NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

January 2012 marks the beginning of a new legislative session in all 50 states. Already, marijuana law reform legislation is pending (or has been pre-filed) in nearly a dozen states. To keep up to date with what’s pending, and how you can support marijuana-friendly reform measures in your state, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

You can also stay abreast of 2012 statewide ballot initiative efforts, such as those ongoing in Colorado and elsewhere, via NORML’s Legalize 2012 Facebook page here.

Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — where we spotlight specific examples of pending marijuana law reform legislation from 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. Get active; get NORML!

ARIZONA: Legislation has been reintroduced to defelonize marijuana possession penalties in Arizona. House Bill 2044 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce 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 no more than a $500 fine. You can contact your state House member in support of this measure here.

CALIFORNIA: State lawmakers have until January 27 to act on a pair of 2011 marijuana reform measures. Assembly Bill 1017 would reduce penalties for marijuana cultivation from a mandatory felony to a “wobbler” or optional misdemeanor. Senate Bill 129 makes it unlawful “for an employer to discriminate against” persons who are authorized under state law to use medical cannabis. You can learn more about these important measures by visiting the California NORML website here. You can read my testimony in favor of SB 129 here.

INDIANA: For the first time in recent memory, legislation has been introduced to ‘decriminalize’ marijuana possession penalties in Indiana. Senate Bill 347 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to three ounces of marijuana is reduced from a potential felony (punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine) to a noncriminal infraction. Senate Bill 347 also amends Indiana’s traffic safety code to halt the prosecution of motorists who test positive for the presence of inactive marijuana metabolites in their urine (so-called zero tolerance per se legislation) but who do not otherwise manifest any other evidence of behavioral impairment. Indianans are strongly encouraged to contact their state Senators in support of SB 347 via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

NEW JERSEY: A coalition of lawmakers have pre-filed legislation for introduction in the 2012 session to significantly reduce penalties for those who possess personal use quantities of marijuana. Assembly Bill 1465 removes criminal penalties for the possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana (presently punishable by up to six-months in prison and a $1,000 fine) and replaces them with civil penalties punishable by no more than a $150 fine. Additional information is available from NORML NJ here or via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

VIRGINIA: Legislation seeking to establish a joint study committee to investigate the fiscal impact of regulating the production and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over is before the Virginia House of Delegates. To learn more about House Joint Resolution 140, please visit Virginia NORML or consider contacting your state officials here.

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

58 thoughts

  1. To those in Virginia, this is a very interesting and fantastic development. I’ve seen many negative comments with people saying they do not want to link cannabis and alcohol, but you have to remember that this is sponsoring a study, not outright legalisation. Since VA already has a government controlled institution for distributing controlled substances, this would be the easiest model to approach instead of trying to figure out a new model. If it is determined for VA, that the best way to sell, tax, and control sales is by using the existing VA ABC stores, then even though there will be the negative aspect of alcohol, it may have a better chance of deterring purchase by minors, (I would think the ABC stores would be more intimidating to purchase from by minors then say, a grocery store or petrol station) which is one of the reasons (albeit, probably not warranted) many people give for not supporting legalisation. The study will open up conversation in VA for some sort of legalisation or at least decriminalisation. If the subject is out there on the table, and the topic is given attention, then progress can be made either in VA, or give the encouragement to other states to do the same thing. Also, I like the direction this is going in – that is, steering away from the MMJ focus, and looking at the financial benefits of cannabis legalisation. This option has not been looked at nearly as much as the MMJ has. Once states really start looking at the financial aspect of legalisation, the money I believe will be what will ultimately make or break the legalisation movement, or at least give a different path to take for those states that may not be as interested in approaching MMJ, but might be more interested in bringing in or saving revenue.

  2. It’s not mentioned in this article but in Missouri we are currently working on gathering signatures to put the legalization of Cannabis on the ballot for MIssouri voters in November. Hopefully we will be a trend setter for other states as well!! Free the Weed 2012!

  3. I have been into a ABC store.I would agree that it would prevent minors from buying cannabis from a store front if that is the only place to buy it legally. It’s a state employe and they always ID.

  4. I am a Virginian, and I have written every state legislator in the house rules committee, and my own represetnatives as well. If you live in Virginia, you must get your voice out there NOW. This is our chance to get the ball rolling. This is a unique opportunity to perhaps get full marijuana legalization in Va. It might take us a few years, but this is the ticket to ride that we need.

    If you live in Virginia, make sure you keep up with the date of the hearing (not sure its been published yet) so that we can all show up and show our support for this legislation.

    This is our chance, don’t blow it Virginia!

  5. Everyone should be excited about our future
    President Ron Paul and his son Rand.Every pot
    smoker should be thankfull for the Hemp Farmers Act of 2011 and the End of Federal
    Prohibition of Marijuana act of 2011, introduced to congress by Ron Paul.If you want
    a renewable resource that creates 10,000,000
    jobs, doubles the Dow Jones Indusrial Average,
    create alternative high quality paper, plastics,fuel,food,medicine,
    Vote!Ron and Rand Paul 2012!

  6. We need to do something on a personal level. Our Constitution clear states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Lets start gathering signatures, California’s proposition system has a very clear message to make: If it’s the will of the people, the United States, or Government respectively, have to give it to them. But the real eye opener here is that your State doesn’t actually have to have a proposition system for this to work. Given that the Federal Government is clearly defined and the powers it possess, the powers it doesn’t spell out nor prohibit are given to the People of the respective States. It’s not it hasn’t been put into law, if an official national poll came out to a majority vote, it is law.

  7. Article. IV.

    Section. 1.

    Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

    Section. 2.

    The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

    There is a lot of controversy over whether or not people’s 9th and 10th Amendment rights have been violated, but in fact the 10th Amendment clearly spells out that this Article of the Constitution supersede’s the Amendment and the laws of medical marijuana are required to be upheld in all States.

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