Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved HR 5634: The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials assessing the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis. This is the first time that lawmakers have ever voted in favor of loosening federal restrictions that limit investigators’ ability to clinically study marijuana, similar to other controlled substances.
On the other hand, a congressional conference committee did not include a Senate-passed provision in a bill to fund the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure, known as the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, would have facilitated veterans’ access to medical cannabis in jurisdictions that regulate it.
Also, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of Congress’s most avid prohibitionists—signed on as a cosponsor of the STATES Act, to prohibit federal interference in jurisdictions that regulate marijuana.
At the state level, New Mexico addied obstructive sleep apnea as a medical marijuana qualifying condition, but rejected opioid addiction, muscular dystrophy, Tourette’s syndrome, eczema and psoriasis. Separately, regulators are holding meetings next month to get input from the public on proposed hemp rules.
Vermont’s marijuana legalization study committee met this week. And California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill into law that bans the marketing of marijuana products on websites used by minors.
At a more local level, Brooklyn, New York will begin to expunge thousands of prior marijuana convictions. And Manhattan is also vacating misdemeanor marijuana warrants. The city’s district attorney appeared in court to dismiss 3,000 marijuana charges dating way back to the 1970’s.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania amended a measure that would reduce marijuana penalties, with a final vote expected later this month. Green Bay, Wisconsin is considering reducing marijuana possession fines. And the city council in Oklahoma City heard testimony on a marijuana decriminalization measure.
Following are the bills we’ve tracked this week pending before California Governor Jerry Brown, 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!