look forward to building this program out even more in 2019! Visit lvnorml.org/patients for more info

And some year-long focuses we are especially proud of:

Progression and development of media

We were really fortunate to gain really talented media pros and graphic designers as volunteers this year to help us develop more interesting content. Hella props to friends like Rev from Rocester NORML and Mrs. Rex 420 here in Vegas for helping us design digital content this year! Weed TV, Vegas Cannabis Magazine and Kool Katz Media were also incredible blessings that have helped us astronomically with other media exposure this year!

Growing our squad

Grassroots activists are hard to come by these days, but it’s been clear that the 2018 Las Vegas NORML crew is no force to reckon with! The newly organized board, expert advisors, team of awesome volunteers & sponsors have been quickly gaining traction in the community and everyone is having a blast doing it! Las Vegas NORML volunteers are a diverse and passionate group of individuals that have worked tirelessly this past year to develop a positive reputation throughout the community. It is because of community members and new activists involvement that the organization continues to strengthen and grow!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Chicago NORML Continues Push for Diversity in Pot Industry

 

As Illinois lawmakers continue to consider input from various stakeholders for legislation that would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults 21 and up in 2019, some advocates are feeling left out of the process. This is especially concerning because the majority reside in communities that have been devastated by marijuana prohibition. Are minorities already being excluded from the state’s blossoming marijuana industry? It appears so.

With members of Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s Restorative Justice and Public Safety Committee excluding prominent advocates from minority communities, some are starting to question the committee’s commitment to addressing minority inclusion altogether. The committee’s decision also seems to contradict statements made by Governor-elect Pritzker, who recently unveiled an equity program that would greatly benefit minority communities by offering technical assistance and subsidized loans for minority entrepreneurs.

When asked by the Chicago Sun Times about the committee’s decision, Edie Moore, executive director of Chicago NORML had this to say:

“If legislation is introduced that does not address our policy concerns, Chicago NORML, its supporters and community partners are prepared to push back until we are satisfied that every opportunity for advancement has been exhausted.”

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with NORML’s Fact Sheets! For more information follow Chicago NORML on Facebook and visit their website today.

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NORML Chapters Prioritize a Wide Range of Reforms for 2019

Looking back at 2018, it was another productive year for marijuana law reform advocates. In addition to advancing legislation in state houses around the country, NORML chapters played a significant role in passing marijuana law reform initiatives in Michigan and Missouri, and were instrumental in numerous municipal marijuana decriminalization victories.

With more and more local and state governments taking steps to reduce the arrest and incarceration of marijuana patients and consumers, many are predicting 2019 to be a watershed year for marijuana law reform legislation. 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.

Below is a preview of what to expect from NORML chapters in 2019.

Michigan

Following the passage of Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act last November, which legalized the possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up, state lawmakers will be focused on implementing various aspects of the new law in 2019. This includes robust policy debates ranging from health and public safety, to the allocation of tax revenues and consumer protections. At the local level, several municipalities have already opted out of recreational marijuana sales resulting in members of Michigan NORML working overtime to defend the progress that has been made well in advance of next year’s legislative session.

“2018 was an historic year in Michigan marijuana law reform. Voters passed an initiative to legalize the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and over,” said Attorney Matthew Abel, who also serves as the Executive Director of Michigan NORML. “In 2019, advocates hope to expedite the opening of retail stores and microgrow facilities, and begin opening clubs allowing for open social use.”

New York

For months state lawmakers and officials with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office have been soliciting feedback and hosting roundtable discussions with various stakeholders with the hope of drafting legislation for next year’s legislative session. Most recently, Governor Cuomo outlined his agenda for 2019 which prioritizes the legalization of adult-use marijuana. Looking to capitalize on the Governor’s newfound support, NORML chapters across New York have organized a series of lobby days during next year’s legislative session.

“Empire State NORML continues to push not only on the advocacy and lobbying fronts by meeting with multiple cannabis centric organizations and state leaders, but also in providing critical direct input during the drafting of the legalization law that will soon be voted on by the legislature. We will continue in our mission to educate individuals and leaders about the opportunities and innovations that a legalized cannabis marketplace will bring to all of New York,” said David C.  Holland, Esq., Executive and Legal Director of Empire State NORML.

Members of Empire State NORML, Rochester NORML and Western New York NORML will be meeting with state lawmakers in Albany on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 and Wednesday, March 27, 2019.

Missouri

Missouri lawmakers will be considering numerous bills to implement Amendment 2, also known as Article XVI of the Missouri Constitution, which legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients and provided the framework for a patient registry. Working with a strict timeline, marijuana law reform advocates from across Missouri will be in be in Jefferson City to make sure lawmakers and officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services implements the new law in a way that respects the needs of future patients.

“With the recent passage of New Approach Missouri’s Amendment 2, that legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients, it’s as important as ever to make sure our voices are heard in 2019,” said Jamie Kacz, Secretary of Missouri NORML. “We need to ensure the implementation process is executed in a timely manner that best serves the needs of patients in Missouri.”

Click Here to Protect the Privacy of Missouri Medical Marijuana Patients

Texas

During a debate leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who was once considered to be one of the biggest obstacles facing marijuana law reform efforts in the Lone Star State, expressed his support for reducing criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession. Since then, NORML chapters across Texas have been busy organizing activist trainings and hosting town hall style meetings as they prepare for next year’s legislative session.

With the Texas State Legislature convening every two years, Jax Finkel, executive Director of Texas NORML has adopted an aggressive strategy to take advantage of the small window of opportunity for legislative action.

“Texas will start out 2019 with the kickoff of our 86th Legislative Session. With a dozen bills filed and more expected, it will be an action packed 140 days. If there is ONE day to mark your calendar for and make sure you can be in Austin, it is our Citizen Lobby Day on Thursday, February 7th, 2019,” said Finkle. “We are planning this event in conjunction with our coalition partners. Last session, we had several hundred activists at the Capitol working to elevate the conversations surrounding cannabis in Texas. Let’s make this year even bigger!”

Click Here to Support Access to Medical Marijuana for Texans

Kentucky

Members of Kentucky NORML, led by Executive Director Matthew Bratcher, will be focusing on legislation to establish a medical marijuana program that will allow physicians to recommend the use of medical marijuana to treat or alleviate symptoms of any diagnosed condition.

“We have a great opportunity to pass a meaningful medical marijuana bill in 2019. Representative Jason Nemes H-33 (R) is sponsoring a “let doctors decide” bill that will allow physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient based on their condition instead of relying on a predetermined list of qualifying conditions,” said Bratcher. “It’s well past time for lawmakers in Kentucky to do the right thing for our patients and our veterans. The time to pass a comprehensive medical marijuana bill is now.”

Consumer Advocacy

In states where medical and adult-use marijuana have been legalized, such as Washington, California, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts, advocates are pushing for reforms that will address the needs of patients and consumers. For example, social consumption, which has created confusion surrounding the dos and don’ts when it comes to consuming a product that’s readily available to adults 21 and up in almost a dozen states. Longtime NORML Board Member and outspoken social consumption advocate, Madeline Martinez shared her thoughts.

“In Oregon it rains at least seven months out of the year and the most vulnerable patients are expected to find a private space outside where they can consume in the shadows, this practice is inhumane,” said Martinez. “Also in Oregon there are not a lot of safe spaces to consume cannabis, especially for low income people living in federally subsidized housing and renters, this disproportionately affects people of color and poor. The insidious Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act must be corrected by removing all mention of cannabinoids.”

There’s also the issue of workplace drug testing. A discriminatory practice that’s putting millions of law-abiding and responsible adults at risk of losing their employment due to a THC-positive drug test. That’s why NORML chapters in several states are focusing their attention on legislation that will protect honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from antiquated workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random, suspicionless urine testing.

“About every six weeks or so I get a call from someone who lost their job or was denied an employment opportunity because of a positive urine test based on past cannabis use,” said Attorney Lee Berger, who’s also a member of NORML’s Legal Committee. “It’s been three years since Oregon voters legalized the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The time to address these discriminatory practices is long overdue.”

Click Here to Protect Marijuana Consumers from Employment Discrimination

The following NORML Chapter Lobby Days have been scheduled for 2019:

Delaware NORML – 1/10/2019

Virginia NORML – 1/14/2019

NoVA NORML – 1/14/2019

Harrisonburg NORML – 1/14/2019

Jefferson Area NORML – 1/14/2019

RVA NORML – 1/14/2019

Winchester NORML – 1/14/2019

Western New York NORML – 1/15/2019

NORML Women of Washington – 1/21/2019

NORML Tallahassee – 1/22/2019

NORML Appalachia of Ohio – 1/23/2019

Denver NORML – 1/23/2019

Kansas City NORML – 1/30/2019

Missouri NORML – 1/30/2019

Illinois NORML – 1/30/2019

Chicago NORML – 1/30/2019

Mid Missouri NORML – 1/30/2019

Greater St Louis NORML – 1/30/2019

Nevada NORML – 2/1/2019

North Carolina NORML – 2/4/2019

NORML of Catawba Valley – 2/4/2019

Charlotte NORML – 2/4/2019

NC NORML of the Triad – 2/4/2019

NC NORML of the Triangle – 2/4/2019

Maryland NORML – 2/4/2019

Texas NORML – 2/7/2019

DFW NORML – 2/7/2019

Arizona NORML – 2/7/2019

Peachtree NORML – 2/7/2019

Madison NORML – 2/21/2019

Kentucky NORML – 2/26/2019

Empire State NORML – 3/27/2019

Rochester NORML – 3/27/2019

California NORML – 5/6/2019

To support these efforts, we’ve created several resources like NORML’s Citizen Lobby Guide (http://norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_CitizenLobbyGuide.pdf) and Fact Sheets (https://norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets). We’re also working with chapter leadership to develop policy one-pagers, FAQs, and other resources specific to their needs. And of course there’s NORML’s Action Center (http://norml.org/act) that supporters of marijuana law reforms can use to urge their lawmakers to support pending legislation.

For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind marijuana law reforms on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to Chapters@NORML.org for help starting your own!

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

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more Information follow NORML on Facebook and Twitter and visit our website!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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2018 Year In Review: NORML’s Top Ten Events In Marijuana Policy

2018 NORML's Top TenRead the ten biggest stories that shaped marijuana policy in 2018.

#1: Public Support in Favor of Adult Use Legalization at Historic Highs
More adults than ever before believe that marijuana use by adults ought to be legal. An October poll conducted by Gallup reported that 66 percent of adults – including majorities of Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and those over the age of 55 – back legalization. The percentage is the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm. A 2018 Pew poll similarly reported greater public support for legalization than ever before, while a June poll by the Center for American Progress reported that 68 percent of voters nationwide endorse legalization – the highest level of national support ever recorded in a scientific survey.

#2: Marijuana Initiatives Win at the Ballot Box
Voters in four states – Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah – passed voter initiated measures in 2018 regulating the use of marijuana. Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah became the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd states to enact medical cannabis access laws, while Michigan became the tenth state to permit adult marijuana use. In January, Vermont legislatively enacted provisions permitting adults to grow and possess marijuana for their own personal use.

#3: Congress Amends CSA to Lift Ban on Commercial Hemp Production
Hemp-specific provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill (aka The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) for the first time amend the federal classification of marijuana to distinguish between cannabis and hemp. Under the new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2019, hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. The Act also broadens the definition of ‘hemp’ (Section 297A) to include “any part of the plant, including …. extracts [or] cannabinoids” that do not possess greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. The Act also for the first time in decades permits for the licensed commercial cultivation of hemp under a partnership of state and federal regulations.

#4 Canada Legalizes Adult Marijuana Use and Retail Sales
Canadian lawmakers this summer approved federal legislation permitting the use of marijuana by those ages 18 and older, and regulating adult use cannabis production and sales. Retailers began selling cannabis in compliance with the new law in October. In November, justices for Mexico’s Supreme Court also struck down the nation’s marijuana ban – finding that laws criminalizing the private use and cultivation of cannabis by adults are unconstitutional.

#5: Governors Campaign, Win On Marijuana Legalization Platforms
Candidates for Governor in numerous state races campaigned and won in 2018 on a pledge to legalize and regulate the adult use of cannabis. Specifically, incoming governors in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Illinois explicitly pledged to enact legalization. Re-elected Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has also pledged to enact adult use legalization in early 2019, as has New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

#6: Incoming House Rules Chair to Allow Floor Votes on Marijuana-Related Measures
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern said in November that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019. Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. “Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” McGovern said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

#7: Legal Marijuana Access is Associated with Reduced Opioid Abuse
Over a dozen peer-reviewed studies were published in 2018 finding that regulated marijuana access is associated with lower rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality. Among patients enrolled in medical cannabis access programs, use of opioids frequently decreases or is eliminated altogether.

#8: FBI: Marijuana Arrests Spike for Second Straight Year
The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the second consecutive year, according to data released in September by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized. By contrast, in Midwestern states, marijuana-related arrests comprised over 53 percent of all drug arrests.

#9: FDA Approves First Ever Plant-Derived Cannabis Medicine
Regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration in June for the first time granted market approval to a plant-derived cannabis medicine, Epidiolex. The medicine contains a standardized formulation of plant-derived cannabidiol for the explicit treatment of two rare forms of severe epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. In September, the US Drug Enforcement Administration classified Epidiolex to Schedule V — the lowest restriction categorization available under federal law.

#10: States, Localities Move to Expunge Past Marijuana Convictions
California became the first state to automatically review and expunge past marijuana-related convictions, under legislation enacted in October. Delaware enacted a similar law calling for the mandatory expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses, joining several other states that permit those with past records to petition to have those records sealed. Local officials in various cities in 2018, including Denver, Philadelphia, and Seattle, announced the facilitation of similar policies.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Say Happy Birthday to NORML’s Founder

Today, 10 states and Washington, DC have legalized marijuana, 22 states have decriminalized marijuana, and 33 states have passed medical marijuana laws.

50 years ago, when Keith Stroup founded NORML, those numbers were all ZERO.

This Thursday is Keith’s birthday and we are planning a special surprise for him – a birthday card with YOUR SIGNATURE! Click here to sign the card.

For decades, he has been on the front line fighting for our freedoms and for the majority of that time, it has been an unpopular opinion. In late 1970, only 12% of the country supported legalizing marijuana; 88% were opposed to our goals. After decades of hard work by tens-of-thousands of committed supporters like you, together we have gradually won the hearts and minds of a majority of the public.

Today, some two out of three adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where consumers can obtain marijuana in a safe and secure setting.

We still have a long way to go but working together, we’ll get there.

Be sure to share the card with your friends and family so that Keith knows we’re all rooting for him this coming year. But remember—it’s a surprise!

Click here to sign the card now!

Thanks for all you do,

The NORML Team

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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