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Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/1/19

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

At the state level, activists in Florida and Missouri gathered in their state capitals along side state and local NORML chapters to lobby state lawmakers in favor of sensible marijuana policy reform.

John Fetterman, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, is beginning a state-wide listening tour to find out where PA residents stand on cannabis legalization.

Several mayors across the state of New Jersey are calling for automatic expungement provisions to be included in the state’s marijuana regulation bill, and are threatening to ban retail sales in their jurisdictions if state lawmakers pass legislation without it.

At a more local level, officials will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses in Baltimore, Maryland, as a new policy was implemented by the office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.

Manor Township, Pennsylvania is considering a proposal that would decriminalize cannabis possession. And officials in San Francisco, California are considering a proposal to allow marijuana to be socially consumed and sold at temporary events.

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

Patients Frequently Substituting Cannabis For Anti-Anxiety Drugs

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Patients authorized to legally use medical cannabis frequently substitute it in place of benzodiazepines, according to a pair of new studies published this week. Benzodiazepines are class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety. According to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control, the drug was attributed to over 11,500 overdose deaths in 2017.

In the first study, Canadian researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and benzodiazepines in a cohort of 146 patients enrolled in the nation’s medical marijuana access program. They reported that 30 percent of participants discontinued their use of anti-anxiety medications within two-months of initiating cannabis therapy, and that 45 percent did so by six-months. “Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter,” authors concluded.

In the second study, investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed over 1,300 state-registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of opioids and benzodiazepines. They reported that 53 percent of respondents acknowledged substituting marijuana for opioids, and 22 percent did so for benzodiazepines.

These findings are consistent with numerous other papers — such as those here, here, here, and here — documenting patients’ use of cannabis in place of a variety of prescription drugs, particularly opioids and anti-anxiety medications.

Full text of the study, “Reduction of benzodiazepine use in patients prescribed medical

Oregon: Cannabis Social Consumption Bill SB 639 Is About Civil Rights

Nearly 10 years after opening the first cannabis cafe in the United States, Oregon NORML (ornorml.org) executive director Madeline Martinez is appealing directly to legislators in Salem to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) that would finally legalize her trademark business, The World Famous Cannabis Cafe. Martinez played a crucial role in organizing local cannabis advocates to bring about Frederick’s legislation, Senate Bill 639.

Martinez says this isn’t just an issue of dysfunctional laws that allow adults living or visiting Oregon to purchase cannabis but not legally consume it, it is an issue of discrimination and equal rights.

“This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Medical marijuana patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are often the least likely to not have a safe legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis,” said Martinez.

Martinez points out that taking direct actions like opening a private social consumption space before public consumption spaces are legal to push the issue into the mainstream discussion and bring into question unjust laws is something that is much easier for white men, but dangerous territory to cross into for a woman of color. As a former corrections officer, Martinez says she knows how the law works, is friendly to law enforcement and firm that actions like hers are what propel the change …

Survey: Three Of Four Military Veterans Would Consider Using Medical Cannabis

Seventy-five percent of military veterans say that they would consider using either “cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option,” according to member survey data compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The organization represents over 400,000 veterans nationwide.

Under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the Department of Veteran Affairs are forbidden from providing medical cannabis recommendations, even in jurisdictions that legally permit private practitioners to do so.

Overall, 83 percent of respondents expressed support for legalizing medical cannabis access, and 68 percent believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs “should allow for research into cannabis as a treatment option.” Proposed federal legislation to direct the agency to conduct clinical trials on the use of cannabis for PTSD and for other conditions is currently pending in the US House and Senate.

Twenty percent of those surveyed acknowledged having previously used cannabis for medical purposes. Other studies have estimated that as many as 41 percent of veterans acknowledge having consumed cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Available data documents that cannabis is effective in the treatment of chronic pain and may potentially mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, along with other conditions commonly facing veterans.

Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Veterans Issues,” here.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2019/01/31/survey-three-of-four-military-veterans-would-consider-using-medical-cannabis/…

Report: New Legal Cannabis Markets in Canada and California Driving Industry

Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics have released a “2019 Update” to the sixth edition of their report on The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, which was published last June. The update takes stock of events in the second half of 2018  and anticipates that worldwide spending on legal cannabis will grow 39.1% to $17 billion in 2019.

Recreational Surpasses Medical

The report’s chief editor Tom Adams writes in his introduction: “Legal cannabis continued its winning streak at the ballot box in 2018, but the industry is finding such victories can sometimes be hollow or at least an opportunity to learn patience.”

Case in point: California, which kicked off recreational sales on Jan. 1, 2018. “Legal cannabis launches have faced expensive regulatory regimes,” Adams acknowledges, “such as that in California that handicapped the legal business with a 77% price disadvantage against a robust illicit market.”

TOM ADAMS: “The science, product development and consumer marketing of a consumable that humans have enjoyed for at least 8,000 years is just beginning. There’s enormous potential in all of that.”

Of the four states that voted to go legalize in November 2016, “Maine remains medical-only, Massachusetts took until November 2018 to get stores open and California [became] the first state to actually shrink legal spending (from $3 billion to $2.5 billion) in its first year of adult-use legality. Only Nevada put reasonable regulations in place quickly, opened stores apace

Maryland: Baltimore Prosecutor To No Longer Target Marijuana Possession Offenses

Officials will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses in Baltimore, as per a new policy unveiled today by the office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.

Under the plan, which takes immediate effect, the office will also move to expunge the criminal records of an estimated 5,000 citizens previously convicted for cannabis-related offenses. The office’s decision to cease targeting minor marijuana violations is similar to actions recently taken by prosecutors in a number of major cities, including St. Louis, Missouri; Westchester, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Norfolk, Virginia, among others.

Commenting on the new policy, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The State’s Attorney for the city of Baltimore 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 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.”

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said at a press conference that the new policy will provide “a major step forward in making Baltimore city safer, fairer, and more equitable, and even more …

AG Nominee Reiterates Non-Interference Stance

First reported on Forbes, William Barr, former Attorney General, advocate for increased incarceration, and current nominee to be the next Attorney General reiterated his stance in writing to not “go after” state legal marijuana programs and expressed support for increased research.

His statements before the Judiciary Committee came response to questions from Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) — each of whom represent states where marijuana is legally regulated for either medical or recreational purposes.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

“William Barr is incredibly wise to acknowledge that the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to the marijuana reform movement. Now is the time for the Department of Justice to work in good faith with the Senate Judiciary Committee on legislative solutions that address the senseless waste of law enforcement’s precious time and resources due to the failed federal policy of prohibition and criminalization.”

Below is a clip of NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri discussing Barr’s nomination with CBS News shortly after he made the first comments in committee.

For background, in January of 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what is known as the Cole Memo, a 2013 Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole to US attorneys in all 50 states. This memorandum directed prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and not to prosecute those licensed to engage in …

Marijuana Legalization in NY & Driving: Response to NYS Association of Police Chiefs from Roc NORML

The New York State Association of Police made a statement opposing legalization of cannabis for adult-use in New York, in response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he plans to pass legislation April 1st, with the budget, that will legalize cannabis for adult-use in New York. The New York State Association of Police said traffic safety is a major concern, citing an increase in vehicle-related fatalities by 62 percent in Colorado the first year cannabis was legalized in the state.

Roc NORML is the Rochester chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and we want to make sure the public is aware that statement is simply not true. Here are the number of vehicle-related fatalities, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation:

Year
Total Number of Vehicle Related Fatalities
% Change (+/-) from previous year
Notes
2002 743 2 years before medical legalization, the largest number of vehicle-related fatalities in the last 17 years
2003
641
1 year prior to legalization
2004 667 +4.1% Sales began January 1
2005 606 -9.1%
2006 535 -11.7%
2007 555 +3.7%
2008 548 -1.2%
2009 466 -15.0%
2010 450 -3.4%
2011 447 -0.1%
2012 474 +6.0%  Adult-use passes by ballot
2013 481 +1.5%
2014 488 +1.5%  Adult use-sales go into effect
2015 547 +12.1%
2016 608 +11.2%
2017 648 +6.7%
2018 620 -4.3%  Four years into adult-use sales, net fatalities below 2002 despite rise in population and increased miles traveled

Urge Kentucky Lawmakers to Support Medical Cannabis Reform Today!

 A medical cannabis bill has been filed in the Kentucky General Assembly every year since 2013. In that time around a dozen other states have passed medical bills, eight more have joined Colorado and Washington in full legalization. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have voiced support for state governments deciding their own policies.

Nearly 80 percent of Kentuckians support medical marijuana., according to a 2012 study issued by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. So, in seven years why hasn’t Kentucky moved forward?

Cannabis reform has stalled recently because of opposition from Kentucky’s Senate leadership. Their opposition shouldn’t be the final word. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says more research is needed, while state Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, erroneously compared cannabis to “snake oil remedies of the 1800s,” according to a WDRB-TV report.

It’s understandable lawmakers want reliable data before making a decision. The good news for Kentucky legislators is the data already is available.  The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more than 26,000 published studies/reviews across 24 databases regarding cannabis available to read online. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has summarized a group of FDA approved randomized clinical trials, finding evidence for cannabis as medicine. The organization concluded marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance is an obstacle to further research.

Kentucky’s Senate leader has taken a contradictory stance.  Stivers has requested studies from the American Medical Association or Johns Hopkins University, but he should

Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/25/19

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

U.S. Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced legislation this week, HR 712 / S. 179: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2019 to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

At the state level this week, activists gathered in Denver in conjunction with Colorado and Denver NORML chapters to lobby their state lawmakers in favor of  workplace drug testing reforms, social consumption, parental protections and expanding access to the state’s medical cannabis program.

Opioid dependency was added to New Jersey’s list of conditions for medical cannabis eligibility.

And a North Dakota bill to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes was defeated in a Senate committee this 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

Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis …

Trump Crony Roger Stone Indicted by Mueller and Arrested by the FBI

Donald Trump’s favorite pot head, Roger Stone, is going to face the music for his involvement in the 2016 campaign that mostly focuses on WikiLeaks and his relationship to Julian Assange. A grand jury, based on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, indicted Stone on seven counts of obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering on Jan. 24 and FBI agents arrested him in an early-morning Jan. 25 raid of his home in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. His residence in New York was also raided.

“During the summer of 2016, Stone spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1 and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign,” the indictment reads. “Stone was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.”

Organization 1 is WikiLeaks and Person 2 is Randy Credico, who allegedly introduced Stone up to Person 1, WikiLeaker Julian Assange.

Stone’s Co-Conspirator Randy Credico

We previously wrote about Stone’s relationship with Credico:

Bicameral Legislation To Force The VA To Conduct Research

Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) have introduced legislation, HR 712 / S. 179: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2019 to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

The legislation “would direct VA to conduct clinical research with varying forms of medicinal cannabis to evaluate the safety and effects of cannabis on health outcomes of veterans with PTSD and veterans with chronic pain.”

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and encourage them to cosponsor the bill

This legislation is similar, yet stronger, to a bill by the same name that successfully passed the House Veterans Affairs Committee last year yet was denied consideration by the full House of Representatives by Republican congressional leadership.

Upon introduction, Rep. Lou Correa said, “Last year my bill became the first cannabis bill to pass the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. This year I will work to make this the first veterans cannabis bill to pass the House. The momentum, support, and dedication are there. We need to get this done for our veterans. With the opioid crisis raging across America, it is imperative to the health and safety of our veterans that we find alternative treatments for chronic pain and service-related injuries.”

According to nationwide survey data conducted by The American Legion in 2017, 39 percent of respondents affirmed that …

Colorado NORML and Denver NORML Host Citizen Lobby Day to Push for Consumer Protections

With the Colorado lawmakers convening for their seventh legislative session since voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 64, which ended the prohibition of marijuana in 2012, marijuana law reform advocates from several organizations coordinated a citizen lobby day to push for workplace drug testing reforms, social consumption, parental protections and expanding access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

During a recent interview with the Westword, Ashley Weber, executive director of Colorado NORML shared a few tips for marijuana law reform advocates who want to get involved in the legislative process: “It’s about getting to know your representatives, and writing them daily if something’s important. Make appointments, become an acquaintance with them.”

Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. Sixty-six percent of US adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to national survey data compiled by the Gallup. The percentage is the highest ever reported by Gallup, which has been tracking Americans’ views on the subject of marijuana legalization since 1969.

Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Colorado NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website!

 

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2019/01/24/colorado-norml-and-denver-norml-host-citizen-lobby-day-to-push-for-consumer-protections/…

Virginia Medical Cannabis Bills Clear Senate Committee

Three medical cannabis bills cleared the Senate Committee on Education and Health this morning and are headed to the Senate floor.

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 would clarify last year’s landmark Let Doctors Decide medical cannabis legislation. It seeks to redefine allowed dosage limitations and formulations, and expand patient access and reduce patient cost by adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants to the list of those authorized to issue written certifications to patients. Currently, only physicians may register with the Department of Health Professions to issue certifications.

“Last year we passed unanimously the historic Let Doctors Decide bill that expanded patient access to our medical cannabis program,” said Senator Dunnavant, a medical doctor from Henrico. “We got a lot of things right, but there are some screws that can be tightened so the law better benefits the health and well-being of all Virginians.”

The bill would also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to dispense medical cannabis preparations beyond the current definition of “oil” and in doses proven effective for the variety of disease processes for which doctors will recommend these therapies. Pharmacists at these facilities would be allowed to compound creams, sprays, capsules, suppositories, lozenges, and other preparations typically dispensed at compounding pharmacies.

Senator Glen Sturtevant’s (R-10) SB1632 seeks to allow medical cannabis administration on school property and at school events.

“Virginia students and their families depend on new, safely produced and regulated cannabidiol and THCA oils to treat a host …

Former New York City Council President Advocates for Marijuana Equity and Social Justice

Melissa Mark-Viverito speaks at CannaGather in New York as host Josh Weinstein looks on.

New York’s progressive former City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito wants to be the city’s next Public Advocate. A special election will be held on Feb. 26. A total of 23 candidates are running. Five other current or former Council member are running.

Public Advocate is essentially a watchdog position. However, it’s second in line to the Mayor, which makes this a particularly important race.

Mark-Viverito made a campaign stop Jan. 22 at CannaGather, New York’s largest monthly meetup of marijuana enthusiasts.

Making Her Mark at CannaGather

She started by saying, “I’ve always been a supporter of the legalization of marijuana,” which is true. Before it was popular in New York, the three-term Council leader took that stance. “I support legalization primarily from a social justice perspective. I firmly believe in social equity and justice. We have to level the playing field and bring more equity.”

Now That Hemp’s Legal, All Roads Are Leading to Mass-Market Retail

On December 20, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, making it a historic day for hemp in the United States. After more than 80 years of prohibition, U.S. farmers are finally allowed to grow hemp legally. Section 10113 of the bill removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, extracting it from Schedule I status alongside its intoxicating cousin marijuana.

In a victory for farmers, the bill removes banking, water and other regulatory roadblocks from hemp farming, plus authorizes crop insurance. It also allows hemp farming in communities left out of the 2014 Farm Bill, including U.S. territories, tribal lands and reservations. Now, hemp is clearly defined as “whole plant,” including extracts, and as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC.

Despite hemp’s previous illegality, the U.S. industry is booming. The Hemp Business Journal estimates that in 2018, the total retail value of hemp food, supplements and body care products in the U.S. reached $553 million.

Eric Steenstra

Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a national advocacy organization dedicated to a free market for industrial hemp, thinks hemp farming will be only one trending item in 2019. Even without the protections of the 2018 Farm Bill, the acreage of hemp grown in the U.S. more than tripled from 2017 to 2018.

Rep. Blumenauer: Now more than ever, it’s our time

Earl Blumenauer is a member of Congress, representing Oregon’s 3rd district

Nearly my entire career as a public servant, I’ve been proud to work with NORML to build understanding and consensus on the need for cannabis reform since 1973. While I was serving as a state legislator, my home state of Oregon became the first in the nation to decriminalize simple possession.

Today, I am happy to report that our movement is cresting.

As many of you know, two years ago we launched the Cannabis Caucus, a first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws and two weeks ago, we were proud to add Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) as co-chairs to our growing group.

But we still have a long way to go and with your help, we will continue to expand our ranks and achieve tangible reform in this Congress.

Will you send a letter to your member of Congress and ask them to join me as a member of the Cannabis Caucus?

Congress is out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high. We saw that clearly with several states moving toward legalization last November and a midterm election that resulted in the most outspoken and anti-prohibitionist group of freshman representatives in our nation’s history.

In the last …

Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/18/19

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

U.S. Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) this week introduced HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

Additionally, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. House lawmakers introduced The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 (HR 601), to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

At the state level, patients in Ohio and Oklahoma now have access to medical cannabis, as sales began in both states this week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York and Governor Gina Raimondo (D) of Rhode Island both included plans for cannabis legalization as a part of their budget proposals in their respective states.

A medical cannabis access bill was signed into law in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill was defeated in the Virginia House this week.

At a more local level, Westchester County, New York’s district attorney will no longer prosecute low level cannabis possession cases; Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin approved two different advisory questions to appear on an April ballot; and Oklahoma City public schools will now allow students to be administered medical cannabis by a caregiver while at school.

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 …

Cannabis Culture Controversies: Vancouver Stores Ordered to Close, Marc Emery Under Fire

The good times in Vancouver are over. All unlicensed marijuana dispensaries, including two Cannabis Culture shops, must cease operation, as ordered by a British Columbia Supreme Court on Dec. 14. A total of 28 stores have to close by Jan. 31, or face shutdowns and possible arrests.

The ruling comes as provinces are providing licenses for cannabis businesses under Canada’s new legalization law, which went into effect Oct. 17.

“We’re just hoping people are going to move along and move into the more mainstream licensed retail business,” Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart stated two days after the court decision. “I feel like once we have regular retail available here in the city, which will come very soon, then these other stores will just kind of fade away.”

So far, two recreational shops under the province’s new cannabis law are up and running: Evergreen Cannabis Society (2868 W. 4th Ave.) and City Cannabis Co. (610 Robson St.).