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Legislative Alerts and Updates

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  2. Harris Introduces Bipartisan Bill Facilitating Medical Marijuana Research

    On July 25, Representatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduced H.R. 3391 (the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017).

    The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017 amends the Controlled Substances Act to make marijuana accessible for use by qualified marijuana researchers for medical purposes, and for other purposes.

    Under present law, clinical investigations involving cannabis must meet approval from various federal agencies, including the DEA, the FDA, and the NIDA. Only cannabis provided by the NIDA may be used in clinical trials.

    Please contact your members of the US House and Senate and urge their support for these important measures. 

  3. Special Session: Marijuana Decriminalization

    Legislation has been introduced, albeit late, for the 2017 Texas special session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    HB 334, introduced by Representative James Moody, was not referred by the deadline BUT that does not mean it is totally dead. A hearing is still expected to be held by Moody on the subject matter.

    HB 334 seeks to amend state law so that possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a civil violation, punishable by a fine - no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. 

    According to the ACLU, Texas arrestsover 70,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — the second highest total in the nation, at the cost of over 250 million dollars per year.

    "State penal statutes regarding the possession of small amounts of marijuana are antiquated and costly. The state and local governments expend millions of dollars prosecuting and incarcerating these non-violent drug offenders,” said Sen. Jose Rodriguez. “In addition, those convicted often suffer collateral, disproportionate consequences, such as an inability to find employment or access certain benefits, like student financial aid or housing assistance."

    According to a recent UT/TT poll, only 17% of Texans support marijuana prohibition. 

    Please enter your information below to contact your elected officials in support of this measure.

    For more information, please visit Texas NORML and follow them on Facebook and Twitter

  4. Ask Governor Abbott to add medical cannabis to the special session

    During the regular legislative session, more than half of the Texas House, including three out of four physicians, signed onto a bill that would have made the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive. They answered the cries of patients and caregivers who know the benefits cannabis can provide.

    All at once, you can tell your legislators to call upon Governor Abbott to add medical cannabis to the list of topics that can be considered during the special session and send a message right to the Governor.  

    In 29 states (accounting for 62% of Americans), patients with debilitating medical conditions are allowed access to cannabis if their doctors think it will help alleviate their suffering. Texas is not among those 29 states, meaning that we have less freedom than most of our countrymen, including those in Arkansas, North Dakota, and New Mexico. Safe and legal access to medical cannabis for seriously ill patients is supported by more than 80% of Texans, according to the University of Texas.

    Send a message now to ask them to add this important topic to the list of issues to be addressed by the Legislature.

  5. Federal: Continue To Protect Lawful Medical Marijuana Programs

    Senate Update: The Senate Appropriations Committee is passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment on Thursday, July 27th by a voice vote. 

    House Update: The House Appropriations Committee released its 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which determines the funding levels for numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Justice. Predictably, the bill does not include language — known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment — limiting the Justice Department from taking action against state-sanctioned medical cannabis producers, retailers, or consumers.

    Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher released the following statement in reponse: 

    “The policy championed by Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher that prevents the Department of Justice from interfering in the ability of states to implement legal medical marijuana laws (previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr”) has never been included in the base Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee Appropriations bill. Rather, in previous years, Congress has amended the base CJS bill to include these protections.

    We are exactly where we thought we would be in the legislative process and look forward to amending the underlying bill once again this year to make sure medical marijuana programs, and the patients who rely on them, are protected. Voters in states across the country have acted to legalize medical marijuana. Congress should not act against the will of the people who elected us.”

    Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term government spending package on May 5th, 2017. This bill extends federal funding through September 30, 2017, at which time the appropriation — and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment -- will expire.

    Initially enacted by Congress in 2014, the amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

    According to recently released nationwide survey data, the majority of Americans are on our side. A whopping 94 percent support the medical use of marijuana. Perhaps most importantly, 71 percent of voters — including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents -- say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

    This amendment is strongly supported by both voters and lawmakers and ensures the safety of millions of patients. Congress must not turn its back on those millions of Americans who rely on these state-authorized programs for their health and wellness. 

    Send a message to your Senators uring them to support and advocate for medical marijuana patients with the form below. 

  6. Texas: Amendment To Protect Doctors Right To Recommend Medical Marijuana Pending

    In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed the Compassionate Use Program, allowing those with intractable epilepsy to access medical cannabis to treat their seizures. 

    Because of cannabis’ status as a Schedule I drug under Federal law, it cannot be “prescribed.” It can, however, be recommended and patients can be formally certified by doctors through the state registry. This small change does not expand the program, it simply corrects a small error and provides protection for participating doctors.

    An amendment introduced by Rep. Lucio III's would make this change, thus protecting doctors and bringing Texas state law in line with federal requirements. 

    Please enter your information below to contact your lawmakers in support of this effort. 

  7. Texas: Amendment To Protect Doctors Right To Recommend Medical Marijuana Pending

    In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed the Compassionate Use Program, allowing those with intractable epilepsy to access medical cannabis to treat their seizures. 

    Because of cannabis’ status as a Schedule I drug under Federal law, it cannot be “prescribed.” It can, however, be recommended and patients can be formally certified by doctors through the state registry. This small change does not expand the program, it simply corrects a small error and provides protection for participating doctors.

    An amendment introduced by Rep. Lucio III's would make this change, thus protecting doctors and bringing Texas state law in line with federal requirements. 

    Please enter your information below to contact your lawmakers in support of this effort. 

  8. Virginia: Tell The Crime Commission to Decriminalize Marijuana

    Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission are seeking written comments from the public regarding the topic of decriminalizing marijuana possession. Under current Virginia law, the possession of one-half ounce of cannabis or less is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

    The commission is studying the issue at the request of Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, who tasked members to "undertake a study examining a future change to the Code of Virginia regarding criminal penalties related to the possession of small amounts of marijuana." The procedurally required study will be completed October 5 in preparation for the 2018 legislative session.

    Members of the public may submit comments until August 25, 2017. The commission's findings will be presented on October 5.

    Specifically, the study may examine:

    • Consequences experienced by any state that has changed the emphasis of its laws regarding possession of small amounts of marijuana from criminal to civil penalties. 
    • Contemporary research related to marijuana and its effects on users, especially any studies indicating a correlation between its usage and that of opioids or illegal stimulants (methamphetamine and cocaine) as a possible “gateway” drug.
    • The status and strength of current Virginia law related to driving under the influence of marijuana, and the efficacy of existing available technology related to the detection of such use that is admissible in criminal proceedings. 
    • Requirements by the federal government and its agencies related to the Commonwealth’s laws and enforcement of criminal penalties for marijuana possession, including any potential ramifications to the Commonwealth if its laws were in conflict with current federal statutes and regulations related to marijuana enforcement. 
    • If states that have decriminalized possession of marijuana continue to criminalize it on second or third offenses.

    The number of Virginians arrested for violating the state's marijuana possession laws rose 76 percent between 2003 and 2014. In 2010, 88.3% of all marijuana offenses were for marijuana possession (18,756 out of 21,231). Minor marijuana possession violators, many of them young, first-time offenders, should not be punished with a lifelong criminal conviction.

    In line with changes in other states, the majority of Virginians (78%) support reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a fine instead of a misdemeanor conviction. 

    Please use the prewritten letter below to contact the Crime Commission and urge them to support decriminalization in Virginia.

  9. Virginia: Tell The Crime Commission to Decriminalize Marijuana

    Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission are seeking written comments from the public regarding the topic of decriminalizing marijuana possession. Under current Virginia law, the possession of one-half ounce of cannabis or less is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

    The commission is studying the issue at the request of Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, who tasked members to "undertake a study examining a future change to the Code of Virginia regarding criminal penalties related to the possession of small amounts of marijuana." The procedurally required study will be completed October 5 in preparation for the 2018 legislative session.

    Members of the public may submit comments until August 25, 2017. The commission's findings will be presented on October 5.

    Specifically, the study may examine:

    • Consequences experienced by any state that has changed the emphasis of its laws regarding possession of small amounts of marijuana from criminal to civil penalties. 
    • Contemporary research related to marijuana and its effects on users, especially any studies indicating a correlation between its usage and that of opioids or illegal stimulants (methamphetamine and cocaine) as a possible “gateway” drug.
    • The status and strength of current Virginia law related to driving under the influence of marijuana, and the efficacy of existing available technology related to the detection of such use that is admissible in criminal proceedings. 
    • Requirements by the federal government and its agencies related to the Commonwealth’s laws and enforcement of criminal penalties for marijuana possession, including any potential ramifications to the Commonwealth if its laws were in conflict with current federal statutes and regulations related to marijuana enforcement. 
    • If states that have decriminalized possession of marijuana continue to criminalize it on second or third offenses.

    The number of Virginians arrested for violating the state's marijuana possession laws rose 76 percent between 2003 and 2014. In 2010, 88.3% of all marijuana offenses were for marijuana possession (18,756 out of 21,231). Minor marijuana possession violators, many of them young, first-time offenders, should not be punished with a lifelong criminal conviction.

    In line with changes in other states, the majority of Virginians (78%) support reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a fine instead of a misdemeanor conviction. 

    Please use the prewritten letter below to contact the Crime Commission and urge them to support decriminalization in Virginia.

  10. Wisconsin: Bill Filed To Regulate Marijuana Possession, Use, Sales

    Legislation is pending for the 2017-2018 legislative session to regulate the use, growing, and distribution of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes.

    The measure, sponsored by Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), permits adults to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis, and to possess marijuana-related paraphernalia. It also establishes regulations for the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to anyone over the age of 21. Public use of cannabis is subject to a $100 civil fine.

    The bill also establishes a regulated system for the production and distribution of cannabis for medical purposes. It further prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their off-the-job use of cannabis, and mandates insurance providers to provide coverage for patients’ use of medical marijuana.

    Enter your information below to contact your lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation.

  11. New York: Legislation Introduced To Expand Patients’ Medical Marijuana Access

    Update: The 2017 legislative session came to a close with lawmakers taking no further action A 8598.

    Update: On July 10, A. 8598 was referred to committee.

    Legislation is pending in the Assembly, A. 8598, to expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis therapy.

    The measure eliminates the state’s limiting listof qualifying conditions. Rather, it leaves the decision of whether to recommend medical cannabis entirely up to the discretion of each individual physician. 

    It states, “[M]edical marihuana may be used for a condition, or symptom or complication of the condition or its treatment, for which, in the practitioner's professional opinion and review of past treatments, the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from primary or adjunctive treatment.”

    Physicians already possess similar discretion when it comes to prescribing pharmaceutical drugs that pose far greater health risks than cannabis. Politicians should not be arbitrarily interfering in this doctor/patient relationship.

    Please enter your e-mail below to urge lawmakers to support A. 8598.

  12. National: Tell AAA To Stop Lying About Legalization

    Over the first six months of 2017, the American Automobile Association (aka AAA) has beenspreading misinformation and propaganda in a lobbying effort to defeat marijuana legalization legislative efforts inConnecticut,Delaware,Maryland, andother states.

    Asreported by Leafly.com, AAA representatives have recently preyed upon unsubstantiated fears regarding the alleged “increased plague of drugged driving” and the claim that “more babies will be born high” on marijuana in their lobbying efforts against adult use regulatory reforms. The distortions do nothing to advance the public debate surrounding legalization, but they do tarnish the organization's reputation.  

    According to federal data, auto accident fatalities havefallen significantly over the past two decades – during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use. In 1996 when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were an estimated 37,500 fatal car crashes on US roadways. This total fell to under 30,000 by 2014.

    Further, a recently published study in the American Journal of Public Health reports that fatal traffic accident rates in legal marijuana states are no different than those in states where cannabis remains illegal. A separate study published last year in the same journal previouslyreported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among younger drivers.

    One would hope that AAA would be nonpartisan in this debate; that they would be the group to separate the facts from the myths so that politicians and law enforcement would be more likely to pursue evidence-based policies with regard to regulating marijuana in a manner that strengthens public safety. Instead they’re largely fearmongering and further politicizing the issue -- calling for the continued criminalization and arrest of millions of Americans who choose to use marijuana privately and responsibly. By doing so, they are arguing in favor of the failed criminal justice policies of the past and they are alienating the 60 percent of Americans who endorse the outright legalization of recreational cannabis by adults (Gallup, 2016).

    There are areas of public policy where AAA is absolutely in agreement with reform advocates, including NORML. For instance, we both agree that driving under the influence of cannabis should bediscouraged and legally prohibited, and that the detection of either THC or its metabolites in blood or urine isnot indicative of psychomotor impairment and, therefore, shouldnot be used a legal standard of criminal liability.


    Our hope is that some day groups like NORML and AAA can work together to advocate for rational policies that work to keep our roadways safe from the threat of impaired drivers. Specifically, we recognize -- as does AAA -- that there is a need for greater tools and methods  to more accurately determine whether or not someone is under the influence of cannabis, such as via the use and promotion ofhandheld performance technology.

    Tell AAA that the days of ‘reefer madness’ are over. It’s time for a rational and evidence-based discussion regarding how best to regulate the use of marijuana by adults and how to keep our roads safe.

    Please fill out the pre-written letter below and urge AAA to rethink their stance on marijuana policy.

  13. Federal: Amendment To Expand Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana

    Update: Identical language was introduced in the House by Representative Earl Blumenauer and cosponsored by 9 Republicans and 9 Democrats. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions blocked the amendment from consideration. 

    Update: The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include the amendment as part of the 2018 MilCon-VA bill. 

    The Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which would expand medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans, is expected to be offered to the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations (MilCon-VA) bill. 

    Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician.

    Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 MilCon-VA bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. We must not allow a similar outcome again this year. Lawmakers must stop playing politics with veterans’ health and pass and enact this amendment.

    Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress. A retrospective review of patients' symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction on a scale of post-traumatic symptom scores following cannabis therapy. This is why, in recent months, two of the largest veterans’ rights groups -- AMVETS and the American Legion --  have resolved in favor of patients’ access to cannabis therapy.

    Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

    Enter your information below to urge your Senators to support the Veterans Equal Access Amendment.

  14. Wisconsin: Measure Pending to Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalties

    Update: On June 23rd Senate Bill 318 was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

    Legislation is pending to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties.

    Under current law, possession of any amount is a misdemeanor that carries up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted by a plea or trial.

    Senate Bill 318 amends state law so that marijuana possession offenses (up to 10 grams) are reduced to a civil offense, punishable by a fine of $100.

    The policy proposed by this bill is line with those of numerous other states, including Nebraska and Ohio. Such a change will save taxpayers money and allow police and the courts to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes. 

    Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

    Please contact your elected officials in support of reducing marijuana possession penalties.
  15. California: Marijuana Regulation Implementation Bill Signed By Governor

    Update: On June 27 Senate Bill 94 was approved by the Governor.

    Members of the state assembly and senate have passed legislation, Senate Bill 94, regarding the implementation of the Adult Use Marijuana Act and make amendments to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.

    The legislation imposes various regulatory changes surrounding the licensing of medical and retail facilities.

    A summary of some of these changes appears here.

    Full text of the bill is here.
  16. Maine: Protections For Medical Cannabis Patients Receiving Organ Transplants Become Law

    Update: On June 24 LD 764 became law without the Governor's signature. 

    Legislation (LD 764) is before Gov. Paul LePage that will prohibit medical cannabis patients from being denied organ transplants.

    The measure "prohibits a transplant evaluator from determining a qualifying patient to be unsuitable to receive an anatomical gift solely because the qualifying patient uses medical marijuana.”

    No sound scientific evidence exists showing that medical cannabis patients are at any greater risk for adverse effects during transplant surgery. Patients should not be discriminated against solely because of their medical cannabis status. 

    Please send the pre-written letter below and urge the Governor to sign this important legislation.
  17. Federal: Legislation To Protect Medical Marijuana Patients Pending In Senate (CARERS Act)

    Update: S. 1374 and HR 2920 were referred to committees

    Legislation has been reintroduced in the Senate, The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2017, S. 1374/HR 2920 to strengthen protections for those compliant with their state’s medical marijuana laws and to impose various changes to federal law. 

    Passage of CARERS 2017 exempts from federal prosecution those who are engaged in the “production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing, recommending use, or delivery of medical marijuana” in instances where these activities comport with state law. Separate provisions in Act exclude cannabidiol 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. 

    According to a 2017 Quinnipiac University National poll, 94% of Americans support the use of marijuana by medical patients. 

    Enter your information below to send a pre-written letter to your Senators and Representative to support and co-sponsor the bill.

  18. Massachusetts: Lawmakers Reconcile Question 4 Rewrite Bills

    Update: Lawmakers reconciled the House and Senate implementation bills on July 16. The reconciled language, H 3818, imposes a new statewide excise tax of 10.75 percent on top of a 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities also have the option to impose an additional 3 percent tax. Medical marijuana sales will not be subject to taxation. The measure limits the ability of local communities to ban retail facilities if a majority of voters approved Question 4, but makes it easier for communities to do so if they previously opposed the initiative. It also expands patients’ access to medicinal cannabis by permitting nurses and physicians’ assistants the ability to recommend cannabis therapy. The measure now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

    Update: Lawmakers on Monday, July 10, reconvened reconciliation hearings regarding dueling House and Senate bills to implement Question 4. Please continue to contact your elected officials using the letter below to urge them to reject proposed House changes to the voter-approved law.

    Update: H.3776was amended by the Senate and failed to pass. On June 23rd, a Conference Committee was established to reconcile the differences to change the rules to Question 4. Contact your elected officials now to tell them to implement the law as soon as possible in a manner that respects the outcome of the election. Contact your legislators via email below or click here to find your representatives and give them a call to express your support for the Senate version and opposition to the House bill. 

    Update: The House members reintroduced and passed their version of the Question 4 rewrite on June 21, by a vote of 126 to 28. The bill, which NORML opposes, raises taxes of marijuana sales to as much as 28 percent and also gives municipal officials, rather than voters, final say in deciding whether to have retail facilities in their neighborhoods. The House vote sets up a showdown with the Senate, which is deliberating over their own much more modest implementation bill, S.2097— one that is supported by the Yes on 4 campaign. MassCann/NORML held a "Kill The Bill Rally at the capital on June 21. 

    Update: The Senatereleased their own version of new rules on June 16 which is supported by the Yes On 4 campaign. 

    “The House bill repeals the will of the voters–literally,” Jim Borghesani of the Yes on 4 campaign told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens. “They repeal what happened in November of 2016, and replace it with a bill that would be unworkable and that would likely result in significant delays.”

    Update: Governor Charlie Baker has expressedskepticism regarding the proposed tax increase.

    You have spoken. Are your elected officials listening?

    On Election Day, 54 percent of voters decided in favor of Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act – permitting adults to legally grow and to possess marijuana for personal use, while also establishing regulations governing commercial cannabis cultivation and capping taxes on retail sales.

    Your message could not have been any clearer: It is time to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.

    But it has become apparent that some powerful politicians and bureaucrats wish to ignore voters’ will and rewrite history.

    Lawmakers have already unduly delayed the implementation of the law. Now they are moving to change the law altogether.

    Members of the House have introduced and passed legislation significantly amending The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Among proposed changes to the law:

    • The bill would more than double taxes on retail cannabis sales, from 12 percent to as much as 28 percent;
    • The bill would strip local control away from municipal voters and unilaterally give local government officials the power to decide whether or not to ban marijuana facilities in their communities;
    • The bill would restrict the kinds of marijuana edibles products that may be sold and purchased by adults.

    Voters knew full well what they were voting for on Election Day. And now it is time for politicians to respect it.

    Visit Massachusetts NORML to learn more about what you can do in your state.

    Please use the pre-written letter below to demand your lawmakers and Gov. Baker abide by the will of the voters. 

  19. Nevada: Governor Signs Bill Imposing New Marijuana-Related Taxes

    Governor Brian Sandoval has signed legislation, Senate Bill 487, imposing new tax rates on marijuana-related business transactions.

    The measure imposes an excise tax of 15 percent on wholesale cannabis sales to both medical and recreational facilities. The measure also imposes an additional ten percent retail sales tax on marijuana or marijuana-related products sold at retail (non-medical) facilities. Revenue from sales taxes will be earmarked to the state’s ‘rainy day’ reserve fund.

    Full text of the law is here

    While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of reasonable taxation rates on retail cannabis sales, the organization opposes taxes on medical cannabis related transactions.

  20. Vermont: Governor/Leadership Agree to Compromise Depenalization Measure, House Balks

    Update: House Republicans blocked consideration of the bill, as reported by the Burlington Free Press. Nearly all House Republicans, who hold 53 seats, voted against the rule suspension for consid ering the marijuana measure. The bill would have allowed adults to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana, plus two mature or four immature marijuana plants, beginning in July 2018.

    Update: The majority of Senate members approved the new depenalization measure on Wednesday, June 21 — on the first day of the special session. The measure awaits action from the House tomorrow. It is unclear at this time whether House members will suspend the rules to debate the bill. Please call your House member now and urge that they allow debate on this important marijuana law reform legislation.

    Update:Governor Scott and legislative leaders have agreed to a compromise depenalization measure. Lawmakers now need to gain two-thirds agreement among lawmakers in order to suspend House rules so that the issue can be further debated in this week’s special session.

    Update: Lawmakers have sent a revised depenalizationbill to Gov. Scott for his consideration during a special legislative session. The bill would eliminate criminal and civil penalities regarding the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of two mature plants. The bill also imposes civil fines for marijuana use while in a vehicle. 

    Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday, May 24,vetoed legislation,Senate Bill 22 that sought to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the adult use and possession of marijuana. 

    The Governor said that he did not support the legislation as written, but that remains open to working with lawmakers over the summer on ways to amend the state’s cannabis policies. Make sure that he does so. 

    Please contact the Governor, as well as your members of the House and Senate, in support of a legislative compromise that will free responsible Vermont adults from the threat of criminal arrest or civil fines for possessing personal use amounts of marijuana.

    Fifty-seven percent of Vermont voters support "allowing adults who are 21 or older to use, possess, and securely grow marijuana.” Please continue to urge lawmakers to implement the will of the people.

  21. Nevada: Governor Vetoes Bill Vacating Past Marijuana Convictions

    Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed legislation,Assembly Bill 259, that sought to allow minor marijuana offenders to vacate and seal their past convictions.

    Themeasure stated: "If a person has been convicted of a misdemeanor for the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana in violation of subsection 4 of NRS 453.336 or for a violation of any other provision of law concerning an offense involving marijuana, if the act constituting such an offense is a lawful act in this State on or after January 1, 2017, the person may petition the court... for an order: (a) Vacating the judgment; and (b) Sealing all documents, papers and exhibits in the person’s record, minute book entries and entries on dockets, and other documents relating to the case in the custody of such other agencies and officers as are named in the court’s order.”

    Members of the Assembly voted 27 to 15 in favor of the bill. Members of the Senate voted 12 to 9 in support of its passage.

    Governor Sandoval vetoed the measure on June 12.

  22. Medical Marijuana as an Alternative to Opioids

    Update: On June 13, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said "I’ve talked to Chuck Rosenberg, the administrator of the DEA and we follow the law and the science. And from a legal and scientific perspective, marijuana is an unlawful drug. It’s properly scheduled under Schedule I. And therefore we have this conflict." The Schedule I classification stipulates that "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." 

    Friday, June 16, the Office of National Drug Control Policy held it’s first meeting of President Trump’s “Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.”

    The Commission is tasked with making recommendations for improving the Federal response to opioid misuse and abuse.

    Best evidence informs us that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced levels of opioid-related abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. For example, a widely publicized study in the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine reports that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with year-over-year reductions in opioid analgesic overdose mortality. Overall, researchers determined, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” A similar review by investigators at the RAND Corporation determined, “[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”

    Medical cannabis access is also associated with reduced prescription drug spending. Investigators at the University of Georgia assessed the relationship between medical marijuana legalization laws and physicians' prescribing patterns in 17 states over a three-year period. Specifically, researchers assessed patients' consumption of and spending on prescription drugs approved under Medicare Part D in nine domains: anxiety, depression, glaucoma, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders, and spasticity.

    Authors reported that prescription drug use fell significantly in seven of the nine domains assessed. "Ultimately, we estimated that nationally the Medicare program and its enrollees spent around $165.2 million less in 2013 as a result of changed prescribing behaviors induced by... jurisdictions that had legalized medical marijuana,” they concluded. A follow up study by this same team reported this year, “If all states had had a medical marijuana law in 2014, we estimated that total savings for fee-for-service Medicaid could have been $1.01 billion.”

    Nonetheless, this administration continues to express skepticism with regard to the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana. It’s time they learn the facts!

    Send the pre-written letter below to the ONDCP Commission to educate them to the positive role that cannabis access plays in curtailing opioid abuse. You can also contact the commission at (202) 395-6709.

     

  23. New York: Legalization Measure Introduced to Legislature

    Update: The 2017 legislative session came to a close with lawmakers taking no further action on S3040A and A. 3506B. 

    Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) have introduced a substantially amended version of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) (Senate Bill S3040A/A. 3506B), which would reestablish a legal market for marijuana in New York and create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol and the craft brewery industry for adults over the age of 21. 

    Over the past twenty years, many New Yorkers have been negatively affected by the harms of prohibition in New York. With people of color accounting for nearly 85% of those arrested annually, the MRTA directs the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana to these communities. Because structural racism is ingrained in marijuana prohibition, it’s important that the MRTA both ends marijuana prohibition and promotes racial justice.

    Significant steps are taken in the amended MRTA to ensure racial justice and a small business-friendly industry, including:

    Creating a micro-licensing structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, which allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.

    Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.

    Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses.

    Enter information below to contact your lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation. 

    Connect with Empire State NORML and follow them on Facebook, and Twitter

  24. Nevada: Governor Signs Hemp Expansion Law

    Governor Brian Sandoval has signed legislation, Senate Bill 396, expanding the state’s hemp law to permit broader commercial cultivation of the crop.

    The new law permits regulators to license growers to engage in hemp cultivation and to produce edible products derived from hemp.

    Under a 2015 law, hemp could only be produced as part of a university-sponsored pilot program.

  25. Florida: Governor Vetoes Funding Effort For Medical Cannabis Research

    Governor Rick Scott vetoed legislation that sought to provide some $3 million in medical cannabis research. The monies were earmarked for the Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of Florida. The Governor said that he believed that no additional taxpayer funds were necessary to fund state-sponsored cannabis research.