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. 

Texas: Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Legislation Introduced

Update: The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health approved HR 2107 on May 5 by a vote of 7-2. The bill will now be considered by the Calendars Committee to determine the date of the full House vote. 
Update: HB 2107 had a hearing on May 2 and after powerful targeted testimony, the number of cosponsors for the bill jumped from 5 to 75.
Update: A bipartisan House version of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas has just been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, titled HB 2107,
State Senator Jose Menendez has filed Senate Bill 269, currently making its way through committee, to protect qualified patients who consume cannabis and to provide for the state-licensed production and distribution of the plant.
SB 269 authorizes the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products to qualified patients. Patients would receive cannabis through a network of private dispensaries and operators, similar to pharmacies, regulated under “strict guidelines” by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The state would use existing infrastructure and build upon the registry already established under the Compassionate Use Act, or SB 339, a 2015 bill Sen. Menendez co-authored and helped pass that lets patients with intractable epilepsy receive low-THC cannabis oil.
 
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Texas patients deserve these same protections.
 
Please enter your info below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support this pending legislation. For more information please visit Texas NORML’s website or find your regional chapter here.

New York: Legislation To Add PTSD as a Qualifying Condition

Update: A. 7006 was approved by the Senate on June 20 by a vote of 50 to 13. The measure now awaits action from the Governor.
Update: Companion legislation, S. 5629 has passed the Senate Health Committee and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Update: A 7006 was referred to committee in the Senate.
Update: Governor Andrew Cuomo says that he is open to expanding the state’s medical cannabis program to include patients with PTSD.

Update: The New York Assembly passed A 7006 on May 2. The bill now awaits action by the Senate. 
Legislation is moving forward, A. 7006, to allow patients with post-traumatic stress eligible for medical cannabis therapy.
New York is one of the only states with a medical marijuana program that does not allow patients with PTSD access to medical cannabis.
Please use the pre-written letter below to urge your lawmakers to support this effort. 

Maine: Support Measure to Expedite Retail Cannabis Sales

Legislation is pending to expedite the retail sale of marijuana products to those over the age of 21.

LD 1448 and LD 1491 would permit licensed medical cannabis dispensaries the opportunity to “sell limited marijuana retail products to a person who is 21 years of age or older.”

A majority of voters in November approved an initiated measure to permit the possession, production, and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products. However, emergency legislation signed into law in January delays the implementation of regulations overseeing the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana until at least February 1, 2018.

Passage of these measures would allow dispensaries to engage in marijuana sales ahead of this date.

Please use the pre-written letter below to urge lawmakers to move forward with LD 1448/LD 1491.

Colorado: Patients May Use Medical Cannabis While Awaiting Trial

Legislation was signed into law that permits registered medical cannabis patients to legally use marijuana while on bond in a criminal case.

Senate Bill 17 states, “[T]he court shall not require as a condition of any bond that [s] person … with a valid registry identification card … abstain from the use of medical marijuana.” You can read the full text of the new law here.

Existing law permits qualified patients to engage in cannabis therapy while probation, but only in circumstances where a judge does not object to it. 

The new law takes effect on August 9, 2017.

Follow Colorado NORML, Denver NORML, and Southern Colorado NORML. 

California: Oppose Legislation To Ban Vaping In Public Housing

Update: The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee voted in favor of AB 62 by a vote of 7-0 on April 27 and now heads to the full Assembly. 
Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood, AB 62, would ban smoking and vaping of tobacco, cannabis, and other medicinal herbs in public housing. 
Cal NORML opposes the bill on the grounds that it bans cannabis as well as tobacco, making it impossible for medical cannabis patients to inhale their medicine legally. Unlike cannabis users, tobacco smokers are allowed to smoke openly in public, where use of cannabis is banned under Prop 64. There is no reason to think that cannabis poses the same second-hand exposure risks as tobacco.
Other opponents of AB 62 include the ACLU, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. They argue against the inclusion of electronic cigarettes for reasons including the increased the risk of eviction and therefore homelessness among public housing residents.
Federal rules already prohibit smoking in public housing, but do not include e-cigarettes. This is because there is no evidence that e-cigs pose a significant public health hazard, as they effectively eliminate harmful second-hand smoke toxins. 
Meanwhile, NORML continues to hear from seriously ill people thoughout the country who are being evicted for smoking or vaping medical cannabis. Californian patients deserve to be able to consume their medicine.
Enter your information below to send a message to your state lawmakers urging them to oppose AB 62. 

Federal: Remove Restrictions on CBD

Update: HR 2273 and S. 1008 were referred to committees in their respective chambers.
A bipartisan coalition of legislators has introduced HR 2273 to legalize the therapeutic use of cannabidiol (CBD).
Senate companion legislation, S. 1008, is also pending before lawmakers.

The bill amends the US Controlled Substances Act to exclude CBD and CBD-rich cannabis plants from the federal definition of marijuana. Under the present definition, all of the organic cannabinoids in the plant are classified as Schedule I controlled substances.

Cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and clinical studies have determined it to be safe and well-tolerated in human subjects. The director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow, acknowledges that CBD is “a safe drug with no addictive effects.” Many patients now utilize CBD, primarily for its anti-convulsant effects.

Seventeen states now acknowledge the therapeutic use of CBD by statute. However, because CBD products and high CBD-bearing remain illegal federally, patients typically lack a consistent, high-quality legal, in-state supply source for this medicine. 

Please use the pre-written letter below to urge lawmakers to take action on HR 2237.

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