Monthly Archives: March 2018

New Federal Spending Bill Includes Medical Marijuana Protections

Marijuana medicineAs part of the newly proposed appropriations package known as an omnibus bill, a spending restriction upon the Department of Justice from prosecuting state-legal medical marijuana programs will remain in place through the end of September.

Known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, it explicitly states that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

The amendment has been in place since 2014, as part of annual spending bills. Because the provision was initially approved as a budgetary amendment, it must be explicitly re-authorized by Congress as part of either a continuing resolution or a new fiscal year appropriations bill in order to maintain in effect.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants nothing more than to see these protections go away. In a letter he sent to Congressional leadership last year, he wrote: “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

In the past month, NORML has worked with Representatives Rohrabacher and Blumenauer in recruiting 60 additional members of Congress to co-sign a letter of their own to Congressional leadership, which states, “We respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state’s medical marijuana laws. We believe such …

Study: Traffic Fatalities Have Not Increased As A Consequence Of Legalization

The enactment of adult use marijuana regulation in Colorado and Washington is not independently linked to an increase in traffic fatalities, according to a study published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators at the University of Oregon compared traffic accident outcomes in Colorado and Washington following legalization to other states with similar pre-legalization economic and traffic trends. They reported, “We find that states that legalized marijuana have not experienced significantly different rates of marijuana- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to their synthetic controls.”

Authors concluded, “In summary, the similar trajectory of traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado relative to their synthetic control counterparts yield little evidence that the total rate of traffic fatalities has increased significantly as a consequence of recreational marijuana legalization.”

The study’s findings are similar to those of a 2017 study published in The American Journal of Public Health which reported, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

A 2016 study reported that the enactment of medical cannabis legislation is associated with an immediate decline in traffic fatalities among younger drivers.

Full text of the study, “Early evidence on recreational marijuana legalization and traffic fatalities” is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research. NORML’s fact-sheets on cannabis, psychomotor performance, and accident risk is online here.

Source: …

Cannabis at SXSW: Pot Panels, Movies and More

Back when I was an Austin resident from 1994-1996, SXSW celebrated the weirdness of Austin. Local bands played up and down 6th St., hoping for national recognition from industry types who descended on the Texas capitol every March. Twenty-four years later, it’s grown into a 10-day celebration of film, music, technology and progressive thought.

Texas is flirting with medical cannabis and attracting some young, vibrant political figures that want to bring legalization to the Lone Star State. SXSW is the perfect vehicle for furthering this goal. The thousands of attendees are smart and not afraid of taking risks (although most of their risks focus on coding and instrumental harmonies). At the same time, the world of sensory enhancement is one they generally embrace.

There were several chances to engage in cannabis discussions and education at SXSW 2018. I participated in a panel on professional sports with Jim McAlpine, founder of the 420 Games, and Eben Britton, a former NFL player who formed Athletes for Care, We all advocated for the use of cannabis as a substitute for the prescription drugs that athletes are fed in the name of winning.

Other canna-panels featured Ardent Cannabis’ Shanel Lindsay, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Kaplan, futurist Faith Popcorn and Morgan Paxhia from Poseidon Asset Management. There was a “clean cannabis” meet-up, a talk about marijuana as the next superfood and the Grasslands fundraiser for Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who’s running against …

These Cannabis-Infused Teas Are the Classiest Way to Get High

Even if you are open-minded about the benefits of cannabis, popular methods like eating edibles, smoking, or vaping can seem intimidating. But how about sipping on a cup of tea? Founded by two women who wanted to create a wellness product that was female-friendly, Kikoko cannabis-infused herbal teas are low-dosed, great-tasting, and completely unassuming. “We consider ourselves to be part of the destigmatization movement, bringing it out of the drug realm and into the wellness…


Why Telling A U.s. Border Guard You’ve Smoked Pot Could Be Dangerous, Even Once It’s Legalized

If you’ve ever smoked pot, be warned: trouble could still lie ahead at the Canada-U.S. border. An American immigration lawyer traveled to Ottawa Monday to shed light on an issue that could get even worse when pot is legalized in Canada, saying more Canadians could be permanently denied entry to the U.S. if they admit to smoking pot — even after the law is passed. “I see a wall on the northern border,” Len Saunders…


Don’t Let Congress Roll Back Marijuana Protections

One development in our federal government that got a bit lost in the flurry of other headlines this week is that House and Senate leaders are putting the last minute touches on an omnibus appropriations package that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

Something that many in the marijuana policy space have grown to take for granted is the continuation of a rider that was part of last year’s package known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which strips away funding from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the rest of the Department of Justice to prosecute state-lawful medical marijuana programs.

Tell your federal officials to maintain this common sense protection for the 30 state medical marijuana programs and the 2,000,000 plus registered patients nationwide.

AG Sessions wants nothing more than to see these protections go away. In a letter he sent to Congressional leadership last year, he wrote: “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

In the past month, NORML has worked with Representatives Rohrabacher and Blumenauer in recruiting 60 additional members of Congress to cosign a letter of their own to Congressional leadership, which states, “We respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state’s medical marijuana laws. …

U.S. Medical Marijuana States Report Card Published

By Gillian Jalimnson for Hemp Gazette

46 U.S. states and three territories now have medical cannabis laws – and they vary greatly. In what must have been a monumental effort, Americans for Safe Access recently graded them all on a 500-point scale.

The states and territories were graded on five general categories, each worth 100 points:

  • Patient Rights and Civil Protection
  • Access to Medicine
  • Ease of Navigation
  • Functionality
  • Consumer Safety and Provider Requirements

Criteria for scoring was based on a series of more than 100 public meetings across the U.S. as well as surveys of ASA’s 100,000+ members.


From Yippie to Yuppie: ’60s Activist Jerry Rubin

The Youth International Party (Yippies) went beyond the simple peace-and-love mentality of the hippies of the ’60s and ’70s. They were politicized hippies and psychedelicized activists who took their protests against the Vietnam war and America’s repressive status quo to the streets, often theatrically.

Jerry Rubin was one of them, and along with rabble-rousing peers like Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner and Stew Albert, they stirred up dissent on a national scale. While Hoffman was the subject of Steal This Movie in 2000, little has been written about his Yippie running partner until now, thanks to Pat Thomas’ exhaustive Did It! (Fantagraphics Books).

“Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman manipulated the media with the ease of carnival barkers at a county fair.”

Designed as a scrapbook-style homage to the structure of Rubin’s 1970 classic Do It! and Hoffman’s Steal This Book, Did It! balances the scales of history, giving Rubin his due as a flawed but vital member of the counterculture. Among his Yippie highlights were throwing dollar bills to a bevy of greedy brokers at the New York Stock Exchange, nominating a pig for President, encircling and pretending to levitate the Pentagon and turning the incredibly undemocratic proceedings of the infamous Chicago 8 trial in 1969-70, in which he was one of the defendants, into five months of political theater and chaos. Back then, Rubin and Hoffman manipulated the media with the ease of carnival barkers at a …

In Defense of Weedmaps’ Fight with California

It’s hard to know who is the David and who is the Goliath in the dispute between the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) and the website Weedmaps, which provides information about marijuana dispensaries in legal state across the country. The conflict surrounds Weedmaps’ refusal to prevent users from posting information relating to so-called unlicensed marijuana businesses in the Golden State.

On Feb. 16, BCC chief Lori Ajax sent a threatening letter to Weedmaps that read in part: “Your website contains advertisements from persons offering cannabis and cannabis products for sale that are not licensed to conduct commercial cannabis activity; therefore, you are aiding and abetting the violation of state cannabis laws.” She subsequently stated that “such unlicensed businesses puts the public at risk as the health and safety provisions, such as testing, are not in place.”

Rather than acquiesce, Weedmaps shot a letter back on Mar. 12, calling on the state “to invite incumbent unlicensed operators into the light to be licensed to provide them opportunities to operate a legally compliant business… The fate of these unlicensed operators is critical to the success of the licensed operators; over 90% of the cultivators and manufacturers in the state are unlicensed (some would estimate even more) and retailers are set to face crippling shortages in products in the coming months. Scrubbing the Internet of the reality of unlicensed operators that have created thousands of jobs over the last 20 years …

The Grades Are In: Best And Worst States For Marijuana Patients

By Terry Hacienda for The Fresh Toast

Seven states receive a B+ and 16 states (mostly from the South) flunk.

In a comprehensive, 187-page report on the status of access for medical marijuana patients in the US, seven states received a grade of B+, the highest score given this year.

California, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Oregon were recognized as the best states for patients. Californi, Michigan and Illinois were repeat winners from last year.

The report, “Medical Marijuana Access in the United States,” was released by Americans For Safe Access, a 15-year-old organization whose mission is to “ensure safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.”


Colorado Lawmakers Form Nation’s First Statewide Cannabis Caucus

With Colorado lawmakers well into their fifth legislative session since the retail sale of adult-use marijuana was enacted, the need to coordinate the various policy discussions around the issue has never been greater. Since Colorado voters approved the law change in 2012, there have been ongoing debates surrounding various aspects of the law and its impact — such as how best to address the question of social consumption, product testing, and the use of medical cannabis on public campuses. To best address these issues, state lawmakers have formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus.

“With the end of marijuana prohibition and the implementation of a robust tax and regulate program in Colorado, you have to consider the various areas of public policy that have been impacted. From business, and law enforcement, to education and health care, Colorado’s newly formed Cannabis Caucus will be a way to facilitate discussions among lawmakers regarding how to best to address these important matters,” said NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji.

NORML’s national office has been exploring the idea of state-level cannabis caucuses since the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was established in early 2017. Since then, NORML’s Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji has floated the idea to several Colorado lawmakers, but it wasn’t until he met with State Representative Dan Pabon’s office that things started to take shape. While Representative Pabon’s staff facilitated internal conversations with lawmakers about the possibility of establishing new caucus, NORML’s Kevin Mahmalji focused his …

Oklahoma: Lawmakers Move Forward To Preemptively Quash Medical Marijuana Vote

Legalization in DCSenate lawmakers this week passed legislation, Senate Bill 1120, that seeks to preemptively quash many of the provisions of State Question 788 — an expansive voter initiative that provides physicians the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to those patients for whom they believe it will therapeutically benefit. Oklahomans will be voting on the measure, which NORML has endorsed, during a special election on June 26.

But state politicians who oppose the plan do not want to wait until June for the results of a statewide vote. Instead, they are trying to kill the measure now.

The language of Senate Bill 1120 guts State Question 788. It limits the pool of eligible patients only to those diagnosed with four distinct ailments. It arbitrarily caps the total number of licensed cannabis producers at no more than five providers. It limits the quantity of medical cannabis patients may possess, and also places undue limits on the formulations of marijuana products. It bars patients from smoking herbal cannabis and arbitrarily caps the potency of marijuana-infused products to no more than 10mgs of THC. Finally, it removes the right of patients and their caregivers to cultivate their own medicine.

Although SB 1120 initially failed to gain the number of votes needed for Senate passage, lawmakers reconsidered the legislation on Thursday and passed it by a vote of 26 to 11. The bill now awaits action in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.


Patient-focused report graded medical marijuana programs. No states received an A.

By Bruce Kennedy for The Cannabist

Americans for Safe Access issues its annual state-by-state grades on medical cannabis laws and also calls on states to help combat the growing opioid crisis

None of the state medical marijuana laws adopted thus far in the U.S. can be considered ideal from a patient’s standpoint, and because of their patchwork nature, those laws do not function equitably and are often poorly designed, according to a new report by Americans for Safe Access.

The advocacy group’s new 2018 annual report, “Marijuana Access in the United States, A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws,” evaluates every state with any medical marijuana laws on a 500-point scale.

Of the 46 states and three U.S. territories with some form of a medical marijuana program — covering about 95 percent of the country’s population — none received an “A” rating.


Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/16/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

I first want to highlight some key developments happening at the state level.

During a budget address on Tuesday 3/13, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy reiterated his commitment to legalize marijuana in the Garden State this year. A budget overview document indicated that his Administration plans to legalize adult-use marijuana by January 1, 2019. Also, efforts in Wyoming to set felony penalties for edible and drinkable cannabis products failed.

Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines, including legalization bills in Kentucky and Missouri. The Indiana state legislature failed to agree on amendments to a hemp pilot program bill before the end of the legislative session, which will go to an interim study commission this summer.

At the local level, advocates in Los Angeles, California are holding events to help people with prior marijuana convictions get their records expunged.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check 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.

Your highness,

Priority Alerts


End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the …

Study: Marijuana Decriminalization Leads To Decreased Arrests, No Increase In Youth Use

State laws reducing minor marijuana possession offenses from criminal to civil violations (aka decriminalization) are associated with dramatic reductions in drug-related arrests, and are not linked to any uptick in youth cannabis use, according to data published by researchers at Washington University and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators examined the associations between cannabis decriminalization and both arrests and youth cannabis use in five states that passed decriminalization measures between the years 2008 and 2014: Massachusetts (decriminalized in 2008), Connecticut (2011), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2013), and Maryland (2014). Data on cannabis use were obtained from state Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) surveys; arrest data were obtained from federal crime statistics.

Authors reported: “Decriminalization of cannabis in five states between the years 2009 and 2014 was associated with large and immediate decreases in drug-related arrests for both youth and adults. … The sharp drop in arrest rates suggests that implementation of these policies likely changed police behavior as intended.”

They further reported: “Decriminalization was not associated with increased cannabis use either in aggregate or in any of the five states analyzed separately, nor did we see any delayed effects in a lag analysis, which allowed for the possibility of a two-year (one period) delay in policy impact. In fact, the lag analysis suggested a potential protective effect of decriminalization.” In two of the five states assessed, Rhode Island and Vermont, researchers determined that the prevalence of youth cannabis use …

A First Timer’s Account of Testifying at the Maryland State House

I’m Carly, and I’ve been a political associate with NORML in Washington, DC for about 7 months now. I recently testified (for my first time ever!) before the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee in favor of House Bill 1264 – a constitutional amendment that would put a question on this November’s ballot to let the voters decide on the issue of marijuana legalization and retail sales.

When I first found out I was going to testify, I was excited. I knew this was a unique opportunity that not many people would do in their lives, and a chance to make my own voice heard before a committee of legislators in a state I felt a deep connection to – being a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, I spent some of the best years of my life living in College Park, MD.

What was I going to say? How was I going to say it? Were they going to take me seriously, being so young? Is 2 minutes enough to communicate the extremely important message I was trying to convey? There was only one thing I knew for sure – I was really nervous.

I arrived at the Maryland State House around noon that day, instantly greeted by my colleagues from Maryland NORML. Everyone brought positive vibes and good energy, which I needed. The hearing began at 1, and I thought it would only be a couple hours,

San Francisco Embraces Amsterdam-Style Marijuana Lounges

The smoke was thick and business brisk at the Barbary Coast Dispensary’s marijuana smoking lounge, a darkened room that resembles a steakhouse or upscale sports tavern with its red leather seats, deep booths with high dividers, and hardwood floors. “There’s nothing like this in Jersey,” said grinning Atlantic City resident Rick Thompson, getting high with his cousins in San Francisco. In fact, there’s nothing like the Barbary Coast lounge almost anywhere in the United States,…


CBD Helps Musician Recover from Brain Tumor

Adam Trachsel started having seizures when he was a teenager. “Maybe I was just self-medicating,” he recalls about his early marijuana use. “Even back then.”

Four years ago, Trachsel, the bassist/synthesizer player for Portland, Ore., indie-rock band Mimicking Birds, discovered he had a brain tumor that needed to be surgically removed.

Trachsel had lost his father to cancer years before. Remembering his father’s struggles with chemotherapy and radiation, he decided to have the operation at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, whose post-operative plan did not include chemo.

“When I woke up, I couldn’t speak, couldn’t do math and walked with a limp,” Trachsel relates. “I had to take speech therapy and learn to walk again, but I had no trouble playing music.”

Sweet Releaf: The Latest Cannabis App Is Changing How Patients Receive Their Plant Knowledge

By Kelly Johnson for Big Buds

It’s amazing what can happen in just two years. The recent partnership announced between the cannabis app Releaf and the nonprofit Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is proof that patience, and dedication to the consumer, is a virtue in the green space.

“Americans for Safe Access has been an important champion for cannabis patients since 2002. [Releaf is] very excited to work with such a well-respected organization, and we’re honored that they recognize our sincere passion for empowering patients,” says Franco Brockelman, CEO and founder of Releaf.

The joint venture between the Washington, D.C.-based app and the longtime cannabis patient nonprofit organization will improve how users and dispensaries share cannabis knowledge, as well as the quality of medical data for researchers across America.