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.
** 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.
Hawaii: Senate lawmakers approved a series of bills last week that seek to reform the state’s marijuana laws. Senators voted unopposed in favor of SB 2450, which seeks to reduce penalties for the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine to a civil offense. You can read NORML’s recent commentary and testimony in favor of this measure here and here. You can voice your support for the measure here.
Senators this week also approved Senate Bill 2141, an act to increase the quantities of medical marijuana that a patient may legally possess under state law to ten plants and five ounces at any given time. Lawmakers approved the proposal by a 24 to 1 vote. Lawmakers also voted in favor of SB 2213, which would establish ‘compassion centers’ to provide medical marijuana to authorized patients. All three measures are now before the House for consideration. You can learn more about these proposals here.
Washington: House lawmakers on Wednesday, March 3, voted 58 – 40 in favor of an amended version of Senate Bill 5798, which would expand the state’s nearly twelve-year-old medical marijuana law. Because the House made minor amendments to the bill, it now must be re-approved by the Senate — who previously had 37 to 11 in favor of the bill in February. If enacted, SB 5798 will allow additional health care professionals – including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, and advanced registered nurse practitioners – to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. Under present law, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis. To learn more about this measure, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.
Rhode Island: House lawmakers this week for the first time introduced legislation to legalize the production, distribution, and personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. As introduced, House Bill 7838: The Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana Act, would exempt adults from any statewide criminal or civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, engaging in the not-for-profit transfer of small amounts of marijuana, and/or the cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. The proposal also establishes licensing requirements for the commercial cultivation and distribution of marijuana via retail facilities. The measure states that “at least one” marijuana retailer shall exist per county within one year following the passage of this act. To learn how you can support this act, please visit here.
New Hampshire: Next Wednesday, March 10, House lawmakers are scheduled to vote on House Bill 1653, which would amend penalties for possession of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine, to a civil offense punishable by no more than $200.00. Members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee previously voted 16 to 2 in favor of passing the bill, and NORML anticipates that House lawmakers will do the same. However, Democrat Gov. John Lynch has threatened to veto the measure. Contact information and talking points for Gov. Lynch may be found at NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Massachusetts: The Joint Committee on Judiciary held a hearing on Tuesday to debate SB 1801, which seeks to “regulate and tax the cannabis industry” in Massachusetts. You can watch video from the hearing here, and you can contact your state elected officials in support of the measure here.
For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.