Slowly but surely, the New Hampshire Senate appears to be evolving in support of marijuana policy reforms. After hearing compelling testimony from patients and medical providers, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted to pass two important bills that would improve the therapeutic cannabis program: HB 157, which would allow patients to qualify if they suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain, passed 4-1, and HB 160, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition, passed 5-0.
Unfortunately, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police persuaded Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley to offer a terrible amendment to the Senate Judiciary Committee on HB 640, the decriminalization bill. You can read more about that here.
Committees also heard testimony on HB 472, which would allow qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of cannabis, and HB 215, which would create a study commission to consider legalization for adult use, though no action was taken on those bills.
(This event is free and open to the public.)
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Today, the Vermont Senate Appropriations Committee voted 4-3 to approve S. 241, a bill that would end marijuana prohibition for adults and create a regulated and taxed system for marijuana production and sale. The bill has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
Next, S. 241 will move to the Senate floor for a vote by the full Senate, which will probably happen later this week. If it passes there, it will go to the House of Representatives, and the committee process will begin anew after the legislature takes a break for Town Meeting Week (February 29 to March 4).
Last week, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and two former attorneys general, Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney, sent a letter to legislators encouraging them to move forward with the proposal to end prohibition and regulate marijuana.
Earlier today, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a new poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute that found 55% of Vermonters support passing a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Only 32% said they are opposed. The survey of 895 Vermonters was conducted February 3-17.
If you are a Vermont resident, please send them an email urging them to support S. 241.
Wednesday evening, the Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-2 to approve legislation that would stop the state’s ineffective and cruel practice of jailing individuals for possessing a small amount of marijuana — a substance that is safer than alcohol. The bill can now be voted on as early as tomorrow. Since the House has already approved the bill, a positive Senate vote will send it to the governor for final approval.
If you are a Delaware resident, please email your state senator today and encourage her or him to support this sensible proposal tomorrow.
Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. More than two-thirds of Delaware voters support this policy.
Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee of the Alabama Legislature approved a bill — SB 326 — that would create a comprehensive medical marijuana program for Alabama’s seriously ill residents. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, would allow qualified patients to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana should their doctors recommend it. It would also create a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure patients have safe and reliable access. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
If you are an Alabama resident, please urge your senator to support SB 326!
This is the first time that the Alabama Senate has considered a comprehensive medical marijuana bill. With SB 326, Alabama has the opportunity to be the first southern state to join 23 other states and Washington, D.C. in allowing its seriously ill residents to access the medicine their doctors recommend.
Unfortunately, Sen. Jabo Waggoner, has vowed to kill the bill.
Once again, the medical marijuana bill authored by Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Carly Melin cleared another legislative hurdle. The Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee just voted to refer the bill to the finance committee. The legislation has already been approved by the Senate health and government committees. As you may know, session time is running out, so, if you have not already done so, please find out if your lawmakers support medical marijuana.
Polling shows that a majority of Minnesotans, regardless of political affiliation, age, income, education, or region, support medical marijuana legislation. However, lawmakers tend to lag behind the public on sensible and compassionate marijuana policies, so if you are a Minnesota resident, please let your lawmakers know that their constituents support medical marijuana and they should, too.
Late last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to advance a proposal that would put an initiative on November’s ballot asking if marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. The vote means the proposal made it past the first committee deadline. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee. If you are an Oregon resident, please email your lawmakers today and ask them to support this sensible idea.
The bill, SB 1556, would ask voters in November if adults 21 and older should be allowed to legally use, possess, and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It would also task the Oregon Legislature with deciding how best to regulate commercial production and retail sales of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Even lawmakers who oppose the idea of treating marijuana like alcohol can support the idea of giving their constituents the ability to vote on the proposal themselves, so please ask your lawmakers to vote “yes” on SB 1556 today.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on 'Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws'
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday regarding “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.” The Justice Department announced on August 29 that it will not seek to stop Colorado and Washington from moving forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales.
The truly amazing part was that the majority of those called to testify were in support of the DOJ policy. This included King County Sheriff John Urquhart of Washington and Jack Finlaw, chief legal counsel for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. The only people who seemed to disagree with the DOJ not getting in the way of these states enacting the will of their voters were Sen. Chuck Grassley and Kevin Sabet, one of the founders of the disingenuous Project SAM.
The Marijuana Policy Project announced Monday it will support efforts to end marijuana prohibition in 10 more states by 2017. The announcement comes one day before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing at which it will address the U.S. Justice Department’s recent decision to allow states to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
MPP will work with local and national allies to pass voter initiatives in at least five states and bills in five state legislatures to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with systems in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. MPP is currently supporting a petition drive led by Alaska activists to place an initiative on the August 2014 ballot, and it will work to pass initiatives in Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada in the 2016 election. The organization is participating in lobbying and grassroots organizing efforts to pass bills in the Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont state legislatures by 2017. MPP has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000, and it was the largest backer of the successful 2012 initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.
“Most Americans are tired of seeing their tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute adults for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. “Voters and state legislators are ready for change, and the federal government appears to be ready, as well.”
The Justice Department announced on August 29 that it will allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales.
“Marijuana prohibition has been just as problematic and counterproductive as alcohol prohibition,” Kampia said. “We look forward to working with elected officials, community leaders, organizations, and other local and national allies to develop more effective and efficient marijuana policies.”
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on 'Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws'
UPDATE: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will testify at the hearing.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced Monday that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws." Sen. Leahy has reportedly invited U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to speak to the committee.
The hearing is scheduled for September 10 at 10 a.m. ET in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.
Sen. Leahy has said he believes state laws making marijuana legal for adult or medical use "should be respected."
MPP's director of government relations Dan Riffle had this to say:
"Two states have made marijuana legal for adult use and are establishing regulated systems of production and distribution. Twenty states plus our nation's capital have made it legal for medical use. By failing to recognize the decisions of voters and legislators in those states, current federal law is undermining their ability to implement and enforce those laws.
"Marijuana prohibition's days are numbered, and everyone in Washington knows that. It's time for Congress to stop ignoring the issue and develop a policy that allows states to adopt the most efficient and effective marijuana laws possible. We need to put the 'reefer madness' policies of the 1930s behind us and adopt an evidence-based approach for the 21st century."
This could be a really big deal. We'll keep you posted.