Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
The US Senate has been busy this week talking about marijuana policy. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Senators Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), just introduced legislation called the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.
The full Senate voted to legalize hemp as part of the Farm Bill by a 86-11 vote. The Senate also earlier this week approved a funding bill that contains a provision allowing Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to military veterans.
At the state level, Oklahoma became the 31st state to legalize medical marijuana, after voters decided to enact State Question 788, that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patients who will benefit from it. But Gov. Mary Fallin (R) issued a statement shortly after the result was called indicating that she plans to work with lawmakers to scale back the measure.
A majority of the Delaware House of Representatives voted to approve a marijuana legalization bill, but it did not get the 60% supermajority support needed to advance the bill to the Senate, killing it for the year.
Massachusetts regulators approved an equity plan to ensure participation in the marijuana industry by communities that have been targeted by the war on drugs. They also voted to prioritize consideration of cannabis testing lab license applications.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) said he will veto a bill to allow medical cannabis to treat opioid addiction, substance use and withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill approving a medical cannabis research program.
At a more local level, Sacramento County, California’s district attorney has been moving to dismiss old marijuana convictions, Jacksonville, Arkansas police will no longer arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and Las Vegas, Nevada officials are considering allowing marijuana consumption lounges.
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 Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Senate Bill 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 Board of Education wants SB 20-62 amended to ban cannabis on campuses and from public school system buildings and to exempt the agency from discriminating against employees who consume marijuana.
A. 9016 and S. 7564 seek to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence.
Update: The Republican Caucus pushed A. 9016/S. 7564 off the table and merged it with A. 11011b / S. 8987a which passed both chambers of the legislature on 6/20. The bills now await action from Governor Cuomo.
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 heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee on 6/26, and then approved by a 5-1 vote. The bill now awaits action in the Appropriations 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 Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation by a vote of 8-1, and was re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations.
Senate Bill 1127 will help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on campus to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate last month.
Update: SB 1127 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on 7/3.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!