Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
U.S. House and Senate lawmakers this week have agreed on final language for the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes provisions lifting the federal prohibition of industrial hemp. These provisions amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance.
At the state level, Vermont’s marijuana legalization study committee will hold a series of public meetings to receive public input ahead of finalizing its report. Details can be found here.
Four New York Assembly committees will hold another joint hearing on marijuana legalization next Monday December 3 on Long Island. Details can be found here.
Alaska regulators will hold a public hearing and meetings from December 19-21 to consider on-site marijuana consumption and other cannabis issues. Details can be found here.
Michigan’s State Board of Canvassers certified election results on Monday, setting up marijuana legalization to go into effect next week on December 6. Separately, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved permanent medical marijuana licensing regulations which allow home delivery.
Connecticut Democratic lawmakers are including marijuana legalization in a list of so-called “Big Five” issues they plan to prioritize in 2019.
Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz (D) says “the time is here” for legalizing marijuana, but state legislative leaders seem reluctant about rushing ahead with the issue.
Indiana lawmakers held a meeting to discuss marijuana reform legislation.
Georgia’s House Study Committee on Industrial Hemp held a meeting.
Illinois lawmakers overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R) veto of a bill that removes a requirement to fire state troopers and corrections officers who test positive for marijuana.
And medical cannabis products go on sale in Iowa starting on Saturday.
At a more local level, Calhoun County, Michigan and the city of Battle Creek, Michigan will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana offenses.
The Eau Claire, Wisconsin City Council approved a proposal to lower the fines for marijuana possession to $1.
San Antonio, Texas’s police chief said he is ready start a “cite and release” program that will allow people to avoid arrest for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
The Statesboro, Georgia City Council is expected to vote on a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance next week.
Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.
Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.
Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.
Senate Bill 2703 and Assembly Bill 4497: The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act seek to regulate the adult use marijuana market.
Update: S2703/A4497 were heard by the Joint Committee on Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday 11/26, and then both measures were approved by the committee.
Legislation is pending, S 10, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.
The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis growers and providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It further expands the pool of licensed health professional who may recommend medical cannabis, and shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody. It also phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, amongst other changes.
Update: Members of the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Budget Appropriations Committee, along with members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, voted on Monday 11/26 to advance the bill. Separate language contained in S2426 to permit physicians to recommend cannabis to any patient they believe will benefit has also been incorporated into S10.
Legislation is pending, S2318, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expedited expungement in the event of decriminalization or legalization.
If passed, the bill would would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting expungement for any past marijuana violation that is no longer defined as a crime under state law, but only upon enactment of legislation legalizing or decriminalizing possession and use of marijuana.
A separate measure, S3205, is also pending. If signed into law, it would make more crimes eligible for expungement — including offenses involving controlled dangerous substances — and cut the wait time down to five years. It also includes a “clean slate” process that will wipe away all offenses at once for anyone who has a clean record for 10 years after their last offense. Many more serious crimes would not be eligible.
Update: S3205 was heard by the Joint Committee on Budget and Appropriations on 11/26, then approved by the committee.
Rep. Kelly Cassidy plans to introduce legislation in 2019 to legalize marijuana for adults in Illinois.
HB 6508 would allow those who are currently incarcerated for a violation “based on the use, possession, or distribution” of marijuana, to petition the parole board for release from prison. If the parole board denies a petitioner’s request for release, the petitioner would be permitted to appeal the decision to the Department of Corrections.
Another measure, SB 1200, would allow those convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses to file a petition with the court to “set aside” their records.
SB 1243 seeks to amend the voter-initiated Proposition 1: The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act in a manner that would strip away language that currently permits adults to home cultivate cannabis, among other changes.
The measure removes provisions from the law that permit adults to home cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants on their private premises. NORML opposes this legislation.
Lawmakers plan to reintroduce legislation in 2019 to decriminalize the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana.
State Senator Karen Tallian plans to introduce a bill in 2019 to decriminalize the possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana.
Sen. Tallian also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 that would allow qualified patients to use and possess physician-authorized medical marijuana.
A majority of Utah voters decided on election day in favor of Proposition 2, The Utah Medical Cannabis Act. However, politicians are threatening to significantly amend this Act during a special legislative session in December. Their proposed changes are likely to adversely impact patients’ medical cannabis access and unduly delay the law’s implementation.
Update: The Health and Human Services Interim Committee? held a public hearing? on the legislation, prior to the special session that will convene on Monday 12/3.
Legislation was reintroduced that would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions. Last session, the measure was vetoed by Governor Brown.
That’s all for this week!
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Author: Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate