Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
Federally, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today became the fourth Senator to cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, joining the bill’s author, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsors Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
At the state level, NORML PAC announced the endorsement of Jared Polis for Governor of Colorado. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning medical cannabis on college campuses violates the state Constitution. And Nevada retailers sold more than $41 million worth of recreational marijuana in March, a new monthly record.
At a more local level, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is directing the NYPD to stop arresting people smoking marijuana in public, and is moving to draft a plan to prepare the city for eventual legalization. The Los Angeles County, California Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution supporting state legislation to expunge marijuana convictions, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council’s Public Safety Committee gave unanimous initial approval to a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance, and The Milwaukee County, Wisconsin County Board voted to place an advisory marijuana legalization question on the November ballot.
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.
HF 927 and SF 1320 are pending to regulate adult use marijuana possession and provide for retail sales. HF 927 has been awaiting action from the House Health and Human Services Committee since February and so has SF 1320 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Update: A third measure, HF 4541, was introduced on 5/20 to also regulate adult use marijuana possession and provide for retail sales.
Commonwealth of the Nothern Mariana Islands
SB 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The bill already passed the full Senate earlier this month.
Update: The House Committee on Judiciary & Government Operations will hold a hearing on marijuana legalization on 5/29.
House Bill 928, which was carried over from last year, seeks to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties. The bill amends state law so that first and second marijuana possession offenses (up to 30 grams) are reduced from misdemeanor offenses to a summary offense, punishable by a fine only.
Update: Representative Ron Marsico has offered a June vote before the House Judiciary Committee, with hopes of a full House, and then Senate vote by the end of the summer.
AB 1793 would “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.
Update: The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing on AB 1793 on 5/25 at 9am.
AB 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: AB 2069 is scheduled for a vote in Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday, May 25. The bill must pass the full Assembly floor by June 1.
A. 2142 and S. 3809 would seal the records of those who have previously been convicted of certain marijuana misdemeanors.
New York has historically had one of the highest marijuana arrest rates in the nation largely because of arrests made under the public view and public smoking exceptions to New York’s decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.
S 8191 has been introduced in the State Senate to explicitly permit children and developmentally disabled individuals with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered at schools and other facilities, and require school districts and facilities to create policies for medical marijuana administration.
A. 9016 and S. 7564 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. Both bills have been stagnant in their respective chambers since January.
Update: A third measure, S. 8820, was introduced on 5/22, to include opioid use as a condition that permits the use of medical cannabis.
SB 336 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy as an alternative to opioid treatment. It was already approved by the Senate last month.
Update: The House Executive committee voted 8-3 to approve SB 336 on 5/24.
A3971 was recently introduced and would establish reciprocity with other states’ medical marijuana program.The measure would allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting New Jersey, in accordance with state law.
Additional Actions to Take
Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for 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. The bill was already approved by the full Senate last month.
Update: SB 2298 was approved by the House on 5/23. It will now go back to the Senate for concurrence.
Legislation to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana for dogs, cats and other pets in New York State is pending in the Senate (S. 8772) and Assembly (A. 10104) Health Committees. The bill would allow veterinarians to recommend medical marijuana for our pets. Most non-human animals have an endocannabinoid system like we do, which means they can also benefit from the therapeutic effects of marijuana.
AB 3157 would temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.
Update: AB 3157 was supposed to be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 5/16, but the hearing was postponed until 5/25 at 9am.
That’s all for this week, folks!