Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
A lot has happened at the state level this week, starting with Maine lawmakers overriding Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) veto of medical marijuana expansion legislation, by a vote of 119 to 23 in the House and 25 to 8 in the Senate. The measure will now become law later this fall.
North Dakota activists submitted what they believe are enough signatures (nearly 19,000!) to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the November ballot. State officials must certify 13,452 signatures in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 ballot and are anticipated to take about 35 days to verify the signatures.
The Oklahoma Department of Health voted 5 to 4 to severely limit patients’ access to a wide range of cannabis products. Specifically, the new provisions: prohibit the sale of smokable herbal cannabis at licensed dispensaries; require dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist on staff; impose arbitrary THC potency thresholds on various cannabis-infused products; and mandate that dispensary managers obtain at least four hours of continuing education training each calendar year. Qualified patients will still be permitted to grow their own medical marijuana flowers.
Oklahoma lawmakers established a bipartisan working group to focus on ensuring that medical marijuana is implemented in a way that “conforms to the will of the voters.” House Democrats want a special legislative session to work on this issue.
Governor David Ige (D) of Hawaii signed a bill into law to permit out-of-state patients to access medical marijuana while in Hawaii. The measure also allows licensed dispensaries to sell cartridges to patients that contain marijuana extracts and oils. The law took effect upon passage. However, Gov. Ige vetoed legislation to allow medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids and for substance use and withdrawal symptoms, stating that adding new qualifying conditions should be left up to the Health Department, not lawmakers.
Governor Gina Raimondo (D) of Rhode Island signed legislation into law allowing those with past marijuana convictions to have their records expunged for crimes that have since been decriminalized, such as marijuana possession. Those with prior convictions for crimes involving the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana can now petition the court for expungement.
And Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into law to facilitate state-licensed medical marijuana research.
At a more local level, voters in Dane County, Wisconsin will see a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot, a committee in La Crosse County, Wisconsin voted to move a marijuana legalization advisory measure forward for the November ballot, and unfortunately Walworth County, Wisconsin rejected a marijuana legalization advisory measure proposed for November’s ballot. But activists in Nelsonville, Ohio did turn in signatures attempting to qualify a marijuana decriminalization measure for the November ballot.
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 Cannabis Criminalization: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.
Senate Bill 197 seeks to permit those convicted of past marijuana possession convictions to seek expungement.
The measure would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting the expungement of any past marijuana possession violations that are no longer defined as a crime under state law. State officials estimate the legislation could affect up to 1,300 people convicted of a single marijuana crime from 1977 to 2015.
Update: SB 197 was sent to to Gov. John Carney’s desk. Legal advisers to the Governor are reviewing the bill, but he is expected to sign it into law.
Assembly Bill 1793 seeks “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: AB 1793 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 8/6 at 10am in the John L. Burton Hearing Room.
That’s all the legislative updates for this week!