NORML Responds: White House Threatens To Crack Down On Legal Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, and added that the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”

The Department of Justice is lead by Jeff Sessions, a renowned ardent marijuana prohibitionist.

“If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana they will be taking billions of dollars away from state sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels. This action will lead to swift backlash from the 71% of Americans that think marijuana policy should be dictated by the states and is a foolish and reckless direction to take our country. Sad.” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML.

The Press Secretary’s comments are similar to those made by Sen. Sessions during his vetting process when he made clear that any use of marijuana remains against federal law and that “it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

“Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions both hold views that are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws regarding marijuana in over half of the states in this country,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML. “The fact that President Trump would allow his Attorney General to pursue a path that is so politically unpopular and contrary to will of numerous states is absurd.”

Ultimately, patients and others in legal jurisdictions will only truly be safe from federal prosecution when and if members of Congress elect to amend federal marijuana laws in a manner that comports with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status. Congressional passage of HR 975, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ which NORML supports and/or re-authorization of the Rohrabacher-Farr (now to be introduced as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer) amendment would be steps in the right direction to protect patients and others in legal states from undue federal interference.

If federal politicians were truly listening to the will of the electorate, they would move forward to enact these changes, which are strongly in line with voters’ sentiments. According to national polling data released today, 71 percent of voters — including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

In short, undermining voters’ wishes and state laws in this regard not only defies common sense, it is also bad politics — particularly for an administration that is defining itself as populist in nature.

For more information, please contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at justin@norml.org

Four Things You Can Do To Help Legalize Home Growing In Washington

By Bailey Hirschburg, Legislative Associate, Washington NORML PAC

House Bill 1212, in the Washington state house, would legalize personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, keep as much as 24 harvested ounces in the home. It defelonizes sharing or gifting of marijuana up to one ounce, and allows patients/adults to have their harvested marijuana tested in professional laboratories. Despite a unanimous committee vote of “do pass” in the house, progress has stalled because of lack of a companion bill in the state senate.

With the help of grassroots activists, calls from constituents, and supporter engagement from emails, Washington’s state house is, for the moment, saturated. But the senate has had less marijuana legislation, and less engagement. Four things you can do to help:

image21.) Call the right Senators

Email is alright, but they get a lot. Calls get more notice. Start with your senator, find them here:

BONUS if your state senator is any of the following, if not, leave a message for them anyway.

State Senate Leadership

  • Majority Leader: Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-9th District, (360) 786-7620
  • Majority Caucus Chair: Sen. Randi Becker, R-2nd District, (360) 786-7602
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Joe Fain, R-47th District, (360) 786-7692
  • Minority Leader: Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-34th District, (360) 786-7667
  • Minority Floor Leader: Sen. Marko Liias, D-21st District, (360) 786-7640
  • Minority Caucus Chair: Sen. John McCoy D-38th District, (360) 786-7674

 Commerce, Gaming & Sports Committee(Deals with marijuana legislation)

  • Committee Chairman: Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-6th District, (360) 786-7610
  • Vice Chairman: Sen. John Braun, R-20th District, (360) 786-7638
  • Ranking Minority Member: Sen. Karen Keiser, D-33rd District, (360) 786-7664

2.) Call Senator Ann Rivers, R-18th District, (360) 786-7634

Every lawmaker I’ve talked to says some version of “Any Senator can sponsor home grow, if you want it to pass, you need Senator Rivers.”  Rivers was at the center of the 2015 changes to the state’s medical marijuana laws, which were divisive then and haven’t gotten much better. She took a lot of flack for that law, but she’s still the senate republicans cannabis head honcho. If you want it to pass, you need Senator Rivers.

3.) Be nice to staff, and they’ll give your message extra volume

Whatever the senators politics, they believe in them enough to hustle. You’ll be speaking to them through their staff aide. This person is both busy, and has a better relationship with the senator than you. Be to the point, remind them what bill it is, and say thanks. The call doesn’t need to last long, someone else may be calling to support!

Please call your state senator first, and ask that they get back to you about sponsoring the senate companion to SHB1212. Then, let other senators you contact know you’ve already called as a constituent, and are calling them as a senate leader.

For the Commerce, Gaming, and Sports Committee members or Sen. Ann Rivers let them know you’re calling because of their leadership on marijuana issues.

4.) Make the right argument.

The common arguments in favor of SHB1212 have been its benefits to medical patients and the fact that other legal marijuana states have it. Those are good points, but there’s another argument few people make. From Washington’s State Constitution:

“SECTION 7 INVASION OF PRIVATE AFFAIRS OR HOME PROHIBITED. No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.”

The state constitution is what lawmakers swore to uphold. Maybe Washington used to have a legitimate interest in busting people for a few plants. But in 2017, if you’re not dealing, trafficking, driving, or endangering kids, then it’s not the state’s business if you want to grow your own.

Call the right senators, stay courteous with staff, and argue the constitution. A few steps can make all the difference in legalizing home growing this year.

Maine: Voter-Initiated Changes In Law Eliminate Marijuana Possession Penalties

MAINE:  Maine became the eighth state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

Language in Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act, specific to the private possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults, took effect on Monday. Maine voters narrowly passed Question 1 on Election Day.

The new law permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the harvest from up to six mature plants.

Public use of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine.

In response to voters’ approval of Question 1, Maine lawmakers passed separate legislation last week, LD 88, also permitting adults to possess up to five grams of marijuana concentrates. However, other provisions in the measure delay the implementation of retail marijuana sales until at least February 1, 2018. It also prohibits the possession of “edible retail marijuana products” until this date.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption and/or sale of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.

“Not for Kids” Deadline Approaches For Washington Edibles

WASHINGTON: The “Not for Kids” warning symbol will be required to be placed on all packages of marijuana products meant to be eaten or swallowed effective February 14, 2017. The Board recognizes that changing packaging requires time which is why the effective date was extended to 90 days after adoption in mid-February; enforcement of the new requirement will commence at the same time. For your convenience the basic requirements are listed below as well as links to the rules and additional information.

Note: We have received questions about what constitutes a “principal display panel.” The term was included for those packages that do not have a “front” to the packaging, such as a round container or other similar packaging. The principal display panel is what is presented to the consumer under conditions of retail sale. For example, what the consumer will view when the product is displayed on a shelf or case. The principal display panel is not on the back of the package.

1.   The warning symbol cannot be any smaller than three-fourths inch in height by one-half inch in width. It must be of a size so as to be legible, readily visible by the consumer, and effective to alert consumers and children that the product is not for kids.

2.   The warning symbol must be placed on the “principal display panel” or front of the package.

a.    “Principal display panel” is defined as  the portion(s) of the surface of the immediate container, or of any outer container or wrapping, which bear(s) the labeling designed to be most prominently displayed, shown, presented, or examined under conditions of retail sale.

b.    “Immediate container” means the external container holding the marijuana product.

3.    The symbol can be placed on the package/label in threeways:

a.    The digital image can be incorporated onto labels for marijuana edible products;

b.    The digital image may be downloaded and used to print stickers for placement on the front of marijuana edible products; or

c.    Licensees may choose to purchase stickers of the “Not for Kids” warning symbol for placement on the front of marijuana edible products.

4.   The symbol or stickers cannot cover or obscure any other information required to be on packages or labels for marijuana products.

5.   The symbol is trademarked and cannot be changed in any way other than for sizing purposes, except that a licensee must use a black border around the edges of the white background of the warning symbol image when the label or packaging is also white to ensure visibility of the warning symbol.

A digital image of the warning symbol can be found at the Washington Poison Center’s website and additional information is available on the WSLCB website. You can view the rules as adopted by the Board on the WSLCB’s Recently Adopted Rules webpage

The new section appears in the Legislature’s website under WAC 314-55-106. The Legislature’s website contains the most current information and versions of all laws and rules in the state.

NORML Comments On Maine Marijuana Legalization Certification

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Adults in Maine will be able to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis without penalty beginning January 30, 2017.

“Sometimes our opponents have to be drug there kicking and screaming, but it is good to see the ‘No on 1′ campaign and Governor LePage honor the will of state voters and allow legalization’s election night victory to finally be formally certified,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “We will be fighting to ensure the initiative is implemented as voters intended and will be vigilant and prepared to fight back against any further efforts to rollback this landmark reform.”

Governor Paul LePage on Saturday certified the results of Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act. The voter-initiated measure narrowly passed on Election Day and was subject to a partial recount. By law, the measure becomes law 30 days after the Governor has affirmed the results.

At that time, adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program will be able to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of cannabis and/or the total harvest produced by six mature plants.

Maine will become the eight US state to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess marijuana for their own personal use.

Separate provisions in the measure also establish regulations for the commercial cultivation, retail sale, and social use of cannabis. Regulations governing marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be in place by August 8, 2017. However, the Governor has called on lawmakers to push back this timeline. Massachusetts lawmakers last week enacted a similar delay to their retail sales program.

Governor LePage has been a strong opponent of implementing Question 1, stating, “If there was ever a bill that the legislature should just kibosh, that’s it.” He has also suggested increasing the retail sales tax rates associated with the measure, as well as abolishing the state’s medical cannabis program, which has been in place since 1999 — positions that NORML opposes.

Canada: Federal Task Force Advocates Legalizing Retail Marijuana Sales

CANADA: Marijuana should be legal for those Canadians age 18 and older, according to the recommendations of a federally commissioned task force. The expert panel was tasked by the Trudeau administration to create a legal framework for cannabis that is consistent with the government’s commitment to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access.”

The report proposes that lawmakers amend federal law to allow for those over the age of 18 to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis. It also recommends establishing regulations to oversee the commercial production, retail sale, and taxation of marijuana and related products, such as cannabis-infused edibles. It proposes limiting the manner in which cannabis may be marketed and advertised, and prohibits the retail sale of marijuana in outlets that also sell alcohol. The task force further recommends, “In the period leading up to legalization, and thereafter on an ongoing basis, governments invest effort and resources in developing, implementing and evaluating broad, holistic prevention strategies to address the underlying risk factors and determinants of problematic cannabis use, such as mental illness and social marginalization.”

While the task force’s recommendations are not binding, they are intended to serve as a framework for forthcoming legislation to be considered by Parliament this spring.

Canada already regulates the production and use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

In 2002, members of a specially appointed Canadian Senate committee issued similar recommendations, calling on Parliament to permit the adult use and regulated marketing of cannabis. However, lawmakers failed to take any legislative action at that time.

For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the advisory report, “A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada,” is available online.

Deadline Approaches for “Not For Kids” Cannabis Labelling in WA

WASHINGTON:  The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) has issued a reminder that the “Not for Kids” warning symbol will be required to be placed on all packages of marijuana products meant to be eaten or swallowed effective February 14, 2017.

The Board recognizes that changing packaging requires time which is why the effective date has been pushed out to mid-February, enforcement of the new requirement will commence at the same time. For your convenience the basic requirements are listed below as well as links to the rules and additional information.

The warning symbol cannot be any smaller than three-fourths inch in height by one-half inch in width. It must be of a size so as to be legible, readily visible by the consumer, and effective to alert consumers and children that the product is not for kids.

The warning symbol must be placed on the “principal display panel” or front of the package.

  • Principal display panel” is defined as  the portion(s) of the surface of the immediate container, or of any outer container or wrapping, which bear(s) the labeling designed to be most prominently displayed, shown, presented, or examined under conditions of retail sale.
  • “Immediate container” means the external container holding the marijuana product.

The symbol can be placed on the package/label in 3 ways:

  • The digital image can be incorporated onto labels for marijuana edible products;
  • The digital image may be downloaded and used to print stickers for placement on the front of marijuana edible products; or
  • Licensees may choose to purchase stickers of the “Not for Kids” warning symbol for placement on the front of marijuana edible products.

The symbol or stickers cannot cover or obscure any other information required to be on packages or labels for marijuana products.

The symbol is trademarked and cannot be changed in any way other than for sizing purposes, except that a licensee must use a black border around the edges of the white background of the warning symbol image when the label or packaging is also white to ensure visibility of the warning symbol.

A digital image of the warning symbol can be found at the Washington Poison Center’s website and additional information is available on the WSLCB website. You can view the rules as adopted by the Board on the WSLCB’s Recently Adopted Rules webpage.

After the rules are effective on February 14, 2017, they will be available on the Legislature’s website in the marijuana rules chapter 314-55 WAC: http://app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=314-55. The Legislature’s website contains the most current information and versions of all laws and rules in the state.

Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board Files For Emergency Testing Rules

NOTICE OF RULE MAKING – Emergency Rules – #16-42

 WASHINGTON: The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board filed Emergency Rules with the Code Reviser’s Office for Chapter 314-55 WAC.

The board approved refiling emergency rules for WAC 314-55-1025, Proficiency testing, and 314-55-1035, Laboratory certification – Suspension and revocation. The rules become effective today, December 7, 2016, and expire on April 6, 2017. Rulemaking to establish permanent rules on these subjects is currently underway. These emergency rules are to maintain requirements until permanent rules take effect.

This notice can be found at lcb.wa.gov/laws/laws-and-rules under Recently Adopted Rules.

 

Oregon Health Authority To Change Testing Standards For Marijuana Products

OREGON:  The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced today it is modifying testing standards for medical and recreational marijuana products with new, temporary rules that balance testing costs for the marijuana industry with public health protection for consumers.

Governor Kate Brown requested agencies to develop the temporary rules so producers and processors can test fewer samples, which is expected to lower costs and create a more efficient process. The temporary rules take effect Friday, Dec. 2.
OHA is responsible for adopting testing standards for marijuana products that are necessary to protect public health and safety. These standards must take into account how the costs of testing will affect the cost to marijuana consumers.
Highlights of the temporary rules:
Replaces process validation with control study
  • ​Cuts three process validation tests to one control study.
  • A processor with a process lot that passes one control study can combine samples into one composite sample, plus a field duplicate for testing, for one year, unless the manufacturing of the product changes.
Removes alcohol-based solvents from testing requirement
  • Butanol, propanol and ethanol are removed from solvent analyte list.
Combines some batches for testing
  • Samples from multiple batches may be combined for the purposes of testing for THC and CBD if the batches are the same strain.
  • Samples from multiple batches, even if different strains, may be combined for the purposes of testing for pesticides if the total weight of the batches does not exceed 10 pounds.
Changes variance for potency testing of edibles
  • Increases the amount of homogeneity variance in edible products to plus five percent (+ 5%).
Changes labeling for potency
  • The THC and CDB amount required to be on a label must be within plus or minus five percent of the value calculated by the laboratory.
Since OHA permanent testing rules became enforceable on Oct. 1, 2016, the marijuana industry has reported to regulating authorities that testing costs are driving up consumer prices, creating product shortages, and causing some processors to temporarily cease operations and furlough employees.
“The Governor has been clear about the importance of the marijuana industry to Oregon’s economy,” said Jeff Rhoades, marijuana policy adviser, Office of Governor Kate Brown. “This approach keeps Oregonians employed, prevents marijuana product from slipping back into the illegal market, and continues to protect public health and safety.”
Oregon labs have notified OHA of a total of 307 samples taken from marijuana products—from dried flower to extracts—that failed for either pesticides, solvents or both since Oct. 1, 2016.
Andre Ourso, manager of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program at OHA, says he’s confident the temporary emergency rules will immediately alleviate some of the regulatory burden on the industry while still ensuring that cannabis is reasonably safe for consumers and patients.
“OHA understood the difficult situation that cannabis producers and growers were in with regard to the authority’s Oct 1. testing regulations,” Ourso said. “OHA looks forward to working with the Governor’s Office and its sister agencies in developing permanent testing rules in the near future that protect the public from harmful substances, such as illegal pesticides, yet allow for the cannabis industry to succeed in a robust regulatory environment.”

The Expectations Of The Legal Cannabis Market After Elections

MAINE: In California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, voters decided that recreational cannabis use is now legal. Now as for Arizona, it was the only state that rejected the proposal. Making it four of the five states, where the proposal of legalization of cannabis for recreational use were approved. Companies in this sector profiting from the growing demand, views this as a highly positive development for the legal cannabis industry, as it may bring billions of dollars to the industry and to the states themselves.

District of Columbia, along with other 8 states now recognizes recreational marijuana use as a legal practice for adults. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota assed ballot measures legalizing medical marijuana use only.  California is of course the most populated state and the largest market for cannabis. California Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the proposition could generate up to $1 billion a year in tax revenue, as well as $100 million in saved taxpayer money on an annual basis.