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NORML Chapter Newsletter – March 2019

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Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

NORML Chapters are Leading the Way All Around the Country

Only three months into the 2019 legislative session, with 45 NORML Lobby Days on the books, legalization proposals are swiftly moving forward in states across the country. Irrespective of geographic location or political ideology, lawmakers everywhere are beginning to realize that now is the time to take action on marijuana law reform.

Read more from NORML.org!

Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Chicago NORML Continues Push for Diversity in Cannabis Industry

“Chicago NORML, the Hyde Park-based branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, conducts classes to help underserved groups learn more about marijuana-related jobs.”

Read more from Herald- Mail Media!

Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Colorado NORML Announces Endorsement for Denver Mayoral Election

“We caught up with Calderón shortly after her endorsement by the Colorado branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) to learn more about her thoughts on the cannabis industry, social pot consumption and more.”

Read more from the Westword!

Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/29

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

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee has passed The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595 out of committee this week. It now awaits consideration by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

Guam became the first US territory to send a bill legalizing the adult-use of marijuana to the governor’s desk in 2019. The bill awaits action by Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (D).

Governor Jim Justice (R) of West Virginia signed legislation into law that allows financial institutions to provide banking services related to the state’s medical marijuana program.

Governor Gary Herbert (R) of Utah signed legislation into law that strengthens protections for medical cannabis patients and further improves upon the state’s new medical cannabis access program.

New Jersey tabled a scheduled vote to pass adult-use marijuana legalization after falling just a few votes short of the threshold needed to pass. Legalization legislation now awaits another floor date while advocates in New Jersey gain the necessary support to pass it.

In Texas, the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence passed a marijuana decriminalization bill out of committee this week. The bill would make possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by a fine with no jail time and no marks would be added to a person’s criminal record.

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

Cannabis Legalization in New Jersey Goes Back to Drawing Board

The effort to to legalize marijuana in New Jersey ground to a halt March 25 when Senate President Stephen Sweeney decided there wasn’t enough votes to pass Senate Bill 2703.

“It’s really more of a pause than a defeat,” says William Caruso, a lawyer at Archer & Greiner PC and a member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, who helped craft the state’s medical program. “It was the first time ever a bill on adult-use cannabis came within one or two votes in the Senate of becoming a law. The goal now is to figure out where they’re short. There’s a break now for the Legislature to work on the budget and legalization will be back on the agenda in May and June.”

The measure had support in the Assembly, but would have fallen a few votes short in the Senate.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY: “History is often a bumpy road of fits and starts and setbacks. But eventually, barriers do fall.”

The effort made history as the first time adult-use legislation nearly reached the floor of the State House, but legalization is taking much longer than the 100 days that Gov. Phil Murphy targeted when he took office in late 2017.

Marijuana Banking Passes Critical Committee

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In the first of what is anticipated to be multiple Congressional votes to address the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, the House Financial Services Committee will today voted to advance The SAFE Banking Act, HR 1595, 45-15.

Currently, thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships. This ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis — an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of these business’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

“This is a positive step forward to address an untenable tension between state-legal cannabis marketplaces and federal marijuana prohibition. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. In order to best support the states that have had the good judgment to license and regulate businesses to produce, manufacture, or distribute cannabis, it is critical that Congress address the lack of basic banking services and amend federal law accordingly and the SAFE Banking Act is one pathway to address this situation.”

“Ultimately, …

Texas Police Chiefs Association Hold Marijuana Press Conference

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Fellow Texans,

Today, I attended a press conference held by the Texas Police Chiefs Association (TPCA) at the Texas State Capitol. They discussed “the myths vs. the facts as they pertain to marijuana sales, production, distribution, possession, usage along with its long-term effects as well as impact on quality of life for all citizens.” While there, I was able to livestream the press conference and ask the Chiefs three questions regarding medical marijuana. (Watch here.) After the press, I was able to talk with Chief Dye for about 15 minutes on policy and real-world implications. I appreciate him taking the time to talk about this and hope he will be open to more conversations in the future.

These are the people advocating for the status quo in our state.

Please support our efforts at the Capitol!

It was disappointing to see Law Enforcement advocating for policy that continues to saddle Texans with criminal records and all those collateral consequences as well as putting fear ahead of regulated patient access to medical marijuana. It is past time for us to update our statues to be inline with both the Republican and Democratic platforms.

Please take action and let your legislators know that you support common sense policy!

Support Medical Marijuana in the Senate and in the House.

Support Penalty Reduction in the House and in the Senate.

Sign this petition to Lt Gov Patrick.

Here are

Texas: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Advances Out Of Key Committee

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Rep. Joe Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession has passed out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee with a bipartisan vote of 5-2!

If HB 63 passes the House and Senate, Texans would no longer face jail time or the collateral consequences that come along with a criminal drug conviction!

The policy proposed by this bill is in line with the Republican and Democratic Platforms as well as numerous other states. Such a change will save taxpayers money and allow police and the courts to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes. Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

Texans, please ask your representative to co-author HB 63.

The next step for the bill will for it to be referred to the Calendars Committee, which Rep. Moody sits on as Vice-Chair. We will keep you updated with strategic actions and bill movement updates.

The bill was amended by the committee and now allows an individual to receive two civil penalties ($250 fine) before facing Class C Misdemeanor charges for subsequent offenses. Even after three or more charges, though, Rep. Moody’s bill institutes an automatic deferral, allowing the individual to avoid a permanent criminal record. This is a vast improvement from current law, which penalizes even small amounts with an arrest, up to 180 days in jail, …

David Malmo-Levine: Cannabis Legalization in Canada is Truly Reefer Madness 2.0

The lies about pot never stopped—they just got more sophisticated! “With millions of stressed-out teens smoking pot, some parents are apt to attribute their children’s problems to marijuana’s malevolent influence. The adult temptation to blame the weed is reinforced by public officials who continually inflate the dangers and deny the benefits of cannabis. But U.S. authorities have long since forfeited any claim to credibility with respect to marijuana.” – Smoke Signals, Martin A. Lee, 2012…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2019/03/25/david-malmo-levine-cannabis-legalization-in-canada-is-truly-reefer-madness-2-0/…

Connecticut: Big news for marijuana legalization

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Big news out of Connecticut today, as a bill to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana has passed through a critical vote in the General Law Committee with a 10-8 majority. In addition to legalizing adult-use and establishing a regulated retail market, the bill also includes strong social justice language that incentivizes minority participation in the state’s marijuana market. It also establishes a commission that would be tasked with studying the impacts of provisions not already included in the legislation, such as homegrow and microbusinesses.

Next up for the bill is a vote in the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 28th. Should it pass through committee and successfully pass a floor vote, the bill will go to the governor’s desk. Governor Lamont has been very vocal about his support for marijuana legalization in the state, frequently referring to reform as one of his administration’s top legislative priorities.

If Connecticut successfully passes and enacts marijuana legalization into law, it would become the first state to pass a regulatory framework for the retail sale of marijuana through the state legislature, rather than as a ballot measure for popular vote.

Major reform is within reach in Connecticut. If you’re a Connecticut resident, click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in urgent support of legalization!

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Source: https://blog.norml.org/2019/03/25/connecticut-big-news-for-marijuana-legalization/…

New Jersey Delays Marijuana Vote

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Today, the New Jersey state legislature delayed a key marijuana vote, possibly until November.

According to a February 2019 Monmouth University poll, 62 percent of New Jersey adults support legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and 68 percent believe that legalizing marijuana would boost the state’s economy.

NORML Political Associate Tyler McFadden said,

“Voters and lawmakers both agree that the practice of treating marijuana consumers as second-class citizens must end. Unfortunately, legislative intransigence regarding how best to create a regulatory framework has resulted in, at least for now, a continuation of the failed policy of marijuana criminalization in the Garden State.”

She added: “Criminalization is a policy that results in over 35,000 marijuana-related arrests annually in New Jersey — mostly for low-level marijuana possession. These arrests do not promote public safety, cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and disproportionately impact the poor and communities of color. It is pivotal that leadership continues to move forward to address and enact needed marijuana law reforms in New Jersey, including efforts to expunge past low-level marijuana convictions.”

Finally, it should be acknowledged that, to date, no state has taken legislative action to regulate the adult use marijuana market. In every jurisdiction where regulations exist, they were enacted by a direct vote of the citizenry. Based on current polling in New Jersey, we have little doubt that, if provided the opportunity, Garden State voters would take similar action.”

Senate

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/22

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

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee has scheduled to convene a markup on The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595 on Tuesday, March 26th.

Activists in Oregon have filed a 2020 ballot initiative with the Secretary of State that, if approved, would allow social cannabis consumption sites and protect consumers from employment discrimination. Similarly, activists in Arizona are attempting to qualify a 2020 legalization ballot initiative.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida signed legislation into law to restore patients’ right to smoke medical cannabis.

Governor Ralph Northam (D) of Virginia signed legislation into law that will allow medical cannabis oil to be administered to patients on school property.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York announced that marijuana legalization language will no longer appear in his budget proposal.

At a more local level, city commissioners in Lawrence, Kansas voted 4 to 1 to reduce the city’s fine for cannabis possession to $1. And Steelton Borough, Pennsylvania passed an ordinance to decriminalize up to 30 grams of cannabis possession.

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 …

NORML Responds To Latest Cannabis and Psychosis Claims

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A widely reported study appearing today in the British journal The Lancet alleges that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of psychosis cases in Europe are due to cannabis exposure, and that exposure to elevated levels of THC increases this risk.

NORML has previously written on the data showing a multi-directional association between cannabis and psychiatric illnesses, and we have cautioned that those predisposed to psychosis or other disorders may be at higher risk for adverse events.

That said, it remains premature at best, and sensational at worst to claim that a causal relationship exists between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders on the basis of this new paper. That is because, by the observational nature of its design, this study at best can only demonstrate a correlation.

Nonetheless, despite this limitation, the authors boldly “assume causality.” Given the fact that such a cause-and-effect relationship remains unproven and there as of yet exists no consensus among experts that such causation exists, their assumption is, at best, highly questionable.

Moreover, it is well established that those with psychiatric illness typically use all intoxicants at greater rates than do the general public, so the fact that those admitted to institutions for first-episode psychosis are more likely to consume cannabis than are those in the general population is hardly surprising. But it is not evidence that marijuana in any way causes the condition. Rather, this association may exist because many psychiatric patients are …

New Jersey: Lawmakers Advance Important Marijuana Law Reform Bills

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In some big news out of New Jersey, several marijuana reform bills have been voted out of their committees and are awaiting floor votes.

Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497 have both passed out of their committees and are set to be voted on as early as Monday, March 25th. These bills would legalize the personal possession of one ounce or less of cannabis and would regulate and tax the adult-use and retail sale. Some highlights of this landmark legislation are-

  • Expedited expungement of past misdemeanor marijuana convictions
  • Taxing marijuana sales at three-percent, which will be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist
  • Incentives to promote socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry

Governor Phil Murphy, one of the driving forces of marijuana legalization in the state since taking office in January, has already signaled his intent to sign a legalization bill once it gets to his desk. However, the margins in the New Jersey State Legislature are still very close, with a slight majority of the legislators being in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult-use in the state. With several state lawmakers still on the fence about legalization, input from residents of New Jersey is of paramount importance. Legalizing marijuana would result in dozens of positive impacts for New Jerseyans and cannot happen without the support of reform-minded residents who are committed to personal freedom in New Jersey.

Are you a New

New Jersey: Lawmakers Advance Important Marijuana Law Reform Bills

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In some big news out of New Jersey, several marijuana reform bills have been voted out of their committees and are awaiting floor votes.

Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497 have both passed out of their committees and are set to be voted on as early as Monday, March 25th. These bills would legalize the personal possession of one ounce or less of cannabis and would regulate and tax the adult-use and retail sale. Some highlights of this landmark legislation are-

  • Expedited expungement of past misdemeanor marijuana convictions
  • Taxing marijuana sales at three-percent, which will be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist
  • Incentives to promote socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry

Governor Phil Murphy, one of the driving forces of marijuana legalization in the state since taking office in January, has already signaled his intent to sign a legalization bill once it gets to his desk. However, the margins in the New Jersey State Legislature are still very close, with a slight majority of the legislators being in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult-use in the state. With several state lawmakers still on the fence about legalization, input from residents of New Jersey is of paramount importance. Legalizing marijuana would result in dozens of positive impacts for New Jerseyans and cannot happen without the support of reform-minded residents who are committed to personal freedom in New Jersey.

Are you a New

New Jersey: Lawmakers Advance Important Marijuana Law Reform Bills

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In some big news out of New Jersey, several marijuana reform bills have been voted out of their committees and are awaiting floor votes.

Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497 have both passed out of their committees and are set to be voted on as early as Monday, March 25th. These bills would legalize the personal possession of one ounce or less of cannabis and would regulate and tax the adult-use and retail sale. Some highlights of this landmark legislation are-

  • Expedited expungement of past misdemeanor marijuana convictions
  • Taxing marijuana sales at three-percent, which will be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist
  • Incentives to promote socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry

Governor Phil Murphy, one of the driving forces of marijuana legalization in the state since taking office in January, has already signaled his intent to sign a legalization bill once it gets to his desk. However, the margins in the New Jersey State Legislature are still very close, with a slight majority of the legislators being in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult-use in the state. With several state lawmakers still on the fence about legalization, input from residents of New Jersey is of paramount importance. Legalizing marijuana would result in dozens of positive impacts for New Jerseyans and cannot happen without the support of reform-minded residents who are committed to personal freedom in New Jersey.

Are you a New

Marijuana Banking Bill Scheduled For Committee Markup

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In the first in what are anticipated to be multiple Congressional hearings to address the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, the House Financial Services Committee has scheduled to convene a markup on The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595 on Tuesday, March 26th.

Thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships. This ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis — an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of these business’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

“This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. In order to best support the states that have had the good judgment to license and regulate businesses to produce, manufacture, or distribute cannabis, it is critical that Congress address the lack of basic banking services and amend federal law accordingly.

“The banking issue is just one aspect of the failed policy of federal marijuana criminalization. In order to truly bring the marijuana industry out

Oregon NORML In Partnership With The Oregon Justice League File “Legalization Justice Act of 2020”

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Chief Petitioners Madeline Martinez, Leia Flynn, and Angela Bacca filed a ballot measure to be known as “The Legalization Justice Act of 2020” at the Oregon State Capitol on Monday, March 18. All three women are longtime West Coast cannabis advocates.

Madeline MartinezMadeline Martinez is the executive director of Oregon NORML and the only Latina member of the board of directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). She generated international headlines when she opened the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in 2009, the nation’s first public-facing cannabis consumption lounge.

“This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are still marginalized for their cannabis use, despite legalization,” said Martinez.

Leia Flynn is a legal assistant at a firm that works with cannabis businesses and the owner of Flight Lounge, a members-only private cafe allowed under the City of Portland’s social consumption guidelines. A former medical cannabis caregiver and member of Oregon Green Free, she has put her voice out into the public in order to create safe spaces for cannabis consumers.

“We are in a situation where we have legalized it and anyone over the age of 21 can purchase it, but you cannot smoke it anywhere unless you own your home,” Flynn says. “That is discrimination.”

Angela Bacca is a Portland-based writer and editor who has …

New York: the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA)

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A.1617, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), has been re-introduced this legislative session. The bill would legalize the adult possession, use, and regulated sale of marijuana.

Over the past twenty years, many New Yorkers have been negatively affected by the harms of prohibition in New York. With people of color accounting for nearly 85% of those arrested annually, the MRTA directs the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana to these communities. Because structural racism is ingrained in marijuana prohibition, it’s important that the MRTA both ends marijuana prohibition and promotes racial justice.

Significant steps are taken in the amended MRTA to ensure racial justice and a small business-friendly industry, including:

  • Creating a micro-licensing structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, which allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
  • Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
  • Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses.

Our communities can’t wait. The decades of marijuana prohibition had created a stain on

New Mexico: Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization, Other Reform Bills

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Marijuana FieldState lawmakers have approved a series of bills reducing penalties for marijuana possession offenses and strengthening and expanding legal protections for medical cannabis patients. The measures now await action from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is supportive of the changes.

DECRIMINALIZATION

Senate Bill 323 amends minor marijuana possession penalties. The measure reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 15 days in jail — to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in instances where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, remain punishable by the possibility of jail time.

Once signed into law, the reduced penalties take effect on July 1, 2019.

MEDICAL CANNABIS

Senate Bill 406 expands medical cannabis access and provides important new patient protections. It expands the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy to include those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, severe chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, and neuropathy, among other newly specified conditions. It also enacts explicit legal protections prohibiting employers, social service workers, and hospitals from arbitrarily discriminating against patients solely for their medical cannabis status and/or for their failure to pass a drug test. The measure prohibits regulators from placing limits on the percentage of THC or other cannabinoids in therapeutic products and it establishes reciprocity with other states’ medical cannabis programs.

Separate legislation, Senate Bill 204 establishes regulations and …

Whoopi Goldberg Talks Cannabis: ‘I Think It’s Worth Trying’

“I’ve spent the better part of my life standing up for issues that were important to me,” said actress, comedian, singer, writer, and entrepreneur Whoopi Goldberg in an OpEd about cannabis she wrote in 2018. Her latest cause, she explained, was helping women gain easy access to the therapeutic qualities of the marijuana plant. This is a wellbeing issue, Goldberg argued, marking the difference between sheer recreation and actual medicinal need; between smoking weed in…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2019/03/16/whoopi-goldberg-talks-cannabis-i-think-its-worth-trying/…