NORML’s Legislative Round Up May 20th, 2016

map_leafThis was a huge week for marijuana law reform. Congress voted for the first time to expand medical cannabis access to military veterans, and Governors in numerous states signed cannabis legalization and depenalization measures into law. Keeping reading to get the latest news and to learn what you can do to take action.


Members of the US House and Senate voted yesterday for the first time to expand military veterans’ access to medicinal cannabis in states that allow it. House members voted 233 to 189 last week in favor of the Veterans Equal Access Amendment. The amendment, offered by Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR) to the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, prohibits the federal government from sanctioning V.A. physicians who wish to recommend cannabis therapy to their patients. Members of the US Senate Appropriations Committee previously voted in April in favor of a similar provision and the full Senate also signed off on their version of the bill yesterday. The House and Senate versions of FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations now await a concurrence vote prior to being sent to the President.


Colorado: House and Senate lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved legislation, House Bill 1373, to permit qualified patients access to the use formulations of medical cannabis while on school grounds. The measure now awaits action by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who indicated that he would sign the bill into law. Once enacted, a primary caregiver may administer non-inhalable formulations of medical cannabis to a qualifying patient while that patient is on the grounds of a pre-school, primary, or secondary school in which the student is enrolled. Medical marijuana patients may not be denied eligibility to attend school because of their cannabis use.

Connecticut: Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy this week signed legislation expanding patients’ access to the state’s medicinal cannabis program. House Bill 5450 permits qualifying patients under the age of 18 to possess and consume medical cannabis preparations. The proposal also expands the list of qualifying illnesses eligible for cannabis therapy to include: ”uncontrolled intractable seizure disorder,” ”irreversible spinal cord injury with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity,” “cerebral palsy,” “cystic fibrosis,” or “terminal illness requiring end-of-life care.” Other provisions in the bill seek to establish a statewide clinical research program, and protect nurses from criminal, civil, or disciplinary sanction if they choose to administer marijuana to a qualifying patient in a hospital setting. The new law takes effect on October 1, 2016.

fifty_dollar_fineIllinois: Members of the House voted 64 to 50 on Wednesday, May 18, in favor of Senate Bill 2228, legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Members of the Senate had previously voted 44 to 12 in favor of the measure, which makes the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100-$200 — no arrest and no criminal record.

Currently, those caught possessing that amount could face up to six months of jail time and fines of up to $1500. The bill also amends the state’s zero tolerance per se traffic safety law. Senate Bill 2228 now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner. Last year, the Governor issued an amendatory veto to a similar bill. However, this year’s language addresses the Governor’s past concerns.

Kansas: Governor Brownback recently signed House Bill 2462 into law to amend marijuana possession penalties. The law 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). Second convictions will no longer be classified as a felony offense. You can read the full summary of the engrossed bill here. The sentencing changes take effect imminently.

Louisiana: Governor John Bel Edwards signed legislation yesterday amending the state’s dormant medical marijuana law. Senate Bill 271 permits physicians to ‘recommend’ rather than ‘prescribe’ medical cannabis therapy. The change allows doctors to authorize cannabis without running afoul of federal law, which prohibits the prescription of a schedule I controlled substance.

The measure also expands the pool of conditions eligible for cannabis therapy to include the following: “cancer, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, or multiple sclerosis. Separate legislation, SB 180, which explicitly immunizes the program’s participants from state criminal prosecution, remains pending in the House and is anticipated to be voted on as early as next week.

Maine: Governor Paul LePage has signed legislation, LD 726, into law permitting qualified patients to use medical marijuana while admitted in Maine hospitals. This measure does not require hospital staff to administer medical marijuana to a patient and will only allow for patients to consume cannabis preparations in a smokeless form. The law also establishes licensing protocols for marijuana testing facilities and the labeling of medical cannabis products.

New Hampshire: Members of the Senate on Thursday, May 19, sent House-backed decriminalization provisions to conference committee rather than engage in an up/down vote of the bill. Members of the House previously voted 298 to 58 to amend Senate Bill 498 to make first-time offenses a civil violation rather than a criminal offense. The civil penalty would be limited to a fine only: no arrest, prosecution, or criminal record. Subsequent offenses would continue to be classified as misdemeanors. In past years, the Senate has been consistently hostile to any House efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession penalties.

The conference committee, consisting of members of the House and Senate, will now try to agree upon a finalized version of SB 498. It is important that Senate members hear from you and are urged to keep the House provisions in SB 498. #TakeAction

cannabis_pillsOklahoma: Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation into law on Friday, May 13, to expand the pool of patients eligible to possess cannabidiol (CBD) under a physician’s authorization. House Bill 2835 extends existing legal protections to the following patients: those with “spasticity due to multiple sclerosis or due to paraplegia, intractable nausea and vomiting, appetite stimulation with chronic wasting diseases.” The measure also removes the age requirement limitation from existing law so that adults with various forms of epilepsy are eligible for CBD therapy. The expanded law takes effect on November 1, 2016.

Rhode Island: On Thursday, May 19th members of the Senate approved legislation, Senate Bill 2115, to make post-traumatic stress patients eligible for medical cannabis treatment and to accelerate access to those patients in hospice care. The measure will now be sent to the House for consideration. #TakeAction

17 thoughts

  1. Stay away from San Juan, PR airport where U.S. Customs agents use drug sniffer dogs to detect under ounce of marijuana in checked luggage and then detain and handcuff passenger. I repeat. Under an ounce. Better and friendlier places to go than PR!!

  2. Green Tsunami! See the Drug Warriors running for the hills? Keep scrambling for higher ground, Hillary, “Schedule 2” won’t save you, keep running!

  3. I was thrown from a race horse in 1988 and I have seizures and pain ever sense. Why can I not get medical marijuana and get off all the pills I have to take!?!

  4. Recently, I had to take a drug test and physical for a company that makes vaccines. With great difficulty, I abstained for using cannabis for at least 41 days prior to the test, but I still came up positive…

    I was smoking at least 1/4 ounce a week, as I know I polished off an ounce that month and was getting by on whatever I could get up until I started applying for jobs. Had a 3.92 GPA with 15 credits in hard science that semester using that much. I’m Talking organic chem, physics, molecular biology.

    My point is, I worked my ASS off, then suffered greatly, even felt a little nausea/hard to eat a little bit when I came off it.

    What did I get in return for quitting? Some snotty bitch at an employment agency telling me they hired someone else who did pass the “drug” test.

    We need to get out and protest, start taking back our freedoms, get the economy out of the federal government’s hands. They want to own us like dogs.

    I can understand declining hard drug users, especially for vaccines and high level science jobs, but the hypocrisy when compared to alcohol is so evident it makes my blood boil.

    Alcohol causes so much lost production, you can’t sleep, you feel hung over, your head hurts, etc. Great, that’s your constitutional right!

    With pot, you wake up feeling great and alert, and you’re impaired a lot less. Get real PA.

    1. USA is atleast on the right path. In my country nothing happens and only around 20% is for decriminalization of cannabis. The rest are conservative idiots.

  5. Like to know Senator Bob Corker’s view on Hemp and Cannabis for industrial, medical, The Vets, and recreational use and the removal off the scheduled list. He is a possible To Nominee for Trump and we need to know where he stands on these issues. Let’s put some needed pressure on him and get to know him more shall we..

    1. I’ve written him several times about cannabis and all I get back is form letters thanking me for my input…He will not say on this matter..

  6. Even little Progress in the most prohibited states is a great step forward for our movement.

    I know Florida isn’t in this week’s list, but with their medical marijuana law gaining momentum, I thought I would share this link from the Sanders camp backing a more marijuana friendly, Progressive Tim Canova to replace Debbie Washmoney Shultz in Miami Dade County;

    Getting rid of the corrupt DNC chair who funneled Congressional money to Hillary’s campaign and rigged the elections in favor of Hillary over Bernie is about as valuable a goal as ever for the momentum of marijuana legalization. Washmoney has been ling scrutinized by the DPA for standing in the way of drug reform. She ignored evidence of marijuana treatment for opiate addiction even though her county has an opiate epidemic and she ignored her own voters when she opposed decriminalization for Miami Dade. She claims to be the “poorest in Congress” while she funnels money through offshores tax havens and stocks her money in the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, a Danish drug company worth 80 billion that develops a pill for diabetes known to cause cancer. Meanwhile marijuana has been proven as nin toxic treatment for both diabetes and cancer… Hmmmm… Would I vote for Washmoney or Canova? Just can’t decide…

  7. ot, i have no idea of the situation in the us, about what is sold in the dispensaries. can you get high-cbd weed everywhere ? from what i´ve seen on yt its all about high and ultrahigh thc-levels. i personally don´t consume such stuff and only use my thc/cbd 1:1 weed. and i also got me some cbd-weed without thc. and i love this stuff very much. everyone should have access to this. its great to be able to smoke without high, and i shudder when i think of the time i did not have this.

    i think there could or should be a rule, that any dispensary has to sell this weed. this would be a step towards the prohibitionists and you should consider it as such. it has been done before in history: the german reinheitsgebot for beer: it rules that beer has to contain hops (its not an option). they made this law because alcohol is so destructive and hops calms people down.
    i compare my high cbd-weed with beer and the normal high-thc material with whiskey.
    its actually a good thing to have some weed that one can consume any time without any high. thx 4 reading

  8. OK COLORADO and all other states are not forcing the real problem of banking the money in order to account for the taxes owed. The Federal government must allow the medical Cannibus to be separated from the RECO Act.

    The politicians now understand that the revenue stream is large. However the cash is not coming back into our banking system. The bankers, are not going to participate in this industry until they are told by the FDIC that they can AND the law doesn’t hold them liable under drug laws and the RICO ACT.

    In Colorado the buried walk-in Vault business is booming. If the state cannot follow the dollar through a third-party, how can they be sure that the correct amount of taxes were paid on all sales?

  9. I hope veterans get their medical marijuana anything involving the veterans hospital is slow to dead someone needs to put a fire under the veterans hospitals to get on the ball to make sure veterans get their medicine don’t keep us waiting if there isn’t enugh marijuana then we ship it from Colorado veterans there are getting there’s why can’t they get on the ball here in Miami .

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