New Hampshire: Governor Signs Marijuana Annulment Measure

Generic 16 July 2019 | 0 Comments

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has signed legislation into law establishing procedures permitting those with prior, low-level marijuana convictions to petition the court to have their convictions annulled.

House Bill 399 provides an opportunity for those convicted of offenses involving the possession of three-quarters of one ounce of cannabis or less to seek an annulment. If the prosecuting attorney does not object to the request within ten days, the petition will be granted.

The new law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

State lawmakers decriminalized low-level marijuana possession offenses in 2017.

In June, the Governor signed separate legislation, House Bill 350, into law permitting physician assistants to make medical cannabis recommendations to qualified patients. House Bill 364, which seeks to allow state-registered patients to grow personal use quantities of cannabis at home, awaits action from the Governor.

Separate legislation that sought to remove existing rules requiring patients to have at least a three-month relationship with a medical provider prior to seeking a medical cannabis recommendation was vetoed by Gov. Sununu.

Additional information on pending legislation is available from NORML’s Take Action Center.

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Senator Rice Needs to Get Woke About Weed, Pt. 2

Generic 13 July 2019 | 0 Comments

As New Jersey continues to fail its constituents each day they do not pass cannabis legalization for adult-use, the name of one state senator at the forefront of the fight against legalization remains permanently inked in shame: State Senator Ron Rice of the 28th District.

Despite 62% of New Jersey residents supporting legalizing cannabis for adult-use, State Senator Rice is now firmly in the pockets of the “Prohibition Now, Prohibition Forever” lobby, taking his marching orders and talking points from They Who Shall Not Be Named. As someone who likes to say he’s “of the people”, the state senator seems to have found a new group to whom he has pledged loyalty – and it’s not the people of New Jersey. 

Click here (if you live in the 28th District) or here (if you are a New Jersey resident outside the 28th District) to send an email to State Senator Rice and let him know that you are in full support of cannabis legalization in the Garden State.

State Senator Rice released an op-ed on the 4th of July, in which he made a plea to his peers in the New Jersey State Legislature to prioritize decriminalization-

“We can make this happen and put our state at the vanguard of social justice in America. We can infuse our independence with a deeper level of freedom grounded in real justice for all. We can give the Fourth of July even greater meaning and let our fireworks reflect our own impossible formations of brilliance that make us one vibrant, colorful nation.”

State Senator Rice is right about one thing. Arrests for cannabis possession must stop immediately, and the New Jersey State Legislature must put aside petty politics and get this done. But what the state senator fails to realize it that decriminalization alone is simply not enough to undo the havoc that prohibition has wreaked upon communities across the state, including Newark, in his home district.

In a letter he wrote to his legislative colleagues earlier this year, State Senator Rice laid out a list of reasons to vote no on legalization bills S2703/A4497 and they read like they were taken straight from Kevin Sabet’s Twitter page. What State Senator Rice and the prohibitionist lobby fail to note is that their cherry-picked studies and alarmist prohibition propaganda ignore the larger studies that find that legalization has little to no negative impact on communities in legal states, and in most cases, bring positive change to the states who choose to legalize cannabis and implement common-sense regulatory structures.

Click here (if you live in the 28th District) or here (if you are a New Jersey resident outside the 28th District) to send an email to State Senator Rice and let him know that you are in full support of cannabis legalization in the Garden State.

All of this is unsurprising. State Senator Rice has a long history of a gross misunderstanding of the science behind cannabis and the real-world effects of legalization. In an interview given last year to NJTV, State Senator Rice said “that he believes marijuana is a gateway drug [(a theory consistently disproven)] and claimed that when recreational marijuana is legalized, ‘the number of people who’ve never used any type of drugs goes up substantially in terms of drug use.’” He went on to demonstrate his severe lack of knowledge by saying-

“If in fact we legalize recreational marijuana, right across the street from my office they’re going to put up stores… They want to call them dispensaries, but they’re going to be stores that do retail selling cupcakes with marijuana, candies with marijuana, sex toys and oils with marijuana, lipsticks with marijuana, all those kinds of products that kids can get and people can get.”

For a man who truly believes he is “of the people”, State Senator Rice seems to be completely out of touch with what the people of New Jersey actually want. That’s why it’s so important for you as a New Jersey resident to tell him that you support full cannabis legalization in the Garden State.

Click here (if you live in the 28th District) or here (if you are a New Jersey resident outside the 28th District) to send an email to State Senator Rice and let him know that you are in full support of cannabis legalization in the Garden State.

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Pennsylvania: Health Officials Expand Medical Cannabis Access Program

Generic 12 July 2019 | 0 Comments

Marijuana and OpioidsPennsylvania health officials have expanded the pool of patients eligible to receive medical cannabis access.

The State Health Department Secretary publicly announced on Thursday that patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders and/or Tourette’s syndrome will be eligible to receive recommendations to legally access medical cannabis products. The new rules take effect on July 20.

Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman called the changes “a truly powerful expansion” of the state’s program.

An estimated 110,000 patients and over 1,600 physicians currently participate in the state-sponsored access program.

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Hawaii: Measure Decriminalizing Minor Marijuana Possession Becomes Law Absent Governor’s Signature

Generic 11 July 2019 | 0 Comments

Democratic Gov. David Ige failed to take action on legislation decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession offenses, thereby allowing the measure to become law without his signature.

House Bill 1383 reduces penalties involving the possession of up to three grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a criminal record, to a non-criminal violation – punishable by a $130 fine. It also provides procedures for the courts to grant an expungement order for those previously convicted of a marijuana possession offense involving no more than three grams.

The new law takes effect on January 11, 2020.

Twenty-six states and Washington, DC have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of marijuana.

Separate legislative measures which sought to establish a commercial hemp industry in Hawaii and to permit qualified patients to engage in inter-island travel with medical cannabis were both vetoed by the Governor on Tuesday.

More information regarding pending marijuana legislation is available from NORML’s Take Action Center.

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HISTORIC: House Judiciary Subcommittee Holds First-Ever Hearing on Federally Descheduling Marijuana

Generic 11 July 2019 | 0 Comments

Marijuana HempMembers of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security heard expert testimony today challenging the federal government’s failed policy of cannabis prohibition. The hearing, entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” debated the merits of various alternative policy options – including abolishing cannabis’ longstanding Schedule I criminal status under federal law.

The hearing marked the first time in decades that members have explicitly entertained debate regarding the need to end the federal criminalization of cannabis and to deschedule (remove) the plant from the Controlled Substances Act. You can watch the full hearing below:

Witnesses testifying at yesterday’s hearing were Dr. David Nathan of the group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Marilyn Mosby, Esq., State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, Dr. G. Malik Burnett (formerly of the Drug Policy Alliance), and Neal Levine, Chief Executive Officer of the Cannabis Trade Federation. Their written testimony is available online here.

Members of Congress in attendance at the hearing included: Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ben Cline (R-VA), Stephen Cohen (D-TN), Doug Collins (R-GA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), and Greg Stube (R-FL). Several members, including Reps. Cohen and Lieu, concurred with witnesses’ testimony that Congress should completely remove the cannabis plant from the federal Substances Act.

Committee members were broadly united in their support for legislation to address federal prohibition in some form.

In her opening comments, Committee Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-CA) said, “The war on drugs was racially biased from its inception and has been carried out in a discriminatory fashion with disastrous consequences for hundreds of thousands of people of color and their communities.”

Other members echoed similar sentiments:

“Marijuana should be an issue of personal choice and public health” – Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY)

“I think marijuana should be completely taken out of the controlled substance act…Everything in politics seems impossible until it happens . . . Keep on fighting and I believe we can get this done.” – Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)

“[Marijuana decriminalization] may be one of the very few issues upon which bipartisan agreement can still be reached in this session.” – Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

A coalition of social advocacy groups – including NORML, the ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, The Immigrants Legal Resource Center, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Center for American Progress – released a joint Statement of Principles to coincide with the hearing. The Statement, which was entered into the record, highlights legislative priorities and provides Congress with a roadmap for ending America’s ongoing policy of cannabis criminalization.

 Commenting on the hearing, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “For the first time in a generation, members of Congress engaged in a candid conversation that acknowledged the failures of marijuana prohibition in the United States, how this policy has adversely impacted tens of millions of Americans, and how it must be reformed at the federal level.”

He added: “The ongoing classification under federal law of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance – a categorization that treats it in the same manner as heroin – is intellectually dishonest and has been scientifically debunked. It is high time that Congress address this Flat Earth policy and move forward with a plan that appropriately reflects marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural status in America.”

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri added, “After nearly a century of prohibition, it is clear this policy has been an absolute failure and a national disgrace. All we have to show for the war we have waged on marijuana is the egregious harms it has wrought upon tens-of-millions of our fellow citizens. Congress must act swiftly and begin to remedy the pain caused by the criminalization of marijuana. The only real federal solution to this problem is the full descheduling of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This would allow us to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to the illicit market and allow state governments the opportunity to pursue alternative regulatory policies, free from the threat of federal intervention or prosecution. The American public is overwhelmingly ready to legalize marijuana, their elected officials in Washington need to finally start representing the will of the people.”

(PS: Did you see that, in honor of this hearing and all the progress we are making, our board member Rick Steves is offering to match ALL donations this week up to $40,000? Help us keep the fight going and double your impact today by donating HERE.)

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