Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
This was a big week for marijuana in Congress. The House Financial Services subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held a hearing Wednesday to address the lack of access to basic banking services by state-legal marijuana businesses.
Also this week Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.
At the state level, John Fetterman, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania began his listening tour in central Pennsylvania to get feedback from the public on marijuana legalization. You can submit your own feedback here.
The Arkansas House Rules Committee killed a bill that would have expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions eligible for medical cannabis. On the same day, the Department of Health, Surgeon General, and Drug Director issued a public health advisory regarding “the risks of harm associated with use of products derived from Cannabis, including marijuana and hemp, that claim to benefit health.”
At a more local level, the decriminalization policy in Dayton, Ohio went into effect this week. And Denver, Colorado’s mayor and district attorney launched a new program seeking to help those convicted of certain marijuana offenses expunge their records.
Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE.
Actions to Take
Regulate Nationally: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.
Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.
Update: SB 19-013 was approved by the full Senate on 2/14, and now awaits action from the House Health & Insurance Committee.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 372, Senate Bill 182, and House Bill 7015, and another House version PCB HHS 19-01, to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.
Update: The House Health and Human Services Committee approved PCB HHS 19-01 which would allow smoking in the form of pre-rolled, filtered medical cannabis cigarettes. The provision to require patients to get approval from a review panel before being permitted to smoke was removed. The bill now goes to the Appropriations Committee.
Update #2: The Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee approved S182, removing the provision to require patients to get approval from two doctors before being permitted to smoke. The bill is on the agenda for hearings (if the bill is received) in the Rules Committee for 2/20/19, 4:00 pm, 110 Senate Building, and then the Appropriations Committee for 2/21/19, 10:00 am, 412 Knott Building
House Bill 324 seeks to expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.
The bill would establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 131 / Senate Bill 1335, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.
Update: The House Committee on Judiciary approved HB 131 with amendments. Meanwhile, The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment killed SB 1335.
House Bill 673 / Senate Bill 1430, to expand medical cannabis access.
The proposed changes:
- Expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients;
- Allows licensed dispensaries to possess up to two additional manufacturing or processing facilities separate from their production facilities; and
- Allows licensed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis and cannabidiol products
Update: The House Committee on Judiciary approved HB 673 on 2/15 after holding a hearing on the bill earlier in the week.
House Bill 140, which seeks to reduce marijuana possession penalties penalties for first time offenders.
If passed, the bill would reduce the penalty for first time offenders convicted of possessing one half ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 fine, to an infraction, punishable by a mandatory drug abuse education course, a $250 fine, and/or community service.
Legislation is pending, LD 846 / HP 620, to mandate that state agencies review and expunge prior marijuana convictions.
Under the plan, those convicted of marijuana-related activities that are no longer defined as criminal will have their records automatically sealed and no longer disseminated.
Legislation is pending to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.
HF 766 would:
- Authorize each dispensary to open four additional locations in specified areas throughout the state
- Allow specific formulations of medical cannabis to be administered to qualified patients on school grounds
House Bill 341 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to have their records expunged if they were convicted of a possession offense that occurred prior to their participation in the state’s cannabis access program.
Update: The Special Committee on Criminal Justice approved HB 341 on 2/14. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 176, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.
House Bill 335 would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.
Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 335 on 2/12
HB 350 would expand the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.
Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 350 on 2/12
House Bill 481 would allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.
The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants.
Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety is scheduled to hold an executive session on HB 481 on 2/21 at 11:00am in LOB 204.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 356, to permit the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and over.
Update: HB 356 was approved by the Health & Human Services Committee on 2/11.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.
The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.
Update: SB 204 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/14 after holding a hearing on the bill the day before.
Senate Bill 477 states that an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient “shall not in itself constitute grounds for intervention, removal or placement into state custody of a child in that individual’s care.”
Update: SB 477 was heard by the Senate Public Affairs Committee on 2/15.
Legislation is pending, S. 58, to expand upon the state’s decriminalization law and also to provide for the expungement of certain prior cannabis convictions.
Under current law, the possession of 1.5 ounces of cannabis is classified as a misdemeanor. This proposal raises that threshold to three ounces.
The bill would also allow those with past marijuana possession convictions to petition the court to expunge their record.
House Bill 1417 seeks to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.
The original proposed changes:
- Expands the pool of eligible patients by permitting providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with neuropathy; opioid use disorder; opioid withdrawal; migraine; rheumatoid arthritis; and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
- Allows physicians to explicitly authorize select patients to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis than are generally allowed under the law.
Update: HB 1417 was amended by the Human Services Committee, removing the provision adding new qualifying conditions, and only allowing doctors to authorize those with cancer to legally possess greater quantities of cannabis.
Separately, House Bill 1519 would permit providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with 13 additional conditions, including anorexia nervosa, anxiety, opioid use disorder or withdrawal, and autism.
Update: The Human Services Committee approved HB 1519 on 2/14.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1191, to establish an industrial hemp pilot program that will operate in compliance with newly enacted federal hemp regulations.
Update: HB 1191 was approved by the full House on 2/11. The bill now awaits action from the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Legislation is pending, SB 357 / HB 844, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.
Update: SB 357 was placed on Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee calendar for 2/20/2019
Legislation is pending, SB 5605 / HB 1500, to allow individuals with prior misdemeanor cannabis convictions to apply to the sentencing court to have their record vacated.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 5276, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.
Update: SB 5276 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on 2/18 at 3:30 PM
That’s all for this week!
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Author: Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator