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The Week in Marijuana Legislation

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By Paul Armentano

It’s January and once again it’s time for NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country.

** 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 to make the changes they want to see.

Virginia:House Bill 1443 eliminates criminal misdemeanor penalties and convictions for minor marijuana possession offenders. You can contact your state officials in support of this measure here. Virginia NORML is also co-sponsoring a Lobby Day at the State Capitol in support of this effort on Monday, January 17, 2011. To learn more about this event or to attend, please write:

Washington:Senate Bill 5073 and House Bill 1100 seek to provide state licensing to medical marijuana producers and dispensaries in order to assure that qualified patients “will have access to an adequate, safe, consistent, and secure source of medical quality cannabis.” The proposed laws do not amend patients’ existing rights to possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana for medical purposes and cultivate up to 15 cannabis plants. The proposals also expand legal protections for patients and producers of cannabis-based medical products by redefining legal cannabis to include “products that contain cannabis or cannabis extracts … “including, but not limited to, edible products, tinctures, and lotions.” SB 5073 has been assigned to the Committee on Health & Long-Term Care and as been scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 20th at 1:30pm in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building. You can learn more about these proposals at NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here.

Montana: Montana lawmakers are considering dozens of proposals this session to curtail or repeal the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana law. Montana NORML, our allies Patients & Families United, and various other local groups have formed a coalition to halt these legislative efforts and to protect patients rights. Please visit Patients and Families United on Facebook here for up-to-date information on pending hearings (the first of which is likely scheduled for next Friday, January 21) and votes. You can also e-mail your members of the state House and Senate urging them not to repeal Montana’s medical cannabis law by clicking here.

Texas:House Bill 548 amends Texas law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine) to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $500 and no criminal record. You can show your support for this measure by visiting here or by becoming involved with Texas NORML here. You can follow the progress of this measure online here and also on the Facebook page for Texas NORML here.

To be in contact with your state officials regarding these and other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.


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