Maryland NORML News

Maryland NORML News

MD NORML 2019 Policy Priorities

Maryland NORML 2019 Policy Priorities 

1. Legal adult use and access from licensed businesses

Maryland is proud to call itself the “Free State.” It is intrinsic to freedom that each of us has free domain over our body, our ideas, our imagination and our emotions. We are free to live where we want, work at the occupation that suits us, and to enjoy recreation. The only constraint is that we cannot injure others or fail to carry out our mutual obligations.

There is nothing intrinsic in enjoying the use of marijuana that interferes with an adult carrying out their responsibilities. Certainly the impact on self-control is well below legal, over-the-counter consumer products, such as alcohol.

In many recreational activities, there is a risk of death or serious bodily injury -- excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption, hunting with a firearm, surfing in the ocean, boating in the bay, swimming in lakes and pools, skiing on trails, rafting, kayaking, bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, playing football, lacrosse or soccer, etc. Dozens die in Maryland from these legal , risky activities every year. No one has ever died just from using marijuana. The risks from marijuana use are insignificant when compared to dozens of legal and culturally admired activities.

It should never be unlawful simply to take risks. Risk is the American way. Americans don’t simply tolerate risk, we embrace it. It is no longer tolerable to prohibit adults from using cannabis. Adults should be able to lawfully possess cannabis, use it, and procure it from licensed businesses. We think that businesses engaged in commercial-scale production and distribution of cannabis or cannabis products should have their products tested for purity, and the products should be labeled appropriately.

2. Home cultivation

It is a basic liberty that one can plant a garden and reap the harvest for one’s benefit and pleasure. Cultivating cannabis at home for personal, non-commercial purposes poses no danger that could justify infringing on the liberty to grow your own garden. When we legalize marijuana for adult use, the law must also allow an adult to cultivate marijuana for their own use. It is inconceivable that when adult marijuana use is legal that there would be any penalty under law for growing marijuana at your home for your own use. 

3. Social use

If adults may use marijuana, then they must be able to do so in the company of others. Places where adults can use cannabis together need to be clearly identified and should be permitted at places such as yoga studios, coffee houses, bookstores, concert and entertainment venues, private parties and public gatherings, campgrounds, and private clubs. People should be able to use cannabis whenever and wherever adults gather to socialize, whether for athletics, for music making, for intellectual pursuits, for worship or simply to relax. Such social use can strengthen a culture of safe and respectful norms of cannabis use. Our laws should foster responsible use by adults, and to protect personal liberty and freedom of association. Security requirements for such venues need not be more elaborate than those needed to control an inventory of wines, spirits and beer. The number or character of such venues should not be tied to the number or character of alcohol establishments in the community.

4. The age of adulthood is 18

People who are 18 years old are adults under Maryland law. Adults at age 18 can vote, serve in the military, serve on juries, purchase tobacco products, get married, have families, make healthcare decisions for themselves and their children, operate motor vehicles, and enjoy every other privilege and responsibility of adulthood. It is absurd to limit their liberty to use cannabis and cannabis products. A very large number of 18-21 year old adults experiment with cannabis use every year. Exposing these adults to arrest or criminal or civil penalties harms them pointlessly and is not in the public interest. The minimum legal age for using, possessing and purchasing cannabis should be set at age 18.

5. Ensure diversity in cannabis industries and enforcement

Cannabis prohibition in the United States in the 20th century relied upon falsehoods about and prejudice toward racial and ethnic minorities to expand enforcement programs. Cannabis prohibition has always been disproportionately targeted against people of color. In Maryland, the ACLU in 2013 demonstrated an outrageous disproportionality in arrests in every county. Every county and the City of Baltimore should adopt clear policies against unwarranted racial disproportionality in law enforcement. Maryland NORML supports laws and regulations to ensure that throughout Maryland’s cannabis industries, racial, ethnic and gender diversity is achieved in employment and other opportunities.

MD NORML supports: *Ending the ban on employment in the cannabis industry of those with criminal records (e.g. a felony drug conviction). *Expungement and shielding of marijuana convictions. *Removing barriers to entry to all cannabis-related businesses and encouraging the small business sector. *Creating cannabis enterprise zones to incentivize locating cannabis businesses where people need jobs.

*Adoption of clear policies by all police departments: --Against racial profiling. --Training to prevent racial profiling. --Monitoring stops and arrests to identify patterns of racial disproportionality. --Discipline of officers whose records demonstrate racial disproportionality in stops and arrests. *Attorney General of Maryland to monitor the cannabis industry to identify, and if necessary enjoin or prosecute racial, ethnic and gender discrimination in the industry.

6. Market access for small businesses

The law should encourage small business participation in the cannabis market, such as craft cultivators, family farms, neighborhood gardens, cottage industry production and processing, and farmers markets. Adults have economic liberty to provide for themselves and their families. Consolidating cannabis cultivation and processing in a few, industrial-scale licensed businesses does not serve the public interest.

7. Stop testing parolees and probationers for marijuana use; end parole and probation violations for marijuana use

Marijuana use is not wrongful or deviant behavior. Refraining from marijuana consumption should no longer be a condition of supervised release, and use of marijuana should not be a violation of such conditions. Unfortunately, marijuana use has been a major factor in sending people on probation or parole to prison in Maryland. This is unjust, very expensive to taxpayers, and accomplishes no public safety purpose. (Such a legal change was proposed in New York State on October 16, 2018 by five former commissioners of probation.)

8. Expungement of criminal records

The economic devastation of the collateral consequences of criminal convictions and arrests are very well known. Persons arrested for a marijuana offense should be able to get those criminal records expunged, whether convicted or not, after a few years with no new offense. This process needs to be very simple and inexpensive, if not automatic.

9. End prohibition on former drug offenders participating in the cannabis industry

Maryland’s medical cannabis law now bars persons with drug felony convictions from employment for 7 years after the completion of the sentence. Persons convicted of being a “volume dealer” or a “kingpin” are barred for life. There is no good reason to continue to punish people after they have completed their sentence by denying them employment in general or in any specific industry, especially a new or growing industry. Post sentence punishment serves no public safety purpose, it is simply spiteful.

10. Immediate release of prisoners serving sentences for marijuana offenses

Once marijuana is legal, every person in Maryland who is incarcerated, or serving a sentence of probation or parole for cultivation, distribution or possession of marijuana should be immediately released from custody, or discharged from supervision.

11. Civil Protection of marijuana consumers

For almost a century, marijuana users have been discriminated against. Propaganda about the dangerousness and deviance of marijuana users has been advanced for almost a century to handicap minority populations and benefit other social and economic interests groups. Most marijuana users have been indistinguishable from their communities. But numerous others have embraced subcultures in which cannabis is used religiously, ritually, culturally, intellectually or musically. Anti-marijuana prejudice and hatred has been cultivated by religious groups, economic interests and government agencies. As a consequence, for almost a century marijuana users have been lawfully harassed, imprisoned, shot (usually accidentally), mocked, denigrated and discriminated against. This is wrong and should no longer be allowed.
Employers have a right to prohibit using marijuana at work or working while impaired by marijuana. However, it should be illegal to discriminate against a person in housing, education, parental rights and responsibilities, firearm ownership, serving on a jury or in other ways because they use marijuana.

12. Refund of forfeitures to those whose property was taken, and of fines to those who paid them

Once marijuana is legal, persons whose property was seized and forfeited because of marijuana possession should get a refund for the value of the seized property, plus interest. Persons who paid fines and court costs in connection with a marijuana case should get a refund of the fines and court costs that they paid, with interest. This is only partial reparation for the injuries inflicted by decades of marijuana enforcement. Those who could not get employed, who paid attorneys fees, and who spent time in custody will never be compensated for their losses. However, in cases in which the government was enriched with the property of marijuana offenders reimbursement can be determined, and a measure of justice can be achieved.

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Today was a Good Day

History was made today as Maryland joined 28 other progressive and forward-thinking states in our union, along with Washington D.C., when the first medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland was finally open to the public and those with a doctor's recommendation were able to purchase legal medical marijuana. In the slowest roll-out in the country, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission was first established in 2013 and now at the tail-end of 2017 we have patients having access to quality medicine.

Although, there is cause for celebration, and well deserved after years and years of waiting, we here at Maryland NORML see this victory as a steppingstone to our true goal of legalization and the freedom for adults to consume cannabis for recreation, relaxation and whatever reason a responsible person see fit. There are also still battles that need be fought. Home cultivation, employee rights and insurance company participation - to name but just a few.

We are riding the high of legal medical marijuana this month as we prepare to take a huge jump forward for all Marylanders when we launch our 2018 #LegalizeMD campaign on December 14th at the Charles E. Miller Branch library in Ellicot City. We feel positive that 2018 will be the year that we will achieve legalization in the “Free State,” but we won’t be able to do it without your help.

Please join us for our special general meeting and don’t forget to donate, volunteer and sign-up to become a Maryland NORML member today!

 

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Maryland NORML - LIVE!

If you’re not following Maryland NORML’s page on Facebook you’re missing out on a constant source of exclusive information pertaining to medical and non-medical cannabis news on the federal, state and local level. On our FB page we cover burning marijuana issues, offer red-hot discussion and provide original commentaries and blazing media...and now, Maryland NORML introduces a new series of Facebook LIVE events that will let us engage with our members and the public far and wide on a more regular basis.

Legislative Analyst, Luke Jones will try and answer all questions that are posted during the Facebook LIVE videos while he brings up various topics and announcements to be discussed in real time.

Check out the inaugural Facebook LIVE video below and stay tuned to Maryland NORML’s Facebook page for our next event...

Be a part of the conversation!

 

 
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Expungement News!

As of October 1, 2017 there is a new law on the books that makes it possible for those with marijuana possession on their criminal record to have it removed! Maryland NORML suggests those that have been arrested and convicted of possession look into if they are eligible and how they can file the proper paperwork to complete the process. 

Get help here - http://www.mdlab.org/

 

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The time is now!

Maryland NORML joined National NORML and NORML chapters and marijuana activists from all over the country in Washington DC at the National NORML Conference and Lobby Day this week.  From presenting Senator  Rich Madaleno with a Vanguard Award for his efforts to legalize marijuana in Maryland  to meeting with Senator Cory Booker to discuss his bill to legalize federally,  Maryland NORML was proud to be a part of such an important gathering.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people sitting and indoor

Image may contain: 26 people, people smiling, indoor

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Thank you!

We’d like to send a special shout out to those members, old and new, that came out to our “Cookout for Cannabis Reform” BBQ on August 20th at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithursburg, MD. A great crowd came out and showed their support to the both the medical marijuana and legalization efforts that Maryland NORML has accomplished and continues to accomplish.

Our free event was not only open to the public but even garnered some local press, as can be seen here –

http://www.localdvm.com/news/i-270/marijuana-proponents-hold-public-park-meeting/

 

 

 

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Did someone say pre-order!?

Maryland NORML would like to send a hearty congrats to the people at the Wellness Institute of Maryland for becoming the first dispensary in Maryland to be approved to open. While you still physically can’t get legal cannabis in your hand yet, you can do the next best thing by pre-ordering your medicine today! 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-first-marijuana-dispensary-20170705-story.html 

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Join the fight!

With the recent controversy surrounding legal issues tying up Maryland’s medical marijuana program, Jeff Sessions trying to stick his nose in patient’s medicine cabinets across the country and police officer justifying shooting an unarmed man because “he smelled marijuana,” makes us at Maryland NORML realize that there is still a big fight to be fought if we want to achieve our goals of medical and adult use cannabis in Maryland. We can’t do it without you and we need your support more than ever! Please donate and become a member today!

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Grow, baby, grow!

Maryland NORML would like to congratulate ForwardGro on being the first facility to be approved to grow medical marijuana in the state of Maryland! Best of luck, friends and we hope you will be providing quality medicine to the citizens of Maryland soon!

http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2017/05/18/medical-marijuana-maryland/

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420 2017 is in the books!

Never before has the folks at Maryland NORML seen a 420 like the one we just had! For the holiday weekend, Maryland NORML made the jump to Washington, DC and enjoyed their more liberal policies when it comes to Cannabis. We want to thank our friends at the National Cannabis Festival and the DC Edibles Festival for a whirlwind of a weekend we won’t soon forget! Next year in Maryland, please! 

http://nationalcannabisfestival.com/

http://dc.ediblesfestival.org/

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