Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced a bill this week, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical marijuana access to veterans with chronic pain, PTSD, and other debilitating conditions. The measure would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue recommendations and require the VA to research the benefits of marijuana. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of the new bill.
Four U.S. House bills got new cosponsors this week, including the Marijuana Justice Act, bringing the new total to 40 cosponsors, the Veterans Equal Access Act for a new total of 28, the States Act, bringing the new total to 29, and the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act for a new total of 11.
The first 2018 Farm Bill conference committee meeting took place this week, during which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) advocated for hemp legalization. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, also supports hemp legalization.
At the state level, Mississippi activists will begin collecting signatures next week in hopes of qualifying a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative. California lawmakers passed bills to create a grant program to support marijuana industry equity programs, and to exempt organization that give away medical marijuana to indigent patients from taxes.
At a more local level, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is considering a marijuana decriminalization measure. So was the Gary, Indiana Common Council before the measure was rejected. A Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin committee approved a marijuana legalization advisory question for the ballot in the spring of 2019. And Oklahoma City will consider a measure to reduce marijuana penalties next week.
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.
Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring 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.
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. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.
Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.
Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.
Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.
Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.
Update: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.
That’s all for this week!