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.

Bill Seeks to Reschedule Marijuana Under the CSA

Update: An additional bill which would reschedule marijuana to a Schedule III drug, HR 2020. 
Legislation is pending in the US House, HR 715, to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and so that cannabidiol (CBD) is excluded from the federal definition of cannabis.

Cannabidiol is a non-mood altering constituent in the marijuana plant that possesses a variety of therapeutic effects, particularly anti-seizure properties. Over a dozen states recognize by statute that CBD is safe and therapeutically effective.

Further, the cannabis plant’s schedule I classification has long been inconsistent with the available evidence. Most recently, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report acknowledging that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. This finding is incompatible with the plant’s Schedule I status, which opines that it possess “no accepted medical use in the United States.” Twenty-nine states now permit physicians to authorize marijuana therapy to qualified patients.

While simply rescheduling marijuana under federal law, rather than descheduling it entirely, will not end federal prohibition, it will bring about some needed changes in law. At a minimum, it would bring an end to the federal government’s longstanding intellectual dishonesty that marijuana ‘lacks accepted medical use.’ It would also likely permit banks and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and permit employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses. Rescheduling would also likely bring some level of relief to federal employees subject to random workplace drug testing for off-the-job cannabis consumption.

Other provisions in the measure seek to remove federal regulations restricting cannabis research and seek to limit federal interference in state-authorized medical marijuana programs.

For these reasons, we urge your support for HR 715 while also recognizing that ultimately cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. Passage of HR 715 is a first step in this process.

Kansas: Support Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Reform

Update: Members of the Committee on Federal and State Affairs decided on March 10 to move forward with substitute language which only permits physicians to recommend “non-intoxicating cannabinoid medicines.” Based on these changes, NORML is now of the belief that HB 2152 is a better alternative for patients.
Update: A hearing was held to debate and discuss SB 155 on February 20.
Legislation is pending before lawmakers, SB 155, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

SB 155 would permit qualified patients to grow their own medical marijuana or to obtain it from a licensed dispensary, while also educating physicians who seek to recommend cannabis therapy.

Kansas is one of fewer than a dozen US states that has taken no action to reform its medical marijuana laws. Please urge your House and Senate lawmakers to support these comprehensive legislation.

Additional information is available from
A separate, more narrow measure — SB 178 — is also pending. You can read the full text of the measure here.

New Hampshire: Marijuana Legalization Legislation Pending Before House Lawmakers

Update: HB 656 has been “retained in committee” and will not receive further consideration.
Legislation is making its way through the New Hampshire House, HB 656, to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use.
Members of the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety heard testimony regarding the bill on Wednesday, February 2, at 2pm. 

Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

Despite more than 70 years of federal marijuana prohibition, Americans’ consumption of and demand for cannabis is here to stay. It is time for state lawmakers to acknowledge this reality. It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and it is time for lawmakers to seriously consider common-sense regulations governing cannabis’ personal use by adults and licensing its production.

In addition to the legislation in the House, Senator Jeff Woodburn announced his plans to introduce a bill that includes a firm date to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in New Hampshire. Although a legalization bill has passed through the House in the past, the Senate has met stiff resistance and Woodburn’s powerful backing of a bill is a boost that New Hampshire will join the states who are already benefiting from legalization.

Enter your information below to contact your House Representative and urge them to support this legislation. 

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: 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.

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. 

Wyoming: Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Introduced

UPDATE: This bill has been defeated and a new bill has been introduced that is much narrower in scope. 

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. 

Contact the Buffalo Common Council to sponsor the BCA

The Buffalo Common Council has received and filed our legislation that WNY NORML has sponsored called the BCA or Buffalo Cannabis Act. This would make Buffalo police issue citations rather than make arrests for Cannabis Position. We have also requested that Buffalo be more included in the states Medical Cannabis Program.
Please enter your infomation below to email the Buffalo City Council to support this measure. 
To find out more, visit WNY NORML’s website and follow WNY NORML on Facebook. 

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