Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
A lot of action was taken in Congress this week. A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has introduced legislation, the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis. The act ends the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes, by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers. And Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has publicly announced her intention of filing legislation to protect lawful medical marijuana users from housing discrimination. The forthcoming measure explicitly permits qualified patients to consume marijuana in federally-assisted housing, including public housing and the Section 8 housing program.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced his intention to include the language of the Hemp Farming Act as an amendment to the 2018 version of the federal Farm Bill, which Congress is expected to take action upon in May. Sen McConnell also placed the bill on the Senate calendar using a procedural move that permits the issue to be voted on the Senate floor without going through the committee process first.
At the state level, Michigan election officials have confirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure, The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, have gathered enough signatures from registered voters to place it on the ballot this November. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to grow and possess personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.
Also, Governor Jeff Colyer of Kansas, Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska have all recently signed legislation into law to establish industrial hemp pilot programs in their state. On a similar note, the New Mexico Supreme Court has allowed two bills to become law that were previously vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez, clearing the way for farmers to obtain licenses from the Deptartment of Agriculture to grow hemp for research and development purposes.
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.
H. 167, which regulates the retail supply and sale of cannabis to adults, passed the Senate last year prior to stalling in the House. Lawmakers have placed H. 167 on the calendar for action for 4/17. Separate legislation, H. 490, to also regulate the retail production and sale of cannabis to adults, is still awaiting action from the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs.
Senate Resolution 258 seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. If passed, the resolution would urge Congress to take action to amend federal law so that states could regulate cannabis absent undue federal interference.
Update: SR 258 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/25.
Senate Bill 336 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment.
Update: SB 336 was approved by the Senate 44-6 on 4/26. It now awaits action from the House.
House Bill 2367 provides for the automatic expungement of past marijuana possession or paraphernalia violations.
The measure mandates the automatic expungement of any citation for a civil law violation of either: subsection (a) of Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act, or subsection (c) Section 3.5 of the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act. It also would allow those with certain past criminal marijuana convictions — those that occurred prior to the decriminalization of such offenses — to ask a judge to have the conviction expunged.
Update: HB 2367 was approved by the Restorative Justice Committee on 4/24 by an 8-2 vote. It is expected to be considered by the full House on 4/27.
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: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee held a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/25, and then approved the bill. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee.
Additional Actions to Take
House Bill 1476 seeks to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use. The bill already passed the House last month.
Update: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 on 4/25 to recommend that HB 1476 be sent to ‘interim study,’ but the bill is still expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks.
Senate File 2372 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabidiol (CBD) law. The measure will remove the arbitrary 3 percent cap on THC content, and would allow doctors to recommend CBD to those suffering from chronic pain as well as to any other patient for whom they believe it would benefit.
Update: The Iowa State Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 13 to 3 to approve the bill on 4/23.
Senate Bill 2298 would expand the state’s industrial hemp law by allowing 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.
Update: SB 2298 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/24.
Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.
Update: SB 930 was heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 4/25, and was then approved by the committee. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!