Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Arizona NORML! Activists in Arizona lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Monday 2/26 in favor of a bill that would require testing for potency and health and safety as well as certifications for independent testing labs.
Also at the state level, Massachusetts regulators agreed to delay considering proposed rules allowing marijuana social use areas and delivery services until a later date after receiving intense pressure over those license categories from state officials. But they also decided that when the Cannabis Control Commission does authorize the services, initial licenses will only be available to people with past drug convictions or who live in neighborhoods with high drug arrest rates. The commission also agreed to place caps on marijuana farmers and determined a threshold for how much marijuana product they have to sell.
New Jersey lawmakers are set to begin holding hearings on marijuana legalization this month, with the first one scheduled for this Monday March 5th at noon by the Assembly Oversight Committee. On the other hand, Several NJ lawmakers are still skeptical about legalization. A survey of lawmakers suggests that marijuana legalization legislation would be defeated if a vote were held now.
On a brighter note, Nevada approved permanent marijuana regulations on Wednesday without debate, Arkansas regulators announced the winners of medical cannabis cultivation licenses, and Alaska raked in its biggest monthly haul in marijuana taxes, with just over $1 million collected in January. Proponents of a Missouri ballot initiative effort to legalize and regulate medical cannabis statewide reached a milestone by surpassing over 200,000 signatures, although they only needed 160,000.
Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines. These include legalization and medical expansion measures in Arizona, Georgia, West Virginia, and Kansas.
At a more local level, Denver, CO approved its first social use marijuana license, allowing vaping and edibles in a Lincoln Park coffee shop. Additionally, The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution supporting a state Senate bill that seeks to create a state-chartered bank that could be used by the marijuana industry.
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.
The Legislature is considering HB 656, which would legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by those 21 and older.
The bill also allows the cultivation, possession, and use of hemp, and calls for retail sales and generation of state revenues through taxation, as well as authorizes the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities.
Update: The House Ways and Means Committee may kill HB 656 even though it already passed the full chamber, and despite A February 2018 UNH Granite State poll finding that 56 percent of adults support the amended version of this bill. They’re having a full committee work session on 3/12 at 1pm.
Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law.
Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. NORML opposes this law change.
To date, legislators have refused to enact provisions in the 2016 law permitting for the licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. As a result, adults may only obtain marijuana via home cultivation. Further, no data has been presented indicating that this provision is either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the criminal market.
Other changes recommended by lawmakers include: banning any social use establishments and significantly increasing the proposed excise tax on wholesale marijuana products.
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 in Tennessee.
The measure permits 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: Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee Dr. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) signed on as co-sponsors to the Medical Cannabis Only Act on 2/26. The following day, the House Criminal Justice subcommittee voted 4-3 to approve HB 1749, with House Speaker Harwell casting the tie-breaking vote. HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/7/18. SB 1710 is still posted in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 764 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.
The measure would permit for the first time patients with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain the option to engage in CBD therapy.
Update: HB 764 passed the House by a 145-17 vote, and now awaits action in the Senate.
HB 410 is pending to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577 is also pending.
Update: HB 577 passed the House by a 59-11 vote on 2/28, and now awaits action in the Senate. HB 410 is still posted in the House Health and Welfare Committee.
HB 1893 is pending, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. HB 1893 was heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 2/15, and then approved with amendments, and passed on to the Judiciary Committee.
Update: HB 1893 was heard by the House Judiciary committee on Thursday, and then was approved unanimously 8 to zero.
House Bill 1214 is pending, further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients.
Despite the passage last year of limited language permitting certain patients to possess CBD, law enforcement has continued to take punitive action against those providing CBD products, and some officials have continued to questioned their legality. Passage of these measures will eliminate this legal confusion and greatly expand CBD access.
Update: HB 1214 was approved by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee after it was heard on 2/27.
House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.
The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”
Update: HB 698 was approved by the House Environment and Transportation Committee with amendments on 2/26. The amendments were adopted and it passed the third reading by a 136-1 vote on 3/1.
Additional Actions to Take
House Bill 1476 is pending, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.
Under the state’s existing medical marijuana program, patients are mandated to obtain cannabis from only a limited number of state-licensed dispensaries. Those who cultivate for themselves may be guilty of a felony offense.
Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 1476 by a 13-8 vote on 2/23.
SB 726 and HB 1251, both introduced by Republican lawmakers, would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit.
Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.
Update: HB 1251 is already on Governor Northam’s desk awaiting his signature. SB 726 passed the House 96-0 on 2/28.
House Bill 376 was recently introduced, to establish a state bank that will help assist in financial matters related to marijuana businesses. It’s currently pending in the Labor and Commerce Committee.
Activities of the bank would include helping “marijuana-related businesses make deposits and to help other financial institutions receive deposits from marijuana-related businesses.”
Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!