Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in over a dozen states, and progressive measures have been pre-filed in many more. 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.
Arizona: House Bill 2228, introduced in the legislature this week, amends state law so that the adult possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is reduced from a potential felony (punishable by 1.5 years in prison and a $150,000 fine) to a “petty offense” punishable by a $100 fine. Passage of this measure would amend Arizona law from one of the strictest in the nation to one of the most lenient. The bill awaits action from the House Rules Committee, whose members may be contacted here. You can contact your own House member in support of HB 2228 via NORML’s ‘Take Action’ center here. Further information regarding statewide marijuana law reform efforts is available from Arizona NORML.
Oklahoma: Senators must assign SB 573, The “Compassionate Use Act of 2011,” to committee by the end of this week in order for lawmakers to act on it. If you reside in Oklahoma, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here to contact your state senator and urge him or her to take action on SB 573. After you have done so, please also contact the Senate leadership (Sen. Brian Bingman-Pro Tem and Sen. Mike Schulz-majority floor leader) and urge them to assign SB 573 to committee. Please leave a message stating: “The use of marijuana as medicine is a public health issue and is worthy of debate. Please assign Senate Bill 573, ‘Compassionate Use Act of 2011,’ to committee so that lawmakers have the opportunity to address the needs of Oklahoma’s patients.” For more information on this and other statewide marijuana law reform efforts in Oklahoma, please contact Oklahoma NORML. You can watch a recent interview with Oklahoma NORML director Norma Sapp discussing this measure on Fox News here.
California: Legislation that would make it unlawful “for an employer to discriminate against” persons who are authorized under state law to use medical marijuana is pending in the California Senate. Senate Bill 129 declares it unlawful under state law “for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon the person’s status as a qualified patient or a positive drug test for marijuana,” if the drug test result is indicative of previous, off-the-job marijuana use (e.g., a positive test for marijuana metabolites on a urine screen). The measure responds to a California Supreme Court ruling (Ross v. Ragingwire Telecom), which held that employers could fire employees for their off-the-job marijuana use — even if they were state-authorized patients who were not impaired at work. You can learn more about this measure and other pending marijuana law reform efforts in California at California NORML. If you live in California, you can urge your state Senator to support SB 129 by clicking here.
Maryland: Over 50 House Delegates and over 20 Senators have reintroduced legislation to regulate the limited use and distribution of medical marijuana by authorized patients. Last year the Senate overwhelmingly approved this measure, but it failed to gain support in the House. To be in contact with your state Senator and Delegate about these reforms, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.
Montana: House lawmakers are debating today House Bill 161, which seeks to repeal the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana law. More information on this hearing is available from our allies Patients & Families United here. Read NORML’s rebuttal to this draconian proposal here. If you live in Montana, please urge your lawmakers to oppose this effort by clicking here. You can also get involved by contacting Montana NORML here, or on Facebook here.
To be in contact with your state officials regarding these measures and other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.