The Virginia General Assembly convened to kick off its 2019 legislative session on Wednesday, and several efforts are being made to reform the state's marijuana policies.
Two bills, HB2079 and SB997, have been introduced to decriminalize marijuana, making simple possession a civil fine of $50 for a first violation instead of an offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) also pushed for marijuana decriminalization in his State of the Commonwealth speech.
Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have stopped jailing their residents for possession of modest amounts of marijuana, and 10 of those states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for individuals over 21. Polling has shown that almost eight out of 10 Virginia residents support replacing criminal convictions with a fine, and 62 percent favor ending marijuana prohibition all together.
Contact your lawmakers today and urge them to make marijuana policy reform a priority in 2019. Then, share this message with your friends and family in Virginia.
West Virginia's 2019 legislative session began yesterday, and several bills are expected to be introduced in the coming days to reform marijuana laws, including a bill to improve the medical cannabis law, a decriminalization bill, and an adult-use legalization bill.
Legislative leaders have already begun discussing possible reforms, including ways of addressing the banking issue that has prevented rollout of the medical cannabis program, but we must help convince legislators that there is an urgent need to take action.
After you write your legislators, please forward this message to your family and friends!
With Pennsylvania’s legislative session just getting underway, it’s already clear that marijuana policy reform is going to be a hot topic of discussion.
At least two legalization bills will be introduced, and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) now says the state should take a “serious and honest look” at ending marijuana prohibition. However, significant obstacles remain, not least of which is opposition from legislative leaders.
That’s why it’s so important you reach out to your state lawmakers. Let them know it’s time to end cannabis prohibition and replace it with thoughtful regulation and taxation.
Unlike Michigan and most other states that have legalized marijuana for adults’ use, Pennsylvania lacks a voter initiative process. That means the only way to end prohibition — or to decriminalize cannabis — is through the legislature.
So, please take a minute to make your voice heard. Your lawmakers represent you, and they want to know how their constituents feel about this issue.
Then, please pass on this message so your friends and family can also speak out against the disastrous war on marijuana.
The South Dakota Legislature begins its legislative session today. Unfortunately, marijuana policy reform isn’t on the docket. In fact, just like in 2018, there are no marijuana policy reform bills filed in 2019.
That’s where you come in — ask your lawmakers today to support the decriminalization of marijuana with our easy-to-use email system.
No adults should face jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Twenty-three other states have stopped jailing marijuana consumers and it’s time for South Dakota to do the same.
So please, reach out to your local representatives and tell them why you support decriminalizing marijuana in South Dakota. After you reach out, share this link with friends and family. Together, we can bring sensible marijuana policy to South Dakota.
Kentucky’s legislative session begins today, and marijuana policy reforms are already among the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. Lawmakers have indicated that they will soon be introducing several marijuana policy bills, including a medical cannabis bill, a decriminalization bill, and an adult-use legalization bill.
Although we support all of these bills, we believe the bill that has the strongest chance of passing in 2019 is the medical cannabis bill that will soon be introduced by Republican Reps. Jason Nemes and Diane St. Onge. A few months ago, Rep. Nemes confidently predicted that it would pass the legislature in 2019. However, we know that the effort will face strong opposition in the Senate, where Majority Leader Damon Thayer recently said, “I don't see the votes for medical marijuana yet.”
In order for this bill to pass, legislators will need to hear an outpouring of support from their constituents. After you write your elected officials, please share this message with your friends and family!
Although 59% of Pennsylvania voters think it should be legal for adults to use marijuana, state law lags far behind popular sentiment. Pennsylvanians found with cannabis can still be locked in a jail cell and branded criminals.
But that could change soon. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a decriminalization bill, H.B. 928. Unfortunately, however, it first amended the bill to exclude minors and people in vehicles from decriminalization.
Currently, simple possession is a misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus a six-month or one-year driver’s license suspension.
Except in the case of minors, possession in cars, or possession on school property, H.B. 928 would downgrade first and second offense possession of under 30 grams to a summary offense carrying a fine of no more than $300. Subsequent convictions would be misdemeanors carrying up to a $1,000 fine, but with no jail time.
Please take a moment to ask your rep to support H.B. 928, but to work to amend the bill. Let them know: Minors should also not be incarcerated for cannabis, and criminalizing possession in cars will still senselessly ruin lives.
Then, spread the word to others, so that they, too, can raise their voices.
Starting on October 26, Oklahoma City’s maximum penalty for simple possession of marijuana will be reduced to a fine of up to $400. The Oklahoma City Council approved the proposal to remove jail time and reduce the penalty for marijuana possession last week. Until the new law takes effect, the maximum fine for possession is $1,200 and six months of jail time.
If you live in Oklahoma, let your lawmakers know the time has come for statewide decriminalization!
Penalizing individuals with jail time and a criminal record for possessing small amounts of marijuana wastes law enforcement resources. It can also lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses. You can find more information on decriminalization here.
Please spread the word!
The drum beat for sensible marijuana policy is picking up in Pennsylvania!
Last Monday, Rep. Jake Wheatley introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 or older. This bill would also expunge the records of people who have been convicted of certain cannabis offenses.
If you are a Pennsylvania resident, email your state legislators today urging them to support HB 2600!
Ending marijuana prohibition would let adults make their own decisions about a substance that is safer than alcohol. Earlier this year, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report estimating that legalization could generate more than $580 million in tax revenue for the state.
In other exciting news, on Tuesday Lancaster City Council decriminalized simple possession and use of marijuana! Possession of marijuana or related paraphernalia will be now be classified as a summary offense – carrying a fine or community service – rather than a misdemeanor.
Please spread the word so that together, we can end prohibition in the Keystone State.
Yesterday, Albuquerque, New Mexico Mayor Tim Keller signed an ordinance that decriminalizes simple possession of marijuana under city law.
Once the ordinance goes into effect, the city’s penalty for under an ounce of marijuana will be a $25 civil fine. It will go into effect five days after it is published by the city clerk. Council members Pat Davis and Isaac Benton sponsored the ordinance, which passed the council in a 5-4 vote.
Police Chief Mike Geier voiced his support, saying, ”This new legislation allows officers to focus on violent crime, property crime and drunk driving.”
It will still be possible for a person to be charged under the statewide penalty — a fine of up to $50, up to 15 days in jail, or both. If you are a New Mexico resident, please let your state legislators know you want the state follow suit and stop criminalizing marijuana consumers.
Maryland has decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. But 10 grams is a lower threshold than the vast majority of states that have eliminated jail time for cannabis possession, many of which use one ounce as the cutoff. As a result, in 2016 at least 4,300 people were criminally prosecuted for cannabis possession in Maryland. SB 127 would raise the threshold to one ounce.
SB 128 would address the problem that people in possession of less than 10 grams are still being criminalized in some jurisdictions by being charged with “possession with intent to distribute” — a felony — based on very limited evidence (like having their cannabis in more than one baggie). In order to address this overcharging, SB 128 would create a legal presumption that people who have less than the amount decriminalized should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute.
Both of these bills are sitting in the House Judiciary Committee, and with the legislative session ending Monday night, lawmakers need to hear from you to ensure the bills get a vote.
If you are a Maryland resident, please ask your delegates to make sure SB 127 and SB 128 pass this year.