Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
In another historic vote last weekend, the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates approved legislation to legalize cannabis possession, personal cultivation, and retail sales for adults 21 and older. The bills now head to the governor for his approval, amendment, or veto.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court this week ruled in favor of a medical cannabis patient seeking worker’s compensation reimbursement for his medical cannabis related costs.
Also at the state level, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) said he would sign a legalization bill if it were sent to his desk, citing the potential mitigation of the opioid crisis and to “get rid of additional personal income tax.”
As Florida lawmakers consider imposing potency limits on medical cannabis, the state’s Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, is urging lawmakers to oppose these arbitrary caps on THC which will only hurt patients.
The South Dakota House of Representatives defeated a Senate-approved measure that would have facilitated the automatic removal of certain convictions from a background check record.
At the local level, members of the Las Vegas City Council voted unanimously to allow drive-thru marijuana dispensaries in the city.
Following are new legislative developments from the past 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 the NORML 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
President Biden was crystal clear on the campaign trail when he stated: “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.” Now, as President, he has the power to do just that.
Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Senate Bill 149 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $6,000, to a non-criminal violation punishable only by a maximum fine of $250.
Update: SB 149 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/3/21, and will head to the Senate floor next.
Legislation is pending to establish a medical marijuana access program for qualified patients with a physician’s recommendation to access medical marijuana from licensed retail outlets.
Senate Bill 46 would not allow patients to smoke herbal marijuana or vape, but would allow forms including pills, oils, lozenges patches, nebulizers and inhalers.
Update: Senate-approved SB 46 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on 3/10/21.
Legislation is pending that would restrict access to medical cannabis for many patients seeking relief from debilitating conditions.
House Bill 1566 would prohibit physicians from recommending medical cannabis to anyone suffering from a mental illness, including PTSD and Alzheimer’s, unless the physician is a board-certified psychiatrist or neurologist.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 311, to permit qualified patients the ability to access medical cannabis preparations while in health care facilities.
Update: SB 311 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Health Committee on 3/10/21.
Legislation is pending that would increase the amount of marijuana adults can legally possess as well as expand expungement eligibility for past marijuana convictions.
Under current state law, possession of between one and two ounces of marijuana is a petty offense punishable by a $100 fine.
House Bill 1090 would eliminate the penalty for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana.
The measure would also require the court to seal a conviction record, without opportunity for the district attorney to object, for a marijuana possession offense that is otherwise not sealed, if the person has not been convicted of a subsequent criminal offense since. The bill also allows a person who was convicted of a class 3 felony marijuana cultivation offense to petition to have their conviction record sealed.
Update: HB 1090 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on 3/9/21.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 111, which seeks to establish a social equity program in the office of economic development and international trade (OEDIT) to support entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry.
Update: SB 111 was approved by the House on 3/5/21, and now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1058, which seeks to promote social distancing in the marijuana industry by allowing telehealth and other services.
The bill permits a physician to treat, counsel, and conduct appropriate personal physical examinations, in person or remotely via telephone or video conference, to establish a bona fide physician-patient relationship with a patient seeking a medical marijuana card.
Update: HB 1058 was heard in the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee on 3/3/21.
Legislation is pending, HB 1455 / SB 1958, which seeks to impose numerous restrictions on Florida’s existing medical marijuana program, one of them being to arbitrarily limit the potency in medical marijuana products to 10 percent THC for smokeable products, and to 60 percent THC for all other product forms.
The measure would also reduce the patient purchase limit from a 70-day supply to a 35-day supply, and prohibit a qualified physician from issuing a medical marijuana recommendation to a minor patient, except for low-THC cannabis, and restrict the ability of doctors who specialize in medical cannabis from advertising their services to the public.
HR 281 was introduced, which would amend the state’s constitution to legalize use, possession and retail sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over. If approved by lawmakers, the measure would place a question on the ballot to be decided on by Georgia voters. The measure would also, if approved by lawmakers and then by voters, facilitate the expungement of certain past marijuana convictions.
Senate Bill 767 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.
Update: SB 767 was approved by the Committees on Judiciary and Ways and Means on 3/3/21 and now heads to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 758 would increase from 3 grams to 1 ounce: (1) the minimum amount of marijuana that a defendant must possess to be charged with a petty misdemeanor; and (2) the maximum amount of marijuana that a defendant convicted of possessing marijuana could have possessed without being disqualified from the subsequent expungement of the record of that conviction.
Update: SB 758 was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary on 3/2/21, and now heads to the Senate floor.
If passed, House Bill 477 would increase the allowable number of production and retail dispensary locations. It will also allow dispensaries to purchase medical cannabis from each other in order to ensure satisfactory patient access.
Senate Bill 241 would authorize qualifying patients and qualifying out-of-state patients to transport cannabis between islands of the State for personal medical use.
Update: HB 477 was approved by the House on 3/4/21, and will now be transmitted to the Senate. SB 241 was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary on 3/4/21.
SSB 1226 (now SF 533) would reduce the penalty for possession of up to three grams from a criminal misdemeanor to a simple misdemeanor, which can result in up to 30 days in jail and maximum $855 fine.
Update: SF 533 was approved by the Judiciary Committee on 3/3/21.
Legislation is pending to legalize marijuana in Maryland. Senate Bill 708 would allow adults to possess up to four ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
Update: SB 708 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on 3/4/21.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 884, would allow a visiting registered patient from another state to access medical cannabis while in Maryland.
Update: SB 884 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on 3/11/21.
House Bill 415, and House Bill 543 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: HB 415 and HB 543 are scheduled for a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on 3/10/21.
Legislation is pending to legalize marijuana for adults in Minnesota.
Senate File 757, companion to House Majority Leader Winkler’s HF 600, was introduced which 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 bill also includes expungement, on-site consumption, delivery, and social equity provisions.
Separate, similar legislation was also introduced to regulate adult use marijuana, House File 1511, allowing adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces and grow up to eight (up to four mature) marijuana plants.
Update: HF 600 was approved by the House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee on 3/3/21.
Legislation is pending to ease the restrictions on formulations of medical cannabis available for patients to use and purchase.
House File 813 / Senate Fil 803 would allow patients to inhale herbal, whole-plant medical cannabis.
Update: SF 803 was amended and incorporated into SF 1179, and approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. The measure, as amended, would also allow doctors to recommend cannabis as an alternative to opioids in addition to allowing patients to smoke herbal, whole-plant medical cannabis.
Legislation is pending, Senate File 1055 / House File 1284, which seeks to expand the qualifying conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment to include those with opioid-use disorders.
Update: SF 1055 was amended and incorporated into SF 1179, and approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. The measure, as amended, would also allow patients to inhale herbal, whole-plant medical cannabis in addition to allowing doctors to recommend cannabis as an alternative to opioids.
Senate Bill 357 mandates 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.”
Update: SB 357 was heard in the Senate Seniors, Families, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on 3/3/21.
House Bill 501 would prohibit the state government from sharing medical marijuana user or registry information with the federal government. If passed, any state official who violates this law would be committing a felony offense.
Update: HB 501 was heard in the House Downsizing State Government Committee on 3/3/21.
Legislation is pending, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders. Currently under state law, those under 21 can face up to 8 hours of drug education or counseling and a $100 fine for up to one ounce of marijuana possession.
House Bill 517 would remove these penalties for those between 18-20, and remove the fine for those under 18 caught in possession of any amount of marijuana.
Update: HB 517 was approved by the House on 3/2/21 and now heads to the Senate.
Senator Anna Wishart’s (D) legislation is pending to allow qualifying patients with certain debilitating conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis, with a doctor’s recommendation
If passed, LB 474 would allow registered patients to purchase and possess up to two and a half ounces of medical cannabis via licensed providers, with a doctor’s recommendation. The measure would prohibit home cultivation and smoking herbal cannabis.
Update: LB 474 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Judiciary Committee on 3/10/21.
Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 158, which seeks to revise penalties imposed on minors caught in possession of marijuana.
Currently in the state of Nevada, minors caught with up to one ounce of marijuana face a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in the county jail.
This bill would revise the current penalties to eliminate the possibility of jail time or a fine. The new penalty for a minor in possession of under one ounce of marijuana would be up to 100 hours of counseling or participation in support groups.
Update: AB 158 was heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on 3/3/21.
Legislation is pending to expand medical cannabis access.
House Bill 89 would add “moderate to severe insomnia” as a qualifying condition for eligibility for medical cannabis treatment.
House Bill 605 would add “moderate to severe insomnia” as well as “opioid use disorder” to the definition of qualifying medical condition.
The measure also would allow out-of-state residents qualified in other jurisdictions to purchase therapeutic cannabis at New Hampshire dispensaries, and allow patients and caregivers to cultivate up to 3 mature cannabis plants, 3 immature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings in private.
Update: HB 89 was approved by the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 3/2/21.
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 who possess more than two ounces must store it in a locked space. Under this measure, those convicted of an offense involving up to two ounces of marijuana possession would be eligible for automatic expungement after two years, those currently incarcerated for these offenses would be eligible for dismissal.
Senate Bill 363 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 who possess more than two ounces must store it in their residence. Under these measures, 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.
Senate Bill 288 would allow adults to legally possess and purchase up to two ounces of marijuana. This measure includes a two percent excise tax on retail sales, and would also allow licensed on-site consumption lounges.
Senate Bill 13 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.
Update: A Senate committee is scheduled to discuss marijuana legalization proposals on 3/9/21.
H5307 allows those who have previously been convicted of misdemeanors and felonies for possession of marijuana to have their conviction records automatically expunged at no cost.
H5307 was held in committee for further study, effectively killing it. However, two separate pieces of legislation are pending to permit those with past marijuana convictions to have their records expunged.
- Prohibit a cardholder’s positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites from constituting evidence that the person is under the influence of marijuana;
- Allows a person whose rights under this act have been violated to commence a civil action for injunctive and other appropriate equitable relief; and
- Strengthens protections prohibiting discrimination by schools, landlords, or employers because of lawful medical cannabis use.
After Governor Kristi Noem, along with legislative leaders, announced their plan to delay the implementation of Measure 26, House Bill 1100 was amended by lawmakers to reflect this plan.
HB 1100 was approved by the House already, and now is pending in the Senate. The compromise put forth by activists was rejected. As amended on the House floor, the bill would delay the implementation of Measure 26, with patient ID cards to be issued by May 2022.
Update: HB 1100 was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 3/1/21, and amended to ensure patients in possession of medical cannabis are protected from criminalization.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1203, that seeks to allow local banks and credit unions to service marijuana businesses.
Update: HB 1203 was approved by the Senate and now heads to the governor.
House Bill 208 and House Bill 239 to allow certain cancer patients to possess and use full extract cannabis oil that is intended to be ingested orally or used topically.
House Bill 666/Senate Bill 1493 would allow disabled veterans with quadriplegia to possess and use liquid extract cannabis if certain criteria met.
Update: HB 239 and HB 666 were scheduled for a public hearing in the Health Subcommittee on 3/2/21, but it was deferred until 3/9/21.
House Bill 621/Senate Bill 854 would allow qualifying patients to legally purchase, possess, and use medical cannabis from a licensed retail outlet, with a recommendation from a medical provider.
HB 490/SB 118 are pending, which would establish a medical cannabis commission to study laws and legislation regarding the medical use of cannabis and report findings and recommendations for future legislation on how to best establish an effective, patient-focused medical cannabis program in this state.
SB 667/HB 880 would request a study on the licensure and regulation of cannabis for medical use by departments of health and medical professional licensing boards in states contiguous to Tennessee and report findings to the general assembly’s health committees by December 15, 2021.
Update: SB 118 was referred from the Senate Government Operations Committee to the Judiciary Committee with a negative recommendation on 3/3/21. SB 854 was recommended for passage by the same committee, and now also heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 667 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Health And Welfare Committee on 3/10.
House Bill 489 / Senate Bill 153 would prohibit government agencies from taking adverse actions against certain individuals based on positive urine tests for THC at the level of 35 nanograms per milliliter or less.
The measures would also create a “rebuttable presumption” that it is not abuse for a parent or guardian to provide hemp products to a child, and prohibit a court from revoking a person’s bail, probation, or parole solely due to a positive drug test for THC.
Update: SB 153 was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/2/21.
Legislation is pending that would expand Utah’s medical cannabis program.
Senate Bill 170 would:
- Expand the pool of medical professionals who can recommend medical cannabis to patients, and
- Allow patients to access their medicine while their application is being reviewed, before they receive an ID card.
Senate Bill 192 would authorize DOH to issue an additional medical cannabis pharmacy license to dispense medical cannabis to patients in a specific geographic region.
Update: SB 192 was heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee on 3/2/21.
Two separate proposals are pending to regulate retail marijuana sales in Washington, DC.
The first was introduced by Mayor Bowser’s office: The Safe Cannabis Sales Act. This measure would tax marijuana sales at 17 percent, allow for the automatic expungement of certain past convictions, and use some revenue to reinvest in communities hit hardest by the drug war.
The other was introduced by Chairman Mendelson and other members of the DC Council, The Comprehensive Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Act. This measure would tax marijuana sales at 13 percent, facilitate the automatic expungement of certain past convictions, reserve half of all available business licenses for equity applicants, direct 80 percent of revenue toward community reinvestment and social equity programs, and includes protections for those under community supervision, those who rely on public benefits, parents and employees.
Legislation is pending to legalize and regulate the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults in Wyoming!
House Bill 209 would allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 6 mature plants at a time.
However, adults would be permitted to possess up to three ounces of marijuana in public and 16 ounces (if above 2.5 ounces, must be stored in locked area) and grow up to 12 mature plants in a private residence for personal use. The measure would tax marijuana retail sales at 30 percent.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more!