NORML's Weekly Legislative Round Up

Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in over twenty 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.

Montana: As anticipated, on Monday members of House of Representatives gave final approval to HB 161, which would repeal the state’s existing medical cannabis law. The measure now goes before state senators, who are being targeted with anti-pot propaganda advertisements. Nevertheless, a new poll released this week of over 2,200 Montanans found that 63 percent of voters support allowing medical marijuana, and only 20 percent support current proposals to repeal the state’s compassionate medical marijuana law. Tell the Senate to uphold the will of the voters and to reject HB 161. You can contact your lawmakers via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here, or by contacting Montana NORML. You can also visit our allies Patients and Families United on Facebook here for up-to-date information on pending hearings and votes.
New Mexico: House Bill 593, introduced by Santa Fe Republican James Smith, aims to completely repeal New Mexico’s existing medical marijuana law, which was initially approved by the legislature and the Governor in 2007. Presently, over 3,200 patients are using cannabis legally in compliance with state law. In addition, state officials have licensed some 25 facilities to produce or dispense medical cannabis. Reports of abuses regarding the use or distribution of medical cannabis as authorized by the law have been minimal. Nevertheless, Smith — who admits “I’m not a medical doctor, I don’t pretend to be.” – states that the law sends a mixed message to young people and that other alternative medications are available. House Bill 593 has been assigned to the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and awaits a scheduled hearing. Newly elected Republican Governor Susana Martinez, who recently stated that this issue would not be a legislative priority for her administration in 2011, now says that she will sign Smith’s bill if it reaches her desk. You can prevent that from happening by contacting your House member here and urging them to vote ‘no’ on repeal.
Indiana: On Tuesday, February 22, the Senate voted 28 to 21 in favor of legislation, SB 192, to consider the impact of the state’s marijuana policies, including costs in the state’s criminal justice system and the potential for regulation and taxation options. The bill now goes to the House. You can read NORML’s testimony in support of SB 192 here. You can contact your member of the House in support of SB 192 here. You can track the progress of this effort on Facebook here.
Texas: On Tuesday, March 1, members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will hear testimony in favor of HB 548, which seeks to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses in Texas. The hearing is scheduled for 10:30am in room JHR 120 of the state capitol. To date, nearly 1,300 of you have contacted your House members in favor of HB 548 via NORML’s Take Action Center. Now show them that you support this effort by appearing before them in person. Join Texas NORML at next week’s hearing or track the progress of this bill online here.
Maryland: On Tuesday members of the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from NORML representatives and others in favor of House Bill 606. House Bill 606 amends current 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 $1000 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $100 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. You can follow the progress of HB 606 on Facebook here. You can contact your House Delegate in support of the measure via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here. Separate state legislation regarding the medical use of marijuana will be hard next week in the Maryland House and Senate. You can learn more about these measures here.

Newly elected Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy last week reaffirmed his support for legislation that seeks to reduce minor marijuana possession to a noncriminal offense. Malloy endorsed reducing adult marijuana possession penalties 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. Gov. Malloy also reaffirmed his support for legalizing the physician-authorized use of medical marijuana. You can contact your state elected officials in favor of both of these proposals here and here. You can also get involved with Connecticut NORML here.
West Virginia: Lawmakers will debate for the first time legislation, HB 3251, to legalize the use of medical marijuana in West Virginia. House Bill 3251, The Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act, amends state law so that physician-supervised patients with an authorized “chronic or debilitating medical condition” can possess six plants and up to an ounce of usable marijuana for medical purposes. The measure also allows for the establishment “compassion centers” to dispense medical cannabis to qualified patients. You can contact your House members in support of this effort here.

To get involved in legislation pending in dozens of other states, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

38 thoughts

  1. Why do we always refer to the decriminalization of possession as “decriminalization”, and the decriminalization of cultivation/sales as “legalization”?
    Perhaps we would be better served to use the term “decriminalization of sales” rather than “legalization”, which scares people.
    [Paul Armentano responds: Decriminalization refers to replacing criminal penalties on the possession, use, or not-for-profit transfer of cannabis with civil fines. Regulating the for-profit production and sale of marijuana is not decriminalization; it is legalization — as the acts would be legal and subject to applicable regulations that oversee commercial transactions.]

  2. Wow too bad about Montana and New Mexico. I’m glad I live in Colorado and I’m healty and don’t even need medical MJ. I know its not practical but maybe the MMJ people of those two states should consider moving here if they are strong enough to make that move. We are not that far away from either one. For the ones who are not able, I’m so sorry about your state taking your medicine away from you. I don’t know how anyone can be so heartless to someone who is sick.

  3. Is there any progress with HB1550 in Washington? Can we expect it to pass with amendments (e.g waiting for Federal approval) this year?

  4. Since the vote in Montana was almost party line would’nt it be tough for the repeal bill to pass Mew Mexico since the legislature is controled by Dems or are the dynamics different here?
    [Paul Armentano responds: The Democrats only hold slim majorities in New Mexico, particularly in the House — where this bill was introduced. The newly-elected Governor is also a Republican and backs repeal.]

  5. for the first time West Virginians will have the opportunity to speak up and voice their support for medical marijuana. hope we all spread the word and contact as many legislators as possible. the old moonshiners called them revenuers during prohibition, there is no difference in moonshine or marijuana, but the government propaganda on marijuana will make the religionist movement the devil in the details. educated science may prevail, but it’s hard to overcome the boob tube portrayal of the drug war and governments “morally wrong” entrenched dogma.speak up! make phone calls, send letters, this will at least be a start, and who knows, maybe we’re not as backward as the media portrays.

  6. Well Texas, baby steps are better than nothing. Write and Call your Reps! Then, I’ll see you at the capitol on 3.1.11.

  7. James Smith Santa Fe Republican have said, “….that the law sends a mixed message to young people and that other alternative medications are available”
    ( Stupid excuse paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.)

  8. I support cannabis, and the users of, but unfortunately like many legislators I cannot imagine one person needing 2, 3, 4, or more plants, and an ounce of cannabis at any one time. Here in states that have no medical marijuana laws on the books we call that a smoker with a serious problem! that is crap load of marijuana! If the legislators in those states go for that more power to them, but if you need that much it can’t work that well. If folks just want to smoke marijuana legally try getting your feet wet instead of jumping in the water, I can see why people who don’t understand marijuana freak out when they hear these kind of proposals. Whats wrong with everyone having ONE mature plant that can produce half a pound and a seedling at a time. How much do we REALLY need. This all being said I understand that in a perfect world there would be no limit, but that’s not the world we live in.

  9. The Safe Access to Medical Cannabis act has been reintroduced in the Tennessee General Assembly. However, given the unexpected (and completely unpredicted) increase in Republican legislators selected by our unverifiable voting equipment here, we do not expect the bill to move as far as it did last year, when it passed all House committees (including a 20-4 vote in our House Health and Human Resources committee.)
    When we return to counting votes as they are cast here in Tennessee (instead of how the right-wing voting machine company owners pre-program them to appear), perhaps sensible legislation will have a chance.
    Until then, fat chance.

  10. Wow How many plants do we need. The news tells me 35 children are diagnoised with cancer evertday. Mj shrinks cancer. When Obama laughed at the mj question was he laughing at the suffering of these children.Hoping they die in screaming pain.
    What about the lies about economy jobs enviroment.
    Why does the Fed subsidize ethanol with 10’s of billions of dollars when corn produces 600 gallons of alcohol per acre and Hemp will produce 1000 gallons of alcohol 300 gallons of oil and a couple thousand pounds of food protein per acre?
    74 years of propaganda scare tactics lies. Is’nt it time to tell the truth about Hemp? Hemp is a Trillion dollar crop.
    How many jobs would be created to harvest and process 30 million acres(to start) of Hemp?
    Hemp laws are treason against the Republic? Making Free Enterprise illegal The corner stone of control of the economy. Taking the economy out of the hands of farmers to vested interasts.
    I hear on the news economy millions of jobs green fuel environment violence health care freedom and answer it with Hemp.
    How many plants do we need?

  11. NORML — Thanks for the update on the marijuana laws once again.
    I’m surprised that (as of now) NORML hasn’t covered any of California’s marijuana bills going through the legislature. The biggest and most likely one to pass is Ammiano’s cultivation “wobbler” bill, or the “Omnibus Cannabis bill.” It’s a good start to reforming marijuana laws.
    Marijuana is almost ready for legalization, at least in California, but we need a more broad piecemeal approach to ease the transition to legalization in 2012 or 2016, as well as provide the current legal approach some guidelines on prioritization.
    It doesn’t make sense to maintain felony crimes against low-level cultivation and sales of a drug that 46.2% of Californians (in a conservative election) feel should be legal. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems completely ridiculous, and gives DA’s too much power to incarcerate small dealers/cultivators and even some medical marijuana dispensaries.
    Perhaps something as simplistic as this bill:
    I’m sure Dale Gieringer at CANORML has written a decriminalization bill in the past, but perhaps something as simplistic as this decriminalization/reprioritization bill should be taken more seriously:
    Thanks again!

  12. The quantity of plants has nothing to do with the eventual return of useable, medicinal flower. Most private citizenz would not have the money/space/recources required to create those one-pound profesional plants that take up ten-twenty feet of space each. No. Most normal citizens with a medical necessity for genuine pain relief would not be able to pick-up/ handle plants much larger than 12-18″. These plants take four months or so to produce viable flowers, and those in severe;chronic pain need to keep ahead of that pain simply in order to lead semi-normal lives. If an ounce lasts one month yet a patient can only produce two ounces every 3-4 months, it does not become an astronomical number. Besides, in the state of Connecticut you will see expansive fields of tobacco plants along the highways and roadways: literally tens of thousands of plants-that are proven addictive, deadly, have no accepted medicinal use: yet they are there. And no one who is vehemently against the regulation of marijuana plants will speak up for the criminalization of tobacco-its’ users; growers; and sellers. Why?

  13. A pretty serious downhill path of events has started.
    Not only has a state for the first time is coming close to succeeding in repealing its MMJ laws, another state has followed.
    Soon..the legalization of synthetic THC will comprise the caregivers and dispensaries of state abiding citizens, as patients are now eligible to recieve a federally legal cannibinoid pill.
    I strongly dislike what I am seeing with current legislation, I believe 2011 so far is the first downward trend in years; despite growing public support. Hear us politicians!

  14. It’s Pharma, Alcohol & Tobacco the same people who brought us ” Drug Free America ” and they are duping the people . These corporate Giants are weak . They have little or no defense so they always use Children in their fight to snuff out Marijuana . I tell you it is not Marijuana it is their drugs that are by far doing the most damage to kids . It is the opposite of what they are attempting to make you believe with all their lies, tricks & deception .

  15. Gotcha still don’t think it will make it out of the legislature but definately need to apply the pressure. A suggestion to you guys at Norml would be to make like a state legislative blog so we can figure out specifically which senators/Reps are key to the success of passing/stopping a bill in a state.

  16. Also nice to see some action out of Texas, Indiana and West Virginia. Also the real big steps in Maryland and Connecticut would be huge if we could get them both decriminalized.

  17. @bw by allowing possession of up to an oz they can have a store of medicine. who buys prescriptions by the single pill. many medicators are weak and traveling everyday to re-up is unrealistic.

  18. I am in Texas and today is the first time I believed in something enough to take the time to write my representative. And I am adverse to form letters so I actually went out on the web to find my representative and write them directly, explaining the situation and why it was so important to vote yes.
    The saddest thing is that I also looked on the web and no other site is mentioning this vote 🙁 Maybe it is because the bill is still in it’s infant stages, but it was disappointing that had I not visited the NORML website, I would have had no idea that this vote was taking place.
    That being said, decriminalization is not the nirvana that the word implies. I will still be fined and my weed will still be confiscated. But I will be fined a lot less, I won’t have to go to jail, and most of all, if I read the bill correctly, I won’t have a drug charge added to my criminal record.
    If that last part is true, that is huge. Criminal background checks take all of five minutes now. If I read it correctly, this new law would mean I would lose my pot, pay a fine, but it would not show up on my record and therefore not show up when I applied for a job or a home loan.
    It still leaves a lot to be desired (like being at the mercy of my dealer when it comes to the quality of the weed I can get) but it is a huge improvement.
    And as someone said earlier – baby steps. I know legalization is coming and I believe I will see it in my lifetime.
    And God bless Travis County, that little island of blue in a sea of red. Those are the people that will get this passed in a conservative state.
    I’ll be back there as soon as my degree is in my hand.

  19. In the secret place and moment, there are so many free cannabis votes, here in The USA, it is time to end the dea, drug Enforcement Agency, in some place in some other place, my only soul is my vote.
    My Lonely Vote

  20. Baby steps are better than nothing, but come on people, we’ve been here before. In ’73 ’78 & *1 the science and politics was done. Unfortunately in ’81 Ronny and the Plutocrats were in power. The truth is in their filing cabinette somewhere. Why is college expensive and pot illeagal? Cuz the plutocrats want us all drunk and stupid.

  21. So..the minority in two states are doing their damnedest to over turn the vote of the people and the majority.
    When this starts taking hold, watch out…your rights will be gone for’ll no longer matter what the majority wants.
    This deffinitly isnt my america.

    If government continues to be impervious to our will – we simply have to abide by the Constitution we hold so dear and so high – and – when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people [We the People] to dissolve the political bands which have connected us with another [government], and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Natures God entitles us, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we declare the causes which impels us to the separation.
    Our cause is less than simple. Prohibitionists in government have violated our Constitution. We do not approve of, neither do we support the laws that prohibit our Holy Sacrament. Therefore, we declare the cause of our separation. Compelling Justification, Prior Competing Governmental Interest, and Government’s Supremacy Clause are unjust, invalid, and voidable.

  23. bw #12. You cannot imagine a person needing more than one plant. Let’s say the government limited you to one tomato plant. Perhaps they only want you to grow one of those tasteless kind that they use in ketchup. Here you go grow a big one. But you like the tasty ones with a high acid content. Your wife has stomach problems and can’t tolerate the high acid content. Your friend that you invite to your barbeque is an artist he likes colorful tomatos. You get the government approved plant. You really like tomatos and you nurture it, you baby it, you show it love. The rains come and it gets moldy, the insects come and ravish it. A local racoon comes by and destroys it. Oh well you can grow another one! You can also go to the store and get your government approved ketchup variety. I’m sorry not in your state. Your state has outlawed tomatos. To have one in your possession may result in a fine, one year in jail, and the loss of your house. The state next to yours allows six tomato plants and no jail time if you can find a doctor that gives you a prescription for the tomato. You have rickets and really need that tomato. You can always move. Sorry, you’re poor and unemployed and must relie on your wifes teaching job to get by. Now I know tomatos are a vegtable. The government does not outlaw vegtables. Marijuana is a herb. A herb. Who gives the government the power to criminalize herbs? Why should they limit the type of herb, the number of herbs you could grow if you so desired? Substitute marijuana for tomatos in my analogy. The whole idea of making marijuana illegal is just crazy. Prohibition did not work with alcohol and they changed that law within a few years. Why are we more stupid now than we were in the 1930’s? The only reason I can see is money, power, greed, and corruption. Throw in a little racism to lock up the dark people and there is your answer. Damn the big industrial complexs that are running this country. Damn the politicians. Damn the small minded prohibitionists that can’t think beyond what is told to them. Legalize marijuana now! For all uses for all people and move on to more pressing issues like creating jobs and getting out of endless wars.

  24. i’m still wondering what became of Washington state’s House Bill 1550 to legalize marijuana. on Feb 8, there was a 2 hour public hearing in the “House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness” and that was the last i heard about it.
    i would appreciate any information on the current status of H.B. 1550 in Washington state.
    [Paul Armentano responds: There has yet to be a vote taken on HB 1550.]

  25. Our beloved country is in deep trouble. At this point – saving the country is on the top of the “to do list.” Let’s have a little patience [very little] – but – patience nevertheless. We might find that – in the end – all things will fall into place.

  26. To.
    My brethren Genesis the faith.
    I believe we are living in great times, brothers. Let’s stand up and fight the prohibs and continue to take sacrament. IT IS OUR GOD GIVEN CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT!

  27. I live in tennessee and it will be one of the last states to go medicinal or decriminalize cannabis. But, I do know it will come. Our generation will eventually take over and cannabis will finally be legalized, taxed, and regulated. I have faith that we will prevail against the gates of hell. The prohibs stand at that gate. It will be a great day when those gate fall once and for all. God Bless!
    Bartee Lake Co.Tn Colony

  28. BarT – Manny here!
    Hey bro – super glad to see you back on the boards. I pray that you’re well, happy, and kickin’ ass. So! you know the drill by now – “The 420 Invasion” – April 20,2011 @ 4:20 p.m. – a simultaneous, face to face action on every representative in the U.S. to ask one question – “Which way do you roll” – then – post their answer for the whole world to see. It’s up to Genesists and those who agree with our Constitutional right to make it happen. “Nothing happens – unless – we make it happen.” Fortunatley – “we can” make anything happen. We will never be that far away from our brethren. We will stand together continually.
    More to come,

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