NORML’s Legislative Round Up January 29th, 2016

map_leafExciting news from across the country with NEW legislation being introduced and promising legislation moving forward! This week we highlight Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, New
Mexico, New Orleans, and Vermont. Plus our lawmakers in Congress and lawmakers in Puerto Rico took action this week too! Keep reading below to get the latest in marijuana law reform.


Puerto Rico: Health Department officials have signed off on regulations overseeing the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis within the US territory. The new program is anticipated to be operational by year’s end.

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro J. Garcia Padilla signed an executive order in May calling on health officials to adopt regulations permitting medical cannabis production and access. Under the new plan, patients who possess a physician’s authorization will be able to obtain cannabis-infused products, such as oils and pills, from state-licensed facilities.

Patients will not be permitted to cultivate their own marijuana and herbal formulations of medical cannabis will not be permitted.

Federal: On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers signed on to a letter addressed to the Veteran’s Administration (VA) requesting a policy change be made to allow veterans to access medical marijuana.

Current law prevents VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana to patients, even in states where it is legal for qualified patients to possess it. Senators Gillibrand (D-NY), Daines (R-MT), Merkley (D-OR), and Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Titus (D-NV) are leading the efforts in reforming this nonsensical policy. If these Senators and Representatives are from your state, consider giving their office a call and thanking them for their work on medical marijuana! You can find your lawmakers contact info here.


Arizona: After a Republican lawmaker this week received hundreds of complaints, he withdrew his bill that aimed to restrict access to medical marijuana in the state.

The bill would have denied physicians practicing alternative medicine such as naturopathy and homeopathy the ability to recommend cannabis therapy.

California: Legislation that seeks to dissuade California cities and counties from enacting municipal restrictions on the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana has been approved lawmakers and awaits the Governor’s signature. Once signed into law, the bill will take immediate effect.

Assembly Bill 21 amends a drafting error in the The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act by removing an apparent March 1, 2016 deadline for localities to establish their own cultivation regulations or else forfeit that authority to the state. It also removes objectionable language authorizing local governments to prohibit patients from cultivating, storing, donating or processing marijuana for their own personal use.

In recent months, numerous California cities and counties have hastily enacted provisional bans on medical marijuana-related activities out of fear that the state would become to sole authority on the issue following the March 1 deadline. Passage of AB 21 states that localities retain the ability to regulate medical marijuana production and commerce in the manner that they see best. The hope is that localities will halt efforts to impose restrictions, and will reconsider existing moratoriums, now that it is clear that local lawmakers will continue to possess the authority to legislate the issue beyond March 1, 2016.

Further information on both pending and enacted local ordinances, as well as talking points to best address them, is available from California NORML here.

Florida: Floridians will decide on a proposed constitutional amendment this November that seeks to permit the physician-authorized use and distribution of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

Proponents of the measure, United for Care, collected more than the 683,000 signatures required to place the measure on the November ballot, the Florida Division of Elections confirmed this week.

Passage of the amendment would permit qualified patients to possess and obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities.In November 2014, Floridians narrowly rejected a similar amendment, which received 58 percent of the vote.marijuana_grower

Hawaii: Legalization, decriminalization, and hemp measures are all pending in the Hawaii state legislature.

Senate Bill 873 amends the criminal code to remove criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use by those age 21 or older. The measure is presently pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 596 SD 1 reclassifies possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine to a civil violation, punishable by a $100 fine only — no arrest and no criminal record.

Senate Bill 2787 encourages the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for “research and development purposes.”

To find more information on all of these measures, check out our #TakeAction Center here.

Kansas: Members of the Senate will take a floor vote on legislation, HB 2049, to amend various penalties and regulations specific to marijuana possession and use.

House Bill 2049 seeks to a) establish a statewide research program to oversee the production of industrial hemp, b) authorize the limited use of cannabidiol for therapeutic purposes, and c) reduce criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses from a Class A misdemeanor(punishable by up to one year incarceration and a $2,500 fine) to a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by no more than six months in jail and a $1,000 fine). Second convictions will no longer be classified as a felony offense. Members of the House approved the measure last year.

Maryland: Legislation NORML opposes is pending in the Maryland General Assembly. House Bill 183 and House Bill 334 both seek to recriminalize offenses involving the public use of small amounts of marijuana. While NORML is generally supportive of efforts to dissuade the use of marijuana in public or in a vehicle, these measures are both unnecessary and overly punitive.

Under present law, it is not permissible to consume marijuana in public view. Those who do so are subject to a civil violation punishable by a fine of up to $500.00.

Both measures will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on February 9th at 1:00PM. To #TakeAction and contact your lawmakers to urge they not support this legislation click here.

New Mexico: New Mexico has both legalization and hemp measures pending.

House Bill 75 regulates and controls the commercial cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to adults over the age of 21. You can read the full text of this proposal here. Senate Joint Resolution 5 is pending action by the Senate Rules Committee.

SB 3 and HB 148, seek to permit the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for “research and development purposes.”

For more information on these measures or to take action and contact your lawmakers urging their support for these measures click here.legalization_poll

Vermont: Members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary voted 4 to 1 on Friday, January 29, in favor of pending legislation to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. NORML wishes to thank those of you who contacted the Committee and urged their support for this important and historic legislation.

Senate Bill 241 now goes before the Senate Committee on Finance for further action.

Senate Bill 241 makes it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and regulates its commercial production and retail sale.


New Orleans: City Councilwoman Susan Guidry has proposed an ordinance change to treat minor marijuana possession offenses the same as  minor traffic infractions. Under the proposal, officers would have the option of issuing verbal and written warnings before any penalties kick in. Subsequent offenses would be dealt with through fines that would be capped at $100.

At this time of the year it’s hard to keep up with all of the newly introduced and pending marijuana related bills. Even this week, it was impossible to include every piece of legislation that moved so if you think there was action in your state, be sure to visit our #TakeAction Center to see an update.


21 thoughts

  1. I’m watching that Senate Bill 241 now in front of the Vermont Senate Committee on Finance.

    1. You won’t be the only one.I may live out of state but still in New England.The money they will make as people decide where to go on vacation New England states knew the first to legalize stand to reap a big share of Money. Colorado is a long way away, But vermont is a few hours, and a nice ride…. Ray…

  2. Your California writeup makes it sound as though AB21 will prevent localities from banning individual patient cultivation and cultivation by a caregiver for up to five patients. Having just read the bill’s text, however, my understanding is that it will still permit localities to do what they want with patient cultivation, including banning it. Exemption from state licensure does not mean exemption from local regulation. If I’m misreading the bill, will you please point to the language that disallows local bans of personal medical cultivation?

    [Paul Armentano responds: The intent of AB 21 is to discourage cities from enacting bans by removing their self-proclaimed motivation for doing so (the March 1, 2016 deadline). AB 21 also reaffirms that qualified patients have the right under state law to engage in personal cultivation absent a city or state license: “Existing law exempts certain persons cultivating medical marijuana from the requirement to obtain both a state license from the Department of Food and Agriculture and a license, permit, or other entitlement allowing cultivation from the city, county, or city and county in which the cultivation will occur.” It does not trump localities ability to enact or enforce local bans on commercial activities.]

    1. I believe the culprits responsible for this crisis that has sent a domino reaction of Bans across cities and counties of California has been identified…This organization is called ‘The League of California Cities and POLICE CHEIFS’.And i purposely wrote Police Chiefs in capital letters on purpose,it doesn’t get any more obvious than that.

      It seems that ‘The Medical Marijuana Act” that establishes Medical Marijuana as a Legit taxable business, is a threat to their hierarchy and everything it involves,especially when it comes down to stealing toys and assets( Property Seizures) and all those other good things that make it seem like the “wild west”.And i think it was appropriate that Assemblyman Jim Woods called their response a “Knee Jerk ‘ reaction.

      Absolutely no compassion to the medical marijuana community was shown by these Cities and Counties that have aligned themselves with this organization.In fact, i have heard of horror stories of patients being kicked out of city hall,while the municipalities had their closed door conferences and meetings.

  3. For those of us that have voted for Mr. Obama, twice in my case, it seems he is to be a major disappointment when it comes to cannabis reform. See this article:

    I know millions of people across the country have had a lot of hope that maybe he would finally do something during his final year as president to help end the stupidity of prohibition. Unfortunately, he’s not interested in doing something he thinks might tarnish his image and legacy as the first black president. He says that if Congress puts a bill on his desk to end marijuan prohibition he’ll probably sign it. I’m sure he knows the odds of that are almost zero and, consequently, my respect for him has dropped pretty close to zero.

    So, if that’s the way he intends to leave the job of President, I’ll be glad to see him go and the hell with his image as the first black president. I know that millions will consider him to have been a failure when he could have been great.

    You have made a seriously bad decision Mr. President! All of your talk about hope and change turns out to be nothing more than cheap talk. I regret casting my last 2 votes for you idea of hope and change since you have chosen not to lead on this issue but to leave it those you know are unlikely to do anything about it.

    Do any readers out there think I’m over-reacting or do you share my thoughts about President Obama?

    1. Miles, I agree. Why does Mr. Obama’s federal government say there is no evidence that weed helps for PTSD when there are countless testimonials every day from people taking a risk by saying anything? Why does Mr. Obama’s DEA say weed is a medical joke and a gateway drug to more harmful addictions when it is already Schedule 1? Why does Mr. Obama’s Surgeon General say weed is good or bad depending on whom and where you ask? Why do veterans fight for freedom but receive none in return? It is because reality is different than you or I expected.

    2. I share your dissapointment, but I don’t regret voting for President Obama (twice; that’s once per election!) Here’s why: He’s a crummy drug-warrior, and that’s good. Legalization occurred, in many places, under his watch. He doesn’t want to take credit for that — fine, that’s his choice. But whatever else you might say about him, he’s NOT a foaming-at-the-mouth drug warrior, like so many others.
      America is like that cartoon episode of Ren and Stimpy, where Ren gets split into his two halves: his evil half, and his indifferent half. Similarly, when it comes to being a victim, I’ll take indifference over evil any day. Can you imagine Romney or McCain sitting back and grooving as state after state legalizes pot? We’ve come a long way under Obama. That’s just my two cents.

      1. You’re right Mark. Things could have been worse with someone like Romney and they could get worse with someone like Christie. They are both failures as human beings as far as I’m concerned. Still, I am greatly disappointed in Obama since, I believe, it was the hope of millions that he would do the right thing with regards to prohibition. Once he got into office it seems like he immediately changed into someone else. Of course he was always the same person. He just fooled us all with his message of hope and change. It boggles my mind that Sarah Palin, of all people, apparently figured that out before I did. It’s embarrassing really!

    3. Congress put this prohibition in place and Congress needs to take it away.#TAKEACTION
      If you want to be mad at someone, blame racist Paul Ryan for allowing CARERS to be voted on.

  4. none of this matters unless you don”t need to earn a living. if your homeless, famous or independently wealthy you can smoke, if not your out of luck. When they repealed prohibition it wasn’t conditional. It was for everyone. VOTE AGAINST!!

    [Editor’s note: Sure, let’s keep cannabis prohibition in place until the most ideal reforms occur.


    Let’s harken back to a time that never was (there was no drug testing during Alcohol Prohibition…if there were, maybe today, they’d still employees banned from drinking and subject to alcohol testing regimes).

    Less than 50% of the work force faces drug testing today–vast majority only for pre-employment testing. Drug testing is waning along with cannabis prohibition. The industries that embrace it are either in the transportation and healthcare space (and thus mandated by federal laws and regulations passed in the mid 1980s), manufacturing and service industries (in industries that have highly competitive wages/benefits, for example software engineering, drug testing is almost non-existent).

    Voting against cannabis law reform is voting to maintain cannabis prohibition.]

  5. While we all keep our eyes trained on Vermont, articles like these remind us what kind of conflict we are dealing with from state to state;

    A soldier with PTSD has a medical card in Colorado waiting on a transfer from his job with the VA in Kansas and gets his kids taken away from a mean-spirited relative… Marijuana is often the only charge that sticks with CPS, and then theres terrorizing the kids to testify against their parents.

    What will it take to correctly classify the extortion of children as state-sponsored domestic terror?

    1. I was just going to link this particular injustice hoping the folks at norml might know of this case or better know how to approach this man.

      In all honesty, I am absolutely disgusted with the CPS’ methods of prosecution. As you said, this is nothing short of a federally sponsored act of domestic terrorism.

      1. An army of lawyers by the likes of Michael J. Kennedy?
        And the same efforts we do at the local level to get our legislators to introduce sensible marijuana policy or vote them out.
        I find myself providing legal services to Mexican immigrants these days to become naturalized cutizens before elections this year (4 so far) who are motivated to vote against obsurd Republican campaigns that continue prohibition policies. Maybe I get a truck fixed or some tile installed, but the extra Democratic vote in Texas is a real bonus.

        Also, Texas NORML has a voter’s guide that allowed me to contact my Democratic candidate and see if I get a response on marijuana policy over PTSD and seizures. If I get a response I’ll post it on this blog.

    2. Kansas is still trying to balance their overburdened enslavement industry with their mental healthcare voids. Taking away the seizure and enslavement of people and property would make them have to work against other thieves, thugs, and landlords.

  6. Medical Marijuana is being considered in South Carolina. The Democrats started it with a Bill to allow Dispensaries and Home Growing. Then Republicans got involved! No home growing and now they want marijuana to be under 10% THC and CBD. Typical from the party that wants Government out of their lives so they can intrude in yours.

  7. Because virtually every front page article recently mentions “zika” without attaching or explaining a link or remedy for microcephaly, I was posting facts on a few major newspapers to disuade fears about the hyped up zika virus being “transmitted sexually in Texas” when at the end, I stated that pregnant women or women planning for pregnancy should eat well, avoid toxins, take folic acid with prenatal vitamins and not be vaccinated during pregnancy if they wish to prevent neurological disorders or abnormalities in newborn babies. Then I attached a link to NORML’s most recent study on CBD treating epilepsy and suggest providing marijuana to these children as it can “stimulate neurogenesis and mitigate seizures in children with microcephaly.”
    What shocked me is that instead of anyone responding “Hey, for fuc*$ sake, how did Brazil go from 150 reported cases in 2014 to 4,400 in three months while the US reports 25,000 cases of microcephaly (babies born with shrunken heads/and our brains) each year long BEFORE we ever heard of a zika outbreak?!”
    Instead… All I got was “‘calm down and smoke a joint’ further reduces the credibility of this post.”

    Oh does it? So I linked norml links and explained how some kids with microcephaly suffer from seizures and came to the conclusion that those of us with stock in Big Pharma, who, like GlaxoSmithKline, are capitalizing on research to a vaccine to zika we may never get or need, don’t pretend to understand the logic of arithmetic or peer-reviewed science, as long as people blindly donate to their stock. Which really disappoints me because for a moment I was hoping the people who spread propaganda about shit they really don’t understand really believe all this hype between zika and microcephaly or drug war violence on random tourists so I don’t have to share the beautiful beaches of Mexico with these @$$#0les this year.

    1. Hmm.. that was an unusually angry post from me… directed at some strange person on another blog somewhere… I’ll try to avoid that NORML, I apologize. Deliberate misinformation for profit just pisses me off.

      It does serve a point to show how fear and ignorance can push money and attention in the wrong direction, and how vitally important it is we all do our research and investigate, whether we are talking about the misguided drug war or the next Pandemic media-miseducation that uses causation to connect the way different problems can be spread or treated so some evil pharmaceutical company can profit off of people’s fear and confusion. We barely understand a threat, when the real infection is more often our own knee-jerk panic resulting in the failure to properly educate ourselves while consuming propaganda.

      When someone has money invested in Big Pharma stocks, you have to bring links and facts to shut them up, or they will look for any angle to make your information look like conspiracy. That’s the best part about this blog… it’s an easily accessible library of well cited and referenced studies, which not only weeds out the Big Pharma-trolls, but provides us useful links to our next letter to our Congressman. Think of links from studies on this website as a bullshit vaccine that actually works to prevent the rampant infection of Sherriff’s Associations that lobby our Congressman with our tax payer dollars and asset forfeitures. That’s literally a national auto-immune deficiency virus we should have on every front page… fuck zika! We got Bad-Copitis! Thanks to the CSACT,our cops have gone rogue! It’s like antibodies (cops) attacking our own immune systems (state governments).
      This NORML blog is also a resourceful disinfectant for propaganda from Pfizer or GlaxoSmithKline, lying, two-faced Congressman or even Ted Cruz. Now that’s some powerful medicine.

  8. You speak for most of us even on the right side of the isle.This is a issue that stirs great emotion in all that are informed.While I believe in the rule of law we the people must be in control of what and how we are governed.Rant on sir you have our support.

    1. Lol… Glad you could appreciate the arbitrary direction of my rant… Except for Ted Cruz, that slipped out at the end… Kinda easy target, though, but yes, theres prohibitionist bull$#!t to clean up on both sides of the aisle, not naming any Democratic names… (Debbie Wasserman Shultz).

      What can I say? This NORML website is an awesome resource and we should all use it to disinfect our Congressman. And… Perhaps most importantly, to stop the worst virus pandemic the world has ever seen; The Controlled Substances Act!!! , or as they call it in the jungles of Colombia, La DEA.

      I have to say I love the way Bernie has not only introduced legislation to deschedule marijuana but calling out Hillary’s connection to private insurance and private pharmaceuticals setting the prices on health care is priceless. It’s shaking up both sides of the aisle as the congressional votes are swayed by the wake of this presidential race. And Congress and so many marijuana legalizing states in 2016 is really what’s at stake for the near future of marijuana policy.
      Oh and us, just some ranting activists writing the Truth about marijuana to our Congressman… Never thought a shot of THAT would change and heal the world did we?

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