Welcome to latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
At the federal level, the U.S. House Rules Committee, and potentially the full House of Representatives, will consider four marijuana amendments next week, covering issues ranging from veterans’ access to medical cannabis to water rights for hemp growers.
This week, it was big victory for patients as a Florida Circuit Court judge ruled that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.
Additionally at the state level, state regulators in Utah certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced that proponents gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters — far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.
California NORML teamed up with Americans For Safe Access to host a Citizens Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, and Gov. Chris Sununu (R) of New Hampshire signed a bill allowing additional medical cannabis dispensary locations.
At a more local level, Allentown, Pennsylvania’s mayor signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law, but the police say they will continue enforcing state criminalization.
Following are the bills from around the country 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.
End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.
The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Senate Bill 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
If passed, the bill would legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 or older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale. The tax revenue would be used to fund the implementation of the program and other government services.
Update: SB 20-62 was approved unanimously by the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations (JGO). The next step will be a full House vote.
House Bill 994 would amend state law so that possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana carries no penalty, rather than a felony conviction. Under current state law, the possession of more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana is classified as a felony punishable by no more than 8 months in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Update: Senate companion bill SB 791 was introduced on 5/31 and awaits action in the Committee on Rules and Regulations.
SB 336 seeks to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.
Update: SB 336 was approved by both houses on 5/31 and now awaits action from Governor Bruce Rauner.
Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program. The bill was approved by the House last week, with amendments.
Update: The Senate concurred on 5/30 and SB 2298 now awaits action from Governor Bruce Rauner.
Assembly Bill 1793 would “allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.
Update: The Assembly Appropriations Committee amended AB 1793 and voted to pass it on 5/25. AB 1793 is expected to be heard by the full floor before the 6/1 deadline.
Assembly Bill 2069 would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.
Update: AB 2069 was held under submission in committee, effectively killing it for this year.
Additional Actions to Take
Senare Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.
Update: SB 930 was amended and passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/25. The bill was then approved by the Senate by a 29-6 vote on 5/30.
AB 3157, to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.
State and local taxes currently imposed upon retail cannabis sales can total in upwards of 40 percent. This excessive taxation places an undue financial burden, particularly on patients, many of whom are now unable to consistently afford their medicine.
Update: AB 3157 was heard by the Assembly Appropriations committee on 5/25 and is now dead for this year after the committee decided to hold the bill under submission.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!
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Author: Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate