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MITA to Join AZ-NORML’s Annual Lobby Days at State Capitol

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By: Mikel Weisser

MITA-AZ, the leading voice in the AZ marijuana industry, is inviting YOU!

You are invited to join us at the 2019 AZ-NORML Lobby Day at the Capitol. They have scheduled 25 meetings for interested cannabis consumers and business people on Feb. 7, 2019 at the Arizona State Capitol with more than a dozen state legislators. Over the past several years, AZ-NORML has been a critical voice in shaping AZ cannabis laws on hemp, testing, defelonization and protecting both the industry and patient rights. For our MITA-AZ members, Arizona’s state government has the power to make or break our businesses with their laws.

Joining AZ-NORML’s annual advocacy effort is an investment in your company and our industry.

All appts will take place in legislative offices (1700 W. Washington, PHX). The legislators will appreciate hearing from people who know a little something about them, the general subject matter of cannabis, having a brief but pointed personal story on the issue and knowing the specific bills in play this session that can affect cannabis laws. YOU would be perfect.

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If you are interested in joining and having your voice be heard, please send a short note to normlazchapter@gmail.com with your Legislative District (or address if you don’t know), plus your phone number and email. Any volunteers interested can attend our lobby day training, Tuesday Feb 5 at our normally scheduled AZ-NORML meeting, 7pm 929 E. Indian School Road, PHX. You can learn more about AZ-NORML’s work by browsing around the AZ-NORML website. You can learn more about the AZ State Legislature by clicking this link. We are asking you to learn more about the pending cannabis-related bills we are highlighting by clicking on the links below.

Current Legislation Top Three Bills

SB1137 (Sponsor Sen. Borrelli, R-LD5) Testing for potency and health and safety, Certifications for Independent Testing Labs, Regulates Cannabis as an Agricultural Product.

HB2149 (Rep. Rivero, R-LD21) Protects Concentrates in AMMA by clarifying state criminal statutes on marijuana in ARS13-34-01-34-05, and removes “Cannabis” (as defined as marijuana concentrates) from the list of narcotics in the Illicit Drug Schedule, cleans up extraneous references to cannabis elsewhere in the state statute and clarifies cannabis is not a separate drug from “Marijuana.” Most importantly this bill does not need the 3/4s vote necessary to amend the AMMA.

HB2404 (Rep Payne, R-LD21)—Makes possession of less than two and a half ounces a civil offense. Currently any cannabis possession in AZ is a Class 6 felony. (NOTE: Rep. Mark Cardenas of LD19 introduced a series of defelonization bill for our offices since 2014, but this is the first year that the bill has bipartisan support and is part of a larger criminal justice reform movement at the Capitol.)

Other Bills of Interest:

SB1003 (Sen Sonny Borrelli, R-LD5)—Accelerates the hemp program to start in May.

HB2387 (Rep. Hernandez, D D-LD2)—Adds “Autism” as a qualifying condition

HB2362 (Toma, R-LD22) Another part of the 5-bill criminal justice reform effort at the Capitol this session, this bipartisan expungement bill provides for people to have their criminal records sealed.

HB2401 (Engel, D-LD10) Criminal justice reform, again, this bill restores convicted felons’ voting rights when they completed their time served or probation.

HB2412 (Powers-Hannley, D-LD9) An MMJ cardholder herself, Rep. Pamela Powers-Hannley’s revamp of her 2018 MMJ card extension bill, extends patient cards duration from one to two years.

We are still analyzing bills from the second week. For a complete overview of the blizzard of cannabis related bills from week one can be found here.

Tips:
  1. Arrive five to ten minutes early. Check in at front desk in lobby of Senate or House. (NOTE: House security involves metal detectors and the emptying of pockets, not required at Senate)
  2. Waiting areas on 1st & 3rd floors
  3. Dress reasonably well and speak your best language.
  4. Talk about your personal reasons for supporting cannabis reform. Talk specifically about ways the provisions of the bill will affect your life. Less abstract, more personal
  5. Don’t be annoyed if the legislator doesn’t know much about cannabis as medicine or has a reefer madness prejudice. The fact they are taking this meeting means they’re trying
  6. In most cases you will only have 15 minutes. Stay on topic. These meetings are about improving the state medical program. Avoid discussing legalization or using the word “recreational.” If necessary, refer to it as “adult use.”
  7. Don’t demand a definitive answer. In fact, don’t demand. Persuade, plant ideas.
  8. Encourage them to ask you questions
  9. Ask them questions
  10. Review the bill before your meeting (both SB1420 & its factsheet can be viewed in the highlighted links above)
Cannabis facts:
  1. Cannabis has been cultivated for more than 10,000 yrs and earliest recorded medical uses date back more than 2000.
  2. The Endocannabinoid Receptor System and endogenous cannabinoids were discovered in the 1990s explaining the biochemical reasons cannabis has therapeutic uses. (The body regulates pain and cellular metabolism using similar biochemicals.)
  3. 29 states now have medical cannabis industries witha combined total of nearly two million patients. Arizona has over 180,000 current card holding patients and another estimated 350,000 who are no longer in the program. The medical marijuana program contributed approximately $32 million in Arizona state taxes in 2017.
  4. There have been more than 15 million marijuana arrests in the United States since 1995.

Please contact either Mikel Weisser, state director (928-234-5633), or Mike Robinette, volunteer coordinator (520-576-0871) for questions or suggestions.

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