Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he guarantees that the prohibition on hemp will be lifted as a part of the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.
James McGovern (D-MA), who will be the new U.S. House Rules Committee Chairman next year, is expected to allow floor debates and votes on marijuana amendments, “unlike his predecessors.”
At the state level, Utah lawmakers are set to consider a compromise medical cannabis bill during a special session which convenes December 3.
The Assembly speaker and Senate president in New Jersey said they expect committee votes on legalizing adult use marijuana soon after Thanksgiving. And one state senator who previously opposed ending prohibition is now showing support.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to introduce a marijuana legalization measure after the start of the 2019 legislative session. One New York state senator said she thinks the state will legalize marijuana through the 2019 budget process.
Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales could begin as soon as Sunday.
The taxation and regulation subcommittee of the marijuana legalization study committee in Vermont intends to recommend a 26% or 27% tax rate on retail sales.
An Indiana state senator plans to file several marijuana reform bills, including decriminalization and medical marijuana legislation. A North Dakota representative plans to file a marijuana decriminalization bill. A Wisconsin state senator also plans to introduce a bill in 2019 to regulate marijuana sales.
Tim Walz (D), Minnesota’s soon to be governor, as well as the incoming speaker of the House shared that the state will consider regulating marijuana in 2019.
At a more local level, the Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor will stop pursuing a majority of marijuana possession cases. Similarly, Albany County, New York’s district attorney said that starting on December 1, he will no longer prosecute minor marijuana possession cases.
Muskegon County, Michigan’s prosecutor is dropping some pending marijuana cases since legalization was approved, and is also thinking about expunging past convictions. Separately, some Michigan municipalities are already moving to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales, at least temporarily.
Following are the bills 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.
Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.
House Bill 63 has been pre-filed by Rep. Joe Moody that seeks to replace current criminal sanctions for marijuana possession with a civil penalty, punishable by a fine only with no jail or criminal record.
Senate Bill 90 has been pre-filed by Sen. Jose Menendez that seeks to expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) and make it more inclusive and compassionate for patients.
Senator Adam Ebbin filed Senate Bill 997, seeking to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in Virginia.
If passed, the bill would provide a civil penalty of no more than $50 for a first violation, $100 for a second violation, and $250 for a third or subsequent violation. The bill also requires that the suspended sentence substance abuse screening provisions and driver’s license suspension provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a juvenile.