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The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission will conduct a public hearing regarding proposed city regulations for medical marijuana commercial operations tomorrow evening, Thursday, May 9. Although the Commission will meet in a “work session” beginning at 5:30 p.m., city staff members have clarified that the public hearing on medical marijuana regulations will begin at 7:00 p.m. The meeting is in the Council Chambers of Columbia City Hall at 701 E. Broadway, on the northwest corner of 7th and Broadway downtown.
A very progressive marijuana decriminalization bill, House Bill 1095, filed by Representative Shamed Dogan of St. Louis, is now set for a public hearing next Thursday, April 4, 2019, at 8:00 a.m. before Representative Dogan’s Special Committee on Crime in House Hearing Room #1, in the basement level of the Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City! The more witnesses who show up to support this bill, the better!
It was only last Wednesday, March 27, when Missouri NORML lobbyists visited the office of the House Speaker, Elijah Haahr, and asked him to assign that bill to Representative Dogan’s Committee. The Speaker did exactly that on the very same day!
Since the sponsor of this bill is the Chair of the committee that is going to hear the bill, it is very likely to come out of that committee with a positive recommendation very quickly. Missouri NORML helped Representative Dogan write this bill. It would reduce the possession of up to 100 grams, nearly four ounces, to an infraction, a non-criminal offense with no jail time and a maximum fine of $400. It would further reduce the distribution, sale or delivery of up to 66 pounds of marijuana down from a felony with a punishment of up to ten years, to a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of one year!
If you cannot make it to the hearing in Jefferson City next Thursday, please contact your State Representative right away and urge him or her to support House Bill 1095, Representative Dogan’s bill to decriminalize marijuana in Missouri!
MO NORML Coordinator
Dan Viets has given most of his life to cannabis law reform efforts, and the movement is so lucky to have him!
There are few people who can say that they have dedicated the majority of their time on earth to legalizing cannabis and advocating for sensible drug policy reform, and Dan Viets is one of them. Dan is the Secretary of the national NORML Board and President of the NORML Foundation, as well as Chair of the Board for New Approach Missouri, the organization that just successfully legalized medical cannabis in the Show-Me-State.
Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has introduced an amendment to the House appropriations bill that, if passed, would not allow funds to be used to prevent states from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of industrial hemp. These laws are defined in section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. In 2014, members of Congress approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to sponsor hemp research.
The majority of US states have already enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and allowing for its cultivation. However, the federal government still includes hemp in the Controlled Substances Act, despite it containing minimal amounts of THC–the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
All parts of the hemp plant can be cultivated and used to produce everyday household items. It can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials such as clothing, paper, construction materials, and biofuel. Not only is it useful, but growing hemp is much more environmentally friendly than traditional crops. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.
If Bonamici’s amendment is passed, this could prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with states’ rights, specifically regarding to the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of industrial hemp. It’s time for Congress to respect state laws and allow them to engage in the environmentally responsible cultivation of industrial hemp.
Update: Identical language was introduced in the House by Representative Earl Blumenauer and cosponsored by 9 Republicans and 9 Democrats. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions blocked the amendment from consideration.
Update: The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include the amendment as part of the 2018 MilCon-VA bill.
The Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which would expand medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans, is expected to be offered to the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations (MilCon-VA) bill.
Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician.
Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 MilCon-VA bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. We must not allow a similar outcome again this year. Lawmakers must stop playing politics with veterans’ health and pass and enact this amendment.
Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress. A retrospective review of patients' symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction on a scale of post-traumatic symptom scores following cannabis therapy. This is why, in recent months, two of the largest veterans’ rights groups -- AMVETS and the American Legion -- have resolved in favor of patients’ access to cannabis therapy.
Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.
Update #2: The House Appropriations Committee released its 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which determines the funding levels for numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Justice. Predictably, the bill does not include language — known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment — limiting the Justice Department from taking action against state-sanctioned medical cannabis producers, retailers, or consumers.
Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher released the following statement in reponse: “The policy championed by Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher that prevents the Department of Justice from interfering in the ability of states to implement legal medical marijuana laws (previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr”) has never been included in the base Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee Appropriations bill. Rather, in previous years, Congress has amended the base CJS bill to include these protections.
We are exactly where we thought we would be in the legislative process and look forward to amending the underlying bill once again this year to make sure medical marijuana programs, and the patients who rely on them, are protected. Voters in states across the country have acted to legalize medical marijuana. Congress should not act against the will of the people who elected us.”
Update #1: House and Senate lawmakers have signed off on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. The measure reauthorizes and updates the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, as well as a similarly worded amendment protecting state-sponsored industrial hemp programs. Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, at which time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire. Non-medical retail marijuana businesses operating in the eight states that regulate adult use sales are not protected by this act and still remain vulnerable to federal interference or prosecution.
Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term spending package. This bill extends federal funding through September 30, 2017, at which time the measure — and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment -- will expire.
According to recently released nationwide survey data, the majority of Americans are on our side. A whopping 94 percent support the medical use of marijuana. Perhaps most importantly, 71 percent of voters — including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents -- say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”
Please enter your information below to contact members of the incoming Congress and urge them to include these important patient protections as part of any future, long-term appropriations legislation.
This amendment is strongly supported by both voters and lawmakers and ensures the safety of millions of patients. Congress must not turn its back on those millions of Americans who rely on these state-authorized programs for their health and wellness.
Follow this link to Maintain Protections For Lawful Medical Marijuana Programs