Ottawa, Canada: Liberal Party members introduced legislation late last week to legalize and regulate the possession, use, and sale of cannabis by those age 18 and older. The legislation follows through on a 2015 campaign pledge by the Party, which has promised to regulate the marijuana market by mid-2018.
The proposed measures establish a legal framework for the commercial production and retail sale of herbal cannabis, germinating seeds, immature plants, and cannabis-infused oils. Under the plan, those over the age of 18 may obtain up to 30 grams of cannabis at one time, or home cultivate up to four plants for non-commercial purposes. The measures also grant various regulatory powers to individual provinces and expands police powers to target and prosecute driving under the influence, including the use of oral fluid detection technology and the imposition of per se thresholds for the presence of THC in blood. NORML opposes such limits because the presence of THC is not a consistent indicator of either behavioral impairment or recent cannabis use.
If enacted, Canada would become only the second country to regulate the nationwide production and distribution of cannabis.
Salem, OR: Governor Kate Brown signed legislation into law this week limiting the ability of government officials to obtain data identifying customers who purchase marijuana at state-licensed retail facilities. Voters legalized the commercial production and retail sales of cannabis in November 2014. Retail sales of cannabis to those age 21 or older began in October 2015.
The new law, which took effect immediately upon signing, states "A marijuana retailer may not record and retain any information that may be used to identify a consumer." It also mandates retailers to destroy any existing customer records from their databases.
Lawmakers pushed for the measure following comments from the Trump administration threatening to ramp up the enforcement of federal anti-drug laws in states that have regulated the adult use of marijuana.
North Dakota: Governor Signs Measure Amending Voter-Approved Medical Marijuana Initiative
Bismarck, ND: Governor Doug Burgum signed legislation on Tuesday amending provisions of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act - a voter-initiated measure approved by 65 percent of voters last November.
Senate Bill 2344 makes several significant changes to the law. Specifically, it removes provisions permitting patients the option to home cultivate their own cannabis if they do not reside within proximity to an operating dispensary. It allows for the establishment of no more than two state-licensed cannabis producers and eight total dispensaries. The law permits qualified patients to possess and inhale herbal forms of cannabis, but only if such preparations are explicitly authorized by the recommending physician. Otherwise, patients must obtain cannabis-based medicines via tinctures, capsules, patches, or topical formulations. Edibles and concentrates are not defined as "medical cannabinoid products" under the law.
Patients will be permitted to possess up to three ounces of cannabis or cannabis-infused products, but no more than 2,000 milligrams of THC, over a 30-day period.
The program is anticipated to be operational within a year.
Tennessee: Governor Signs Law Repealing Citywide Decriminalization Statutes
Nashville, TN: Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation last week repealing municipal statutes in Memphis and Nashville that reduced local penalties for marijuana possession offenders.
House Bill 173 nullifies both cities' decriminalization ordinances and preempts any other city from enacting similar reforms.
City council members in Nashville and Memphis both passed ordinances last fall providing local law enforcement the discretion to cite and fine minor marijuana possession offenders in lieu of making an arrest and filing criminal charges. Similar measures have recently been enacted in numerous cities throughout the southern United States, particularly in Florida.
Under Tennessee law, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.
Governor Haslam failed to express his motivation for signing the bill other than to say that he "deferred to the will of the legislature."
Wisconsin: Governor Signs Measure Expanding CBD-Exemption Law
Madison, WI: Governor Scott Walker signed legislation this week amending the state's 2014 cannabidiol (CBD) exemption law.
Under the new law, patients may possess non psychoactive CBD products for any medical condition as long as the use of such products is recommended by a physician. Under the previous law, the use of such products were only permitted for those diagnosed with seizure disorders.
The law neither provides for an in-state supply source for CBD, nor does it establish a regulated distribution system for CBD-specific products.
A dozen states have enacted similar statutes exempting select patients from criminal prosecution if they possess therapeutics consisting of cannabidiol.
'Faces of Marijuana Prohibition' Event Held on Capitol Hill
Washington, DC: NORML held a 'Faces of Marijuana Prohibition' event on Capitol Hill on April 19th, in cooperation with the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, where congressional staff heard first-hand from those most adversely impacted by the criminalization of marijuana.
"It was an incredibly successful event," said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, "We must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike if we are ever to end the prohibition-industrial-complex and respect the basic rights of those who choose to consume marijuana, a substance safer than currently legal products like alcohol or cigarettes."
Dozens of congressional staff attended, hearing from victims across the spectrum of marijuana criminalization. Perspectives included: a cancer survivor who broke the law by consuming marijuana to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy, a federal staffer who lost his job as a result of a positive drug test, and those who received criminal charges and had their lives put on hold while they had to overcome the onerous penalties imposed by the state for a simple possession charge, among others.
"If police departments across this country began patrolling and arresting individuals for marijuana possession in predominately white neighborhoods at the same rate they do minority communities, the war on marijuana would end overnight," said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, "It speaks to who holds political power and who has been deprived it. Our criminal justice system has an inherent racial bias and the criminalization of marijuana is a political and legal tool used to oppress African and Latino Americans."
Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation's nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana users is out-of-step with the views of adults throughout America, 93% of whom support medical marijuana (Quinnipiac, 2017) and 60 percent of whom endorse the outright legalization of recreational marijuana (Gallup, 2016).
On April 20th (4/20), long considered the unofficial marijuana holiday, marijuana consumers and advocates will gather around the world to show their support for ending marijuana prohibition. NORML for its part will hosting an online day of action, driving tens of thousands of constituent contacts to members of Congress in support of HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.