Coming To A State House Near You: Legal Cannabis?

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.

0 thoughts

  1. What about Pennsylvania? Let’s put some effort behind getting it legal in Pennsylvania, too! PA just legalized table games in their casinos, so any kind of a counterargument against legalization on the grounds of concern for addiction or kids getting in on it are simply specious. With proper control measures minors will not unlawfully get ahold of cannabis, just as they can’t get into the casinos or buy lottery tickets and get winnings.
    Why isn’t the international press harping on the violence in Mexico front page or second page just about every day to put the pressure on the U.S. to simply legalize?! Americans are not simply going to give up cannabis, and the smuggling routes are going to stay open, and the corrupt officials will still be supplementing their legal income with underground profits, so it may just be a matter of time before islamic fundamentalist terrorists weedle their way in that way.
    Just legalize cannabis! Act like grown-ups! People do it, whether you like it or not, and they’re not going to stop or go away just because you prohibitionists don’t like it.
    [Paul Armentano responds: What about Pennsylvania? NORML and especially it’s local affiliates (Philly NORML and Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana) have been working their butts off in Pennsylvania over the past few months — culminating weeks ago in the first ever state legislative hearings on the issue. You can read NORML’s testimony from the hearing here:

  2. @ Amber Ryan
    Fat chance on that. Florida is waaay too unorganized. i signed it, but i doubt it will make the ballot.

  3. Thanks for your commentary, Paul, and I really mean that from the bottom of my heart. I knew all that already as I am a member of Philly NORML, and just gave them another donation after reading your comment. I put my money where my mouth is, and more money means more of an effort. I was one of the first to give Barry Busch money on this issue, although I don’t live in the city of Philadelphia itself. It just seems like after the initial broaching of the issue in PA, it just fizzled out and dropped off the radar screen. I hope it comes back, and I hope others from PA who see this can open up their wallets and donate, especially if they haven’t at all. As a cancer patient, I really want to see medical marijuana in Pennsylvania soon!
    [Paul Armentano responds: Thank you too. We are all in this together.]

  4. I urge all of you to take the bong and set it down ..for a second and go to the take action center. Make your voice heard , Now could be our time. Amsterdam is a long expensive trip, I for one would much rather save my money for tasty nugs and the opportunity to smoke in peace here in good old USA, instead of paying outrageous prices in europe. Cannabis Cup USA 2010/2011!!!!

  5. Come on washington!!! Its only the right thing to do living next to Canada, Oregon and not too far from the state that will most likely make U.S. history first, California. NORTHWEST is setting a landmark

  6. This is awesome.. Thanks NORML!!
    Note to self: Add California to the possible vacation destinations for 2010.

  7. If Even 1 of these passes it will be a Great Victory and another Step in the Right direction of Ultimately Ending Prohibition!!!

  8. Think of all the people that have been stripped of their chance for a normal life because of penalties on the prohibition of a SAFE substance with medical benefit. The govenmernt assigned penalties for marijuana outweigh any risks associated with marijuana.. Can smokeing make you never be able to get a job again? No, but the governments penalty on the substance sure can…

  9. About time.
    Many Jerseyians like myself might think that this measure is a bit radical. But lets not forget that current-soon-former governor John Corzine has done some pretty big moves in the past (like the time he fixed the state budget a few years ago by forcing state-powered facilities to take furlough days). It seemed radical to me, but it helped the situation a little.
    Hopefully, this measure passes, and the money can go to important measures like helping our public schools, rebuilding cities ravished by underground drug trade (like Camden) and lowering the property tax.
    Personally, I take the bittersweet stereotype of this great state of being the Armpit of America with good humour and reserved contempt. This state was the focal point for the Revolution for a good number of years, and hopefully this state will become one of the first to end the now pathetic Drug War begat by former officials and help the country turn its eyes towards more immediate issues in the domestic front. I would like this measure to turn New Jersey from the Armpit of America into one of the states that this country can take pride in like I do.

  10. From 12:30 p.m. to 7:00 pm On Sunday Jan.10 2010 I viewed 22 alcohol commercials while watching a football game with 1000`s of children watching their drunken parents act like neanderthals. Why are you so worried about children getting marijuana? Thousands of children are abused,molested, and beaten by alcoholheads every day. 22 pro-alcohol ads on 1 network, on a Sunday. So these liquid drug lords are legally advertising to children. But I can`t even grow a fucking plant without a drunken cop pointing a taser at me.HYPOCRISY!!!! Then I come to this website only to see that marijuana will never be freely grown by anyone who doesn`t give money to the drunken hypocrites in control of what we can and cannot do.These drunken dogs have only 3 passions in life…… money, pussy and being drunk.
    But God bless every man and woman that has some common sense left in their heads to know that God put all seed bearing plants on earth for All creatures to have. Every time I look at these blogs on NORML I just see more baby steps towards Rich powerful men sucking all the wealth from America any way they can. There is no way that any God fearing man could decide/enforce who gets to have plants and who doesn`t. If we continue down this path, then taxing all ingredients like grapes, and hops etc. etc. in ALL alcoholic beverages should be on the table too. I won`t accept anything less than it`s a weed and it`s free for anyone who takes the time to grow it. Otherwise the liquid drug lords selling beer, wine, whiskey, vodka….all the baby-raper juices, should have the same nazi greedy idiotic laws enforced on them. Especially the Sunday morning alcohol commercials aimed at children. All these so-called accomplishments and victories are just a smoke screen for more government control over citizens lives. Bring alcohol onto this table and ask the Obama administration to respect the campaign promise of a “Level Playing Field”.

  11. The first state to legalize will explode their population. There will be a perpetual convoy of people moving in that direction. It will make the gold rush look like a field trip. I guess we can call this one the green rush.

  12. NORML – Any update on A804 in NJ?
    [Paul Armentano responds: It passed the Assembly 48-14 a few minutes ago. The Senate still needs to confer.]

  13. hey atleast its getting some real consideration. Every day we get closer to the main goal, which is let me smoke a joint on my porch and, dont make me a criminal for it!

  14. Nice job NJ. It’s a bit confusing which version of the Bill passed. If you look up A804 you see the following:
    1/8/2008 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee
    6/4/2009 Reported from Assembly Comm. as a Substitute, 2nd Reading
    1/7/2010 Assembly Floor Amendment Passed (Gusciora)
    1/11/2010 Substituted by S119 (3R)
    When you look up S119 you will see more details:
    1/8/2008 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee
    12/15/2008 Reported from Senate Committee with Amendments, 2nd Reading
    2/23/2009 Passed by the Senate (22-16)
    2/26/2009 Received in the Assembly, Referred to Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee
    6/4/2009 Reported out of Assembly Comm. with Amendments, 2nd Reading
    1/7/2010 Assembly Floor Amendment Passed (Gusciora)
    1/11/2010 Substituted for A804 (ACS/1R)
    1/11/2010 Motion To Aa (Angelini)
    1/11/2010 Motion To Table (Watson Coleman)(47-26-0)
    1/11/2010 Passed by the Assembly (48-14-0)
    So basically, are we getting the more or less restrictive version?

  15. now is the opportunity to make the strong case!! let’s make sense tomorrow and let the world know the truth why marijuana needs to be legalized…. go cali!!!

  16. For those of you in OREGON:
    Supply System – Initiative-28 would create a dispensary supply system.
    Regulate/Control – Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2010 would “legalize” by regulation and control of cannabis to adults over 21. More info at
    Also check out great cannabis and hemp videos at or

  17. GO NEW JERSEY! I can finally say thank you to my state legislature. Woot im so happy to live here in the Garden State now!

  18. I live in Philadelphia and would love to see marijuana legalized, however it must be done right- if the curtain is just instantly lifted, gangs will overrun the city of Brotherly Love and we will be overcome with violence of gangs competing for new, fresh territory free of pressure from police. Also, prices will go down because of the reduced risk and difficulty of moving it- this leaves room for a state tax, will just pour millions of dollars back into the state’s budget which just turns into a positive feedback cycle.
    Marijuana is also a safe substance. How many teen driving deaths have been directly linked to alcohol consumption? Now compare that to the amount of deaths linked to marijuana consumption. While both scenarios are illegal and frowned upon in your teens, the marijuana associated deaths will be astronomically lower than the drinking-related deaths. This proves that marijuana, compared to alcohol, is safer to society especially in teen years, and should be legalized.

  19. This is a great, albeit timid, fearful first step towards legalization. It’s quite restrictive and lets politicians determine what medical pot can be used for instead of patients and doctors. It treats cannabis as if it were as dangerous as oxycontin…and it prohibits home-growing, a fundamental human right.
    Still, it’s progress and paves the way for eventual total re-legalization of this non-toxic herb. On that happy day all the medical restrictions will become moot and cost will come way down.

  20. The bigger question is who the fuck is the government to say you can’t smoke marijuana a drug nobody has ever died on because of overdose is less harmful then alcohol and they jammed a bunch of bullshit propaganda up every bodies ass FUCK YOU FED FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!

  21. How come I never see anything for Oregon’s Cannabis Tax/Tolerance Act on here?
    [Paul Armentano responds: NORML’s longstanding policy is to focus on initiative efforts once they have qualified for the ballot. Members of NORML’s staff, local affiliates, and Board of Directors are the primary principles behind OCTA.]

  22. Yeah, New Jersey!!! I knew we could do it!!! Let’s be a beckon of hope for all the rest of the states that still have a long way to go!
    Thanks to all of NORML for supporting this new law and working to get it passed. Thank you all so very much!

  23. Wow way to go Washington with the second bill. If Cali and Washington legalize just imagine how over populated those states would get.

  24. Ah, thanks Paul. I’ve wondered for a couple years why some topics were covered and others not even mentioned.
    Get it done California. The west coast will see tourist dollars like never before!!!

  25. Go New Jersey! Another State added to the list of sane places to reside. Hopefully politicians realize that this is a POPULAR vote and Minnesota can be added to the list of places that are reasonable.

  26. What I find say at this very moment when these histocal just laws are under fire, congresses are admending their view the media is no where to be found. A dog, now i love dogs, but a Dog rescue is more worthy than reporting on this State or any State changing their stance and moving away from their failed policy.
    We should be out raged at the media outlet for refusing to notice our sub-culture and it’s oppression.

  27. We need help in Kansas. the legislature is about to make another substance illegal because it mimics marijuana. K2 is the latest fad. This has become such a giant issue among legislators that they are going to enact a law. this goes outside of any federal government push. please help us in Kansas get these people to understand that without marijuana prohibition, there would be no K2 or Salvia, or whatever else comes along to try and replace cannabis.

  28. I think the committee passed the bill named AB 390 a little while ago. Please update what happened, and the next step! Would love an update on if it passed. Thanks!

  29. I think the committee passed the bill named AB 390 a little while ago. Please update what happened, and the next step! Would love an update on if it passed. Thanks!

  30. YES NJ is on board finally. Thanks to organization like NORML, my mother can receive the medicine she needs.

  31. UPDATE AS OF 11:37 AM PST, according to, the bill has passed in a 4-3 vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUT “While the bill moved out of committee, Ammiano would need special permission to have it heard in the health committee before a Friday deadline for this piece of legislation. It would have to pass out of that committee before it would be heard by the full Assembly”

  32. I’m very excited about this. Hopefully other states of America will follow California’s example, and maybe the rest of the world will eventually follow as well.
    Congratulations to California, and well done to all those who have worked hard to make this happen.

  33. I hear AB 390 passed the first committee meeting 4 to 3!!! This is great news. Does it really have a chance to make it all the way through the legislative process? What about the ballot inicetive for later this year, does it have a chance? Is it really possible that marijuana could be legal in California by the end of this year? This is amazing!

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