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.
Washington: House and Senate lawmakers gave final approval last week to legislation expanding the state’s medical marijuana law. Senate Bill 5798 will allow additional health care professionals – including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners – to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. Under present law, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis. Washington lawmakers are the first legislators to codify these expanded recommendation rights into law. The measure now goes before Democrat Governor Christine Gregoire for final approval. Contact information for Gov. Gregoire is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
New Hampshire: House lawmakers voted 214 to 137 last week in favor of House Bill 1653, which would amend penalties for possession of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction. The vote prompted Democrat Gov. John Lynch to threaten to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. New Hampshire residents are encouraged to contact their members of the Senator and the Governor in support of this measure by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Hawaii: Members of the House Public Safety Committee and the Public Health Committee last week approved Senate Bill 2213, which would allow for the establishment of licensed ‘compassion centers’ to engage in the controlled production and distribution of cannabis to state-authorized patients. The Senate had previously approved the measure by a 20 to 1 vote. The bill now awaits action from the House Judiciary Committee. You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of the bill here. Senate lawmakers previously approved a separate marijuana decriminalization proposal, SB 2450, which also awaits action from the House.
Kansas: Members of the House Committee on Health and Human Services will hold an informational hearing tomorrow on House Bill 2610, which seeks to legalize the medical use of marijuana to authorized patients. NORML representatives will be testifying at tomorrow’s hearing and have also provided written testimony to the Committee.
Tennessee: State lawmakers will be holding a pair of hearings this week and next week regarding the Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act. NORML has retained a state lobbyist to represent the interests of our statewide affiliates, and will be taking a lead role in the upcoming hearings.
For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.