Welcome to the first Weekly Legislative Roundup of 2020!
This week, The US House Small Business Committee has waived its jurisdiction on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. By waiving, the Small Business Committee is de-facto advancing the bill — thus increasing the prospects that the MORE Act will receive a full House vote in the near future. The House Small Business Committee is the first congressional committee to waive jurisdiction on the MORE Act since it passed in a bipartisan 24-10 vote in the Judiciary Committee last November. Read more here.
At the state level, South Dakota’s Secretary of State announced that the proposed constitutional amendment for the legalization of adult use marijuana initiative has qualified for the November 2020 ballot.
Mississippi voters will also officially be able to vote on a proposed medical cannabis ballot measure in the November 2020 election.
At the local level, Norristown, PA city council approved an ordinance to decriminalize up to 30 grams of marijuana.
Prosecutors in Contra Costa County, California will automatically dismiss over 3,000 eligible marijuana-related convictions.
Actions to Take
Legislation has been pre-filed for 2020, House Bill 25 / Senate Bill 242, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The measure would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, to a noncriminal violation, punishable by a fine only.
Legislation has been pre-filed, House Bill 595 / Senate Bill 962, seeking to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.
The measure would prohibit employers from taking adverse action on an employee solely for testing positive for THC on a drug test.
Legislation is pending to expand eligibility to allow those with certain prior cannabis convictions to get their records cleared.
Senate Bill 1342 expands eligibility requirements to allow individuals convicted of small amounts of marijuana possession to petition the court to get their record expunged.
Separately, Senate Bill 684 / House Bill 565 amends the provision that only allows individuals to expunge a single conviction record every 10 years by granting immediate eligibility to those that have had convictions expunged when they were minors.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 543, to expand access to medical cannabis for veterans in Florida.
The bill would eliminate fees “for issuance, replacement, or renewal of medical marijuana identification card for service-disabled veteran or his or her caregiver” if a specific form indicating a veteran’s discharge or release from service is included in the application.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 645 / Senate Bill 1274, to allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis to those with sickle cell disease.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 4009, to automatically expunge criminal records for prior marijuana possession offenses for those convicted when they were a juvenile.
The measure would require courts to expunge cannabis offenses committed before an individual turned 18, only if the offense would have also been considered a crime if committed by an adult.
Legislation has been pre-filed by Senator Tallian (D), Senate Bill 114, to allow adults to possess marijuana for personal use.
Separately, House Bill 1036 (Rep. Lucas) would decriminalize marijuana possession for adults with up to 30 grams.
Senate Bill 86, as well as Senate Bill 103, would create a defense to prosecution for individuals whose doctors certify in writing that they have a terminal illness or serious untreatable disease for which they use cannabis, or if they have a valid medical cannabis ID card from another state.
A separate bill, House Bill 1163, would allow patients and caregivers who receive a physician recommendation to possess and use marijuana for therapeutic purposes.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 148, to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.
The measure would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, as well as facilitate the expungement of misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 221, to decriminalize the possession personal use quantities of marijuana.
The measure would remove criminal penalties for the possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana, and instead would be punishable by a fine. The bill also creates a process for individuals to get their records expunged for convictions involving the possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 136, to permit physicians to authorize access to medical cannabis for any patient whom they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use.
Patients would not be permitted to purchase or smoke herbal marijuana, but rather consume it in the form of edibles, oils and pills.
Legislation is pending to protect cannabidiol (CBD) consumers from employment discrimination.
House Bill 102 would prevent employers from firing or refusing to hire an individual based solely on a positive drug test for CBD or THC.
Senate Bill 65 prevents employers from discriminating against, refusing to hire or discharging an individual because they use hemp-derived products off-the-job.
A package of bills is pending that addresses expanding the process for the expungement of past convictions, which could impact those with prior marijuana-related convictions.
Specifically addressing marijuana offenses is:
House Bill 4982 would allow those convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses that are no longer considered a crime to file a petition to “set aside” their records.
The package of bills was already approved by the House and is pending action in the Senate.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1978, to legalize the use, possession, personal cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
The measure would allow adults to possess up to 10 grams of marijuana and grow up to six plants (up to 3 mature).
Legislation is pending that would allow Missourians with certain prior cannabis convictions to get their records expunged.
House Bill 1385 requires the court to expunge the records for those previously convicted of the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana possession.
House Bill 2060 allows certain marijuana-related offenses and violations to be expunged if the offenses or violations occurred in Missouri prior to the issuance of a patient identification card.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1740, to protect the rights of prospective parents seeking to adopt a child.
The measure would ensure that “placement of a child in an adoptive home shall not be delayed or denied on the basis that a prospective adoptive parent has a medical marijuana card or works in the medical marijuana industry.”
Legislation has been pre-filed, House Bill 1455, to prohibit the state government from sharing medical marijuana user or registry information with the federal government.
If passed, any state official who violates this law would be committing a felony offense under this act.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1663, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.
The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants (up to 3 can be mature).
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1648, to remove all criminal and civil penalties for the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by adults.
The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to 3/4 ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six marijuana plants (up to three mature, three immature).
Legislation is pending, House Bill 366, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid addiction, misuse, or abuse.
Update: HB 366 was approved by the House of Representatives on 1/8/20 and now heads to the Senate.
If passed, House Bill 1201 would expand the decriminalization threshold to up to one and a half ounces of marijuana, 10 grams of hashish or marijuana-infused products, and the cultivation of up to 6 marijuana plants by adults 21 and over.
Separately, House Bill 1614 would reduce the penalties for the possession of large quantities of marijuana from felonies to misdemeanors.
Update: HB 1614 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on 1/21/20 at 11am.
House Bill 1543, “prohibits an employer from using a failed drug test for cannabis use as grounds for terminating the employment of, or to deny promotion to any employee.”
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1343, which seeks to eliminate the possession of marijuana as grounds for the denial of an individual’s pretrial release.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1872, which seeks to allow expungement for certain past marijuana convictions.
If passed, this bill would allow individuals who have been convicted of possession of marijuana intended for medical use to petition the court for the expungement of their record. This would only apply to individuals who have not had any further drug related convictions since the enactment of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act and who are in possession of a lawfully issued medical identification card.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 2097, to protect registered medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.
The measure would prohibit employers “from discharging, threatening, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against such employees” due to a positive drug test result for THC.
Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.
H. 4313 as well as H. 3276 would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, resulting in a fine only, between $100-$200 for the first offense, and between $200-$1,000 for the second offense.
Separately, H. 4803 would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and ten grams of hashish, resulting in a citation punishable by a maximum $100 fine only, only if no other violent crimes were committed at the time of the violation.
A separate measure, H. 3444, would remove all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for veterans that have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Lawmakers are considering senate-approved legislation, S. 54, to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.
Other pending bills that would regulate marijuana retail sales are H. 196, H. 250, and S. 214.
For the first time in recent history, there is a clear pathway to advance a decriminalization bill, Senate Bill 2, to the desk of Governor Northam, an issue which is a top priority for him in the 2020 General Assembly.
Legislation is pending to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.
House Bill 2331 would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use.
House Bill 2376 would allow adults to possess up to one ounce and grow up to six (up to 3 mature) plants for personal use.