Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state.
NEBRASKA: In a major victory for pot-law reformers, Legislative Bill 844 — which sought to recriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses in Nebraska — has been amended. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are punishable by a non-criminal citation and a $100 fine. As introduced, LB 844 sought to impose a sentence of up to 90 days in jail for first-time marijuana offenders. As amended, the proposal would increase the maximum fine for pot possession to $300, but would not impose criminal sanctions. The bill now awaits action from full legislature.
CALIFORNIA: California’s Dale Gieringer submitted written testimony opposing Assembly Bill 2389, which seeks to require drug testing for recipients of certain state benefits or cash assistance. Gieringer will testify before the Committee on Human Services in opposition to the proposal at a legislative hearing on Tuesday, April 1. Gieringer will also testify at an upcoming hearing in support of AB 2279, which seeks to end state employment discrimination against qualified medical cannabis patients.
HAWAII: The House Judiciary this week passed an amended resolution (HCR 49) that seeks to allow for state-qualified farmers to provide medical cannabis to authorized patients. The Senate Judiciary is expected to vote imminently on a separate measure, House Bill 2675, which seeks to establish a legislative task force to study issues pertaining to the legal supply of medical marijuana for authorized patients.
And finally, in non-state related legislative news, several newspaper columnists and editorial boards this week have endorsed Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank’s pending legislation to strip the federal government of its authority to arrest responsible cannabis consumers. You can read examples here, here, and here.