Archive for the ‘Legislation’ category

Now Is The Time To Support Marijuana Law Reform In Your State

March 19th, 2015

Marijuana law reform legislation is presently pending in states over 30 states. Is your state one of them? Visit NORML’s online ‘Take Action Center’ here to find out.

By clicking this link, you will have access to up-to-date bill status information. You can also quickly contact your elected officials and urge their support for these reforms with just one click.

Right now, nearly 20 states — including Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont — are debating measures to legalize the adult use and sale of the plant.

Some dozen states — including Delaware, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Tennessee — are debating decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses.

Medical marijuana legislation is also pending in 17 states, including Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

Click HERE to view NORML’s full list of pending state and federal legislation.

Get active; get NORML.

Nevada: Voters To Decide In 2016 On Statewide Measure Regulating Marijuana Sales

March 18th, 2015

Nevada voters will decide next November on ballot language that seeks to regulate the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Lawmakers had until late last week to act on the initiative petition, filed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), but failed to do so – thus placing the measure on the 2016 electoral ballot.

Proponents of the measure, “The Initiative to Tax and Regulate Marijuana,” turned in over 200,000 signatures from registered Nevada voters in December to qualify it for the ballot.

The ballot language permits adults to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce and/or six plants) for non-commercial purposes. The measure also regulates and taxes the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis.

It states, “The People of the State of Nevada find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older, and its cultivation and sale should be regulated similar to other businesses.”

Similar ballot measures are likely to be decided in 2016 in several other states, including Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Missouri.

For more information on this campaign, please visit: http://www.regulatemarijuanainnevada.org/.

2015 NORML Legislative Fly-In

March 16th, 2015

2015 NORML Legislative Fly-In
Please join NORML on May 20/21 in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress for passage of cannabis law reform legislation pending before it.

You’ve probably seen by now the historically important bill to reform medical cannabis laws introduced in the U.S. Senate. There has never been a more exciting and receptive time to be a cannabis law reform activist in America with this political backdrop:

  • 35 states have passed medical cannabis-related legislation (in 23 of these states patients have functional access to the medicine and legal protections)
  • 17 states have decriminalized the possession of cannabis for adults
  • 4 states have legalized the cultivation and sale of cannabis (Washington, D.C. has de-penalized the possession and use of cannabis for adults; allows limited home cultivation; no sales)
  • Every national poll, including the oldest social survey data set, now indicate a majority of Americans no longer favor cannabis prohibition.

It’s indisputable. Cannabis law reform in America is happening in our lifetimes.

By the time the NORML Legislative Fly-In convenes in late May, as many as 20 reform bills will have been introduced for us to rally around in our lobbying efforts–and with the new Senate bill, for the first time since the late 1970s, there is good reason to lobby the Senate as hard as the House.

Also, and of great importance in placing upward political pressure on elected members of Congress and their staff, are the nearly 75 state legislative bills around the country that are now debating cannabis law reform measures–ranging from medical access to industrial hemp to decriminalization to legalization.

This year upwards of half the states’ legislatures are looking at dozens of reform bills and this clearly positively impacts Congress to see these needed socio-legal reforms bubbling up from their home states and regions.

For many in Congress, they know the political writing is on the wall for the federal prohibition on cannabis commerce to survive much longer.

Let’s help make their jobs easier by showing them the necessary public support to hasten cannabis law reforms at the federal level.

Lastly, there is a strong possibility that we’re going to add another event to the program, in conjunction with High Times…and featuring a famous TV and movie personality who has expressed strong interest in getting involved with the public discussion about cannabis law reform. TBA.

Please pre-register for the NORML Legislative Fly-In, make your travel and hotel arrangements ASAP to assure lowest possible costs.

NORML members and supporters get first shot at the low early bird pricing of $50/person.

Also, there are sponsorship opportunities as well for cannabis-related businesses, services and organizations.

Below is a brief breakdown of lodging options for the Conference.

Thanks in advance and hope to see you at the height of Spring in the nation’s capital, being an active participant in an historic public advocacy effort to once and for all end cannabis prohibition.

Cannabem liberemus,

-Allen St. Pierre
Executive Director
NORML / NORML Foundation
Washington, D.C.

Poll: More Than Six In Ten Connecticut Voters Say Legalize Marijuana

March 11th, 2015

More than six out of ten Connecticut voters favor legalizing marijuana use by adults, according to statewide polling conducted by Quinnipiac University.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said that they favored permitting adults to legally possess personal use quantities of cannabis. Only 34 percent of voters opposed this idea.

Legislation, House Bill 6703, is presently pending in the state, “to allow marijuana use for persons twenty-one years of age and older, and to regulate the sale, possession, use and growth of marijuana.” Connecticut residents can contact their lawmakers in support of this measure here.

State voters, by an overwhelming 82 percent to 15 percent margin, also support eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for offenses involving the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs, and allowing judges to decide sentences on a case by case basis.

The Quinnipiac University poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

Jamaica: Ganja Decriminalization Plan Finally Approved By Parliament

March 2nd, 2015

Members of Jamaica’s Parliament have given final approval to a long-standing plan to amend the nation’s marijuana policies.

The newly passed measure amends the island’s Dangerous Drugs Act so that the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis by an adult is reclassified as a non-criminal offense. Violators of the new law will receive a ticket and be mandated to pay a fine, but will not face criminal penalties. Public use of the substance will remain prohibited.

Separate provisions of the measure seek to establish regulations allowing for the licensed production of cannabis for therapeutic purposes as well as for industrial purposes. Additional provisions of the bill provide broader legal protections for those who use the plant for sacramental purposes.

Although various Jamaican commissions had previously recommended similar changes in policy for well over a decade, lawmakers had until now consistently failed to move forward with any legislation seeking to depenalize the plant’s possession or production.

District of Columbia: Voter-Approved Depenalization Plan To Become Law

February 25th, 2015

NORML Legislative Fly-InDistrict of Columbia officials are moving forward with implementing a voter-approved initiative depenalizing offenses involving the personal possession and/or cultivation of cannabis by adults.

The new law is set to take effect Thursday, February 26, at 12:01am. In a press release issued Tuesday, District officials — including Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier — reaffirmed their intent to recognize the will of District voters, 70 percent of whom voted in favor of the municipal measure (I-71).

“In November, residents of the District of Columbia voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana by adults for personal, in-home use in the District,” said Mayor Bowser. “We will uphold the letter and the spirit of the initiative that was passed last year, and we will establish the Initiative 71 Task Force to coordinate our enforcement, awareness and engagement efforts and address policy questions as they arise.”

Initiative 71 permits adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and to cultivate up to six marijuana plants (no more than three mature at any one time) in one’s primary residence without facing any criminal or civil penalty. Not-for-profit transactions involving small amounts of the substance are also permitted; however, for-profit sales are prohibited as is the retail production or distribution of the plant.

The consumption of cannabis in public or on federal property also remains prohibited.

District officials contend that they possess the legal authority to depenalize minor marijuana offenses despite the passage of a federal spending provision in December prohibiting the District from spending any tax dollars to implement the new law. They argue that the municipal measure took effect upon passage in November and that Congress failed to take any explicit action to overturn the law during its requisite 30-day review period. (This Congressional review period is mandated law before any new District legislation may be imposed.)

District officials’ stance is not without some vocal critics. Earlier this week, two Republican members of Congress sent a letter to DC’s Mayor warning that Congress may take action if I-71 is enforced.

“If you decide to move forward … with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law,” reads the letter signed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chairman of the subcommittee that handles DC affairs.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Rep. Chaffetz threatened Mayor Bowser and city officials, stating, “[If District officials are] under any illusion that this would be legal, they are wrong. And there are very severe consequences for violating this provision. You can go to prison for this. We’re not playing a little game here.”

To date, neither spokespersons for the Mayor’s office and/or the DC City Council have responded directly to the Congressmen nor have they indicated that they intend to reconsider their decision to implement I-71 as voters intended.

Alaska Legalization Law Takes Effect

February 24th, 2015

Alaska Legalization Law Takes EffectLegislation enacted by voters in November legalizing the personal use and cultivation of marijuana takes effect today.

Fifty-three percent of Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 2 on Election Day, permitting those over the age of 21 to lawfully possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or to grow up to six marijuana plants (no more than three mature) for non-commercial purposes. Sharing or gifting personal use quantities of marijuana is also permitted under the new law; however the consumption of cannabis in public remains an offense.

Lawmakers will now begin the process of establishing licensing requirements for those who wish to commercially produce cannabis and/or engage in the plant’s retail sale. State regulators have up to nine months to enact rules to govern these commercial entities and are expected to begin granting operator permits by February 2016.

Since 1975, Alaskans have enjoyed personal privacy protections allowing for the possession and cultivation of unspecified quantities of cannabis in one’s home. However, state lawmakers had never before codified these protections into law or permitted a legal market for marijuana production and sales.

Alaska is the third state – following Colorado and Washington – to legalize the personal possession of marijuana by adults and to license the plant’s retail production and sales. Oregon voters in November approved similar legislation (Measure 91), which is scheduled to go into effect later this year.

Voters Have Spoken, But Drug Warriors Aren’t Listening

February 2nd, 2015

6_8_NORMLK.StroupPortrait_zThe drug warriors — led principally by law enforcement and their handmaidens in the state legislatures — continue to do everything within their power to prolong marijuana prohibition, even in those states in which the voters have approved full legalization.

I am referring specifically to a legislative proposal introduced last week in the Alaska state legislature, allegedly to implement their recent legalization initiative, under which possession of one ounce of marijuana and the private cultivation of six plants was legalized for everyone over 21 years of age. Recreational marijuana use will be totally decriminalized effective February 24, although the state has until the end of the year to implement the regulations for licensing recreational growers and dispensaries.

Senate Bill 30, and it’s House companion bill, HB 79, initially considered by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees last week, would have kept any amount of marijuana illegal, causing users to be arrested and brought to trial, when they could then raise an affirmative defense by proving they were over 21 and their conduct was protected under the new initiative.

To read the balance of this column, please go to Marijuana.com.

 

Demanding “Perfect Legalization” is a Formula for Defeat

January 26th, 2015

You don’t have to look too hard to see marijuana legalization efforts in several states that have a good chance of being approved by the voters in 2016. But many of those efforts are mired-down with competing proposals and competing proponents that could easily undermine the ability of supporters in those states to actually change public policy and end prohibition.

The inability to accept compromise in the interest of building a winning coalition threatens to turn some of these political opportunities into losing efforts. And that would be a disaster.

Specifically, different factions with different political demands are competing for control of the issue in Massachusetts, Ohio and California, three large and important states that would add enormous legitimacy and political credibility to the legalization movement, were they to approve legalization in 2016.

Click here to read the balance of this column.

 

6_8_NORMLK.StroupPortrait_z

 

Washington, DC: District Officials Move Forward To Enact Municipal Depenalization Initiative

January 15th, 2015

District of Columbia city officials this week moved forward with their intentions to implement a voter-approved municipal initiative depenalizing marijuana possession and cultivation offenses.

On Tuesday, city officials confirmed that Initiative 71 was transmitted to Congress for review. Under federal law, all District laws are subject to a 30-day review process by Congress, during which time members may take action to halt the law’s implementation.

Speaking to Roll Call this week, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said that language previously adopted by Congress in a December 2014 spending bill already prohibits DC officials from implementing I-71 and, thus, no further action by Congress is necessary. However, several District officials – including DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson – said that the federal provision in question in no way blocks city officials from enacting the new law.

“The District’s examination agrees with our analysis that the initiative was enacted when voters approved it and will take effect at the end of the 30-day congressional review period,” Del. Norton said in a statement.

Chairman Mendelson agreed, saying, “I happen to believe that the initiative was enacted so I think there’s no question that after the 30-day review it will be law.”

The District of Columbia Attorney General’s office has not yet commented in regard to how the District will respond if Congress does not address the initiative during the review process, Roll Call reported.

In November, 70 percent of District voters approved I-71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants.

Separate DC municipal legislation – ‘The Marijuana Legalization and regulation Act’ – which seeks to regulate commercial cannabis production and retail sales, is also pending before the Council. If enacted, this legislation would also go before lawmakers for Congressional review and likely would force a federal challenge.