Posted by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director | March 4, 2017
At the state level, we have updated or added 23 Action Alerts this week as the total number of pieces of legislation introduced nationwide that pertain to marijuana has now topped 1,400.
Federally, the developments just keep on coming, furthering the confusion and disarray at the Department of Justice and the marijuana policy objectives of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
AG Sessions has articulated alternative facts in regards to marijuana and violence and opioids and has yet to say what “increased enforcement” means. Yet a staffer at the DoJ did say that the “The department’s current policy is reflected in the 2013 Cole Memo,” referring to the Obama policy.
Additionally, 11 Senators sent a letter to the Attorney General that stated “It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety,” the senators wrote. “This ensures that state infrastructure, including tax revenue, small businesses, and jobs, can be protected; DOJ resources can be used most effectively; and most importantly, that marijuana can be properly regulated to improve public health and safety.”
Conveniently, the “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” was reintroduced this week in the House of Representatives. Email your Representative to sign onto the bill and support it now by clicking here.
Below 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.
Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
NEW: 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 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.
Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.
States Rights: Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.
HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’
Legislative efforts are pending to amend the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law in a manner that would restrict qualified patients from smoking herbal preparations of the plant. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson indicates that he favors the plan.
Update: The Senate version of this bill, SB 357, has passed Committee and now awaits action on the Senate floor.
Multiple pieces of legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate its commercial distribution is pending in both the state House and Senate.
Update: Lawmakers have scheduled a pair of hearings in March to debate these various legalization proposals. Members of the Public Health Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday, March 7. Members of the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday, March 22.
Senate legislation is pending, SF 280, to reduce penalties involving the possession of five grams of marijuana or less.
If passed, the measure would classify first time offenses from a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and a $625 fine.
Update: Members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee passed the measure to the full Committee on February 28.
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, are sponsoring the legislature’s most concerted effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.
Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $250 fine.
Rep. Samuel Young has introduced H. 490 to regulate the commercial and retail marijuana market.
H. 490 establishes a regulated system whereby adults may legally obtain marijuana from state-licensed retail providers and sellers.
Senator David Marsden has introduced a bill to re-approve a previously passed act that will regulate the instate production of cannabis oil for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.
Update: SB1027 has been passed unanimously by both the House (99-0) and Senate (38-0) and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law or vetoed. The Governor’s Action deadline is midnight on March 27.
Additional Actions To Take
Legislation is pending, SB 1337, to permit for the licensed production of industrial hemp.
The proposal redefines hemp as a legal agricultural product and finds, “[T]he development and use of industrial hemp can improve the economy.”
Update: SB 1337 passed in the Senate with a vote of 26-4 and is being transmitted to the House.
Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.
The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”
Update: AB 1578 may be heard in committee on March 21.
Legislation is pending before lawmakers, SB 155, to establish regulations governing a comprehensive medical marijuana program.
SB 155 would permit qualified patients to grow their own medical marijuana or to obtain it from a licensed dispensary, while also educating physicians who seek to recommend cannabis therapy.
Update: A hearing was held to debate and discuss SB 155 on February 20.
Legislation has been introduced in the House, HB 1095, to legalize the adult use of marijuana and to regulate the commercial cannabis market.
The measure permits adults to legally possess up to 35 grams of marijuana and/or to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. Adults may legally possess the total yield from those plants.
State Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez introduced HB 89, the Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act to regulate the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in the state. Companion legislation, SB 278, introduced by Sen. Gerald Ortiz, is also pending in the Senate.
Update: Members of the House Business and Industry Committee voted 9-1 on Monday, February 27, to defeat House Bill 89. SB 278 is still awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Additionally, Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 258, to reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.
The measure eliminates criminal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one-half of one ounce of cannabis, reducing the offense to a $50 fine. Under present law, this offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail and criminal record.
Update: A Senate substitute version of SB 258 was passed 33 to 9 by members of the Senate. The amended version of the bill now awaits action by the House.
Two bills are pending in South Dakota that provide various protections for medical marijuana users in South Dakota. SB 95 and SB 157 do not establish a South Dakota program, but protect those individuals who are prescribed medical marijuana in another state.
SB 95 removes cannabidiol from schedule I and places it in schedule IV. Furthermore, it excludes cannabidiol entirely from the definition of marijuana.
SB 157 protects patients that possess marijuana while they have a valid medical card from another state. The measure “covers patients who have moved to Colorado… or another legal state and done their due diligence for being prescribed medical marijuana.”
Update: Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee removed the FDA provision from SB 95 and passed it 7 to 3 on March 2.
Legislation is pending in the Tennessee House, HB 173, to nullify the enactment of citywide marijuana decriminalization ordinances and to prevent additional municipalities from enacting similar marijuana reform measures.
The intent of the bill is to override the passage of recent citywide measures in Nashville and Memphis — both of which passed local ordinances last year making minor marijuana possession offenses a non-arrestable citation.
Update: HB 173 has been passed out of subcommittee and now awaits action by the full House Criminal Justice Committee.
Additionally, Several pieces of legislation are pending to amend marijuana possession penalties.
HB 831 and SB 1116 seek to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.
Update: SB 1116 has a hearing scheduled for March 7.
State Senator Jose Menendez has filed Senate Bill 269, currently making its way through committee, to protect qualified patients who consume cannabis and to provide for the state-licensed production and distribution of the plant.
Update: A bipartisan House version of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas has just been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, titled HB 2107.
Legislation is before lawmakers, House Bill 2064, to amend state law so that industrial hemp is not longer classified under the state’s uniform controlled substances act.
If passed, hemp plants will no longer be regulated as a controlled substance.
Update: HB 2064 has unanimously passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) introduced a pair of bills seeking to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical cannabis. The first bill establishes a statewide medical marijuana program, while the second bill would poll voters’ attitudes on the issue in the form of a nonbinding statewide referendum.
Update: The first bill, SB 38, had been introduced to the Senate and referred to committee.