NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

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.

16 thoughts

  1. West Virginia has reintroduced legislation this session. Bill 4498 Compassionate use of Marijuana Act. Wouldn’t hurt if Norml did a heads up.

    [Paul Armentano responds: Seriously, so I don’t have to repeat this comment over and over again — in the future, before people post a comment that says: ‘Why didn’t NORML mention this bill in my state?’ please first visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here: where we summarize and provide you with tools to support pending bills in dozens of different states. A quick review of the page would have brought you to NORML’s legislative alert regarding West Virginia’s HB 4498 here:

    Further, anyone who signs up for the NORML newsletter <> gets localized legislative alerts whenever bills are introduced or hearings are pending in their states.]

  2. If cannabis is such a huge concern to Americans, why is Romney winning primaries left and right? Note to self- change political orientation from independent to republican so I can vote when it comes time for Pennsylvania.

  3. Question: why is it ok for the US Gov. “to grow and harvest medicinal marijuana in BULK; to SELL to research companies near and far…
    and yet I as citizen cannot touch the stuff ? “Get thee behind me Satan…Gov grows center is The univeristy of Mississippi…

  4. Please add to this list this is one of the first MMJ bills to be address in Kentucky.

    [Paul Armentano responds: SB 129, while well-intentioned, as presently written mandates a doctor’s ‘prescription,’ not recommendation — which would severely hamper the measure’s implementation. There are other issues with the language as well (such as recommending cannabis be distributed in pharmacies, which would likely be impossible given cannabis’ scheduling under federal law.) NORML is in the process of drafting an alert that allows advocates to express these concerns to their lawmakers.]

  5. I think we have a chance in Kentucky. I went before my state Legislator, Senator Ernie Harris and gave him a presentation book that he took with him to Republican Caucus. He returned it through his secretary with a note attached saying he recommended hearing it. If you’re in KY light up those switch boards.

  6. So much for WV. The responce to my email.

    Thank you for your email regarding HB 4498. In listening to members discuss
    this issue, I do not forsee the respective committees placing this bill on
    the agenda.

    SG Varner

  7. Since they have worked so hard at ramming us about this being a drug ( war ) , i wonder if there will be a trial for ( war crimes ) starting with Obama on down ? who btw should have been impeached for starting such crimes. It also should be a boot out of office the very moment that when finding that anyone caught deceiving the people to acheive any position be judged in a court of law. Until then their shall be no true end of repeating this problem or closure for the people in our own country. These people who in our government shouting war should’nt be using guns period!

  8. dear norml: as a dues paying member I expect my state to receive just as much updates as any of the other states. I live in the land of the Rockefellers, the robber barons who stole everything. I have written more letters, talked to more politicians personally, and if you’re gonna take my money, then give me equal recognition….seriously.

  9. TY pfroechlich2004! finally a person in my state with the same views! I looked at the site and it looks promising. I heard that Dan Maloy does support medical cannabis we just need to push him into the right direction, we need to get him to answer questions and get the topic up for debate again.

  10. I don’t know where most people in NORML stand politically, but I consider myself to be a conservative constitutionalist. However, I am a Ron Paul supporter and libertarian in many ways. Although I quit smoking weed years ago, I think it should be legal, prohibition is like socialism, it doesn’t work! I have many friends who still smoke it, and they’re just as honest and productive as my friends who don’t. I also oppose drug testing in any form; no drug testing for welfare recipients, no drug testing for government jobs, no drug testing for private sector jobs, no drug testing period! And that’s my two cents worth.

  11. We need people who are willing to put in more than two cents. We need people willing to put their whole life savings into this.

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