Welcome to the first Weekly Legislative Roundup of 2021! Week one of the 2021 legislative sessions has come to a close, as several states are poised to enact significant reform in the year ahead.
A lot has happened already in the first week of the new year, starting with the anticipated power shift in the US Senate, paving the way for the potential approval of comprehensive marijuana law reform legislation in the 117th Congress.
Across the nation, several high ranking state elected officials have been speaking out this week in favor of enacting significant marijuana reform this year, including Connecticut’s Governor and Senate president pro tempore, New York’s Governor and Lt. Governor, Kentucky’s Governor, Virginia’s attorney general, along with Rhode Island’s Senate president, Minnesota’s House Majority Leader, and several democrats in Iowa.
Also at the state level, A recent New Mexico court ruling will allow incarcerated patients to use medical marijuana while in jail or prison.
Following are the bills we’re tracking so far in the 2021 legislative sessions. As always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state, and the NORML blog for regular updates.
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
Join the caucus: Key Congressional allies have formed a Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.
Legislation is pending to expand eligibility to allow those with certain prior cannabis convictions to get their records cleared.
Senate Bill 468 would allow individuals convicted of misdemeanor offenses involving the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana to petition the court to get their record expunged.
Separately, Senate Bill 470 would exempt a marijuana offense that have been expunged from public records, ensuring that the expunged conviction remains confidential.
House Bill 12 is pending to remove the threat of jail time for the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, and instead impose a fine of $300. The measure also removes the requirement to fingerprint individuals for misdemeanor marijuana charges.
Currently under state law, the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. Any possession amount greater than one ounce is a felony.
While this proposal would not fully decriminalize marijuana possession offenses, it is an important first step that would eliminate the threat of jail time for low-level marijuana offenders.
House Bill 1154 is pending to legalize and regulate adult use marijuana in Indiana. The measure would permit adults to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana and/or eight grams of concentrate from a state-licensed dispensary. It would also permit individuals to cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal use.
Introduced by long-time reform supporter Senator Tallian, Senate Bill 223 would remove penalties for the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, while Tallian’s Senate Bill 87 would establish the cannabis compliance commission to regulate all forms of legal cannabis in Indiana.
House Bill 1028 would decriminalize possession for adults with up to 30 grams (just over one ounce) of marijuana and/or five grams of hashish.
Separately, House Bill 1117 would decriminalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana.
Under current state law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
House Bill 1026 is pending to allow qualified patients to access physician-authorized medical marijuana. The measure would allow anyone with a serious medical condition as determined by a physician to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from state-licensed outlets and cultivate up to six (up to 3 mature) marijuana plants for therapeutic use.
Separately, Senate Bill 104 creates a defense to prosecution for the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia if the individual is a registered medical cannabis patient in another state.
Senate Bill 201 is pending to provide a defense to prosecution for a person who operates a vehicle with marijuana or its metabolite in the person’s blood under certain conditions.
Under existing law, it is a violation of the traffic safety code to operate a motor vehicle with any detectable level of either THC or THC metabolites in one’s blood or urine, absent any further evidence of psychomotor impairment.
House Bill 136 is pending to allow patients to access to physician-authorized medical cannabis from licensed retail outlets.
House Bill 32 is pending to legalize marijuana in Maryland! The measure would allow adults 21 and older to use and possess cannabis and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
The bill also includes automatic expungement for marijuana offenses, home delivery, and on-site (social use) consumption establishments.
House Bill 324 / Senate Bill 143 are pending to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law. If passed, the bills would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense.
Under current law, the possession of more than ten grams of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Senate Bill 190 / House Bill 415 is pending to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients in Maryland. The measures prohibit a person from being denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm solely on the basis that the person is authorized to use medical cannabis.
Legislation is pending to legalize the use, possession and retail sale of marijuana for adults.
HJR 30 would put a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for adult use on the ballot for voters to decide during the 2022 election.
House Bill 263 would legalize the possession and use of marijuana by an individual 21 years of age or older who purchases the marijuana from a licensed retail marijuana store.
Legislation is pending that would allow Missourians with certain prior cannabis convictions to get their records expunged.
House Bill 408 / Senate Bill 190 requires the court to expunge the records for those previously convicted of the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana possession.
House Bill 546 would allow certain marijuana-related offenses to be expunged if the violations occurred in Missouri prior to the issuance of a patient identification card.
Legislation is pending to protect families and prospective parents from discrimination based on medical cannabis use.
House Bill 485 would ensure that “placement of a child in an adoptive home shall not be delayed or denied on the basis that a prospective adoptive parent has a medical marijuana card or works in the medical marijuana industry.”
Separately, Senate Bill 357 would mandate that a “family court shall not prohibit a family court participant from participating in the state’s medical marijuana program, including as a term or condition of successful completion of the family court program.”
House Bill 486 is pending to allow medical cannabis patients to consume their medicine at certain establishments. The measure would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to establish a statewide medical marijuana lodging establishment system to license hotels, AirBNBs, or other lodging establishments that wish to allow medical marijuana patients to consume medical marijuana within the establishment.
Legislation is pending to protect the privacy of medical marijuana patients.
House Bill 198 would criminalize the disclosure of medical marijuana patients’ information to unauthorized parties.
House Bill 501 would prohibit the state government from sharing medical marijuana user or registry information with the federal government.
Legislation is pending to let the voters decide on the legalization of adult use marijuana in Nebraska. LR2CA would put the issue of legalizing the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults on the ballot before voters to be decided in the 2022 election.
House Bill 89 is pending to expand medical cannabis access. The measure would add “moderate to severe insomnia” as a qualifying condition for eligibility for medical cannabis treatment.
Efforts are underway to legalize marijuana in New York.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), has been re-introduced this legislative session. The Senate version, S854, was introduced with nearly a third of senate lawmakers as cosponsors. The Assembly companion is also pending, A1248.
The measures would allow adults 21 and older to legally purchase and possess small amounts of marijuana, and cultivate up to six plants for personal use, and also include automatic expungement, and other provisions to promote social equity in the industry and direct revenue toward communities most harmed by the drug war.
Governor Cuomo also plans to include adult use marijuana legalization as part of his budget proposal.
Legislation is pending to expand the pool of individuals eligible for the automatic expungement of certain misdemeanor marijuana convictions.
S1181 would “ensure those convicted of certain lower level marijuana possession offenses prior to the creation of marijuana-specific offenses in 1977 are eligible to have their records automatically expunged.”
Multiple bills are pending to expand New York’s medical marijuana program and make it more accessible for patients.
A169 would allow qualified medical practitioners to recommend medical cannabis to any patient who they believe is “likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from primary or adjunctive treatment with medical use of medical marihuana.”
A531 would remove the “serious” designation in order for a condition to qualify for medical cannabis treatment, increase possession limits from allowing a patient to possess a 30-day supply to up to a 60-day supply of medical cannabis, allow certified caregivers and caregiver facilities to legally acquire, handle, and administer medical cannabis to qualified patients, and establish a medical cannabis research program.
A127 would allow facility caregivers to possess medical marijuana in a similar manner to that of a designated caregiver, which includes hospitals, mental health facilities, and primary and secondary schools.
A413 would add dysmenorrhea as an eligible condition for lawful medical marijuana use, while A1150 would add autism to the list.
S183 is pending to protect medical marijuana patients from housing discrimination. The measure would prohibit the eviction of tenants for using medical marijuana for a certified medical use.
A242 is pending to allow health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana related costs. The measure amends state law so that medical cannabis would be treated like any other legal prescription drug for purposes related to health insurance coverage.
Legislation is pending to legalize the use, possession, and commercial sale of marijuana for adults in South Carolina.
S. 335 would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to five grams of concentrate, and grow up to six plants for personal use.
Separately, S. 268 would place a statewide advisory referendum on the ballot in the 2022 election, to let voters decide whether or not South Carolina should legalize adult-use marijuana.
Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession of marijuana in South Carolina.
H. 3228 would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana and ten grams of hashish, resulting in a citation punishable by a maximum $100 fine only, only if no other violent crimes were committed at the time of the violation.
H. 3571 would impose a civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, resulting in a fine only, between $100-$200 for the first offense, and between $200-$1,000 for the second offense.
H. 3202, would remove all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and ten grams of hashish for veterans with an honorable discharge that have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Currently under state law, the possession of one ounce of marijuana is considered a criminal misdemeanor offense, where the first offense is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $200, and subsequent offenses are punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
Legislation is pending to permit physician-authorized access to medical marijuana for qualified patients.
H. 3361 / S. 150: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act would allow qualifying patients to use, purchase, and possess medical cannabis. The Senate measure is slightly more restrictive than the House measure, regarding the types of products available for patients, the qualifying medical conditions eligible for a recommendation, possession limits and patient protections. This article outlines key differences between the two versions.
H. 3174: The Put Patients First Act would allow registered patients to use and possess up to two ounces of marijuana, and cultivate up to 6 plants (up to 3 mature).
Multiple pieces of legislation are pending to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults.
Currently, sales of marijuana are illegal in Texas, relegating consumers to the multi-billion-dollar black market industry. Not only are products unregulated (and sometimes unsafe), but Texas is missing out on desperately needed tax revenue. Estimated state tax revenue is $1 billion and consumers will be able to rely on Texas-grown and Texas-tested cannabis.
Several pieces of legislation are pending to reduce penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Current marijuana laws in Texas are harsh, unreasonable, and ineffective. In 2018, our state arrested more than 62,000 for the simple possession of marijuana, a substance we know to be objectively safer that alcohol, tobacco, and many pharmaceutical drugs patients are prescribed every day.
Several pieces of legislation are pending to improve and expand The Texas Compassionate Use Program (T.CUP). T.CUP is unreasonably restrictive, leaving behind the vast majority of patients who could benefit from access to medical cannabis.
House Bill 1815 is pending to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults. The measure permits adults to legally purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana from a licensed retail outlet, and cultivate up to six (up to three mature) marijuana plants for personal use.
House Bill 1019 is pending to allow adults in Washington to cultivate marijuana for personal use. The measure would allow adults 21 and older to cultivate up to six marijuana plants.
Senate Bill 5009 is pending to exempt medical marijuana from excise taxes. The measure would provide a tax exemption on medical marijuana purchased by registered patients from a licensed dispensary.
That’s all for this week, check back on the NORML blog every Friday for more!