Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
Montana lawmakers approved legislation this week to amend the state’s voter-approved adult use marijuana legalization law, sending the measure to Republican Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk.
The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in litigation challenging the state’s voter-approved adult use marijuana legalization law. A lower court already ruled the measure is unconstitutional.
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
In a bipartisan vote of 321-101, members of the US House of Representatives this week approved HR 1996, The SAFE Banking Act, which would create a legal safe harbor for financial institutions to engage in business relationships with state-licensed and regulated cannabis companies.
Senate-approved 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 prohibits patients from accessing medical cannabis in forms such as smoking herbal marijuana, vaping, and baked goods, but would allow forms including pills, oils, lozenges, patches.
Update: SB 46 could come to the floor of the House for a vote as soon as next week, according to House Speaker McCutcheon.
Legislation is pending to expand the medical use of marijuana for dogs, cats and other pets in California.
Assembly Bill 384 would require new guidelines for veterinarians to follow when recommending medical cannabis treatment to any animal (excluding livestock).
Update: AB 384 was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 4/28/21.
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.
Update: HB 1090 was approved by the Senate on 4/28/21, and now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Multiple pieces of legislation are pending to legalize and regulate adult-use marijuana in Louisiana.
Rep. Newell’s House Bill 637 would legalize and regulate adult use cannabis sales with a focus on a social equity licensing structure that would reduce barriers of entry into the industry for communities most harmed by prohibition.
Separately, House Bill 243 would remove penalties for marijuana possession and distribution, but only if lawmakers approve separate legislation to regulate production and retail sales.
House Bill 699 would also legalize and regulate marijuana, allowing adults to legally possess up to two pounds of marijuana, and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
Update: HB 243 and HB 699 were approved by the House Committee on Criminal Justice on 4/27/21. HB 637 was scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture on 4/29/21, but it was removed from the agenda and recommitted to the House Criminal Justice Committee.
Legislation is pending which seeks to reduce penalties for the low-level possession of marijuana.
House Bill 652 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana from up to 15 days in jail and a maximum $300 fine, to a $50 fine only.
Update: HB 652 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Criminal Justice on 5/4/21.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 391, which would repeal the prohibition on physicians recommending medical marijuana for “inhalation” and in “raw or crude” form.
It also allows dispensaries to dispense two and a half ounces of marijuana per 14 day period.
Update: HB 391 is scheduled for consideration on the House floor on 5/3/21.
House Majority Leader Winkler’s House File 600 would legalize and regulate marijuana, allowing 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.
Update: HF 600 was approved the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee on 4/26/21, with an anticipated vote on the House floor next month.
Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 158, which seeks to revise penalties imposed on minors caught in possession of marijuana for first-time offenders.
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 on the first offense. The penalty under this measure for a minor in possession of under one ounce of marijuana, or who falsely represents themselves to be 21 years of age or older to obtain cannabis, would be up to 100 hours of counseling or participation in support groups.
Update: AB 158 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/29/21.
House Bill 89 would add “moderate to severe insomnia” and “autism spectrum disorder” as qualifying conditions for eligibility for medical cannabis treatment.
House Bill 605 would add “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.
Update: HB 605 was unanimously approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 4/28/21. HB 89 was approved by the Senate on 4/29.
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.
Update: SB 307 was approved by the Senate on 4/26/21, and now heads to the House.
Legislation is pending 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.”
Update: HB 2519 was heard in the Senate Labor and Business Committee on 4/29/21.
Governor McKee (D) introduced an adult use legalization plan via his state budget proposal. Under this measure, adults would also be permitted to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, but would not be allowed to grow it at home.
Update: The Gov’s proposal was heard in the House Finance Committee on 4/29/21.
H5452 would allow those with misdemeanor or felony marijuana convictions to get their records expunged at no cost. This bill would also reduce barriers of entry into the medical cannabis industry by establishing a loan program for those who have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition.
Update: H5452 was heard in the House Finance Committee on 4/29/21.
- Allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis to any patient whom they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use;
- Provide discounted medicine to patients who demonstrate financial hardship;
- Remove the requirement of plant tags and increase the possession limit for home grown medical cannabis;
- Allow nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis;
- Prohibit government agencies from discriminating against patients for lawful medical cannabis use;
- Remove the prohibition on those with past criminal convictions from participating in the industry; and
- Remove the limit on number of retail outlets and reduce application fees for business licenses
Update: H5453 was heard in the House Finance Committee on 4/29/21. The committee recommended the measure be held for further study, effectively killing the bill.
HB 490/SB 118 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.
This legislation is specifically problematic because it mandates that “licenses for such a program shall not be issued, or authorized to be issued, until marijuana is removed from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act.”
Update: SB 118 was scheduled for consideration in the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on 4/27/21, but was deferred until 5/3.
HB 1535 which would add Cancer, Chronic Pain, and PTSD for Veterans while allowing the Department of State Health Services to add new qualifying conditions through their administrative rule-making process. HB 1535 would also raise the THC cap to 5% and create “Institutional Review Boards” which will facilitate research and track the impact of medical cannabis on patients participating in the program.
Update: HB 1535 was approved by the House of Representatives on 4/29/21. The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
HB 2593 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to two ounces of THC concentrates from a felony to a Class B misdemeanor, which could still carry jail time.
House Bill 441 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a class B misdemeanor, punishable by large fines and potential jail time, to a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine only and no possibility of jail time. HB 441 would also establish a process for expunging past records.
Update: HB 2593 and HB 441 were approved by the House of Representatives this week. Both measures now head to the Senate for further consideration.