Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation this week, 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. The measure would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue recommendations and require the VA to research the benefits of marijuana. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of the new bill.
Four U.S. House bills got new cosponsors this week, including the Marijuana Justice Act, bringing the total to 40 cosponsors, the Veterans Equal Access Act for a total of 28, the States Act, bringing the total to 29, and the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act for a total of 11.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed for hemp legalization during the first Farm Bill conference committee meeting. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also spoke in support.
At the state level, Mississippi activists will begin collecting signatures next week for a proposed 2020 medical cannabis ballot measure. California lawmakers approved legislation to create a grant program to support municipal marijuana industry equity programs, to allow tax-free donations of medical cannabis to patients and to allow provisional licensing for marijuana businesses.
At a more local level, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania City Council is considering a marijuana decriminalization proposal. So was the Gary, Indiana Common Council before the measure was narrowly defeated. A Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin committee approved a marijuana legalization advisory question for the Spring 2019 ballot. And the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Council will consider a proposal to lower marijuana penalties next week that is also supported by the police chief.
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.
Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.
Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to 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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.
Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.
Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.
Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.
Senate Bill 829 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.
Update: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.
That’s all for this week!
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Author: Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate