Texas: Request To Establish An Interim Committee To Study The Feasibility Of Medical Cannabis

House Concurrent Resolution (HRC) 149 – Legislation proposed by Texas House Representative Eddie Lucio, III requests that the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives create a joint interim committee to study the feasibility of medical cannabis in Texas. While an HRC is not required to hold an interim committee study, passing this Concurrent Resolution will ensure that the study takes place. 
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Texas patients deserve these same protections. 
Please be sure to thank Rep. Lucio III on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, visit Texas NORML to learn how you can help in your area.
Please enter your information below to contact your state lawmakers and urge them to support HCR 149.

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.

Delaware: Legislation To Add PTSD To Medical Marijuana Signed By Governor

Update: The Governor signed SB 24 on July 12. 
Update: On June 30 Senate Bill 24 passed and was sent to Governor for action.
Update: On June 22 Senate Bill 24 was reported out of Committee (Health & Human Development) in House with 1 Favorable, 7 On Its Merits.
Update: On June 1 Senate Bill 24 was referred to the House Health & Human Development Committee. 
Update: An amended version of SB 24 passed the Senate on May 18 and now heads to the House for consideration. Unfortunately, the bill no longer contains language to add anxiety as a qualifying condition. 
Senate Bill 24 has been introduced by Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry to expand the list of qualifying conditions to medical marijuana to include anxiety as well as make it easier for those suffering from PTSD to obtain their medicine. 
Enter your information below to send a pre-written letter to your state officials in support of SB 24.

New York: Senate Legislation Pending To Expand Patients’ Access to Medical Cannabis

Update: The 2017 legislative session came to a close with lawmakers taking no further action on SB 6092 and SB 6308.
Update: On May 11 both bills were referred to the Health Committee.
A pair of bills are pending in the Senate to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 6092 expands the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis access to include those with Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other debilitating diseases. It also removes arbitrary caps imposed on the amount of THC permitted in oral products. 

Senate Bill 6308 allows for additional cannabis providers to operate in the state in order to improve patients’ access.

Please use the prewritten letter below to express your support for these measures.

Rhode Island: Bill Establishing a Marijuana Legalization Study Committee Awaits Governor’s Signature

Update: Lawmakers have approved legislation establishing a 19-member special legislative commission to assess marijuana legalization and make recommendations. The purpose of the commission is “to conduct a comprehensive review and make recommendations regarding marijuana and the effects of its use on the residents of Colorado and Washington to the extent available, and to study the fiscal impact to those states; and thereafter the potential impact on Rhode Island of legalized recreational marijuana.”
The commission will consist of three members of the House of Representatives, three members of the Senate, one member from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the President of the Substance Use Mental Health Council of RI or a designee, a member from a pro-legalization organization, the Executive Director of the RI Medical Society or a designee, a member of a local chamber of commerce, the Director of the Department of Health or a designee, the President of the RI Police Chief’s Association or a designee, a designee of the RI Attorney General, a member representing the medical marijuana patients of Rhode Island, an educator in Rhode Island, a mental health professional, a criminal defense attorney, and the President of the RI AFL-CIO.
Several marijuana law reform advocacy groups opposed the measure because they believed it is simply an attempt by lawmakers to push back further debate regarding adult use marijuana legalization. 

The bill now awaits final approval from the Governor.
Update: Sponsors have announced plans to amend their legislation in a manner that would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, effective July 1, 2018. The amended legislation would also establish an advisory committee to issue a report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2018 with recommendations regarding how best to establish a system for taxing and regulating marijuana in Rhode Island. Sen. Miller said, “We are prepared to compromise in a significant way, but there must be progress on the issue this year. Our proposal balances the will of the majority of voters who want marijuana to be legal for adults while respecting colleagues who want to slow things down and get the regulations right.”
Update: Members of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced H. 5551 on May 17, but failed to call The Adult Use of Cannabis Act for a vote. The study bill now awaits action on the House floor while H. 5555 is likely dead for this session.
Update: H. 5551, to establish a study commission to examine marijuana legalization, is scheduled to be heard May 12.
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 the Governor to sign the legalization bill.

Tell Your Congressional Representative: Join the Cannabis Caucus

Update: Indicating to reporters that a federal crackdown is forthcoming, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he said. “States they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” 
Update: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against marijuana. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, and added that the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”
With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws. 

Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of adults throughout America, 93% of whom support medical marijuana (Quinnipiac, 2017) and 60 percent of whom endorse the outright legalization of recreational cannabis (Gallup, 2016). 

The leadership displayed by Representatives Rohrabacher, Blumenauer, Polis, and Young is a testament to this growing public consensus. The official establishment of this Caucus represents our growing, bipartisan support in Congress.

These House members represent constituents in four of the eight states that have enacted laws regulating cannabis for adult use. Twenty-one additional states have enacted comprehensive medical cannabis laws, and 15 additional states have enacted more limited medical cannabis laws. In total, over 40 US states have adopted laws rolling back cannabis prohibition at the state level, representing 95% of the U.S. House of Representatives and 88% of the Senate.  
Enter your information below to urge your member of Congress to join the Cannabis Caucus. 

Federal: Bipartisan Leaders Reintroduce the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act

Update: HR 2528 was referred to committee on June 18th.
Update: On May 18, Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced HR 2528, The Respect States and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2017 which would clarify Congressional intent on the issue but not be as impactful as Rep. Rohrabacher’s HR 975. 
Update: (2/27) Indicating to reporters that a federal crackdown is forthcoming, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he said. “States they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” 
Update: (2/23) White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against marijuana. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, and added that the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

Passage of this Act would halt federal officials from prosecuting individuals and businesses for violating the Controlled Substances Act in the 29 states that permit either the medical or adult use and distribution of marijuana. According to national polling, 71 percent of voters believe that the federal government should respect these laws and not interfere with them. 

With the recent confirmation of militant marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference. 

Please enter your information below to contact your House member and urge them to support this crucial pending legislation.

Federal: Protect Lawful Medical Marijuana Programs

Update #2: The House Appropriations Committee released its 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which determines the funding levels for numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Justice. Predictably, the bill does not include language — known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment — limiting the Justice Department from taking action against state-sanctioned medical cannabis producers, retailers, or consumers.
Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher released the following statement in reponse: “The policy championed by Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher that prevents the Department of Justice from interfering in the ability of states to implement legal medical marijuana laws (previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr”) has never been included in the base Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee Appropriations bill. Rather, in previous years, Congress has amended the base CJS bill to include these protections.
We are exactly where we thought we would be in the legislative process and look forward to amending the underlying bill once again this year to make sure medical marijuana programs, and the patients who rely on them, are protected. Voters in states across the country have acted to legalize medical marijuana. Congress should not act against the will of the people who elected us.”
Update #1: 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. 

Nevada: Bill to Amend Traffic Safety Laws Signed By Governor

Update: AB 135 was signed into law on May 23.
Legislation awaits action from Gov. Brian Sandoval to amend Nevada’s per se traffic safety laws for carboxy-THC.,

Assembly Bill 135 eliminates statutes criminalizing the operation of a motor vehicle if a driver has detectable levels of carboxy THC in his/her urine. Carboxy-THC is an non-psychoactive waste product of THC that may be present for days or even weeks post-abstinence. It’s presence in urine is not correlated with psychomotor impairment.

Unfortunately, however, AB 135 still maintains unscientific per se thresholds for THC (2ng/ml) and 11-hydroxy-THC (5ng/ml). NORML has previously lobbied against the imposition of these THC/blood limits in Nevada because these thresholds are not evidence based. 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.” 

While passage of AB 135 is a step in the right direction, further legislation will continue to be necessary in order to amend Nevada’s traffic safety laws in a manner that no longer inadvertently criminalize responsible adult marijuana consumers. 

New Jersey: Tell Governor Christie Stop Opposing Marijuana Legalization

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently made public statements calling the notion of regulating adult marijuana use “beyond stupidity.”

Yet, according to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll, nearly six in ten New Jersey adults support “legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over.” Similar percentages of voters through the country also endorse legalization.

That’s because the majority of Americans realize that the ongoing enforcement of marijuana prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts young people and communities of color. It makes no sense from a public health perspective, a fiscal perspective, or a moral perspective to perpetuate the prosecution and stigmatization of those adults who choose to responsibly consume a substance that is safer than either alcohol or tobacco. 

In truth, America’s real-world experiment with regulating marijuana has been a success. Thirty states, including New Jersey, now regulate the plant’s therapeutic use and eight states authorize its use and sale to all adults. These policy changes are not associated with increased marijuana use or access by adolescents or with adverse effects on traffic safety or in the workplace. Marijuana regulations are also associated with less opioid abuse and mortality. In jurisdictions where this retail market is taxed, revenue from marijuana sales has greatly exceeded initial expectations.

Help us educate the Governor and his staff to the facts on marijuana. Enter your information below to urge Gov. Christie to support legalization. 

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