We’ve got federal news for you and an encouraging announcement out of Canada this week. Plus we’ll update you on pending state legislation across the country. Keep reading below to get the latest in marijuana law reform!
Canada: The country’s health minister announced this week that federal legislation to legalize marijuana for adult use will be introduced in spring of 2017. Speaking at a special session before the UN, the minister said, “”We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures. We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem.”
Members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations committee once again voted in favor of the Mikulski medical marijuana amendment. The provision prohibits the Justice Department, including the DEA, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Members of the Senate and House approved similar language last year.
A bipartisan group of 26 Senators and Representatives signed a letter last week urging President Obama to remove federal barriers that limit clinical cannabis research.
“Twenty-three states have passed laws establishing medical cannabis programs and an additional seventeen have passed laws regarding the medical use of cannabidiol (CBD), a compound derived from cannabis,” the Senators and Representatives wrote in the letter. “Despite these developments, researchers, doctors, and patients in these forty states are still subject to federal barriers impeding innovation and medical research. Until we have comprehensive scientific research on the medical risks and benefits of cannabis and its derivatives, we will continue to debate this issue on the basis of outdated ideology instead of modern science.”
Florida: Members of the Orlando City Council voted 4-3 in favor of an ordinance to give local police the option of citing, rather than arresting, marijuana possession offenders. The second reading for the measure will be May 8th. If you live in Orlando, contact your City Commissioner and urge their support for this common sense proposal!
Louisiana: Members of the Senate this week decided in favor of legislation, SB 271 to amend the state’s dormant medical marijuana law. Despite vocal opposition from law enforcement groups, members of the Senate voted 21 to 16 in favor of the measure on Wednesday, April 20th. The bill now awaits action from members of the House.
Ohio: Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 204, so that drug offenses are no longer punishable by a mandatory loss of one’s driver’s license. Under existing law, any drug conviction carries a mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least six months, even in cases where the possession offense did not take place in a vehicle. Senate Bill 204 would make such suspensions discretionary rather than mandatory. With no public opposition, the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. #TakeAction
New Hampshire: For the seventh year in a row, members of the Senate Judiciary committee voted to kill marijuana decriminalization. House Bill 1631 sought to amend state law so that offenses involving the possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana would be classified as a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense — no arrest, and no criminal record. New Hampshire remains the last state in New England that has not decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Washington D.C.: D.C. Council voted to permanently ban the creation of private clubs for marijuana consumption in the district this week. The legislation, approved in a 7-6 vote, modifies DC’s laws to add private-membership organizations to the list of public venues, and makes permanent a temporary ban the Council implemented in February when a few clubs sprouted up. The vote came just hours before a Council created “task-force” on marijuana clubs was scheduled to hold its first meeting.
On Wednesday, NORML released our 2016 Congressional Scorecard. An all encompassing database that assigns a letter grade, ‘A’ through ‘F’, to members of Congress based on their marijuana-related comments and voting records. Be sure to check out what grade your federally elected officials received and share the Scorecard with friends and family so they become engaged voters too!