NORML Delivers Over 10,000 Public Comments To FDA Regarding International Classification Of Cannabis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: NORML staffers on Wednesday hand-delivered over 10,000 public comments to the US Food and Drug Administration calling on the agency to recommend amending the substance’s illicit status under international treaties. The agency had requested public comments so that they could be “considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization regarding the abuse liability and diversion” of marijuana and certain other substances.

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It is the second time this year the FDA has sought the public’s feedback with regard to cannabis scheduling. In April, NORML staffers also delivered over 10,000 written comments to the agency from members of the public.

Writing to the FDA on NORML’s behalf, Deputy Director Paul Armentano opined “that cannabis be removed from the international drug conventions so that nations that wish to do so may further expand their regulations governing cannabis’ use, possession, production, and dispensing for either recreational or medical use.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

President Trump Expresses Support For Bipartisan Marijuana Fix

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: President Donald Trump on Friday publicly expressed support for bi-partisan legislation that seeks to codify legal protections for state-sanctioned marijuana-related activities.

In response to a question from reporters, the President acknowledgedthat he “probably will end up supporting” The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018, introduced last week by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also reportedly promised to permit a vote on the legislation.

URGE YOUR FEDERAL LAWMAKERS TO SUPPORT THE STATES ACT OF 2018

The bill mandates that the federal Controlled Substances Act “shall not apply to any person acting in compliance” the marijuana legalization laws of their state. It also amends federal law to explicitly remove industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. A bipartisan House companion bill, sponsored by Reps. David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is also pending in the House of Representatives.

In April, Sen. Gardner acknowledged that he had spoken with the President regarding the intent of his bill and that Trump “assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

New Jersey Weedman Does “Hunger Strike for Bail” From Mercer County Jail

NEW JERSEY:  Is orange the new green? Cannabis activist, cancer patient and self-proclaimed “Superhero of the Potheads” Ed Forchion aka NJ Weedman might well be pondering this dilemma as he sits out his “Hunger Strike for Bail” protest in New Jersey’s Mercer County Jail. The free speech activist was originally incarcerated on March 3, 2017 and is being held without bail on charges of witness tampering. Forchion has since filed a Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus in U.S. Federal District Court of Trenton New Jersey (Case No. 317CV02669PGS) claiming a tragic violation of his civil rights under New Jersey’s new bail reform laws.  Forchion has gone without food for over 11 days.

The charges were filed after Forchion, per the approval of his former attorney, posted the name and photo of a police informant on his Facebook page, requesting the public to help him find information on the man. Forchion believed the individual was a paid informant, hired by the Trenton Police, to build a drug case against him. Under New Jersey’s new bail reform laws, which went into effect January 1, officials cite that certain conditions can warrant pre-trial detention, like danger to the community, flight risk or threat to a witness.

“I am a peaceful, proud and patriotic pothead,” cites Forchion. “Yet I have sat here for over 100 days in a cell while watching real criminals, like murderers and rapists, get released daily on bail. Nothing I did was illegal,” Forchion has stated from jail. “Nothing I did was wrong. In fact, I actually thought I was in accordance with the law per the advice of my attorney.” (Forchion’s attorney has since been removed from the case per his own request.)

Forchion’s long standing battle for marijuana law reform has been documented for over two decades. Considered by many as the “grandfather of marijuana reform in New Jersey,” Forchion is a bone cancer patient who states he needs marijuana for his symptoms. Forchion’s most recent travails with the Trenton Police Department have shined an international media spotlight on the state’s current cannabis policy. Forchion contends he is political prisoner due to the “politics of pot Jersey Style.”

Amongst his many trials and tribulations over the years, Forchion pleaded guilty in 2000 to charges of conspiracy to distribute and marijuana possession and was released on parole after serving 18 months on a reduced sentence. He was arrested again in Burlington County, N.J., in 2010 on marijuana possession and distribution charges. In 2012 a jury utilized “jury nullification” and found him “not guilty” of possession with intent to distribute. He was found guilty of simple possession. Forchion argued his health condition gave him a “medical necessity” defense to possess and appealed the decision all the way to the US Supreme Court, where they declined to hear it.

Forchion achieved Hollywood notoriety when he opened a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles in 2008, saying it was a temple that used marijuana as part of its religious ceremonies. The California temple was shut down after a federal drug raid in 2011.

Currently Forchion, a Rastafarian, is the co-owner of New Jersey’s only cannabis-themed restaurant, NJWeedman’s Joint and spiritual sanctuary, Liberty Bell Temple III, located directly across from New Jersey’s Trenton City Hall. He opened the businesses, alongside his partner, medical marijuana mom activist and registered nurse, Debi Madaio. The restaurant and sanctuary receive not only a steady stream of customers but also worldwide media attention.

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Legislators Move To Delay The Enactment Of Voter-Initiated Marijuana Laws

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Legislators in a number of states are pushing forward measures to delay the enactment of several voter-initiated marijuana laws.

In Arkansas, House lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of legislation, House Bill 1026, to postpone the deadline for establishing the state’s new medical marijuana program by 60 days. Fifty-three percent of voters approved Issue 6 on Election Day, which called on lawmakers to regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis within 120 days.

In Maine, leading House and Senate lawmakers have endorsed emergency legislation, LD 88, to delay retail marijuana sales by at least three months. Under the voter-initiated law, rules regulating the commercial marijuana market are supposed to be operational by January 1, 2018.

In North Dakota, Senate lawmakers unanimously passed emergency legislation, Senate Bill 2154, to postpone the deadline for the enactment of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. Sixty-four percent of voters backed the measure, which gave lawmakers a 90-day window to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana.

Massachusetts’ lawmakers previously enacted legislation imposing a six-month delay on the licensed production and retail sales of marijuana. Legislators are also debating making additional changes to the law, including raising the proposed retail sales tax and limiting the number of plants an adult may grow at home.

In Florida, health regulators are also calling for changes to Amendment 2, which passed with 71 percent of the vote.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri strongly criticized the proposed changes and delays, calling them “an affront to the democratic process.” He added: “Voters have lived with the failings of marijuana prohibition for far too long already. Lawmakers have a responsibility to abide by the will of the voters and to do so in a timely manner.”

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

Harrisburg, PA Has A Chance To Have A National Impact On Marijuana Reform

PENNSYLVANIA: The memo issued last week by the US Department of Justice, which signaled the feds will not interfere in states allowing commercial marijuana sales, will not put an end to more than 20,000 annual arrests for pot possession in Pennsylvania.

But it does give lawmakers in Harrisburg an important opportunity to have a national impact. The Keystone State is unlikely to legalize cannabis anytime soon, but change is in the wind.

Here is the increasingly green picture:

– Public support for marijuana reform is polling at an all-time high (pun slightly intended) [Read more…]

Harrisburg, PA Has A Chance To Have A National Impact On Marijuana Reform

PENNSYLVANIA: The memo issued last week by the US Department of Justice, which signaled the feds will not interfere in states allowing commercial marijuana sales, will not put an end to more than 20,000 annual arrests for pot possession in Pennsylvania.

But it does give lawmakers in Harrisburg an important opportunity to have a national impact. The Keystone State is unlikely to legalize cannabis anytime soon, but change is in the wind.

Here is the increasingly green picture:

– Public support for marijuana reform is polling at an all-time high (pun slightly intended) [Read more…]