Indiana NORML: Midterm Elections Shakeup State Legislature

Generic 16 November 2018 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday, November 6th, Indiana voters took their final opportunity to vote in the 2018 midterm election. While Indiana did not have the opportunity to vote directly on cannabis propositions as in other states, there were numerous candidates on the ballot supportive of reforming our cannabis laws. Many of them did not win their races, but this election was not without wins for cannabis reform in Indiana. Here are some highlights and some races we’re still watching:

JD Ford: State Senate District 29

During the 2018 session, state senator Mike Delph (R) voted against legalizing CBD products in Indiana, an issue widely supported by Hoosiers. JD Ford (D), on the other hand, actively campaigned on the issue of cannabis. “I believe that it is time to work with law enforcement agencies, healthcare groups, and other stakeholders to legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis,” Ford told us in response to one of our candidate survey questions. Delph responded to the same question about decriminalization by stating that, “This is not our most pressing area of criminal law. From a practical standpoint, we really need the federal government to address its position before we can meaningfully do so at the state level.”

JD Ford won his race and will be a new voice for reforming our cannabis laws in the Indiana Senate, where the sentiment on cannabis legislation is thought to be more even more hostile than in the House.

Chris Campbell: Indiana House District 26

Chris Campbell (D) ran against incumbent state representative Sally Siegriest (R), and won with 57% of the vote. In response to our candidate survey, Campbell said she was supportive of implementing a medical cannabis program in Indiana, decriminalizing cannabis, and allowing retail sales of cannabis for personal use.

Chris Chyung: Indiana House District 15

In house district 15, Chris Chyung (D) won his race against incumbent Harold Slager (R). “The federal government also needs to set clear guidelines on the legality of cannabis,” Chyung said in response to a question posed by NWI Times about issues that required action from the federal government, “Colorado has benefited to the tune of over half a billion dollars in revenue alone, and more in jobs growth and economic development. I will never allow Indiana to leave that kind of potential money on the table.”

Other races with supportive candidates remain to be called. Due to widespread issues at polling locations, results for Indiana’s 4th house district might not be available until November 16th, although candidate Frank Szczepanski (D) supports implementing a medical program, decriminalization, and the legalization of retail sales for personal use.

Read more here: https://www.inorml.org/election-highlights/

For more information about marijuana law reform efforts in Indiana, follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

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NORML Chapters Participate in Las Vegas’ First Business-to-Consumer Cannabis Conference

Generic 15 November 2018 | 0 Comments

Members of the Nevada NORML chapters, alongside representatives from Denver NORML, Arizona NORML and the National NORML Board of Directors, participated in Las Vegas’ first Business-to-Consumer Cannabis conference this weekend at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

The Herban Expo opened its doors Friday as a free convention available to the public. While there are a vast array of emerging expos and shows within the cannabis space, Herban Expo’s unique focus on consumers and free entry certainly set it apart. With nearly 50 vendors from across Nevada regions and nationwide, the show floor remained a steady source of valuable education and networking all weekend.

It was a great honor that Las Vegas NORML was asked to organize the panels and educational content, for all three days on the main stage. The Las Vegas NORML stage ended up featuring almost 30 panels and presentations, composed of over 60 experts! The feedback from attendees regarding their experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Topics of panels included, “CannaParents”, Criminal Justice Reform, Cannabis is Medicine, Social Use Lounges, How to Start a Cannabis Support Business, and more.

As part of NORML’s call to action over the weekend, members from the various chapters led efforts to collect letters to Congress in support of marijuana reform. Though the goal for the weekend was 500, nearly 600 letters were signed to demonstrate support for the STATES Act, SAFE Banking Act, the Marijuana Data Collection Act and expansion for Veterans’ Access! Attendees of the event were eager to participate in the letter writing campaign and found it to be a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with current federal legislation.

This past weekend hundreds of marijuana related businesses arrived early in Las Vegas for MJ BizCon, the largest Marijuana conference to hit the states, but entry costs nearly $700 for the general public. Herban Expo will return again in 2019 and NORML chapters are excited to remain an active part in the educational aspects in order to bring consumers the most valuable experience possible. 

More about this year’s expo and upcoming info for future events can be found at www.HerbanExpo.com. Thank you everyone that attended! See you in 2019! Follow Las Vegas and Nevada NORML on Instagram (@lasvegasNORML & @NevadaNORML) for more information about upcoming events.

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New Legislation Aimed To Reduce Veterans Medical Marijuana Confusion

Generic 15 November 2018 | 0 Comments

Just two days after Veteran’s Day, Congressman Seth Moulton has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and other medical issues can be a matter of life or death. Moreover, failure of VA policy to allow physicians to openly talk about cannabis or recommend it has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and on the well-being of our veterans.

While Rep. Moulton’s bills do not address the core issue of the inability for VA doctors to fill out state-legal medical marijuana recommendations it does address the uncertainty of VA policy when it comes to a veteran’s ability to have an honest conversation with their doctor.

The three bills are as follows:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Policy for Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would amend and codify a medicinal cannabis policy the VA has but is not widely disbursed. As more veterans turn to medicinal cannabis to more effectively treat their various service- and non-service related injuries, the relationship with their healthcare providers is becoming ever more important. The VA has a policy protecting a veteran’s benefits if they discuss their medicinal cannabis use with their health care provider; however, not all healthcare providers respond in a standard way and veterans still fear and experience repercussions of some kind. This bill clarifies and codifies patients’ and healthcare providers’ roles and responsibilities in incorporating medicinal cannabis into a patient’s treatment plan and requires the policy to be prominently posted in all VA facilities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Survey of Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would have the VA conduct a nation-wide survey of all veterans and VA healthcare providers to learn about how veterans are using medicinal cannabis. From the American Legion’s survey on medicinal cannabis, “22 percent of veterans stated they are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition and 40 percent of caregivers stated they know a veteran who is using medical cannabis to alleviate a medical condition.” With the growing use of medicinal cannabis among veterans, the VA needs a better understanding of what veterans are doing to self-medicate various conditions.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Education Act of 2018. This bill would partner the VA with medical universities who have incorporated medicinal cannabis education into their curriculum to develop continuing education programs for primary healthcare providers.

Upon introduction, Rep Moulton said “Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana – including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible. We also have an obligation to make sure our veterans are getting the best healthcare in the world. We have a long road ahead of us until medicinal cannabis is fully researched and legal but we can take a few steps now to start figuring that out. As someone who still receives healthcare from the VA, I see no reason why veterans healthcare should be behind the eight ball. These bills are an important first step towards finding out what can be most successful as treatment options evolve and change.”

While these bills would make commendable advances if passed by Congress, they fail to include the fix most needed of VA policy, which would be to allow VA doctors to fill out the necessary state-legal medical marijuana recommendation form in the 33 states that now have laws governing the therapeutic use of cannabis.

There are two pieces of legislation currently pending which would address that currently pending in the House and Senate. They are The Veterans Equal Access Act in the House carried by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act in the Senate carried by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

You can contact your federal lawmakers in support of medicinal cannabis policy reform to support veterans by clicking here.

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Congress: New House Rules Chairman Pledges To Allow Floor Votes On Marijuana-Related Amendments

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Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern says that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019.

“Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” he said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Colin Allred. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

“Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

Representative McGovern indicated that he would prioritize legislative measures to limit federal interference in legal marijuana states, to expand medical cannabis access for veterans, and to amend federal banking restrictions on the legal cannabis industry.

“This just seems like common-sense stuff,” McGovern said. “Especially on the issue of medical marijuana — people who are opposed to that are just on the wrong side of public opinion, overwhelmingly. It’d be nice if, every once in a while, Congress acted in a way that people wanted. I know that may seem like a radical idea, but come on.”

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Texas NORML: Midterm Elections and the 86th Texas Legislature

Generic 13 November 2018 | 0 Comments

Prohibitionist Pete Sessions has been ousted from office by Collin Allred and a huge number of volunteers, voters and cannabis activists! Cannabis was a huge part of this race’s conversation. We are hopeful that this huge shake up will help marijuana bills move more expeditiously at the Federal level as Sessions has been a huge roadblock for change.

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“Texans has re-affirmed that they are no longer satisfied with the status quo for marijuana laws in Texas. Many advocates in North Texas and across Texas worked hard to remove Sessions, who has been an major impediment at the Federal level,” said Jax Finkle, Executive Director of Texas NORML. “Session’s stance was not based in science, constituent opinion, common sense policy making nor the Texas GOP platform. We are hopeful for the upcoming Legislative Session here in Texas and hope that we will see more movement at the Federal level as well.”

We also had some important changes in Texas. At the state level, we have 12 incumbents that have been replaced with Freshman in the House, 2 in the Senate and 2 at the Federal level. These are important changes before our legislative session that kicks off in January 2019.

Become a sustaining donor and support our work during the session!

The 86th Texas Legislature will convene on January 8th, 2019, but the pre-filing period began yesterday. Lawmakers have begun introducing legislation for consideration during the upcoming legislative session. (Learn more about preparing for the session here.)

Several marijuana related bills have been introduced:

HB 63 (Rep. Joe Moody) — Relating to the civil and criminal penalties for possession of certain small amounts of marihuana and an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia; creating a criminal offense. Participate in our action alert!

SB 156 (Sen. Jose Roriguez) – Relating to the civil and criminal penalties for possession of certain small amounts of marihuana and an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia; creating a criminal offense.

SB 90 (Sen. Jose Menendez) — Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing fees.

HB 186 (Rep. Terry Canales) — Relating to the determination of the weight of marihuana and other tetrahydrocannabinolsfor the purpose of the prosecution and punishment of the offense of possession of those substances.

HB 122 (Rep. Gina Hinojosa) — Relating to the medical use of marihuana; providing an affirmative defense to prosecutionfor possession of marihuana.

SB 116 (Sen. Jose Menendez) — Relating to industrial hemp; requiring an occupational license; authorizing fees.

HJR 21 (Rep. Ron Reynolds) — Proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use.

HB 209 (Rep. Ron Reynolds) — Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing fees.

Become a sustaining donor and support our work during the session!

For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in the Lone Star State, follow Texas NORML on Facebook  and Twitter and become a member today!

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