Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.
** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.
Rhode Island: House lawmakers this week introduced House Bill 737, which seeks to reduce criminal marijuana possession penalties to a civil offense. As introduced, this proposal would reduce the penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $500 fine to a civil fine of $150. State politicians have convened a special task force to debate how amending the state’s marijuana laws can help reduce the state’s budget. The panel is expected to make their recommendations to the legislature in March.
Vermont: Over a dozen lawmakers are backing House Bill 150, which seeks to reduce the penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine to a civil offense punishable by no more than a $100 fine. A Senate companion bill, S. 71, is also pending. Vermont residents can support both of these measures by going here.
Missouri: Patients will congregate at the state capitol on Wednesday, February 10, to meet with lawmakers in support of House Bill 1670, which seeks to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Those who wish to participate in this event can learn more information by visiting here or here.
Washington, DC: Members of the DC City Council’s Committee on Health will hold their first hearing on implementing the District’s new medical marijuana law on Thursday, February 11. Representatives from NORML will be testifying. If you live in the District and wish to attend and/or testify at next week’s hearing, please visit here for full details.
Other: Lawmakers in Iowa and Kansas introduced legislation this week to legalize the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana by authorized patients. Legislators in Maryland and Vermont also introduced measures this week to authorize the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries. To learn more about how to support these and other proposals, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.