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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/20/18

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate April 20, 2018

    Welcome to the 4/20 edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    Today’s the day. The High Holy Day for cannabis consumers everywhere. Happy Holidaze, my people! Check out all the 4/20 events happening around the country, and remember to be safe and smoke responsibly!

    There have been lots of significant developments in the marijuana space recently, specifically at the federal level. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his intention to sponsor a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

    Republican Senator Cory Gardner (CO) says that he has received a verbal commitment from President Donald Trump specifying that the administration will not take action to disrupt marijuana markets in states that legally regulate it. Also, Senator Bernie Sanders signed on as a co-sponsor of The Marijuana Justice Act. Yesterday,  Sen. Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

    Additionally, legislation was introduced this week to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

    At the state level, Pennsylvania’s health secretary approved a recommendation from the medical cannabis law Advisory Board to allow sales of medical cannabis in flower form and to add new qualifying conditions to the list. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill into law that includes expungement for prior marijuana convictions. And unfortunately, South Dakota’s secretary of state rejected a proposed medical cannabis ballot measure because there were not enough valid signatures in a random sample.

    At a more local level, Los Angeles, California’s top marijuana regulator said the city is considering allowing consumption lounges, and Denver, Colorado’s mayor is proposing raising the city’s marijuana sales tax from 3.5% to 5.5% to fund affordable housing.

    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.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    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.

    Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    Louisiana

    House Bill 274 seeks to entirely decriminalize the possession and distribution of marijuana, contingent on the creation of a sales tax system that would regulate the legal sale of marijuana.

    Update: HB 274 was heard by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on 4/17.

    LA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

    Maine

    Legislation is pending, LD 1539, to greatly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis. Among changes proposed by the bill: Physicians would be able, at their sole discretion, to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom they think it would benefit; Caregivers would be able to manage more than five patients at one time; Regulators would increase the total number of licensed dispensaries from eight to 14.

    Update: The Senate voted 25-10 to pass LD 1539 on 4/18, and it now heads to Governor LePage for his signature or veto. He has 10 days to act on the bill, but is expected to veto it.

    ME resident? Click here to email Governor LePage in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

    South Carolina

    Legislation is pending, H 3521: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions.

    Update: The House Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs held a hearing on H 3521 on 4/19, and then approved the bill by a 14-3 vote.

    SC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

    New Hampshire

    Senate Bill 388 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis.

    Update: SB 388 was unanimously approved by the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 4/18, after holding a public hearing and then an executive session on the bill.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

    California

    Assembly Bill 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 Public Safety Committee unanimously approved AB 1793 on 4/17 after a hearing was held. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past cannabis convictions

    Alaska

    Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

    Update: The House of Representatives approved similar legislation by a 30-10 vote on 4/15, HB 316, which restricts the release of certain records of convictions to the public. The bill now heads to the Senate.

    AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past records

    Hawaii

    House Bill 2729, to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status.

    Update: The Senate approved HB 2729 with amendments on 4/10, but the House disagreed with the proposed amendments. Both Chambers will have to work to come up with a satisfactory compromise.

    HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Oklahoma

    Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. The bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

    Update: HB 2913 was approved by the Senate by a 39-1 vote on 4/16, and now awaits action by Governor Mary Fallin.

    OK resident? Click here to email Gov. Fallin in support of industrial hemp research

    Missouri

    Senate Bill 547 seeks to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp. It would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

    Update: SB 547 was approved by the House Rules Legislative Oversight Committee on 4/18 after holding an executive session. It’s on the calendar to be considered by the full House on 4/23.

    MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of hemp modifications

    Iowa

    Senate File 2398 would establish The Iowa Industrial Hemp Act. The bill would allow the Department of Agriculture to establish a research pilot program that engages in the licensed cultivation, production, and marketing of industrial hemp. SF 2398 was already unanimously approved by the Senate earlier this month.

    Update: The House Ways and Means Subcommittee approved SF 2398 on 4/11.

    IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

    California

    Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

    Update: SB 930 was unanimously approved by the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 after a public hearing was held.

    CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

    That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates, and I wish everyone the happiest 4/20!

    49 responses to “Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/20/18”

    1. Julian says:

      Happy 420 everbody!
      While we plan to party, let’s dig up where our candidates are meeting around us locally this weed-kend, dress up suit and NORML-tee and vet them on marijuana policy… and when I say “them” I mean Repubs and Democrats, Independents, DA’s Sheriffs, State Reps, Congressional Reps, Senators, cats, dogs and anyone running for public office.
      We need statements on mj policy BEFORE elections. Republicans need to say whether they will cosponsor a bill. And just because Democrats are more mj friendly doesn’t mean we should miss the opportunity for them to commit to cosigning all this new legislation.
      Are you for fully legalized and fairly taxed mj markets?
      Mj or just mmj?
      Expungement or just decrim?

      If we don’t ask they won’t answer.

      • Overgrowem says:

        Julian, You left out the most important question of all for Pols. Are you in favor of home grow?

      • Evening Bud says:

        I agree, Julian. My wife and I are gonna try to go up to Santa Fe, to see Lujan-Grisham talk. I’m feeling better and better about legalization in NM next year–just gotta beat that GOP prohibitionist Steve Pearce.

    2. Dain Bramage says:

      Baked!

    3. Matt says:

      Sabet was CSPAN 2, cannabis summit on 1. Nebraska still showing off huge marijuana busts. But today makes it CLEAR. THE HAMMER IS FALLING on Prohibition. NOTHING can stop us now. M

      • Overgrowem says:

        As long as Grassley and Pete sessions are in power any hope of progress Federally is pure fantasy.

        • Gary says:

          Agreed. With Pete Sessions, in the House and Chuck Grassley, in the Senate, cannabis reform is a moot point. And we still have AG Sessions to contend with. A few days ago Kevin Sabet, of SAM, said they would double their efforts to convince Trump that any use of cannabis was a bad idea and that it should stay in Schedule I. I hope common sense prevails, but with 45 one can never tell.

          • Dain Bramage says:

            Therefore… vote Democrat!

          • Matt says:

            Well, Overgrowem, (love the name, btw, :)) you are correct, but there has indeed been more progress, as you can see in the news, on the Federal law, even despite the Republican majority (and old man GRASS, or should I say…Gassley, DOES need to go)…so I have faith. This thing is getting so big even the Republicans are running out of ways even in power to stop it and I think they are starting to realize it….Gary…Sabet worries me indeed, still pushing the big Corporate Weed line, and he will here in MI, too probably, as does Trump, but even if Trump did change his mind, not only would it further harm his popularity,

            Folks, outside of SCOTUS and minor, if any Federal prosecutor attacks on legalization….the Feds are, IN MY OPINION, running out of ways to stop us. They are losing more and more time, and they simply do NOT have the enforcement resources to stop this train. Now…federalism and legalities are a problem, RICO acts, court actions, all that, but I personally say, with caution, of course, discretion, I really think the Feds have run out of time on putting the genie back in the bong.

            But I hear you, we MUST take Federal action on this, and these dinosaurs (no offense to actual dinos) remain seriously obstructionists. Peace, and thanks!

    4. TheOracle says:

      With all the different pieces of federal legislation in D.C. it appears that ya just keep chuckin stuff at the wall till something sticks.

      Legalization is happening. There is no haggling, no bargaining. Legalization is NOT negotiable. Making a counteroffer of only decriminalization is laughable. No baby steps on halfway to legalization. Stay on schedule for this summer’s July legalization.

      Boehner needs to get out there and keep this on schedule. It’s totally stupid to go for decriminalization, implement it nationwide, then still before this July nationwide legalization. See, prohibitionists need to get this into their thick skulls: Nobody is obeying you. More and more states are legalizing. You lost. Give up. You are not the only people living in this country. The cannabis community lives here, too. We’re not going away, and you can’t lock us all up.

      Do NOT waste everybody’s time! SKIP DECRIM AND GO DIRECTLY FOR LEGALIZATION! END CANNABIS JIM CROW!

      • Julian says:

        I missed it at first too, Oracle, but Schumer’s bill does deschedule:

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2018/04/19/top-senate-democrat-pushes-bill-to-end-marijuana-prohibition/#3b477f8f6051

        And it even has some reparations for minorities and women. Everyone has to set the standard, and the minority leader (soon to be majority) just took a big leap from being a drug warrior less than a decade ago.
        Now the Republican majority leader McConnell brought a hemp bill to a 420 parade. Thats like “I got the kush,” “Great, I got some lemon diesel.” (then McConnell)… “Well, I got some hemp rope and some bio… diesel…?”
        Talk about big leaps… Repubs have a long way to go to catch up with marijuana reform momentum… They should lose a coouple of Sessions-anchors but not even their Orange pirate captain has the balls to do that.

        This next bud is for you Pete Sessions… tick tock…

        • Julian says:

          How predictable:
          http://wkms.org/post/house-committee-debuts-farm-bill-comer-add-hemp-amendments

          The House introduces the farm bill without even mentioning a House version of Senator McConnell’s hemp bill. Comer was supposed to get an amendment in but I can’t see how it would get passed Pete Sessions in the Rules Committee.

          And worse, as I also suspected, the anti-hemp Koch brothers are working feverishly in the opposite direction of a pesticide free hemp world:

          https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/heres-how-gop-farm-bill-unapologetic-assault-public-health?src=newsletter1091294

          Instead of legalizing hemp, which requires little to no pesticides and would give the dicamba-resistant genetically engineered cotton surrounding Koch refineries in Texas a run for its money… this farm bill is trying to sneak off with absolutely no restrictions on pesticides. The writers of this poison? ALEC, the Koch funded network that owns this Republican Congress.

          Senator McConnell introducing a hemp bill without addressing the clear opposition to hemp within his own party is complicit with distracting, poisonous treason. Be a leader turtle man! Stand up to the Koch bros.! What happened to being a “hero in a half shell” with “turtle power”? Call the Koch-$uckers out!

          I’ll be fair; if Schumer is going to stand up to his pharma doners he could call out Wa$hmoney Shultz and Patrick Kennedy on the Dem side.

          But what the Kochs are doing to us through Congress is worthy of boycott. No Georgia Pacific, no Brawny paper towels, no stainmaster carpets! No koch petrol fertilizers or asphalt or lycra! We can make all the products we need out of hemp and trap carbon in the process… instead of them trapping us in the legislative process…

        • TheOracle says:

          Thanks, Julian.

          I simply do not trust politicians. Chuck Schumer may mean well, but the prohibitionists will try to block it or water it down so they can keep cannabis prohibition is place–somehow.

          The fact that the wording is to de-schedule cannabis has not escaped me. The fact that Chuck is using the term decriminalize rather than legalize has not escaped me either. It indicates to me that there will be haggling over the legislation so it gets counteroffered from de facto legalization to just some sort of watered down version that results in only decriminalization. It’s disingenuous to call it decriminalization when your real goal is legalization.

          Whatever the Congress does, it better be soon, and it better be tantamount to full legalization. Trump toots his own horn very often about being such a great negotiator. Well, put that to use against these international treaties that enable cannabis Jim Crow here in the States and the foreign versions of it in countries where people are still being executed for cannabis. It’s appalling that people are still executed for cannabis.

          Legalization is happening. There is NO negotiation. It is not negotiable. It is not mere decriminalization.

          Where are the cheerleaders?!

      • Evening Bud says:

        Oracle,

        My heart agrees with you, but my head is more realistic. I’d love to see Schumer or any other politico call for pure legalization; but as I’ve noted in other posts too many politicians are cowards at heart. We’ll have to take our victories when they come. I say this as someone who’s partaken for 45 years, who’s been considered a criminal in my country for 45 years.

        But, writing from a city that just decriminalized, I can tell you that it’s huge not to worry about getting busted for an oz or less now. I’m happy as hell about that. I think Decrim is often the next step before legalization.

        Hang in there, Oracle. And if you truly want legalization in Penna, I strongly suggest that you consider the Dems in the next election. If you wait for the GOP–I suspect you’ll still be waiting for years to come.

    5. TheOracle says:

      PASS SOMETHING!

      Whatever passes better be cannabis freedom!

      Feds are out, it’s up to the states, and nobody gives a fig about international treaties. It’s absolutely appalling that people outside the U.S. are being executed for cannabis. I don’t want my country still being a signatory to shit like that giving these other countries the mere excuse that they are merely enforcing international law.

      Legalize nationwide, feds out, then the feds need to renegotiate the U.S. out of the international prohibitionist treaties and agreements, with amended language. I do not give a shit what the current procedures are for getting us the hell out. Just cut right through that red tape. Bureaucratic crap. Nobody is waiting for the go-ahead from you prohibitionists. Get it.

      • Gary says:

        We have the lying, racist xenophobic Henry Jacob “Harry” Anslinger to “thank” for the worldwide banning of the great & beneficial cannabis plant. President Kennedy called him a “distinquished American.” No Mr. President Anslinger was nothing of the sort. Because of that vile, sickening POS many lives were needlessly ruined and/or cut short. Distinguished my ass! A few more should be mentioned, like Mellon and DuPont, as well as the Yellow journalism put out by WR Hearst. Pieces of SHIT, all!

    6. Evening Bud says:

      Happy 4/20!!!!!

      Gonna smoke a fat bowl tonight and watch The Terror.

      Gonna smoke another fat bowl tomorrow and try to talk my wife into playing one of my cool board games!

      • Julian says:

        I could totally see a board game called “Legalization.” It would be like a reverse Monopoly where we make titles and patents open source. Baltic Ave? Decriminalized! Railroads? Powered by hemp and now owned by the public! We would have to add state and federal capitols, and houses and hotels could be mj and mmj dispensaries. The currency in the game would be weed and we would have to score weed during prohibition while legalizing marijuana… (wait… that IS what were doing…) oh well, I call the shoe, but it has to be totally made of marijuana.

        • Anonymous says:

          Julian,

          There was a cool board game back in the 1970s called Dealer McDope, or more accurately, The Official Dealer McDope Dealing Game (ca 1971).

          Today, there are a handful of MJ themed board games. Most of them are pretty simple, and most are pretty lame, alas.

        • Evening Bud says:

          BTW,

          That sounds like a pretty fun game. I can see it now: Go straight to the Dispensary; Do Not Pass the joint.

          Or the Chance card: Inherit 15 grams from you Uncle. Course, it’d be much funner if them’s real grams.

          • Julian says:

            I like it! The whole purpose of the game is to end prohibition and legalize and save neighborhoods. So you might start out with “Go directly to jail” but as we weedify neighborhoods with dispensaries the weed cards shuffle in to say “Bank error in your favor: The feds have no idea youre tech support for mj dispensaries! Collect two buds of trainwreck!”

            • Evening Bud says:

              That’s funny, Julian. You’re a game designer and never knew it!

              On a different note, I never did make it to Santa Fe on 4/20 to see Michelle Lujan Grisham speak; and I’ve tried to google any info from her speech, unsuccessfully.

      • Gary says:

        Must be nice! I’m not fortunate to live in such a state. Oh yeah, I’m green. But it’s not a good green. My green is “GREEN with ENVY!!!”

    7. Joel: the other Joel says:

      When marijuana becomes legal, I’m going to act like it’s no big deal until I go home and light up a reef and play my guitar.

    8. Gary says:

      That day can’t get here soon enough for this 59, going on 60, year old, with no, 0, zilch, nada connections. I’ve often heard that “it’s out there and if you want it bad enough you’ll find it.” As an almost senior citizen I’m here to tell ya if you have no connections the weed yer not gettin.

      • dsparkle says:

        I’m 25 and can’t find it anywhere! It’s a travesty especially because I live in an area that has just been ravaged by opioid deaths. Finding that would probably be no problem.

      • Evening Bud says:

        Gary,

        I feel for you my man. I’ve definitely been there. Try to hang in there, pal. I’m hoping NM can legalize next year–if so, maybe you can take a vacation here sometime or Colorado. Denver’s a great city.

    9. Gary says:

      Been checking your site regularly. Haven’t seen anything about Arkansas’ failure to enact the will of it’s voters. A local judge has shutdown the entire program indefinitely. This action was based on the awarding of cultivation permits. Meanwhile local law enforcement continues to prosecute minor possession offenses. Punishment of high fines and 6 months drivers license suspension. Repeal the unjust marijuana laws NOW.

    10. TheOracle says:

      Chuck Schumer’s legislation is NOT comprehensive so long as it does NOT extract the U.S. from these international treaties and agreements in which cannabis is prohibited. It is absolutely appalling that the U.S. is still a signatory of international cannabis prohibition and that countries are executing people for cannabis and they can say they are simply enforcing international law, with U.S. backing because the U.S. hasn’t changed Jack Shit about its status as a signatory.

      I am hoping Chuck Schumer’s legislation is still a work in progress, and soon will get us the hell out of these international prohibitionist conventions.

      Trump can loudmouth renegotiate. Congress, get us the hell out of this international shit now!

      • Matt says:

        Loudmouth Trump on Fox and Friends this morning, lol. KING TRUMP….lol, the OANews music for their historical shorts between broadcasts was playing, and I can imagine Trump ranting to royal music in the background.

        King Trump strikes again. lol….what a sad, sad Administration. What a joke!!

        Candyman…lol…it never ends!

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