We will need two-thirds majorities to overcome Gov. Sununu's veto threat — if you live in N.H., call your state representatives today!
New Hampshire's legalization bill, HB 481, has been scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Gov. Chris Sununu has made it clear that he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk, but it will be possible to override his veto if at least two-thirds of the House and Senate can be convinced to support the bill.
If you are able to speak with legislators and learn where they stand, it would be very helpful if you could share the details with me via email.
On Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have made marijuana legal for adults in Vermont, but offered “a path forward” for passing it later this year. He specified a handful of changes that would need to be made for him to support the measure and said he believes the legislature has time to incorporate them and enact a revised version during the summer veto session.
MPP's Matt Simon responded in a press release:
We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session. Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature respond by passing a revised legalization bill this summer. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and there is no good reason to continue treating responsible adult consumers like criminals.
Despite the veto, this is a huge leap forward. The passage of S. 22 demonstrates most members of both legislative chambers are ready to move forward with making marijuana legal for adults. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.
MPP and the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana will continue to work with the legislature and governor to ensure that a compromise can be reached before the end of the veto session in July.
On Thursday, Vermont’s marijuana legalization bill was delivered to the desk of Governor Phil Scott. He will now have five days to decide whether to sign S. 22 into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.
In its final version, S. 22 would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, effective on July 1, 2018. The bill would also create a study commission to craft legislation on how to best regulate and tax marijuana in Vermont. The commission’s recommendations would have to be drafted by November so they can be considered by the Legislature in 2018.
A summary of S. 22 is available here.
If you are a Vermont resident, please call Governor Scott’s office today, and encourage him to sign this sensible reform into law. If you’ve already called the office, please follow up with an email message.
The governor says he has not yet made up his mind, and it’s crucial that he hear from as many supporters of sensible marijuana policy as possible!
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken an important step on a bill that would help thousands of Illinoisans avoid arrest, jail, and harmful criminal convictions for the possession of a personal amount of marijuana. The governor has used his authority to amend several key provisions of HB 218 and is sending it back to the legislature for another vote.
If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to ask your state legislators to vote in support of the amended bill.
Time is incredibly short: The legislature has just a few weeks to vote on the amended bill and is only meeting on a few of those days. The amended bill is not perfect, but it would vastly improve current law. It would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, including arrest, jail, huge fines, and a damaged criminal record. The bill would impose a fine of up to $200 — instead of the thousands of dollars possible today. Finally, the bill makes critical improvements to current DUI laws, which today can lead to a conviction even when a person hasn’t consumed marijuana for weeks before driving.
If this bill is not approved by the legislature with the governor’s changes, Illinois’ marijuana consumers will continue to face arrest, jail time, and shockingly unequal enforcement of the law.
Late Friday afternoon, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed SB 517 — a common-sense bill that would decriminalize marijuana paraphernalia. His veto is deeply disappointing. If we can garner votes from three-fifths of the House and three-fifths of the Senate, his veto will be overridden and the measure will become law.
If you are a Maryland resident, please email your state delegate(s) and senator today and urge them to override Gov. Hogan’s veto.
The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 517 to fix the current legal absurdity that makes possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil citation (like a traffic violation), but leaves possessing the container that marijuana is in a criminal violation. Without this fix, the door is left open to selective, biased enforcement, and Maryland would continue to divert valuable law enforcement time and effort that would be better spent protecting our communities from violent crime.
An override is within reach, but won’t be easy. It is crucial lawmakers hear their constituents want them to vote “yes” on an override!
Earlier this month, Gov. John deJongh Jr. of the U.S. Virgin Islands stated that he supported decriminalizing marijuana, despite the fact that he vetoed a bill that would reduce penalties at the end of 2014. The Senate overrode his initial veto, adding the Virgin Islands to the list of U.S. territories that are changing their marijuana policies.
Sen. Terrence Nelson sponsored the measure, which is now law, to decriminalize the possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana and make it a civil offense punishable by a fine of between $100 and $200, with the possible forfeiture of the contraband.
In the case that an offender is younger than 18, the offender could receive a $100 fine, the parents or guardians would have to be notified and the offender will be required to complete an approved drug awareness program within one year of the possession.
It came as no surprise when New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat serving his fourth and final term, vetoed SB 409 today. Gov. Lynch vetoed a similar bill in 2009, and he has avoided meeting with patients who hoped to educate him on the subject, so this veto was unfortunate but very much expected.
Despite the governor’s opposition, this bill has earned majority support in both parties and both chambers of the legislature. All eyes will now be on the House and Senate next Wednesday, June 27, when both chambers will vote on whether or not to override the veto.
Fortunately, Sen. Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford) has refused to give up. He published a powerful editorial this week in the Concord Monitor, and he is still working hard to convince his colleagues they should override the veto and pass SB 409 into law.
The Republican-dominated House has twice passed SB 409 by better than the two-thirds margin needed for an override. The Republican-dominated House passed SB 409 in a 236-96 vote on April 25, with 97% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans voting in favor.
In the Senate, which was composed of 19 Republicans and five Democrats this session, 10 Republican Senators have joined all five Democrats in supporting the bill.
Unfortunately, one Senate vote has been lost due to a supportive senator’s recent resignation, so the outpouring of public support for SB 409 will have to continue for the override effort to succeed. MPP, Sen. Forsythe, and our team of allies have worked hard to gain additional votes in the Senate, and the fate of seriously ill patients in New Hampshire will soon be decided.
The plea of patients and their family members is simple and profound: “Don’t let one man stand in the way!”
Republican legislators nationwide should perk up their ears and take notice of what is happening in New Hampshire, where a Republican-sponsored medical marijuana bill has blazed a trail of surprising successes.
SB 409 had already passed the Republican-dominated Senate March 28, and today the 400-member House, which is about 75% Republican, voted 236-96 in favor, with strong bipartisan support.
How can this be possible, some might ask? According to the bill’s prime sponsor, Senator Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford), support for allowing medical marijuana is perfectly consistent with Republican principles. “I’ve never used marijuana in my life,” the former Air Force pilot has often explained, “but as a matter of principle, I don’t believe it’s appropriate for government to interfere with choices that should be made between a doctor and a patient.”
Forsythe and his Senate cosponsors, Senator Ray White (R-Bedford) and Senator John Gallus (R-Berlin), began with support from the Senate’s five Democrats, but they had a tough hill to climb with their Republican colleagues. Previous bills had never received more than one vote from a Republican senator, but after a compelling public hearing in which patients shared their stories face-to-face with legislators, the bill quickly gained momentum.
The paradigm shift began to materialize in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee March 22, when two former opponents announced they would be supporting the bill. The committee chairman, Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), represented New Hampshire in Congress from 2003-2007, and Senator Gary Lambert (R-Nashua) is a retired Marine and a former prosecutor, so these were two very significant conversions.
The bill passed the committee that day in a 5-0 vote that sent shockwaves around the State House, and then, the following Wednesday, strong speeches on the floor by Senators Bradley and Lambert carried the bill to victory in a Senate comprised of nineteen Republicans and only five Democrats.
Has the world gone topsy-turvy? Or are Republicans in New Hampshire just getting on the right side of history in advance of some of their colleagues in other states?
Following today’s historic House vote and Governor Lynch’s heartless veto threat, all eyes will be on the eleven Republican senators who have not yet crossed the line from “undecided” to “supportive.” Three additional votes will be necessary to override the veto, but with the momentum SB 409 has shown so far, it would be tough to bet against the patients who are asking for this sensible, compassionate reform!
Last week, a number of medical marijuana patients and supporters, including MPP’s Dan Riffle, were at the Maryland statehouse to testify on the need to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest.
Here is some TV coverage of the hearing:
The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Brinkley, is based on one of two draft bills proposed by members of Maryland’s medical marijuana workgroup. Only one version, the one suggested by Del. Dan Morhaim and MPP’s director of state policies Karen O’Keefe, would provide patients with safe and reliable access to their medicine.
Unfortunately, Gov. O’Malley has promised to veto the bill in its current form due to concerns of possible federal prosecution of state employees. To date, no state official has been charged with a crime for following medical marijuana laws. The bill is now being amended in an attempt to ease these unjustified concerns.
On Monday, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty announced his decision to run for President of the United States. This should have been cause for concern for marijuana reformers and medical marijuana patients, and today that concern was justified.
Gov. Pawlenty has been no friend to marijuana reform in the past. In 2009, he vetoed a bill that would have allowed only terminally ill Minnesotans to use marijuana to ease their pain in their final days. Even though this bill was narrowly tailored to address the concerns of law enforcement, Pawlenty vetoed it regardless, citing... further law enforcement concerns.
This is the same guy who supported a court decision that could have made possession of bong water a felony.
Given this disturbing behavior, and the damage that an anti-marijuana zealot in the White House could do to all the progress we have made in the last few years, we decided to find out if T-Paw still feels the same about the issue.
After speaking today at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. on such subjects as limited government, federal interference in health care, and saving taxpayer money, MPP’s Bob Capecchi asked the former governor how he could justify vetoing the Minnesota medical marijuana bill, given his stances on these issues.
Pawlenty dodged these obvious inconsistencies completely, and deferred to his standard rhetoric.
“Marijuana? Yeah,” Pawlenty said. “Well... I stood with law enforcement on this issue. We just have a respectful difference on this issue."
He also mentioned that law enforcement have pretty serious concerns about medical marijuana. Is one of those concerns losing the ability to waste taxpayer money arresting sick people? This difference of opinion doesn’t seem respectful to seriously ill people, let alone to ideological consistency or integrity.
Marijuana reform could become a huge issue during the next presidential election. It is important that we keep putting pressure on candidates to clearly state their position on the issue, and to hold them accountable for that stance in the polls. We need to confront every candidate at every opportunity! Some of us are sure to get chances to question the candidates prior to the election, so let’s use them!
Please send any video of candidates answering such questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.