Below is this week’s summary of pending legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state and at the federal level.
California: In an important victory for medical marijuana patients, the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment approved Assembly Bill 2279, sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno, in a 6-2 vote. The measure is now headed to a vote on the Assembly floor. This bill would protect patients from employment discrimination on the basis of their state-licensed medical cannabis use in off-work hours. (The bill exempts workers in safety-sensitive jobs, including law enforcement). California supporters are strongly encouraged to contact their Assemblymembers via NORML’s online advocacy system.
Minnesota: Minnesota’s House Ways and Means Committee has approved Senate File 345, along with its companion bill, House File 655. The measure will now go before the full House for a floor vote, and if approved there, to the Governor’s desk. This legislation would ensure that medical marijuana patients in Minnesota would no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from state law enforcement. However, Governor Pawlenty has indicated that he is inclined to veto this bill if it gets to his desk. Minnesotans are strongly encouraged to urge their Representatives and the Governor to support these bills via NORML’s online advocacy system.
New Hampshire: House Bill 1623, which would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, was passed by the House on March 18. The bill is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on it on April 22. The committee will likely take action the next time they hear this important measure, so the time to contact your New Hampshire State Senator is now. Additionally, our allies at NH Common Sense are now encouraging supporters to contact Governor John Lynch directly and urge him to rethink his assertion that he will veto HB 1623 if it reaches his desk. New Hampshire supporters are strongly encouraged to urge their Representatives and the Governor to support these bills via NORML’s online advocacy system.
Washington, DC: US Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced legislation in Congress Friday, April 18, to strip the federal government of its authority to arrest responsible adult cannabis consumers. The measure, H.R. 5843, known as an “Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults,” is the first federal decriminalization legislation introduced in 24 years. Frank’s pending bill, co-sponsored by presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), seeks to eliminate all federal penalties prohibiting the personal use and possession of up to 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) of marijuana. Under this measure, adults who consume cannabis would no longer face arrest, prison, or even the threat of a civil fine. The bill also eliminates all penalties for the not-for-profit transfers of up to one ounce of pot. All are encouraged to write their representatives in support of this important legislation via NORML’s online advocacy system.
Washington, DC: Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 5842, the “Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act,” on Friday, April 18. This bill would make federal authorities respect states’ current laws on medicinal cannabis and end DEA raids on facilities distributing medical marijuana legally under state law. Representative Paul, whose presidential campaign prominently featured the ending of the drug war as a platform plank, was joined by Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Sam Farr (D-CA) in co-sponsoring this bill. All NORML supporters are strongly encouraged to write their Representatives in favor of this important bill via NORML’s online advocacy system.