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Updated: 2 hours 15 min ago

Maryland: Lawmakers Advance Decriminalization Expansion Measure

4 hours 45 min ago

House lawmakers today advanced legislation, HB 550, greatly expanding the pool of marijuana offenders eligible for civil penalties.

Under the measure, which passed the House by a vote of 93 to 44, offenses involving the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis will be reclassified as a civil, rather, than a criminal violation — punishable by a fine only, no arrest and no criminal record.

Under existing law, only possession offenses involving ten grams of marijuana or less are decriminalized. The possession of greater amounts is currently punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

House Bill 550 now awaits further action from the Maryland Senate.

“Expanding the decriminalization of low-level marijuana offenses allows police and the courts to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes,” said Luke Jones, Executive Director of Maryland NORML and a proponent of the bill. “Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.”

Maryland lawmakers initially decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2014. Twenty six states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of marijuana.

Rep Blumenauer: Upcoming Veterans Medical Marijuana Vote In Congress

10 hours 30 min ago
Earl Blumenauer is a member of Congress representing Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District

As a founding Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I am pleased to report to you that my legislation to allow VA doctors to fill out state-legal medical marijuana recommendations is scheduled for a committee vote tomorrow.

Currently, VA healthcare providers, however, are prohibited from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a state-legal medical cannabis recommendation, forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Seeking care is hard enough, and we should not make it even harder for our veterans.

I introduced the Veterans Equal Access Act, HR 1647 because it is my responsibility as a Member of Congress to ensure that all Americans have access to medical treatment as recommended by their physicians.

Please take a moment and contact your member of Congress and tell them to join me in support of the Veterans Equal Access Act.

The reefer madness days are done and it’s time for Congress and the VA to face the facts surrounding marijuana — most pointedly, its medicinal benefits for veterans. More and more veterans are reportedly using cannabis to help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and several other ailments.

This is reflected by a recent poll commissioned by the American Legion that showed more than 1 in 5 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

Today, you can make a difference and show your support for our nation’s veterans and the efficacy of medical cannabis. Please tell your members of Congress now to support the Veterans Equal Access Act – because our veterans need more from our government than words of support, we need action.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaking a NORML Conference

Courage,
Earl

Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/7/20

Sat, 03/07/2020 - 21:54

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

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress.

Your Highness,

Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (HR 3884 / S. 2227) is bipartisan legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policies.

Send a message to your representatives in support of ending federal marijuana prohibition

Alabama

Senate Bill 267 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $6,000, to a non-criminal violation punishable only by a maximum fine of $250.

The bill would also remove the threat of jail time for any amount of marijuana possession exceeding two ounces. Further, the bill allows individuals convicted of marijuana possession to get their records expunged after a 5 year, conviction free waiting period.

AL resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Arizona

Legislation is pending, HCR 2045, that seeks to arbitrarily cap the potency of cannabis flowers at two percent THC. NORML opposes the passage of this legislation.

Update: HCR 2045 was approved by the House Rules Committee on 2/27/20.

AZ resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in opposition to THC limits

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2049, that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

The measure would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder as well as opioid use disorder.

Update: HB 2049 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Rules Committee at 1pm on 3/9/20.

AZ resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2359, to reduce barriers to employment for those harmed by the War on Drugs.

The bill would prevent applicants from being denied occupational licenses for having previous drug charges, including for cannabis.

Update: HB 2359 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee at 10am on 3/12/20.

AZ resident? Send a message to your senators in support of reducing employment barriers

Florida

A proposal being considered by House lawmakers seeks to arbitrarily cap the potency of cannabis flowers at ten percent THC. NORML opposes the passage of this legislation.

Update: The bill including the amendment to limit THC content was approved by the House.

FL resident? Send a message to your senators in opposition to arbitrary THC limits

Georgia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 268 and House Bill 528, to allow those convicted of simple marijuana possession to petition the court to restrict access to their records.

Update: HB 528 is scheduled for consideration by the Subcommittee of Judiciary on 3/9/20.

GA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of record restriction

Legislation is pending, House Bill 847, that seeks to criminalize the possession and transportation of hemp flower in the state.

This bill comes after lawmakers passed legislation in 2019 that allows the growing and production of hemp and hemp-derived products, as long as the THC concentration is below 0.3%. This created issues for law enforcement and testing facilities in determining the difference between legal hemp and illegal marijuana.

Update: HB 847 was approved by the House on 3/5/20. The bill now heads to the Senate.

GA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in opposition to this effort

Hawaii

Senate Bill 2543 would prohibit an employer from discriminating against a person in hiring, termination, or condition of employment based on the person’s status as a medical cannabis cardholder or a positive drug test for THC.

Update: SB 2543 was approved by the Senate on 3/3/20. The bill now heads to the House.

HI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2787, to regulate medical cannabis delivery services.

The bill allows the department of health to issue permits to medical cannabis dispensaries for the delivery of medical cannabis and cannabis products to qualifying patients or primary caregivers if certain conditions are met.

Update: SB 2787 was approved by the Senate on 3/3/20. The bill now heads to the House.

HI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of delivery services

Louisiana

Legislation is pending to reduce marijuana possession penalties for first time offenders.

House Bill 49 removes the threat of jail time for first-time offenders who possess no more than 14 grams of marijuana (about half an ounce).

LA resident? Send a message to your lawmaker in support of penalty reductions

Legislation is pending that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis access.

House Bill 158 authorizes the recommendation of medical marijuana in treating certain neurodegenerative diseases and conditions.

House Bill 330 adds chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia to the set of conditions qualifying a patient for treatment with medical marijuana.

House Bill 455 authorizes recommendation of medical marijuana by physicians for patients in hospice or palliative care.

LA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Maryland

Legislation is pending, House Bill 550, to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

If passed, the bill would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense, rather than the current threshold of ten grams.

Update: HB 550 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 3/9/20.

MD resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of expanded decriminalization

Legislation is pending, House Bill 83, to automatically expunge certain prior cannabis convictions.

The bill would require all court records and police records relating to certain charges of possession of marijuana to be automatically expunged if the possession charge is the only charge in the case. If marijuana possession was not the only charge, one must wait four years before becoming eligible for automatic expungement.

Update: HB 83 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 3/9/20.

MD resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of automatic expungement

Minnesota

Legislation is pending to remove the restrictions on formulations of medical cannabis available for patients to use and purchase.

Senate File 4059 would allow patients to inhale herbal, whole-plant medical cannabis.

MN resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of whole-plant medical cannabis

SF 3551 / HF 3439 would allow children who are registered medical cannabis patients to be administered medical cannabis on school grounds.

MN resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access at schools

Missouri

House Bill 2674 prohibits employers from terminating, disciplining, or refusing to hire an employee for state-lawful medical cannabis use off the job.

MO resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2715, to protect the rights of parents participating in the state’s medical cannabis program from discrimination from the courts.

The measure would prohibit family courts from denying or restricting parental and/or custody rights to parents based solely on their status as a medical cannabis patient.

MO resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of parental protections

Amendments were made on the House floor to House Bill 1896, which if passed would prevent medical cannabis patients from receiving recommendations to use medical marijuana from a physician via telehealth (video conferencing) appointments.

MO resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in opposition to these restrictions

New Hampshire

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 420, permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The measure would permit patients to grow up to three mature plants and 12 seedlings, and to possess up to eight ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

Update: SB 420 is scheduled for a Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Work Session at 11am on 3/18/2020 in Legislative Office Building 104.

NH resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of home cultivation rights

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 697, to expand access to medical marijuana.

The bill would allow qualifying patients to access all the alternative treatment centers instead of having to designate just one.

Update: SB 697 was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/5/20.

NH resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Rhode Island 

H7878 would prohibit employment discrimination by the state of Rhode Island against medical marijuana users. The act also requires reasonable accommodations be provided by the state employer.

Update: H7878 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Labor Committee on 3/11/20.

RI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Virginia

House Bill 972 is pending, reducing penalties for offenses involving the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana to a civil violation — punishable by a maximum $25 fine, no arrest, and no criminal record.

Similar legislation, SB 2, is pending in the Senate.

Update: HB 972 and SB 2 have been reconciled into one compromise bill that will now go to the governor for his approval.

VA resident? Send a message to your governor in support of decriminalization

Virginia: Legislature Approves Decriminalization and Medical Cannabis Bills

Thu, 03/05/2020 - 16:30

Broad changes to marijuana laws swept through the 2020 Virginia General Assembly. Today, the legislature approved SB2 and HB 972  to decriminalize marijuana possession. Those in possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use will no longer be subject to criminal prosecution and will instead face a maximum $25 civil penalty. The bipartisan, bicameral effort led by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) and House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46), also allows for the sealing of records for misdemeanor arrests, charges, convictions, and deferred dispositions for marijuana possession from employers and schools, and redefines extractions previously considered hashish as marijuana. The legislation now heads to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk for approval.

“This long overdue victory comes after years of sustained effort by Virginia NORML and its members. A supermajority of Virginians have for many years opposed the continued criminalization of personal possession, and the legislature has finally taken action to turn public opinion into public policy,” said NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the executive director of the state affiliate, Virginia NORML.

Commenting on the final passage, Senator Ebbin said, “this is a major step forward for criminal justice reform in Virginia. The prohibition on marijuana has clearly failed, and impacts nearly 30,000 Virginians per year. It’s well past time that we stop doing damage to people’s employment prospects, educational opportunities, and parental rights.”

Delegate Herring said this “is an important step in mitigating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. While marijuana arrests across the nation have decreased, arrests in Virginia have increased. This bill will not eliminate the racial disparities surrounding marijuana, but it will prevent low-level offenders from receiving jail time for simple possession while we move toward legalization in coming years with a framework that addresses both public safety and equity in an emerging market.”

Governor Northam has spoken in favor of decriminalizing marijuana violations and expunging past convictions as has Attorney General Mark Herring. “Decriminalization is an important first step on Virginia’s path towards legal, regulated adult use, and one many thought was still years away, but we cannot stop now. We’ve shown that smart, progressive reform is possible and we must keep going,” General Herring told Virginia NORML.

The legislature has approved multiple bills that call for the study of establishing a regulatory framework for adult-use. This effort is intended to result in legislation and a report in advance of the 2021 Virginia General Assembly.

Earlier this week, the Virginia legislature also approved Senate Bill 1015 to legalize medical cannabis and Senate Bill 976 to expand and improve the state’s nascent medical program.

“As legislators became more comfortable with medical cannabis products, they recognized that patients and legal guardians of children and incapacitated adults need the protections of lawful possession instead of the affirmative defense. That is what SB 1015 provides — a statutory protection against prosecution, not merely an affirmative defense,” remarked Senator Dave Marsden (D-37), longtime champion of medical cannabis patients in the Commonwealth.

“As Virginia’s program finally begins to provide patients access to products in 2020, the explicit legal protections and additional dispensing facilities established by Senator Marsden’s bills are much needed improvements from which patients and caregivers will benefit greatly,” said Pedini.

 

This post was updated to reflect the passage of SB2  

A complete listing of marijuana-related legislation in the 2020 Virginia General Assembly is available here. For more information, contact Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director & Virginia NORML Executive Director.

Become a member Virginia NORML and join the fight to reform marijuana laws in the Commonwealth. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Why New York’s MRTA gets an A- & the CRTA gets a C-

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 23:20
MRTA: A-

CRTA: C- 

New York State is set to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult-use, and improve our existing medical marijuana and hemp programs by April 1st with the 2020-2021 NYS Budget. But our work isn’t over yet and we need to fight for SMART legalization now more than ever!

The MRTA (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act) was first introduced by Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger in 2013, and has been re-introduced every session since. The bill has gone through several versions to include improvements through the years, taking what we’ve learned from other states successes and failures, aiming to create the gold standard of marijuana legalization legislation. The bill currently has 22 co-sponsors in the Senate and 43 co-sponsors in the Assembly.

The CRTA (Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act) was first introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo with the 2019-2020 budget proposal. It failed to pass with the budget in 2019 due to lack of support from the legislature, and a similar version of the bill was introduced again this year with the 2020-2021 NYS budget proposal. 

Late February, a revised version of the 2020-2021 NYS budget proposal was introduced – but disappointingly, no changes were made to the section containing the CRTA.

While neither bill is perfect, NY NORML chapters unanimously agree the MRTA is far superior to the CRTA, and revisions must be made to the CRTA before it is passed into law.

Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between these bills, which have been used to grade each one, resulting in an A- for the MRTA and a C- for the CRTA:

Tax revenue to reinvest into social programs for communities disproportionately harmed from the war on drugs

YES MRTA= % of tax revenue from marijuana legalization is allocated specifically for a Community Reinvestment Grant program.

NO CRTA = claims tax revenue could potentially be used for social programs but no specific money is allocated.

Prevents further criminalization of cannabis consumers for possessing small amounts of illicit marijuana

YES MRTA = possessing illicit marijuana (from an unlicensed source) is a violation with a fine, for up to 2 pounds of flower and 4.5 ounces of concentrate; any amount over these limits can be a misdemeanor, arrestable offense.

NO CRTA = possessing any amount of illicit marijuana is a misdemeanor
Important Note: The Decriminalization Bill passed by Governor Cuomo in 2019 made it so any amount of marijuana flower, up to 2 ounces, is a violation, but the CRTA proposes going backwards to any amount of marijuana from an unlicensed source being a misdemeanor, arrestable offense.

Allows for home cultivation for personal use

YES MRTA = allows up to 6 plants for adult-use, per adult per household, and any amount over that limit is a violation with a fine.

NO CRTA = prohibits home cultivation for adult-use and classifies any amount of plants as at least a misdemeanor. Medical marijuana patients can register with the state to obtain a home cultivation permit, which allows the state to enter a patient’s house at any time for inspection. Medical patients are restricted to 4 plants total, per household. Medical patients are restricted from making any consumable or topical products for personal use from their marijuana plant. If any of these limits are broken, it is at least a misdemeanor, arrestable offense.

Promotes and supports growth and sustainability of small businesses and building diversity and equity in the industry

YES MRTA = creates a multi-tier licensing structure, modeled after the craft beer industry, restricting vertically integrated companies to prevent the creation of an oligopoly in the market. This licensing model allows for multiple points of entry into the system with affordable licensing fees.

NO CRTA = few limitations around current vertically integrated companies in the medical marijuana industry getting licenses in the adult-use industry, which would cripple small businesses from having a chance to compete.

Access to commonly found cannabis products in the regulated market

YES MRTA = keeps commonly found cannabis products on the market legal, keeping current consumers patronizing the legal market.

NO CRTA = aims to regulate potency and types of products available, which will inevitably drive consumers to the illicit market to find familiar products.

Formation of Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the cannabis industry and regulations

YES MRTA = all members are appointed by the Governor, pending legislative approval, providing checks and balances for the people being chosen to hold these positions.

NO CRTA = all members are appointed solely by the Governor and the legislature has no control over the people chosen to hold these positions.

Affordable tax rate

NO MRTA

NO CRTA

Neither bill offers affordable tax rates. At the current proposed tax rate, which is the same in both bills, it is estimated an eighth of flower will cost anywhere from $60-$70. This is unacceptable and will destroy the chance of building small, craft cannabis businesses.

Adequate improvements to the medical program

NO MRTA

NO CRTA

Neither bill offers adequate improvements to the medical marijuana program. At the very least, improvements must include the addition of flower into the medical marijuana program, tax exempt medical marijauna products until insurance companies begin to cover the medicine, and reciprocity granted to patients certified in other jurisdictions.

Legalization in NYS has 3 main goals:

  1. Address decades of harm caused by marijuana prohibition
  2. Create a regulated market so cannabis consumers have access to affordable, safe products
  3. Create a new source of tax revenue for the state

When we look back at some of the key things we’ve learned from the states that have legalized before us is over-regulation and over taxation is what has been most damaging to this budding industry. 

If NYS wants to accomplish any of the 3 goals that have been set, we need our leaders in Albany to learn from the mistakes made by other states, and revisions must be made to the CRTA before it can be passed into law.

All month long, until March 31st, we need everyone to be calling, emailing, tweeting, and meeting with our leaders in Albany to urge them to make changes to the proposed legalization bill.

1. Use this action alert to send an email to the Governor and Speakers of the Assembly and Senate
2. Use this form to sign up for our March 24th state wide lobby day
3. Use the phone numbers and script below to call them and help us ring their phones off the hook in response to the anti-legalization lobby day happening today:

Governor Cuomo: 518-474-8390

Speaker Heastie: 518-455-3791

Leader Stewart-Cousins: 518-455-2585

“My name is (your name), a constituent from (your city). I am a supporter of Start SMART NY and NORML, and I want to urge you to support legalization in the budget, but the bill as it stands today must have changes made. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (Senate Bill 1527/Assembly Bill 1617) is the bill to look at for guidance on changes that are needed to the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (the bill included in the Governor’s budget proposal). The most important changes needed to the CRTA include:

  1. Allocating a specific % of tax revenue to reinvest into social programs for communities disproportionately harmed from the war on drugs;
  2. Preventing further criminalization of consumers for possessing small amounts of illicit marijuana;
  3. Allowing for home cultivation of cannabis for personal, adult-use;
  4. Promoting and supporting the growth and sustainability of small businesses and building diversity and equity in the industry;
  5. Access to commonly found cannabis products in the regulated market with a goal of keeping current consumers patronizing the legal market;
  6. Formation of the Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the cannabis industry and regulations, with checks and balances provided through legislative approval;
  7. Affordable tax rate; and
  8. Adequate improvements to our medical program

New Yorkers are tired of waiting for legalization but we won’t accept legalization at any means necessary. We urge you to listen to the recommendations being made by members of the Start SMART NY alliance and make these important changes to the CRTA before it is passed into law.

Poll: More Than Two in Three US Latinos Back Legalizing Marijuana

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 23:01

More than two in three US Hispanic adults support legalizing marijuana, according to nationwide polling data compiled by the digital media firm H Code.

Pollsters surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1,300 English- and Spanish-speaking US Hispanic respondents. Sixty-eight percent of those polled said that they are favor of legalizing marijuana in the United States.

That percentage is consistent with other nationwide polls of US adults — such as those here, here, and here — finding that two-thirds of respondents believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legal. By contrast, prior polls of Hispanic-only voters had often reported that Latinos were less likely than the general population to express support for legalizing cannabis.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/29/20

Sat, 02/29/2020 - 20:26

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

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress.

Your Highness,

Carly

Actions to Take

Federal

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (HR 3884 / S. 2227) is bipartisan legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policies.

Send a message to your representatives in support of ending the federal prohibition on marijuana

Alaska

Senate Bill 8 is pending to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.

The measure prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law.

Update: SB 8 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 1:30pm on  3/4/20.

AK resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of sealing past convictions

Arizona

Legislation is pending, House Bill 2359, to reduce barriers to employment for those harmed by the War on Drugs.

The bill would prevent applicants from being denied occupational licenses for having previous drug charges, including for cannabis.

Update: HB 2359 was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on 2/24/20.

AZ resident? Send a message to your senators in support of reducing employment barriers

Florida

A proposal being considered by House lawmakers seeks to arbitrarily cap the potency of cannabis flowers. NORML opposes the passage of this legislation.

Update: Amendment # 850798 by Senator Gayle Harrell (R-25) was filed today on SB 230 to be heard in the Senate Rules Committee Mon. 3/2/20 from 12-6pm.

FL resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in opposition to arbitrary THC limits

Georgia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 268 and House Bill 528, to allow those convicted of simple marijuana possession to petition the court to restrict access to their records.

Update: HB 528 is scheduled for consideration by the Subcommittee of Judiciary on 3/5/20 and 3/6/20.

GA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of record restriction

Hawaii

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2787, to regulate medical cannabis delivery services.

The bill allows the department of health to issue permits to medical cannabis dispensaries for the delivery of medical cannabis and cannabis products to qualifying patients or primary caregivers if certain conditions are met.

Update: SB 2787 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/25/20.

HI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of delivery services

Legislation is pending, HB 2097 / SB 2024, which would authorize licensed medical cannabis facilities to sell edible products.

Update: HB 2097 was approved by the House Finance Committee on 2/27/20, and was then approved by the full House on 2/28/20. The bill now heads to the Senate.

HI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of access to edibles

Maine

LD 1621 / SP 518 would allow licensed dispensaries to home deliver adult use cannabis to consumers 21 and older, only in jurisdictions that allow delivery services to operate.

Update: LD 1621 is scheduled for a public hearing in the State House on 3/2/20 at 10am.

ME resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of delivery

New Hampshire

House Bill 1386 “prohibits an employer from firing an employee solely because the employee has a positive drug test for cannabis if the employee is a qualified patient.”

Update: HB 1386 is scheduled for a executive session in the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee at 1pm on 3/4/2020 in Legislative Office Building 104.

NH resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Legislation is pending, House Bill 1343, which seeks to eliminate the possession of marijuana as grounds for the denial of an individual’s pretrial release.

Update: HB 1343 is scheduled for a Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Executive Session at 1pm on 3/3/20 in Legislative Office Building 204.

NH resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of amending pretrial release requirements

Rhode Island

H7765 would prevent employers from refusing to hire or discriminating against individuals for marijuana use and positive test results.

H7878 would prohibit employment discrimination by the state of Rhode Island against medical marijuana users. The act also requires reasonable accommodations be provided by the state employer.

RI resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of employment protections

Virginia

Legislation is pending, HB 972, which reduces penalties for offenses involving the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana to a civil violation – punishable by a maximum $25 fine, no arrest, and no criminal record.

Update: HB 972 was approved by the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations on 2/25/20.

VA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1015, to make participation in Virginia’s medical cannabis program legal under state law.

Currently, patients, caregivers, agents, pharmaceutical processors and their employees are only afforded an affirmative defense for participating in the state-licensed program.

Update: SB 1015 was approved by the House on 2/27/20. The bill now heads to the governor.

VA resident? Send a message to your governor in support of a state-legal medical cannabis program

Vermont

Lawmakers are considering senate-approved legislation, S. 54, to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

Update: S.54 was approved by the House. The bill will now go to conference committee to reconcile the changes between the House and Senate versions.

VT resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of retail sales

Legislation is pending, S. 114, to expunge the records of those convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses.

The measure also depenalizes activities involving the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana.

Update: S. 114 was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary on 2/25/20.

VT resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of expungement

West Virginia

Senate Bill 752 would:

  • Permit regulators to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states to allow certain out-of-state patients to use and transport medical marijuana while visiting West Virginia;
  • Remove the prohibition on the dispensing of dry leaf medical cannabis;
  • Allow accredited colleges, universities, or medical schools to be eligible to participate in marijuana research;
  • Add ulcerative colitis to the list of qualifying medical conditions

Update: SB 752 was approved by the Senate on 2/26/20. The bill now heads to the House.

WV resident? Send a message to your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

Maine: Medical Cannabis Market Is Third Largest in The State

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 21:29

Patients purchased an estimated $112 million worth of medical cannabis-related products in 2019, according to newly released Maine tax data.

The annual revenues related to medical cannabis now total more than the total revenues generated by the sales of blueberries, maple syrup, apples, herring, and oysters combined. Only the state’s lobster industry and potato industry bring in more annual revenue.

Some three-quarters of the revenue generated from medical cannabis (85.3 million) came from sales by caregivers to patients. Although the state’s medical cannabis access program has been operational for some two decades, Maine officials only began tracking caregiver-related tax revenue in February of 2019.

Licensed retail adult-use marijuana sales are anticipated to begin later this year.

New Jersey cannabis consumers seek relief before 2020

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 15:06

Trenton, NJ – Garden State NORML and cannabis consumers across New Jersey are calling on legislators to find an immediate solution to stop arresting nearly 100 people every day for possessing small amounts of marijuana. 

“Taxpayers are spending millions to put handcuffs on marijuana consumers, the same people who are expected to come out to the polls and vote for a constitutional amendment,” said Garden State NORML Executive Director Charlana McKeithen. “With another delay for full legalization, we hope elected officials will explore every option to stop these needless arrests.”

In addition to supporting full legalization, Garden State NORML supports decriminalizing marijuana – utilizing civil fines – for all ages. The decrim process requires no arrest, no handcuffs, no custody, no court, no jail, no supervision, no treatment, and no permanent record. Fines are usually between $25-$100. Twenty-one states and over one hundred cities have enacted such provisions. 

For regional context, Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana in 2014, and 20 additional cities in Pennsylvania followed suit. New York took the first step towards decriminalization at the state level in 1977, and further expanded on their decriminalization policies this year.

“Unfortunately, lawmakers in Trenton have elected to kick the can further down the road and allow tens of thousands more New Jersey residents to be saddled with criminal records for marijuana offenses due to their lack of action,” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML and a New Jersey native, “While we are confident the voters in New Jersey will send them an unambiguous message in 2020 in favor of legalization, state legislators must decriminalize marijuana possession in the interim to prevent even more lives from being ruined due to draconic prohibition policies.” 

“New Jersey’s continued criminalization of cannabis is done at the expense of its most vulnerable population, namely its black and brown residents,” said Tyler McFadden, Northeast Political Associate at NORML. “Enough is enough. If New Jersey legislators are sincere about their work to make their state a better place for all its residents, they need to start by decriminalizing cannabis possession for all ages.”

Meanwhile, under the antiquated policy of absolute criminal prohibition, New Jersey is seeing a record number of citizens arrested for cannabis. According to recent data released by ACLU-NJ, marijuana possession arrests have risen 35% in just four years. Racial disparities in these arrests are striking in many urban communities. Some towns see black and brown residents enduring 11 times the arrest rate for marijuana than their white counterparts. 

Longtime NORML organizer and NJ resident Chris Goldstein noted that local governments are also important for progress. 

“New Jersey’s municipal police departments and prosecutors can stop this needless enforcement against marijuana consumers by passing local decriminalization ordinances at any time,” said Goldstein. “Towns and cities also have a key role in legalization by helping grow a new small business sector with cannabis.” 

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is now promising to offer voters a chance to weigh in on the issue. A constitutional amendment is being considered for 2020. This will require two votes by both chambers of the NJ Legislature and voter approval in the general election. 

After three years of lively debate and several bills, a voter referendum will extend the process into 2021. 

”Marijuana consumers deserve justice right now. People are being arrested for low-level marijuana possession every twenty-two seconds in New Jersey, and that is completely unacceptable,” said McKeithen.

Garden State NORML will be working to form new coalitions to surge voter turnout in 2020. The proposed ballot question, ACR840/SCR183, will be debated in committee on December 12, 2019, at 10AM. The bill text can be found here

 

Garden State NORML is the NJ division of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a non-profit organization fighting to reform cannabis laws nationwide. Our efforts include education, community outreach, and working with lawmakers. Visit Garden State NORML’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date.

Clinical Trial: Transdermal Application of CBD Effective in Patients with Myofascial Pain

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 14:35

The transdermal application of plant-derived CBD reduces fascial pain in patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD aka TMJ), according to clinical data published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Polish investigators conducted a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial assessing the efficacy of twice-daily transdermal CBD administration on 60 patients with TMD over a period of 14 days.

Compared to placebo, patients receiving CBD therapy experienced symptomatic improvements, including reduced myofascial pain severity and decreased masseter muscle (the muscle around the jaw) activity. Subjects receiving treatment reported no adverse effects.

Authors concluded, “Further research is needed in this field, but CBD, as an alternative to THC, should be taken into consideration in the therapy of masticatory muscles in patients with TMD.”

Full text of the study, “Myorelaxant effect of transdermal cannabidiol application in patients with TMD: A randomized, double-blind trial,” appears online here.

Giving Tuesday is Here!

Tue, 12/03/2019 - 17:56

Giving Tuesday is the largest global giving day all year and NORML is excited to be a part of this worldwide event! We’ve set a goal to raise $10,000. It’ll take everyone to get it done, but the impact your donations will have is going to be incredible.

Year-end giving helps NORML prepare for the coming year, and there’s so much in store for 2020. NORML will celebrate 50 years of reforming marijuana laws. There will be multiple states with ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana. Legislatures across the country will debate and enact marijuana laws. Congress will hold more hearings on marijuana legislation. Presidential candidates will be talking about marijuana more than ever leading up to the November election. We’ve never been busier, and we need your help to make sure NORML has the necessary resources to keep fighting for your personal freedom.

NORML isn’t funded by big business or corporate cannabis. NORML is powered by its members and supporters who give generously and volunteer their time to end America’s failed war on marijuana.

I can give $10 to help legalize marijuana I can give $25 to fight bad marijuana laws I can give $100 to support NORML’s mission

It can feel right now like people have very little in common and it’s hard to connect, but generosity is a universally held value that brings us together. Being generous can make us happier, it can make a difference in the world, and it inspires generosity in others. It lets us come closer together and build stronger communities. It’s vital to strengthening the overall marijuana legalization movement, which NORML is a part of. Now, more than ever, we need to lift up and celebrate those values that bring us together, because together is how we will legalize America.

Onward,
NORML

Study: Adult-Use Cannabis Access Associated with Decreased Sales of OTC Sleep Aids

Tue, 12/03/2019 - 17:27

Adult-use retail cannabis access is associated with a decline in the sales of over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid medications, according to data published in the journal Complimentary Therapies in Medicine.

Investigators from the University of New Mexico and California Polytechnic State University assessed trends in the demand for OTC sleep aids in the years prior to and immediately after the enactment of adult-use marijuana regulation.

Researchers reported: “For the first time, we show a statistically significant negative association between recreational access to cannabis and OTC sleep aid sales, suggesting that at least some recreational purchasers are using cannabis for therapeutic rather than recreational purposes. … [O]ur results indicate that enough individuals are switching from OTC sleep aids to recreational cannabis that we can identify a statistically significant reduction in the market share growth of OTC sleep aids in conjunction with access to recreational cannabis using.”

Authors reported that the negative associations were driven by reduced sales of diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl)- and doxylamine-based sleep aids (e.g., Unisom) rather than herbal supplements like melatonin. Separate studies have similarly identified an association between cannabis access and the reduced use of various types of prescription medications, such as opioids and benzodiazepines.

Authors concluded: “Our results show that the market share growth for sleep aids shrank with the entry of recreational cannabis dispensaries … and the strength of the association increased with each subsequent dispensary. … Our results are consistent with evidence that legal access to medical cannabis is associated with reductions in Scheduled II-V prescription medications, many of which may be used in part as sleep aids.”

An abstract of the study, “Using recreational cannabis to treat insomnia: Evidence from over-the-counter sleep aid sales in Colorado,” appears online here.

Adult-Use Marijuana Sales Begin in Michigan

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 16:17

Licensed storefronts are now eligible to engage in retail cannabis sales to adults. The first adult-use sales began on Sunday, December 1.

Michigan voters last year approved a statewide initiative authorizing state officials to regulate the plant’s production, use, and sale.

In October, state regulators began accepting applications from medical cannabis dispensaries wishing to also engage in adult-use marijuana sales. As of this week, six storefronts — including four retailers in Ann Arbor — are licensed to sell cannabis to adults. Several other businesses have applications pending. Nonetheless, a statewide rollout of marijuana-related business is anticipated to be slow because many communities have passed local ordinances prohibiting adult-use establishments.

On January 1, Illinois will become the eleventh state to permit adult marijuana use.

Marijuana Consumers Have a Lot to Be Thankful For

Thu, 11/28/2019 - 19:20

At NORML, as we gather around the table today, we’re thankful not only for the dozens of legislative victories and the historic votes in Congress in 2019, we’re thankful for you, our supporters, members, and donors, who’ve made this progress possible. It’s because of your passion, commitment, and generosity that NORML has been able to sustain the fight to end marijuana prohibition for nearly fifty years… and together, we’ll keep winning.

So today, we’ll lift our glasses to you. And, however you’re enjoying today, relaxing or cooking, watching football or parades, we hope you’ll take a moment to share with those you love the incredible momentum we’re building together. Encourage those around your table to join you on the right side of history, to take action, and to support NORML in their holiday giving.

Gratefully,
The team at NORML

P.S. You can support NORML this weekend when you hit those holiday sales! Be sure to select NORML Foundation as your Amazon Smile charity and you’ll be giving every time you shop.

Another Study Links Vitamin E Additive to Lung Illness

Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:30

Data published today in the weekly publication of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides further evidence that the presence of vitamin E acetate (oil) in illicit market, e-liquid vape products is likely associated with EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury).

Minnesota investigators identified the presence of the oil additive in 24 of the products used by 11 patients with the lung disease. Virtually all of the patients interviewed in the study acknowledged obtaining THC vape products on the underground market.

A previous analysis in 2018 of illicit vape products seized by police in Minnesota failed to identify the presence of vitamin E. “Whereas vitamin E acetate was not detected in the limited number of tested products seized in 2018, it was detected in products seized in 2019, suggesting that vitamin E acetate might have been introduced recently as a diluent or filler,” investigators reported.

They concluded, “According to these and other published data, using THC-containing products with vitamin E acetate appears to be associated with EVALI; however, it is possible that more than one compound or ingredient could be a cause of lung injury, and evidence is not yet sufficient to rule out contribution of other toxicants.”

Weeks earlier, CDC representatives for the first time identified vitamin E acetate as a “very strong culprit of concern” in EVALI.

The online publication Leafly.com has issued several extensive reports regarding the recent rise in popularity of vitamin E among illicit market vendors of e-liquid products. Their reporting indicates that beginning in late 2018, some vendors began to use the oil as an additive in an effort to thicken the consistency of their e-liquids and to mask dilution.

Full text of the study, “Characteristics of e-cigarette, or vaping, products used by patients with associated lung injury and products seized by law enforcement – Minnesota, 2018 and 2019,” appears online in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report here.

Study Finds “Little Support” for Cannabis Impacting Cognitive Abilities

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 20:56

The occasional use of cannabis during late adolescence is not independently associated with adverse effects on cognitive abilities in young adulthood, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder assessed the impact of cannabis use on cognition, executive function, and working memory in 856 individual twins. Cannabis consumers were compared to their non-using twins in late adolescence and then again in their early twenties. Most of the cannabis consuming participants in the study reported occasional use of the substance, but not daily use.

Authors found “little support for a causal effect of cannabis use on cognition. This conclusion is consistent with those from previous twin studies, which suggest that cannabis use does not cause a decline in cognitive ability among a normative cannabis using sample.”

They concluded, “Results suggest that cannabis use may not cause decline in cognitive ability among a normative sample of cannabis users.”

The findings are consistent with several prior studies which also failed to show significant changes in either cognitive performance, brain morphology, or intelligence quotient due to cannabis exposure. Specifically, a 2018 literature review published in JAMA Psychiatry concluded: “Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals. Furthermore, abstinence of longer than 72 hours diminishes cognitive deficits associated with cannabis use.”

An abstract of the study, “Investigating the causal effect of cannabis use on cognitive function with a quasi-experimental co-twin design,” appears online here. Additional citations are highlighted in the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Performance.”