NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up

Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in over a dozen states, and progressive measures have been pre-filed in many more. Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country.

** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see.

Washington: A coalition of House lawmakers have introduced legislation, House Bill 1550, to legalize and regulate the “production, distribution, and sale” of marijuana to adults. “[T]he legislature intends to promote commerce and competition within Washington by eliminating penalties for the possession and consumption of cannabis, regulating and taxing the sale of cannabis by state government, and licensing cannabis growers,” it states. The measure has been referred to the House Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. You can contact the Committee and your own House member in support of HB 1550 by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here.

Massachusetts: Legislation that seeks to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis will be introduced in the Massachusetts House imminently. Separate legislation to allow for the physician supervised use of medical marijuana has also been pre-filed and will be reintroduced in both chambers this legislative session. Further details about these efforts and how to support them is available from MassCann, the Massachusetts affiliate of NORML, here.

Indiana: Senate Bill 192, which calls for a legislative review of state marijuana policies, is pending in the state Senate. Says the bill’s sponsor: “Every year, we spend countless dollars pursuing these non-violent offenders. This study would provide an assessment of the actual costs to our criminal justice system including the impact on law enforcement, prosecution, and sentencing. It will also provide members of the public with the opportunity to voice their opinions on the state’s current policies and other options for regulating marijuana.” To contact your state Senator in support of SB 192, please click here.

Oklahoma: State lawmakers for the first time will consider legislation that seeks to exempt qualified medical marijuana patients from statewide criminal penalties — penalties which are among the strictest in the nation. Senate Bill 573 seeks to create the “Compassionate Use Act of 2011” which states, “Oklahoma Statutes relating to the cultivation of marijuana shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient’s primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician.” To support this effort, please click here.

Medical marijuana law reform bills were also introduced this week in Delaware, Idaho, and were pre-filed in Maryland. For more information on ways to supprt these proposals, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here.

Montana: On Tuesday, members of the House Judiciary Committee tabled House Bill 33, which sought to improperly define marijuana consumers as “drugged drivers” even if they are neither under the influence nor impaired to drive. NORML thanks those of you who took the time to call and e-mail members of this Committee and urged them to reject this draconian proposal.

To be in contact with your state officials regarding these and other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.

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