Georgia: Legislation Pending to Reduce Minor Marijuana Possession Offenses

Update: SB 105 failed to pass the Rules committee and will not be heard for further consideration.
Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday, February 27, to move forward with SB 105.
Legislation is pending in the Senate, SB 105, to reduce minor marijuana possession offenses.

The bill reduces penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine to no more than a $300 fine. 

“SB 105 fits squarely with Georgia’s criminal justice reform efforts,” the sponsor stated in a press release. “Georgia has made great strides, but there is still much room to improve in the way that we treat drug offenses. This bill does not impair public safety, but will save many Georgians from having their lives destroyed from a felony conviction. It is my sincere hope that SB 105 can receive bipartisan support and will become law in Georgia.”

Please use the pre-written letter below to urge your lawmakers to support this common sense sentencing reform effort.

Additional information on state reform efforts is available from Peachtree NORML here.

Minnesota: Marijuana Legalization Measures Introduced

HF 927, to permit the adult use, cultivation, production, and retail sale of marijuana has been introduced in the Minnesota House. SF 1320 is pending in the Senate.

Deputy Minority Leader, State Rep. Jon Applebaum said in support of his House bill, “The world is changing, and Minnesotans are rightfully developing different attitudes on marijuana. Other states’ successes, along with the failed prohibition attempts of others, have validated the need for a statewide conversation on legalizing the personal, recreational use of marijuana.”

“Ultimately, I envision a billion dollar ‘Made in Minnesota’ marijuana economy, where the products are grown by Minnesota farmers, distributed by Minnesota companies, and sold by Minnesota small business owners,” he added. “Ideally, all tax proceeds would be directed towards funding Minnesota’s public schools and would result in lower taxes for Minnesota families.”

Please urge your lawmakers to support this important legislative effort.

For more information about statewide marijuana law reform efforts, please follow Minnesota NORML on Facebook here.

Arizona: Governor Vetoes Legislation Permitting Commerce In Industrial Hemp

Update: Governor Doug Ducey vetoed the measure on May 22. He said that he did so because lawmakers failed to include adequate funding to make the proposed program operational. 

Update: House members approved the measure by a vote of 53 to 2 on May 9.
Update: House members on May 8 gave preliminary approval to a slightly amended version of SB 1337.
Update: Members of the House Standing Committee and the House Appropriations Committee both passed SB 1337 by votes of 7 to 1 and 12 to 1 respectively.
Update: SB 1337 passed in the Senate with a vote of 26-4 and is being transmitted to the House.
Update: Senate Bill 1337 was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 10 to zero vote, and by the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee by a 6 to 1 vote. 
Legislation is pending, SB 1337, to permit for the licensed production of industrial hemp.

The proposal redefines hemp as a legal agricultural product and finds, “[T]he development and use of industrial hemp can improve the economy.”

It adds, “The purpose of the [legislation] is to promote the economy and agriculture in this state by allowing the development and regulation of industrial hemp.”

Arizona is one of the only states that fails to recognize hemp as an agricultural commodity rather than as a controlled substance.

Please use the prewritten letter below to urge lawmakers to support this legislation.

Iowa: Governor Signs Measure Expanding CBD Access

Update: Governor Branstad signed HF 524 into law on May 12. You can add his statement here. HF 524 repeals and replaces the state’s more restrictive 2014 CBD exemption law, which was set to expire later this year.
Update: Governor Branstad said it is “likely” that he will sign HF 524 into law on April 24.
Update: In a last minute deal by Iowa state lawmakers, both chambers passed an amended version of HF 524 on the final day of the legislative session. The measure expands the state’s existing CBD exemption law, which was set to sunset this year, and expands it. Specifically, HF 524 permits patients with various qualifying conditions, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS and HIV, Crohn’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, to possess CBD with up to 3% THC. The bill also seeks to establish regulations for the manufacturing and dispensing of CBD products within the state.  The bill now goes to Governor Terry Branstad (R) for his signature or veto.
Update: SB 506 passed the Senate by a vote of 45-5 on April 17. This bill would recognize cannabis as medicine by moving it from Schedule I to Schedule II. The bill subsequently allows for the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, amnong others with medical cannabis.  It also establishes a medical advisory board to recommend additional uses, and allows for up to four manufacturers and 12 dispensaries in the state. Herbal cannabis and home cultivation would still be illegal. 
Update: Senate Study Bill 1190, labeled The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, was approved Wednesday morning, April 12 on a 3-0 subcommittee vote and it cleared Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said the bill could be approved by the full Senate as early as Monday, which would send the measure to the House for consideration.
Update: With only days to go in the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers have introduced Senate Study Bill 1190 to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program. Please use the pre-written letter below to urge swift action on this measure.
Update: Committee reported to recommend amendment and passage of House Study Bill 164.
Update: House Study Bill 132 is dead for this year’s session.
Update: House Study Bill 132 has passed out of the Public Safety Subcommittee and now awaits action by members of the full Committee.
Legislation is pending in the House, HF 199, to establish a statewide medical marijuana program. Under HF 199, qualified patients with intractable pain and other conditions would be able to obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities. Similar legislation is also pending in the Senate, SF 205. A third effort, led by Republicans, Senate Study Bill 1176 is also pending.
A more narrow version of this program is proposed by separate legislation, HF 198.
While the program proposed by the measures is a fairly narrow one, it is far superior to the state’s existing CBD-specific law, which only applies to patients with intractable epilepsy and fails to provide an in-state supply source for CBD-related medicine. (Separate legislation, House Study Bill 132 is now pending to amend this law so that CBD-dominant strains may be grown in state under a state license.) This law will sunset later this year unless extended by the legislature. House Study Bill 164 would extend the lifespan of this program indefinitely. 
Please use the prewritten letter below to urge your elected officials to support this effort.

Tennessee: Support Measure To Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalties

Update: SB 265 failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Update: HB 297 and HB 831 were taken off notice for cal. in Criminal Justice committee.
Update: HB 831 has been placed on cal. Criminal Justice committee for March 21.
Update: HB 297 has been placed on cal. Criminal Justice Committee for March 15.
Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 8 voted 6 to 3 to kill SB 265.
Update: SB 1116 has a hearing scheduled for March 28.
Several pieces of legislation are pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.
HB 831 and SB 1116 seek to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.
Separate legislation is pending in the House and Senate — SB 265 and HB 297 — to reduce penalties associated with the possession of one-eighth of marijuana (3.544 grams) to a $50 fine-only offense. However, under these bills, simple possession would still remain classified as a misdemeanor.
Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine. 
Please contact your elected officials and urge them to move forward with this effort to reduce marijuana possession penalties.

Vermont: Governor Vetoes Marijuana Depenalization Measure; Says He Remains Open To Working With Lawmakers This Summer

Update: Lawmakers have sent a revised depenalization bill to Gov. Scott for his consideration during a special legislative session. The bill would eliminate criminal and civil penalities regarding the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of two mature plants. The bill also imposes civil fines for marijuana use while in a vehicle. 
Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday, May 24, vetoed legislation, Senate Bill 22 that sought to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the adult use and possession of marijuana. 
The Governor said that he did not support the legislation as written, but that remains open to working with lawmakers over the summer on ways to amend the state’s cannabis policies. Make sure that he does so. 
Please contact the Governor, as well as your members of the House and Senate, in support of a legislative compromise that will free responsible Vermont adults from the threat of criminal arrest or civil fines for possessing personal use amounts of marijuana.
Fifty-seven percent of Vermont voters support “allowing adults who are 21 or older to use, possess, and securely grow marijuana.” Please continue to urge lawmakers to implement the will of the people.

Wyoming: Oppose Senate Changes To Marijuana Penalty Reform Bill

Update: Lawmakers failed to reconcile the House and Senate versions of HB 197, killing it for this legislative session.
Update: The Senate has passed the amended version of HB 197 by a 20 to 10 vote. The measure now must be reconciled with the House.
Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved HB 197, however the scope of the bill has been narrowed enough that NORML now opposes this legislation. HB 197 now only covers the possession of marijuana infused products weighing up to three grams. Due to the changes, Wyoming NORML has also withdrawn support of the bill.  Frank Latta, Executive Director of WY NORML, stated, “A lot of us worked for several years to reach a compromise we could live with,” but that the Senate changes are too much to tolerate.
Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have proposed amendments to HB 197 that largely gut the bill.
As passed by the House by a 56 to 2 vote, HB 197 reduces existing marijuana possession penalties from up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine to no more than 20 days in jail and a $200 fine for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders would face stricter penalties under the proposal.
But recently approved changes by members of the Senate eliminate these penalty reductions.
House and Senate leaders must now reconcile the two versions of the bill.
NORML urges you to tell your lawmakers to reject the Senate changes and to approve HB 197 in the manner in which it was passed by the members of the House.
For more information about legislative efforts in the state, please visit Wyoming NORML

North Dakota: Governor Signs Senate Measure Amending Voter-Initiated Medical Marijuana Law

Update: Governor Doug Burgum signed SB 2344 on April 18. You can read the full text of the measure here.
Update: Members of the House and Senate have reconciled SB 2344. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Doug Burgum, who intends to sign it into law. The measure allows only two state-licensed manufacturing facilities and up to eight dispensaries statewide (These facilities are anticipated to be operational within 12 to 18 months after law’s passage). It removes provisions in Measure 5 permitting patients who do not reside near a dispensary to cultivate their own cannabis. Amendments that sought to prohibit smoking herbal formulations of cannabis were not included in the final version of SB 2344, although qualified patients under the age of 19 will now be mandated only to consume cannabis in ways other than smoking.
Update: The bill passed through the Senate with the required majority. It will now go through a conference committee of three senators and three house members to negotiate the final details.
Update: SB 2344 cleared a House committee on April 3 with additional changes including the removal of the prohibition of herbal cannabis and a reduction of the annual patient application fee from $200 to $50. The bill will now go to a vote in the full House and requires a 2/3rds majority due to the fact that it changes a voter-passed initative. If passed in the House, the two versions of the bill will have to go through reconciliation.
Update: SB 2344 passed the Senate by a vote of 40-6, exceeding the two-thirds majority needed for amending the ballot measure. The bill now awaits further action by the House.
Update: Members of the Senate Human Services Committee have recommended passage of Senate Bill 2344. In response to voters’ concerns, they have amended the language so that the definition of ‘usable marijuana’ includes herbal forms of the plant but only in cases where such a formulation has been explicitly recommended by a physician. The amended language also removes provisions that would have allowed patients to petition the state to expand the list of qualifying conditions. NORML believes that these changes, as well as many others, undermine voters’ intent. The North Dakota Democratic Party has also raised various concerns regarding SB 2344. The measure now awaits action by the full Senate.
Senate legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2344, to significantly rewrite the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act.

Sixty-four percent of voters approved the law on Election Day. Lawmakers should respect the public’s will and implement this law as initiated.
Unfortunately, SB 2344 makes several unacceptable changes to the Act. Specifically, it eliminates provisions permitting specific patients the option to cultivate their own medicine, and reduces the quantity of medicine that patients may legally obtain. It also caps the number of medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries to no more than four and eight, respectively.

Separate legislation, SB 2514, to delay the implementation of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act to a date to be chosen by the legislature has already been signed into law.

Lawmakers’ decision to seemingly disregard the will of their constituents is both arrogant and troubling. Whether or not one supports marijuana law reform, one should find legislators’ attitudes and actions an affront to the democratic process. Americans have been told time and time again that ‘elections have consequences.’  There should not be a ‘marijuana exception’ to this longstanding principle.

Voters made their opinions on marijuana policy clear at the ballot box in November. Lawmakers in these jurisdictions have a responsibility to abide by the will of the people and to do so in a timely manner. Please urge them to do so by rejecting SB 2344.

South Dakota: Legislation Pending to Eliminate Internal Possession Offenses

Update: SB 129 was killed in the Senate on Tuesday February 21.
More than a dozen lawmakers are backing legislation, Senate Bill 129, to eradicate the state’s marijuana possession by ingestion law.

Under the law, one can be charged with a felony drug offense if their past use of a marijuana shows up on a blood or urine test. In the case of cannabis, byproducts of THC may be detectable for several weeks after one has ceased using it.

The measure does not amend penalties for the physical possession of marijuana.

The 2001 law was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2004.

South Dakota is one of the only states that criminalizes the internal possession of marijuana or other controlled substances, and it is the only state that defines the activity as a felony offense.
For more information, visit South Dakota NORML to learn what you can do in your area. 

Please use the pre-written letter below to urge lawmakers to vote ‘yes’ on SB 129.

Tennessee: Legislation Seeks to Nullify Citywide Decriminalization Ordinances

Update: HB 173 was signed into law by the Governor on April 12.

Update: Members of the Senate passed HB 173 on March 28. It now goes to the Governor who has indicated that he will likely “defer to the will of the Legislature” and not veto the bill.

Update: Members of the House have passed HB 173 by a vote of 65 to 28 March 23. The measure now awaits action from the Senate.

Update: HB 173 has been passed out of subcommittee and now awaits action by the full House Criminal Justice Committee.

Legislation is before the Governor, HB 173, to nullify the enactment of citywide marijuana decriminalization ordinances and to prevent additional municipalities from enacting similar marijuana reform measures.

The intent of the bill is to override the passage of recent citywide measures in Nashville and Memphis — both of which passed local ordinances last year making minor marijuana possession offenses a non-arrestable citation. 

By contrast, state law classifies marijuana possession as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.

Please urge Gov. Bill Haslam to veto this measure and to allow cities the flexibility to decide their own marijuana policies. 

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