Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

First off, apologies to weekly readers for skipping last week’s update. We held a NORML Legal Committee seminar in Colorado about tactics to continue the fight against prohibition and protect those facing jail and other adverse ramifications of prohibition. You can watch NORML’s Executive Director give the opening welcome HERE and click here to read a write up on it in The Denver Post’s Cannabist HERE.

In the last two weeks, four pieces of legislation that we are supportive of went into law:

Senate Bill 17 adds “stress disorders” (PTSD) to the list of debilitating conditions for which a physician may recommend cannabis.

House Bill 379 / Senate Bill 949 went into effect May 27 to permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

Often minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, face the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with having a record, even when the state no longer considers simple possession to be a crime.

Assembly Bill 135 eliminates statutes criminalizing the operation of a motor vehicle if a driver has detectable levels of carboxy THC in his/her urine. Carboxy-THC is an non-psychoactive waste product of THC that may be present for days or even weeks post-abstinence. It’s presence in urine is not correlated with psychomotor impairment.

While passage of AB 135 is a step in the right direction, further legislation will continue to be necessary in order to amend Nevada’s traffic safety laws in a manner that no longer inadvertently criminalize responsible adult marijuana consumers in regards to blood testing.

SB 16 permits physicians for the first time to recommend medical marijuana to patients with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease. The measure also allows physicians to immediately issue medical cannabis recommendations for patients suffering from cancer, a terminal illness, or under hospice care supervision.

Unfortunately, in Montana, SB 333, was signed into law to amend the state’s medical cannabis program, I-182, which voters passed in November.

The measure establishes various rules and regulations regarding the operation of cannabis dispensaries, production facilities, and testing labs. It does not amend the expanded list of qualifying conditions enacted by I-182. However, SB 333 does impose new taxes on medical marijuana gross sales. NORML opposes taxes of medical cannabis. It also reduces the number of seedlings qualified patients are permitted to possess at home from 12 to no more than four. It also imposes limits regarding the total harvest of cannabis permitted per patient.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,

Priority Alerts
Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) earlier this year formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the Congressional Cannabis Caucus

Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

The majority of Californians desire a legally regulated marijuana market. Passage of this act will limit state or local agencies from working with the federal government to undermine these regulations.

Update: AB 1578 passed the Assembly on June 1 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

CA resident? Click here to send a message to your state Senator in support of this effort. 

SB 35 provides explicit exemptions from arrest and prosecution for persons lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.

Presently, state regulators are finalizing rules and regulations governing its nascent medical cannabis program, which seeks to permit the production, dispensing, and use of non-herbal preparations of cannabis for qualified patients. Passage of SB 36 amends various criminal statutes to assure that those involved in the program are not inadvertently subject to criminal liability.

Specifically, it provides immunity from arrest for those enrolled in the program who engage in activities related to the purchase or transportation of medical marijuana related products or paraphernalia. It provides further legal protections for pharmacies, producers, and testing laboratories engaged in medical cannabis related activities.

Update: House members amended and passed SB 35 by a vote of 74 to 21 on June 5. Senate members approved the House changes on June 6. The reconciled bill was transmitted to the Governor.

LA resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor in support of SB 35. 

New Hampshire
After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 is finally the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized.

HB 640, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate.

Update: The House concurred with the amended Senate bill on June 1 and the bill will soon be transmitted to the Governor.

NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor thanking him for his support of decriminalization. 

Rhode Island
Sponsors have announced plans to amend their legislation in a manner that would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, effective July 1, 2018. The amended legislation would also establish an advisory committee to issue a report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2018 with recommendations regarding how best to establish a system for taxing and regulating marijuana in Rhode Island. Sen. Miller said, “We are prepared to compromise in a significant way, but there must be progress on the issue this year. Our proposal balances the will of the majority of voters who want marijuana to be legal for adults while respecting colleagues who want to slow things down and get the regulations right.”

RI resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort. 

Other Actions to Take

Legislation is pending before the House, H 113, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours. Additional legislation, H 2385, would expand protections for medical marijuana patients so that they may not be discriminated against with regard to housing, higher education, and child custody issues.

Changes in the legal status of marijuana has not been associated with any adverse changes in workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that legalization is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

MA resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort. 

New Hampshire
Legislation is pending in the New Hampshire House, HB 215, to establish a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

Update: The House has adopted the Senate changes. The bill is expected to be transmitted to the Governor imminently.

NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor urging him to sign HB 215

Additionally, multiple bills are pending to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

In particular, these measures would permit patients with conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress to obtain legal access to marijuana.

NH resident? Click here to contact your elected officials to support patients. 

New York
A pair of bills are pending in the Senate to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 6092 expands the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis access to include those with Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other debilitating diseases. It also removes arbitrary caps imposed on the amount of THC permitted in oral products.

Senate Bill 6308 allows for additional cannabis providers to operate in the state in order to improve patients’ access.

NY resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of these bills. 

Rhode Island
SB 176 is currently pending in the Rhode Island Senate. It amends the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, which currently only permits three medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the entire state, to permit regulators to license up to six total dispensaries.

In recent years, the total number of registered medical cannabis patients in Rhode Island has nearly doubled to more than 17,000 people. It is necessary for regulators to license additional dispensaries in order to keep up with this increased demand.

RI resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort. 

16 thoughts

  1. Why should I care anymore I will be long gone before Texas legalizes marijuana medically or recreationally? After 16 spinal surgeries I would think pot would be alot better for me than hydromorphone oxycodone and valiums. But then those companies wouldnt get their money. Big pharmaceuticals is the real problem with you movement with some government just enough to never let it be legal!

  2. At the Federal level, Sessions is duckin and dodgin:


    Its like that old Skynard song, Mississipi Kid;

    “Well Im goin through Alabama
    Got my pistols right by my side
    …cause when you come from Alabama you can run but you sho caint hide.”

    Senator Leahy wants a piece of’em for dodging the Appropriations Committee.

    Senator Wyden, a great advocate for marijuana reform, has been badgering the Intelligence Committee to make Sessions’ testimony go public.

    And even though Sessions is protecting the President, Trump cant stop tweeting. (Psst… thats evidence in a court of law Mr. President… remember why your travel ban failed? Wait, do you remember ANYthing from 3 minutes ago?)

    Betcher bottom dollar that Rosenstein is our next USAG. At least he respects states rights. Sure wish we could shotgun early elections like they did in France and the UK. This is one hell of a $#!+$+orm.

  3. why is it that i don’t see very little about florida medical marijuana laws that are about to come out

  4. why is it that i don’t see very little about florida medical marijuana laws that are about to come out

    [Paul Armentano responds: There is a summary of the implementation bill in this week’s NORML list-serv.]

  5. Jared Polis is absolutely spot on when he says that the DEA has lost its moral authority when it comes to cannabis prohibition at the federal level.

    The Big Apple needs to push the envelope and translate Amsterdam’s method directly from the Dutch into English (see link) and implement it in New York City. Act in tandem with and be supportive of the New England states that have legalized, and those that want to legalize. NY, are you going to let California and Denver beat you to regulated coffeeshops?

    All of these prohibitionists like Sessions and Rosenberg need to be fired from their jobs, and someone the cannabis community approves of installed into the positions.

    1. As I have related to in the past, TheOracle, New York State would be a HUGE gain, bigger than all New England gains thus far. I will say we will be fighting for legalization in Michigan next year. We are going to try very, very hard to get it passed for next year….collecting signatures.. I just hope the Republicans do not stop us this time. But we will try our hardest. Shout out also to my local NORML chapter near here in Toledo, Ohio. The more chapters and activism, the better. But New York would be a HUGE gain.

  6. I want to be able to go to The Big Apple to a coffeeshop like Barney’s or any number of different cannabis coffeeshops modeled off those in Amsterdam. Just stop waiting for the feds and do it. Consumption is allowed on the premises, no children, not even infants, period. This is adult recreational I’m talking about. (See link)

    Amsterdam is pretty much the only city in the world that has a cannabis coffeeshop scene filled with people from all over the world. It’s very international, and the vast majority of them are getting along with one another. It’s got major museums, as NYC and DC, international tourist attractions, and more profit than problems from cannabis.

    Cannabis coffeeshops in the U.S., that’s what everybody’s been waiting for. It’s what the cannabis community wants. Out of the shadows, out of the closet, no hassle banking.








  7. Shout out to Colorado lawmakers!
    Okay, yes, I’ve given Governor Hickenlooper plenty of shit in the past over his opposition to legalization, but I also intend to give credit where credit is due. It is heartening to see Colorado lawmakers working for the best interests of Colorado citizens, especially these days, when so many other politicians are going rogue against their own constituents, and their own country. Thank you!

  8. It’s nice to see so much movement with the various states. The tide seems to be inexorably turning, despite the dead-ender attempts by the prohibitionists.

  9. Jeff Sessions’ getting in the way of legalization by recommending to politicians that they vote against Rohrabacher-Blumenauer. I hate that shit. Sessions has got to go. Goodbye, Jeff!

    Excerpt from marijuana.com:

    Better known as the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment, Session’s May 1 letter to Congressional leaders requested federal lawmakers oppose the provision. And, breaking yet another campaign promise in which candidate Trump pledged “100%” support for states that have legalized medical marijuana, the Trump administration appears to be on board with turning up the legal heat on state-sanctioned medical marijuana businesses.


    Excerpt from High Times:

    Sessions has recently appointed a task force to review federal marijuana policy and has asked for a report by July 27.


    New York, the Hempire State, is underperforming. Prohibitionists or else I guess well-meaning bunglers are holding back NYC from getting medical marijuana. Pennsylvania has passed but not yet implemented a New York style shit medical marijuana system.

    It’s so hard because the program is too restrictive. Duh!!! People should be able to smoke it, grow their own, have medical cannabis cooperatives for many more conditions than the current restrictions.

    It’s too restrictive because when the general public sees there is no fear or violence and there is an orderly and safe way some people are getting their weed, the public will be sensitized to doing that for adult recreational, as well. Politicians are hell bent on slowing that down by slowing down MMJ.


  10. Come on Legislatively enacted Legalization! Whosegonna ca$h in first? Rhode Island? Vermont? Connecticut? And what is this? Is Delaware in this race? Will I finally stop making fun of their bridge and get high on it?
    “Imagine being whisked away to magical DELAWARE!”
    (Crickets chirping…)
    “Theres a bridge…”
    (More crickets…)
    “Were legalizing weed?”
    (Loud applause!)

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