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.

Statement On The Formation Of The Cannabis Caucus

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The nation’s leading cannabis and drug policy reform organizations commended Congressional members Thursday on the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

They represent constituents in four of the eight states that have enacted laws regulating cannabis for medical and adult use. Twenty additional states have enacted comprehensive medical cannabis laws, and 16 additional states have enacted limited or unworkable medical cannabis laws. In total, 44 states have adopted laws rolling back cannabis prohibition at the state level, representing 95% of the U.S. House of Representatives and 88% of the Senate.

Joint statement on the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus: 

“We commend Representatives Blumenauer, Rohrabacher, Polis, and Young for their leadership on the issue of cannabis policy. The establishment of a Cannabis Caucus will allow members from both parties, who represent diverse constituencies from around the country, to join together for the purpose of advancing sensible cannabis policy reform. It will also facilitate efforts to ease the tension between federal prohibition laws and state laws that regulate cannabis for medical and adult use.

“The formation of this caucus is a testament to how far our country has come on the issue of cannabis policy. There is a growing consensus that cannabis prohibition has failed, and it is time for a more sensible approach. A strong majority of Americans support making cannabis legal for medical and adult use, and an even stronger majority believes states should be able to establish their own cannabis policies without interference from the federal government. We look forward to working with caucus members to translate this growing public sentiment into sound public policy.”

Joint Statement by The National Organization For the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Americans for Safe Access, Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and Clergy for a New Drug Policy.

For further comment, please contact the following organization representatives:

Justin Strekal, Political Director, NORML
202-483-5500, justin@norml.org

Michael Collins, Deputy Director National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
202-683-2981, mcollins@drugpolicy.org

Betty Aldworth, Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
202-393-5280, betty@ssdp.org

Beth Collins, Senior Director of Government Relations and External Affairs, Americans for Safe Access
202-857-4272, beth@safeaccessnow.org

Robert Capecchi, Director of Federal Policies, Marijuana Policy Project
651-492-1739, rcapecchi@mpp.org

Taylor West, Deputy Director, National Cannabis Industry Association
303-223-3585, taylor@thecannabisindustry.org

Mikayla Hellwich, Media Relations Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
240-461-3066, mikayla@lawenforcementaction.org

Brian Muraresku, Executive Director and Counsel, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation
202-930-0097, bmuraresku@dcfr.org

Rev. Al Sharp, Executive Director, Clergy for a New Drug Policy
773-494-0420, revaesharp@gmail.com