Maryland: Constitutional Amendment introduced to Legalize Marijuana

Update: The House held a hearing about HB 1236 on March 3 at 1pm, and a hearing about SB 891 on March 2 at 1pm.
Update: A new Goucher poll cites that 58% of Marylanders support marijuana legalization and only 36% oppose it.
HB 1236 and it’s companion bill SB891 would amend the Maryland Constitution to ensure citizens have the right to possess, smoke, and cultivate marijuana.
The Amendment would also require the General Assembly to establish a regulatory structure for “the transfer of cannabis by purchase or sale.”
If enacted, the law would legalize the possession of up to two ounces and the cultivation of up to six plants.
However, as a constitutional amendment, the initiative requires a three-fifths majority in both houses of the Maryland General Assembly followed by approval by the voters of Maryland.
According to a recent poll by the Washington Post, 63% of Maryland registered voters support the legalization of marijuana for personal use. 
Please enter your information below and urge your lawmakers to support this important legislative effort.

Arkansas: Oppose The Legislation To Indefinitely Delay Medical Marijuana Implementation

Update: Senate Bill 238 has been tabled and will not receive further action this session.
Senate legislation is pending, SB 238, to indefinitely halt the enactment of the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law. 

Specifically, the measure states that Arkansas patients may not legally access medical marijuana until the substance has been federally legalized. 

This arrogant piece of legislation is a direct attempt to undermine an election outcome. Fifty-three percent of voters decided in November in favor of Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. State lawmakers have responsibility to abide by the will of the people, to do so in a timely manner, and to not let patients needlessly suffer.

Please use the pre-written letter below to tell your lawmakers to reject SB 238 and other legislative efforts to undermine the will of the people.

Arkansas: Oppose Bill To Impose Presumptive THC Impairment Standards

Update: Lawmakers failed to move SB 130 out of committee. No action will be taken on this measure this legislative session.
SB 130 prohibits individuals from operating a motor vehicle if they have 5 or more nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood. NORML opposes  this proposal.

The presence of low levels of THC in blood is an inappropriate and inconsistent indicator of psychomotor impairment. No less than the United States Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees, stating, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.” 

It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Arkansas traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

Enter your information below to let your Senator know that you oppose this unscientific proposal.

Arkansas: Governor Signs Legislation Limiting Medical Cannabis Smoking

Update: A modified version of HB 1400 was signed into law. Act 740 prohibits the smoking of marijuana in any place where smoking tobacco is prohibited, in the presence of a child under age 14 or a pregnant woman, in a motor vehicle, and in a place where it could affect a person not authorized to use marijuana. It also bans anyone under age 21 from smoking medical marijuana. You can read the Act here.
Update: HB 1400 passed the House and Senate and is being transmitted to the Governor.
Update: Senate members voted 15 to 10 on March 6 to reject SB 357. Although the sponsor has indicated his intent to bring the issue up again, this Senate vote represents a significant victory for patients and voters.
Update: SB 357 was returned by the committee with recommendation that it Do Pass.
Update: House Bill 1400 has been filed and referred to committee.
Update: The Senate version of this bill, SB 357, has passed Committee and now awaits action on the Senate floor.
Legislative efforts are pending to amend the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law in a manner that would restrict qualified patients from smoking herbal preparations of the plant. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson indicates that he favors the plan. 

NORML opposes this effort to fundamentally change the law for the following reasons.

The inhalation of herbal cannabis is associated with the rapid onset of drug effect while the oral consumption of other preparations, such as oils, extracts, or pills, is associated with significantly delayed onset. For patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms, such as those suffering from severe nausea, seizures, or spasms, inhaling herbal cannabis is the fastest and most effective route of administration. Inhaling cannabis also permits patients to better regulate their dose.

Further, the effects of orally ingested cannabis are far less predictable in comparison to inhaled cannabis. This is because there exists far greater variability in the ways that marijuana is metabolized when it is consumed orally — meaning that patients may experience disparate and even dysphoric effects from dose to dose, even in instances where the dose is standardized. 

Finally, many alternative forms of cannabis delivery, like lozenges and tinctures, have not been subject to clinical testing for safety and efficacy. By contrast, hundreds of controlled trials exist regarding subjects’ inhalation of cannabis. For instance, an exhaustive report released by the National Academies of Sciences in January determined  that there is “conclusive” evidence that the use of whole-plant cannabis is “effective for the treatment of chronic pain.”

Please use the pre-written letter below to inform lawmakers and the Governor that these proposed 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.

North Dakota: Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Introduced

Update: House Bill 1340 was defeated on the House floor on Thursday, February 16, by a 54 to 35 vote.
Legislation is pending in the House to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and marijuana-related paraphernalia. 

House Bill 1340 amends existing law so that activities involving the possession of marijuana, marijuana-related paraphernalia, or the internal possession of marijuana are reduced from criminal misdemeanors to non-criminal infractions — punishable by a fine only, no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record.

Under existing law, marijuana possession of one ounce or less is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, while the possession of greater amounts are classified as a felony offense punishable by up to five years in prison. Possessing marijuana-related paraphernalia is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

New Hampshire: Legislators Approve Measures To Expand Patients’ Medical Marijuana Access

Update: Governor Sununu on June 28 signed legislation, HB 160, adding moderate to severe post-traumatic stress disorder and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome other as qualifying conditions. The new law takes effect August 27, 2017.
Update: Governor Chris Sununu signed HB 157 into law on June 16. The law adds “moderate to severe chronic pain” as a qualifying illness for medical cannabis. The new law takes effect in 60 days.
Update: Members of the House and Senate have approved a reconciled version of HB 160.
Update: HB 157 has been approved by both legislative chambers. 
Update: Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on May 4 passed HB 160 out of Committee.
Update: Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 20 passed HB 157 out of Committee.
Update: HB 157 and HB 160 were both referred to Senate committees.
Update: Bills to add chronic pain (HB 157) and PTSD (HB 160) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana have passed the House. They will now be referred to the Senate.
Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee voted to pass bills that would add chronic pain and PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The bills passed by 12-6 and 9-8 margins respectively. 
Multiple bills are pending before lawmakers 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.

Most recently, an exhaustive report released by the National Academies of Sciences determined that there is “conclusive” evidence that cannabis is “effective for the treatment of chronic pain.” Authors concluded, “In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids (constituents found organically in the marijuana plant) are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction of pain symptoms.”

Data reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and elsewhere has also determined that rates of opioid-related abuse and mortality decline in jurisdictions where patients have medical cannabis access.

Please use the pre-written letter below to urge your lawmakers to expand New Hampshire’s medical cannabis program.

Washington: Support Legislation to End Workplace Discrimination Against Medical Marijuana Consumers

Update: HB 1094 did not pass before the legislative crossover and likely will not be passed this year. 
Update: A public hearing for HB 1094 was held in the House on January 26.
Legislation is pending before the House, HB 1094, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours.

The bill amends existing law so that: “An employer  may not refuse to hire a qualifying patient, discharge or bar a qualifying patient from employment, or discriminate against a qualifying patient in compensation or in other terms and conditions of employment because of the qualifying patient’s: (i) Status as a qualifying patient; or (ii) Positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites.”

Passage of this act would not prohibit employers from sanctioning employees who are under the influence at work.

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.

It is time to end this discriminatory policy.

Those who consume other medications legally and responsibly while off the job do not suffer sanctions from their employers unless their work performance is adversely affected. Employers should treat those patients who consume cannabis legally while away from the workplace in a similar manner.

Please use the pre-written letter below to urge your elected officials to end workplace discrimination against marijuana patients. 

Hawaii: Oppose Bill To Impose Presumptive THC Impairment Standards

Update: SB 17 did not pass before the legislative crossover and likely will not be voted on this year. 
Update: SB 17 passed the first reading and was referred to committee.
Legislation is pending, SB 17, that seeks to establish a per se limit of “five nanograms or more per milliliter of active tetrahydrocannabinol” for anyone driving a motor vehicle. 

NORML opposes this proposal.

The presence of low levels of THC in blood is an inappropriate and inconsistent indicator of psychomotor impairment. No less than the United States Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees, stating, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.” 

It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Hawaii traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

Enter your information below to let your Senator know that you oppose this unscientific proposal.

Hawaii: Marijuana Legalization Measures Pending

Update: No legalization bill passed before the legislative crossover and likely will not be voted on this year. 
Multiple pieces of legislation are pending to legalize the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for those over the age of 21.
According to 2014 statewide poll, 66 percent of Hawaii voters support the taxation and regulation of marijuana. 
The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law.
Please enter your information below and urge your lawmakers to support ending the prohibition of marijuana.

New York: Legalization Measure Introduced to Legislature

Update: A newly formed campaign, Start Smart NY, was launched on June 12 to support legalization. Empire State NORML is a member of the coalition supporting it’s efforts. 
Update: The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, State Senate Bill S3040, has been referred to the Finance Committee.
Senator Liz Krueger (D) has introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which is making its way through the New York General Legislature.

The act legalizes possession and cultivation, and would establish a market for legal marijuana for adults 21 and older. 

The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.

Enter information below to contact your lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation. 

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