NORML’s Legislative Round Up February 19th, 2016

take_actionLegislation around the country continues to move forward and more measures are being introduced every day! We have updates from , Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. Keep reading below to see what the latest in marijuana law reform is this week.


Florida: On Thursday, Tampa City Council voted to draft a marijuana decriminalization ordinance. The ordinance would treat small marijuana infractions as a citation, fine-only offense, similar to a traffic ticket or an open container offense. Similar municipal measures have recently been enacted in Miami Dade county and in West Palm Beach county. Under state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1000 fine.You can contact Tampa City Council members and urge their support for this common sense policy, here.

Hawaii: House lawmakers took no action on legislation that sought to eliminate patients’ longstanding rights to cultivate medical marijuana. House Bill 1680 sought to repeal patients’ legal authority to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis. The legislation was not heard in time for the filing deadline and therefore will no longer be considered by lawmakers during this legislative session. NORML would like to thank everyone who contacted their lawmakers and urged them to reject HB 1680.

Kansas: After Members of the Senate voted 38 to 1 on Wednesday, February 3, in favor of a Committee substitute version of HB 2049, the amended language was sent to the House for a concurrence vote. Because the House did not concur with all of the Senate changes, the bill will now be sent to a Conference Committee to reconcile the differences. The amended language reduces 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). #TakeAction

Maine: Senator Thomas Saviello has introduced legislation (LD 726) to permit qualified patients to use medical marijuana in Maine hospitals. Members of the Health and Human Services Committee approved this legislation on Wednesday, February 10th. As this measure continues to move forward it’s important to contact your Senator and urge their support! #TakeAction

Maryland: A new bill has been introduced to 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, this new measure is unnecessary and overly punitive. House Bill 1304 is scheduled to be heard by members of the House Judiciary Committee, March 1st at 1PM. #TakeAction

A related measure, House Bill 183, was amended by the House so that all provisions seeking to criminalize public use were removed. As amended, the measure explicitly prohibits cannabis inhalation by a driver or passengers in a moving motor vehicle. Engaging in such behavior will be a citable offense, punishable by a fine only. Following these amendments, NORML has dropped our formal opposition to this bill, which will now be debated by members of the Senate.

for_painMissouri: Legislation to permit qualified patients to consume cannabis with a physician’s written authorization is pending in the 2016 legislative session. House Bill 2213, the Missouri Compassionate Care Act, permits qualified patients to engage in cannabis therapy and establishes a licensed system for cannabis production and distribution. #TakeAction

New Mexico: Members of the Senate unfortunately voted down Senate Joint Resolution 5 which sought to put legalization before a public vote this November. Although 17 Senators stood in favor of the measure, 24 voted against it. However, the vote marks the first time that such a measure has ever been debated on the floor of either chamber of the New Mexico legislature.

After extremely compelling testimony from injured workers in earlier committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to schedule a hearing for House Bill 195, which sought to prohibit workers compensation insurers from reimbursing employees who qualify for medical cannabis access for injuries sustained on the job. This means that the measure, which had been narrowly approved by members of the House of Representatives, is now dead for 2016. NORML thanks those of you who took time to contact your elected officials and encouraged them to reject this legislation.

Rhode Island: A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers, including a majority of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have introduced legislation, Senate Bill 2420, to permit the personal cultivation and commercial retail sale of marijuana. The Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, would regulate the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to those over the age of 21. Adults would be permitted to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It also permits adults to cultivate up to two marijuana plants (no more than 1 mature) at home for non-commercial purposes. #TakeAction

Legislation, SB 2115 and HB 7142, is pending to make post-traumatic stress patients eligible for medical cannabis treatment and to accelerate access to those patients in hospice care. The Senate version of the bill is pending before members of the Senate Health and Human Services committee. The House version of the bill is before members of the Judiciary Committee. #TakeAction

Vermont: Members of the Senate are anticipated to decide on legislation to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. The vote is expected to be a close one; therefore, we are urging supporters to contact their Senate members over the coming days and to urge them to vote ‘yes’ for Senate Bill 241. If approved by the Senate, the bill will face further debate in the House. #TakeAction

Don’t forget to take a look at our #TakeAction Center for up to date information on all pending marijuana law reform legislation.

19 thoughts

  1. There is some news about medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai is the mudslide blocking the road legal medical marijuana.

    Two newspaper articles worth reading about why a concerted and well-funded effort must be made to take down Mike Turzai are at the links below. His behavior is reprehensible, not to mention without any compassion whatsoever for the Pennsylvania patients. He has aspirations of becoming the next governor. He has to go! What douchebag!

    From Harrisburg’s Patriot News online newspaper:

    From Allentown’s Morning Call online version:

  2. Where is this douchebag Mike Turzai getting the campaign contributions to keep running for political office? I mean, he is so prohibitionist, dogmatically ignores the science and testimonial evidence, methinks the drug-testing industry and the rest of the run-of-the-mill funders like police unions and organizations etc. are his backers.

  3. It truly is sad that New Mexico didn’t pass the Senate Joint Resolution that would’ve put MJ legalization on the ballot in November. Here is the political party breakdown of the vote:

    Voting Yes: 17 Democrats, 0 Republicans

    Voting No: 18 Republicans, 6 Democrats

    You can readily see that the state Senate Republicans in NM have no desire to follow the wishes of the people of NM (they, along with 6 Dem turncoats, most of whom are from the conservative southern part of the state–essentially the NM version of Dixiecrats). This despite the latest poll showing 61% of New Mexicans wanting pot legalized.

    Once again, we’re subjected to Republican and conservative “values” and their ideas of freedom! Hopefully, many of those rats will be weeded out in this upcoming election, and replaced with (Dems) who will follow the wishes of the people of this state.

    I personally have called state Sen. and GOP whip, Wm Payne’s office, as I’m in his district, asking him to consider legalization. Obviously my calls have had no effect on him.

    1. Please everyone read up on the disproportionate amount of campaign money (including $igarets United Black money) Reps get from the Hot Burning Overdose Monoxide Paperroll $igarette companies compared to Dems, and why that pseudo “industry” might fear the Triple Substitution:

      1. cannabis (and basil, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme) instead of tobacco

      2. 25-mg single toke utensils instead of 700-mg-per-lightup $igarette and its Trojan Horse recdruitment tool the Joint

      3. Vape instead of Burn (as for Bernie, whom we need to support, I’d suggest giving him a new nickname Vapey and circulating an on-line cartoon showing him serving a toke to Jesus of Nazareth to bring in the ecumenical vote).

      And support Obama’s appointment of a SC replacement to overturn (“$nuff”) $igarets United.

      1. @ Mexweed,

        The votes are usually pretty stark in NM, in regards to GOPers and Dems. (It’s no accident that the only city or town in NM to decriminalize pot is ultra-liberal Santa Fe.) The GOPers can always be counted on to vote in the best interests of their paymasters.

      2. I’m sure it is not coincidence that property values in and around Santa Fe NM are the highest in the State. It is certainly where I’d want to live if I was to relocate to NM and I just might!

  4. People, please get out and urge your representatives in Vermont.

    Vermont could simultaneously be the first New England state to legalize, and the first state to legalize through legislature. It is SO important.

    Hint: Use neighboring New Hampshire’s Trump-based political momentum. There is bipartisan support for marijuana legal reform.

  5. I hope to see West gestapo Virginia on this page soon. News says we’re $350 million short and might have to lay off 80 state troopers and maybe even make marijuana legal.

  6. Good work NORML, these numbers really show how local and personal the fight is.
    Vermont has me hanging on to the edge of my seat. I hope Bernie’s momentum and federal legislation to deschedule gives us better momentum than he did in Iowa and Nevada…

  7. Nothing seems to draw a more obvious line between progressive agendas like fairly regulated marijuana legalization and the financial establishment and status quo of prohibition (such as wealthy casino owners laundering black market money) than watching the campaign and elections in Nevada between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

    Sanders, who introduced legislation to deschedule marijuana federally, doesn’t pander to big money, to state the obvious. While he won the majority of the latino vote, he wasn’t comforting job-fearing Latinas in some casino cafeteria before playing the Vegas slot machine of casino owners and winning by a slight margin.

    Perhaps even more pandering to the money-laundering casino industry, Clinton had the support of a group… and I can’t make this up… “Hookers for Hillary,” which had formed about 400 members according to the NYTimes.

    Those of us actively supporting marijuana legalization remember when Casino tycoon Sheldon Addleson dumped millions to successfully block Florida’s legalization initiative. Addleson’s primary motivation was to protect his marijuana black market “investors” that use his casinos to launder money by using the unlimited campaign finance system of Citizens United to launder more dirty money to boot.

    Did Clinton just win Nevada using black market casino laundered money? I don’t know; ask “Hookers for Hillary,” maybe they know where the money really comes from in Vegas.

    The end result for Sanders is clear; If he wants to win Texas and Florida and go on to victory he needs to form the backbone of his funding, immigration and marijuana legalization message;

    Let’s legalize marijuana and use the fairly taxed revenue by turning private prisons into public schools.

    1. @ Julian,

      I totally agree that Bernie Sanders should proclaim his support for legalization louder than he does. Sometimes he gets a little too stuck on message, IMO, and should do a better job of explaining his policies.

      I also agree with your take on Addleson. He’s the poster boy for most of what is wrong with our political system. He’s an unrepentant oligarch who makes no bones about his desire to control the economic and political direction of this country; that so many GOP prexy candidates visited him, on bended knees, before kissing his ring, says all we need to know about those candidates, as well as about the Las Vegas “Don” himself.

      1. I think you said when he sounds “stuck.” You can only say “the top %1” so many times before people’s twitter-infected attention-spans derail or their ears fall off. The way around that is to keep up the message but say it in a little variety of ways and compare it to Hillary’s plan;

        “By descheduling marijuana we can eliminate the disproportionate number of people of color being incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana possessions [insert, South Carolina] even though the same amount of consumption is found among our white brothers and sisters. Hillary’s plan to RE-schedule doesnt do that. Marijuana would remain prohibited in the same category as cocaine in schedule II, and punishable by jail time.”
        Then the punch line,
        “Let’s use the revenue from fairly taxed marijuana to turn private prisons into public schools.”

        It’s so frustrating to watch Bernie in townhalls and debates bring up pieces of the subject of legalization and disproportionate incarceration then fail to tie it to Hillary’s plan or answer how legalization can help tremendously to pay for all the popular social programs he is advocating.

        That’s it; Im forwarding this post to Bernie’s campaign manager!

      2. @ Julian,

        Good for you! I realize that Bernie has done well enough without my advice. However, I’m just going by the complaints I sometimes hear about him from sundry other Dems. They want to know how he plans to pay for his programs. The specifics. I know that he’s explained them here and there; however, IMO, he needs pound his plans home, instead of saying, “Go to my website.” That gives the impression, however wrongly or rightly, that he’s embarrassed to express his plans on a national stage, or too lazy to do so. Because I know that it’s neither–I believe he should explain some of those details, even in simple terms, the next time he has a national audience.

        He’s for pot legalization–he should proudly proclaim that! And, as you say, explain what programs those tax revenues will be used for. (The majority of Americans want pot legalized, so I don’t believe it’s a third rail issue. If anything, it may increase his support.)

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