UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!! WATCH THE WASHINGTON STATE HEARINGS LIVE HERE!
January 2010 is off to a ‘smoking’ start. Lawmakers in three key states — New Jersey, California, and Washington — are taking action this week on legislative measures that seek to significantly amend, or end, marijuana prohibition. Here’s a quick look at the week ahead.
Monday: [UPDATE 3!!! The New Jersey State Assembly and Senate have approved the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” (A804/S119). Governor Jon Corzine is expected to sign the legislation into law this week. The measure is expected to take effect in six months, at which time New Jersey will become the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. Major thanks go out to Ken Wolski and Jim Miller of Coalition for Medical Marijuana — New Jersey, and to NORML New Jersey‘s Chris Goldstein. Without their efforts it is unlikely that this victory would be upon us today.] Tuesday: [UPDATE!!! I have just returned from Sacramento and wanted to confirm to folks that AB 390 did pass out of Committee by a 4-3 vote. A google news search under the key words “marijuana” and “California” with yield plenty of media coverage, with much more to come.] Members of the California Assembly, Public Safety Committee will vote on Assembly Bill 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, which seeks to regulate and control the production, distribution, and personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. This vote will mark the first time since 1913, when California became one of the first states in the nation to enact cannabis prohibition, that lawmakers have reassessed this failed policy. (See my op/ed in today’s Sacramento Bee here.) A press conference is anticipated to take place immediately following the vote. You can read NORML’s prepared testimony here and here, and you can voice your support for this effort by going here.
Wednesday: Washington state House lawmakers will hear testimony at 1:30pm in favor of a pair of bills seeking to significantly reduce state marijuana penalties. Members of the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness will debate two pending proposals, House Bill 1177 and House Bill 2401. House Bill 1177 seeks to reclassify the possession of forty grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a class 2 civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine. House Bill 2401 seeks to “remove all existing civil and criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana.” This will be the first time state lawmakers have ever debated regulating marijuana production, distribution, and use by adults.
NORML representatives will be testifying in Olympia on Wednesday (Read testimony here.), and NORML Advisory Board member Rick Steves will also be hosting a public forum on the topic at Olympia’s Capitol Theater on Tuesday evening. If you live in Washington, you can urge the Committee to vote ‘yes’ on one or both of these measures by going here and here.
For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.