Monthly Archives: March 2019

Minnesota: Attorney For State’s Largest County To No Longer Criminally Prosecute Marijuana Possession Offenses

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Minor marijuana possession offenders will no longer be criminally prosecuted in Hennepin County, Minnesota, according to a new policy announced Thursday by County Attorney Mike Freeman. An estimated 1.2 million people live in the County, which includes the city of Minneapolis.

Commenting on the new policy, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The County Attorney is to be commended for taking this proactive stance. Branding individuals — many of whom are at an age when they are just beginning their professional careers — as lifelong criminals, and in some cases felons, for minor marijuana possession offenses results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, professional licensing, and student aid, and serves no legitimate societal purpose. This change is a recognition that marijuana criminalization is a disproportionate public policy response to behavior that is, at worst, a public health concern. But it should not be a criminal justice matter.”

Under the policy, prosecutors will not criminally charge anyone for marijuana offenses involving the possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis. Rather, defendants will be ordered to complete a diversion program or partake in community service. Under state law, marijuana possession offenses involving over 42.5 grams are classified as felony offenses – punishable by up to a five-year prison term and a $10,000 fine.

Under special circumstances, such as if the defendant possessed a firearm or is a habitual offender, prosecutors may still file …

Oklahoma: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Regulatory Measure

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Marijuana HempRepublican Gov. Ken Stitt signed legislation yesterday, HB 2612, clarifying regulations and patient protections specific to the medical use of cannabis. A majority of voters last June approved a statewide initiative authorizing the plant’s use, cultivation, and dispensing.

The new legislation codifies a new regulatory bureau, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, within the State Department of Health, establishes a registry for qualified patients and their caregivers, and establishes a revolving fund to address oversight matters.

It strengthens patient protections by explicitly stipulating that registered cannabis consumers may not be denied public assistance, access to firearms, or employment solely based on their patient status. It further states, “No employer may refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana components or metabolites.”

The bill seeks facilitate standards for banks who wish to partner with medical cannabis businesses, and prohibits local governments enacting “guidelines which restrict or interfere with the rights of a licensed patient or caregiver to possess, purchase, cultivate or transport medical marijuana.”

Members of the House voted 93 to 5 in favor of the legislation. Senate members voted in favor of the bill by a margin of 43 to 5.

An estimated 55,000 Oklahomans are registered with the state to access medical cannabis.



Source: https://blog.norml.org/2019/03/15/oklahoma-governor-signs-medical-marijuana-regulatory-measure/…

The Veterans Equal Access Act Reintroduced

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In the House, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a founder and co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has reintroduced H.R. 1647, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of this bill would lift this prohibition.

At the time of introduction, Rep. Blumenauer said, “For too long, our veterans have been denied access to highly effective medical marijuana treatment for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD. Medical marijuana has shown proven benefits for treating these conditions denying our veterans access to them is shameful. This simple bill would align veterans VA treatment with their very popular state laws, usually approved by the voters. This legislation would guarantee our veterans fair and equal treatment, along with the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options. It’s past time we provide them with the care they need and deserve.”

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Veterans Equal Access Act

In the 114th Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during …

NORML Submits Public Comments To FDA Regarding The International Scheduling Of Marijuana

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The US Food and Drug Administration sought public comments specific to whether changes ought to be recommended regarding imposing international manufacturing and distributing restrictions, under international treaties, on certain drug substances.

Per the FDA: FDA, on behalf of the Secretary of HHS, invites interested persons to submit comments on the notifications from the United Nations concerning these drug substances. FDA, in cooperation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will consider the comments on behalf of HHS in evaluating the WHO scheduling recommendations. 

Below is submission filed by Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML.



Source: https://blog.norml.org/2019/03/14/norml-submits-public-comments-to-fda-regarding-the-international-scheduling-of-marijuana/…

Chicago NORML Goes To DC

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This year, on April 8th, the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) will be returning to our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. and playing a leading role in drafting policy agendas to ensure participation of people of color in the cannabis industry.

Chicago NORML is very excited to participate in the summit this year. As we continue our work with legislators, businesses, and our communities on cannabis reform and legalization here in Illinois, our attendance and participation in this summit is crucial.

We could use a little help getting there! Please make a donation which will help defray costs of sending us to this important high-level policy discussion and workshop. Please make an investment in our work by donating what you can.

We expect to engage with industry leaders on important topics that will soon have a direct impact on our communities such as banking, taxation, criminal justice reform, and equity in ownership. Additionally, we expect to address how Federal measures such as Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, the RESPECT Act, and the States Act will affect us on the local level.

Never have we been so close to comprehensive reform in Illinois and it’s imperative that we get it right. Help us make legalization a reality in Illinois and ensure that it is done so in a way to build an economy that works for all of us.

Thanks for all you do,
Chicago NORML

 

You can find

Bipartisan Bill To Protect Employment Rights

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The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act is bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) to explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress and urge them to support this effort.

Enacted in 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program made it a condition for employment that all civilian employees at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using federally illegal substances on or off duty. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law; however, it remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites, even if their use is in compliance with state law. This conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities, particularly impacting veterans who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public. A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

“For our veterans’, cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain …

Florida: State Lawmakers Vote to Restore Patients’ Right To Smoke Medical Cannabis

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On March 13, members of the Florida state House of Representatives voted 101 to 11 to approve legislation (Senate Bill 182) to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes. The bill was unanimously approved by the state Senate last week, and will now be transmitted to Governor Ron DeSantis.

Seventy-one percent of Floridians voted in 2016 to amend the state’s constitution to allow for the use of medical marijuana. These provisions explicitly protected the rights of patients to access herbal cannabis and placed no restrictions with regard to how they chose to consume it. But after the fact, lawmakers and former Governor Rick Scott, who now represents Florida as a member of the U.S. Senate, quickly moved to ban the practice legislatively. By contrast, newly elected Gov. DeSantis asked the legislature to change the law.

Under this proposal, patients would be permitted to possess up to four ounces of herbal cannabis. Patients under 18 will only be allowed to access herbal medical cannabis if they are terminally ill and receive approval by two doctors.

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms do not benefit from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects.



Source: https://blog.norml.org/2019/03/14/florida-state-lawmakers-vote-to-restore-patients-rights-to-smoke-medical-cannabis/…

New York: State legislature signals support for adult-use cannabis legalization

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In news that bodes well for the future of cannabis legalization in the state of New York, both chambers of the state legislature have included legalization language in their annual budget proposals.

Both budget proposals also address the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions, implementing social equity programs in the state’s growing marijuana industry, and diverting tax money earned through the legal cannabis industry to benefit communities that have borne the brunt of the most brutal aspects of marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs in New York.

Though Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal does not allow for the personal cultivation of marijuana plants, the NY General Assembly’s budget proposal does promote home cultivation upon the legalization of adult-use and retail sale of cannabis in the state. If home cultivation is included in final legislation and is signed into law by the governor, New York would help reinvigorate legislative support for the practice, which has waned considerably in other east coast states that are exploring legalizing cannabis for adult-use.

The legal allowance of home cultivation in private residences is a core tenet of NORML’s Attributes of Adult Access Regulations. Read about home cultivation and our core tenets here.

Though it remains to be seen if the Empire State will legalize cannabis for adult-use in 2019, we cannot let up in our fight for the personal freedoms of New Yorkers. As always, we need your help to make sensible marijuana reform a

Alaska: On Site Marijuana Consumption Rules Finalized

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Lawmakers and regulators have signed off on new regulations explicitly permitting adults to consume cannabis at specially licensed retailers.

Under the new rules, which take effect April 11, licensed cannabis retailers may apply with state regulators for an additional “on site consumption endorsement.” Local governments may challenge the applications in certain instances, or initiate a municipal vote to limit on site activities.

It is anticipated that the initial on site consumption areas may be approved by this summer.

While some local municipalities — such as Denver, Colorado and West Hollywood, California — already regulate on site consumption sites, Alaska is the first adult use jurisdiction to establish such regulations statewide.

Proponents of the plan opine that licensed on site consumption spaces will be frequented by those who lack the ability to legally use cannabis in private — such as visiting tourists or those who reside in housing where marijuana use is not permitted — and that their establishment will reduce the likelihood of adults consuming cannabis in non-designated public spaces.



Source: https://blog.norml.org/2019/03/13/alaska-on-site-marijuana-consumption-rules-finalized/…

New Jersey: Adult-use legalization is closer than ever

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After months of negotiation, Governor Murphy and NJ state legislators have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the state of New Jersey. Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

Though this is a monumental step towards expanding personal freedoms for New Jerseyans, the fight is not over. The bill, yet to be released, still needs to garner enough support in the New Jersey state legislature in order to get to Governor Murphy’s desk. We need urgent action from New Jersey residents to make adult-use cannabis legalization a reality in the Garden State.

Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

New Jersey ranks second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color — who are arrested in New Jersey for violating marijuana possession laws at approximately three times the rate of whites — financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, and engenders disrespect for the law.

It’s time for New Jersey to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of its residents by joining the 10 states (and Washington DC) that have passed

New Model Ordinance’s Envisioned To Promote Small Businesses and Inclusivity

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This week, the Minority Cannabis Business Association unveiled their Municipal Ordinance model on how localities can administer new business licenses in a fashion that promote minority entrepreneurs and ensure that the emerging industry will not be dominated by a flood on new investors who have not been harmed by the consequences of prohibition.

As states continue dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were most negatively impacted by our oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied as best as possible and be given the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. With states beginning to define this new industry, the newly created licensing bodies should prioritize ease of access to the market for consumers and those who were previously targeted by anti-marijuana laws, in addition to supporting small businesses and diversity over corporate greed.

“The Model Ordinance is a statement from the communities we represent to the local lawmakers, regulators, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders who are building our nation’s cannabis industry one town at time–social equity is not only possible, it should be the industry standard moving forward. Our work gives those actors the tools they need to make equity a present reality in our industry rather than a lost opportunity,” said Khurshid Khoja, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee.

Communities of color have disproportionately suffered for decades because of our racist enforcement of marijuana laws and that must be …

NORML Celebrates 49 Years of Fighting for Freedom

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Happy birthday, NORML!49 years ago, Keith Stroup founded NORML to end marijuana prohibition. Now, 10 states and DC have legalized the adult-use of marijuana, and more than two-thirds of the country has legalized medical cannabis. We’ve moved mountains, thanks to good people like you.

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Our birthday wish this year is simple: let’s legalize America. Today, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating the progress we’ve made and stand strong with us in the fight for freedom.

Happy birthday, NORML!

 



Source: https://blog.norml.org/2019/03/11/norml-celebrates-49-years-of-fighting-for-freedom/…

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/8/19

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

This week, a bipartisan coalition of more than 100 co-sponsors has reintroduced legislation in Congress, The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act), HR 1595, to allow state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to engage freely in relationships with banks and other financial institutions.

Activists in Nebraska, along with two pro-legalization Senators, qualified a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative petition to begin collecting signatures from registered voters in the state.

North Dakota’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors last week in Fargo; and registered out-of-state medical cannabis patients will now be able to access their medicine while visiting Hawaii.

Governor Mark Gordon (R) of Wyoming signed industrial hemp production legislation into law.

A marijuana legalization proposal in Hawaii was defeated after it failed to pass through two committees before a key deadline last week.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.

Your Highness,
Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

End Prohibition: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the …

Marijuana Legalization Measures Gaining Momentum In Several States

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Lawmakers in several states have recently moved forward legislative proposals to either legalize or decriminalize marijuana-related activities. Here is a look at where some of these efforts currently stand.

LEGALIZATION

New Hampshire: By a margin of 209 to 147, House members voted late last week in favor of House Bill 481, which legalizes the possession and cultivate of personal use quantities of cannabis by adults, and establishes a licensed system of commercial production and retail sales. The measure awaits action in the Senate and faces opposition from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who has pledged to veto any legalization bill, “regardless of what the language looks like.”

New Mexico: Members of the House voted 36 to 34 in favor of HB 356, which establishes a system of licenses, state-run marijuana retailers. Members of the Senate have until March 16 to act on the bill.

Vermont: Members of the Senate last week passed SB 54 by a vote of 23 to 5. The measure expands existing law to permit the state-licensed production and sale of cannabis to those age 21 or older. The measure now awaits action from members of the House.

DECRIMINALIZATION:

Hawaii: House members approved HB 1383, which removes criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses (up to three grams) and expunges past criminal convictions. The measure now heads to the Senate.

New Mexico: Members of the Senate on Tuesday voted 30 to 8 in favor …

The SAFE Banking Act Reintroduced

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A bipartisan coalition of more than 100 co-sponsors has reintroduced legislation in Congress, The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act), HR 1595, to allow state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to engage freely in relationships with banks and other financial institutions.

If enacted, banks would no longer face the threat of federal sanction for working with marijuana-related businesses and entrepreneurs.

Currently, hundreds of licensed and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Congress must move to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

The effort is championed by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA).

“The majority of American voters have spoken and it’s happening whether we act or not,” said Perlmutter at the time of introduction. “The SAFE Banking Act is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and making our communities safer. Only Congress can provide the certainty financial institutions need to start banking legitimate marijuana businesses – just like any other legal business – and

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: I just introduced legislation to end the federal marijuana prohibition

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Tulsi Gabbard is a Member of Congress representing Hawaii’s 2nd district

Our archaic and outdated marijuana laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals. Every day, the economic and social impacts of marijuana prohibition are having devastating effects on communities across the country.

That is why in 2017 I introduced the first-ever bipartisan bill that would end the federal prohibition of marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. Unfortunately, Congressional leadership at the time blocked us from getting a hearing on this important legislation, despite having nearly 10% of the Members of the House as cosponsors and growing support from the public.

But times have changed.

I am writing to you today, as a supporter of NORML, to let you know that I just reintroduced The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act and ask you to urge your Member of Congress to join me and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) as a cosponsor of the bill.

SEND A MESSAGE NOW

Criminal Justice Reforms
Millions of people have been arrested for the possession or use of marijuana. Many can’t afford bail — further punishing those who are poor — and become mired in our hopelessly back-logged court system that punishes non-violent offenders with felonies and years behind bars. Others have faced the lost opportunities and life-long stigma that follows them with a criminal record.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017 alone — …

It is Time to Acknowledge Reality and End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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Today, we stood with Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Don Young as they introduced the End Federal Prohibition Act and Marijuana Data Collection Act. While these two bills are overtly about addressing the failures of marijuana prohibition, what they are truly about is accepting reality.

This legislation is about accepting political reality. Currently, ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use of marijuana and thirty-three states and DC have medical marijuana programs. When you additionally factor in decriminalization and marijuana-specific CBD laws, there is, in fact, only 4 states in this entire country that are actually in compliance with federal law and the controlled substances act. This tension between state and federal laws is and remains untenable. If states truly are the laboratories of democracy, we need to fully deschedule marijuana from the CSA and allow them to move forward with reforms to their marijuana laws, unimpeded by federal law. This is not just good policy, but good politics. The American people are sick and tired of our failed prohibition. 68% of all Americans support legalizing marijuana and well over 70% believe this is an issue that should be governed by the state, not the federal government.

This legislation is about accepting scientific reality. While there is still more we can learn, there are over 29,000 peer-reviewed studies on cannabis in existence – we know enough to say that it does have medical applications and that is

Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper Vies for Presidential Nomination. But Was He Good on Pot?

Two governors from legal marijuana states are seeking to become the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2020. We wrote about Washington’s current Governor Jay Inslee earlier this week. Here’s our take on Colorado’s former two-term Governor John Hickenlooper, who announced his candidacy on March 4.

Like Inslee, Hickenlooper opposed his state’s recreational marijuana ballot initiative in 2012 when Colorado’s Amendment 64 passed with 55% of the vote.

By 2014, when the law was implemented and adult-use stores began to open, the Governor stated: “I hate Colorado having to be the experiment. We are going to regulate the daylights out of it.”

He added: “This is going to be one of the great social experiments of the 21st century. But going out and getting tax revenue is absolutely the wrong reason to even think about legalizing recreational marijuana. We’re going to not use this as a source of revenue to help education or expanding health care. We’re going to use it in health care where it will relate to marijuana activity… I don’t think governors should be the position of promoting things that are inherently not good for people.”

Bipartisan Legislation To End Marijuana Prohibition Filed

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Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Don Young (AK-AL) introduced two landmark bipartisan marijuana bills.

Introduced was The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019, to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list and allow states the freedom to regulate marijuana as they choose, without federal interference.

In the previous Congress, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act became the first bill in American history to end the federal policy of criminalization that earned bipartisan support.

“The Ending Federal Prohibition Act is about acknowledging political, scientific, and economic reality. Marijuana legalization is here to stay and it is time that federal policy reflect that.” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “This legislation is effective in its simplicity, it will deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and end federal prohibition once and for all, full stop.”

You can send a message to your Representative in support of the bill in less than 30 seconds here. 

Also introduced was The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019, which would study the effects of state legalized medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana programs from a variety of perspectives, including state revenues, public health, substance abuse and opioids, criminal justice, and employment.

Both Representative Gabbard and Young spoke outside the Capitol on Thursday, March 7th to introduce the bills and highlight their urgency.

The members were joined by NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri as well as representatives from the Minority Cannabis Business Association, The Veterans Cannabis Coalition, and individuals …