New York: Support Legislation To Expand State’s Medical Marijuana Law

Update: Members of the Senate Health Committee killed SB 1087 on April 25.
Update: Notice of committee consideration was requested on 3/13.

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1087, to expand the state’s medical marijuana law by removing the existing prohibition on herbal cannabis preparations.

Under existing law, qualified patients are forbidden from obtaining whole-plant cannabis. Instead, they are required to access only cannabis-infused oral products such as oils, pills, or extracts prepared from the plant. “Smoking” or inhaling herbal cannabis is not defined as a “certified medical use.”

These restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices and deny them the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.

Senate Bill 1087 amends the law so that the possession and inhalation of herbal cannabis is no longer illegal.

Please enter your information below to write your state elected officials and urge them to make this common sense change to New York’s medical marijuana law.

Federal: Legislation Pending To Halt Forfeiture Actions Against Marijuana Facilities

Update: HR 331 was referred to committee.

Legislation is pending before Congress, HR 331, to halt the federal government from taking civil forfeiture action against properties involved in state-sanctioned, medical marijuana-related conduct.

If approved, it would “amend the Controlled Substances Act … to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by state law.”

In the past, federal officials have sought to close dispensaries by threatening property owners with civil forfeiture proceedings. Under these proceedings, property may be seized if there exist evidence that it was involved in activities that violate federal law, regardless of whether those activities are licit under state law.

Presently, the Justice Department is barred from taking such actions because of the passage of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. However, that protection will expire on April 28, 2017 unless renewed by Congress.

Please use the pre-written letter below to urge House lawmakers to take action on HR 331.

Indiana: Pending Legislation Seeks to Provide Medical Marijuana Access

Update: Lawmakers failed to take action on SB 255 during the 2017 legislative session, instead moving forward with a far more limited CBD-exemption bill.

A Senate lawmaker has reintroduced legislation, SB 255, to regulate marijuana access to qualified patients.

The measure, sponsored by Democrat Sen. Karen Tallian, establishes a statewide medical marijuana program to permit qualified patients — including patients with arthritis, migraine, PTSD, and seizures — to legally obtain cannabis products and to engage in cannabis therapy.

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

For more information, please contact Indiana NORML here or visit their Facebook page here.

Additional information regarding statewide efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Indiana is available from Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis, which may be contacted via Facebook here. On Sunday, January 15, the American Legion of Indiana passed a resolution calling on state lawmakers to provide medical marijuana access.

Please enter your information below to contact your state Senator and urge them to support this pending legislation.

New York: Legislation Pending to Eliminate ‘Public View’ Marijuana Possession Arrests

Update: The 2017 legislative session came to a close with lawmakers taking no further action on SB 482 and AB 332.
Update: SB 482 and AB 332 have both been referred to committees.
Legislation has been filed for the 2017 legislative session to eliminate the ‘public view’ loophole exception in New York state’s marijuana law. Abuse of this provision has led to hundreds of thousands of needless marijuana arrests in recent years, primarily in New York City, despite the possession of the plant being decriminalized in the state since 1977. 

Under current law, private possession of marijuana is punishable by nothing more than a simple citation and fine. By contrast, the possession of small amounts of marijuana in a manner that is “open to public view” is classified as a criminal misdemeanor. This loophole has often been used to continue arresting a disproportionate number of minorities, largely as a result of ‘stop and frisk’ policies. Promises from law enforcement in recent years to correct this abuse have not come to fruition. 

Senate bill 482 seeks to address this loophole by striking the ‘open to public view’ language from the statute for instances involving the possession of 15 grams or less or marijuana. Assembly Bill 332  also seeks to amend state law by explicitly stating that a person may not be charged with possession ‘open to public view’ if he/she has been compelled to do so by a law enforcement officer.

New York had the highest marijuana-related arrest rate in the nation in 2013, largely because of arrests made under the ‘public view’ exception. Over 80 percent of those arrested were either Black or Hispanic. Between 2015 and 2016, marijuana possession arrests in New York City rose ten percent. Ninety-six percent of those arrested were charged under the public view provision. Eight-five percent of those arrested were either Black or Hispanic.

Minor marijuana possession violators, many of them young, first-time offenders, do not deserve this punishment.

Enter your information below to contact your New York state elected officials and urge them to support this common sense measure.

Virginia: Governor to Act on Legislation to Amend Driver’s License Suspension Policy For Drug Offenders

Update: The Governor signed both bills, effective 7/1/2017.
Update: SB 1091 and HB 2051 have both passed the full Senate and the House of Delegates. The measure now awaits action from the Governor. A spokesman for Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he will sign the bill.
State Senators Adam Ebbin (D), Bill Stanley (R) and Delegate Les Adams (R) have introduced SB 1091 and HB 2051 respectively, legislation that would remove the mandatory driver’s license suspension currently imposed for those with a marijuana possession conviction.
Under current law, any drug conviction, regardless of whether or not a motor vehicle was involved, results in an automatic suspension of the individual’s driving privileges for 6 months.
These pieces of legislation remove the mandatory suspension for adults, leaving it up to the judiciary’s discretion to determine the most appropriate enforcement action. Juveniles will still face an automatic license suspension for any drug related conviction. 
Email your Virginia state Senator and Delegate to support these bills by inputting your information code below.

Stay up to date with this and other NORML activities by following Virginia NORML on Facebook.

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. 

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