NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country.
** 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 to make the changes they want to see.

Connecticut: Lawmakers have introduced a pair of bills to reform state marijuana laws. House Bill 5139 amends state law to “authorize an individual to use marijuana for medical purposes as directed by a physician.” Lawmakers passed similar legislation in 2007 only to have the measure vetoed by then-Gov. Jodi Rell. Newly elected Gov. Dan Malloy has been a past supporter of medical marijuana law reform and indicates that he is inclined to sign HB 5139 into law. A separate bill, Senate Bill 163, amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction, punishable by a nominal fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. This measure would similarly reduce penalties for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Both measures have been referred to the Joint Judiciary Committee. If you reside in Connecticut, you can take action in support of both bills here.
Illinois: Illinois state legislators are considering a pair of bills to reform the state’s marijuana laws. Lawmakers this week reintroduced House Bill 30, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which allows qualified patients to possess and grow marijuana for medical purposes. The bill already has strong support among lawmakers, as a previous version of the measure was approved by the Senate and only narrowly defeated by the House. Separate legislation, House Bill 100, amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine) to a “petty offense” punishable by a fine only. Both measures have been referred to the House Rules Committee. If you reside in Illinois, you can take action in favor of both measures by clicking here and by becoming involved with Illinois NORML.
Rhode Island: House Bill 5031 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. The measure has legislative support. In 2010, members of a special Senate committee advocated for the decriminalization of adult marijuana possession offenses, finding that over 91 percent of the state’s marijuana arrests are for possession only, and that of those first-time offenders are sentenced to incarceration, defendants on average were sentenced to 3.5 months in jail. House Bill 5031 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which may be contacted here. If you reside in Rhode Island, you can take action in support of HB 5031 at NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.
Virginia: There is disappointing news to report from Virginia. On Monday, January 17, lawmakers on the House Courts of Justice, Criminal Subcommittee decided on a voice vote to “pass by indefinitely” legislation, HB 1443, which sought to reduce criminal marijuana penalties for first-time offenders. Virginia NORML, which backed HB 1443, co-organized a Lobby Day to coincide with Monday’s hearing and vote. An estimated 75 citizens participated in the day-long event, about a dozen of whom testified in favor of HB 1443. (You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of the measure here.) Unlike in past years, no one, including representatives of law enforcement or the state prosecutors office, testified publicly against the measure. Del. Morgan, the sponsor of HB 1443, has already vowed to reintroduce a similar measure next year. You can read a full report on Monday’s Lobby Day and hearing, as well as what you can still do to help, by clicking here.
Washington: Senate Bill 5073, which seeks to expand Washington’s twelve-year-old medical marijuana law and creates greater legal protections for authorized patients, providers, and caregivers. has been assigned to the Committee on Health & Long-Term Care and has been scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 20 at 1:30pm in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building. For more information on this measure and tomorrow’s hearing, please visit here.

To be in contact with your state officials regarding these and other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.

39 thoughts

  1. alright lets see if we can do it this time Illinois. write to the representatives that have the power to do something to help us.

  2. Even though I don’t live in any of the above mentioned states (Tennessee) I’m ecstatic over these announcements. The more states that support pro-cannabis measures the better. It’s like a snowball rolling down hill and pretty soon it will be unstoppable. I can’t help but think that if Prop. 19 had passed not only would the above states have a higher support (no pun intended) for the proposed bills, but more states might have had reps. submitting similar bills. Can’t wait to see some updates on this article!

  3. I live in CT, and I just used these forms to send them to the appropriate house representative. Specifically, I included a link to the excellent Psychedelic Salon podcast with Claudia Little which explains “the safety, benefits, and importance of medical marijuana.”
    http://matrixmasters.net/archive/Various/218-Little-TellsCannabisTruth.mp3
    (I do wish there were a way to get rid of the 4:30 intro and rehost it on a better URL, but hopefully there is at least a chance for this to have an impact.)
    If you haven’t listened to this podcast then you definitely should, even if you read the NORML blog religiously there is still probably a lot you will learn.

  4. Hey Connecticut, we have an oppurtunity to change our Law’s. Let’s not waste the chance to let our Law makers how we feel. Let’s let them know, NOW is the time to move forward, Now is the time to beet the Gangs here in Ct. Let remember the People who have died as a result of these gangs, and the relentless pursiut of this unwinable war on drugs. Let’s remeber the co-lateral Damage that occurs to non-violent people who are involved or those who get caught in the middle and get shot not only by the criminal element, but by the accidental shottings from the nation’s Law Enforcement community. But let us remember that the Law Enforcemnet community can’t decide witch law they will and will not enforcement they are bound by oath to enforce them all.

  5. Eventually all States will follow California except for maybe the hillbilly ( as we call them in Cali. ) States in the deep South .
    Everybody laughed at our Nation when California was a few million in the hole . Now every State is underwater .
    It’s just a matter of time before everybody finally catches up to Cali.

  6. I live in VA and want to share with you the letter I just emailed to all 3 of the prohibitionist delegates. Let’s hope it does us some good! Here it is:
    I am very disappointed with your failure to support HB 1443, which would have reallocated criminal justice costs and benefited public safety. I hope that you will reconsider your position when this measure is reintroduced in a future legislative session.
    I believe that we, the American people, have been lied to for many many years regarding the so-called dangers of marijuana and that it is time to legalize and regulate it for responsible adults. I don’t know why you decided not to back HB 1443. The fact is that I know many marijuana users and they are all good productive tax-paying citizens and that not a single one of them is a criminal!
    Perhaps you are uneducated about what marijuana is and why it is illegal. May I suggest that you read this book: “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink”. You can get a copy for less than $10.00. After reading it I suspect that you will not be of the same opinion that you are now.
    You probably think that bad people use marijuana and that they are societal deviants but nothing could be further from the truth. Millions of people use it and – some are bad, some are good. Some are old some are young, some are white, some are black… I think you get my point.
    It is incredibly unjust to continue to treat marijuana users as though they are criminals when alcohol is legal and is much more dangerous. Please forget the lies of the past and look to the future – a better future. Prohibition is the cause of 99.99% of the problems with marijuana.
    Thank you for your consideration!

  7. some advice concerning further legalization attempts: It would be a good idea if there is some way to include in the legislation a drastic increase in compensation for law enforcement officials that investigate or assist in the capture of violent criminals, and a moderate increase in compensation for law enforcement officials that investigate or assist in the apprehension of thieves. I would suspect that such a thing would reduce opposition from law enforcement. You could call it a “Effective Priorities of Law Enforcement” bill.

  8. MESSAGE FOR DEA:
    I don’t believe your current approach is inline with YOUR constituents. You can never win a war against your OWN people. Drugs are a medical issue, not a criminal one. As for the black market YOU created, that long recovering process could be won if you allowed for drug usage and treatment under supervision. People will ALWAYS use drugs, why not give them a safe place to be STUPID, and while you’re at it throw some treatment out there. Are you proud to have the largest prison population, in the free-ist country, with only 5% of the world population? Thank you, for not wasting my hard earned tax dollars.

  9. Virginia’s legislators and their “pass by indefinitely”
    FAILED.
    Government once again failing to represent the will of the people. Hey Virginians check out what we’re doing in New Hampshire http://nhjury.com/
    and consider doing it in your state…it’s obvious your Representatives can’t hear you !

  10. Up until very recently, I used to live in VA. Sometime in the mid-1970’s, the VA legislature enacted legislation that would permit physicians to prescribe medical cannabis. But no further enabling legislation has ever passed the State legislature, effectively orphaning that pro-cannabis measure.
    Since that time, ever more “conservative” VA politicians have squelched any further progress in cannabis legalization. While there is no (AFAIK) Big Pharma facilities in VA that would oppose pro-cannabis legislation, there is a large and influential Federal presence in the State. There is also a large & powerful tobacco industry in VA that also has undue influence in the legislature.
    Considering that VA was established not only as a tobacco-based colony, it’s citizens were also commanded by King George to produce cannabis|hemp in support of the Empire. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and many other luminaries of early VA history grew this almost uniquely beneficial plant. They would no doubt be amazed at the “reefer madness” mentality of our government, both State and Federal. How times have changed, and not for the better regarding “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
    As the tobacco industry continues to justifiably suffer the trials and tribulations of being a known health hazard, the small VA farms are falling to economic despair. In one fell stroke of the State legislative pen, most of these farms could be saved for their families by legalizing both cannabis and hemp, as things used to be. The State, with economic difficulties of it’s own, could also benefit from new jobs, new industries, and new revenue streams.
    Perhaps new pro-cannabis legislation in the VA legislature that more broadly addresses a number of State fiscal woes in a holistic fashion would have better luck passing. It could be called the “VA Family Farm Rescue and Economic Recovery Act”. Such a measure might even be self-funded, a bonus for the current conservative VA government.

  11. We the rich hold these truths to be undeniable; that all rich people are created above all others & that our superiority is created by our God, the better God, that we derive our rights inherent & inalienable above anyone else who is not of our superior class, we will decide what the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness is; that to secure our position to these ends, our token government is instituted by the corrupted rich, deriving their just powers with the force of their armies and from the consent of the rich as a whole; that whenever any person(s) shall become destructive of our way of life, it is the right of the rich to destroy, alter or to abolish any rule, law or person(s) that interfere with the rule of the rich, & to institute new definitions at will and without notice, laying ours foundation squarely on the backs of the less inferior humans. We the rich shall organize our powers in such a form, as to keep all the lower classes confused as to what is real and at bay by uses of fear. We shall protect our own safety & happiness by force should the poor and middle class rise up and revolt due to the heavy yokes placed around their necks and the necks of their future generations.
    Funny Hu?

  12. It’s absolutely one to the smartest things we can do just fining folks for possession of an ounce or less, but if we don’t eliminate the necessity for urine tests, we are just scratching the surface of the injustices that are being perpetrated against the innocent. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness

  13. As usual, nothing going on in Florida. I hate living in the south. If only I was born with a diamond enema I could move out of this shit hole. Alas, jobs don’t pay well enough anymore.

  14. @ Bob, you have to realize that the representatives don’t care, unless they would benefit monetarily from it. Government isn’t for us, it’s for them.

  15. The Washington legislature, despite over 50% of Washington supporting full out legalization, will never move forward on this bill. They are gutless and refuse to bow to the will of the people. A politician should vote in line with his or her constituency instead of in line with his or her personal beliefs. This would be true democracy in action. Instead, we have a bunch of disillusioned imbeciles trying to tell the people that put them there that their wishes are not worthy of consideration or implementation.

  16. When I smoke cannabis and have my dreams
    I do not want some law enforcement officer knocking down my door
    I represent a growing majority who demands Justice
    We can come to terms

  17. Texas is currently revisiting legislation that would reduce penalties for small amounts / simple possession.
    Looks like the prohibitionists are already spewing their propaganda. Last night on the evening news the lead in was that the streets were safer due to a drug bust that keep some huge dollar amount of drugs off the streets. I really expected something big from the lead in and then that was followed by some guys picture and the fact that the amount confiscated was 3 pounds of marijuana.
    Our tax dollars at work…Please.

  18. I got your round-up right here. [Jersey crotch adjustment]
    Start naming strains after drug czars and prohibitionists, especially strains that are a heavy, dumb stone. (It’s funny and ridicules them.)
    Make a new Meme (yes, meme) about how many people are arrested WORLDWIDE every minute for cannabis and those law enforcement costs, along with citing the U.S. statistics for arrests. It is commonly accepted that the U.S. enforces cannabis prohibition worldwide with its financial support of eradication all around the world, as evidenced by its annual certification and evaluation of the previous year’s successes by country. Astonishingly, failures still receive money. Item: Mexico has its own little civil war going on between the drug cartels and the parts of the government that haven’t yet been corrupted.
    The Feds can deal with http://www.bedrocan.nl/ to legitimize their repositioning to acquiescing in cannabis legalization and save face by not having to consult and consort with sources that may be perceived as illegal or criminal. They can at least change the federal law scheduling to make medical cannabis legal, and allow the states dominion over it. (I mean really, cannabis is a schedule I drug and leads to less dangerous drugs like cocaine, crack, heroin? Come on!)
    Introduce the impairment at time of testing technology already, will ya! Give the cops some training. Those who refuse the training get laid off or terminated. If they all get the training, then use the cannabis revenues to let them all keep their jobs. Bail out their pension funds.
    Let’s see some movement on the crusty old East Coast to allow Amsterdam style cannabis coffeeshops.

  19. The drive for decriminalization is growing. Let’s make PA next. If you live in PA, take the time to email your rep. Popular support for decrim is upwards of 65% or more. Representatives have no reason not to listen to this kind of unprecedented support. It takes literally seconds to get your view across. 13 states have done it and now we have Conneticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island following. These victories would make 16 states with decrim this year. Norml supporters, let’s make Pa #17. Its time to end this bullshit.:P

  20. Even if Kentucky or Texas reforms its current laws on possession of weed they still keep possession of weed very punishable . Unfortunetely, Kentucky along with, Texas is one of those borderline hillbilly States Californians refer to . Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of great and wonderful people down there .
    It’s just that I’ll never go there .One time i was in Atlanta , Georgia and they wouldn’t let me into a nightclub because i was wearing blue jeans and a T – Shirt . Never will i go back to that hillbilly
    State .It’s just the opposite here in California

  21. Marijuana has been Ct.’s #1 cash crop since 1997: That’s GROWN in Ct. not imported+sold-outpacing all legal crops for 14 years! Like I say: I have yet to see ONE person smoking tobacco medicinally; nor has ANY medical organization spoke out in favor of tobacco use. However Many people who are truly suffering claim that marijuana helps them and several medical organizations support the use of marijuana as medicine. In order for us to be able to move forward as a nation the New England states: Maine,New Hampshire,Vermont,Massachusetts,Rhode Island, and Conneticut need to bravely step up and end the policy of throwing away citizens’ lives with prison sentences and criminal records. Suffering people should not be denied a substance that affords them relief. Marijuana needs to be regulated so it can be controlled. I see tobacco and alcohol for sale in the same store children in my town buy candy and soda, but I do not see these children smoking or drinking. That is because of regulation. We need to only prosecute individuals who try to profit from selling marijuana to children; not an adult who wishes to smoke it for whatever reason. It is an affront to everyones’ personal liberties when we are permitted to smoke an addictive, deadly plant, yet persecuted for smoking a potentially theraputic one. I hope New Englanders’ can set this matter straight. Because this IS about all of us-not just marijuana users.

  22. Its such a shame that there isnt any action toward changing the marijuana laws in Alabama. If it ever happens on the state level it will probably be the last state in the country to do so.

  23. #11 jason– “compensation for law enforcement officers”– and #24 Mrs. Rat — “Bail out their pension funds”– have made good points. Might also have to buy out or bail out “Too Big To Fail” Philip Morris, Reynolds, Llorilard et. al., retrain the surplus tobacco farmers into reforestation skills (HEMP is one of the best precursor crops for tree planting). Tobacco historically is planted on former forest lands using prime topsoil created by trees for their children, not for cash drug crops such as tobacco.
    Finally, promote Mr. de Costa and other UN narc officers into Consultancy Oblivion and appoint Wangari Maathai Secretary of Reforestation with a trillion dollar budget to hire both repentent former tobacco profiteers and former cannabis arrest persecution victims to work together in a new “joint” effort (no, Dr. Freud, it’s not what you think, go chew another cigar).

  24. Your right, Andrew . Alabama is still a wonderful State and you are a wonderful person . There’s a lot of good decent people in the South . Keep your chin up and fingers crossed for change to happen but it looks like your State along with the others in the deep South will be the one of the last places in America to make these changes.
    Good luck .

  25. HB 68 is in the works here in Montana. Potency labeling will be mandatory on ALL medical marijuana product sold in dispensaries or stores. MBT has been in business for 2 years servicing the state of Montana’s potency testing needs.
    Montana Biotech specializes in Potency Analysis and labeling. Call today for prices and availability… (406)6006871
    Montana Biotech’s Potency Analysis Labeling:
    http://montanabiotech.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/potency-labeling-montana/
    HB 68 link:
    http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2011/BillPdf/HB0068.pd

  26. I’ve heard from friends in the government the DEA is planning a huge national clampdown on Marijuana on all levels as a major fear tactic and planning to arrest all the major players…
    They’ve been takin names and are going after all…

  27. Gotta get KENTUCKY in the now! I don’t understand how marijuana is Kentucky’s number one cash crop and we have failed to do anything at all. Another thing, if marijuana is recognized by other states as having Medicinal value; how is it still a schedule 1?

  28. President Obama on Thursday called drug legalization “an entirely legitimate topic for debate,” but quickly added “I am not in favor of legalization.” my response is simply, Put Up or Shut Up Mr. President! The debate you claim is “an entirely legitimate topic for debate,” is long over due. We the People have been a……sking this Government to give us this debate and debate this issue like reasonable human beings. The government’s response has “shocked the sense of fair play,” they have openly lied and mis-informed the general public for since 1937. Mr. President we want this debate! We dare you to set this in motion and since you clearly stated, “not in favor of legalization”, you and your party should put up or shut up and defend Prohibition. We the People will bring it on, set the ground, we’ll debate who ever you send. All we ask is that it be live and transparent to the public.

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