Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in nearly 30 states this 2012 legislative session. Is your state among them? Find out here.
More importantly, have you taken the time to call or write your state elected officials this year and urged them to support these pending reforms? If not, NORML has provided you with all of the tools to do so via our capwiz ‘Take Action Center’ here. (FYI: NORML’s capwiz page is specific to legislation only, not ballot initiative efforts. A summary pending 2012 ballot initiative campaigns may be found at NORML’s Legalize It 2012 page on Facebook here or on the NORML blog 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!
Last year, Connecticut NORML played a key role in the passage of legislation decriminalizing the possession of minor amounts of marijuana. This year, Connecticut NORML is once again leading the charge for marijuana law reform. An initial vote on Raised Bill 5389 may come as early as next week. You can learn more about this effort, contact your state elected officials, and learn when forthcoming hearings and votes are pending by clicking here and by joining Connecticut NORML here.
Massachusetts: Lawmakers recently heard testimony in support of House Bill 1371, which seeks to regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. You can contact your state elected officials regarding this legislation here. You can join the campaign to reform Massachusetts’ marijuana laws by contacting Mass/Cann NORML here.
New Hampshire: Statewide legislation that seeks to remove the threat of arrest for minor marijuana possession offenses is moving forward in the New Hampshire legislature. Last Friday, members of the state House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation, House Bill 1526, to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses. The measure reduces marijuana possession penalties (up to one half ounce) from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one-year in jail and a $2,000 fine to a civil infraction punishable by no more than a $250 fine and no criminal record. The proposal now awaits action from the Senate. You can contact your state Senator regarding the measure here.
Separate legislation — Senate Bill 409, which seeks to authorize qualified patients to grow and possess limited amounts of cannabis for therapeutic purposes — remains pending in the state Senate. Senate Health Committee lawmakers heard testimony regarding this measure last week (Watch the full hearing here.) and are expected to vote on the measure on Thursday, March 22. You can support this measure here and become involved in the campaign here.
Tennessee: House lawmakers on Tuesday, March 20, will hear testimony in favor of legislation — House Bill 294, the “Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act” — which seeks to allow for the the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. Its Senate companion bill is SB 251. Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled for 10:30am at the state capitol before the House Health and Human Resources Subcommittee.
In past years, similar legislation has gained significant legislative support. Tennessee NORML (Contact them here.) had previously retained a state lobbyist to work on behalf of the medicinal cannabis issue in the state legislature, and many Tennessee lawmakers have expressed support authorizing patients’ access to marijuana therapy. Now lawmakers need to hear from you. You can contact your members of the state House and Senate in favor of these measures here.