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.
** Remember: 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, DC: Members of the DC City Council voted unanimously today in favor of legislation (The Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act 0f 2010) to establish medical marijuana dispensaries in the District of Columbia. The Council had given preliminary approval for the measure in April.
As approved, Health Department officials would regulate up to five facilities to dispense medical cannabis to authorized patients. Medical dispensaries would be limited to growing no more than 95 plants on site at any one time. Patients are expected to be able to obtain up to four ounces of dispensary-provided marijuana per month. Patients would not be permitted to privately cultivate their own supply of medicine. Low-income patients will be allowed to purchase medical marijuana at a greatly reduced cost under the plan.
The bill now goes to Mayor Adrian Fenty for his signature. Congress will then have 30 working days to either approve or reject the measure.
Pennsylvania: Democrat Sen. Daylin Leach held a press conference today to mark the introduction of Senate Bill 1350, The Compassionate Use Act, which seeks to make Pennsylvania the fifteenth state to legalize the physician-supervised use of marijuana.
The measures would allow state-authorized patients to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The measures also seek to allow for the state-licensed distribution and sale of medical marijuana by authorized ‘compassion centers.’ Nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support the measure according to a December 2009 Quinnipiac University poll.
Illinois: House lawmakers may finally decide this week the fate of Senate Bill 1381, which seeks to regulate the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. The measure was passed by the Senate in 2009 and is believed to be only one vote shy of majority support in the House. However, the 2009-2010 legislative session ends this Friday. If you live in Illinois, it is vital that you contact your House member today and urge him or her to end the prohibition of medical marijuana.
Tennessee: Members of the House Committee on Health and Human Resources unanimously voted last week to establish a task force to study the issue of legalizing medical marijuana, and to report back to the legislature with recommendations. While this outcome is not ideal for seriously ill individuals who desire immediate legal protections, the members’ action is a significant step forward in the campaign to ultimately provide legal and safe access to medical cannabis for authorized Tennessee patients.
NORML retained a state lobbyist this legislative session to represent the interests of our statewide affiliates, and to argue on behalf of legal access to medicinal cannabis. NORML and its affiliates will continue to actively lobby the legislature in 2011 and beyond in support of enacting common sense access and protections for Tennessee’s medical marijuana patient community.
New Hampshire: Members of the Senate have rejected, on a voice vote, House-backed legislation (House Bill 1653) that sought to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses. The Senate vote came almost a month after House lawmakers overwhelmingly (214 to 137) voted in favor of the measure, which would have reduced the penalties on minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine to a nominal monetary penalty of no more than $200.00.
Although some Senators acknowledged their private support for decriminalization (Read NORML’s testimony here), several committee members said the veto threat from Democrat Gov. John Lynch “convinced them that pursuing the bill was a fool’s errand.”
Gov. Lynch last year vetoed legislation that sought to legalize the medical use of marijuana.
To learn about pending legislation in additional states — and how you can get involved, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.