By Paul Armentano
Connecticut: Immediate action is needed in the Nutmeg State. Members of the state Senate on Saturday narrowly approved legislation so that the adult possession of marijuana is reduced from a misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction, punishable by a fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. This measure would similarly reduce penalties on the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Your efforts have truly made a different in this battle, as the bill passed by a single vote — and only weeks earlier political pundits were calling the chances of this bill’s success to be slim and none.
But we still have a tremendous amount of work before us. Senate Bill 1014 must still be approved by the House Floor by this coming Wednesday! Whether the floor will take the time to act on it will be decided by House Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden). Please take a moment to contact him directly, leaving a polite message for his staff urging him to schedule a floor vote for SB 1014. You can also contact your own individual House Representative via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Separate legislation to approve the limited use of medical cannabis also awaits Senate floor action. Please contact the office of Sen. Don Williams, President Pro Tempore, and urge him to allow the 2011 medical marijuana bill to receive a floor vote. You can also contact your own individual Senator via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Additional information regarding this effort is available by contacting: Erik A. Williams, Executive Director, CT NORML, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860.805.3243.
Vermont: Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin last week signed legislation into law allowing state-licensed facilities to dispense marijuana to medically authorized patients. Each dispensary will be licensed by the state Department of Public Safety and would be permitted to serve up to 1,000 registered patients. The Department is in the process of developing rules to carry out the new law. To date, only the states of Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico have state-licensed medical marijuana facilities up and running. Regulators in New Jersey and Rhode Island have selected applicants to operate similar state-licensed dispensaries, but neither state has allowed those applicants to open their planned facilities. Additionally, permits for licensed medical marijuana businesses are expected to be issued soon Delaware and in the District of Columbia.
California: Members of the state Assembly last week narrowly rejected AB 1017, which sought to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana cultivation from a felony to an alternative misdemeanor. “The state legislature has once again demonstrated its incompetence when it comes to dealing with prison crowding,” commented California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, which backed the bill. “With California under court order to reduce its prison population, it is irresponsible to maintain present penalties for non-violent drug offenses. It makes no sense to keep marijuana growing a felony, when assault, battery, and petty theft are all misdemeanors. Legislators have once again caved in to to the state’s law enforcement establishment, which has a vested professional interest in maximizing drug crime.”
Separate legislation, SB 129, which seeks to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against qualified medical cannabis patients in the workplace, has been held over to 2012.