Vermont: House Members Turn Back Marijuana Reform Efforts

personal_cultivationMembers of the Vermont House spent over six hours today debating various amendments to reform marijuana policy, but ultimately decided against enacting any significant changes in law.

House lawmakers voted 121 to 28 to reject Senate-approved language that sought to regulate the adult use, commercial production, and retail sale of marijuana. Although Gov. Peter Shumlin and Attorney General William Sorrell publicly supported the effort, House members expressed little interest in seriously considering the measure.

House members also rejected an alternative measure that sought to expand the state’s existing decriminalization law to also include the personal cultivation of marijuana. Representatives voted 77 to 70 to reject the ammendment.

Representatives also debated whether or not to put forward the question, “Should Vermont legalize marijuana for recreational purposes?” before voters as a non-binding initiative during the upcoming August primary election. Lawmakers decided against the proposal by a vote of 97 to 51.

House lawmakers narrowly voted 77 to 68 in favor of provisions establishing an advisory commission to make recommendations to the legislature with regard to future marijuana policy. Specifically, the commission would be tasked with “propos[ing] a comprehensive regulatory and revenue structure that establishes controlled access to marijuana in a manner that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.” Those recommendations would be due by December 15, 2016.

House and Senate lawmakers previously approved a study commission in 2014. That commission’s report summarized various alternative regulatory schemes but made no recommendations with regard to if and how lawmakers should ultimately amend state law.

The amended measure now awaits a concurrence vote by the Senate.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Gov. Shumlin said, “It is incredibly disappointing … that a majority of the House has shown a remarkable disregard for the sentiment of most Vermonters who understand that we must pursue a smarter policy when it comes to marijuana in this state.”

The Next Step Towards Marijuana Justice: Don’t Forget the POWs

C1_8734_r_xAs we continue the march towards ending marijuana prohibition and legalizing the responsible use of marijuana, there remains a moral imperative that we must confront head-on: we must not forget those whose lives have been destroyed by prohibition — the POWs of the war on marijuana.

I’m specifically talking about the thousands of state and federal prisoners who were convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses – frequently involving large-scale cultivation or smuggling efforts – and who were sentenced to long prison sentences, frequently longer sentences than those given to violent criminals, and the hundreds of thousands of individuals who are no longer incarcerated, but who bear the unfair burden of a criminal record for conduct that is now becoming legal in more and more states.

A Fresh Look at Smugglers, Dealers and Large Scale Cultivators

For decades, the anti-marijuana propaganda machine in this country demonized those who smuggled, grew or sold marijuana. They were not seen just as citizens willing to ignore the dominant social norms and attendant legal risks of providing a product that millions of Americans wanted, and were willing to pay a premium price to obtain. Rather they were portrayed as evil individuals whose purpose in life was to corrupt and addict our youth and undermine our nation’s strength.

After all, if marijuana caused otherwise ordinary citizens to become depraved animals, leading to unthinkable acts of brutality, and eventually ending with insanity, as was the official party line, then of course those who allowed this threat to continue, and who enabled it by their actions, were perceived as worse than those who committed acts of violence. And routinely they were given harsher sentences than those who were committing violent crimes.

Today, as the country has become more familiar with and accepting of marijuana smoking, those earlier assumptions about the dangers of marijuana seem absurd and fanciful, and it is difficult to imagine they were ever accepted as fact. But they were, and the result was more than 30 million marijuana arrests.

The Perspective of Those of Us Who Smoke

First, let me make the obvious point that if no one would have had the courage to risk arrest and jail for smuggling, growing or selling marijuana, we smokers would have had no marijuana to smoke for all these years.

But even more importantly, without a thriving underground marijuana market in America, there would have been no serious marijuana legalization movement, and we would not have four states and the District of Columbia with legal marijuana, and more to come in November.

Ending prohibition might never have occurred if this were simply a theoretical argument about the wisdom of criminalizing marijuana. It is occurring because there are tens of millions of Americans who very much enjoy their marijuana, regardless of its legal status, and who were passionate about the need to bring it above ground and end prohibition.

Without a reasonably steady supply of black-market marijuana, this topic would be of interest to political science and sociology professors, but it would not be an enormous social movement with the political power to change laws and policy for the better.

So instead of demonizing these brave adventurers who were willing to provide us with marijuana, despite the enormous personal risk, we should be recognizing their role in getting us to where we are today, and taking whatever steps we can to minimize the harm so many of them have suffered. That means those who remain in jail or prison should be released, if what they were convicted of is now being legalized; and those who remain unable to vote or are otherwise limited professionally because of a marijuana conviction should have their records expunged.

I know that some are even calling for those who have been victimized by prohibition to be paid reparations for the damages they suffered, just as people who are proven innocent after years of imprisonment are frequently reimbursed for their suffering. While I see the innate justice in that suggestion, I recognize that is simply not a politically realistic option, at least for now.

But we should, and must, do what we can to restore to health those many lives we have unfairly damaged and destroyed, and we need to begin the public debate now. Once one acknowledges that marijuana is far safer than alcohol or tobacco, and a large majority of Americans now understand this basic fact, then there is simply no rational basis to leave non-violent marijuana offenders in jail or prison, or to limit their ability to succeed and enjoy a full and rewarding life, because of a past non-violent marijuana conviction on their record. A failure to help those previously convicted under prohibition would leave a moral stain on the legalization movement.

The Gentlemen Smugglers

I was reminded of this aspect of ending marijuana prohibition by a visit recently with Barry Foy, an old marijuana smuggler who was featured in the Wall Street Journal best-selling book by Jason Ryan titled Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs. This is a real-life adventure by a group of fun-loving southern gentlemen based in South Carolina who successfully smuggled tons of marijuana into the US during the Ronald Reagan years, before eventually being caught and serving substantial prison sentences. These were middle-class adventurers who eschewed violence but thoroughly enjoyed the excitement, glamor, and pleasures available to those willing to live on the edge — the lifestyle celebrated in many Jimmy Buffett ballads.

These smugglers eventually married and had families, and when they were not smuggling marijuana, were indistinguishable from their more-ordinary friends and neighbors. Following a 13-year run, they were eventually taken down, not on smuggling charges, but like Al Capone, on tax-evasion charges, with Barry receiving an 18-year sentence (he served 11) and his partner receiving a 25-year sentence (he served 17 years). Yet today, both former smugglers say they have no regrets and remain unrepentant.

I am fully aware that we have much work to accomplish before marijuana smokers are treated in a totally fair manner. I have written frequently about the need to fix the laws that currently permit smokers to lose their jobs for testing positive for THC, without any showing of impairment on the job; the morally offensive policy of assuming parents who smoke marijuana are unfit parents, who must fight to retain custody of their minor children; and the factually unfair policy of treating those with THC in their system as presumed guilty of a DUID offense, without any showing they were driving in an impaired condition. Each of these areas must be revisited to protect the rights of responsible marijuana smokers.

But even as we move more and more states into the legalization column, we must not forget the need to reach back and minimize the harm we have caused to tens of thousands of our fellow citizens by labeling them as criminals for smuggling, growing or selling marijuana to those of us who wanted it. Like marijuana smokers, they too are largely ordinary folks, perhaps with a flair for living an adventurous life, with families and friends who very much care about them, and they should never have been treated with such contempt simply for ignoring the dictates of a failed policy called marijuana prohibition.

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This column originally ran in Marijuana.com

 

NORML’s Legislative Round Up April 29th, 2016

thumbs_upA legalization initiative has officially qualified the ballot this November and separate legislative measures around the country continue to advance. Keep reading below to learn the latest legislative developments.

Alabama: Members of both chambers approved legislation this week, House Bill 61, to protect qualified patients eligible for CBD therapy under a physician’s authorization from criminal prosecution. The measure, known as ‘Leni’s Law’, seeks to allow qualified patients to possess CBD preparations containing up to three percent THC. The measure passed in the Senate by a vote of 29 to 3 and in the House in a 95 to 4 vote. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Robert Bentley. #TakeAction

California: A prominent GOP Congressman has endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which seeks to regulate the adult use, production, and retail sale of cannabis. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) announced, “As a Republican who believes in individual freedom, limited government and states’ rights, I believe that it’s time for California to lead the nation and create a safe, legal system for the responsible adult use of marijuana.” He added: “I endorse the Adult Use of Marijuana Act for the November 2016 ballot. It is a necessary reform which will end the failed system of marijuana prohibition in our state, provide California law enforcement the resources it needs to redouble its focus on serious crimes while providing a policy blueprint for other states to follow.” You can learn more about the initiative here.

Florida: Another Florida municipality has given preliminary approval to a proposed ordinance permitting police to cite, rather than arrest, minor marijuana offenders. Members of St. Petersburg’s Public Safety and Infrastructure Committee voted in favor of the policy that would create a system of fines that would begin at $75 for those caught holding 20 grams or less of cannabis. Two versions of the plan, one that one that would mandate police issue a citation and another that gives the officer the option to do so, will head to the full city council for a final vote in early May. Under state law, possessing any amount of marijuana is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Maine: Maine voters will decide on election day on a statewide ballot measure seeking to regulate the adult use, retail sale, and commercial production of cannabis. The Secretary of State determined this week that initiative proponents, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, gathered a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot. The office had previously attempted to invalidate a significant portion of proponents’ signatures, but that effort was rejected by the courts earlier this month.

If enacted by voters in November, the measure would allow adults to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana and to cultivate marijuana (up to six mature plants and the entire yields of said plants) for their own personal use.

North Carolina: House legislation was introduced this week to permit the limited use of medical marijuana. House Bill 983 exempts patients engaging in the physicians-recommended use of cannabis to treat a chronic or terminal illness from criminal prosecution under state law. Qualifying patients must possess a tax stamp issued by the state department of Revenue, and may possess no more than three ounces of cannabis at any one time. The proposal does not permit patients to cultivate their own cannabis, nor does it establish a state-licensed supply source. #TakeAction

 

lobby_day_2016Don’t forget, NORML’s 2016 National Conference and Lobby Day is being held May 23rd and 24th! We’ll hold an informational seminar where activists from around the country hear from the leaders of the movement, we’ll keep the party going at the Mansion on O St. with our annual award ceremony and finally, we’ll conclude on the Hill where attendees w
ill hear from and meet leaders in Congress who are doing their best to reform our federal marijuana laws! You can register here.

Denver and Alaska Set to Push Legalization Envelope

C1_8734_r_xNews out of Anchorage and Denver this week was good for marijuana smokers, as both the city of Denver and the state of Alaska moved closer to the legalization of marijuana social clubs. Smokers could thus socialize in a venue with other adults where marijuana smoking would be legal.

Until now, in the states that have legalized recreational use (and in the District of Columbia), marijuana smokers are only permitted to exercise their newly won freedom in their home or as a guest in someone else’s home. Holland-style coffee shops or marijuana lounges were not legalized by those early voter initiatives.

That is about to change.

Denver

Denver NORML and The Committee for the Responsible Use Initiative in Denver have announced the final language for their municipal initiative. They expect to be cleared this week by the city to begin circulating petitions seeking the signature of registered voters, putting the issue on the ballot for voters to decide in November.

The proposal would license and regulate private marijuana social clubs and special events where adult marijuana smoking would be legal. The state legislature had earlier indicated some interest in amending state law to permit marijuana social clubs, but when that stalled, Denver NORML began to move forward with their municipal voter initiative. Clubs could not sell or distribute marijuana, and bars, nightclubs and restaurants could not become private marijuana clubs or host special events.

The most current polling suggests the proposal is favored by a clear majority (56%) of voters in Denver.

Denver NORML executive director Jordon Person offered this appraisal of the proposed initiative. “Passage of this ordinance would be a historic first step in moving towards the ultimate goal of normalizing the consumption of marijuana in our country. The initiative would provide responsible adults a legally defined space where marijuana could be consumed and shared with other like-minded adults — a simple, yet necessary accommodation for states that have passed some form of legalization. This is a pragmatic approach that focuses on the basics and provides the city of Denver a solution to an issue that is not going away.”

Proponents have until August 15 to collect 5,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

Alaska

In Alaska, the decision to license some version of marijuana lounges was made by the Alaska Marijuana Control Board last November, and this week the board issued draft regulations to define when and where “on-site consumption” would be permitted.

The proposed regulations are now open for public comment before the board finalizes them.

While the outline is still tentative, marijuana cafes would be permitted only in conjunction with an existing marijuana retail store, on the same premises, either indoor or outdoor, but with a separate entrance and separate serving area. A separate license would be required for on-site consumption.

Customers could purchase small amounts of marijuana ( 1 gram of marijuana, edibles with up to 10 milligrams of THC, or .25 grams of marijuana concentrates) to consume on-site and would not be permitted to bring their own marijuana to smoke on-site. Strangely, they would be required to leave any unfinished marijuana behind to be destroyed, and “happy hours” would not be permitted. Marijuana lounges would be permitted to sell food and non-alcohol beverages.

Marijuana Control Board chair Bruce Schulte explained the board was proceeding with a degree of caution, because this is new territory for state legalization regulatory agencies. One of the more difficult issues the board had to deal with, according to board member Brandon Emmett, was whether to permit dabbing.

Laboratories of Democracy

As former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “a state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Denver and Alaska are exercising that important role as we move forward with better and better versions of legalization. What we learn from these initial experiments with marijuana social clubs will inform subsequent states in the coming years.

This column first ran on Marijuana.com.

 http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/04/denver-and-alaska-set-to-push-the-legalization-envelope/

Maine: Marijuana Regulation Initiative Cleared For November Ballot

vote_keyboardIt’s finally official. Maine voters will decide on Election Day on a statewide ballot measure seeking to regulate the adult use, retail sale, and commercial production of cannabis.

The Secretary of State determined today that initiative proponents, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, gathered a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot. The office had previously attempted to invalidate a significant portion of proponents’ signatures, but that effort was rejected by the courts earlier this month.

If enacted by voters in November, the measure would allow adults to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana and to cultivate marijuana (up to six mature plants and the entire yields of said plants) for their own personal use. The measure would also establish licensing for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. Retail sales of cannabis would be subject to a ten percent sales tax. Non-commercial transactions and/or retail sales involving medical cannabis would not be subject to taxation. You can read the full text of the proposed initiative here.

Maine is one of a number of states — including Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nevada — where voters are expected to decide this fall on legalizing the adult use of cannabis. According to statewide survey data provided by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54 percent of likely Maine voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Only 42 percent of respondents said they would oppose it.

Join Us In Washington D.C. For Our 2016 National Conference and Congressional Lobby Day

lobby_day_2016We are excited to have finalized the agenda for our 2016 National Conference and Congressional Lobby Day! You can check out the full itinerary here.

Day one will include panel discussions on a variety of topics, including the prospects of marijuana law reform in the 114th Congress, the ongoing experience with legalization in Colorado, Washington, and other states, and post prohibition concerns for marijuana consumers. Throughout the day attendees will hear policy experts from NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access, the National Cannabis Industries Association, and many others

NORML’s Conference seminar takes place on Monday, May 23rd, at the GW Elliot School of International Affairs located at 1957 E Street NW in Washington D.C. Register now here.

Following the seminar, attendees will head to the Mansion on O Street (2020 O St NW) for our NORML Social. Here, attendees will kick back and relax with fellow advocates and share stories of their activism. We will also be holding our 2016 Awards Ceremony, to honor our most dedicated activists and shine light on the hard work they’ve put in throughout the years. You won’t want to miss this event and entry is not included in your general Lobby Day registration. You can purchase a separate ticket to the NORML Social here.

On Tuesday morning attendees will meet on Capitol Hill for a morning reception to hear from our allies in Congress who are leading federal marijuana law reform efforts. Following that, attendees will separate into groups based on voting district/state and together will visit their federally elected officials offices to discuss with them the importance of ending the federal prohibition of marijuana.

**If you’re already registered to attend our 2016 Congressional Lobby Day, please contact your federally elected officials Washington D.C. office to schedule an appointment to talk with a staffer on Tuesday, May 24th. Walk-ins are generally not supported. If you have questions or would like assistance with this please email danielle@norml.org.**

If your organization would like to help support NORML’s 2016 Congressional Lobby Day please consider becoming a sponsor! More information on sponsorships is available here.

We can’t wait to gather like minded activists, volunteers, lobbyists, and marijuana consumers all together under one roof to discuss the state of marijuana law reform around the country, to honor our MVP’s of the movement and to lobby our federally elected officials together. Register today!

Study: Opioid Abuse Rates Lower In Medical Cannabis States

pills_v_potRates of prescription opioid abuse are significantly lower in jurisdictions that permit medical marijuana access, according to data reported by Castlight Health, an employee health benefits platform provider.

Investigators assessed anonymous prescription reporting data from over one million employees between the years 2011 and 2015.

In states that did not permit medical marijuana access, 5.4 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription qualified as abusers of the drug. (The study’s authors defined “abuse” as opioid use by an individual who was not receiving palliative care, who received greater than a 90-day cumulative supply of opioids, and received an opioid prescription from four or more providers.) By contrast, only 2.8 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription living in medical marijuana states met the criteria.

The findings are similar to those reported by the RAND Corporation in 2015, which determined, “[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”

Data published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine also reported that the enactment of statewide medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, finding, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

Full text of the new study, “The opioid crisis in America’s workforce,” appears online here.

Who Smokes Marijuana In America?

C1_8734_r_xWe know that roughly half the adults in the entire country have smoked marijuana at some point in their lives, and that more than 30 million Americans have smoked just in the last year, a number that continues to increase each year. What is not so clear is precisely who smokes marijuana. If one were to rely on the popular culture for that answer, you might conclude marijuana smokers are cultural misfits living a lifestyle better suited for the 1960s and 70s.

The Current Inaccurate Images Held by Non-Smokers

Because of a number of factors resulting from prohibition (i.e., recreational marijuana smoking remains illegal in most states; a social stigma still attaches to marijuana smoking; and most middle-class marijuana smokers must remain “in the closet” to protect their jobs), the public image of marijuana smokers has been largely shaped by those on the fringes of the marijuana culture. Too often the result, fueled by stoner movies and popular culture, has been a cartoon-like image of the stoned slacker whose life is all about getting and staying stoned all day.

While most of us who smoke marijuana have learned to enjoy the humor, it has without question held us back politically.

Because of those negative stereotypes, even in the states that have legalized marijuana and stopped arresting smokers, marijuana smokers are simply not treated fairly in a number of important areas that impact us on a daily basis. Private employers are still legally permitted to fire an employee who tests positive for THC without any evidence the employee came to work in an impaired condition. Child welfare agencies across the country routinely presume that any use of marijuana by a parent with minor children is evidence suggesting the parent may be unfit to retain custody of his/her child. And marijuana smokers remain subject to arrest and prosecution for a DUID charge, simply because some level of THC was found in their system , without any showing of impairment. These and other discriminatory practices would not be tolerated if those of us who smoke were seen as good, responsible citizens.

Who Smokes Marijuana Today?

While the survey was far too small to provide statistically significant data, a recent poll designed to learn more about the demographics of marijuana smokers does allow us to peek behind the curtain that continues to mask the identity of most marijuana smokers. This new poll, the Civilized Cannabis Culture Poll, suggests those negative stereotypes common in the media are pure fiction and do not accurately reflect the marijuana smoking culture in America. They found that smokers are just average people with families, careers and full lives, in addition to their marijuana smoking.

So We’re Not Slackers, After All

According to the Civilized poll results, most marijuana consumers are homeowners (66%); 74% are employed ; half have a household income of $75,000 or higher; 51% hold supervisory or executive roles at work; 52% have completed college or university-level programs; and 78% are married with children.

That sounds pretty mainstream and middle-class to me.

The poll also confirmed that most (73%) marijuana smokers admit they sometimes feel the need to hide their marijuana smoking from their family members, friends, or colleagues at work. Twenty-four percent of the men reported hiding their use from their wives or significant others, while 17% of women said they did the same. The percentage using marijuana surreptitiously was highest among young smokers and higher-income smokers. Without question, some social stigma remains attached to marijuana use, causing many smokers to keep their marijuana smoking a private matter.

This survey found that once smokers reach retirement age, more people feel free to come out of the closet. Less than 7% of those over 45 years of age said they hid it from their spouse or partner. Apparently there are some advantages to age, and being honest about one’s marijuana use is one of those.

Get To Know Your Neighbors

All of which brings me back to the need for more middle-class marijuana smokers to let their friends and neighbors and, where possible, their colleagues at work, know they are responsible marijuana smokers in addition to being good neighbors and loving parents.

If non-smokers understand that we are just like them, except that we prefer to smoke a joint at the end of the day to relax, just as tens of millions of other Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine, then we can finally overcome the remaining obstacles that keep us from enjoying the same rights as all other citizens.

We do not need to blow smoke in the face of those who do not approve of marijuana, but we do need to demonstrate by our conduct that we are good, productive citizens. Our use of marijuana is just one aspect of our lives and nothing that should concern them.

Until we do this, we will continue to face unfair discrimination based solely on our choice of intoxicants. We have the ability to end marijuana discrimination, and we have the obligation to try.

We are only incidentally talking about marijuana smoking. We are really talking about personal freedom and equality.

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This column was originally posted on marijuana.com:
Read more http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/04/who-smokes-marijuana-in-america/

 

NORML’s Legislative Round Up April 22nd, 2016

We’ve got federal news for you and an encouraging announcement out of Canada this week. Plus we’ll update you on pending state legislation across the country. Keep reading below to get the latest in marijuana law reform!

International:

Canada: The country’s health minister announced this week that federal legislation to legalize marijuana for adult use will be introduced in spring of 2017. Speaking at a special session before the UN, the minister said, “”We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures. We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem.”

Federal:

NORML Board member Evan Nison appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday to ask Hillary Clinton her thoughts on legalization. Check out the clip here:

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations committee once again voted in favor of the Mikulski medical marijuana amendment. The provision prohibits the Justice Department, including the DEA, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Members of the Senate and House approved similar language last year.

A bipartisan group of 26 Senators and Representatives signed a letter last week urging President Obama to remove federal barriers that limit clinical cannabis research.

“Twenty-three states have passed laws establishing medical cannabis programs and an additional seventeen have passed laws regarding the medical use of cannabidiol (CBD), a compound derived from cannabis,” the Senators and Representatives wrote in the letter. “Despite these developments, researchers, doctors, and patients in these forty states are still subject to federal barriers impeding innovation and medical research. Until we have comprehensive scientific research on the medical risks and benefits of cannabis and its derivatives, we will continue to debate this issue on the basis of outdated ideology instead of modern science.”

State:

Florida: Members of the Orlando City Council voted 4-3 in favor of an ordinance to give local police the option of citing, rather than arresting, marijuana possession offenders. The second reading for the measure will be May 8th. If you live in Orlando, contact your City Commissioner and urge their support for this common sense proposal!

Louisiana: Members of the Senate this week decided in favor of legislation, SB 271 to amend the state’s dormant medical marijuana law. Despite vocal opposition from law enforcement groups, members of the Senate voted 21 to 16 in favor of the measure on Wednesday, April 20th. The bill now awaits action from members of the House.

Ohio: Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 204, so that drug offenses are no longer punishable by a mandatory loss of one’s driver’s license. Under existing law, any drug conviction carries a mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least six months, even in cases where the possession offense did not take place in a vehicle. Senate Bill 204 would make such suspensions discretionary rather than mandatory. With no public opposition, the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. #TakeAction

New Hampshire: For the seventh year in a row, members of the Senate Judiciary committee voted to kill marijuana decriminalization. House Bill 1631 sought to amend state law so that offenses involving the possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana would be classified as a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense — no arrest, and no criminal record. New Hampshire remains the last state in New England that has not decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Washington D.C.: D.C. Council voted to permanently ban the creation of private clubs for marijuana consumption in the district this week. The legislation, approved in a 7-6 vote, modifies DC’s laws to add private-membership organizations to the list of public venues, and makes permanent a temporary ban the Council implemented in February when a few clubs sprouted up. The vote came just hours before a Council created “task-force” on marijuana clubs was scheduled to hold its first meeting.

FBScorecardOn Wednesday, NORML released our 2016 Congressional Scorecard. An all encompassing database that assigns a letter grade, ‘A’ through ‘F’, to members of Congress based on their marijuana-related comments and voting records. Be sure to check out what grade your federally elected officials received and share the Scorecard with friends and family so they become engaged voters too!

CBS Poll: Majority Of Americans Say ‘Marijuana Use Should Be Legal’

Legalize marijuanaFifty-six percent of Americans say “Marijuana use should be legal,” according to the results of a nationwide poll commissioned by CBS News. The percentage is the highest ever reported by news agency.

Only 36 percent of respondents said that they opposed legalization.

Seventy-one percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said that marijuana use ought to be legal, an increase of 10 percent since CBS posed the question last year. Among those age 35 to 64, 57 percent of respondents backed legalization, while only 31 percent of those age 65 or older did so.

Men (59 percent) were more likely than women (54 percent) to support making marijuana use legal. Democrats (63 percent) and Independents (58 percent) were far more likely to support legalization compared to Republicans (44 percent).

In response to a separate polling question, 51 percent of Americans admitted having consumed cannabis, up from 34 percent in 1997.

The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- four percent.

The CBS survey results are similar to those of other recent national polls, such as those by reported by Gallup, CBS, and Pew, finding that a majority of Americans now support ending marijuana prohibition.