Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
This week, history was made. For the first time ever, the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to restrict the Department of Justice from interfering with the states that have legalized adult-use marijuana.
Also this week, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing to discuss the economic and employment opportunities in the emerging legal cannabis industry and the challenges that federal prohibition and criminalization pose in regards to the Small Business Administration.
New York state lawmakers approved legislation on Friday to further expand cannabis decriminalization and expunge certain records. The bill now heads to the Governor.
Governor Kate Brown (D) signed legislation into law to to automatically conduct a review of past misdemeanor cannabis convictions, and to “set aside” offenses that are no longer a crime under state law.
Governor John Bel Edwards (D) of Louisiana signed legislation into law to deschedule hemp and hemp-derived CBD from the state’s list of controlled substances.
Activists in Nebraska working to qualify a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative are almost 10,000 signatures deep.
At a more local level, the district attorney for Monroe County, New York will no longer prosecute cases involving low-level cannabis possession.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 223, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.
Update: SB 223 was heard and approved by the Assembly Education Committee on 6/19/19. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on 6/25/19.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 34, which 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 34 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Revenue And Taxation Committee on 7/2/19.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 51, to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.
Update: SB 51 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Business And Professions Committee on 7/9/19.
Bipartisan legislation is pending, Senate Bill 37, that would reform the expungement processes for individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses.
If enacted, the bill would expand the pool of those eligible to seek expungement to include those convicted of a single misdemeanor or felony charge related to marijuana.
Update: SB 37 was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee on its merits (recommending that action be taken, without specifying what that action should be).
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 45, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders.
Under state law, adults face civil penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses. Senate Bill 45 would make this policy consistent for juvenile offenders.
Update: SB 45 was approved by the Senate on 6/20/19, and now heads to the House. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health & Human Development Committee on 6/27/19.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 24, to expand access to medical cannabis in the state.
The measure would give doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient for whom they believe will benefit from its therapeutic use.
Update: SB 24 was reported out of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee on its merits on 6/20/19.
Legislation is pending, S. 978, that would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume marijuana off-the-job in accordance with state law.
Update: S. 978 was heard by the Joint Committee on The Judiciary on 6/17/19.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 315, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.
Update: S. 315 was approved by the Senate on 6/17/19, and now heads to the House. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on 6/25/19.
Recently introduced legislation, A20, seeks to significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program.
The measure facilitates the expansion of additional medical cannabis providers, while also expanding the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. It allows limited social consumption spaces, reciprocity for out-of-state patients, shields registered patients from employment discrimination and the loss of child custody, and phases out retail sales taxes on medical cannabis, among other changes.
Update: A20 was approved by the Assembly and Senate on 6/20/19, and now heads to the governor’s desk.
Legislation is pending, AB 206 / SB 188, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.
Update: The Senate Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions Committee held a work session in SB 188 on 6/19/19.