On Monday, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney announced the Senate lacked the votes needed to legalize marijuana. Instead, twin resolutions have been introduced in the Assembly and Senate that would allow voters to decide the question themselves in November 2020. Some senators who are wary of legalization support kicking the decision to voters.
To place the measure on the ballot, the Senate and Assembly must either pass the resolution in both 2019 and 2020 with a simple majority, or they must pass it a single time with a three-fifths supermajority. While we strongly preferred the 147-page bill, which included important provisions for equity and would have taken effect sooner, a voter referral now appears to be the only path to legalize cannabis in New Jersey. We can’t let this opportunity to end the devastating war on cannabis slip away. But it is also crucial that social equity provisions don’t fall by the wayside.
On Monday, Assemblyman Jamel Holley and advocates launched a “94 No More” campaign, highlighting the outrageous fact that 94 people — disproportionately African American and Latino — are arrested in New Jersey every day for marijuana. Urge your legislators to stop possession arrests and to wipe clean the scarlet letters that destroy opportunities for people with marijuana convictions. Then, spread the word to other New Jerseyans who support humane marijuana policies.
Both chambers of the Virginia Legislature flipped in Tuesday’s General Election. Democrats now hold the majority in the state Senate and House of Delegates going into the 2020 legislative session. Marijuana reform efforts have stalled in previous legislatures, but with new leadership, there is new opportunity.
Now is a great time to let your lawmakers know you want them to make marijuana policy reform a priority in 2020.
There has been increasing momentum from elected officials — including Attorney General Mark Herring, Governor Ralph Northam, and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) — to decriminalize marijuana possession.
Polling has also shown that 76 percent of Virginians support decriminalizing marijuana possession and 61 percent support ending marijuana prohibition altogether.
It is past time for Virginia to reform its marijuana laws to stop criminalizing marijuana consumers. In 2018, police agencies reported nearly 29,000 marijuana arrests. Under current law, a simple marijuana possession charge is punishable by a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Please urge your lawmakers to decriminalize or legalize cannabis in 2020. Then, forward this message to your family and friends in Virginia.
P.S.: If you have suffered from a marijuana possession arrest and are interested in getting more involved in marijuana policy reform efforts in Virginia, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On July 31, Gov. John Carney signed a bill into law that expands decriminalization for cannabis possession of one ounce or less to those under 21. The law became effective upon the governor's signature.
This important legislation will save young adults from life-altering criminal convictions, which can close the door on opportunities including jobs, housing, and higher education. For more information on Delaware's decriminalization law, check out our summary here.
In other news, the adult-use legalization bill, HB 110, will pick up where it left off in the House Appropriations Committee in 2020. You can read our summary of HB 110 here.
Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed A08420 into law, which will fix the state's decriminalization law and provide for automatic expungement for those with certain misdemeanor cannabis convictions. The law will take effect in 30 days.
This reform will save thousands of New Yorkers from arrest and allow those with previous cannabis convictions to move on with their lives. It also reduces the penalty for possessing about an ounce of cannabis from a $100 fine to a $50 fine. For more details, read our full summary of the bill here.
While this improved decriminalization law is an important step forward, there is still work to be done to improve New York's marijuana laws. Unfortunately, the legislature failed to pass a legalization measure before the session adjourned.
The majority of New Yorkers support legalization. Let your lawmakers know you want them to pass legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use in 2020.
The medical cannabis home cultivation bill still hasn't arrived on Gov. Sununu's desk — there's still time for you to call his office and urge him to sign it!
Gov. Chris Sununu has signed a few cannabis-related bills into law, while vetoing others. On Friday, he signed a very important bill, HB 399, which will allow people who received misdemeanor convictions for possessing small amounts of cannabis prior to decriminalization to have their records annulled. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2020. Our allies at ACLU-NH and Americans for Prosperity, and the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing, deserve our sincere thanks for their outstanding advocacy on this issue.
HB 364, which would allow registered patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of cannabis at home, still has not been delivered to the governor's desk but should be arriving there soon.
Please call Gov. Sununu right now — thank him for signing HB 399 and urge him to sign HB 364!
Here is an update on other medical cannabis bills that passed the House and Senate:
- HB 335 expands the number of possible dispensary locations in the state from six to eight by authorizing regulators to allow each dispensary to open a second location within their assigned geographic areas. Gov. Sununu signed it into law.
- HB 350 allows physician's assistants to certify patients. Gov. Sununu signed it into law.
- SB 88 would eliminate the three-month waiting period for provider-patient relationships. Gov. Sununu vetoed it. It passed by a veto-proof margin in both chambers of the legislature, so it's possible the veto could be overridden.
- SB 145 would allow alternative treatment centers to reorganize as for-profit businesses. Gov. Sununu vetoed it. It was two votes shy of a veto-proof vote in the Senate.
After you call Gov. Sununu, please share this important update with your friends and family!
Yesterday, Gov. David Ige let a modest decriminalization bill — HB 1383 — become law without his signature. Effective January 11, 2020, possession of three grams or less of marijuana will be punishable by a $130 civil fine. The bill also provides for the expungement of criminal records for convictions of possession of three grams or less of marijuana.
Hawaii is now the 26th state to stop jailing residents for possessing modest amounts of marijuana. However, three grams is the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state. Unfortunately, with such a low possession limit, needless marijuana arrests will continue. A more sensible approach would be to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.
In other news, Gov. Ige has unfortunately vetoed a bill that would allow limited transport of medical cannabis between the islands. The bill — HB 290 — was approved by the legislature in May.
While the decriminalization law is an extremely timid step forward, there is still work to be done to improve Hawaii's marijuana laws. Contact your lawmakers today, then forward this message to your family and friends in Hawaii.
Today, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law. The bill is named after a pediatric cancer patient who passed away last year. Towards the end of Jake's fight, he relied on medical marijuana to ease the symptoms of the terrible disease. His family has since become advocates for medical marijuana reforms and helped spearhead this new law.
The new law will expand patient access to medical marijuana, by allowing more qualifying conditions and increasing the amount a patient can purchase in a month. It also creates a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission to govern the medical marijuana program. A summary of the changes can be found here.
While the legislature didn't manage to pass legalization this session, it's only matter of time. Support for changing marijuana laws is growing every day. Just last week, New Jersey state senators held a press conference calling for decriminalization and expungement reform. Together, we can bring about marijuana policy reform in New Jersey.
Delaware Gov. Carney signs expungement bill, two additional marijuana policy reforms sent to his desk!
Delaware's legislature adjourned on June 30, after making some modest but important improvements to marijuana policies. Since the General Assembly holds a two-year session, bills that did not get votes will roll over and pick up where they left off in January 2020.
The legalization bill, HB 110, was approved (8-3) by the House Revenue and Finance committee on June 5 and is now pending in the House Appropriations Committee. To pass HB 110 in 2020, it is very important to keep pressure on the General Assembly and continue our organizing efforts in the interim.
To go the extra mile, let us know if you're up for volunteering to phone bank to generate phone calls in key districts. You can make calls on your own schedule, from home.
Yesterday, Gov. John Carney signed SB 37 into law, which provides for the expungement of certain misdemeanor and felony convictions. This bill will allow for a single cannabis misdemeanor conviction to be expunged after five years and a single cannabis felony conviction to be expunged after seven years.
Additionally, two important bills passed the legislature and are headed to Gov. Carney:
- SB 45, a bill to expand decriminalization to those under 21; and
- SB 24, which would allow patients with any severe and debilitating medical condition to qualify for medical cannabis if they have exhausted other treatments, and the treatments have been ineffective or had prohibitive side effects.
Meanwhile, HB 243, a bill to allow medical patients to grow their own cannabis, was introduced on June 20 and is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
It is past time Delaware end cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system in which cannabis is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol. After you contact your rep, please forward this message to your family and friends in Delaware.
Together, we can end prohibition in 2020!
Yesterday, Gov. David Ige announced that he will allow a modest decriminalization bill, HB 1383, to become law. The bill will make possession of three grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $130 fine. Under current law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The bill will take effect on January 11, 2020.
This bill will save some Hawaiians from traumatic arrests, possible jail time, and life-altering criminal records. However, it's an extremely timid step forward. Three grams is the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state. Unfortunately, with such a low possession limit and steep fine, lives will continue to be needlessly derailed. And, decriminalization does nothing to control the illicit market.
A more sensible approach would be to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. Eleven states — including every state on the West Coast — have chosen this approach. Hawaii is lagging behind.
By legalizing taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and older, Hawaii would dramatically reduce marijuana arrests, displace the illicit market, and ensure consumers have a safe, tested product.
Contact your lawmakers today! With your help, Hawaii can take a more sensible approach to marijuana
Recently, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring submitted an op-ed to the Daily Press urging the state to "decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, address past convictions and start moving toward legal and regulated adult-use." Shortly after, lawmakers from both parties, including Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R), also voiced support for decriminalization.
The 2019 legislative session adjourned on February 23. While both legalization and decriminalization bills were introduced this past session, those bills were defeated in committee. With increasing support from elected officials, the focus now shifts to 2020.
Virginia is lagging behind the rest of the country on marijuana policy. Twenty-five states and Washington, D.C. have stopped jailing their residents for possession of modest amounts of marijuana, and 11 of those states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for individuals over 21.
Polling has also shown that almost eight of 10 Virginia residents support replacing criminal convictions for simple marijuana possession with a fine, and 62 percent favor ending marijuana prohibition altogether.
It is past time Virginia reform its marijuana laws. Please contact your lawmakers today, and forward this message to your family and friends in Virginia.