NORML Chapter Newsletter

Legalize Marijuana

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.

2018 NORML Award Recipients

Every year since 1998 NORML has recognized activists from around the country who are working to advance marijuana law reforms at the local, state and federal level for their outstanding activism, academic study or political and cultural leadership in the field of marijuana policy reform.

Read more from NORML.org!

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

Access to Marijuana Shows Promise in Combating America’s Opioid Crisis

In support of International Overdose Awareness Day, NORML leaders from around the country hosted community forums to highlight the growing evidence that regulated marijuana access is positively associated with decrease in opioid overdose fatalities, hospitalizations, dependency and use.

Read more from NORML.org!

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

Members of Charlotte NORML Educate Attendees of Town Hall Meeting

During a town hall meeting organized by State Representative Kelly M. Alexander, members of Charlotte NORML educated attendees about medical marijuana, decriminalization, legalization and more.

Read more from Qcitymetro.com!

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

Indiana NORML Hosts Largest Event of its Kind in Indiana History

Members of Indiana NORML recently organized a statewide town hall meeting with lawmakers, veterans, candidates, patient advocates and community leaders to discuss medical marijuana and the need for legislative action in 2019.

Read more from NUVO News!

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

New York Governor Names Group to Draft Pot Legalization Measure

Members of Empire State NORML have worked closely with state lawmakers to draft legislation being considered by New York’s Senate Finance Committee, but remain cautiously optimistic about the governor’s work group.

Read more from The Crime Report!

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

New Approach Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative Certified for November Ballot

Members of NORML Chapters across Missouri were instrumental in gathering more than 350,000 signatures in order to qualify the New Approach Missouri Medical Marijuana initiative for this November’s ballot.

Read more from NORML.org!

Follow New Approach Missouri on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and donate today!

Law Reform Group Pushes for City to Stop Prosecuting Minor Pot Crimes

Virginia NORML’s newest chapter is working with members of the Winchester City Council and officials in Frederick County to convince local law enforcement officers to consider marijuana-related crimes their lowest priority.

Read more from The Winchester Star!

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

NORML Leaders in the Media

Glen Schwarz, Executive Director, Arkansas NORML

“Schwarz, the 64-year-old executive director of the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, supports the decriminalization of marijuana and some other nonviolent crimes to free up resources to take violent criminals off the streets.”

Read more from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette!

Follow Arkansas NORML on Facebook and become a member today!   

Dale Geringer, Executive Director, California NORML

“We’re not too far off his projection, and I think things are heading upwards,” said Dale Gieringer, director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. “I am a little worried. There are a lot of kinks in the system that they have to work out, but the regulators are working on it, as is the Legislature, and I think we will get there.”

Read more from LMTOnline.com!

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

Aaron J. Romano, Board Member, Connecticut NORML

“Connecticut NORML extends their wishes for a speedy recovery to those who overdosed on the New Haven Green from ingesting synthetic cannabinoids. The sad fact is that these overdoses could have been prevented by the legalization and regulation of cannabis.”

Read more from the New Haven Independent!

Follow Connecticut NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

“What’s really lost are the patients and families affected by a shutdown,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

Read more from 13 On Your Side!

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

Patrick Nightengale, Executive Director, Pittsburgh NORML

“This legislation passed the (state) Senate … with no one suggesting there be an opt-out provision for counties or jurisdictions that have cold feet,” Nightingale said. “I cannot imagine that anyone would put their political capital into taking medicine away from Pennsylvanians by making it more difficult for them to access it.”

Read more from The Times-Tribune!

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

Crystal Oliver, Board Member, Washington NORML

“She is a member of Spokane County’s Voluntary Stewardship Program Workgroup and Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board Cannabis Advisory Council. She also is a volunteer for Washington NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and served on the State Building Code Council Technical Advisory Group and Spokane Clean Air Agency’s Marijuana Advisory Committee”

Read more from the Chewelah Independent!

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

For over 45 years NORML chapters have been leading marijuana law reform conversations and continue to be 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 reach out to KevinM@NORML.org for help 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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Weekly Legislative Roundup 8/31/18

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

This week, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester introduced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.

At the state level, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed an industrial hemp bill into law, and he also signed legislation allowing people prescribed opioids to use medical cannabis instead. Similarly, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed legislation to expunge some marijuana convictions, as well as a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

New Jersey lawmakers agreed on key details for a pending marijuana legalization bill that could be voted on next month, with more provisions yet to be determined. Separately, the NJ attorney general released guidance to municipal prosecutors saying that while they may not adopt categorical marijuana decriminalization policies, they may use their discretion about whether or not to pursue individual cannabis cases.

The Connecticut legislature’s Regulations Review Committee unanimously voted to add intractable headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy and other disorders as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a series of 15 “listening sessions” on marijuana legalization that will be held across the state. The first one will take place on Wednesday, September 5 in Albany, NY. Find a session near you and register to attend here. Separately, New York City police will implement a relaxed marijuana enforcement policy starting this Saturday.

A coalition of Oregon activists is preparing a 2019 push to allow marijuana social use areas in the state. They will support a bill in the legislature and will also pursue a ballot measure if lawmakers don’t act.

At a more local level, Denver, Colorado regulators granted the city’s second marijuana social use area license to a vaping bar and lounge set to open this fall. The City Council also approved a plan to use increased marijuana taxes to fund affordable housing.

The Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council is considering a proposal to make marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority in Jefferson County. The Dayton, Ohio City Commission voted to place an advisory question on the November ballot asking voters if they support decriminalizing marijuana. The Ashland, Wisconsin City Council approved a resolution calling on state lawmakers to legalize marijuana and medical cannabis. A Racine, Wisconsin City Council committee discussed, but deferred action on, a proposal to order police to issue citations for first-time marijuana offenses instead of applying state charges.

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

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day today, please join us as NORML chapters around the country take action in highlighting the positive role that marijuana legalization can play in combating America’s opioid crisis.

Send an email to your members of Congress urging them to acknowledge the role of cannabis in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

House Bill 20-178 would end cannabis prohibition for adults over 21 and create a system of taxed and regulated sales. It would also allow medical marijuana and industrial hemp. The bill was already approved by the House earlier this month.

Update: On 8/30, HB 20-178 was unanimously passed by the Senate. The bill now awaits action from Governor Ralph Torres (R).

CNMI resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of legalization

California

Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.

Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of expungement

Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.

Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of allowing students’ medical marijuana at school

Senate Bill 829 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.

Update: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

CA resident? Email your senators in support of supporting compassionate care programs

That’s all for this week!

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Access to Marijuana Shows Promise in Combating America’s Opioid Crisis

In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, NORML chapters around the country are taking action to highlight the positive that marijuana legalization can play in combating America’s opioid crisis. Many NORML leaders are hosting community forums to highlight the growing evidence that regulated marijuana access is positively associated with decrease in opioid overdose fatalities, hospitalizations, dependency and use.

To amplify these efforts, NORML has created action alerts targeting local, state, and federal opioid task forces and committees — urging them to make marijuana regulation a part of their discussions and strategies.

Please take just two minutes to use our prewritten letters and send a message to each target.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy: Contact the ONDCP Commission: Medical Marijuana as an Alternative to Opioids

Federal lawmakers: Urge your members of Congress to acknowledge the role of cannabis in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic

State lawmakers: Urge your state lawmakers to acknowledge the role of cannabis in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic

Opioid-involved overdose deaths have increased five-fold since 1999 and were involved in over 40,000 deaths in 2016. Deaths involving benzodiazepines, a family of anti-anxiety drugs, have increased eight-fold during this same time period.

Several observational studies — such as those here, here, and here — find that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many chronic pain subjects reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment.

The available data is consistent and clear. For many patients, cannabis offers a viable alternative to opioids. It is time for lawmakers to stop placing political ideology above the health and safety of the American public, and to acknowledge the safety and efficacy of marijuana as an alternative medical treatment.

You can review many more published studies on the NORML factsheet Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.

Help us raise awareness by using our Social Media Tools below:

Click here to share on Facebook
Click here to share on Twitter
Click here to share on Instagram

Is there an active opioid commission or task force in your community? Email me at [email protected] and we’ll create an action alert to engage and educate your elected officials about the role access to marijuana can play in reducing opioid-related deaths, hospitalizations, and total number of opioids prescribed.

 

 

 

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Delaware: Governor Signs Marijuana Expungement Bill Into Law

Democrat Gov. John Carney signed legislation into law today vacating past marijuana convictions.

Senate Bill 197, which took immediate effect, “provides mandatory expungement eligibility to individuals who were convicted of the possession [of one ounce or less], use or consumption of marijuana prior to Delaware’s decriminalization of these offenses.”

State lawmakers in 2015 enacted legislation reducing the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis from a criminal act to a civil violation punishable by a $ 100 fine only — no arrest, and no criminal record.

To be eligible for expungement under the new law, the defendant must have no other criminal convictions on their record.

In recent years, lawmakers in several states – including Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, and Rhode Island – have enacted similar expungement laws following the passage of either marijuana decriminalization or legalization. In California, legislation providing for mandatory expungement of past marijuana convictions is awaiting the Governor’s signature. An estimated 220,000 cases would be eligible for erasure or a reduction under the proposed law.

According to a nationwide poll released in June, 73 percent of Americans support the enactment of legislation “to automatically seal the records of individuals convicted of crimes related to the possession of marijuana.”

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Clean Slate Act To Seal Records Introduced To Congress

This week, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) announced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.

The Clean Slate Act is important legislation that would ease the burden felt by those unjustly suffering the collateral consequences resulting from cannabis prohibition.

Individuals saddled with a marijuana possession conviction are disproportionately either people of color or at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, and it is essential that they are not held back from being able to obtain employment, housing, access to higher education, and all of the other necessities of being an active participant in their community. Having been arrested for mere marijuana possession does not make one a bad person, but rather a victim of a cruel public policy.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and encourage them to cosponsor the bill. 

“One of our roles in reforming our criminal justice system is to reduce recidivism and ensure that citizens re-entering society can lead productive lives and contribute to our economy. Yet, too often, sentences place a scarlet letter on those that have served their time – keeping people and their families trapped in a cycle of lifelong poverty.  For millions of Americans, an arrest or minor record can permanently put owning a home, getting an education, or earning a good-paying job just out of reach,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “The Clean Slate Act would ensure that anyone who has paid their debts and earned a second shot has the opportunity to create a better life and future for themselves. This bill will also help employers fill the over 6.7 million unfilled jobs in our country – a win for our economy and society.”

“Our criminal justice system is in need of reform. Of the 2.3 million estimated people who are incarcerated in the U.S., over 1.4 million are serving sentences for non-violent offenses. Data shows that over 76% of released inmates have found it difficult or near impossible to find work after serving their sentence,” said Congressman Rod Blum. “The issue is cyclical- if we do not remove barriers and create opportunities for these individuals to re-enter society, we are setting them up to fail. Statistically, these individuals are more likely to fall into habitual crime and end up incarcerated once again without jobs and a support system.”

Click here to send a message to your Representative and encourage them to cosponsor the bill. 

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Reefer Redux: Trump Administration Secretly Plotting New War Of Words On Marijuana Policy

Shadowy ‘Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee’ Seeks To Derail Past, Future Legislative Reforms

In reporting made public today by Buzzfeed News:

“The White House has secretly amassed a committee of federal agencies from across the government to combat public support for marijuana and cast state legalization measures in a negative light, while attempting to portray the drug as a national threat.”

In response to this revelation, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

“These are the death rattles of marijuana prohibition. Those who seek to maintain the oppressive policies of cannabis criminalization are grasping at straws in their effort to undo the public policy progresses that have now been enacted in a majority of states, and that are widely supported by voters of both major political parties.”

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a lifelong advocate for the failed policies of the ‘Just Say No’ era — which has resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens who possessed personal use amounts of marijuana.”

“If these bureaucrats possessed any sincerity whatsoever, they would be clamoring to support the recently introduced, bipartisan ‘Marijuana Data Collection Act’, which tasks the National Academy of Sciences to compile an unbiased, comprehensive federal report on the effects of various state experiments with medical and retail marijuana regulation.”

“In an era where 31 states now regulate marijuana sales and where more six out of ten voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle. It is high time that members of Congress take action to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

— Background and Data —

We maintain and regularly update our factsheets that address the most common myths and arguments against reform: http://norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets

The most commonly used ones are:

Marijuana and the ‘Gateway Theory’, Marijuana and Psychomotor Impairment, Racial Disparity In Marijuana Arrests, Marijuana Regulation and Crime Rates, Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids, Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy, and Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.

Thirty-one 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 63 million Americans now reside in the nine states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally.

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Berks County DA Justifies Police Tactics that Led to Man’s Death Over Small Marijuana Grow

Today, Berks County District Attorney John Adams announced findings of an investigation into Gregory Longenecker’s death, which occurred as a result of being run over by a bulldozer, and the circumstances leading up to it.

The bulldozer was carrying a Pennsylvania state trooper in pursuit of Mr. Longenecker, who was suspected to have been cultivating ten marijuana plants in Penn Township, PA. A police helicopter was also used in the search.

The DA said, “On August 24, 2018, The Berks County Deputy Coroner issued the final death certificate, ruling the death an accidental death. I recognize the sanctity of life above all values. It is very unfortunate that a life was lost and our condolences go out to the Longenecker family. However, I support the actions of the Pennsylvania state police. Their efforts were reasonable and conducted in a safe manner in this situation.”

NORML questioned law enforcements’ decision to pursue the suspect in such an extreme manner, especially over such a minor offense. You can read NORML’s original statement here.

In response to today’s announcement, NORML leaders in Pennsylvania said:

Patrick Nightingale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML said, “We are very disappointed in the findings by the District Attorney’s Office in this matter.  Under no circumstances whatsoever can the actions of law enforcement be justified.  This man and his companion were allegedly growing a handful of plants that posed absolutely no risk to anyone.  There were no ‘exigent circumstances’ requiring aggressive law enforcement tactics to protect the public from dangerous fugitives.  These heavy-handed tactics resulted in the death of a man, who likely would have received probation upon conviction.  This sad tragedy demonstrates the need for legalization because wherever cannabis is criminally prohibited some members of law enforcement will find an excuse to run a man over with construction equipment.”

Lehigh Valley NORML Executive Director Jeff Reidy said, “Today’s disappointing ruling exemplifies once again that some within the criminal justice system still view marijuana as the enemy, and that the power of the badge can be blinding to others. A man is dead because law enforcement made some unnecessary choices in the heat of the moment, when a frightened man fled. There were other means available to track down this man. They had his friend in custody. And was he really a danger to anybody for growing ten marijuana plants? Until we reform our outdated laws, there will be more Greg Longeneckers being chased by law enforcement, over a handful of harmless plants growing in a field or forest. We can end such senseless acts by legalizing cannabis, and allowing homegrows across our state. No one should die for growing a plant that can do so much good!”

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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2018 NORML Award Recipients

Every year since 1998 NORML has recognized activists from around the country who are working to advance marijuana law reforms at the local, state and federal level for their outstanding activism, academic study or political and cultural leadership in the field of marijuana policy reform. This year’s awards were presented during NORML’s 2018 Conference and Lobby Day that took place in Washington DC.

Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award

The award, named after the late Michael J. Kennedy, the legendary civil rights and criminal defense attorney (and general counsel for High Times magazine from its inception in 1974 until his death in early 2016), was established, with the blessing of the Kennedy family, to honor those individuals who, like Michael Kennedy, dedicate their lives to advancing the cause of social justice in America.

This year’s award was presented to Michael E. Tigar in recognition of his unwavering commitment to social justice and advancing human rights around the world.

The inscription on the award reads as follows:

“To Michael E. Tigar, in recognition of your lifetime commitment to achieving social justice for all people, including especially those without the resources or social standing to achieve justice on their own. Your willingness to speak for the underdog, the disenfranchised and the unpopular, like Michael Kennedy himself, has defined your exemplary personal and professional life.”

Mr. Tigar was a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law where he helped found the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic and professor emeritus at Duke Law School. Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Tigar also made several trips to South Africa, where he worked with African lawyers who were fighting to end apartheid.

Outstanding Chapter Award in Recognition of the Important Role Of Volunteer Activists Organized as Local and Regional NORML Chapters in the Fight to Legalize Marijuana

This year’s Outstanding NORML Chapter Award went to Chicago NORML, an organization that truly hit the ground running. Immediately following the approval of their affiliate application, several board members traveled to Washington DC to attend NORML’s 2017 Conference where they lobbied their members of Congress in support of pending marijuana law reform legislation. Since then, Edie Moore and her colleagues have focused their time on expungement and elevating the conversation concerning the disproportionate impact the war on marijuana has had on communities of color and the ways Chicago NORML can make sure they have a seat at the table.

Outstanding Cannabis Advocate Award for Advancing the Cause of Marijuana Law Reform

Selecting NORML’s Outstanding Cannabis Advocate Award recipient for 2018 was not an easy decision. As NORML’s Outreach Director and “chapter guy,” I have the pleasure of working with some of the marijuana law reform movement’s brightest and most dedicated volunteers from all over the country. But in the case of Jeff Reidy, executive director of Lehigh Valley NORML he has certainly worked hard to set himself apart.

Since re-establishing Lehigh Valley NORML in 2017 Jeff has formed strong alliances with the many marijuana-related nonprofits operating across Pennsylvania, such as Philly NORML, the Keystone Cannabis Coalition and Pittsburgh NORML. He has also forged strong, long-lasting relationships with local and state lawmakers that has resulted in marijuana law reforms in Allentown, Bethlehem and York.

Pauline Sabin Award in Recognition of Exceptional Community Organization Dedicated to Repealing Marijuana Prohibition

This year’s Pauline Sabine Award went to Cynthia Ferguson, executive director of Delaware NORML. In a state like Delaware, that has no voter initiative or referendum process, Cynthia has spent years lobbying local and state lawmakers in support of ending marijuana prohibition. Recognizing her passion and dedication to the issue, Cynthia was invited by Delaware Governor John Carney to participate in a roundtable discussion about the Marijuana Control Act, which would have legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

With a strategy that combines fact-based arguments in support of social justice and economic opportunities, and keeping pressure on lawmakers by attending town hall meetings and hosting lobbying opportunities, Cynthia is doing her part to win the hearts and minds of Delaware  lawmakers.

Lifetime Achievement Award in Grateful Recognition of A Lifetime Dedicated to Reforming Unjust Marijuana Laws and Advancing the Cause of Personal Freedom

NORML’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Dale Geringer of California. For more than three decades Dr. Gieringer has served as the Executive Director of California NORML and continues to be a prominent voice and respected thought leader on marijuana policy and harm reduction. Dale also serves as the Vice-Chairman of NORML’s National board of directors, Director of the California Drug Policy Forum (DPFCA) and Treasurer of the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance (OCLA).

In addition to his work with various advocacy groups, Dr. Gieringer has published research on medical marijuana usage, marijuana smoke harm reduction, potency testing, marijuana and driving safety, and drug urinalysis. He’s also one of the original co-authors of Prop. 215, California’s medical marijuana initiative that was approved by voters in 1996, and lead proponent of Oakland’s Measure Z cannabis initiative in 2004.

Peter McWilliams Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advancing the Cause of Medical Marijuana

For those of you who have been following NORML’s work over the years, especially in the state of Missouri, it should be no surprise that this year’s Peter McWilliams Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advancing the Cause of Medical Marijuana was presented to New Approach Missouri Campaign Board Chair and Executive Director of Missouri NORML Dan Viets.

As a result of his leadership and overall influence, the New Approach Missouri campaign worked closely with Missouri NORML and other active NORML Chapters across Missouri to gather more than 372,400 signatures to place the measure before voters. The Initiative was recently certified by the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office and will appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot. Polling suggests support for medical marijuana in Missouri is well above 60%.

Dan also serves as the Secretary of the National Board of Directors of NORML and has been recognized by, among others, Best Lawyers, Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers, and America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Rufus King, Sr. Award For Outstanding Public Leadership in the Field of Marijuana Law Reform

This year’s Rufus King, Sr. Award For Outstanding Public Leadership in the Field of Marijuana Law Reform was presented to Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who shared the following with attendees of NORML’s 2018 Congressional Lobby Day after introducing the Marijuana Data Collection Act:

“For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that has ruined people’s lives, torn families apart, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. In 2016 alone, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Our laws must be informed by facts — not emotion, manufactured stigma and myths. Our bipartisan legislation, the Marijuana Data Collection Act, will lay the groundwork for real reform by producing an objective, evidence-based report on current marijuana laws that exist in 31 states across the country, and their impact on our communities.”

Click here for Video of the Press Conference

Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to [email protected] for help starting your own! For over 45 years NORML chapters have been leading marijuana law reform conversations and continue to be the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level.

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

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New Jersey: Momentum Grows For Passage Of Adult Use Marijuana Legalization

Legalize MarijuanaNearly two-thirds of New Jersey voters support legalizing the adult use of marijuana and expunging past criminal convictions associated with the substance, according to statewide polling data released today by Quinnipiac University.

Sixty-two percent of voters say that they support allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” Support is strongest among voters ages 18 to 34 years of age (90 percent) and Democrats (78 percent). Support was weakest among Republicans (41 percent) and those voters over the age of 65 (46 percent).

“New Jersey legislators must support the will of their constituents and approve legislation to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use in New Jersey,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.

He added: “New Jersey holds the dubious distinction of ranking second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color, violates civil liberties, and is an egregious waste of public resources that can be reprioritized elsewhere. The people of New Jersey are ready to end this failed prohibition and move toward the sensible policy of legalization and regulation. State lawmakers should not make them wait any longer.”

Sixty-three percent of voters also say that they support “erasing criminal records for marijuana possession.” Once again, those voters ages 34 and younger were most supportive of the changes (81 percent), as were Democrats (74 percent).

The new polling data comes just days after Senate President Steve Sweeney publicly announced that leadership has likely secured sufficient support in both chambers to pass an adult use legalization reform act.

Governor Phil Murphy campaigned on a pledge to reform the state’s marijuana policies, and yesterday reiterated his hopes to sign legislative reforms by the end of this year. In his spring budget address, Gov. Murphy said: “Legalization will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities – especially the urban neighborhoods hardest hit by the misguided war on drugs – in their economic development, in health care and housing, child care and after-school programs, and other critical areas. …. [F]rom the standpoint of social justice, and from the standpoint of protecting our kids and lifting up our communities, I could not arrive at any other conclusion.”

In July, the state’s Attorney General has called on county and municipal prosecutors to suspend marijuana-related prosecutions until early September.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Weeky Legislative Roundup 8/24/18

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

In Congress this week, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and six cosponsors introduced a bill that would remove the penalty that strips college financial aid from students with drug convictions. Also, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) filed an amendment that would require the federal government to study the monetary and health impacts of state marijuana legalization. A Senate floor vote could occur in the coming days.

At the state level, Oklahoma’s secretary of state determined that activists failed to collect enough signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the ballot, and the legislature’s medical marijuana working group took public testimony on Wednesday.  And state Rep. Jake Wheatley of Pennsylvania launched an online petition to build support for a marijuana legalization bill he plans to introduce.

New Jersey’s Senate president said he has the votes to pass marijuana legalization and medical cannabis expansion bills next month. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he hopes lawmakers will pass a marijuana legalization bill this year. Separately, New Jersey’s attorney general does not plan to extend a moratorium on marijuana prosecutions when it expires next month and will instead issue a memo telling prosecutors that they can use their own discretion not to pursue cannabis cases.

The California Senate approved a bill to allow safe consumption sites for illegal drugs, and the Assembly defeated a bill to allow medical cannabis administration at schools and one to allow financial institutions to work with the cannabis industry.

There are also still a few bills pending before Governors around the country, including two bills in Delaware concerning medical marijuana program expansion and expunging past records, and two bills in Illinois awaiting action from the Governor concerning industrial hemp expansion and allowing cannabis as an alternative to opioids. It’s TBD on if/when these bills will be signed into law.

At a more local level, Activists in Norwood, Ohio collected enough signatures to place a marijuana depenalization measure on the November ballot, but local police said they will continue charging people under state law even if voters approve the initiative.

The Eau Claire County, Wisconsin Board voted to put a marijuana advisory question before voters. The Kenosha County, Wisconsin Board placed a medical cannabis advisory question on the November ballot. So did the Forest County, Wisconsin Board. But the Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin Board killed a proposed marijuana advisory ballot question.

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

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

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

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

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

California

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

Update: AB 1793 was approved by the Senate with a 28-10 vote and now awaits action from Governor Brown.

CA resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of expungement

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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