This week’s update highlights important advancements of legislation in Maryland, New Hampshire, and Delaware, and additional important movements in Pennsylvania, Maine and other states.
NORML opposes SB749, which will make it easier for employees in “safety sensitive” occupations to be terminated and denied unemployment compensation if an employer makes a “good faith” determination that the employee is “impaired” by cannabis. The measure seeks to define “impairment” on the presence of THC metabolites in a person’s urine at levels of 15 ng/ml or above. The bill will allow such employers to force disclosure of medical cannabis patient status.
Update: SB 749 was heard in the Health and Human Services Committee and passed 7-4. It now advances to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 1167 seeks to legitimize banking practices for medical cannabis businesses and addresses the lack of insurance options for medical patients who rely on cannabis. It allows for licensed businesses to deduct certain business expenses in their state tax filings and it permits state credit unions to partner with cannabis businesses.
Update: Both chambers have passed this legislation and it now awaits the Governor’s action. .
House Bill 629 permits adults 21 and over to legally possess up to 3/4 ounce of marijuana and five grams of hashish, and to grow up to six marijuana plants (up to three mature, three immature). Statewide polling data shows that 68 percent of New Hampshire adults support “legalizing [the] possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal recreational use.”
UPDATE: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed HB 629. The legislation now heads to the Senate floor.
Legislation is currently pending in New Hampshire, House Bill 1598, to legalize the possession of cannabis by adults and to establish a system for retail sales. However, this legislation would only make cannabis available at retail at state-owned stores, which would greatly limit participation in the market and likely runs afoul of federal law.
Update: After passing the House, HB 1598 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on April 20th at 9am in Room 100.
LD 1957 seeks to end discriminatory hiring practices within the state-licensed cannabis industry. It does so by removing prohibitions in the law that currently prohibit employers from hiring those with criminal convictions for past drug offenses.
LD 1827 allows licensed retail stores in Maine to deliver marijuana products to adults located anywhere in the state, as long as the store operates solely as a retailer.
LD 1928 streamlines the state’s medical access program and further limits the actions that law enforcement can take against registered medical card-holders, among other actions. The measure also expands patients’ access to cannabis by allowing them to utilize telehealth plans and by authorizing registered caregivers to provide plants to qualified patients.
Update: All three of these measures have become law.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan agreed to let HB 837 become law without his signature. This is a complementary bill to House Bill 1, which asks voters: “Do you favor the legalization of adult–use cannabis in the State of Maryland?” House Bill 837 defines marijuana possession limits and facilitates the automatic review and expungement of past criminal records. If voters approved the referendum question, lawmakers would still need to enact additional legislation next session to establish rules and regulations governing a legally regulated cannabis marketplace.
To stay informed on legalization efforts and more in Maryland, follow Maryland NORML on Facebook.
After members of the House failed to advance HB 305 by just two votes, new legislation has been filed by Rep. Ed Osienski to legalize adult-use cannabis.
House Bill 371 legalizes the possession of cannabis by adults age 21 and older. The bill removes all criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults. Possession above this limit and/or the public consumption of marijuana would be classified as a misdemeanor. This legislation would also allow for adults to transfer cannabis among themselves within the possession limits and without remuneration.
Update: HB 371 passed the Health & Human Development Committee. It now heads to the House floor.
House Bill 372, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, seeks to establish a regulated, adult-use cannabis market in the state. The bill would tax and regulate marijuana products in a similar manner to alcohol.
Update: HB 372 passed the Revenue & Finance Committee. It now heads to the House floor.