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Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

 Breaking News
  • Court Case Highlights Need For Continued Federal Protections Last week, a US District Court blocked federal prosecutors from continuing a case against a medical marijuana cultivation company as a result of the current, albeit limited, congressional protections from the Department of Justice. LA Weekly reported: Humboldt County growers Anthony Pisarski and Sonny Moore had already pleaded guilty to federal allegations (conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute) but sought an evidentiary hearing based on legislation, first enacted in 2014, that prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from cracking down on cannabis suspects who are otherwise following their state laws. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a budget rider, co-authored by SoCal U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, that prevents enforcement and prosecution in medical marijuana states by stripping funding for such endeavors. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg on Tuesday stayed the prosecution, so the case is closed unless the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires and fails to be re-enacted and federal prosecutors want to resume their case. The defendants’ Beverly Hills attorney, Ronald Richards, says: “This is the first time in my 23-year career I’ve had a case stopped because of an appropriations rider. “What the court did in this case may be used as a blueprint for other cases,” he says. “It opens the door for people not to get scared.” In response to this verdict, California NORML Executive Director Dale Gieringer said, “It’s significant that a federal court ruled that people targeted by feds and in compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws ruled in the defendants’ favor.” The Judge’s verdict was predicated on a previous ruling, United States v. McIntosh, a Ninth Circuit decision last year that upheld a medical marijuana defense for those facing federal prosecution in lawful medical states. “This is the first case I’m aware of where McIntosh was cited and used to full effect,” continued Gieringer. On July 27, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee to maintain this protection for lawful medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice. You can send a message to your Representative to support this language in the House by clicking HERE. ...
  • Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017 Representatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduced H.R. 3391: The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017. This Act amends the federal law to facilitate clinical investigations involving the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. As you may know, there are many benefits to medical cannabis. Those suffering from PTSD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, and many other debilitating conditions have found relief because of medical marijuana. But, despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, present regulations make clinical investigations involving cannabis needlessly onerous. Passage of this measure would expedite federal reviews of clinical protocols, provide greater access to scientists who wish to study the drug, and mandate an FDA review of the relevant science. Please click HERE to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this important measure. ...
  • Washington State Responds To Attorney General Sessions’ Veiled Threats As first reported by Tom Angell of MassRoots.com, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to a July 24 letter from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Sessions’ made multiple allegations all based on a single misleading 2016 report. One would say, they didn’t pull any punches: “Your letter, citing the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in Washington, makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information.” Cutting right to the heart of the matter, i.e. facts, the Washington state leaders again articulated their desire to educate the (seemingly willing) ignorant Sessions. “We have twice requested an in-person meeting with you because we believe it will lead to better understanding than exchanging letters. If we can engage in a more direct dialogue, we might avoid this sort of miscommunication and make progress on the issues that are important to both of us. We therefore reiterate our request to meet with you, followed by further appropriate meetings between state and DOJ officials.” One of the most basic functions of government is to simply provide consistency and certainty in law enforcement. So after repeated efforts by the state’s leadership to receive clarification, basic facets of the Department of Justice’s approach are still unknown. In yet another attempt for guidance, the Governor and state Attorney General requested information on: Whether DOJ intends to follow recommendations from its Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety—in particular, its reported recommendation to continue previous federal policy on state legalization of marijuana. Whether President Trump’s previous statements of support for medical marijuana, and leaving recreational marijuana legalization to the states, represent the policy of the federal government. Whether DOJ will support reasonable federal policies allowing financial institutions to provide service to licensed marijuana businesses, in order to avoid the public safety risks and transparency problems associated with all-cash businesses. How state-regulated marijuana should be treated by the federal government following the President’s declaration that the opioid crisis constitutes a national emergency, and whether the federal government will support objective, independent research into the effects of marijuana law reform on opioid use and abuse. Whether the federal government will help protect public health by supporting agricultural research on the safety of pesticides used in marijuana cultivation. Whether the federal government will support research into expedited roadside DUI testing methods for law enforcement, as alternatives to blood draws. How Attorney General Sessions will respond, only time will tell. You can click HERE to send a message to your Representative to urge their support for The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, bipartisan legislation to prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing federal prohibition in states that have chosen to legalize medical or adult-use marijuana. You can view the full letter from Governor Inslee and AG Ferguson below: Washington Officials Respond to Sessions Marijuana Letter by tomangell on Scribd...
  • Peachtree NORML Challenges the Faith and Freedom Coalition Post originally published on Peachtree NORML. At the Georgia Republican Assembly Convention on 8/12/2017 David Baker, the Executive Director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia, used a portion of a 1993 quote from the then Executive Director of NORML, Richard Cowan. Mr. Baker quoted Cowan as saying “The key to it (marijuana legalization) is medical access”. Baker’s comments were videoed by AllOnGeorgia’s Jonathan Giles, who wrote about them. Jonathan reached out to me and asked for a comment or two, which I happily obliged him with. You can watch the video and read his commentary by clicking here. I highly suggest you do. It’s what we are fighting here in Georgia. What Richard Cowan said in 1993 was, “The key to it is medical access, because once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically under medical supervision, the scam is going to be blown”. Cowan’s statement is an indictment of the DEA classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, having a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. Prior to 1937 and The Marihuana Tax Act, Cannabis, marijuana’s real name, was widely used in the preparation of medicines. The American Medical Association condemned its pending Prohibition in a letter to the Ways and Means Committee that enacted the legislation. The AMA letter stated, in part, “Since the medicinal use of cannabis has not caused and is not causing addiction, the prevention of the use of the drug for medicinal purposes can accomplish no good end whatsoever. How far it may serve to deprive the public of the benefits of a drug that on further research may prove to be of substantial value, it is impossible to foresee”. Keeping cannabis away from us by prohibiting it was a scam. That is Cowan’s point. David Baker and his Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia have taken the first six words of a 29-word statement and used them to imply that legal medical access to marijuana is a part of some nefarious scheme by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Nothing is further from the truth. One of NORML’s missions is to unveil the truths about the roots of cannabis prohibition. To educate our society about the corporate greed, willful ignorance, propaganda and government corruption that was involved in the 1930s, and is still involved to this day. The science of cannabis proves that it is safer than either cigarettes or alcohol. It proves that cannabis is a beneficial plant. The evidence is out there for anyone to find. David Baker is uninformed at best and willfully deceptive at worst. In today’s information age, ignorance is a choice. Whose Faith and Freedom are you talking about when you spew your deceptive venom, Mr. Baker? Faith? I am the son of a Baptist preacher, a Godly man who served his Lord to the end of his days. I was born into the Fold and I am washed in the Blood. I know a thing or two about Faith and the Teachings of Christ. What I hear in your Prohibitionist rhetoric seems far removed from those teachings. It is certainly not the Faith of those hundreds of thousands in this Nation who are currently being helped, just as Mr. Cowan predicted, by marijuana. They have faith, alright. They have faith in the fact that marijuana is doing for them what Big Pharma can’t in a safe, effective manner. Freedom? I am also a 20-year Veteran of the U.S. Air Force. My father survived the Ardennes Forest in WWII. I know what Freedom looks like. This ain’t it!! What you advocate would keep cannabis away from those Veterans whom it would benefit. Those Veterans who did the Government’s bidding and fought for YOUR Freedom, sir. NORML advocates Freedom. The Freedom of adults in this great land, which was founded on individual rights and freedoms, to make their own choices concerning the use of this plant. Whose Freedom do you advocate for, Mr. Baker? That of your shrinking, narrow-minded ilk that refuses to see the benefits of full legalization? For you and your organization to take it a step further and vilify Representative Allen Peake, a true Georgia hero, for his efforts to obtain safe access to cannabinoid medicine for legal Georgia patients is unconscionable. Now there is a man who is putting his Faith to work. Shame on you, Mr. Baker. If you had half of Allen’s Compassion, a principle taught by Christ, you wouldn’t be doing this. As the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, I challenge you to PROVE IT, David Baker. PROVE to the citizens of Georgia that marijuana is dangerous and should remain illegal here. PROVE to us that the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana will lead to an increase in crime, or poverty, or any other social ill in Georgia. Prove that your rhetoric is not just atavistic fear-mongering, akin to that of Harry J. Anslinger. How about it, Dave? Let’s get someone from NORML on a stage with you for a public debate on the issue. Let’s invite the Press. Let’s have an audience Q&A after the debate. It’ll be the Fight of the Century. Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, the Georgia State Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws. Find out more at http://www.peachtreenorml.org/, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and support their efforts by making a contribution at http://www.peachtreenorml.org/donate. ...
  • SMART Bill Reintroduced in Congress Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) has reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act (H.R. 3534). This bill prohibits state-sanctioned marijuana consumers and businesses from being prosecuted by the federal government. By a margin of more than 6 to 1, Americans say that individual states should be able to make their own laws governing the use and sale of marijuana. The SMART Enforcement Act acknowledges this voter sentiment while also ensuring states are operating in a safe and responsible manner. In a prepared statement, Congresswoman DelBene says that her legislation “will fix the conflict between state and federal law by giving states effectively regulating marijuana themselves, such as Washington, a waiver from the Controlled Substances Act. It also resolves the banking issues currently forcing dispensaries to operate on an unsafe, all-cash basis. These waivers will ensure people in states that have different laws than the federal government on marijuana are protected from prosecution, provided they meet certain requirements, as more and more states work to regulate marijuana within their own borders.” Legislation similar to this is pending in California, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws. As Congresswoman DelBene said, “People in these states should not live in fear of the unpredictable actions of the Attorney General and Department of Justice.” Click HERE to urge your Representatives to support this legislation....

Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

June 10
14:32 2017

Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director
    June 10, 2017
    Comments

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

    First off, apologies to weekly readers for skipping last week’s update. We held a NORML Legal Committee seminar in Colorado about tactics to continue the fight against prohibition and protect those facing jail and other adverse ramifications of prohibition. You can watch NORML’s Executive Director give the opening welcome HERE and click here to read a write up on it in The Denver Post’s Cannabist HERE.

    In the last two weeks, four pieces of legislation that we are supportive of went into law:

    Colorado
    Senate Bill 17 adds “stress disorders” (PTSD) to the list of debilitating conditions for which a physician may recommend cannabis.

    Maryland
    House Bill 379 / Senate Bill 949 went into effect May 27 to permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

    Often minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, face the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with having a record, even when the state no longer considers simple possession to be a crime.

    Nevada
    Assembly Bill 135 eliminates statutes criminalizing the operation of a motor vehicle if a driver has detectable levels of carboxy THC in his/her urine. Carboxy-THC is an non-psychoactive waste product of THC that may be present for days or even weeks post-abstinence. It’s presence in urine is not correlated with psychomotor impairment.

    While passage of AB 135 is a step in the right direction, further legislation will continue to be necessary in order to amend Nevada’s traffic safety laws in a manner that no longer inadvertently criminalize responsible adult marijuana consumers in regards to blood testing.

    Vermont
    SB 16 permits physicians for the first time to recommend medical marijuana to patients with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease. The measure also allows physicians to immediately issue medical cannabis recommendations for patients suffering from cancer, a terminal illness, or under hospice care supervision.

    Unfortunately, in Montana, SB 333, was signed into law to amend the state’s medical cannabis program, I-182, which voters passed in November.

    The measure establishes various rules and regulations regarding the operation of cannabis dispensaries, production facilities, and testing labs. It does not amend the expanded list of qualifying conditions enacted by I-182. However, SB 333 does impose new taxes on medical marijuana gross sales. NORML opposes taxes of medical cannabis. It also reduces the number of seedlings qualified patients are permitted to possess at home from 12 to no more than four. It also imposes limits regarding the total harvest of cannabis permitted per patient.

    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 Congressional Cannabis Caucus

    California
    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

    The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

    The majority of Californians desire a legally regulated marijuana market. Passage of this act will limit state or local agencies from working with the federal government to undermine these regulations.

    Update: AB 1578 passed the Assembly on June 1 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

    CA resident? Click here to send a message to your state Senator in support of this effort.

    Louisiana
    SB 35 provides explicit exemptions from arrest and prosecution for persons lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.

    Presently, state regulators are finalizing rules and regulations governing its nascent medical cannabis program, which seeks to permit the production, dispensing, and use of non-herbal preparations of cannabis for qualified patients. Passage of SB 36 amends various criminal statutes to assure that those involved in the program are not inadvertently subject to criminal liability.

    Specifically, it provides immunity from arrest for those enrolled in the program who engage in activities related to the purchase or transportation of medical marijuana related products or paraphernalia. It provides further legal protections for pharmacies, producers, and testing laboratories engaged in medical cannabis related activities.

    Update: House members amended and passed SB 35 by a vote of 74 to 21 on June 5. Senate members approved the House changes on June 6. The reconciled bill was transmitted to the Governor.

    LA resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor in support of SB 35.

    New Hampshire
    After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 is finally the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized.

    HB 640, 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.

    Update: The House concurred with the amended Senate bill on June 1 and the bill will soon be transmitted to the Governor.

    NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor thanking him for his support of decriminalization.

    Rhode Island
    Sponsors have announced plans to amend their legislation in a manner that would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, effective July 1, 2018. The amended legislation would also establish an advisory committee to issue a report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2018 with recommendations regarding how best to establish a system for taxing and regulating marijuana in Rhode Island. Sen. Miller said, “We are prepared to compromise in a significant way, but there must be progress on the issue this year. Our proposal balances the will of the majority of voters who want marijuana to be legal for adults while respecting colleagues who want to slow things down and get the regulations right.”

    RI resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort.

    Other Actions to Take

    Massachusetts
    Legislation is pending before the House, H 113, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours. Additional legislation, H 2385, would expand protections for medical marijuana patients so that they may not be discriminated against with regard to housing, higher education, and child custody issues.

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana has not been associated with any adverse changes in workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that legalization is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

    MA resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort.

    New Hampshire
    Legislation is pending in the New Hampshire House, HB 215, to establish a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

    Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

    Update: The House has adopted the Senate changes. The bill is expected to be transmitted to the Governor imminently.

    NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor urging him to sign HB 215

    Additionally, multiple bills are pending to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

    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 your elected officials to support patients.

    New York
    A pair of bills are pending in the Senate to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

    Senate Bill 6092 expands the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis access to include those with Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other debilitating diseases. It also removes arbitrary caps imposed on the amount of THC permitted in oral products.

    Senate Bill 6308 allows for additional cannabis providers to operate in the state in order to improve patients’ access.

    NY resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of these bills.

    Rhode Island
    SB 176 is currently pending in the Rhode Island Senate. It amends the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, which currently only permits three medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the entire state, to permit regulators to license up to six total dispensaries.

    In recent years, the total number of registered medical cannabis patients in Rhode Island has nearly doubled to more than 17,000 people. It is necessary for regulators to license additional dispensaries in order to keep up with this increased demand.

    RI resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

    Posted in : ACTIVISM, Legislative Update
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