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. I would like it if Georgia would legalize marijuana as soon as possible! Can I sign a petition or something?

    [Paul Armentano responds: No. Georgia is not a state that allows for legislation to be passed via initiative. (See: That means that the ONLY way to enact marijuana reform legislation in your state is to identify supportive legislators, encourage them to introduce said legislation, and then support that legislation as it is sheperded through both legislative chambers and eventually to the Governor’s desk.]

  2. I’m trying my best to put a game changing billboard 14 x 48 using Fed DEA Law Judge Francis Young’s own ruling, and Fed Patent #630507 to describe the need for the Federal Gov to reschedule medical cannabis in the S. Fl area. I’m using the DEA’s own words, statements, and facts to argue against their current stance not to reschedule. People are telling me its a great ad, however I’m running into barriers from the Billboard Companies not wanting to allow such an ad. Any suggestions?

  3. Kansas also has a bill that will go before the House of Rep’s this month. There has been nearly no news about this.

    [Paul Armentano responds: I have been in communication with the primary sponsor of this measure, which is a 2011 bill but is scheduled to be heard before the House Health and Human Services Committee this coming Tuesday.]

  4. bill 3251 for medical marijuana is no longer showing on the West Virgina Legislature. i tried to e-mail norml via yahoo but it wouldn’t go thru, it said no can norml inquire into this matter?

    [Paul Armentano responds: The bill in question was from 2011. It died in Committee.]

  5. To norml, I hope what I did went thru. I sent it to about 18 e-mails in the state of GA. If it did not get thru,please notify me. Peace, Buster Jones Albany,GA.

  6. To prohibition and co. STOP creating what you cannot control. Do cannabis , prohibition and WE THE PEOPLE come to mind? Well it sure did when they wrote the Constitution because like a flower it must be tended to correctly for it to benefit all.

  7. Cannabis freedom cant come soon enough to most of the people in my Building. (south west Florida) All the morphine and stuff u want, but “god forbid we use a medicine that is impossible to OD from”,
    SICK OF IT BTW Price Charles, Florida has marijuana bills in the house and senate, contact your elected officals, let them know what u think. all the best

  8. Can the federal government not be sued considering the fact they grow marijuana for four people in the US to use for medical conditions but they won’t reschedule it to a schedule two because they say there is no medical value?

    [Paul Armentano responds: This issue is raised in the recent lawsuit the NORML Legal Committee filed against the federal government:

  9. I would say that cannabis when consumed is promised of approximately 75% medicinal properties, and 25% recreational. And alcohol is the opposite at 25% medicinal and 75% recreational. The problem is there is no problem, but the government and beuacracies have a problem. Cannabis is absolutely one of the safest substances, and is significantly safer than alcohol and even tobacco.

  10. what can be done in illinois to help out the movement? they have screwed the bill up considerably but any mmj bill getting passed here would be better than none. can we sign petitions to get total legalization on the ballot here in illinois?

    [Paul Armentano responds: Statewide bills re: both medical cannabis and decriminalization are expected to be reintroduced in Illinois.]

  11. What is currently going on with medical marijuana in the state of Illinois? I know it didn’t pass by a small margin last time around.

  12. I think it is very telling that VA,without a legalization bill before them,is doing research on selling marijuana.

    It shows that politicians are starting to recognize that the tax revenues and keeping the “green” market cash in-country would help more than building more prisons.

    Greed created marijuana prohibition and greed will end it.

  13. In November the citizens of Washington state will have the opportunity to vote on I-502, the initiative sponsored by New Approach Washington, to legalize, tax, and regulate recreational sales.

  14. Paul,

    Your Florida and federal lawsuit links are bad in this blog. Can you repost?



    [Paul Armentano responds: All of NORML”s statewide alerts are located in the Take Action Center which is linked to and highlighted in this blog post. All of the documents filed in NORML’s federal lawsuit are found in the ‘Legal Issues’ section of the website.]

  15. I live in Alabama & we have a better chance of marijuana being decriminalized federally than in this state. what happened to the federal bill that was supposed to decriminalize marijuana? I guessing it didn’t pass.

  16. hey paul, any idea when or if H.R. 2306 will make it out committee it seems its gaining sponsors but with Dr.Paul campaning and Mr. Frank retiring there hasn’t been much noise about it.

    [Paul Armentano responds: Bills only receive votes out of Committee at the discretion of the Committee Chair.]

  17. Paul,

    Why is there never anything on NEW YORK. The NORML chapter out here hasnt posted anything new for months on their web page.

    I understand the police have recently calmed down on arrests but nothing new from you guys.


    [Paul Armentano responds: The New York legislatures decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in the 1970s. NORML and other reform organizations like the DPA in recent years have engaged in several public education and lobbying campaigns to highlight the refusal of NYPD to abide by the spirit of this law. Legislative efforts to enact medical marijuana legislation has been introduced and reintroduced for multiple consecutive legislative sessions.]

  18. Legislators need to return to first principles, back to basics, if ending Cannabis prohibition. First ask, why is it a crime to use or possess Cannabis in the first place?

    It is safer than aspirin or caffeine, considering annual death rates and side effects and definitely less risky than taking alcohol or even Tylenol. It is *safer* than eating lunch at McDonalds. Yes it is a drug, but so are all the pills and tablets stocked on shelves, aisles, in the grocery store.

    Prohibition of Cannabis is not just a mistake or oversight, it is a *deliberate and transparent corruption* and every legislator who turns a blind eye, allowing the unjust legislation to continue, will be noted in historical records as part of the problem.

  19. Fucking Pennsylvania, probably last to get on the money train. Fucking Pat Vance and Tom Corbett holding everything up. And why? In the name of the children. My ass. No Marcellus Shale tax. They keep slashing education in the state. They sure aren’t doing that in the name of the children. It’s all about the money when it comes to cutting costs, but when it’s about making more money they can’t because it’s about the children. Think about it. You’re not making it more available than it already is. Anybody who wants it just has to ask around in the right places and not look or act like a cop and pay cash. Duh! When you have it about ground and card people you see who is allowed to get it and remove the blackmail element that those not entitled to it, underage, use to gain the silence and indulgence of those who do have access to it. Blackmail by kids against their older siblings and parents and whomever is gone. Keep it locked up like liquor in a liquor cabinet, and see to it that minors can’t have the key to Pandora’s box.

    Remember, I want Michele Leonhart out by this coming Easter. If Obama can’t get one of our people confirmed, then a headless monster is less of a threat. Be nice at first and see if you can get her a job offer for more money that would be hard to refuse to get her to resign. If that doesn’t work, cut her budget drastically and give her shit at work. Then either put in our person or leave the post unfilled. Do I have to think of everything? Really? Feel free have the better ideas butt in the front of the line. Share, baby, share.

  20. Norml get to work and do something about Medical Marijuana in Utah!!

    [Editor’s note: Freedom does not come from a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. NORML is more a support mechanism than provider of personal liberties. If people in UT want to be as free as citizens in other states with medical cannabis laws, THEY need to organize and agitate for freedom just like the citizens in the surrounding states of CO, AZ, NV and MT have done.

    Freedom first begins in the hearts and minds of the oppressed, then it leads to action….not hoping that others from afar will perform the hard work and heavy lifting of delivering your personal freedoms and responsibilities.

    Freedom ain’t free Utah…get to work on procuring your own freedoms!

    BTW…freedom feels better (and lasts longer) when it is fought hard to achieve as compared to ‘provided’ by others.]

  21. Yeah New York are still opposed especially with little dealers the police still find it appropriate to bust kids with personal stash on them and arrest them for it. One of my friends got done the other day for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Why cant it be legal!!!

    [Paul Armentano responds: “Why cant it be legal!!!” Because to date too few stakeholders have taken a proactive role in their own liberation by lobbying their elected state and federal lawmakers and/or by financially contributing to reform organizations that do.]

  22. Hey Norml I was wondering since mass and conn have decrimalized Dont you think that Rhode Island would be the perfect and best place to legalize ?

    [Paul Armentano responds: Legislation to decriminalize marijuana possession will be reintroduced in Rhode Island this legislative session and is expected to have strong political and public support. Continue to check this blog and NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ for updates.]

  23. I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I wanted to know how can hasten the pro-medical marijuana, by petitions, funding, and most importantly proper information for supporters as a minor?

  24. Someone brought up the idea of starting a SUPER PAC for all those who support full-on legalization.

    [Editor’s note: It is not clear that a pro-cannabis Super PAC is necessary when NORML, DPA, ASA and MPP all have pro-cannabis reform PACs.]

  25. Idiot factor is the problem w legalizing weed. Watch Jerry Springer & you can see why. As an experienced toker I know not to take more than 1 hit if first of day & titrate so that late nite won’t take near as much. Idiots everywhere would be toking all morning, day & night. The psychoactive effects would drive a lot of these people into further craziness & deadly accidents. If you don’t think good weed can bother your concentration you’re crazy too. Nevertheless one can manage these things & live a long very cool life if smart enough. Medicalization like an OTC drug is the answer. Anybody using weed legally should have to disclose & discuss w their doctor. The Springer crazy types who don’t get medical mj but demand “recreational use” would be the bad apples making the rest of us look crazy once several bad car wrecks happen while they are stoned out of their idiot minds. If they had self-control or cars weren’t invented yet maybe it could be different.

  26. Sam Blake Paul Armentano the reason why cannabis is not legal is because pot heads do not vote. Hey Paul when is N.O.R.M.L Going to start pushing for voter registration. If u yall would vote politician will do what u say they need your vote.

    [Editor’s note: For over 30 years NORML chapters, now totaling over 200 nationwide, perform voter registration drives as part of their regular public outreach.]

  27. It’s not that we don’t vote… There are NO Constitutional candidates to vote for..

    Ron Paul 2012

  28. Hi all. Keep the faith. Any updates on the bills in PA? I am a middle class person who smokes at least twice a day. I live an otherwise totally moral existance. I wonder at what point there will be enough states on board and majority will rule?

  29. Jesus, decades and decades and all I see is the news flowing slower on this site. So tired of it all…

  30. @Daves not here,

    The crazy Jerry Springer types as you put it, can and will obtain marijuana or any other illicit drug through the” black market” as usual.
    So nothing has changed. Most cannabis users behind the wheel tend to be more cautious or even ‘paranoid thus making them drive slower and more deliberately.

    The “Jerry Springer types” that are jacked-up on tequila or vodka that think they are “invinceable” while speeding through a yellow light at 70 miles an hour are a real danger, and yet nothing has been done (all things being equal) to ban alcohol,hmmm.

    Plus,if we where to design all our laws to cater to the “stupid people”…we would have to ban everything- including electrical appliances- power tools and cooking utensils..have you ever seen ‘1000 Ways To Die” on Spike Tv ?

    One more point, I fully support the Medical Marijuana patients and their right to their medicine, but the “holier than thou’ attitude toward
    the recreational users and the incriminating laws that exist, have to stop…some speculate that Prop 19 in California would have passed if it wasn’t for the medical community with their” i got mines’
    attitude that voted against it. And guess what? now THEY are paying the price

  31. NORML, thanks for resuming the weekly legislative roundup. A while back you did it every week; I hope you will continue that.

  32. I agree with dbeall I will not vote for a candidate strictly on their drug reform. It takes a lot for a candidate to earn my trust and if there is no one running that I like I won’t vote. I refuse to pick the lesser of two evils and that is why I will be voting for Ron Paul. Not only does he have a good view on drug law reform but he isn’t running to earn a bunch of money or be famous, he is running because things are fucked up and he is aware of it and can’t just sit and watch things continue as they are. If you want any form of change at all vote for Ron Paul if you want things to stay as they are don’t even look at the names just randomly pick any of the other guys and you will get your wish.

  33. why not just try to legalize marijuana instead of going for medical isn’t there a difference or no?

  34. Only 200 That sad should be 200 in each state. Just cant used chapters to do voters registration. But hey nice pic of the U.S.A Not really sure how the pic support your argument

  35. Dbeall I want to thank you for that great sound bite. And that all it is. Stop with the excuses its time to start a major voter registration drive

  36. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. The Bill of Rights is a series of limitations on the power of the U.S. federal government, protecting the natural rights of liberty and property including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association, as well as the right to keep and bear arms. Ron Paul / 2012

  37. Paul, Anything going on in PA this year with regard to legalization/decriminalization efforts?

    [Paul Armentano responds: The Governor Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act remains pending in both chambers. Contact Philly NORML for further details and actions.]

  38. What about life. How many lives does cannabis not save before cannabis laws are genocide for control’s sake. We passed that mark 70+ year’s ago.

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