The 2012 legislative session is in full swing and marijuana law reform legislation is pending in well over a dozen states. To keep up to date regarding 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 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!
MASSACHUSETTS: State lawmakers on Tuesday, March 6, will hear testimony in favor of House Bill 1371, which would legalize and regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. Members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will debate the measure at 1pm in Room A-2 of the Boston Statehouse. For more information on this upcoming hearing, contact MassCann: the Massachusetts chapter of NORML here. To contact your elected officials regarding HB 1371, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
NEW YORK: Bi-partisan legislation, Senate Bill 5187 and Assembly Bill 7620, seeking to reduce marijuana penalties and arrest violations involving cases where marijuana was either consumed or allegedly possessed in public [NY State Penal Law 221.10] remains pending in New York state. Under present law, non-public possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana is a non-criminal civil citation, punishable by a $100 fine. However, in recent years, police — particularly in New York City — have misused Penal Law 221.10 to arrest defendants who would have otherwise faced no more than a civil citation. Passage of these measures will stop this police misconduct. You can contact your state legislators regarding these efforts here.
NORTH CAROLINA: House Bill 324, an act to reclassify the possession of minor amounts of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to an infraction, remains pending before House lawmakers. House Bill 324 would amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would become a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a fine and no criminal record. You can contact your lawmakers regarding this measure by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
RHODE ISLAND: Legislation seeking to reduce marijuana possession penalties has been reintroduced in both chambers of the Rhode Island legislature. House Bill 7092 and its companion legislation Senate Bill 2253 amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 or older is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. Full text of the bills can be read online here and here. A recent statewide poll shows that 65 percent of Rhode Island’s residents approve of this change. If you reside in the Ocean State, you can contact your members of the House and Senate in support of these decriminalization measures here.
VERMONT: House Bill 427 — which amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by six months in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record — remains pending in the 2012 legislative session. According to a just-released statewide poll, over 60 percent of Vermont voters endorse decriminalizing cannabis. You can contact your House member in support of HB 427 here.