By Paul Armentano
January 2010 is off to a ’smoking’ start. Lawmakers in three key states — New Jersey, California, and Washington — are taking action this week on legislative measures that seek to significantly amend, or end, marijuana prohibition. Here’s a quick look at the week ahead.
Monday: Lawmakers in New Jersey are scheduled to vote on the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. This is the final day that lawmakers will be voting on issues from the 2008-2009 legislative session. This means that the bill must pass the Assembly floor, and then be rectified with the Senate version of the bill, before it can be sent to outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine for his approval. NORML’s local affiliates have spent months urging Assembly leaders to act on this legislation, and to expand upon several of its provisions.
New Jersey NORML and the Coalition for Medical Marijuana — New Jersey have scheduled a press conference to take place in the Capitol Rotunda following the vote. If you reside in New Jersey you still have time to make your voice heard by going to NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here and/or and by going to the State House in Trenton on Monday afternoon to show your support. (CMMNJ has reserved a room for patients and other out-of-town attendees who wish to participate in the day’s events).
Tuesday: Members of the California Assembly, Public Safety Committee will vote on Assembly Bill 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, which seeks to regulate and control the production, distribution, and personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. This vote will mark the first time since 1913, when California became one of the first states in the nation to enact cannabis prohibition, that lawmakers have reassessed this failed policy. (See my op/ed in today’s Sacramento Bee here.) A press conference is anticipated to take place immediately following the vote. You can read NORML’s prepared testimony here and here, and you can voice your support for this effort by going here.
Wednesday: Washington state House lawmakers will hear testimony at 1:30pm in favor of a pair of bills seeking to significantly reduce state marijuana penalties. Members of the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness will debate two pending proposals, House Bill 1177 and House Bill 2401. House Bill 1177 seeks to reclassify the possession of forty grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a class 2 civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine. House Bill 2401 seeks to “remove all existing civil and criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana.” This will be the first time state lawmakers have ever debated regulating marijuana production, distribution, and use by adults.
NORML representatives will be testifying in Olympia on Wednesday (Read testimony here.), and NORML Advisory Board member Rick Steves will also be hosting a public forum on the topic at Olympia’s Capitol Theater on Tuesday evening. If you live in Washington, you can urge the Committee to vote ‘yes’ on one or both of these measures by going here and here.