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. 

Delaware: Legalization Bill Tabled, Lawmakers Form Task Force

Update: The 2017 legislative session came to a close with lawmakers taking no further action on HB 110. However, legislators did approve a resolution establishing a task force to study marijuana legalization and make recommendations to the legislature by January 2018.
Please contact DE NORML to find out how you can help push reform in 2018. 
Update: Members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee voted 7 to 2 on May 10 to move HB 110 to the House floor. Because the measure seeks to amend criminal penalties, it requires a two-thirds majority from House members to move to the Senate for further consideration. The vote marks the first time that state lawmakers have ever approved legislation seeking to legalize and regulate the adult use marijuana market.
Update: Legislation, HB 110, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, was introduced on March 30.
Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry has introduced HB 110 to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana. The measure establishes a regulated commercial market for cannabis cultivation and retail sales, but does not permit unlicensed, home cultivation.

Senator Henry, the author of the state’s medical marijuana legislation said at a recent Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting, “Education is suffering. Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.” 

According to recent polling data compiled by the University of Delaware, sixty-one percent of state voters favor legalizing marijuana.

Enter your information below to contact your lawmakers and urge them to side with the majority of Delaware voters.

Delaware 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 is introduced and moves forward during legislative session. For more information on legislative efforts in Delaware, please contact Delaware NORML.

Federal: Protect Lawful Medical Marijuana Programs

Update: House and Senate lawmakers have signed off on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. The measure reauthorizes and updates the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, as well as a similarly worded amendment protecting state-sponsored industrial hemp programs. Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, at which time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire. Non-medical retail marijuana businesses operating in the eight states that regulate adult use sales are not protected by this act and still remain vulnerable to federal interference or prosecution.
Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” 

Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term spending package. This bill extends federal funding through September 30, 2017, at which time the measure — and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment — will expire.

According to recently released nationwide survey data, the majority of Americans are on our side. A whopping 94 percent support the medical use of marijuana. Perhaps most importantly, 71 percent of voters — including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

Please enter your information below to contact members of the incoming Congress and urge them to include these important patient protections as part of any future, long-term appropriations legislation. 

This amendment is strongly supported by both voters and lawmakers and ensures the safety of millions of patients. Congress must not turn its back on those millions of Americans who rely on these state-authorized programs for their health and wellness. 

Federal: Bipartisan Coalition Introduces The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016

A bipartisan coalition of House and Senate lawmakers have proposed legislation, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016, to expedite clinical investigations into the safety and efficacy of cannabis.

Passage of the measures — House Bill 5549 and Senate Bill 3077 — would expedite federal reviews of clinical protocols involving cannabis. It would also eliminate existing production limits for research grade cannabis and allow for investigators to access cannabis from sources other than NIDA’s University of Mississippi cultivation facility. It also mandates an FDA review of relevant cannabis studies to be performed within five years after the passage of the act.

Under present law, clinical investigations involving cannabis must meet approval from various federal agencies, including the DEA, the FDA, and the NIDA. Only cannabis provided by the NIDA may be used in clinical trials.

“Despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, federal policy is blocking science. It’s outrageous,” said co-sponsor, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon in a prepared statement. “We owe it to patients and their families to allow for the research physicians need to understand marijuana’s benefits and risks and determine proper use and dosage. The federal government should get out of the way to allow for this long overdue research.”

Please contact your members of the US House and Senate and urge their support for these important measures.

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