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NORML's Weekly Roundup of Marijuana Legislation

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By Paul Armentano

Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.

** 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 make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.

Washington: Senate lawmakers voted 37 to 11 in favor of Senate Bill 5798, which seeks to expand the state’s nearly twelve-year-old medical marijuana law. As approved, SB 5798 allows certain health care professionals – including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, and advanced registered nurse practitioners – to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. Under present law, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis.

Senate Bill 5798 now awaits action from House lawmakers. The measure is scheduled to be heard by members of the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Thursday, February 18. You can contact members of the House in favor of the bill here.

New Hampshire: Members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 16 to 2 today in favor of House Bill 1653. As amended by the Committee, this proposal reduces the penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses (up to 1/4 of one ounce) from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine to a nominal monetary penalty of no more than $200.00 (and no criminal record). You can contact your member of the House and urge them to support HB 1653 by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

Washington, D.C.: Members of the D.C. City Council’s Committee on Health postponed their first hearing (scheduled for today) on implementing the District’s new medical marijuana law because of inclement weather. The hearing will likely be rescheduled for next week. (Check here for new date and time.) You can read NORML’s written testimony to the Committee here.

Tennessee: On Tuesday, February 16 from 9am-2pm, Tennessee NORML is hosting a legislative “Day on the Hill” at the capitol in Nashville to lobby on behalf of the the Tennessee Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act. To participate in this event and show your support for medical marijuana law reform in Tennessee, please visit here.

For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.


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