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Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/30/18

2 hours 18 min ago

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

I first want to bring your attention to a key development at the federal level. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he will introduce a bill to legalize industrial hemp next month. The legislation will not only change hemp’s status under the law but will also set aside federal funds to support its cultivation.

At the state level, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has made dramatic changes to the state’s regulatory program. Changes include: reduced cost of the medical marijuana registry for patients by 50%; reduced cost for veterans, seniors, and those on disability by 90%; expanded the qualifying conditions list to include Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, and other conditions; and other much needed technical fixes.

Also at the state level, Iowa regulators offered medical cannabis dispensary licenses to five businesses, and North Dakota activists say they’ve collected more than half the signatures they need to qualify a marijuana legalization ballot measure.

At a more local level, New Orleans, Louisiana marijuana arrests are dramatically down following the enactment of an ordinance that allows police to issues summonses for low-level possession.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Connecticut

The Connecticut Legislature is considering several bills to to regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana to adults. HB 5111 and HB 5112 are still pending in the Joint Committee on General Law, and HB 5458 died in a House committee last week.

Update: The General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held a hearing on 3/28 on another proposal, HB 5394, to develop a plan to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana in the state and to provide for substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs and measures.

CT resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization efforts

South Carolina

Legislation is pending, H 3521 and S 212: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions. If passed, the bill would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

Update: The Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved S 212 on 3/29 on an 8-6 vote, after it was approved by the subcommittee on a 3-2 vote last week. H3521 was tabled after the House Medical, Military, and Public and Municipal Affairs Committee held a hearing, but the Chairman didn’t put the bill on the agenda.

SC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

Tennessee

Medical Extracts
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program in Tennessee.
The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749/SB 1710 was significantly amended at the request of the sponsor. As amended, the measure depenalizes the possession of CBD extracts by qualified patients, and also provides protections to those from out of state. It does not provide an in-state regulated supply system for CBD products. Members of the House Criminal Justice Committee approved the amended bill on 3/28.

HB 1749 will be heard by the Health Committee on 4/3, and SB 1710 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee also on 4/3.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD extracts

Medical Cannabis
Legislation is pending, HB 830 and SB 1119, to establish a medical marijuana access program.

The bill would provide qualified patients with access to cannabis therapy through licensed dispensaries or pharmacies, under the supervision of a certified practitioner. The bill would also prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis access

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, S2426 and A3740, to further expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

The measures provide doctors the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to any patient for whom they believe it will provide a benefit.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, SB 388, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis. Currently there are only four licensed dispensaries operating across the state to serve an estimated 3,500 patients.

Update: SB 388 passed the Senate on 3/22, and now awaits action in the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

 

Additional Actions to Take

California

Legislation has been introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg [D], SB 930, to assist financial institutions to safely conduct transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 at 1:30pm in Room 112.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, HB 2729, to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. It already passed the House earlier this month.

Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status.

Update: HB 2729 will be heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday 3/29 at 10:50am in Conference room 211.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

Oklahoma

HB 2913 is pending: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes. It already passed the House unanimously earlier this month.

Update: HB 2913 was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee on 3/27, and is now awaiting action from the Appropriations Committee.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of a hemp pilot program

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It was already approved by the Senate last month.

Update: SB 263 was approved by the House on 3/28 by a 123-1 vote. It now awaits action from the Governor.

KS resident? Click here to email your Governor in support of hemp research

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

[NORML France] Pétition – Cannabis : L’amende ne changera rien, il faut réguler d’urgence!

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 11:31

Le 17 mars 2018, NORML France a lancé une pétition à l’attention d’Emmanuel MACRON, Président de la République, et de Nicole BELLOUBET, Garde des Sceaux, Ministre de la Justice. Une semaine plus tard, ce texte a déjà recueilli près de 12.000 signatures. Une première en France pour une pétition portant sur le sujet du cannabis et de ses différents usages. 

Nous devons désormais promouvoir ce texte au-delà de nos cercles d’influence, en le partageant avec le plus grand nombre de nos contacts. À l’heure où de nombreux pays avancent sur des régulations plus compréhensives quant au cannabis, le gouvernement français propose en catimini une proposition d’amende forfaitaire délictuelle qui ne résoudra aucun des problèmes liés aux mésusages et aux trafics de ce produit.

À la vue des nombreux dérèglements générés par la prohibition du cannabis depuis plus de 45 ans, la régulation de la filière cannabicole dans son ensemble devient par dessus tout primordiale pour aller vers une société plus encline au respect des droits humains fondamentaux à travers l’accès à la santé, à l’emploi et à la justice sociale.

Nos revendications sont plus que jamais  légitimes, c’est pourquoi tous les citoyens français doivent se sentir concernés par cette question. La guerre aux drogues s’est transformé en une guerre aux personnes, à la santé mais aussi et surtout à la réalité scientifique.

Unis et nombreux, nos voix ne pourront être qu’entendues et respectées, c’est pourquoi nous vous demandons de signer cette pétition tout en la diffusant le plus largement possible.

 

Le texte de notre pétition dans son intégralité :

A l’attention de d’Emmanuel MACRON, Président de la République, et de Nicole BELLOUBET, Garde des Sceaux, ministre de la Justice.

Le gouvernement a tranché : Pour l’usage de cannabis, tous les citoyens devront s’acquitter d’une amende forfaitaire délictuelle fixée à 300€. S’ils ne paient pas sous quarante jours, la somme est doublée. S’ils ont déjà été condamnés pour consommation, c’est le passage devant le juge assuré.

Monsieur le Président, vous avez été élu sur une promesse de renouveau. En septembre 2016, vous disiez n’être pas contre la légalisation, être prêt à en parler et à en débattre. Nous sommes en mars 2018, le débat n’a jamais eu lieu, et la proposition finale du gouvernement n’est qu’un vulgaire paragraphe, caché dans 82 pages de texte, quelque part entre le statut du Parquet national terroriste et la législation sur les divorces.

Le projet de loi que vous défendez est une commande politique qui continue de marginaliser les plus pauvres, de persécuter les minorités et d’affaiblir les plus faibles.

A dire vrai, il n’y a qu’en France que le sujet pose encore problème. La Norvège dépénalise, le Portugal y est depuis plus de 15 ans, l’Allemagne y réfléchit, le Royaume-Uni infléchit ses positions, la Suisse aussi. A deux heures de Paris, tout le monde peut aujourd’hui se procurer du cannabis légalement.

Aujourd’hui, les consommateurs sont déjà suffisamment incriminés. Certains parlent de “dépénalisation de fait”. C’est faux. La répression des drogues n’a jamais été aussi forte. En 2016, un usager régulier sur cinq a été interpellé. Lorsqu’il y a 220 000 interpellations chaque année, que la réponse pénale est systématique, on ne peut pas dire qu’il y a dépénalisation.

Certes, une partie non négligeable de ces interpellations se solde par de “simples” rappels à la loi. Mais comment en vouloir à un juge réaliste qui constate qu’un citoyen ne fait de mal à personne – pas même à lui-même, en vaporisant son cannabis ? La loi qui incrimine l’usage n’est pas nécessaire, la peine est disproportionnée.

Pourtant le gouvernement a décidé de punir plus. Cette amende va creuser les inégalités : Les plus aisés pourront payer pour consommer alors que les plus pauvres continueront d’être traînés devant la justice. Certains pensent qu’il s’agit d’une simple contravention, que nenni, l’usage reste un délit.

Dans le même temps, rien n’est prévu pour la réduction des risques, qui devrait être la priorité absolue du gouvernement en la matière. Aucune mesure n’est prise pour régler les vrais problèmes: ceux de la consommation des mineurs, des consommations problématiques, de la difficulté d’accès à un produit sain, de la lutte contre les trafics. Dès lors, que vaut cette proposition qui ne résout rien ?

Nous pensons que seule une modification profonde de la loi pourra vraiment changer les choses. Dès lors que l’interdit pénal demeure, les mêmes causes produisant les mêmes conséquences, le système ne changera pas et l’échec du système répressif sera de nouveau constaté.

Que dire alors de ce cercle vertueux qui s’installe partout dans le Monde ? Il faut être aveugle pour ne pas remarquer que les pays ayant adoptés des lois plus réalistes et justes sur le cannabis, connaissent aujourd’hui bénéfices économiques, réduction des consommations, augmentation de la prévention, de meilleure lutte contre les addictions.

Tous les modèles ne sont pas à suivre, il y a bien des limites dans chaque Etat. Mais il y a deux dénominateurs communs : Des centaines de milliers d’emplois créés et une réappropriation du chanvre par la population. Partout où il était hier la propriété de quelques riches trafiquants, aujourd’hui, ce sont des millions de consommateurs à travers le monde qui profitent pour leurs impôts comme pour leur santé d’un produit plus sain, moins cher, et mieux encadré.

Nous ne voulons plus d’une législation qui incrimine. Un débat national sur le sujet est aujourd’hui nécessaire. Il est temps que la question de la dépénalisation et de la régulation soit posée.

Monsieur le Président, nous sommes prêts au changement. 

Governor Murphy Of New Jersey Expands Medical Marijuana Program

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 14:28

In his ongoing effort to expand the Garden State’s medical marijuana program to be more patient-oriented, Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) has made dramatic changes to the state’s regulatory program.

Changes include: reduced cost of the medical marijuana registry for patients by 50%; reduced cost for veterans, seniors, and those on disability by 90%; expanded the qualifying conditions list to include Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, and other conditions; and other much needed technical fixes.

These changes have been long advocated for by advocates in New Jersey, including South Jersey NORML leader, Temple University Professor, and Philly.com contributor Chris Goldstein.

Click here to tweet at Gov. Murphy and thank him for his efforts.

New Jersey resident? Visit http://www.normlnj.org/ and get plugged into the Facebook organizing group by clicking here.

Join us this summer for the 2018 NORML Conference

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:05

NORML is pleased to formally announce the dates for our 2018 National NORML Conference and Lobby Day. The conference will run from July 22nd – 24th in Washington, DC at the Capital Hilton. This year, we are excited to add an additional day of activities in addition to our traditional programming. Click here to register now!

July 22nd: NORML Activist Strategy Summit

For 2018, we’ve going to do a deep dive into grassroots organizing with the NORML Activist Strategy Summit. Attendees will be able to choose from a number of important areas of interest and engage in free-flowing, peer to peer strategizing on issues including running an effective chapter, communications strategy, social media and online activism, and more. Each topic area will be moderated by outstanding NORML activists from across the country paired with a member of the National staff and provide an outlet for individuals to share stories based on their advocacy experiences, exchange tips for best practices, and come up with new concepts to put into play to help push us closer to the end of prohibition.

Topics include: Organizing political candidate forums, “big organizing” for lobby days, personal narrative development, and more.

July 23rd: NORML Conference & Benefit Party

On Monday, July 23rd we will host our formal conference programming. There will be panels, debates, and individual speakers covering a wide range of topics including: marijuana and its impact on the opioid crisis, how to engage in local reform efforts, NORML’s role in the 2018 midterms, marijuana reform as a social justice issue, and updates current 2018 ballot initiative efforts.

In the evening, attendees will gather for a NORML benefit party to enjoy live entertainment and networking.

July 24th: Congressional Lobby Day

For the final day, NORML supporters will once again descend upon Congress to advocate for federal reforms. The reason we chose to hold the conference and lobby day at this point in the calendar was because this week represents the final week of legislative session before lawmakers go home for the August recess when they will be explaining to voters why they should be reelected.

Last year, we had activists from 24 different states attend over 150 scheduled meetings with Congressional offices and we aim to exceed that this year, with your help!

REGISTER NOW TO RESERVE YOUR PLACE AT THIS IMPORTANT EVENT

We are at a critical time for our nationwide movement to end marijuana prohibition. Join citizens from all across the country to learn new strategies, hear about the latest scientific and political advancements in the reform movement, and meet in person with your elected officials and their offices to advocate for legalization. With over 60 percent of the American people in support of ending prohibition and three-quarters of voters supporting the states that have done so, the time to act is now.

Can’t wait to see all of you this summer!

The NORML Team

P.S. Can’t make it in July? Our efforts are supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10, or $20 a month to help us keep going?

Michigan NORML Releases Candidate Questionnaire

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 23:00

Michigan NORML is pleased to announce the launch of our 2018 Candidate Questionnaire. The survey asks nine questions relating to cannabis and provides an additional space for candidates to make a personal statement on this issue. The results are posted on our website and will be utilized by our visitors to inform them about each candidate’s views on cannabis. All candidates that respond will be featured on our Candidate Profiles page with their complete response and links to their websites.

The format asks yes or no questions but provides space for candidates to elaborate on their answers.

We asked tough questions and frankly, a simple yes or no seemed inadequate. We want candidates to participate, but we felt the “gotcha” yes or no format hindered them from doing so. We believe the written option enables candidates to articulate the nuances of their positions and that seemed fair to them and our visitors.”

Michigan NORML is a non-partisan organization and we welcome candidates regardless of party affiliation, seeking any office from Township Trustee to Governor, to give us an honest report of your views toward cannabis. This tool was created to highlight individuals, not parties, and the only mention we make of party is on our main profile page where each candidate is listed.

Part of our mission and education here is no better way to educate than to ask candidates directly and broadcast their unfiltered responses directly to the public.”

Another response just came in… I have to split.

Brad Forrester is the Michigan NORML Director of Social Media. You can visit their website at https://minorml.org/ and follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Make a contribution to support their efforts by clicking here. 

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/23/18

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 15:09

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

I first want to bring your attention to a key development at the federal level. As a part of the newly proposed appropriations package known as an omnibus bill, a spending restriction upon the Department of Justice from prosecuting state-legal medical marijuana programs will remain in place through the end of September. Known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, it explicitly states that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

At the state level, lawmakers in Colorado have formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus to address issues such as social consumption, product testing, and the use of medical cannabis on public campuses. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill legalizing CBD sales into law. And Ohio regulators started accepting applications from physicians who want to be certified to recommend medical cannabis. Sales are expected to begin this fall.

Also at the state level, legalization bills died in committees in Connecticut and New Hampshire, as did a Maryland bill to let the voters decide on legalization.

At a more local level, voters in Cook County, Illinois — the nation’s second-most-populous county — overwhelmingly approved a marijuana legalization ballot measure. And Denver, Colorado is spending $1.2 million in marijuana tax revenue to repave roads.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Maryland

SB 127 would expand the state’s decriminalization law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense. Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Update: SB 127 was approved by the Senate on 3/19 by a 36-11 vote. Amendments approved by the Senate includes a provision “prohibiting a driver of a motor vehicle from smoking or consuming marijuana in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a highway; prohibiting an occupant of a motor vehicle from smoking marijuana in the passenger area of the motor vehicle on a highway.”

SB 127 will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/3 at 1pm.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an expanded decriminalization law

Tennessee

Medical Marijuana
Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller have introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391 seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters with regard to the legalization of medical marijuana.

If passed, these bills would place the following advisory question on the November 2018 ballot: Should the Tennessee legislature approve the use of medical marijuana?

Update: SB 2320 was put on the calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee for 3/27/18, and HB 2391 was put on the Local Government subcommittee calendar for 3/28/18.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters decide

Medical Marijuana Extracts
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/28. The committee has amended the bill significantly to require patients seeking to use medical cannabis to obtain a prescription from a doctor. Because marijuana is categorized as a schedule I controlled substance, it remains unlikely that many physicians would ‘prescribe’ it, even if this legislation was signed into law. Therefore, the proposal’s language ought to be amended to read ‘recommend’ rather than prescribe.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of amending this bill

Arizona

Legislation is pending, HB 2064, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. It already passed the House earlier this month.

The bill was originally intended only to ban dispensaries from selling edibles in packaging that could be appealing to children, but an amendment to the bill would also add opioid use disorder to the list of medical conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana.

Update: HB 2064 was approved by the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee on 3/13, and now awaits action from the Rules Committee.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of adding opioid abuse to the qualifying conditions list

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 282, to allow for the possession and retail sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products containing zero percent THC. It was already approved by the Senate unanimously last month.

While such products are often used in other states for therapeutic purposes, under this proposed legislation, Kansas citizens would not need to be a part of a patient registry or be diagnosed with a certain qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products.

Update: SB 282 was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 3/16.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement. It was already approved by the House last month.

If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.

Update: HB 1477 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/27 at 9:45am in SH room 100.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

Alaska

Senator Tom Begich has introduced legislation, SB 184, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

Update: SB 184 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/28 at 1:30 pm in BELTZ 105 (TS Bldg).

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past convictions

 

Additional Actions to Take

Arizona

Republican State Senator Sonny Borrelli has introduced Senate Bill 1420, which seeks to enhance quality testing practices for medical marijuana products. If passed, this bill would improve product testing procedures and requirements, leading to an increase in product quality for patients. After passing the Senate last month, it was heard and passed by the House Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee last week.

Update: SB 1420 was heard and then approved by the House Appropriations Committee on 3/21.

AZ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of better testing practices

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It was already passed by the Senate last month, and heard by the House Committee on Agriculture last week.

Update: SB 263 was approved by the House Committee on Agriculture on 3/20. A vote by the full House is expected in the upcoming weeks.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

Oklahoma

Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens has introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

Update: HB 2913 passed the House by a 92-0 vote on earlier this month, and now awaits action in the Senate Appropriations committee.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

New Federal Spending Bill Includes Medical Marijuana Protections

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 23:20

Update: The omnibus passed the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Update #2: The omnibus passed the Senate and was signed into law on Friday, 3/23/18.

As part of the newly proposed appropriations package known as an omnibus bill, a spending restriction upon the Department of Justice from prosecuting state-legal medical marijuana programs will remain in place through the end of September.

Known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, it explicitly states that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

The amendment has been in place since 2014, as part of annual spending bills. Because the provision was initially approved as a budgetary amendment, it must be explicitly re-authorized by Congress as part of either a continuing resolution or a new fiscal year appropriations bill in order to maintain in effect.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants nothing more than to see these protections go away. In a letter he sent to Congressional leadership last year, he wrote: “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

In the past month, NORML has worked with Representatives Rohrabacher and Blumenauer in recruiting 60 additional members of Congress to co-sign a letter of their own to Congressional leadership, which states, “We respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state’s medical marijuana laws. We believe such a policy is not only consistent with the wishes of a bipartisan majority of the members of the House, but also with the wishes of the American people.”

Last year, the language was initially included as part of a Senate appropriations bill thanks to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) yet was absent from the House’s funding proposal because House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) refused to allow House members to vote on it. As a result, it was left to House and Senate leadership to ultimately decide on the amendment’s fate when the two chambers’ appropriations bills were reconciled.

In the past two days as the negotiations reached their peak, over 10,000 members of NORML contacted their federal officials to urge them to maintain these protections.

Additional language was stripped from the Senate version of the bill, known as the Veterans Equal Access amendment. Originally passed last year in the Senate appropriations committee by a vote of 24-7, Republican Congressional leadership thought it prudent to deny American military veterans the ability to participate in state-lawful medical marijuana programs through their VA doctors.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, namesake on the amendment and the co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus said “While I’m glad that our medical marijuana protections are included, there is nothing to celebrate since Congress only maintained the status quo. These protections have been law since 2014. This matter should be settled once and for all. Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans, across every party, strongly favor the right to use medical marijuana.”

He continued, “Instead, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doubling down on the failed War on Drugs and Republican leadership in Congress—led by Chairman Pete Sessions—is stonewalling. They’re ignoring the will of the American people by blocking protections for state adult-use laws and cannabis banking. They even refused our veterans access to lifesaving medicine.

The fate of this spending bill has yet to be made clear but is deemed a “must pass” piece of legislation as the federal government is set to shut down on March 23rd at midnight if action is not taken.

We will keep you posted as this story develops.

Study: Traffic Fatalities Have Not Increased As A Consequence Of Legalization

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 19:14

The enactment of adult use marijuana regulation in Colorado and Washington is not independently linked to an increase in traffic fatalities, according to a study published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators at the University of Oregon compared traffic accident outcomes in Colorado and Washington following legalization to other states with similar pre-legalization economic and traffic trends. They reported, “We find that states that legalized marijuana have not experienced significantly different rates of marijuana- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to their synthetic controls.”

Authors concluded, “In summary, the similar trajectory of traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado relative to their synthetic control counterparts yield little evidence that the total rate of traffic fatalities has increased significantly as a consequence of recreational marijuana legalization.”

The study’s findings are similar to those of a 2017 study published in The American Journal of Public Health which reported, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

A 2016 study reported that the enactment of medical cannabis legislation is associated with an immediate decline in traffic fatalities among younger drivers.

Full text of the study, “Early evidence on recreational marijuana legalization and traffic fatalities” is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research. NORML’s fact-sheets on cannabis, psychomotor performance, and accident risk is online here.

Don’t Let Congress Roll Back Marijuana Protections

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 14:49

One development in our federal government that got a bit lost in the flurry of other headlines this week is that House and Senate leaders are putting the last minute touches on an omnibus appropriations package that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

Something that many in the marijuana policy space have grown to take for granted is the continuation of a rider that was part of last year’s package known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which strips away funding from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the rest of the Department of Justice to prosecute state-lawful medical marijuana programs.

Tell your federal officials to maintain this common sense protection for the 30 state medical marijuana programs and the 2,000,000 plus registered patients nationwide.

AG Sessions wants nothing more than to see these protections go away. In a letter he sent to Congressional leadership last year, he wrote: “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”

In the past month, NORML has worked with Representatives Rohrabacher and Blumenauer in recruiting 60 additional members of Congress to cosign a letter of their own to Congressional leadership, which states, “We respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state’s medical marijuana laws. We believe such a policy is not only consistent with the wishes of a bipartisan majority of the members of the House, but also with the wishes of the American people.”

Given the immense dysfunction in Washington, it is absolutely crucial that Congress not give AG Sessions another inch in his powers to roll back our progress. Further, with ballot initiatives expected in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah later this year, we cannot give our opponents another reason to sow doubt. Send a message now to maintain these protections this week in order to ensure that we’re well positioned to win further victories in the days and weeks to come.

New Jersey Governor Doubles Down on Marijuana Legalization

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 16:23

During a budget address on Tuesday, March 13th, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy doubled down on his commitment to legalize marijuana in the Garden State this year.

A budget overview document released in tandem with his address states that “this Administration plans to legalize adult-use marijuana by January 1, 2019. The State will also move forward with expanding access to medical marijuana to alleviate patient suffering. Governor Murphy is ready to end the cycle of non-violent, low-level drug offenses holding individuals back.”

Governor Murphy campaigned heavily on a pledge to legalize marijuana and today’s address makes clear he continues to push forward on his promise. Recently, some legalization opponents have begun to push for a watered down version of decriminalization as a way to derail the fight for full legalization and regulation. Governor Murphy was having none of it.

“Decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see. If these are our goals – as they must be – then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults,” stated Murphy during his budget address.

In addition to advocating for full legalization, Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy has already began a process to expand the state’s struggling medical marijuana program. In January, he signed an executive order calling on regulators to review the state’s eight-year-old medical cannabis access program and to recommend ways to increase participation from patients and physicians.

“Our goal is to modernize the program in New Jersey, bring it up to current standards, and put patients first,” he said.

IF YOU LIVE IN NEW JERSEY, CLICK HERE TO QUICKLY AND EASILY WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN SUPPORT OF LEGALIZATION.

Success In Wyoming Adversity

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:38

Wyoming as a whole is staunchly conservative.  Sometimes one wonders why a legislator would even try to run with a “D” behind their name on the ballot.  That is not to say we have lacked excellent Democratic leaders, but the blood of the state runs very red.  This is a state dominated by energy production, a sense of uniquely independent national pride, and respect for nature and the dance with her that is the agricultural relationship.  The extreme end of this conservative bent is seated in law enforcement.  Too often Wyoming NORML hears from residents whose lives have been turned upside down by aggressive enforcement of laws designed to control a natural plant that the vast majority of people here support having access to.

Despite our doggedly conservative character, we are a caring, pragmatic, and individualistic cast.  At last polling, the University of Wyoming determined that over 80% of Wyomingites support medical cannabis, and over 70% support decriminalization.  The breakdown between the people and the policies seems to stem in part from these complementary but potentially deleterious qualities.  While the violent treatment of cannabis consumers by the hard-right in law enforcement is well known, the “live and let live” attitude of the populace combines with fear of such force and judgmental retribution by the ultra-conservatives to keep most people from speaking up or outwardly supporting reform efforts in spite of personal convictions.  Many are concerned that voicing their political opinions may yield employment conflicts.  On top of much public silence, one of the loudest, hardest to ignore, and most well-funded law enforcement groups (WASCOP – Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police) actively lobbies against change at every legislative session, committee meeting, and in between.  While their lobbyist is paid over $85,000 annually from their publicly funded coffer of over $2.5M to wine and dine elected officials, our board members crossed the state on their own dime to speak at the capitol about this issue that is so dear to them personally.  This is the atmosphere in which Wyoming NORML seeks to raise up volunteers and alter bad laws, and neither is an easy task.  For the second year in a row our focus was to prevent felony edible limits of cannabis products from being written into state law.  The state attorneys group and WASCOP have been fighting hard to establish a felony punishment at the level of a 3oz edible, and they have friends in the Judiciary Committee.

We touted our lobby day for months.  We encouraged every one of our supporters to volunteer on the date, to donate to our cause, and to interact with their legislators concerning marijuana law reform.  We set up easy to use mailing forms to effortlessly send messages to the Judiciary Committee that would first take up the bill we had targeted for defeat.  We used money donated by board members to buy hemp paper and printed off flyers personalized to each legislator expressing why the bill needed to be put to death.  We also had a ream of high quality hemp paper donated to the cause which we gave to a Wyoming printer to create nice little hemp paper scratch pads with the Wyoming NORML name and logo for our volunteers to hand out as they would speak with their representatives and senators.  We were ready.

Then came the horse apples in the road.  Our recruited printer had a family emergency and had to leave town before completing the job.  As is customary in Wyoming when travel is necessary for any pre-planned wintertime event weather interfered with roads across the state.  When our board members gathered on the morning of the lobby day at the beginning of the legislative session only one loyal volunteer showed up to help; we were planning on having close to twelve.  Instead of tossing the bill the committee accepted it and sent it to the Senate.  Some Senators said that they had never even heard from their constituents on the topic.  Then our board members had to return home.  We were very discouraged.  But…

At the eleventh hour a second printer in the same small Wyoming town was able to take on the task, complete it, and have the materials shipped overnight to Cheyenne where they were picked up by the one volunteer who brought them to the lobby day.  In spite of the weather three of our board members were able to attend the lobby day, and one returned with support to be present for each hearing of the bill as it moved through the legislative houses.  Both the Senate and House discussed the bill, and testimony was given of a legislator’s family member who illegally uses cannabis products for better health.  Another stated that he had moved from a position of supporting the felony bill to one of opposition after hearing from just a single voter about the desire they had for cannabis health products.  Though passed by the Senate, the bill was buried by the House and killed through neglect.  For two years running a small grassroots effort and a handful of volunteers have succeeded in defeating bad bills being pushed by powerful moneyed interests.

Let this encourage you.  Though few in open numbers and lacking much financial support we have been able to urge people and legislators sufficiently so as to move cannabis policy in the right direction in this religiously “Right” state each year since we have been organized as a focused group.  We are picking up members and interest is growing because people are seeing that change can be made and that speaking up without serious reprisal is possible.  People are influencing the minds of their legislators for the good of the movement and the health of our society.  This shows why interaction between voters and elected officials is so important as to be incapable of being understated.  We will see sensible cannabis policy in Wyoming, and with work from motivated citizens your state can as well.

Bennett Sondeno is the Treasurer of WY NORML

Follow WY NORML on Facebook, visit their website at http://www.wyomingnorml.org/ and make a contribution to support their work by clicking here.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/9/19

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 16:42

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Delaware NORML! Activists in Delaware lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Thursday 3/8 in favor of a bill that would legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of adult use marijuana.

Also at the state level, voter support is growing for a proposed adult use ballot initiative in Michigan, as a recent poll found that 61 percent of voters say they would vote yes on the measure “if the election were held today.” Marijuana law reform advocates are continuing to gather signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office.

Additionally, New Jersey legislators heard testimony on legalization on Monday. And, Massachusetts marijuana regulators took another step towards the opening of retail cannabis shops, as they approved draft marijuana rules governing the industry and will begin accepting applications for retail outlets on April 1. It is still their intent to open adult use dispensary doors this summer.

Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines, including legalization and decriminalization bills in Hawaii. Florida and Washington state legislatures adjourned for this year, effectively killing FL decriminalization and patient protection efforts, and a WA bill to provide financial services to marijuana businesses.

At a more local level, the District Attorney’s Office for Sonoma County, California is directing staff to review and vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. County officials estimate that approximately 3,000 cases are eligible for either a sentencing reduction or expungement. And, police in Juneau, Alaska announced that marijuana businesses can now transport product by airplane.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Rhode Island

Rep. Scott Slater (D) has introduced legislation, HB 7883, to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

The proposal question would read: “Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters weigh in

Illinois

Legislation is pending, SB 2275, to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

The question posed to voters would read: “Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

Update: SB 2275 passed the Senate by a 37-13 vote on 3/1, and now awaits action from the House.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to let the people have a say

Maine

Legislation is pending, LD 1539, to greatly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis, as well as expand the pool of patients who are eligible.

Among changes proposed by the bill: Physicians would be able, at their sole discretion, to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom they think it would benefit; Caregivers would be able to manage more than five patients at one time; Regulators would increase the total number of licensed dispensaries from eight to 14.

ME resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

Kentucky

House Bill 166 was introduced by Rep. John Sims Jr. [D] to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions. Additional legislation, Senate Bill 118, is also pending to allow medical marijuana use in the Commonwealth.

If passed, these bills would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis via licensed providers.

Update: The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB 166 on 3/6, and then decided to  table the bill for this session as a result of strong opposition from law enforcement. SB 118 is still awaiting action from the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection Committee.

KY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

Tennessee

Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller have introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391 seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters with regard to the legalization of medical marijuana.

If passed, these bills would place the following advisory question on the November 2018 ballot: “Should the Tennessee legislature approve the use of medical marijuana?”

Update: HB 2391 was placed on the Local Government subcommittee calendar for 3/14/18. SB 2320 was put on the final calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee, date TBD.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters decide

State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) are sponsoring legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program.

The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/14. SB 1710 is still awaiting action from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

New York

Legislation is pending, A 9945, to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.

The measure waives administrative fees for patients who are veterans and/or who have been ‘honorably discharged’ from military service.

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of better access for veterans

 

Additional Actions to Take

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, A3535, that would limit certain employers from discriminating against employees based solely upon their testing positive for marijuana on a drug test.

The bill “prohibits businesses receiving financial assistance from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority from taking any adverse employment action against an employee or prospective employee based upon a finding that the employee or prospective employee has used or tested positive for the use of marijuana” off the job.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for consumers

Rhode Island

Legislation is pending, H 7899, to protect state-registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

The measure reads: “It shall be unlawful for any employer to refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against a person with respect to any terms, conditions or privileges of employment, or any other matter directly or indirectly related to employment because of their status as a cardholder, including because of a positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient cardholder possessed marijuana or was impaired on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment protections for patients

Indiana

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 52, to legalize the possession, use, manufacture, and retail sale of cannabidiol products.

Update: HB 1214 was passed by the Senate by a 37-12 vote with amendments on 3/6, and now will be sent back to the House for approval. The House dissented from the Senate’s amendments on HB 1214 on 3/7, meaning they do not agree with the Senate’s proposed changes. A conference committee of two members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses.

IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

Idaho

Legislation is pending, HB 410, to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577, is also pending, and already passed the House last month.

Update: Members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved a motion to hold HB 577 in committee on 3/5 — a legislative procedure essentially halting the bill from moving forward. They then voted on 3/6 to vacate the decision to halt HB 577 from moving forward because the motion violated procedure.

ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

Oklahoma

Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens has introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

Update: HB 2913 passed the House by a 92-0 vote on 3/5, and now awaits action in the Senate.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Kansas

Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It already passed the Senate last month.

Update: The House Committee on Agriculture is holding a hearing on SB 263 on Wednesday, 3/14 at 3:30pm in Room 582-N.

KS resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of an industrial hemp pilot program

Indiana

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1137 to authorize the Indiana state department of agriculture to establish an agricultural pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products.

Update: Senate lawmakers decided on a voice vote on 3/2 to significantly amend HB 1137. As amended, farmers would no longer have the opportunity to grow hemp. Instead, lawmakers have suggested a summer study session to consider the prospect of moving forward with a hemp research program. The changes came after Gov. Eric Holcolm voiced his opposition to the bill.

Then, the bill was passed by the Senate 43 to 6, and was sent back to the House to approve the amendments. The House filed a motion to dissent on 3/7, meaning they do not agree with the Senate’s amendments to HB 1137. Now, a conference committee of two members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses.

IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

Missouri

Legislation is pending, SB 547 and HB 2034, seeking to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp.

If passed, the bills would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

Update: The Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee approved SB 547 on 3/6, and is scheduled to be considered before the full Senate on 3/12.

MO resident? Click here to email your Senators in support of industrial hemp modifications

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

California: Sonoma County District Attorney To Vacate Thousands Of Past Marijuana Convictions

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 21:02

The District Attorney’s Office for Sonoma County, California (population 502,000) is directing staff to review and vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions.

County officials estimate that an estimated 3,000 cases are eligible for either a sentencing reduction or expungement.

The Sonoma County D.A.’s actions follow those of district attorneys for Alameda County, San Diego County, and San Francisco — each of which have moved to pro-actively review and dismiss thousands of past marijuana-related convictions.

Provisions in the state’s 2016 voter-approved marijuana law allow those with past marijuana convictions to petition the court for expungement. Legislation is pending in the California Assembly, AB 1793, to make this process automatic for anyone with an eligible past cannabis conviction.

Last month, Seattle city officials publicly announced plans to similarly review and vacate past cannabis convictions. Days later, newly elected Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner announced that his office would cease prosecuting marijuana possession offense violations.

Michigan: Voter Support Grows For Proposed Adult Use Initiative

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:05

More than six in ten Michigan voters endorse a proposed statewide ballot initiative legalizing the adult use and sale of cannabis.

According to polling data compiled by the EPIC-MRA polling research firm and commissioned by Michigan NORML, 61 percent of voters say that they would vote yes on the measure “if the election were held today.” That percentage is up four percentage points from last year, and is an increase of 11 percent since 2014.

Commenting on the statewide polling, MINORML Board member Brad Forrester said: “I’m not surprised. These results are the product of Michigan NORML’s effective advocacy for the past several years.”

Michigan NORML is a member of The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is backing the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

In November, proponents turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. State officials must certify a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters in order to place the initiative on the November 2018 ballot.

Marijuana law reform advocates are continuing to gather signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office.

In Oklahoma, voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January.

Study: Cannabis Effective At Treating Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 14:38

Cannabis therapy mitigates symptoms of the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia and is associated with a reduction in the use of other prescription drugs, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. An estimated 3 to 6 million Americans are afflicted by fibromyalgia, which is often poorly controlled by standard pain medications.

Israeli investigators assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in a cohort of 26 patients with fibromyalgia. They reported that medical cannabis treatment “was associated with significant favorable outcomes in every item evaluated,” such as reductions in pain and increases in energy.

Most patients also reduced their use of conventional prescription drugs, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, during the trial period. Nearly half of the participants (46 percent) reduced their prescription drug intake by more than 50 percent during the study. Several patients were also able to return to work following the initiation of cannabis therapy.

Researchers concluded, “Medical cannabis treatment had a significant favorable effect on patients with fibromyalgia, with few adverse effects.”

Prior trials evaluating the use of either whole-plant cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids have similarly shown efficacy in patients with the disease. A summary of these prior studies is available here.

The abstract of the study, “Medical cannabis for the treatment of fibromyalgia,” is online here.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/2/18

Fri, 03/02/2018 - 16:15

Welcome to the March 2nd edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Arizona NORML! Activists in Arizona lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Monday 2/26 in favor of a bill that would require testing for potency and health and safety as well as certifications for independent testing labs.

Also at the state level, Massachusetts regulators agreed to delay considering proposed rules allowing marijuana social use areas and delivery services until a later date after receiving intense pressure over those license categories from state officials. But they also decided that when the Cannabis Control Commission does authorize the services, initial licenses will only be available to people with past drug convictions or who live in neighborhoods with high drug arrest rates. The commission also agreed to place caps on marijuana farmers and determined a threshold for how much marijuana product they have to sell.

New Jersey lawmakers are set to begin holding hearings on marijuana legalization this month, with the first one scheduled for this Monday March 5th at noon by the Assembly Oversight Committee. On the other hand, several NJ lawmakers are still skeptical about legalization. A survey of lawmakers suggests that marijuana legalization legislation would be defeated if a vote were held now.

On a brighter note, Arkansas regulators announced the winners of medical cannabis cultivation licenses, and Alaska raked in its biggest monthly haul in marijuana taxes, with just over $1 million collected in January. Proponents of a Missouri ballot initiative effort to legalize and regulate medical cannabis statewide reached a milestone by surpassing over 200,000 signatures, although they only needed 160,000.

Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines. These include legalization and medical expansion measures in Arizona, Georgia, West Virginia, and Kansas.

At a more local level, Denver, CO approved its first social use marijuana license, allowing vaping and edibles in a Lincoln Park coffee shop. Additionally, The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution supporting a state Senate bill that seeks to create a state-chartered bank that could be used by the marijuana industry.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

New Hampshire

The Legislature is considering HB 656, which would legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by those 21 and older.

The bill also allows the cultivation, possession, and use of hemp, and calls for retail sales and generation of state revenues through taxation, as well as authorizes the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities.

Update: The House Ways and Means Committee may kill HB 656 even though it already passed the full chamber, and despite A February 2018 UNH Granite State poll finding that 56 percent of adults support the amended version of this bill. They’re having a full committee work session on 3/12 at 1pm.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

Maine

Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law.

Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. NORML opposes this law change.

To date, legislators have refused to enact provisions in the 2016 law permitting for the licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. As a result, adults may only obtain marijuana via home cultivation. Further, no data has been presented indicating that this provision is either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the criminal market.

Other changes recommended by lawmakers include: banning any social use establishments and significantly increasing the proposed excise tax on wholesale marijuana products.

ME resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to oppose this effort and implement the will of the people

Tennessee

State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program in Tennessee.

The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee Dr. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) signed on as co-sponsors to the Medical Cannabis Only Act on 2/26. The following day, the House Criminal Justice subcommittee voted 4-3 to approve HB 1749, with House Speaker Harwell casting the tie-breaking vote. HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/7/18. SB 1710 is still posted in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis access

Georgia

House Bill 764 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

The measure would permit for the first time patients with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain the option to engage in CBD therapy.

Update: HB 764 passed the House by a 145-17 vote, and now awaits action in the Senate.

GA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical CBD expansion

Idaho

HB 410 is pending to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577 is also pending.

Update: HB 577  passed the House by a 59-11 vote on 2/28, and now awaits action in the Senate. HB 410 is still posted in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

Hawaii

HB 1893 is pending, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. HB 1893 was heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 2/15, and then approved with amendments, and passed on to the Judiciary Committee.

Update: HB 1893 was heard by the House Judiciary committee on Thursday, and then was approved unanimously 8 to zero.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

Indiana

House Bill 1214 is pending, further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients.

Despite the passage last year of limited language permitting certain patients to possess CBD, law enforcement has continued to take punitive action against those providing CBD products, and some officials have continued to questioned their legality. Passage of these measures will eliminate this legal confusion and greatly expand CBD access.

Update: HB 1214 was approved by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee after it was heard on 2/27.

IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in favor of greater CBD access

Maryland

House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.

The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”

Update: HB 698 was approved by the House Environment and Transportation Committee with amendments on 2/26. The amendments were adopted and it passed the third reading by a 136-1 vote on 3/1.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp

 

Additional Actions to Take

New Hampshire

House Bill 1476 is pending,  to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.

Under the state’s existing medical marijuana program, patients are mandated to obtain cannabis from only a limited number of state-licensed dispensaries. Those who cultivate for themselves may be guilty of a felony offense.

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 1476 by a 13-8 vote on 2/23.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of home cultivation

Virginia

SB 726 and HB 1251, both introduced by Republican lawmakers, would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit.

Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.

Update: HB 1251 is already on Governor Northam’s desk awaiting his signature. SB 726 passed the House 96-0 on 2/28.

VA resident? Click here to email Gov. Northam urging him to sign these bills into law

Alaska

House Bill 376 was recently introduced, to establish a state bank that will help assist in financial matters related to marijuana businesses. It’s currently pending in the Labor and Commerce Committee.

Activities of the bank would include helping “marijuana-related businesses make deposits and to help other financial institutions receive deposits from marijuana-related businesses.”

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking options for cannabis businesses

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

Cannabis Access Consistently Linked With Lower Opioid Use: Studies

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 16:26

Patients routinely reduce or eliminate their use of prescription opiates following the use of medical cannabis; two recently published studies reaffirm this relationship.

In the first study, published by the Minnesota Department of Health, investigators assessed the prescription drug use patterns of 2,245 intractable pain patients participating in the state’s medical cannabis access program. Among those patients known to be taking opiates for pain upon enrollment in the program, 63 percent “were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after six months.” The findings are similar to those of registered patients in other states’ medical cannabis programs, including Illinois, Michigan, and New Mexico, among others.

In the second study, Israeli researchers assessed the safety and efficacy of cannabis in a cohort of over 1,200 cancer patients over a period of six months. Ninety-six percent of patients “reported an improvement in their condition.” Nearly half of respondents reported either decreasing or eliminating their use of opioids during the treatment period.

A third recently published clinical trial provides insight into explaining this relationship. Investigators from the United States and Australia and assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis and sub-therapeutic doses of oxycodone on experimentally-induced pain in a double-blind, placebo-controlled model. Researchers assessed subjects’ pain tolerance after receiving both substances separately or in concert with one another. While neither the administration of cannabis nor oxycodone alone significantly mitigated subjects’ pain, the combined administration of both drugs did so effectively.

Authors determined, “Both active cannabis and a low dose of oxycodone (2.5 mg) were sub-therapeutic, failing to elicit analgesia on their own; however, when administered together, pain responses … were significantly reduced, pointing to the opioid-sparing effects of cannabis.” They concluded, “Smoked cannabis combined with an ineffective analgesic dose of oxycodone produced analgesia comparable to an effective opioid analgesic dose without significantly increasing cannabis’s abuse liability.”

The new studies add to the growing body of research finding that cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, opioid-related drug treatment admissions, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Additional information regarding the association between cannabis and opioids is available from NORML’s fact-sheet here.