NORML’s Legislative Round Up March 18th, 2016

map_leafWe’ve got a new federal bill to share with you this week along with several state legislative developments! Keep reading below to get the latest in marijuana law reform.

Federal: Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced H.R. 4779, the CBD Oil Act of 2016 this week. This legislation would bar prosecution of individuals who use cannabidiol (CBD) oil for medical purposes as permitted by existing state law. Currently, 15 states have laws on the books to allow for the use of CBD products for medicinal purposes. Utah Governor Herbert has come out in support of the bill saying: “I support Rep. Chaffetz in his effort to alleviate the fear that many Utah families face over conflicting state and federal laws regarding cannabis oil. This legislation resolves that concern by respecting decisions made at the local level.”

This legislation joins five other pending bills on the federal level to to permit and/or protect patient access to CBD. You can find the other pending legislation here.


Alabama: Legislation is pending, House Bill 257, to amend state law so that first time offenders of one ounce or less of marijuana face a civil fine, no arrest and no criminal record. Current law defines the personal possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up of to $6,000.

The legislation is currently pending before the House Judiciary Committee. #TakeAction

Florida: Members of the Tampa city council voted 5 to 1 to amend local laws so that the possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis within city limits is a non-arrestable, fine-only offense. First-time offenders face a $75 fine, while multiple offenders could face fines up to $450. By contrast, Florida law defines similar possession offenses as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Tampa’s pending law is similar to those recently enacted in a number of Florida counties, including Miami-Dade, West Palm Beach, and Volusia, as well as in several other metropolitan areas, such as Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

Georgia: House lawmakers have resurrected language to expand the state’s medical cannabis law. Provisions previously contained in House Bill 722 have been attached to separate legislation, which is expected to be decided upon by a floor vote imminently. House lawmakers previously approved the measure last month, but Senate lawmakers were unwilling to take up the issue.

As amended, the language expands the pool of patients eligible for certain medical marijuana products to include autism spectrum disorder, AIDS, a skin disease known as epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder, and protects patients against various discriminatory practices. #TakeAction

Louisiana: Members of the New Orleans city council voted 7 to zero in favor of legislation permitting police to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders (defined as those who possess 14 grams or less), including repeat offenders. First-time violators are subject to a $40 fine while subsequent offenders may face fines of up to $100. Under state law, first-time possession offenders are subject to arrest and criminal prosecution (punishable by up to 15 days in jail) while repeat offenders face up to eight years in prison.

Pennsylvania: After months of delay, House members approved legislation in a 149-3 vote on Wednesday to permit the production and use of medical marijuana products to qualified patients.The amended bill permits state officials to license marijuana cultivators and dispensaries to provide cannabis products to qualified patients who possess a recommendation from select physicians. The measure permits for the dispensing of herbal cannabis via vaporization, as well as the use of marijuana-infused extracts or oils.Because the House-amended legislation differs from the version initially approved by the Senate, the bill must be reapproved by the Senate or it will be negotiated in conference committee. #TakeAction

Tennessee: Legislation is pending, HB 2310 and SB2321, to place a referendum before voters this November that would provide local law enforcement the option of citing rather than arresting adults who are caught in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. If the referendum is approved by voters, the option to arrest or cite minor offenders will be at the discretion of law enforcement.

An analysis of 2012 marijuana possession arrests reports that police annually arrest over 19,000 Tennesseans for minor marijuana possession offenses. This is the 15th highest statewide tally in the nation. House Bill 2310 has been scheduled to be heard by members of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 22nd. #TakeAction

Vermont: The House Judiciary Committee held it’s first walk-through this week related to S.241, the measure to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. Though the Senate has approved the measure, it’s expected to be a difficult road to win the House over. If you live in Vermont it’s important to contact your lawmakers and urge their support for this measure! #TakeAction

27 thoughts

  1. Tennessee is still living in the reefer madness days of old. We need to end prohibition on a federal level. Im tired of waiting on the states decision. Especially in red, conservative states.

  2. And yet, the leaders of the Free World, the Land of the Free, with Liberty and Justice for All insist there is no medical value and it’s a joke not worth resolving immediately. Fuck me.

  3. I absolutely agree that President Obama personally address the UN to end the international war on drugs AND to clear the way for cannabis legalization. It has to end the death penalty for non-crimes involving cannabis, you know, like producing and engaging in transactions involving it. It’s total crap people in China and Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are being executed for it.

    Yo Pennsylvania homey Rob at MPP, you starting up the softball with them? Prohibition has got to stop ruining people’s lives, let alone taking their lives. We want them jobs! $kaching$ Come on, Barry.


  4. Very good, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)! Baby steps, little one, baby steps.

    By the way, did you know CBD comes from… (horror music in background)marijuana?

    Try saying the word out loud, don’t be afraid: “Marijuana.” See? It doesn’t hurt you.

    @steven lucas: Tennessee, like Utah, is dipping their tiniest toe into the water… but, like Utah, still just can’t handle the notion that someone somewhere might be “getting high.” Baby steps!

    1. Even babier steps needed: Alabama (one ounce or less), Florida (20 grams), Louisiana (14 grams), Tennessee (one ounce) need to consider a ONE-GRAM exemption from any citation or penalties (it’ll save bureaucrat salary money too). One gram may be two hurriedly wasted joints or 40 (forty) 25-mg single tokes in a properly designed flexdrawtube one-hitter! Spaced out over 20 or more days, abuse-proof specific inspiration where warranted. Lobbyists, please start lobbing!

      1. PS Pennsylvania might consider that properly instructed users know how to VAPORIZE herbal cannabis with a one-hitter, therefore flexdrawtube models should be included in an amended measure.

    2. How many baby steps before big-boy steps can be taken? Time to take off the training wheels America. Or are you mentally/physically disabled? Or are you just whiney pussies?

  5. The Federal CBD legislation will have less obstacles than the CARERS Act, and could free up a dispensary due to open north of Dallas Texas next year since Texas failed to use language like “recommends” instead saying “diagnose” which places Doctors in conflict with Federal law and risk to lose their license. At least Pennsylvania got that right!

    The greatest news out of this week is the momentum we are getting out of non-voter initiated states! Even here in Texas, where a watered down CBD-only law passed last year and authorizes the Department of Public Safety to regulate next year, the victory is that another state legislature admits marijuana is medicine. The legal implications are enormous and available for improvement. Look at Georgia; An even less likey state adds autism to the list of eligibility, where currently only Deleware provides legal medical marijuana to severely autistic children.

    And the prize that has us hanging on to the edge of our smartphones is Vermont; A tough battle ensues in the State House to determine whether the first legislatively-initiated full-blown marijuana legalization will happen in the United States… (pleeease before summer vacation… I’ll buy your maple syrup! [especially if we can get stoned at a ski resort with a waffle house after racing snomobiles through a recently harvested hemp field… Hey! Free plowing paid for by the tourist industry!…] Just legalize legislatively Vermont! We know you can do it!!!)

  6. I look forward to hearing what new lies our politicians will begin spewing for not de-scheduling MJ now that GW Pharmaceuticals has published their scientific study that validates Marijuana as a medicine. The story is big news but hasn’t gotten much attention.

      1. Thanks for the link; An expected development after watching the medical cannabis industry pitch their ideas at the SouthWest Cannabis Conference and Expo a couple of weeks ago in Fort Worth. There was a great difference between the privatized industry pushing limited supply, patented CBD oils (which I was surprised was supported by the Isreali “father of cannabis research” Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, but then what can we expect after being funded by NIDA all these decades while research was prohibited here in the states?) …and the contrasting, publically funded era of nurse practitioners supplying whole plant cannabis pioneered by N.P. Heather Manus and Dr. Sue Sisley, leaders in whole plant cannabis therapy for veterans with P.T.S.D. These women have turned activist; traveling state to state to get N.P.s to provide therapy with cannibis to our veterans. God bless them.
        How could Dr.Mechoulam, who first isolated THC, who coined the phrase “entourage effect” endorse and support these limited supply, privatized CBD oils? Is he resigned to negotiating with the Devil in order to supply what the law allows? Well, James, he’s a Doctor, not a lawyer, damnit. In his defense, Dr. Mechoulam published a peer based review regarding the medical efficacy of cannabis treatment for epilepsy back in the 90s, only to be disappointed and surprised when the US rejected a change in drug policy. Naïve or surrendered? Who knows, but it Still doesn’t feel right, though, when a Dr. knows whole plant cannabis is superior medicine but still follows the patent-for-profit model of isolated molecules.

      2. I mean, I don’t know whether to celebrate or vomit. On one hand our FDA, DEA and Congress are breaking their own corrupt prohibition for a privatized prohibition using CBD oils paid for by Big Pharma; On the other hand the same Department of Health and Human Services that is selling the US patent for cannabinoids #6630507 to GW Pharmaceuticals continues to take children into custody whose parents treat them with whole plant cannabis?


        The irony is the greed begets greed; What GW pharmaceuticals is doing, rather selfishly for profit, as they choose to price-hike their precious CBD oil, reminds me of the story of the little dog that barks at his own reflection while looking over the bridge and loses the meat in his mouth. So go ahead and stock your shares in GW oh profiteers of privatized prohibition; Millions of us will still be legalizing our “shares” of whole plant cannabis until US patent 6630507 is open source, as it should always be.

      3. Julian – Yes! My thoughts exactly but I could never have articulated the “irony” in such detail. I tend to over-simplify things and in my minds-eye I summarized this as a two-sided coin. On one side—overall great news because the study effectively invalidates the US Gov’ts argument that Cannabis has zero medical value. However like you pointed out, the irony or other side of the coin, is that if GW Pharma is successful in clearing all the regulatory hurdles necessary to bring this new Mj based drug to market in the US, it lends further credence to the belief that Washington politicians are being unduly influenced by industry and their deep-pocketed lobbyist, rather than the clear and obvious majority wish of the people. IMHO Washington has been and is keeping Mj on the tightest class/schedule of drugs because they have been acquiescing to “Big Pharma” request for more time to develop and bring a product to market.

  7. If, in our future, we end up with President Trump and Vice President Christie (or AG Christie), we might see another hundred years of marijuana prohibition. Countless more lives will be destroyed by draconian unjust laws.

    Trump says he will build a wall and that Mexico will pay for it. He could be right about who just might pay that bill. I imagine thousands of Americans wanting to flee to Mexico if Trump actually becomes our president. Mexico would gladly pay for the wall to keep us out!

  8. Everyone in Alabama: Contact your representatives immediately and get the word out about this bill!!!!

  9. Even though I favor legalization, I wish medical marijuana had been available 5 years ago when my wife had lung cancer. Even if it didn’t work I still wish we had the option to try it. She passed away 4 years ago. We’ll never know if could have helped her.

    1. My condolences to you.
      This is the kind of thing that makes some of us so furious at the intransigent greediness of the corporate-types running this parody of a democracy: their single-minded purpose to prioritize profit margin over any other possible concern, like compassion, or decency, or respect for human life, or truth, or anything else that might get in their way.

      There is so much tragedy in this world, and our sold-out elected officials are just fighting to be next in line to pile more pain and evil and suffering onto their constituents. They’re just fine with it. Disgusting.

      But we’re calling them out, telling it like it is. You’re among friends here.

  10. Woo HOOO!!
    Good news!!! The Supreme Court just refused to hear the case of Oklahoma and Nebraska v. Colorado!!

    “At the end of the day, if officials in Nebraska and Oklahoma are upset about how much time and resources their police are spending on marijuana cases, as they said in their briefs, they should join Colorado in replacing prohibition with legalization,” Tom Angell, the chairman of the Marijuana Majority, said in a statement. “That will allow their criminal justice systems to focus on real crime, and it will generate revenue that can be used to pay for healthcare, education and public safety programs.”

    Even if Justice Scalia hadn’t recently passed away, Both conservative Justices Ilito and Thomas gave disenting arguments for the plaintiff states, apparently upset they had not gone to lower courts first.

    Wow. Now the question remains if the Supreme Court will here a case to deschedule after a liberal justice takes office, after a majority of the states legalize medicinally and Vermont legalizes legislatively…

    1. Waasaitaminute… Shoulda finished reading the article…

      “While several legalization advocates hailed Monday’s decision as a major victory, California-based cannabis attorney Aaron Herzberg of CalCann Holdings said the court’s action doesn’t actually change anything.

      They’ve simply made a decision to be hands off and to allow the states to experiment…” he said. “It would have been extremely concerning had this Supreme Court taken this case up. We can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the court system is not going to intervene.”
      Herzberg said the federal government needs to bring much-needed clarity to the situation, including access to banking and potentially reclassifying marijuana from its current Schedule 1 status. That likely won’t happen until after the presidential election, he predicted.
      “There’s still huge federal issues that are in the way of this industry succeeding,” he said. “We really need to see some leadership on this on the federal front.”

      Interesting the Supreme Court looked to the President for leadership on the issue;

      “Entertaining the type of dispute at issue here — essentially that one state’s laws make it more likely that third parties will violate federal and state law in another state — would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of this court’s original jurisdiction,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said.”

      The justices had asked the Obama administration to weigh in, and the Justice Department responded by urging the court to stay out of the case.

  11. How about the fact that its illegal to make oil, yet comsumption is allowed? How contradictory. People are being sentenced because of some vague law thats meant for chemical production of meth and other non-medical drugs.

  12. @ Hunter,

    Sorry to hear about your wife; that’s a sad tragedy.

    I had a cousin who died of cancer about 2 years ago–he did at least get MMJ his last 4 or 5 months.

  13. We are adults, legalize on a fed level, and let the states regulate as the people see fit… Get out of the old world, people have been medicating for ever! In Alabama here.

    Genesis 1.29 – Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

  14. Since when did CBD oil become illegal in the first place? It’s being sold on the internet as being legal in all 50 states. NORML, please clarify.

    [Editor’s note: CBD, like THC, have both been listed on DEA’s schedule I for decades. That CBD is sold on the Internet does not make it at all legal. Only in states where cannabis prohibition has ended (AK, CO, OR, WA and DC) or in states with medical cannabis laws that allow cultivation and/or retail access, can adults legally possess CBD products. Like the marijuana (aka ‘THC’) products covered under the DOJ’s Ogden and Cole memos, CBD products can’t legally cross state lines.]

    1. The CBD companies that sell on the internet claim their CBD is legal because it comes from “hemp” and not the ‘marijuana’ plant. Everything derived from hemp is legal. It’s all imported to the US. NORML, is there any distinction between the CBD from hemp and the CBD that is under schedule I?

      [Editor’s note: In regards to the legality of CBD, confusion reigns. Regardless of the source, CBD, like the more famous THC, is a schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. However, this legal reality seems to have been overrun for the moment by the popularity and curiosity of CBD as a therapeutic as the product is widely being marketed despite it being in the exact some legal class as ‘marijuana’ under federal laws.]

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