Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
There were some key developments this week at the federal level, including a new bill introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018, to remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales. A bipartisan House companion bill was introduced by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly pledged to permit a vote on the bill, while President Trump has publicly expressed his support for it.
Also in Congress, the US House Rules Committee, led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocked multiple amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer either legal protections or expanded access to veterans who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
By contrast, members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar amendment to allow military veterans to get medical cannabis recommendations from Department of Veterans Affairs doctors and to protect them from being denied VA services because of their participation in state medical marijuana programs.
At the state level, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) vetoed legislation to allow marijuana “tasting rooms,” but signed a bill into law to allow school personnel to administer medical cannabis to patients at schools. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed legislation into law permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms, autism or glaucoma. And Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed a bill modifying provisions relating to industrial hemp.
Michigan Republican lawmakers failed to get enough legislative support to amend and enact marijuana legalization by Tuesday’s deadline, meaning that the measure will appear on the November ballot.
At a more local level, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council voted unanimously to approve a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, Minneapolis, Minnesota is ending low-level marijuana stings after it was revealed that nearly all people targeted by such actions are black, Savannah, Georgia police are preparing to implement a marijuana decriminalization ordinance starting on July 1, and Fulton County, Georgia commissioners voted to decriminalize marijuana in unincorporated areas.
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.
Lawmakers in Delaware are once again considering House Bill 110 to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use.
The legislation in 2017 was voted out of Committee, but then stalled as lawmakers elected to approve a resolution establishing a marijuana legalization task force. This group, which includes representatives from Delaware NORML, is anticipated to make recommendations to the legislature early this year.
Update: It is anticipated that House Bill 110 will get a vote in the House in the next couple weeks, as well as in the Senate before the end of the legislative session in late June.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
SB 20-62 seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
If passed, the bill would legalize the personal use and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for adults age 21 or older, and establish a licensing scheme for its commercial production and retail sale. The tax revenue would be used to fund the implementation of the program and other government services.
Update: The House Committee on Judiciary & Government Operations held a hearing on marijuana legalization on 6/5.
Legislation is pending in both chambers, A. 9016 and S. 7564 to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.
Update: A. 9016 was approved by the Assembly on 6/6, and now awaits action in the Senate Health Committee.
Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “to 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: AB 1793 was approved by the full Assembly on 5/31, and now awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.
Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions
Update: SB 829 was approved by the Rules Committee unanimously, and now awaits action from the Committee on Business and Professions.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!