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 State efforts toward drug policy reform

Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation

Alaska - In 1975, Alaska legislators gave all adults in Alaska over the age of 19 the right to both grow and smoke marijuana in the privacy of the home, based on each citizen's fundamental right to privacy in the home. This state has also rescheduled cannabis to Schedule IVA, which allows licensed physicians to recommend its use without interference from the federal government.

New Hampshire - House Bill 118-FN in New Hampshire. This legislation seeks to lessen the penalty for possession of less than one and one-half ounces of marijuana from a class A misdemeanor (punishable by a one-year jail sentence and/or $1,000 fine) to a violation (punishable by a ticket and payment of a small fine.) The measure was introduced by Rep. Tim Robertson (D/R-18th District) and four co-sponsors. For more information, please contact Rep. Tim Robertson at (603) 271-3529 or Attorney Michael Cutler at (617) 439-4990. Rep. Tim Robertson, New Hampshire Legislative Office Building, 33 North State St., Room 202, Concord, NH 03301.

Medical Marijuana Legislation

Maine - Sen. Ann Rand (D-Portland) is drafting legislation that will create an affirmative defense to a charge of possession or cultivation of marijuana provided a licensed physician has recommended use of the drug. Rep. Kathleen Stevens (D-Orono) plans to introduce similar legislation in the House. For more information please contact either Sen. Ann Rand at (207) 287-1515 or Rep. Kathleen Stevens at (207) 287-1400. Sen. Ann Rand, 3 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333 or Rep. Kathleen Stevens, 2 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

Massachusetts - The state legislature is examining ways to implement the statewide marijuana therapeutic research program that was approved by the governor in 1996. On January 22, The Massachusetts Department of Health issued regulations to create an affirmative medical defense for patients who use marijuana for a legitimate medical need. For more information, please contact Attorney Michael Cutler at (617) 439-4990.

New Jersey - State Senator Louis Bassano (R-Union) who is advocating the legislature to implement its own marijuana research program. Since 1981, New Jersey -- like many other states -- has had legislation that allows the state to set up and run a research program to make marijuana and other drugs legally available for medical use. For more information, please contact Sen. Louis Bassano at (908) 687-4127. Letters of support may be sent to Sen. Bassano's district office at: 324 Chesnut St., Union, NJ 07083.

New York - Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) has expressed interest in introducing a medical marijuana legalization bill. For more information, please contact Assemblyman Richard Gottfried at (518) 455-4941. Letters may be sent to: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, New York Legislative Office Building, Room 822, Albany, NY 12248.

Wisconsin - A draft of Wisconsin's legislation provided by the state Legislative Reference Bureau indicates that the act would effectively reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III and would provide for a medical necessity defense provision. The bill's language is currently being reviewed. It has been reported that Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) will introduce the legislation in early February.

Washington - Innitiative 683, filed by Dr. Rober Killian of Tacoma. For more information contact: Progressive Campaigns, 4556 University Way N.E., Seattle, WA 98105. (206) 633-2161

Industrial Hemp Legislation

Iowa - Farm Bureau's recently backed hemp as a viable state crop. Contact Carl Olsen of Iowa NORML at (515) 262-6957 or via e-mail at:

Missouri - On April 2, 1997, Senate Bill No. 79 "The Missouri Hemp Production Act of 1997," sponsored by Sen. Jerry Howard, was passed by the full Senate. The bill now goes to the House for debate in the coming weeks. If the Bill passes the Missouri House, the Director of Agriculture "shall license and authorize the growing of industrial hemp when the derivatives thereof are to be used solely for commercial uses" and "The director shall issue a license to the applicant for the growing of such industrial hemp for such commercial uses, and the growing of industrial hemp, pursuant to the terms of the license issued by the director shall be lawful to the extent granted by the license." For more informationt, contact: Sen. Jerry Howard · Missouri State Capitol · Jefferson City, MO 65101 · (573) 751-3301; Attorney Dan Viets · (573) 443-6866 · e-mail: jlutz01@mail.coin.

Colorado - HB1274 - industrial hemp lesgislation. For more information contact: Carl Olsen (515) 262-6957 or via email at:

North Dakota - An industial hemp study was approved by the House on February 10 by a 58-30 vote and later approved by the Senate by a 44-2 vote. The bill was signed by the governor on March 23.Contact: Rep. David Monson; State Capitol · 600 East Blvd. · Bismarck, ND 58505 · Phone: (701) 328-3373 · Email:

Vermont - According to the results of a recently released University of Vermont survey, more than 75 percent of Vermont residents say that farmers should be allowed to grow industrial hemp as a cash crop. The survey, entitled "Alternative Agricultural Strategies in Vermont: The Case of Industrial Hemp," was part of a study commissioned by the state legislature last year to determine the viability of hemp production in Vermont.

Virginia - The State Farm Bureau backed hemp as a viable state crop. A recent Virginia resolution (House Joint Resolution 636) establishes a joint subcommittee to study the economic benefits of, and barriers to, the production of industrial hemp in that state hemp. Write letters in support of such legislation to both their elected officials and their state farm bureaus. For more information, please contact Eric Steenstra of Ecolution in Virginia at (703) 207-9001 or via email at:

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