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Weekly Legislative Roundup, 2/10/2017

Friday, February 10, 2017 17:22
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(Before It's News)

Originally published at blog.NORML.org

revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the legislative roundup!

One thing is clear so far this year, elected officials see the writing on the wall when it comes to marijuana in America. This week, the number of bills filed throughout the country pertaining to various marijuana related policies broke 1,000.

Most importantly, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

With the recent confirmation of militant marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference.

In just the last day, we have had over 1,500 people email their Congressional Representative to support this crucial piece of legislation.

Additionally, much to the dismay of marijuana advocates (and a number of our allies including the ACLU and NAACP), Jeff Sessions has been confirmed and sworn in as the nation’s Attorney General.

What happens next in regards to marijuana policy is uncertain but for now, NORML and marijuana advocates from around the country will continue to pursue further progress, be it at the state or federal level.

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

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

Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
Justin

PRIORITY ALERTS

Federal
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

Click here to email your Congressional Representative to urge them to support this crucial legislation.

Connecticut
Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.

Reps. Melissa Ziobron (R), and Juan Candelaria (D) also have similar measures, HB 5314 and HB 5539. HB 5314 has been reserved for public hearings and HB 5539 is still being debated in committee.

The House Speaker has previously acknowledged that he expects these bills to receive full hearings this session, so it is vital that your lawmakers hear consistent support for these measures from voters like you.

CT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

New Hampshire
Update: HB640 has passed the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on a vote of 14-2.

HB640, sponsored by 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate.

NH Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

New York
Legislation has been filed for the 2017 legislative session to eliminate the ‘public view’ loophole exception in New York state’s marijuana law. Abuse of this provision has led to hundreds of thousands of needless marijuana arrests in recent years, primarily in New York City, despite the possession of the plant being decriminalized in the state since 1977.

NY Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Rhode Island
New Poling: A coalition of Rhode Island lawmakers has reintroduced a marijuana legalization this legislative session.

A majority of Rhode Island residents, about 60 percent, support legalization and Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate Rhode Island, believes: “It’s time for Rhode Island to look very seriously at this issue and pass a bill. Otherwise, we risk falling behind those other states.”

RI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Texas
Legislation has been introduced for the 2017 legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 81, filed by Representative Joe Moody and cosponsored by Representative Jason Isaac, seeks to amend state law so that possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a civil violation, punishable by a fine – no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

According to the ACLU, Texas arrests over 70,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — the second highest total in the nation, at the cost of over 250 million dollars per year.

TX Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Tennessee
Several pieces of legislation are pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.

HB 831 and SB 1116 seek to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Separate legislation is pending in the House and Senate — SB 265 and HB 297 — to reduce penalties associated with the possession of one-eighth of marijuana (3.544 grams) to a $50 fine-only offense. However, under these bills, simple possession would still remain classified as a misdemeanor.

TN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

OTHER ACTIONS TO TAKE

Florida
HB 237 seeks to prohibit individuals from operating a motor vehicle if they have 5 or more nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood.

NORML opposes this proposal.

The presence of low levels of THC in blood is an inappropriate and inconsistent indicator of psychomotor impairment. No less than the United States Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees, stating, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”

It should not be presumed that the detection of THC is predictive of psychomotor impairment and such a presumption should not be codified in Florida’s traffic safety statutes. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.

FL Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Georgia
Legislation is pending in the Senate, SB 105, to reduce felony marijuana possession offenses to a fine-only misdemeanor.

Under state law, the possession of over one ounce of marijuana is classified as a felony offense — punishable by a minimum of one year in jail and up to ten years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Senate Bill 105 would reduce this penalty to a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $300.

GA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Iowa
Legislation is pending in the House, HF 199, to establish a statewide medical marijuana program. Under HF 199, qualified patients with intractable pain and other conditions would be able to obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities. Similar legislation is also pending in the Senate, SF 205.

A more narrow version of this program is proposed by separate legislation, HF 198.

IA Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Kansas
Legislation is pending before lawmakers, SB 155, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

SB 155 would permit qualified patients to grow their own medical marijuana or to obtain it from a licensed dispensary, while also educating physicians who seek to recommend cannabis therapy.

Kansas is one of fewer than a dozen US states that has taken no action to reform its medical marijuana laws. Please urge your House and Senate lawmakers to support these comprehensive legislation.

KS Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Minnesota
Legislation to permit the adult use, cultivation, production, and retail sale of marijuana is forthcoming in the Minnesota legislature.

Deputy Minority Leader, State Rep. Jon Applebaum has announced his intent to sponsor the measure in a press release. The bill would allow those age 21 or older to legally possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use and establish regulations governing its commercial production and retail sale.

MN Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

New Mexico
Update: HB 89 has cleared the first committee as it makes it’s way to the floor of the House.

State Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez introduced HB 89 to regulate the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in the state.

”It is either going to happen sooner or it is going to happen later and if it happens sooner we can realize the economic benefits now.” McCamley said.

NM Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Oklahoma
Legislation is pending in the House, HB 1877, The Medical Marijuana Act of 2017.

Passage of the Act would regulate state-licensed dispensaries to provide up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana to qualifying patients.

Separate provisions protect the rights of patients from civil sanctions, stating: “An employer shall not discriminate against an individual in hiring, termination or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an individual, based upon the past or present status of the individual as a qualifying patient or designated caregiver; A person otherwise entitled to custody of, or visitation or parenting time with, a minor shall not be denied custody, visitation or parenting time solely for conduct allowed under this act.”

OK Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Vermont
UPDATE: H. 170 was first heard on Thursday, Feb. 9th

Legislation is pending in the House, H.170, to eliminate civil and criminal penalties specific to the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults.

If passed, the measure would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana, up to ten grams of hashish, and/or the cultivation of two marijuana plants in a private residence.

VT Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.

Wisconsin
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) introduced a pair of bills seeking to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical cannabis. The first bill establishes a statewide medical marijuana program, while the second bill would poll voters’ attitudes on the issue in the form of a nonbinding statewide referendum.

Speaking at a news conference, Sen. Erpenbach said that the passage of his legislation will put patients “in a situation where they don’t have to break the law anymore.”
WI Resident? Click here to email your elected officials to support this effort.



Source: http://blog.norml.org/2017/02/10/weekly-legislative-roundup-2102017/

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