Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
I first want to bring your attention to some key developments happening at the state level. Proponents of a 2018 medical cannabis ballot measure in Utah achieved a signature milestone last week, a representative from the Lt. Governor’s Office said that officials have already validated 117,000 signatures from registered voters — more than than the 113,000 necessary to qualify for the state ballot.
Also at the state level, The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs announced plans to solicit public comment on how marijuana is classified under state law and whether any change in its classification status is warranted. The Division will solicit comments during a series of public events, known as “informal conferences,” in Newark and Trenton later this month. The Division also will accept written submissions.
At a more local level, the Albuquerque, New Mexico City Council approved a proposal to decriminalize marijuana, Portland, Oregon is using $300,000 in marijuana tax revenue to fund a public education program about safe driving, and voters in Naturita and Berthoud, Colorado approved ballot measures allowing marijuana businesses to operate.
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.
House Bill 5394 is pending to develop a plan to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana in the state and to provide for substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs and measures.
Update: HB 5394 was approved by the Joint Appropriations Committee by a 27-24 vote on 4/5. This marks the first time any committee in the state has ever approved an adult use legalization measure.
House Bill 1488 seeks to establish provisions regarding the legalization of marijuana as well as establish certain licensing requirements.
Update: HB 1488 will be heard by the House General Law Committee on 4/10 at 5 PM or upon adjournment (whichever is later) in House Hearing Room 5.
Senate Bill 388 is pending, to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. It already passed the full Senate last month.
The bill 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: The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 388 on 4/11 at 11am in LOB room 206.
SB 1710 and HB 1749 would permit qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.
Update: Senator Steve Dickerson, sponsor of SB 1710, killed the bill for this year due to the lack of support from the legislature, but HB 1749 is still scheduled to be heard by the House Health Committee on 4/10.
Assembly Bill 1793 is pending, “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: The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on AB 1793 on 4/17 at 9am.
AB 2069, to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients. The bill 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: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee will hold a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/18 at 1:30pm.
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: SB 184 was approved by the Judiciary Committee and referred to the Finance Committee on 3/29.
Other Actions to Take
House Bill 2729 seeks 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. The bill already passed the full House last month.
Update: The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved HB 2729 with amendments on 4/6, and will now go before the full Senate.
Legislation is pending, HB 3468, to create the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission, contingent upon the results of State Question 788, the statewide ballot measure that would provide patients with regulated access to medical cannabis. NORML endorses State Question 788.
Should the voters decide in favor of SQ 788, the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission would serve to address any issues related to the medical marijuana program in Oklahoma and ensure the swift implementation of the provisions outlined in SQ 788.
House Bill 65 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.
The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible to receive an authorization for CBD therapy to include those with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain. The bill also creates a study commission to review and make policy recommendations with regard to whether the state should provide in-state production and distribution of CBD products. Lawmakers failed to take action this session on separate legislation which sought to establish rules regulating CBD production and dispensing.
Update: HB 65 was approved by the House and Senate, and now awaits action from Gov. Nathan Deal.
Legislation is pending, SB 282, to allow for the possession and retail sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products containing zero percent THC. Under this proposed legislation, Kansas citizens would not need to be a part of a patient registry or be diagnosed with a certain qualifying condition in order to legally possess or purchase CBD products. The bill was already passed unanimously by the Senate earlier this year, and the full House last week, with amendments.
Update: The Senate did not agree with the House’s proposed changes, so a conference committee of three members from each house were appointed to work out a version of the bill that will be satisfactory to both houses. The report from the Conference Committee is now available, and will require approval from both chambers.
Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions safely conduct transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.
SB 930 would allow financial institutions to work with licensed cannabis businesses to issue certified checks and conduct payroll for certified California employees, pay their state and local taxes and fees while lessening the burden on local government to collect and manage large sums of cash, pay their rent, and invest in California’s economy
Update: SB 930 will be heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 at 1:30pm in Room 112.
House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program. The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.” It already passed the full House last month.
Update: HB 698 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/4, and will now go to Governor Larry Hogan for his signature or veto.
Senate Bill 547 and House Bill 2034 seek to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp.
If passed, the bills 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. Both bills have already passed their respective chambers.
Update: A hearing is scheduled for SB 547 in the House Agriculture Policy Committee on 4/10 at 12PM or upon conclusion of morning session-whichever is later in HR 1. HB 2034 is still pending in committee in the Senate.
Senate File 2398 seeks to 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.
Update: SF 2398 was unanimously approved by the Senate on 4/4, and now awaits action in the House.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!
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