Hawaii: Multiple Decriminalization Measures Pending

Update: No decriminalization bill passed before the legislative crossover and likely will not be voted on this year. 
Lawmakers in the House and Senate are once again considering multiple legislative bills to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults. 
According to an analysis of 2010 marijuana arrests data, Hawaii police make some 1,500 marijuana possession arrests annually. Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.  
Additionally, 77 percent of Hawaii residents believe jail time is inappropriate for marijuana possession. 
However, Gov. David Ige — a former proponent of decriminalizing marijuana — is now expressing reluctance to move forward with such a change.
Enter your information below to contact your elected officials, including the Governor, and urge them to support decriminalizing marijuana offenses.   

Rhode Island: Marijuana Legalization Measure Introduced

Update: H. 5551, to establish a study commission to examine marijuana legalization, is scheduled to be heard May 12.
Update: H. 5555 was heard on April 11 but was “held for futher study.”
Update: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s office says it is unlikely that the legislation would get a floor vote in the House. 
Update: The Senate version of The Adult Use of Cannabis Act was introduced on March 2. It is SB 420. (Seriously, it’s SB420.)
A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers has reintroduced marijuana legalization legislation in the House, H. 5555: The Adult Use of Cannabis Act

The bill will allow adults 21 and older to possess cannabis and will establish a framework for businesses to cultivate and distribute marijuana. While the language is similar to that of previous bills that have failed to come to a vote, lawmakers this year believe that Rhode Island is ready to catch up to its northeast neighbors.

A majority of Rhode Island residents, about 60 percent, support legalization and Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate Rhode Island, believes: “It’s time for Rhode Island to look very seriously at this issue and pass a bill. Otherwise, we risk falling behind those other states.” 

Enter your information below and urge your state Representative, Senator, and Governor to support the legalization bill.

Wyoming: Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Introduced

UPDATE: This bill has been defeated and a new bill has been introduced that is much narrower in scope. 
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Wyoming State Rep. Mark Baker has introduced HB 157 to decriminalize the possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana. 

Baker’s bill is more robust than previous year’s legislation and marks a shift in attitude among state lawmakers.

More than 70% of Wyoming residents support decriminalization. Currently under state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Wyoming should change its archaic laws and join the majority of the country in decriminalizing marijuana possession.  

Enter your information below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support this pending legislation. 

Arizona: Measures Introduced To Regulate Marijuana Retail Sales

Update: HB 2003 was not given consideration before the Arizona Legislative Crossover date therefore will not be voted on this year. 
Arizona Representative Mark Cardenas has introduced legislation to permit the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana for adults.

House Bill 2003 would regulate the commercial cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to adults over the age of 21. The measures also permit individuals to cultivate marijuana for their own personal use. 

Arizona’s penalties pertaining to the possession and/or sale of cannabis are among the toughest in the nation. Under present law, marijuana possession is classified as a felony, punishable by up to two years in jail. 

Arizona 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. For more information on legislative efforts in Arizona, please contact Arizona NORML here.

Enter your information below to contact your House representatives and urge them to support HB 2003.

Arizona: Measure introduced To Defelonize Minor Marijuana Offenses

Update: HB 2002 was not given consideration before the Arizona Legislative Crossover date therefore will not be voted on this year. 
Arizona Representative Mark Cardenas has introduced legislation, House Bill 2002, which is making its way through committee, to defelonize minor marijuana possession offenses.

Arizona’s penalties pertaining to the possession and/or sale of cannabis are among the toughest in the nation. Under present law, marijuana possession is classified as a felony, punishable by up to two years in jail. Annually, an estimated 20,000 Arizonans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws.

House Bill 2002 will reclassify minor marijuana possession offenses from a felony to a civil offense, punishable by a fine only — no arrest, no criminal prosecution, and no criminal record.

Enter your information below to contact your House representative and urge them to support HB 2002.

Arizona 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.

For more information on legislative efforts in Arizona, please contact Arizona NORML here.

Virginia: Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Introduced

Legislation is pending to eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession offenses.

Senate bill 1269 provides a civil penalty of no more than $100 for a first-time marijuana possession violation — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. 

Under current law, a first offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum 30-day jail sentence. Subsequent offenses are a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The bill further protects Virginians by ensuring that a driver’s license suspension can apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a minor.

The number of Virginians arrested for violating the state’s marijuana possession laws increased 76 percent between the years 2003 and 2014, at a time when arrests for similar violations were falling nationwide, according to an assessment of arrest data provided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virginia State Police.

Presently, Virginia police make over 22,000 annual marijuana possession arrests — one of the highest totals of any state in the nation. Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.
The number of African Americans arrested for possessing marijuana climbed from 4,991 in 2003 to 10,293 in 2014 – an increase of 106 percent, the report determined. In 2013, African Americans accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of possession arrests, but comprised only 20 percent of the state population.

The policy proposed by this bill is line with those of numerous other states, including Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, and Nebraska. Such a change will save taxpayers money and allow police and the courts to reprioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes. 

Enter your information below to contact your state lawmakers and urge them to support Senate Bill 1269. 

Stay up to date with this and other NORML activities by following Virginia NORML on Facebook and register for the Virginia 2017 Cannabis Conference and Lobby Day.

Virginia: Virginia Moves to Re-Approve Cannabis Oil Bill

Victory: Virgina Governor Terry McAuliffe signed SB 1027 into law on March 16.
Update: SB1027 has been passed unanimously by both the House (99-0) and Senate (38-0) and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law or vetoed. The Governor’s Action deadline is midnight on March 27.
Senator David Marsden has introduced a bill to re-approve a previously passed act that will regulate the instate production of cannabis oil for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. 

SB 1027 ensures that patients suffering from the debilitating condition will not have to break federal law to import cannabis oil from out of state.

The bill also allows pharmaceutical processors, after obtaining a license, to manufacture and distribute cannabis oil products. This arrangement further secures patients’ access to the treatment.  

Although more than a dozen states now explicitly exempt criminal prosecution for qualified patients who possess CBD extracts, to date only Florida and Missouri provide for in-state production of these products.

Enter your information below below to contact the Governor and urge them to support SB 1027.
Also follow Virginia NORML on Facebook and visit their website at www.vanorml.org

New Hampshire: Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Into Law

Update: Governor Chris Sununu signed HB 640, which amends possession penalties for up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana and up to five grams of hashish, into law on July 18. The new decriminalization law takes effect in 60 days.
Update: The House concurred with the amended Senate bill on June 1 and the bill will soon be transmitted to the Governor. 
Update: The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to approve the Senate’s amended version of HB 640 on May 23.
Update: Gov. Chris Sununu tweeted on May 11 that he “looks forward” to signing HB 640 into law.
Update: Members of the Senate on May 11 voted 17 to 6 in favor of HB 640. Because the Senate amended the bill’s language, it must return to the House for a concurrence vote. Once reconciled, the bill goes to the Governor.
Update: Governor Chris Sununu has reiterated his support for decriminalizing marijuana.
Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amended version of HB 640 on May 2. As amended, the measure eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana. The full Senate its anticipated to vote on the measure on May 11. 
Update: State Sen. Bradley is pushing for an amendment that would remove the decriminalization paragraph (and thus the whole point) from the bill.
Update: HB 640 had a Senate hearing April 11 but a vote was not taken. 
Update: Members of the full House approved HB 640 on March 8 by a vote of 318 to 36. The measure now awaits action from the Senate.
After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 may finally be the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized.

HB 640, sponsored by 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate.

In addition, new Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said during his campaign he would support decriminalizing marijuana.

New Hampshire is the only New England state that has not either decriminalized or legalized adult marijuana use. But this year opposition has melted away as New Futures, a substance abuse nonprofit and past opponent, announced they will not oppose the measure.

Please use the pre-written letter below to contact your state elected officials and urging them to support this legislative effort. 

Kentucky: Legislation to Establish a Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Program

Update: SB 57 did not pass before the legislative crossover and likely will not be voted on this year. 
Legislation filed by Senator Perry Clark of Louisville, SB 57, seeks to establish a statewide, comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Senate Bill 57, The Cannabis Compassion Act, establishes regulations overseeing the establishment of state-licensed dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients. It also permits patients to home cultivate their own supply of medical cannabis.

Senator Clark said: “Too many Kentuckians have had their lives stymied with criminal records as a result of nonviolent marijuana convictions. That is wrong. It is time to stop making criminals out of citizens due to outdated and ridiculous laws concerning cannabis.”

Under present state law, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 45 days in jail, a fine, and a criminal record.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Data from other states finds that the enactment of medical marijuana access is associated with lower rates of opioid abuse and mortality, and does not negatively impact workplace safety, teen use, or motor vehicle safety.

Kentucky patients deserve these same protections.

Enter your information below to contact your Senator and urge their support for this measure. 

Kentucky: Legislation Reintroduced to Legalize Marijuana in 2017

Update: SB 76 did not pass before the legislative crossover and likely will not be voted on this year. 
Legislation introduced by Senator Perry Clark of Louisville, Senate Bill 76, is making it’s way through Senate committees and seeks to legalize the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for those over the age of 21.

SB 76, the Cannabis Freedom Act, allows adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, to cultivate up to five cannabis plants, to store excess cannabis lawfully grown for personal use at the location where it was cultivated; and to transfer up to one ounce of cannabis to another person age 21 or older without remuneration.

Eight states, encompassing some 20 percent of the US population, have enacted similar adult use regulations. 

Enter your information below to contact your Senator and urge their support for this important measure. 

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