The 2021 state legislative sessions are in full swing, and state lawmakers around the country have been actively considering and advancing marijuana legalization proposals forward. With many public hearings and votes in favor of legalization legislation already in the books, below is a summary of progressing marijuana legalization efforts thus far and where they stand in key states across the country.
Several pieces of adult use marijuana legalization legislation are pending in New Mexico. Two of the bills were heard by the House Health & Human Services Committee this past weekend. The first, House Bill 12, would allow adults to purchase up to two ounces of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six mature plants for personal use. Those convicted of an offense involving up to two ounces of marijuana possession would be eligible for automatic expungement, those currently incarcerated for these offenses would be eligible for dismissal. The second, House Bill 17, would also allow adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana. Under this measure, personal cultivation of up to three plants would be decriminalized, punishable by a $500 fine, and retail sales would be taxed at 20 percent plus state and local sales taxes.
Two pieces of adult use legalization legislation were heard so far this session. House Bill 1420 would allow adults 21 and older to legally purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana from a licensed retail outlet. This measure was heard by the House Human Services Committee on 2/3/21, and approved by the committee Wednesday by a 7 to 6 vote. HB 1420 will now head to the House Appropriations Committee. See NORML’s written testimony submitted to the committee in favor of HB 1420 here.
The second legalization bill, HCR 3031, would amend the state’s constitution to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults. If approved by lawmakers, this measure would place a ballot measure before voters to weigh in on during the 2022 election. This measure was heard in the House Judiciary Committee, and was ultimately defeated by a 10 to 2 vote on Tuesday. See NORML’s written testimony submitted to the committee in favor of HCR 3031 here.
The House Judiciary Committee separately approved House Bill 1201 Tuesday by a 8 to 4 vote, which would decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana so that it is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense, punishable by a ticket of up to $50. See NORML’s written testimony in favor of HB 1201 here.
Two similar adult use legalization bills are pending in the House and Senate. The House version, HB 32, received its first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. This measure would allow adults 21 and older to use and possess up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. HB 32 also includes automatic expungement for marijuana offenses, home delivery, and on-site (social use) consumption establishments. No action has been taken by committee members on this bill yet. See written testimony submitted by NORML in favor of HB 32 here!
A slightly different version is pending in the Senate, SB 708, which is sponsored by the Senate president and would allow adults to possess up to four ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
Introduced by House Majority Leader Winkler, House File 600, along with companion Senate File 757, would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to ten pounds of marijuana in a private residence, up to 1.5 ounces in public, and grow up to eight plants (up to four mature) for personal use. The bills also include automatic expungement, on-site consumption, delivery, and social equity provisions.
HF 600 was heard in the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee on Wednesday, and was approved by members with a 10 to 7 vote. The bill is scheduled for another hearing in the Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee on 2/23 at 3pm. The bill will likely need to pass through several additional committees before receiving a floor vote. See written testimony in favor submitted by NORML to the committee here!
Multiple adult use marijuana legalization proposals are pending in Hawaii’s House and Senate. Senate Bill 767, which would allow adults 21 and over to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six (up to three mature) marijuana plants for personal use, was heard and approved by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs on Tuesday by a 4 to 1 vote. The “no” vote came from the committee’s only Republican member.
The same committee separately approved Senate Bill 758, which would increase the decriminalization threshold from 3 grams to 1 ounce, punishable by a $130 fine. See NORML’s written testimony submitted in favor of both SB 767 and SB 758.
With such a short legislative session, marijuana legalization legislation has been cruising through both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly in 2021. Members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate, for the first time ever, separately approved a pair of adult-use marijuana legalization measures on 2/5/21, sending each to the opposing chamber for further consideration.
Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312 legalize the responsible use and personal cultivation of cannabis by adults ages 21 and older, provide for the automatic expungement process of certain marijuana-related offenses, and establish a regulatory framework for commercial cannabis production, manufacturing, testing, and retail sales. The bills also earmark a portion of revenue to pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk youth as well as for public health programs.
Since then, SB 1406 has been approved by the House by a 54 to 42 vote, and HB 2312 has been approved by the Senate by a 23 to 16 vote. The bills will now head to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two versions, before being sent to Governor Northam.
Two pieces of legislation are pending to legalize 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. LB 546 would legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults. The measure would allow adults to legally possess and purchase up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six (up to three mature) marijuana plants for personal use. The bill would also facilitate a “clean slate relief” program, which would allow those with certain prior marijuana-related convictions to get their record wiped clean.
Both measures are scheduled for a public hearing on Friday 2/19 in the Judiciary Committee of the state’s unicameral legislature. The committee is also scheduled to consider separate legislation, LB 481, to decriminalize marijuana possession and vacate past conviction records. NORML submitted written testimony in favor of the pending legalization and decriminalization bills in advance of the hearing.
A compromise on adult use marijuana legalization legislation has once again stalled after a top New Jersey Senator cancelled a scheduled Wednesday hearing on a “cleanup” bill, which was expected to receive floor votes in the Senate and Assembly today in time for Governor Murphy to sign it into law before a key Friday deadline.
The “cleanup” measure would have settled Gov. Murphy’s concerns surrounding discrepancies in two separate measures already on his desk related to underage marijuana possession penalties. A1897, which would end marijuana possession arrests, and S21 which would regulate the commercial marijuana market, were approved by lawmakers back in December. The deadline for Murphy to take action on these measures is Friday 2/19/21.
It’s been over three months since New Jersey voters approved Question 1 to legalize adult use marijuana in the state. The constitutional amendment went into effect on January 1, 2021 without any enabling legislation enacted, meanwhile law enforcement continues to arrest New Jerseyans for marijuana offenses every day.
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 released his adult use marijuana legalization plan as part of his budget proposal. This week Cuomo unveiled a revised version of his proposal which includes amendments related to allowing marijuana delivery services, reducing penalties for those that provide marijuana to minors, and a new social equity program structure.
At the request of Governor Lamont, Senate Bill 888 has been introduced, which would allow adults to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. The possession of any amount greater than 1.5 ounces would be punishable by a fine.
Under Lamont’s measure, a three percent tax would apply to marijuana retail sales, on top of the state’s standard 6.35 percent sales tax, a portion of which would be reinvested in communities most harmed by prohibition. The measure would also facilitate the expungement of past convictions involving the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana.
Additional legislation is pending that focuses on social equity. House Bill 6377 would allow adults to grow up to six marijuana plants, establish an equity focused task force, a permanent cannabis commission, and a long-term cannabis job training program. This measure received a public hearing in the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees on 2/9/21. No action has been taken on the bill yet. See the written testimony submitted by NORML in support of HB 6377 here.
What can YOU do to help and stay informed?
Sign up for NORML’s email list and we will keep you updated as these proposals and more advance through state legislatures nationwide. Don’t forget to take action and contact your lawmakers in support of legislation pending in your state and in US Congress using our quick and easy action tools at norml.org/act! You can also check the NORML blog every Friday for the Weekly Legislative Roundup, summarizing all marijuana-related legislation that’s moved forward that week across the country.