Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
At the state level, several governors and top state legislative leaders have been calling for significant marijuana reforms in 2021 as many state legislative sessions kick off.
Activists in North Dakota submitted a proposal the the secretary of state, which if approved, would allow them to begin gathering signatures to place an adult use marijuana legalization measure before voters on the November 2022 ballot.
At the local level, the prosecutor for Washtenaw County, Michigan said he will not pursue marijuana possession cases, and his office is supporting the expungement of certain past marijuana convictions.
Following are the bills the moved forward this week, and 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, House Bill 2154, that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.
The measure would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 2256, to expand the pool of providers that are eligible to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.
The measure allows physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to issue medical cannabis recommendations to qualifying patients.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 129, to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.
The measure exempts veterans from the fees for registration and written certification for medical marijuana and establishes a process to identify veterans who qualify as patients for medical marijuana.
Legislation is pending to permit the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults.
Senate Bill 664 would allow those 21 and older to legally possess and purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal use.
Companion legislation Senate Bill 668 would ensure that the fee for a marijuana business license does not exceed $5,000.
Senate Bill 666 would impose an excise tax on marijuana cultivators of $50 per ounce. The measure would also allow municipalities to impose an additional excise tax of up to 15 percent.
Legislation is pending to protect those who require Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
House Bill 188 would prohibit an individual from being denied “cash assistance provided under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program based upon a conviction for any drug-related felony under State or federal law,” including those convicted of a marijuana offense.
Legislation is pending, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders.
Senate Bill 368 would make possession by a minor of marijuana and paraphernalia used with marijuana a juvenile status offense, rather than a criminal offense.
A status offense is an offense that can only be committed by a juvenile, such as truancy, underage drinking, or running away from home.
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.
Update: HB 324 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on 1/18/21. SB 143 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on 1/20/21.
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.
Update: SB 190 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on 1/20/21.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 237, to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.
The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants (up to 3 plants can be mature) for personal use.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 350, which permits qualifying patients to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
The measure would permit registered patients to grow up to three mature plants, three immature plants, and 12 seedlings for therapeutic use.
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.
Update: S183 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee on 1/19/21.
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.
Update: A242 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on 1/20/21.
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.”
Update: A169 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on 1/20/21.
Legislation is pending, NY A1412, to expand treatment options for medical cannabis patients to include the inhalation of whole-plant medical cannabis flower.
Legislation was introduced, House Bill 1201, to reduce the penalty for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
If passed, the bill would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense, punishable by a ticket of up to $50.
Current law enacted in 2019, reclassified the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis and/or the personal possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia for a first-time offender from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, to a criminal infraction – punishable by a fine but no possibility of jail time.
Legislation was introduced to regulate cannabis delivery services.
House Bill 2519 would allow licensed dispensaries to home deliver adult use cannabis to consumers 21 and older “within city or county in which marijuana retailer is located and to consumers in cities or counties that have adopted ordinances allowing for delivery of marijuana items from adjacent cities or counties.”
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 307, to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.
The measure waives fees for obtaining a medical marijuana card for veterans who have a total disability rating of at least 50 percent as a result of injury or illness incurred or aggravated during active military service, and who received discharge or release under other than dishonorable conditions.
Legislation is pending to protect registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.
H 5021 prohibits employers from refusing to hire, discharging or otherwise discriminating against any individual because of their medical use of marijuana.
H. 3672 has been introduced, which would decriminalize the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana and ten grams of hashish, resulting in fine only, between $100-$200 for the first offense, and between $200-$1,000 for the second offense.
Legislation is pending, SB 1406, to legalize and regulate the responsible use of cannabis by adults 21 and older.
The bill provides for an automatic expungement process for those convicted of certain marijuana-related crimes, and establishes a regulatory scheme for the regulation of cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities, wholesalers, and retail cannabis stores. The bill also provides that net profits attributable to regulatory activities shall be appropriated to pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk three and four year olds, the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, substance use disorder prevention and treatment programs, and public health programs. The bill creates the Cannabis Control Advisory Board, the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board, and the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council.
Update: SB 1406 was heard in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. Additional subcommittee hearings are scheduled for 1/19 and 1/20/21.
Legislation is pending, SB 1283 and HB 2113, which seeks to establish a process for the automatic expungement of criminal records for certain convictions, deferred dispositions, and acquittals and for offenses that have been nolle prossed or otherwise dismissed.
Legislation is pending, HB 1862, which seeks to prohibit an employer from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against an employee for such employee’s lawful use of medical cannabis pursuant to a valid written certification issued by a practitioner for the treatment or to eliminate the symptoms of the employee’s diagnosed condition or disease.
Legislation is pending, HB 1988, which seeks to improve Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Program. The bill will ensure those in hospice, nursing, and assisted living facilities are able to safely access medical cannabis, and that the continued allowance of telemedicine for patient certifications is maintained post-pandemic.
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.
Update: HB 1019 was heard in the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming on 1/15/21. The bill is scheduled for an executive session in the same committee on 1/22/21.
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.
Update: SB 5009 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on 1/18/21.
That’s all for this week, check back on the NORML blog every Friday for more!