Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the NORML team is working remotely in compliance with CDC guidelines. However, the work of reforming our nation’s failed marijuana laws is not suspended therefore we’re still updating you policy efforts across the country. We encourage you to read our post about our efforts and best practices for the cannabis community during these trying times.
Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup.
Things are a little different this week as the world responds to the global COVID-19 pandemic and lawmakers must shift priorities to address relief efforts. Many state capitols around the country have suspended legislative sessions, continued to vote on key bills remotely, or have at the very least closed to the public and nonessential business.
Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center 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 U.S. Congress.
Actions to Take
Veteran Access: HR 1647, the Veterans Equal Access Act, would allow V.A. doctors to fill out the state-legal medical marijuana recommendations. Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician.
Update: HR 1647 was approved by the House Veterans Affairs Committee on 3/12/20.
Senate Bill 8 is pending to seal the convictions of past marijuana possession offenders.
The measure prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law.
Update: SB 8 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/20/20.
Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 2355, to protect registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.
The bill would make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer or other entity to refuse to hire or employ a person, or to discriminate against an employee, because of the employee’s use of medical cannabis.
Update: AB 2355 was scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Labor And Employment Committee this week, but it was postponed until 4/1/20.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 83, to automatically expunge certain prior cannabis convictions.
The bill would require all court records and police records relating to certain charges of possession of marijuana to be automatically expunged if the possession charge is the only charge in the case. If marijuana possession was not the only charge, one must wait four years before becoming eligible for automatic expungement.
Update: HB 83 was approved by the House and Senate. The amended version would prevent the Maryland Judiciary Case Search from being able to view marijuana possession records. The bill now heads to the governor.
House Bill 617 / Senate Bill 604 would also develop guidelines for public schools regarding the administration of medical cannabis to students
Update: HB 617 and SB 604 were approved by the House and Senate. The bills now heads to the governor.
Mississippi voters will receive the opportunity to vote this November on whether or not to allow medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions.
Under Speaker Gunn’s pressure, House members of the Mississippi Legislature did pass the alternate proposal, HCR 39, that will now go to the Senate for a vote. If approved, this alternative would appear alongside Initiative 65 on the November ballot to confuse voters and split the vote, which threatens and dilutes the possibility of medical marijuana passing in November at all.
This alternate, more restrictive proposal is a clear attempt by lawmakers and House Speaker Philip Gunn to undermine and confuse voters and to kill medical marijuana in Mississippi altogether.
Update: HCR 39 was approved by the House of Representatives and Senate. The bill now heads to the governor.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 420, permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
The measure would permit patients to grow up to three mature plants and 12 seedlings, and to possess up to eight ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.
Update: SB 420 was scheduled for Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee work session and a decision making this week, but both events were cancelled.
State lawmakers are considering legislation, HB 2454 / SB 2334, to allow registered patients to use, possess, and consume medical cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Legislation is pending from 2019, SB 486 / HB 637, to provide qualifying patients access to medical cannabis via licensed retailers.
Update: HB 2454 was scheduled for a hearing in the House Health Committee on 3/17/20, but it was cancelled.