Search Results for: regulate, legalize and tax marijuana

Chairman Nadler Statement For The Markup Of H.R. 3884, The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment And Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during the markup of H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019:

“H.R. 3884, the ‘Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019,’ or the ‘MORE Act of 2019.’ This bill would make three important changes to federal law. It would:

(1) remove marijuana, or cannabis, from the list of federally controlled substances;

(2) authorize the provision of resources, funded by an excise tax on marijuana products, to address the needs of communities that have been most seriously impacted by the War on Drugs, including increasing the participation of minority communities in the burgeoning cannabis market; and

(3) provide for the expungement of federal marijuana convictions and arrests.

“These steps are long overdue. For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one’s views on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating users at the federal level is unwise and unjust.

“This issue is not new to Congress. There have been many Members who have introduced bills upon which provisions in this bill are based. Representative Barbara Lee has sponsored bills that are the foundation of key provisions of the MORE Act, and I thank her for her longstanding leadership on this issue.

“Federal action on this issue would follow growing recognition in the states that the status quo is unacceptable. Despite the federal government’s continuing criminalization of marijuana, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

“I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.

“Marijuana is one of the oldest agricultural commodities not grown for food, and it has been used medicinally all over the world since at least 2700 B.C., but its criminalization is a relatively recent phenomenon.

“The use of marijuana, which most likely originated in Asia, later spread to Europe, and made its way to the Americas when the Jamestown settlers brought it with them across the Atlantic. The cannabis plant has been widely grown in the United States and was used as a component in fabrics during the middle of the 19th century. During that time period, cannabis was also listed in the United States Pharmacopeia as a treatment for a multitude of ailments, including muscle spasms, headaches, cramps, asthma, and diabetes.

“It was only in the early part of the 20th century that marijuana began to be criminalized in the United States—mainly because of misinformation and hysteria, based at least in part on racially-biased stereotypes connecting marijuana use and minorities, particularly African-Americans and Latinos. In 1970, when President Nixon announced the War on Drugs and signed the Controlled Substances Act into law, the federal government placed marijuana on Schedule I, where—unfairly and unjustifiably—it has remained ever since.

“As a consequence, thousands of individuals—overwhelmingly people of color—have been subjected, by the federal government, to unjust prison sentences for marijuana offenses. This needs to stop.That is why we are taking action today.

“The MORE Act would remove marijuana from Schedule I and, as a result, would decriminalize it at the federal level, leaving it to states to regulate marijuana as they may choose. Removing marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances is especially just because the same racial animus motivating the enactment of marijuana laws also led to racially disparate enforcement of such laws, which has had a substantial, negative impact on minority communities. In fact, nationwide, the communities that have been most harmed by marijuana enforcement benefit the least from the legal marijuana marketplace.

“The MORE Act would address some of these negative impacts, by establishing an Opportunity Trust Fund within the Department of the Treasury to fund programs within the Department of Justice and the Small Business Administration to empower communities of color and those most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.

“These programs would provide services to individuals—including job training, reentry services and substance use treatment—would provide funds for loans to assist small businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and would provide resources for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.

“The collateral consequences of a conviction for marijuana possession—and even sometimes for a mere arrest—can be devastating.

“For those saddled with a criminal conviction, it can be difficult or impossible to vote, to obtain educational loans, to get a job, to maintain a professional license, to secure housing, to receive government assistance, or even to adopt a child.

“These exclusions create an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans. This is unacceptable and counterproductive, especially in light of the disproportionate impact that enforcement of marijuana laws has had on communities of color. The MORE Act recognizes this and addresses these harmful effects by expunging and sealing federal convictions and arrests for marijuana offenses.

“It is not surprising that over the past two decades, public support for legalizing marijuana has surged. In the most recent Pew Research Center poll—which was released just last week—67 percent of Americans now back marijuana legalization, up from 62 percent in Pew’s 2018 poll.

“States have led the way—and continue to lead the way—but our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change. We need to catch up because of public support and because it is the right thing to do.

“In my view, applying criminal penalties, with their attendant collateral consequences for marijuana offenses is unjust and harmful to our society. The MORE Act comprehensively addresses this injustice, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this bill today.”

NJ Governor Murphy & Legislative Leadership Announce Agreement On Outlines Of Legalization Of Adult-Use Marijuana

Agreement Reached on Tax Rate, Regulatory Structure, and Expungement Provisions

NEW JERSEY: Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senator Scutari, and Assemblywoman Quijano today announced an agreement on the broad outlines of legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana in New Jersey.

“Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system,” said Governor Murphy. “After months of hard work and thoughtful negotiations, I’m thrilled to announce an agreement with my partners in the Legislature on the broad outlines of adult-use marijuana legislation. I believe that this legislation will establish an industry that brings fairness and economic opportunity to all of our communities, while promoting public safety by ensuring a safe product and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes.

“This plan will allow for the adult use of cannabis in a responsible way,” said Senate President Sweeney. “It will create a strictly regulated system that permits adults to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. It will bring marijuana out of the underground market so that it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been since the end of Prohibition. This plan will also advance important social justice reforms to help reverse the discriminatory impact that drug laws have had on diverse communities.”

“The agreement reached to legalize adult-use cannabis is the result of incredibly hard work by many people over many months,” said Speaker Coughlin. “Getting to this point wasn’t easy. We talked and we negotiated in good faith, but most importantly, we listened. I want to thank Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for their tireless efforts and willingness to compromise so we could put forth the most responsible legislation possible. I believe this new, regulated industry will help boost our economy, but I’m particularly proud of the critical social justice components included in the bill.”

“The prohibition on marijuana has long been a failed policy,” said Senator Nicholas Scutari. “This plan will bring an end to the adverse effects our outdated drug laws have had on the residents of our state. As a regulated product legalized marijuana will be safe and controlled. It is time to legalize adult use marijuana in New Jersey and this is a well crafted legal reform that will advance social policy in a fair and effective way.”

“After months of discussions and debate, I am proud that we have come to an agreement on a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “We learned from stakeholders and listened to opponents. The final product is fair, responsible and focused on social justice. I want to thank Speaker Coughlin for his leadership in the Assembly and express my gratitude to Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for partnering with us in this daunting endeavor.”

Under the terms of the agreement, adult-use marijuana will be subject to an excise tax of $42 per ounce, which will be imposed when marijuana is cultivated. In addition, municipalities that are home to a cultivator or manufacturer will receive the revenue from a 2% tax on the product within their jurisdiction.  Municipalities that are home to a wholesaler will receive the revenue from a 1% tax on the product within their jurisdiction, while municipalities that are home to a retailer will receive the revenue from a 3% tax on the product within their jurisdiction.

Adult-use marijuana will be governed by a Cannabis Regulatory Commission, composed of five members. Three members will be appointed by the Governor, with the Governor’s initial appointments to serve terms of at least four years and not be subject to Senate confirmation. Two other members will be appointed by the Governor, upon the recommendations of the Speaker and Senate President. The Commission will promulgate all regulations to govern the industry and will oversee the applications for licensing of adult-use marijuana dispensaries.

Provisions in the bill establish an expedited expungement process for individuals convicted of low-level marijuana offenses, and a virtual expungement process that will automatically prevent certain marijuana offenses from being taken into account in certain areas such as education, housing, and occupational licensing. Additionally, there are a number of provisions that aim to ensure broad-based participation in the industry for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs), low- and middle-income individuals, and disadvantaged communities across the state.

Final text of the legislation will be released in the coming days, subject to pending technical edits.

 

OLCC Provides Oregon Legislature With Recreational Marijuana Supply And Demand Study

OREGON: Today the Oregon Liquor Control Commission provided the Oregon Legislative Assembly with the 2019 Recreational Marijuana Supply and Demand Legislative Report required by ORS 475B.548.
2019 Recreational Marijuana Supply and Demand Legislative Report
A Letter from OLCC Director Steve Marks

Oregon’s Public Policy Approach to Support Legal Marijuana Production and the State’s Abundant Supply: The Course for Seeking the Right Balance

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is grateful for the opportunity to produce for the Oregon Legislature a comprehensive examination of the amount of marijuana accounted for and contained within Oregon’s regulated recreational marijuana market.
Let me first acknowledge that we have a considerable supply of marijuana in our state’s recreational marijuana system.  That licensed Oregon cannabis growers have become successful in producing this volume of marijuana is due in no short order to the intentional choices made by Oregon voters and policy makers.  Now we find ourselves at a crossroads where our state’s history with marijuana and the future of cannabis commercialization meet.

Oregon’s unique geography and climate are qualities that have enabled generations of Oregon farmers to produce copious amounts of cannabis. The illegal export of Oregon cannabis has been taking place for decades. For Oregon, producing a lot of marijuana is not new news; producing a lot of marijuana that is tracked in the legal system is.

Recognition that cannabis is woven into the state’s cultural fabric initially emerged as institutional tolerance when Oregon became the first state in the country to decriminalize marijuana possession in 1973. Greater acceptance of cannabis occurred in 1998 when Oregon, following California’s lead two years earlier, established a medical marijuana program. A broader embrace of cannabis took place when Oregon voters approved Measure 91 in November,2014, and became the 3rd state to legalize recreational marijuana.

With the debate around legalization largely settled, Oregon’s elected officials began making annual adjustments during legislative sessions beginning in 2015.  Each legislative modification to Oregon’s regulated cannabis system has attempted to improve the industry’s economic stability by removing barriers to entering the market while at the same time enhancing regulatory compliance to address public safety concerns while withstanding federal scrutiny.

Oregon is not creating a new industry, it is converting an illegal cannabis production economy, and a loosely-regulated medical program, into a well-regulated legal market

Oregon oversupply is a sign that policy choices made to attract illegal and grey market producers into the new commercial system have been successful; this was a start-up challenge Colorado and Washington didn’t have to face. Oregon medical marijuana growers had long been suspected of diverting into the illegal market so it was important to attract these well-established producers into the OLCC’s new regulated recreational marijuana program.

To entice medical as well as formerly illegal growers into Oregon’s legal market the state lowered the barriers to entry with low license fees and taxes and chose not to limit the number of licenses. This approach fulfilled the immediate objective to absorb medical marijuana providers into the OLCC market, but it has led to industry churn as businesses face mounting cost pressures and attempt to position themselves for the long term.

The ongoing objective is to account for and contain legally produced cannabis within Oregon, create consumer confidence in the legal market, and establish compliance performance boundaries for marijuana licensees.

By requiring the tracking of marijuana flower and marijuana products, CTS has provided the most reliable accounting for legally produced cannabis in Oregon. For the first time, the state’s production of marijuana is accounted for and there are consequences – criminal and administrative – for licensees that divert product from the regulated system.

Oregon’s legal market has created a new growth industry with quality product, a diversity of choices, and transparent information for consumers

Oregon’s successful transition to a regulated adult-use market has provided customers an unprecedented degree of consumer safety confidence. Oregon’s testing program and packaging and labeling requirements are considered best-in-class and are being replicated by other states that have legalized adult use cannabis. This confidence has contributed to consistent growth in retail activity as evidenced by the $198 million in state and local sales tax revenue generated since legalization.

On the demand side the establishment of a legitimate market has resulted in consumers shifting their purchase activity away from the illegal market to licensed retailers. The conversion of most OMMP dispensaries to OLCC retailers, coupled with the OLCC’s deliberate effort to allow medical grade products for sale at retail, has established a statewide retail network, in which medical marijuana patients are also able to obtain tax-free products.

Industry innovation has continued since the OLCC’s establishment of and oversight over the marijuana supply chain in January 2017; today consumers are able to find a selection of products reflecting a marketplace with 2,100 licensees. As more consumer choices have been introduced and prices have decreased, sales have seen a corresponding increase.

A context for change

Oregon’s current supply in the legal market is a reflection of successful policies to move production into the legal system. The adoption of the legal system by recreational consumers and medical patients for the purchase of branded and tested cannabis products is a strong indication that the legal system is winning the battle against the illegal market.

At the same time, Oregon regulators and law enforcement, with support of the licensed industry, are developing and utilizing new resources and tools to confront illegal market activity. Now that the legal system has successfully taken hold, policy makers can make adjustments combined with market forces to work towards a sustainable economic balance between supply and demand.

The economic condition of the market that the OLCC will be regulating in the next two years remains uncertain. Just as it took time to establish legal alcohol markets after the repeal of alcohol prohibition, the development of the legal marijuana industry will require patience. In less than three years Oregon has made substantial progress toward creating a controlled, economically viable and well-regulated cannabis industry. While regulations to control and manage this new industry will continue to change, no matter the future course, the ability to support existing and aspiring licensees and take enforcement against those that don’t follow the rules will be a crucial function for the state and the private sector businesses that have entered this industry.

A primary objective of establishing Oregon’s regulated market was to contain cannabis legally produced in Oregon from diversion into the illegal market.  Oregon’s legal cannabis market and its framework for accountability and containment indicates the system is performing as it was designed.

At this point we have another opportunity to make intentional choices.  With market mechanisms and thoughtful public policy, the state of Oregon and the OLCC can continue to control what we’ve created – to reinforce and strengthen the regulatory system we’ve built in just three short years.  One corrective policy tool proposed by the Governor would allow the OLCC to place a moratorium on licenses.  As the 2019 legislative session progresses other ideas may emerge.

We expect any guidance that the Governor and Legislature may develop during the 2019 legislative session will strengthen the continued implementation of a regulated marijuana system that balances public safety concerns with the vision of Oregon voters.

The 2019 Recreational Marijuana Supply and Demand Legislative Report is more than just about numbers. Its substance and specific methodology reflect a state-of-the-art approach for evaluating use and demand and normalizing values and equivalencies of differing cannabis products as produced and sold in the Oregon marketplace. While not infallible, this study provides a sound base for the discussion and debate of policy development. The OLCC appreciates the work and time its talented staff and outside peer reviewers have spent to bring forward this public data on legal marijuana production in Oregon.

A copy of the 2019 Recreational Marijuana Supply and Demand Legislative Report can be found on the OLCC on the Recreational Marijuana main page under the Government Resources column.

 

Marijuana Legalization Could Come To These 12 States This Year

By Eric Weisbrot

Despite strong efforts to maintain the criminalization of marijuana use in the United States, many individuals and lawmakers have taken a step in the direction of legalization over the last several years. Currently, there are 29 states that allow for medical marijuana use, under particular limitations, and a smaller percentage that give residents the ability to use marijuana on a recreational basis under state law. The federal government has been slow to end prohibition of the drug, but recent research shows growing support for legalization on a state level for many reasons.

One of the strongest components of marijuana legalization support revolves around the well-documented success of states that have eliminated prohibition for residents. The states that allow for recreational use of marijuana have systems in place to ensure the tax revenue and economic growth is regulated, mostly through the use of bonding and licensing requirements for dispensaries, growers, and distributors. Based on the positive outcomes legalized states have generated, there are 12 more states considering legalizing marijuana use on some level in 2018.

Michigan: In the state of Michigan, there is a current initiative to gather the 250,000 signatures needed to include a marijuana legalization bill on the ballot in the 2018 election cycle. If approved, the bill would allow for recreational use of the drug for those over the age of 21 who are also residents of the state.

Delaware: In late 2017, a legislative task force was formed in order to analyze the impact marijuana use has on state residents from a recreational standpoint. A bill was shot down in 2017, but the hope is that an opportunity remains in 2018 after the findings of the task force are made public.

New Jersey: With a Democratic-led legislature, New Jersey is poised to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in 2018. A skyrocketing criminal justice cost along with proven racial injustices in the state are the prime motivators behind passing such legislation this year.

Vermont: A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana was approved in Vermont in May 2017, but it was vetoed by the governor at the time. A commission tasked with studying the issues surrounding recreational marijuana use, including health concerns and driving impairment statistics, was created at that time. Based on the results of the commission’s work, legislation is set to pass in Vermont in 2018 allowing adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivation of two mature plants.

Oklahoma: During either the June or November elections, Oklahoma is set to add a bill to the ballot for medical marijuana use legalization for state residents.

Ohio: Lawmakers in Ohio failed to get a bill passed to legalize recreational marijuana use in the last three years, but a ballot proposal is intended to be included during the midterm election cycle this year.

Connecticut: Thanks to local efforts from lawmakers in Harford, Connecticut legislature is set to include a statewide ballot vote for recreational marijuana legalization in November 2018.

Rhode Island: After forming a legislative commission in 2017, Rhode Island may be one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2018. The commission sought to research the impacts of the drug on its community, based on neighboring studies in Massachusetts and Maine.

Kentucky: A bill for the legalization of medical marijuana may be on the docket in 2018 for residents of Kentucky. Although there is little support from the current governor, advocates for the drug’s medical use may beat the odds during the midterm election cycle.

Utah: Medical marijuana may be legalized in Utah, following in the footsteps of several other states nearby. The ballot for the midterm elections should include a bill for Utah voters to weigh in on in 2018.

South Dakota: South Dakota may also be close to legalizing medical marijuana, as signatures are currently being gathered for a ballot initiative slated for 2018 election inclusion.

Missouri: Similar to South Dakota, signatures are currently being collected for a medical marijuana bill in Missouri which would allow voters to make the decision in this election cycle.


Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.  

New Bill Builds Bipartisan Momentum Behind Federal Marijuana Reform

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), along with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), introduced bipartisan legislation to evaluate states’ marijuana policies. The Marijuana Data Collection Act directs the National Academy of Sciences to create a federally recognized report on state-level marijuana legalization policies, including both medical and non-medical use, and their effects on public health, safety, the economy, the criminal justice system, and more. The information compiled in the report would provide scientific data and statistics on the impact of various marijuana policies on our nation.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also received the NORML Rufus King Sr. Public Leadership Award for her outstanding public leadership in marijuana law reform. The award was presented at the NORML Congressional lobby day, where activists advocate for federal marijuana reforms on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that has ruined people’s lives, torn families apart, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. In 2016 alone, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Our laws must be informed by facts — not emotion, manufactured stigma and myths. Our bipartisan legislation, the Marijuana Data Collection Act, will lay the groundwork for real reform by producing an objective, evidence-based report on current marijuana laws that exist in 31 states across the country, and their impact on our communities.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

“Federal lawmakers have long ignored the issues of our outdated federal marijuana policy,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo said.“In recent years, however, voters across the country – including in my home state of Florida and overwhelmingly in my district – have called for modernized marijuana policies in their states. This bill takes a commonsense step toward allowing unbiased research into the impacts that marijuana has had in states that have chosen to legally regulate it. I am proud to support the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act to ensure the federal government is no longer an obstacle to legal, regulated marijuana and starts being part of the discussion for a new federal policy.”

Justin Strekal, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Political Director, said: “We appreciate Representative Gabbard for her tremendous leadership in the fight to reform our nation’s failed policy of prohibition. From emphasizing that marijuana policy be evidence-based, to tasking the National Academies with this important work, to her role as a lead on HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, Rep. Gabbard has been one of the most prominent voices in calling for a new sensible approach to cannabis.”

On the House Floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that’s wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for non-violent marijuana charges. Our outdated marijuana policies have turned everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously, and torn families apart – all for a substance that’s proven to be far less harmful and dangerous than alcohol.

“Our federal policies should be based on actual science and fact, not misplaced stigma and outdated myths. However, the fact that marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug –the same category as heroin and cocaine – restricts and even discourages scientific research on marijuana, limiting our ability to create science-based policies. I’ll be introducing the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act with my colleague Congressman Carlos Curbelo so that we can create a study to set the record straight. Our bill would authorize a non-partisan, evidence-based report that analyzes current marijuana policies across the country, and their effects on our communities. I urge my colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation.”

Background: The Marijuana Data Collection Act would:

  • Require data collection and study with regard to the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues.
  • Require the Secretary of HHS to coordinate with the DOJ, DOL, and States (to the greatest extent possible) and direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to publish a biennial study on the health, safety, and economic effects of state legalized marijuana programs.
  • The Report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data.

As part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has long called for sensible marijuana policies. She is the lead Democratic co-sponsor of H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list. She has called for closing the gaps between federal and state law to resolve current contradictions and provide legally abiding marijuana businesses with clear access to financial services. She is also a cosponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act (H.R. 4815) to reform unjust federal marijuana laws and empower minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the failed War on Drugs, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 2215) to allow equal banking access and financial services for marijuana-related businesses, the RESPECT resolution (H.Res. 943) to encourage equity in the marijuana industry, and more.

Gardner, Warren, Joyce and Blumenauer Unveil Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Protect State Marijuana Policies

Forty-Six States, Washington D.C., Two Territories, and a Number of Tribes Have Legalized Marijuana in Some Form

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Representatives David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act) to ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders. The bill also extends these protections to Washington D.C, U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribes, and contains common-sense guardrails to ensure that states, territories, and tribes regulating marijuana do so safely.

Forty-six states currently have laws permitting or decriminalizing marijuana or marijuana-based products – and Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and a number of tribes have similar laws. As states developed their own approaches to marijuana enforcement, the Department of Justice issued guidance to safeguard these state actions and ensure practical use of limited law enforcement resources. However, this guidance was withdrawn earlier this year, creating legal uncertainty, threatening public health and safety, and undermining state regulatory regimes.

“In 2012, Coloradans legalized marijuana at the ballot box and the state created an apparatus to regulate the legal marijuana industry.  But because of the one-size-fits-all federal prohibition, state decisions like this put Colorado and other states at odds with the federal government,” said Senator Gardner. “The federal government is closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted.  The bipartisan STATES Act fixes this problem once and for all by taking a states’ rights approach to the legal marijuana question. The bipartisan, commonsense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters – whether that is legalization or prohibition – and not interfere in any states’ legal marijuana industry.”

“Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research, and hindered economic development,” said Senator Warren. “States like Massachusetts have put a lot of work into implementing common sense marijuana regulations – and they have the right to enforce their own marijuana policies. The federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana.”

“We should trust the people of the states, like Ohio, who have voted to implement responsible common-sense regulations and requirements for the use, production, and sale of cannabis,”said Representative Joyce. “If the people of these states have decided to provide help for those veterans and others suffering from pain and other health issues, we should allow them access without government interference.”

“For too long the senseless prohibition of marijuana has devastated communities, disproportionately impacting poor Americans and communities of color. Not to mention, it’s also wasted resources and stifled critical medical research,” said Representative Blumenauer. “It’s past time to put the power back in the hands of the people. Congress must right this wrong.”

Ignoring the ability of states, territories, and tribes to determine for themselves what type of marijuana regulation works best comes with real costs. Legitimate businesses that comply with state laws are blocked from access to basic banking services. Illicit markets often spring up and local law enforcement must divert resources needed elsewhere. Thousands of people are prosecuted and locked up in our criminal justice system. Qualified scientists and state public health departments struggle to conduct basic and epidemiological research or spur medical advances, and the fundamental nature of state and tribal sovereignty is violated. As more states, territories, and tribes thoughtfully consider updates to marijuana regulations, often through voter-initiated referendums, it is critical that Congress take immediate steps to safeguard their right to do so by passing the STATES Act.

The legislation has been endorsed by organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Safe Access, Americans for Tax Reform, the Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign for Liberty, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cooperative Credit Union Association, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Liberty, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Maine Credit Union League, the Mountain West Credit Union Association, the National Cannabis Bar Association, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the New Federalism Fund,NORML, the Northwest Credit Union Association, R Street, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

The STATES Act:

  • Amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that – as long as states and tribes comply with a few basic protections – its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with State or tribal laws relating to marijuana activities.
  • Clearly states that compliant transactions are not trafficking and do not result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction.
  • Removes industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances under the CSA.
  • The following federal criminal provisions under the CSA continue to apply:
    • Prohibits endangering human life while manufacturing marijuana.
    • Prohibits employment of persons under age 18 in drug operations.
  • Prohibits the distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilities such as rest areas and truck stops.
  • Prohibits the distribution or sale of marijuana to persons under the age of 21 other than for medical purposes.

A fact sheet about the legislation is available here, and the full bill text is available here.

Elected Officials And Industry Leaders To Speak At NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally This Saturday, May 5

In its 47th year, the Event starts in Midtown and marches to Union Square Park for an afternoon rally

NEW YORK:  New York’s longest running annual pro-cannabis event, the NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally, returns for its 47th year this Saturday, May 5.  A powerful slate of elected officials, including two state legislators and three City Council Members, will be speaking from stages in Midtown and Union Square Park throughout the day. The elected officials are:

  • NY State Senator Jesse Hamilton (State Senate District 20, Brooklyn/Queens)
  • NY Assembly Member Richard Gottfried (State Assembly District 75, Manhattan)
  • NYC Council Member Rafael F. Espinal (City Council District 37, Brooklyn)
  • NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams (City Council District 45, Brooklyn) and a candidate for New York State Lieutenant Governor
  • NYC Council Member Donovan Richards (City Council District 31, Queens)
RESIST PROHIBITION, REALIZE, LEGALIZE NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally is Saturday, May 5th

RESIST PROHIBITION, REALIZE, LEGALIZE NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally is Saturday, May 5th

The Event begins at 11 am with a pro-legalization speak-out at the assembly point at W. 31 St. and Broadway. State Sen. Hamilton and Council Member Williams will be among the speakers at W. 31 St. At 12:30 pm, the parade marches down Broadway to Union Square Park, where speakers and musicians will engage and entertain the crowd from 1-5 pm.

Additional speakers include:

  • Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels who is now using medical marijuana to treat Crohn’s disease
  • Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)
  • Joy Beckerman, President, Hemp Industry Association (HIA)
  • Joel Giambra, Former County Executive of Erie County and candidate for Governor
  • Yasmin Hurston, President, New York Minority Alliance
  • Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for Governor
  • Tanya Osborne, NYC/Bronx Market Leader, Women Grow
  • Leo Bridgewater, President, NY/NJ chapters, Minorities for Medical Marijuana
  • Cristina Buccola, Esq., member, New York Cannabis Bar Association
  • Justin Strekal, Political Director, National NORML
  • Shira Adler, Author, The ABCs of CBD

The performers are: 

  • Immortal Technique
  • Chief Rocker Busy Bee
  • Lord Digga da Highsman
  • Real One
  • Lunar Tourists
  • Ismael Levi

• King Ras Pedro

  • Comedian Rob Cantrell

Check out the full lineup of speakers and performers here. 

The Event’s emcees are the Cannabis Cultural Association’s Jake Plowden, Nelson Guerrero, Amanda Reyes and Joseph A. Bondy.

The NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally’s Coalition Partners are: Drug Policy Alliance, Women Grow NYC, Empire State NORML, High NY, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, CannaGather, Hemp Industry Association, Patients Out of Time, Marijuana Business Association, New York Minority Alliance and the Green Party of New York State.

The Event sponsors are: Dutch company Sensi Seeds; Etain Health, one of New York’s registered medical cannabis providers with dispensaries in Manhattan (142 E. 39 St.), Yonkers and Kingston; Curved Papers; and Flower Power Coffee Co.

STATEMENTS FROM EVENT SPEAKERS AND PERFORMERS

NY State Senator Jesse Hamilton:

“Nine states and the District of Columbia have decided to legalize and regulate marijuana. By joining these states, New York would allow law enforcement to prioritize real public protection needs. Alongside broken windows policing, our outdated marijuana laws direct police resources, court time and the justice system’s authority at people who are not violent, not dangerous and do not pose a threat to the public. We must continue to work towards the day that New York rejects the deeply flawed policies of the past, embraces sensible reform and passes the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.”

NY State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried:

“We need to move beyond the outdated and broken marijuana prohibition model to a sensible tax-and-regulate system. But that’s only part of the solution. Even in states with legal adult marijuana use, there is still evidence of unequal law enforcement practices targeting minority communities. We must ensure that those most victimized by the criminalization of marijuana benefit from the social and political progress around the issue, including reforming criminal justice processes and ensuring widespread participation in the marijuana business boom.” 

NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams:

“We must expand out medical marijuana program to include all those who can benefit from its use,” adds Council Member Williams. “We also should rapidly move towards the full legalization of marijuana, expunge state criminal records of past users and create a pathway for all New Yorkers to benefit economically from this industry, not just a select few chosen by the Governor.” 

NYC Council Member Donovan Richards:

“It’s a weird time when New York City finds itself to the right of former House Speaker John Boehner, but unfortunately that is where we are with about 17,000 marijuana arrests in 2017. We must stop the practice of flooding our prisons with marijuana offenders and disproportionally impacting communities of color now. Marijuana is not a threat to our public safety and our youth cannot wait any longer as a one minor mistake can stick with them for the rest of their life”

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU):

“I have no doubt that recreational marijuana will soon be legal in New York – as it should be. The criminalization of marijuana has resulted in racial and social injustice because of its disparate enforcement, and has denied its use as another tool in the war against opioid abuse. And we need to make sure that when it is legalized that workers in the industry are treated with dignity and respect, and have a union voice. The sooner marijuana is legalized the better.”

Immortal Technique:

“For the entirety of my musical career I have been a huge proponent of the decriminalization of marijuana. Since I was a young man I began to research and learn about hemp and cannabis, and especially about it’s connection to the prison industrial complex. It’s for this reason that I have continued to support the movement. The idea of transformative justice is not just to correct the laws that are on the books treating weed smokers like murderers, it’s also the need, the inescapable necessity, to deal with the convictions that have sent thousands to prison and burdened them with criminal records. I will continue to fight not only to decriminalize it, but also to battle for transformative justice because without it, all the recent change in marijuana laws become meaningless.”


ABOUT THE NYC CANNABIS PARADE & RALLY

The Event was founded by the Yippies (Youth International Party) in 1971. It has served as the flagship for the multi-decade mass movement for cannabis legalization and has taken place in various locations around the city over the years, including Washington Square Park, Battery Park and Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The Event moved to Union Square Park in 2012. The mission of the Event is to promote marijuana legalization federally and specifically in the New York Metro area, end discriminatory arrest practices and the mass incarceration of citizens and improve the state’s overly restricted medical cannabis program. The NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally is the founding chapter of the Global Marijuana March, which takes place in hundreds of cities in the U.S. and around the world in May and June. For more information: cannabisparade.org

 

Connecticut House Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

CONNECTICUT: The Joint Committee on Appropriations approved a bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana for adults in Connecticut on Thursday, potentially setting it up for floor consideration before the end of this year’s legislative session.

regulate marijuanaHB 5394, which was introduced by the committee, would task the commissioners of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Consumer Protection and Revenue Services with developing regulations for possession and retail sales of marijuana for adults 21 and older. More details will be added to the bill as it moves forward over the coming weeks.

“This committee vote reiterates what most Connecticut residents already know: it is time to make marijuana legal for adults,” said Becky Dansky, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The discussions that have taken place in the legislature this year have provided more than enough information to effectively move forward with legalization. Connecticut should stop punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol, and it has an opportunity to regulate marijuana before it starts losing tax revenue to other states in the region that have already started this process.”

There are nine states that have made marijuana legal for adults, as well as the District of Columbia. Neighboring Massachusetts is in the process of implementing its regulated marijuana market, and in nearby New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has made legalizing and regulating marijuana a priority this year.

poll conducted by Sacred Heart University in October 2017 showed that 71% of Connecticut residents support regulating and taxing marijuana for adults.

 

Canada: Trudeau Administration Seeks To Legalize Marijuana By July 2018

CANADA:  Legislation is anticipated from the Trudeau administration in early April to regulate the use, production, and sale of marijuana. In 2015, the Liberal Party pledged to “legalize and regulate” marijuana if Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister.

The forthcoming legislation will likely be modeled after recommendations issued in 2016 by a federal task force. Members of the task force called on Parliament to permit those over 18 to possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana, and further recommended lawmakers regulate and tax the commercial cannabis market.

The pending legalization legislation is expected to be introduced the week of April 10, CBC News has reported. Proponents are seeking to have the new law in place by July 1, 2018.

Until that time, however, Canadian police are continuing to enforce marijuana prohibition. In recent weeks, police in several Canadian cities – including Toronto and Vancouver – carried out raids of various storefront dispensaries, including those operated by longtime activists Marc and Jodie Emery.

For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Read Up, Reach Out, And Help Reform Marijuana Laws

By Bailey Hirschburg, Legislative Associate, WA NORML PAC

WASHINGTON: Tuesday, March 7th is our 2017 Cannabis Community Lobby Day in Olympia. Even if you aren’t able to join us, you can still help. Below are several bills that impact recreational and medical cannabis consumers and could be passed into law this year or early next year. They have moved through some committees and may be voted on this week if lawmakers are pushed to act.

Attendees from across Washington will be discussing these and other marijuana issues with lawmakers. Your call to lawmakers helps to turn up the volume.

What follows is the same information and talking points given to attendees, as well as info on how you can contact lawmakers from home.

Once you’re done, let us know how it went by posting on social media using #CannabisCommunityLobbyDay .

EXAMPLE:

BILL#1 (Says whether to talk to Senator/Representatives) A title/subject sentence the legislature uses to describe the bill.

Explanation of how it impacts cannabis consumers in the legal market.

– A talking point or fact to discuss that helps frame the issue positively.

HB2021 (Representatives) Authorizing the sale of marijuana plants and seeds to qualifying patients and designated providers.

Medical marijuana patients and caregivers are allowed to cultivate cannabis but have no way to secure seeds/clones outside of one of the few medical cooperatives registered with the state. This would allow medically endorsed retailers/producers to sell seeds/clones to patients with authorizations or registered designated providers.

-There have been problems merging medical and recreational laws together, this starts to address safe access for patients, keeps potential medical crops tested, and helps the state observe distribution.

-Some retailers have medical endorsements, but according to the staff of the LBC, almost none have compliant products. Seeds offer producers an incentive into making compliant products, motivating businesses and patients to participate in the legal market.

HB1461 (Representatives) & SB5323 (Senators) Relating to creating a voluntary marijuana production standard and certification program.

The organic certification is a federal term, so the state cannot use this on cannabis. This takes comparable language to federal organic standards and applies them to a certification program overseen by the state Dept. of Agriculture. 

– Consumers appreciate the environmental and health implications of organic-type certification and would benefit from a recognizable and consistent standard.

-This incentivizes outdoor production which benefits the atmosphere through oxygenation while using less energy than indoor production.

SB5290 (Senators) Relating to the administration of marijuana to students for medical purposes.

Requires rules process for allowing caregivers/guardians to administer non-inhaled marijuana to registered student-patients at schools, buses, and school sponsored events. Currently, it’s optional, meaning school districts can avoid preparation even when a student is in need. It’s companion bill, HB1060, recently passed the state house.

-Colorado and New Jersey currently have laws accommodating student-patients. Our state has an expectation to provide education, and current federal law prohibits interference in state medical cannabis program. (H.Amdt. 748 to H.R.4660 – Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015)

-Fortunately, there aren’t many needing this, but the current practice in many districts is for parents to take students off site to use medicine. This hinders learning and socialization that’s crucial for child development.

-This requires minimal planning and no staff participation, we shouldn’t wait until a student is missing out.

SB5324 (Senators) Relating to adding authority to the department of agriculture to regulate sanitary processing of marijuana-infused edibles.

Applies authority of state Dept. of Agriculture in sanitary food handling to infused-edibles and establishes a producer endorsement for them. Currently, Ag contracts with the LCB to monitor but can’t act on violations independently.

-Most edibles are made and handled well, but consumers appreciate knowing they’re regulated similarly to other food items.

There are also issues like home growing, and social cannabis use that the legislature hasn’t advanced. HB1212 passed unanimously out of the house Commerce & Gaming Committee, beyond personal cultivation it legalized sharing/gifting, and allowed patients or individuals to have their crop tested in a lab. A great bill, but no interest in the state senate.

Another bill proposed increasing the penalty for public consumption of cannabis, but nothing has been put forth for private events/businesses to allow even outdoor marijuana use. The frequent reason given is that there isn’t an appetite among lawmakers for those changes. There is an appetite for the cannabis tax revenue that funds 1.76% of the state budget. Consumers have been scared to speak up because of social/legal barriers. Some are broken. You’re breaking more.