Marijuana law reform bills are now pending in nearly two dozen states. Here is this week’s summary of pending state legislative activity and tips on how you can become involved in changing the marijuana laws in your area.
Montana: Lawmakers introduced a measure this week to make minor marijuana offenses a civil violation. House Bill 541 would amend state law so that the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six -months in jail) to a $50 fine. The proposal is now before the House Judiciary, which is expected to hear testimony in favor of the bill in March. You can show your support for HB 541 by going here. Similar pot decriminalization proposals are pending in Vermont, Washington, and Hawaii.
Update!!! Update!!! Update!!! In related Montana news, the Senate is now anticipated to vote on SB 326, and act to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, by the end of this week. For more information, please contact Montana Patients and Families United here.
Kentucky: Kentucky legislators are trying to misuse the state’s traffic safety laws to target adults who use marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own home. It’s up to us to stop them. This week, Senators approved SB 5, which seeks to criminalize anyone who operates a motor vehicle with any detectable level of marijuana in their blood. Under the strict interpretation of this standard, responsible marijuana consumers who last used cannabis days earlier could still be potentially arrested and prosecuted for ‘drugged driving’ — even if they are completely sober. NORML recently testified against a similar proposal in New Hampshire, which legislators rightfully dismissed as improper and illogical. Please help us derail SB 5 in Kentucky by contacting the members House Judiciary Committee and urging them to vote ‘no’ on 5.
New Jersey: The Senate is expected to vote on Monday, February 23, on Senate Bill 119, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. If passed, this measure would make New Jersey the fourteenth state to allow for the physician-supervised use of medicinal cannabis. Governor Jon Corzine backs the measure, as do many of the state’s largest newspapers. Residents in New Jersey are strongly encouraged to write or call their senators now and urge them to vote ‘yes’ on SB 119.
Washington: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony this week in favor of Senate Bill 565 — an act to reclassify the possession of forty grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a class 2 civil infraction. You can read about the hearing here, and urge the Committee to back the measure by going here.
To learn about additional pending legislation in Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, please visit NORML’s Legislative Action Alerts page here.