Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
First, I want to bring your attention to some of the state level lobbying efforts progressing around the country.
Activists gathered in Denver, CO on Wednesday to try and change the conversation on employee drug testing and partner with local business. Several Denver board members and activists attended, building relationships and trust with legislators and other interest groups and lobbyists. Additionally, NORML of Florida chapters, along with Sensible Florida, Inc (the organization behind the constitutional initiative “To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol”) supporters met in Tallahassee on Tuesday to host press conferences and lobby state lawmakers in support of marijuana law reforms.
Also at the state level, the New Mexico legislature has adjourned for this year, effectively killing a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, a decriminalization bill, and one to allow doctors to recommend cannabis in place of opioids. Three Arizona bills are also dead for this year, including one that would have put legalization on the ballot, a decriminalization bill, and one to obtain sanctuary state status for marijuana operators.
At a more local level, officials in various parts of the country are speaking out against the Trump administration’s crackdown on marijuana. The District Attorney for Alameda County in California has announced her intent to automatically vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. And newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner also announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offense violations. City officials in San Francisco recently announced plans to automatically expunge thousands of past marijuana possession convictions and Seattle officials have also announced a similar plan to dismiss past convictions.
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.
Introduced by state Senator Will Smith, SB 1039 would put an amendment to the Maryland Constitution on the ballot to be decided by voters to ensure that citizens have the right to possess, smoke, and cultivate marijuana. Delegate David Moon is sponsoring the House companion, HB 1264.
Update: SB 1039 was debated on the Senate floor on Tuesday, and HB 1264 is scheduled to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 3/13 at 1pm.
Senate Bill 251 and House Bill 272 reduce penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine, to a non-criminal violation, punishable by a fine of no more than $250 — no arrest and no criminal record. However, provisions in the bills also reclassify offenses involving quantities of marijuana above one ounce as felonies.
Update: Both bills were heard by the Judiciary Committees in their respective chambers on 2/21. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 251 by a 6 to 4 vote, however, the House committee rejected HB 272 by a 7 to 5 vote. HB 272 is now dead for this session.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 3035, to regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana. Senate Bill 593 is also pending and would allow adults over 21 years of age to possess up to four ounces of marijuana at home and two ounces in public. They could also grow four mature cannabis plants and four seedlings.
Update: New, similar legislation was introduced, HB 4491 to also regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana.
Earlier this year, Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391, seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters to let them decide on the legalization of medical marijuana.
Update: SB 2320 was put on the final calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee, the date is TBD. HB 2391 was placed on the House Local Government subcommittee calendar for 2/21, but then deferred to a later date, TBD.
New legislation is pending, HJR 86, to put the issue of depenalizing the adult use of marijuana before voters this November.
If enacted by lawmakers, voters would decide upon the following question: “That the possession or consumption of marijuana by a person twenty-one years of age or older shall not be a criminal offense in this state.”
SB 726 and HB 1251 are pending, seeking to expand the state’s limited medical CBD law. They both crossed over to the other chamber earlier this month.
Update: HB 1251 was approved by the Senate 40 to zero on 2/19 and is now being transmitted to Governor Northam, who has indicated that he plans on signing the bill. Also, HB 1251 succeeded unanimously in an Adoption Emergency Vote, meaning it will go into effect immediately upon Gov. Northam’s signature.
A.8904 is pending, to permit practitioners’ discretion to recommend medical marijuana, without being limited by the existing list of qualifying conditions.
Update: A Senate companion bill was introduced late last week, S.7755.
Legislation is pending, SB 6, to establish an agricultural pilot program to permit the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp by registered providers.
Update: SB 6 was approved by both the House and Senate and now awaits action from Governor Walker.
Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program.
Update: SB 263 was approved by the Senate by a 36-3 vote on 2/22, and it now awaits action from the House.
Additional Actions to Take
Senate Bill 1420 seeks to enhance quality testing practices for medical marijuana products.
If passed, the bill would improve product testing procedures and requirements. It would also lower the costs of medical marijuana registration cards from $150 to $50 for an initial application, and to $25 for subsequent annual renewals.
Update: SB 1420 was approved by the Senate by a 27-3 vote on 2/22, and is now being transmitted to the House, where a vote is expected in the upcoming weeks.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 52, to legalize the possession, use, manufacture, and retail sale of cannabidiol products.
The law defines products containing CBD and no more than 0.3 percent THC as legal to possess and sell. Indiana citizens would no longer need to be a part of a patient registry or to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products. It also provides protections so that employers may not discriminate against anyone using CBD in compliance with the law.
Separate legislation further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients, House Bill 1214, is also pending. Both bills have already crossed over to the other chamber.
Update: SB 52 was heard by the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee on 2/21 and was then approved by a vote of 9 to zero. HB 1214 will be heard by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee at 11am on 2/27 in Room 130.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1137 to authorize the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to establish an agricultural pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products. It was already approved by the House unanimously last month.
Update: HB 1137 was approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce on 2/19.
Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.
If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana.
Update: HB 1477 was considered on the House floor on 2/22, and was then approved by the House by a 314-24 vote, and will now be transmitted to the Senate.
Legislation is pending, SB 336, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.
Update: SB 336 is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate on 2/27.
Legislation is pending, SB 547 and HB 2034, seeking to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp. SB 547 was approved by the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee last month.
If passed, the bills would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.
Update: HB 2034 was initially approved by the House on 2/20.
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program.
The measures permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.
Update: Both SB 1710 and HB 1749 were placed on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee calendar in their respective chambers for 2/27.
Republican State Representative Peter Lucido introduced House Bill 4606, seeking to amend the Michigan Penal Code by removing the crime of registered medical patients traveling with marijuana. HB 4606 was already approved by the House last year.
If passed, the bill would repeal a 2012 law that makes it illegal to transport or possess marijuana unless it’s in a container secured in the trunk of a vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the marijuana has to be in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle. Violators face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Update: HB 4606 was approved by a Senate committee on 2/22.
Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!