Missouri: Multiple Medical Marijuana Bills Pending

Update: The Missouri legislature is adjourned and the bill will not recieve further consideration this year.
Update: A hearing was held on 4/26 for SB 56.
Two separate legislative proposals are pending to allow qualified patients to obtain and legally consume marijuana.

The preferable of the two bills, Senate Bill 56, permits the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to “grant licenses for the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana for medical use.” Importantly, it authorizes qualified patients and caregivers the opportunity to cultivate their own cannabis at home. This option ensures that patients will have an uninterrupted supply of medical cannabis if there is a delay in the establishment of state licensed dispensaries or if they do not reside near such a facility. 

Separate legislation, Senate Bill 153, is also pending. However, this legislation significantly limits patients’ options to self-medicate in the manner that they believe is best. For example, it does not allow patients to cultivate their own supply of medicine, and it also places potential restrictions on how patients may consume their medicine. 

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Missouri patients deserve these same protections.

Statewide polling data compiled in 2016 determined that 62 percent of voters support regulating medical marijuana access. In September, Secretary of State Jason Kander called on lawmakers to move swiftly to legalize medical cannabis, stating, “The Missouri General Assembly should pass legislation to allow medical marijuana so Missouri families that could greatly benefit from it don’t have to watch their loved ones continue suffering.” If lawmakers fail to act this year, advocates are anticipated to place the measure on the 2018 ballot.

Please enter your zip code below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support Senate Bill 56. For more information please visit Missouri NORML’s page.

South Carolina: Compassionate Care Medical Marijuana Act Introduced

Update: SB 212 and HB 3521 failed to receive action before the legislative crossover dates, and are dead for this legislative session.
Update: Members of the House subcommittee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs voted 3-0 on February 21 to report HB 3521 for consideration before the full Committee
Update: Testimony was taken on S. 212 before the Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee on February 16. Among those testifying in favor of the bill included former US Attorney for the District of South Carolina Bill Nettles. 
Update: The Charleston Post and Courier has endorsed the S.C. Compassionate Care Act.
Update: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMasters says he opposes legalizing marijuana, calling it a “bad idea.”
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 212 and House Bill 3521, to establish a program to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical marijuana products.

Under this program, patients would be permitted to obtain up to two ounces of cannabis and/or cannabis-infused products, such as extracts or edibles, from a state-licensed dispensing facility. 

Patients must be diagnosed with one of the following debilitating conditions to qualify for access: “cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, neural-tube defects, or the treatment of these conditions; or a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; neurological disorders; or severe and persistent muscle spasms including, but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.” The measure also restricts patients from smoking cannabis, but does not prohibit vaporization. 

While NORML believes that such restrictions on smoking are unnecessary, we also are doubtful that such prohibitions can feasibly be enforced. Further, this legislation is more expansive than the state’s existing CBD-specific law, which only applies to patients with intractable epilepsy and has failed to provide needed relief to the patient community. Ultimately, we would like to see this measure amended to include patients’ right to home grow.

The Senate bill appears to have broad legislative support. According to this news story, correspondents were unable to find any lawmakers to go on record in opposition to the bill.

A separate, broader measure is pending in the House. House Bill 3128, the Put Patients First Act, permits qualified patients to engage in cannabis therapy and to obtain cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries. Under this act, qualifying patients may possess “up to two ounces of a usable form of marijuana.” They also have the option of cultivating their own cannabis at home.

A second, more narrow bill, House Bill 3162, seeks to provide medical marijuana access for certain military veterans. It allows those who were discharged in honorable fashion and later diagnosed with PTSD “to possess twenty-eight grams or one ounce or less of marijuana or ten grams or less of hashish.”

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. South Carolina patients deserve these same protections.

Please enter your information below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support medical marijuana access in South Carolina.

Connecticut: Adult Use Marijuana Regulatory Bills Filed In House and Senate

Update: Lawmakers are not anticipated to vote on any legalization bills this legislative session, though advocates remain hopeful that the issue will be raised during future budget negotiations.
Update: SB 11 had a hearing on March 22.
Update: Rep. Melissa Ziobron, sponosor of HB 5314, said “One of my goals in proposing legislation to legalize marijuana is to promote a healthy and substantive discussion on the issue. I feel that the legalization of marijuana is inevitable and, as such, Connecticut should be at the forefront of the movement in order to set the standard for effective policy.”
Update: Lawmakers have scheduled a pair of hearings in March to debate these various legalization proposals. Members of the Public Health Committee heard testimony on Tuesday, March 7. Members of the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday, March 22.
Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.

Representatives Toni Walker and Robyn Porter have introduced HB 6518, which is making its way through the House, to regulate the personal use and retail sale of marijuana by adults. 

Reps. Melissa Ziobron (R), and Juan Candelaria (D) also have similar measures, HB 5314 and HB 5539. HB 5314 has been reserved for public hearings and HB 5539 is still being debated in committee.

The House Speaker has previously acknowledged that he expects these bills to receive full hearings this session, so it is vital that your lawmakers hear consistent support for these measures from voters like you. 

On the Senate side, SB 11, introduced by Sen. Martin Looney, has been referred to committee and also seeks to legalize and regulate personal use of marijuana.

According to a March 2015 Quinnipiac University poll of Connecticut voters, 63 percent favor permitting adults to legally possess personal use quantities of cannabis.
Connecticut is one of a growing number of states where lawmakers are considering regulating cannabis for adults. NORML will continue to update you in the coming weeks as this proposal moves forward during legislative session. You can sign up to receive information about Connecticut NORML’s upcoming lobby days here. 
Enter your information below to contact your state lawmakers and urge them to support these important reform efforts.

Gov. Asks “Why Do We Need Medical Marijuana?” Here’s Why:

 

Update: On Tuesday, February 28, a special committee — the 17-member Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation — charged with facilitating Maine’s transition into a legal marijuana marketplace will hold a meeting to hear public comments on the process as well as to review the dozens of marijuana-related bills pending in the Legislature.
Governor Paul LePage recently suggested abolishing Maine’s medical marijuana program – a program that was approved by a majority of voters on two separate occasions.

In a December 15 radio interview, Gov. LePage said that he sees “no need” to continue to implement a separate medical cannabis program in Maine when adult use becomes legally regulated. “Why do we need medical marijuana?” he asked. “We’ve got to get rid of medical marijuana.”

Tell the Governor ‘no.’

Tens of thousands of Mainers have grown to rely on this program for safe, above ground access to a substance that provides them with symptomatic relief. It is unfair to ask them to switch from their trusted providers to new retailers who may have little or no experience providing for patients’ needs.

Further, many of these patient populations use cannabis to treat chronic conditions, whereas adult non-patient users may only consume cannabis intermittently. It is inappropriate to subject these patients to the litany of taxes associated with retail cannabis. Other medicines are not subject to such taxes and those patients explicitly using cannabis as a medicine should not be forced to pay inflated retail prices.

Finally, many patients utilize niche products, such as marijuana-infused salves and tinctures high in cannabinoids other than THC – the primary mood-altering component in cannabis. It is questionable whether retailers catering to the adult use market will continue to produce or provide these specialized products and formulations, potentially leaving patients out in the cold.

Ultimately, patients’ motivations for accessing cannabis and the type of cannabis they seek to obtain are very different than that of non-patients. As a result, NORML urges Governor LePage to keep the existing medical marijuana program in place while simultaneously working to implement the state’s new adult use regulations swiftly and in accordance with the will of the majority of Maine voters.  

VP-Elect Pence: Where will the new administration take cannabis policy?

After the 2016 Presidential campaign dust has settled, Michigan NORML had a distrubing thought: with their states electoral votes as well as the White House going to Donald Trump and Governor Mike Pence, what will happen to the good people in Michigan who are being helped by the state’s medical marijuana program? Futhermore, how will cannabis policy change under the new administration at the federal level?
In that spirit, Michigan NORML crafted the letter below to send to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence in the hopes of gaining clarity and has recruited over 50 other NORML chapters from across the country to sign-on. 
Add your name to join NORML’s national network in keeping up the pressure to bring an end to the war on responsible marijuana users. 

Texas: Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Legislation Introduced

Update: The Texas House of Representatives Calendar Committee refused to schedule a vote for HR 2107 and it will not recieve any futher consideration this session. Watch the video from the bills sponsors, State Representatives Eddie Lucio III and Jason Issac.

Update: The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health approved HR 2107 on May 5 by a vote of 7-2. The bill will now be considered by the Calendars Committee to determine the date of the full House vote. 
Update: HB 2107 had a hearing on May 2 and after powerful targeted testimony, the number of cosponsors for the bill jumped from 5 to 75!
Update: A bipartisan House version of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas has just been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, titled HB 2107,
State Senator Jose Menendez has filed Senate Bill 269, currently making its way through committee, to protect qualified patients who consume cannabis and to provide for the state-licensed production and distribution of the plant.
SB 269 authorizes the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products to qualified patients. Patients would receive cannabis through a network of private dispensaries and operators, similar to pharmacies, regulated under “strict guidelines” by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The state would use existing infrastructure and build upon the registry already established under the Compassionate Use Act, or SB 339, a 2015 bill Sen. Menendez co-authored and helped pass that lets patients with intractable epilepsy receive low-THC cannabis oil.
 
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Texas patients deserve these same protections.
 
Please enter your info below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support this pending legislation. For more information please visit Texas NORML’s website or find your regional chapter here.

Massachusetts: Reject Tax Hike — No More Changes to Question 4

You have spoken. Are your elected officials listening?
On Election Day, 54 percent of voters decided in favor of Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act – permitting adults to legally grow and to possess marijuana for personal use, while also establishing regulations governing commercial cannabis cultivation and capping taxes on retail sales.
Your message could not have been any clearer: It is time to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.

But it has become apparent that some powerful politicians and bureaucrats wish to ignore voters’ will and rewrite history.

Lawmakers have already unduly delayed the implementation of the law. Now they are moving to change the law altogether.
Members of the House on Thursday, June 15, are scheduled to hear and vote on legislation significantly amending The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Among proposed changes to the law:
The bill would more than double taxes on retail cannabis sales, from 12 percent to as much as 28 percent.;
The bill would strip local control away from municipal voters and unilaterally give local government officials the power to decide whether or not to ban marijuana facilities in their communities;
The bill would restrict the kinds of marijuana edibles products that may be sold and purchased by adults.
The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is shocking, and is typified by the comments of Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg who earlier this year pronounced: “I believe that when voters vote on most ballot questions, they are voting in principle. They are not voting on the fine detail that is contained within the proposal.”
It’s time for you to send another clear message to your lawmakers: Abide by voters’ decision or suffer the consequences.
Voters knew full well what they were voting for on Election Day. And now it is time for politicians to respect it.

Visit Massachusetts NORML to learn more about what you can do in your state.
Please use the pre-written letter below to demand lawmakers and Gov. Baker abide by the will of the voters.

Urge Your Senator To Oppose Jeff Sessions For US Attorney General

Senate lawmakers are only days away from taking a vote that may have a drastic impact on the future of marijuana policy.

Sessions recently was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee and during his confirmation hearing, he failed to give a straight answer with regard to how the Justice Department should respond to states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use and left the door open for federal enforcement,

What is Senator Session’s record on marijuana policy? Think about this.

Senator Sessions has a long and consistent record of opposing any efforts to reform marijuana policy, and he once notoriously remarked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. He was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these:

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

“[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

During the 2015 confirmation hearings for outgoing US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sen. Sessions made clear that he opposed the Obama administration doctrine to allow states the flexibility to impose marijuana legalization absent federal interference, stating: “I hope that you will cease to be silent (on the issue of marijuana legalization), because if the law enforcement officers don’t do this, I don’t know who will. And in the past, attorneys general and other government officials have spoken out and I think kept bad decisions from being made.”

Fast-forward to today: Senator Sessions is on the cusp of becoming the top law enforcement officer in the United States. That is, unless your members of the US Senate hear a loud and clear message from you!

If confirmed by the US Senate to be US Attorney General, Sen. Sessions will possess the power to roll back decades of hard-fought gains. He will have the authority to challenge the medical marijuana programs that now operate in 29 states and the adult use legalization laws that have been approved in eight states. In short, the appointment of Sen. Sessions would be a step backwards at a time when the American public is demanding we push marijuana legalization forward. He is the wrong man for the job, and he represents a clear and present danger to the marijuana law reform movement. 

Please enter your information below to tell your Senates to ‘Just Say No’ to Sen. Sessions as Attorney General.

Texas: Lawmakers Introduce Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation

Update: The Texas Statehouse ended their session without holding a vote on HB 81. You can read Texas NORML’s Executive Directors statement on it HERE. 
Update: HB 81 is scheduled for a vote by the full House on May 11. 
Update: HB 81 cleared committee on a 4-2 bipartisan vote April 3 and now goes to the Calendars Committee in hopes of being scheduled for a floor vote. The Chair of the Calendars Committee is Rep. Todd Hunter, who voted for HB 81 when it was before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this session. We hope that this will have a positive bearing on the rest of the Calendars Committee. You can view additional members of the Calendars Committee HERE.
Legislation has been introduced for the 2017 legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

House Bill 81, filed by Representative Joe Moody and cosponsored by Representative Jason Isaac, seeks to amend state law so that possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a civil violation, punishable by a fine – no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. 

According to the ACLU, Texas arrests over 70,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — the second highest total in the nation, at the cost of over 250 million dollars per year.

“This bill is about good government and efficient use of resources,” said Rep. Joe Moody. “Arrests and criminal prosecutions of low-level marijuana cases distract law enforcement and prosecutors, leaving fewer resources for violent crime.”

Senator Jose Rodriguez has also introduced a Senate companion bill, SB 170, which is currently making its way through committee. 

“State penal statutes regarding the possession of small amounts of marijuana are antiquated and costly. The state and local governments expend millions of dollars prosecuting and incarcerating these non-violent drug offenders,” said Sen. Jose Rodriguez. “In addition, those convicted often suffer collateral, disproportionate consequences, such as an inability to find employment or access certain benefits, like student financial aid or housing assistance.”
According to a recent UT/TT poll, only 17% of Texans support marijuana prohibition. 

Please enter your information below to contact your elected officials in support of this measure.

For more information, please visit Texas NORML and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. 

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