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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/15/2017

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  • Setting The Record Straight One of NORML’s primary missions is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults. One of the ways we successfully achieve this goal is by debunking marijuana myths and half-truths via the publication of timely op-eds in online and print media. Since the mainstream media seldom casts a critical eye toward many of the more over-the-top claims about cannabis, we take it upon ourselves to set the record straight. The majority of NORML’s rebuttals are penned by Deputy Director Paul Armentano. In the past few weeks, he has published numerous op-eds rebuking a litany of popular, but altogether specious claims about the cannabis plant – including the contentions that cannabis consumption is linked to heart attacks, psychosis, violence, and a rise in emergency room visits and traffic fatalities, among other allegations. Below are links to a sampling of his recent columns.: Major ‘drugged driving’ report’s findings prove overblown Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks legalizing pot increases violent crime – he’s wrong The evidence is overwhelming; cannabis is an exit drug fro major addictions, not a gateway to new ones Pot, heart attacks, and the media hype cycle The five biggest lies about pot – and how to rebut them Trump administration’s dubious claims about pot and opioids are dead wrong Debunking the latest viral pot paranoid theory Three new scientific studies that debunk conventional marijuana myths You’d be crazy to believe the ‘reefer madness’ study For a broader sampling of NORML-centric columns and media hits, please visit NORML’s ‘In the Media’ archive here. If you see the importance of NORML’s educational and media outreach efforts, please feel free to show your support by making a contribution here....
  • Vermont Governor Phil Scott Vetoes Marijuana Legalization Republican Gov. Phil Scott today rejected legislation, Senate Bill 22, that sought to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the adult use and possession of marijuana. The Governor said that he did not support the legislation as written, but that remains open to working with lawmakers over the summer on ways to amend the state’s cannabis policies. Representatives from the Vermont Association of Police Chiefs, the Vermont Medical Society, and the Vermont American Academy of Pediatrics were among those groups opposing S. 22. “It is disappointing that Gov. Scott would not only defy the will of of state legislators, but also the will of the majority of Vermont voters who support ending criminal penalties for those adults who consume cannabis responsibly,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Minor marijuana possession offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it. Rather than looking to the future, Gov. Scott seems intent on repeating the failures of the past.” Senate Bill 22 would have amended state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to two mature plants (and up to four immature plants) would have no longer been subject to penalty, beginning July 1, 2018. It also established a nine member commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market. State lawmakers approved the measure earlier this month. It was the first time that a legislative body ever approved legislation eliminating criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess or grow marijuana for non-medical purposes. House lawmakers in 2016 rejected similar legislation. That measure had been supported by former Gov. Peter Shumlin....
  • President Trump Compliments Leader Who Executes His Citizens for Drug Charges If the latest comments and memos coming out of Attorney General Sessions’ Department of Justice didn’t raise concerns about the Trump Administration’s potential plans to reignite our nation’s failed war on drugs, his recent call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte should sound alarm bells. A reminder: President Duterte has extrajudicially executed thousands of his own citizens on drug charges during his tenure leading the country. The Washington Post received a transcript of the phone call and describes Trump’s comments on Duterte’s drug “policy” as follows: …in their call [Trump] praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” “Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump said, according to the transcript. After Duterte replied that drugs are the “scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation,” Trump appeared to take a swipe at his predecessor, Barack Obama, who had canceled a bilateral meeting with Duterte after the Philippines leader insulted him. “I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump said. Read the full story in The Washington Post here. ...
  • Online Debate: NORML Versus Project SAM The Asbury Park Press and other Gannett newspaper affiliates, including USA Today, published a fairly extensive online debate on Sunday between myself and Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet under the header “Should We Make Marijuana Legal?” I respond to numerous alarmist claims throughout the interview, including allegations that regulating the adult use of cannabis send s mixed message to youth, leads to increased use by young people, that cannabis is a gateway drug, and even the notion that marijuana prohibitionists are out-funded by reform advocates (as if)! Here’s an excerpt: Gov. Christie, who has consistently opposed legalization of marijuana, contends pot is a so-called gateway drug, that people who use pot will eventually graduate to harder, more dangerous substances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it hasn’t found a definitive answer on that question yet. What is your position and what are the most definitive studies you can cite to bolster it? Armentano: It is time for politicians to put to rest the myth that cannabis is a gateway to the use of other controlled substances — a theory that is neither supported by modern science or empirical data. More than 60 percent of American adults acknowledge having tried cannabis, but the overwhelming majority of these individuals never go on to try another illicit substance. And by the time these individuals reach age 30, most of them have significantly decreased their cannabis use or no longer indulge in the substance at all. Further, nothing in marijuana’s chemical composition alters the brain in a manner that makes users more susceptible to experimenting with other drugs. That’s why both the esteemed Institute of Medicine and the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center conclude, “Marijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.” By contrast, a growing body of evidence now exists to support the counter notion that, for many people, cannabis serves as a path away from the use of more dangerous substances — including opioids, alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and tobacco. You can read and comment on the entire online debate here. If you are a New Jersey resident, you can also take action in support of marijuana law reform in the Garden State here....
  • Las Vegas NORML Ramps up Advocacy Efforts With state lawmakers in Nevada quickly approaching their fast-tracked deadline of July 1st to implement the state’s new adult-use marijuana program, NORML is focused on ramping up our activism efforts in Las Vegas! Over the past two months, we’ve been busy planning, attending legislative hearings, tabling at events, doing community outreach, volunteering at our local community garden, and more to get the word out about our new chapter, and post-legalization activism in Las Vegas. So far during the 2017 legislative session, there have been several key pieces of legislation introduced. One of the most important bills that we’re currently pushing is Senator Tick Segerblom’s SB 329, which would safeguard many protections for marijuana patients and the legal marijuana industry. These protections include re-establishing patient grow rights, allowing medical marijuana research facilities, allowing marijuana establishments to be organized as a corporation, and adds PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Another important piece of legislation that we’re watching closely is SB 236; if adopted by lawmakers, this legislation would permit social use marijuana clubs across Nevada. With the issue of social marijuana consumption quickly becoming a main issue for marijuana advocates in post-legalization states, Las Vegas NORML believes this legislation would be the first step in providing marijuana consumers with a safe and legally defined space to responsibly consume their legally purchased marijuana. To learn more, join us for our next meeting on Tuesday, May 23rd where we’ll discuss the various pieces of marijuana-related legislation in Nevada! Get involved and invite your friends! Creating a Space for Marijuana Activism We’re at a crucial time in the legislative session, so we need our members and supporters to speak-up for Nevada marijuana consumers by urging their representatives to support marijuana-related legislation. To help facilitate this, Las Vegas NORML has organized a postcard writing party! This will give everyone a chance to share their personal stories and reasons why they support marijuana legislation with their lawmakers. We also have two guest speakers from Nevada’s marijuana industry that will be joining us: DB Labs and Sahara Wellness. DB Labs will be educating our members on marijuana testing in Nevada, and Sahara Wellness will be sharing their story of helping patients in the community. Plus we’ll have event sign-ups, membership packages, legislative updates, and even FREE SNACKS! Who can say no to that? Be sure to RSVP using our Facebook Event Page, and invite all of your friends in Las Vegas! For more information on Las Vegas NORML, please find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email us at LasVegasNORMLchapter@gmail.com. ...

Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/15/2017

April 15
15:56 2017

Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/15/2017

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director
    April 15, 2017
    Comments

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

    First off – Happy Tax Day! (If you’re into that sort of thing)

    As we approach 4/20, a number of bills at the state level have seen significant movement, both good and ugly for progress.

    First, the downers: In Tennessee, the state legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill preventing cities within the state from decriminalizing marijuana. Apparently, the status quo of arresting people and sentencing otherwise law-abiding citizens to jail time is a good use of state resources. In TN, a simple possession charge can result in a #250 fine and up to one year in prison. Read more about the state laws here. Additionally, a special tax on medical marijuana is now at the Governor’s desk in Arkansas.

    On more positive notes: we have seen progress in a number of states with bills now before the the Governors of Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, and soon-to-be Indiana. Read about it below in the priority alerts section.

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

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

    Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
    Justin

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

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

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

    Florida
    On November 8th, more than 71 percent of Florida voters decided in favor of the constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, to allow for the licensed production, use, and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. However, state politicians are contemplating legislative efforts to amend the law in a manner that violates both its spirit and intent.

    House Bill 1397 and Senate Bill 406 have both been introduced to initially cap the number of available providers and dispensers, yet there are distinct differences between the two.

    Although neither of these bills truly satisfies the true intent of Amendment 2, Florida NORML contends that Senate Bill 406 is preferable to the House bill. With amendments to both bills expected, we urge Floridians to support the Senate implementation bill and to continue to advocate for further amendments to expand patients’ access.

    FL resident? Click here to contact your elected officials telling them to protect Amendment 2

    Georgia – (At Governor)
    SB 16, a bill to expand Georgia’s CBD-exemption law is awaiting action from Gov. Nathan Deal.

    The bill expands the qualifying pool of patients eligible to possess CBD extracts to include those with autism, epidermolysis bullosa, AIDS, Tourette’s Syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy. The bill also permits the possess of CBD-dominant oil to be used by anyone under hospice care.

    GA resident? Click here to tell Gov. Deal to sign this bill.

    Hawaii – (At Governor)
    Legislation to expand Hawaii’s medical cannabis program has passed both legislative chambers.

    The bill, HB 1488, has passed both the House and Senate. Senate changes to the bill must now be approved by members of the House before it can be sent to the Governor.

    The bill expands the number of qualifying conditions eligible to receive cannabis therapy to include: lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and autism. It also permits patients’ caregivers to engage in medical cannabis cultivation, among other changes.

    HI resident? Click here to tell the Governor to sign the bill.

    Indiana – (At Governor)
    House and Senate lawmakers have approved separate versions of legislation (House Bill 1148 and Senate Bill 15) to exempt criminal penalties for the possession of CBD extracts by qualified patients.

    Both bills seek to exempt penalties for the use of CBD extracts by patients with treatment resistant epilepsy. The bills differ regarding whether or not the state ought to establish a patient registry and with regard to the percentage of CBD that must be present in order for the substance to qualify as exempt under state law.

    IN resident? Click here and email the Governor to sign the bill when it reaches their desk.

    Iowa
    Senate Study Bill 1190, labeled The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, was approved Wednesday morning, April 12 on a 3-0 subcommittee vote and it cleared Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said the bill could be approved by the full Senate as early as Monday, which would send the measure to the House for consideration.

    IA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers to support the Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act

    Maryland – (At Governor)
    Senate Bill 949 permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

    Maryland law was amended on that date so that the possession of up to ten grams of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense.

    The Senate has passed enrolled SB 949 which means the bill was adopted with the House amendments. SB 949 has now been sent to the governor for approval.

    MD resident? Click here to send a message to Gov. Hogan to sign the bill.

    New Hampshire
    New Hampshire is the only New England state that has not either decriminalized or legalized adult marijuana use.

    HB 640, sponsored by 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate, yet the Senate has yet to take a vote.

    NH resident? Click here to contact your lawmakers now and demand a vote.

    Additionally in New Hampshire, multiple bills are pending before lawmakers to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

    Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 13 passed both HB 157 and HB 160 out of Committee.

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

    NH resident? Click here to contact you lawmakers to support these efforts.

    North Dakota – (At Governor)
    Members of the House and Senate have reconciled SB 2344. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Doug Burgum, who intends to sign it into law. The measure allows only two state-licensed manufacturing facilities and up to eight dispensaries statewide (These facilities are anticipated to be operational within 12 to 18 months after law’s passage). It removes provisions in Measure 5 permitting patients who do not reside near a dispensary to cultivate their own cannabis. Amendments that sought to prohibit smoking herbal formulations of cannabis were not included in the final version of SB 2344, although qualified patients under the age of 19 will now be mandated only to consume cannabis in ways other than smoking.

    ND resident? Send a message to the Governor expressing your disapproval of the stripping of home grow rights for patients.

    Oregon – (At Governor)
    SB 863, to limit the federal government from acquiring data regarding adults and patients who legally purchase marijuana under state law.

    The emergency legislation, which would take immediate effect, mandates that retailers and dispensaries do not maintain customers’ purchase and/or personal identification records beyond 48 hours.

    Members of the House on 4/10 voted 53 to 5 in favor of SB 863. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Kate Brown.

    OR resident? Email Governor Brown now to sign this legislation right away.

    West Virginia – (At Governor)
    A coalition of Senate lawmakers have introduced legislation, SB 386, which seeks to establish the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act — a state-sponsored program that will permit qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries.

    The House and Senate concurred on an amended version of SB 386 on April 6. A summary of the amended bill is online here. The measure now goes to the Governor, who indicates that he intends to sign it.

    WV resident? Email the Governor expressing support for this bill

    Other Actions to Take

    Arkansas – (At Governor)
    House Bill 1580 imposes a special eight percent statewide tax upon medical marijuana sales. This tax would be in addition to the imposition of existing state and local taxes.While NORML generally does not oppose the imposition of fair and reasonable sales taxes on the commercial sales of cannabis for recreational purposes, we do not support such excessive taxation on medical sales. Most other states that regulate medical cannabis sales do not impose such taxes and Arkansas patients should not be forced to pay these excessive costs.AR resident? Click here to email the Governor urging a veto

    Colorado
    State officials in Colorado are considering legislation, SB 192, to protect the state’s adult use marijuana industry in case of a potential federal crackdown.

    The bill would permit adult use growers and sellers to instantly reclassify their recreational marijuana inventory as medical marijuana “based on a business need due to a change in local, state, or federal law or enforcement policy.” In recent weeks, officials from the Trump administration have indicated that they may consider taking action against recreational marijuana providers, but that they will not likely move against state-licensed medical marijuana providers.

    Update: SB 192 passed the Senate on April 12 and now awaits action from the House.

    CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers to in support of this legislation.

    Vermont
    Legislation is pending, H.170, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults.

    If passed, the measure would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana, up to ten grams of hashish, and/or the cultivation of two marijuana plants in a private residence.

    Update: The House Committee on Human Services held another hearing for H 170 on Tuesday 4/11 yet still have not taken a vote.

    VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and demand a vote.

    Posted in : ACTIVISM, Advocacy, Citizen Lobbyists, Community Organizing, GOVERNMENT, LEGISLATION
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