Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
I first want to bring your attention to a key development at the federal level. As a part of the newly proposed appropriations package known as an omnibus bill, a spending restriction upon the Department of Justice from prosecuting state-legal medical marijuana programs will remain in place through the end of September. Known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, it explicitly states that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
At the state level, lawmakers in Colorado have formed the first-ever statewide Cannabis Caucus to address issues such as social consumption, product testing, and the use of medical cannabis on public campuses. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill legalizing CBD sales into law. And Ohio regulators started accepting applications from physicians who want to be certified to recommend medical cannabis. Sales are expected to begin this fall.
Also at the state level, legalization bills died in committees in Connecticut and New Hampshire, as did a Maryland bill to let the voters decide on legalization.
At a more local level, voters in Cook County, Illinois — the nation’s second-most-populous county — overwhelmingly approved a marijuana legalization ballot measure. And Denver, Colorado is spending $1.2 million in marijuana tax revenue to repave roads.
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.
SB 127 would expand the state’s decriminalization law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense. Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Update: SB 127 was approved by the Senate on 3/19 by a 36-11 vote. Amendments approved by the Senate includes a provision “prohibiting a driver of a motor vehicle from smoking or consuming marijuana in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a highway; prohibiting an occupant of a motor vehicle from smoking marijuana in the passenger area of the motor vehicle on a highway.”
SB 127 will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/3 at 1pm.
Senator Sara Kyle (D) and Representative Larry Miller have introduced legislation SB 2320 and HB 2391 seeking to place a ballot initiative before voters with regard to the legalization of medical marijuana.
If passed, these bills would place the following advisory question on the November 2018 ballot: Should the Tennessee legislature approve the use of medical marijuana?
Update: SB 2320 was put on the calendar for The Senate State & Local Government Committee for 3/27/18, and HB 2391 was put on the Local Government subcommittee calendar for 3/28/18.
Medical Marijuana Extracts
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to 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: HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/28. The committee has amended the bill significantly to require patients seeking to use medical cannabis to obtain a prescription from a doctor. Because marijuana is categorized as a schedule I controlled substance, it remains unlikely that many physicians would ‘prescribe’ it, even if this legislation was signed into law. Therefore, the proposal’s language ought to be amended to read ‘recommend’ rather than prescribe.
Legislation is pending, HB 2064, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. It already passed the House earlier this month.
The bill was originally intended only to ban dispensaries from selling edibles in packaging that could be appealing to children, but an amendment to the bill would also add opioid use disorder to the list of medical conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana.
Update: HB 2064 was approved by the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee on 3/13, and now awaits action from the Rules Committee.
Legislation is pending, SB 282, to allow for the possession and retail sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products containing zero percent THC. It was already approved by the Senate unanimously last month.
While such products are often used in other states for therapeutic purposes, under this proposed legislation, Kansas citizens would not need to be a part of a patient registry or be diagnosed with a certain qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products.
Update: SB 282 was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 3/16.
Legislation is pending, HB 1477, to permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement. It was already approved by the House last month.
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 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/27 at 9:45am in SH room 100.
Senator Tom Begich has introduced legislation, SB 184, to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.
Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.
Update: SB 184 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/28 at 1:30 pm in BELTZ 105 (TS Bldg).
Additional Actions to Take
Republican State Senator Sonny Borrelli has introduced Senate Bill 1420, which seeks to enhance quality testing practices for medical marijuana products. If passed, this bill would improve product testing procedures and requirements, leading to an increase in product quality for patients. After passing the Senate last month, it was heard and passed by the House Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee last week.
Update: SB 1420 was heard and then approved by the House Appropriations Committee on 3/21.
Legislation is pending, SB 263, to establish a state-licensed industrial hemp research program. It was already passed by the Senate last month, and heard by the House Committee on Agriculture last week.
Update: SB 263 was approved by the House Committee on Agriculture on 3/20. A vote by the full House is expected in the upcoming weeks.
Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens has introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. If passed, this bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.
Update: HB 2913 passed the House by a 92-0 vote on earlier this month, and now awaits action in the Senate Appropriations committee.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!