State Policy Update (1/14/2022)

Here is NORML’s weekly update on pending state legislation.

Also check out our recent update on pending state ballot initiatives and referendums. 

Wisconsin

Multiple bills to reduce the penalties for cannabis possession are pending in Wisconsin. Under current Wisconsin law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Assembly Bill 812 reduces the penalties for the possession of 14 grams of marijuana or less to a $100 civil penalty. The bill also eliminates counting, for the purposes of determining if a person is a repeat offender, a criminal offense of marijuana possession involving 28 grams or less. The bill also reduces the penalty to a civil fine of not more than $10 for using or possessing drug paraphernalia that relates to marijuana consumption.

Senate Bill 164 / Assembly Bill 130 seek to reduce the penalty for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana to a $100 civil fine and eliminate jail time, as well as the increase in penalty if second or subsequent violations involve up to 10 grams of marijuana.

Senate Bill 790 reduces the penalty for possessing up to 14 grams of marijuana to a $100 civil fine, and eliminates jail time, as well as the increase in penalty if second or subsequent violations involve up to 14 grams of marijuana.

Send a message to your legislator in support of this effort.

West Virginia

Two bills have been filed that seek to improve medical cannabis access in West Virginia. HB 2534 allows for medical cannabis patients to possess and combust cannabis flowers. (Current law permits vaporization but not smoking.) HB 2550 allows patients to home-cultivate up to ten plants (with a maximum of five mature) for their own use.

Send a message to your legislator in support of this effort. 

Legislation has also been filed to legalize cannabis for adults. Under state law, the possession of any amount of marijuana in West Virginia is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in prison.

House Bill 2291 and Senate Bill 649 seek to legalize the personal use and possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults, and to authorize localities to engage in retail sales.

Separately, House Bill 2912 is also pending. It seeks to legalize and regulate adult use marijuana sales via state-run retail outlets. Under this measure, adults would be permitted to purchase up to two pounds of marijuana at a time and to grow up to three plants for personal use.

Send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

Legislation has also been filed to protect marijuana consumers from employment discrimination. 

House Bill 2517 would remove marijuana from the screening requirements of the West Virginia Alcohol and Drug-Free Workplace Act.

Send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

Legislation has also been filed to amend penalties for those caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 2060 seeks to reduce the penalty for personal possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana to a fine of $500 and a maximum sentence of 72 hours in a detention facility. 

Senate Bill 85 seeks to reduce the penalty for personal possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana to a fine of no more than $25.

Send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

NORML opposes the following bill. House Bill 3205, seeks to scale back employment protections for registered medical cannabis patients. The measure also prohibits employees from taking action against an employer for discrimination or wrongful discharge based on medical cannabis use.

Send a message to your lawmakers in opposition to this effort.

South Carolina

Update: HB 150 will likely be debated in the Senate next week. 

S. 150: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, allows qualifying patients to use, purchase, and possess medical cannabis with a physician’s recommendation. While opponents of medical cannabis access have said they will do everything they can to block the bill from receiving the consideration it deserves, Sen. Tom Davis, the bill’s sponsor, is prepared to fight back.

“We’re going to get this bill passed,” said Sen. Davis (R) at a press conference this week. “And if there are some up on the Senate floor that are still in this reefer madness, drug war mentality and block and stand in the way of this bill, I will exercise my rights as a senator to respond in kind to every single other bill on this calendar.”

Send a message to your senators in support of medical cannabis access.

Mississippi

On November 3, 2020, the majority of Mississippi voters decided in favor of a citizens’ initiative providing comprehensive patient access to medical cannabis. Subsequently, however, the state Supreme Court nullified the vote and the ability of citizens to engage in any future citizen initiatives.

The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (SB 2095), sponsored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell, seeks to restore voters’ will by creating a medical cannabis access program. It attempts to create a middle ground between the extremely restrictive approach preferred by some legislators and by the Governor favor with voters’ strong preference for a broad measure.

Unlike Initiative 65, SB 2095 would force pain patients to try opiates and other risky treatments before cannabis. It also includes continuing medical education requirements for certifying practitioners, which will likely depress physicians’ participation in the program, and other restrictive provisions – including excessive taxation. However, in many other important ways — including by allowing raw cannabis and not capping business licenses — SB 2095 is consistent with the intent of Initiative 65. Here are key provisions of SB 2095.

Send a message supporting this legislation.

Kentucky 

Legislation has been filed to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults in Kentucky. Currently under state law, possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 45 days in prison and a fine of $250.

HB 225 would place the legalization question before voters. If passed by voters, it would guarantee the right of an individual 21 years of age or older to possess, use, buy or sell one ounce or less of cannabis and to cultivate, harvest, and store up to five cannabis plants for personal use; and for the production, processing, and sale of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. 

Send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

Indiana

Legislation has been filed to legalize and regulate marijuana in Indiana.

SB 324 legalizes marijuana purchases of up to one ounce per day for those 21 years of age and older. 

HB 1311 / SB 414 would legalize marijuana purchases of up to four ounces per day for those 21 years of age and older with the option for delivery. The bill also permits for the home cultivation of four plants.

Send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

Georgia

Legislation is pending, House Bill 117, to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law. The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible to receive an authorization for CBD therapy to include those with ulcerative colitis.

Send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

Florida

Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 957 reduces the penalties for the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor, currently punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, to a noncriminal civil violation, punishable by a $100 fine or community service.

House Bill 1232 would decriminalize activities involving the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana.

Send a letter to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

In addition, a package of bills is pending to permit the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults. According to statewide polling data, 65 percent of Florida voters believe that marijuana should be legal in the state for recreational purposes.

House Bill 549 and House Bill 467 allow for the personal possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and for the home cultivation of up to six plants. House Bill 551 establishes regulations for business licensing.

Senate Bill 776 seeks to allow adults to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time, and to possess up to four ounces. The measure also facilitates the expungement of past criminal records for cannabis-related offenses. 

Senate Bill 1696 allows adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and permits for the personal home cultivation of up to six plants. It also establishes regulation for the establishment of licensed businesses that would be permitted to allow for cannabis consumption on their premises.  

Senate Bill 1884 also allows adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and permits personal home cultivation of up to six plants. Additionally, it allows the licensing of “Adult Use Cultivation Centers,” “Adult Use Dispensing Organizations,” and recognizes a “Cannabis Business Establishment” as a cultivation center, craft grower, processing organization, dispensing organization, and transportation organization.

Send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

Delaware

HB 305 – Delaware’s freshly revised adult-use legalization bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ed Osienski. 

After a slew of amendments were introduced days before the scheduled vote on HB150 last June, Prime Sponsor Rep. Osienski was forced to pull the bill from the House agenda. HB305 now incorporates several of these bi-partisan amendments, including provisions provided for the establishment of a Justice Reinvestment Fund. 

If enacted, the Fund will allocate resources back to communities that have been over-enforced and disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. 

Send a message to your lawmakers and let them know you want them to vote ‘Yes’ on HB305 and PRIORITIZE this common sense policy.

Alaska

HB 246 would seal the records of those low-level crimes from nine certain types of criminal history background checks. People with otherwise clean records do not deserve to have the rest of their lives  derailed because of a past marijuana conviction that would no longer be prosecuted today.

Send your state legislators an email asking them to support this bill.


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