Weekly Legislative Roundup 6/21/19

Generic 24 June 2019 | 0 Comments

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

This week, history was made. For the first time ever, the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to restrict the Department of Justice from interfering with the states that have legalized adult-use marijuana.

Also this week, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing to discuss the economic and employment opportunities in the emerging legal cannabis industry and the challenges that federal prohibition and criminalization pose in regards to the Small Business Administration.

New York state lawmakers approved legislation on Friday to further expand cannabis decriminalization and expunge certain records. The bill now heads to the Governor.

Governor Kate Brown (D) signed legislation into law to to automatically conduct a review of past misdemeanor cannabis convictions, and to “set aside” offenses that are no longer a crime under state law.

Governor John Bel Edwards (D) of Louisiana signed legislation into law to deschedule hemp and hemp-derived CBD from the state’s list of controlled substances.

Activists in Nebraska working to qualify a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative are almost 10,000 signatures deep.

At a more local level, the district attorney for Monroe County, New York will no longer prosecute cases involving low-level cannabis possession.

California

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 223, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

Update: SB 223 was heard and approved by the Assembly Education Committee on 6/19/19. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on 6/25/19.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis access at school

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 34, which would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.

Update: SB 34 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Revenue And Taxation Committee on 7/2/19.

CA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of compassionate care programs

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 51, to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

Update: SB 51 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Business And Professions Committee on 7/9/19.

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

Delaware

Bipartisan legislation is pending, Senate Bill 37, that would reform the expungement processes for individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses.

If enacted, the bill would expand the pool of those eligible to seek expungement to include those convicted of a single misdemeanor or felony charge related to marijuana.

Update: SB 37 was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee on its merits (recommending that action be taken, without specifying what that action should be).

DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 45, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders.

Under state law, adults face civil penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses. Senate Bill 45 would make this policy consistent for juvenile offenders.

Update: SB 45 was approved by the Senate on 6/20/19, and now heads to the House. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health & Human Development Committee on 6/27/19.

DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of juvenile decriminalization

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 24, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.

The measure would give doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use.

Update: SB 24 was reported out of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee on its merits on 6/20/19.

DE resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of letting doctors, not politicians, decide

Massachusetts

Legislation is pending, S. 978, that would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume marijuana off-the-job in accordance with state law.

Update: S. 978 was heard by the Joint Committee on The Judiciary on 6/17/19.

MA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of consumer employment protections

North Carolina

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 315, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: S. 315 was approved by the Senate on 6/17/19, and now heads to the House. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on 6/25/19.

NC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

New Jersey

Recently introduced legislation, A20, seeks to significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It allows limited social consumption spaces, reciprocity for out-of-state patients, shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody, and phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, among other changes.

Update: A20 was approved by the Assembly and Senate on 6/20/19, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

NJ resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical cannabis expansion

Wisconsin

Legislation is pending, AB 206 / SB 188, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

Update: The Senate Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions Committee held a work session in SB 188 on 6/19/19.

WI resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp production

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Early-and-regular cannabis use by youth is associated with alteration in brain circuits that support cognitive control

Did you know that? 21 June 2019 | 0 Comments

The development of neural circuits in youth, at a particularly important time in their lives, can be heavily influenced by external factors — specifically the frequent and regular use of cannabis. A new study reports that alterations in cognitive control — an ensemble of processes by which the mind governs, regulates and guides behaviors, impulses, and decision-making based on goals are directly affected.

Congress Votes YES to Protect Legal Marijuana

Generic 20 June 2019 | 0 Comments

We. Did. It.

For the first time ever, the House of Representatives just voted to restrict the Department of Justice from interfering with the states that have legalized adult-use marijuana.

The importance of this 267 to 165 bipartisan vote on the Blumenauer amendment cannot be overstated. Today, nearly one in four Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute.

Today’s action by Congress highlights the growing power of our movement and the work of NORML leaders all around the country.

“It’s past time we protect all cannabis programs,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, co-founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and lead sponsor of the amendment. “We have much more work to do. The federal government is out of touch and our cannabis laws are out of date. I’m pleased that the House agrees and we are able to move forward.”

Now, we must shift our focus to the Senate and ensure that they do not move to strip out these hard-fought protections.

Make a contribution to our Senate Education Fund right now so we can do a full-court-press and cure those Senators who are suffering from Reefer Madness!

Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long failed experiment with marijuana prohibition. Now is our time to make our voices heard in the halls of Congress.

Together, we’re going to win this vote, and ultimately end marijuana prohibition from sea to shining sea. Together, we will legalize America.

Onward to more victories,

NORML

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House Committee on Small Business Holds Hearing On Cannabis

Generic 19 June 2019 | 0 Comments

Today, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing entitled Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry to discuss the economic and employment opportunities in the emerging legal cannabis industry and the challenges that federal prohibition and criminalization pose in regards to the Small Business Administration.

Currently, the SBA is prohibited from providing support, guidance, or microloans to small businesses in the cannabis industry, unlike every other sector of the economy.

In order to provide for inclusiveness within the legal industry, federal policy should strive to reduce roadblocks for qualified entrepreneurs in order to encourage participation from formerly disenfranchised populations. Enterprising individuals who would benefit most from the critical resources that the Small Business Administration provides must not be discriminated against in their quest to be job creators around the country.

Shanita Penny, President of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and the lead witness called by the Committee to testify said just prior to the hearing “The undeniable effects of the drug war are hampering equity in the industry, but together, we can address and repair the harms caused by discriminatory enforcement of marijuana laws and ensure access to and diversity in the emerging legal cannabis industry.”

After the hearing, Committee Chairwoman Velázquez said  “As more and more states take steps to bring cannabis to commerce, we are seeing small businesses at the forefront of this expanding industry. As the only House Committee dedicated solely to the needs of small firms, it is important for us to be shedding light on the challenges these small entities face as well as the economic potential they offer.”

It is for these reasons and more, NORML asks the House Committee on Small Business to advance legislation that would allow the Small Business Administration to engage with entrepreneurs and small businesses.

NORML additionally submitted testimony to the Committee that can be viewed here.

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Study: Cannabis Safe and Effective in Fibromyalgia Patients

Generic 19 June 2019 | 0 Comments

Marijuana and OpioidsThe administration of herbal cannabis is safe and effective in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, according to clinical data published this month in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Israeli investigators assessed the use of cannabis over a six-month period in 211 patients with the disease. Eight-one percent of subjects reported “at least moderate improvement in their condition … without experiencing serious adverse events.” Patients were most likely to report overall reductions in pain and overall improvements in their quality of life following cannabis therapy.

Twenty-two percent of subjects “stopped or reduced their dosage of opioids,” and 20 percent reduced their use of benzodiazepines – findings that are consistent with those of other studies.

“In the present study, we demonstrated that medical cannabis is an effective and safe option for the treatment of fibromyalgia patients’ symptoms,” authors concluded. “Considering the low rates of addiction and serious adverse effects (especially compared to opioids), cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care. … Future studies should aim to compare medical cannabis to the standard therapy of fibromyalgia, to establish the proper place of cannabis in fibromyalgia therapeutic arsenal.”

An abstract of the study, “Safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in fibromyalgia,” is online here. Additional information on cannabis and fibromyalgia appears in the NORML publication here.

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