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MD Senate Approves Psychedelic Study Bill, Honduras Busts Another Coca Plantation, More... (3/19/24)

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UN anti-drug bureaucrats are wrapping up their annual meeting in Vienna, Montana lawmakers will finally get a chance to override a months-old veto of a marijuana revenues allocation bill, and more.

The lonesome road in Montana. Lawmakers will now get a chance to vote on how marijuana revenues should be spent. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Montana Supreme Court Clears Way for Override Vote on GOP Governor's Veto of Marijuana Spending Bill. The state Supreme Court last Friday ruled that Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) and his secretary of state must allow the legislature to vote on whether to override Gianforte's veto of a marijuana revenue allocation bill more than 10 months ago at the end of the 2023 legislative session.

After Gianforte and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen refused to allow the override vote, a district court ruled that they had "interrupted the political process in an impermissible way" by blocking a chance for lawmakers to override his veto of Senate Bill 442, which allocated most marijuana revenues to outdoor and wildlife land acquisition and highway improvements. Gianforte and his allies had wanted the revenues to go to law enforcement and the state general fund.

Gianforte and Jacobsen appealed that decision, but the state Supreme Court has now rejected their appeal. 

That means the governor will now have to send his veto message of the bill to Jacobsen, who has to send it to the legislature by today, clearing the way for an override vote. 


Maryland Senate Approves Psychedelic Task Force Bill to Study Equitable, Affordable Access to Psilocybin and DMT. The Senate has unanimously approved a bill that would create a task force to study a regulatory framework for substances such as psilocybin and DMT, Senate Bill 1009 from Sen. Brian Feldman (D). The task force would be tasked with "broad, equitable, and affordable access to psychedelic substances" in the state.

The bill would create a "Task Force on Responsible Use of Natural Psychedelic Substances" overseen by the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA). The task force would examine and make recommendations on issues such as "permitting requirements, including requirements regarding education and safety," "access to treatment and regulated support" and "production of natural psychedelic substances."

The bill also contains provisions on examining expungement of prior psychedelic convictions, the freeing of psychedelic prisoners, and a mandate to make recommendations on civil penalties for "nonviolent infractions involving the planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, or possessing of or other engagement with natural psychedelic substances."

A companion measure, House Bill 548, has already passed the House and most of it was amended into the Senate version of the bill, but the bill will now have to go back to the House for final approval. 


Commission on Narcotic Drugs Renews International Drug Policy Commitments at High-Level Segment in Vienna. The European Diplomatic Service reports that: "The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the UN’s main policy-making body on drugs, convened on 14-15 March 2024 a High-Level Segment ahead of its 67th regular session. This special segment gathered a number of high-level officials and heads of UN bodies to review the progress made in the implementation of the commitments set out in the Ministerial Declaration adopted by the Commission in 2019.

"European Commissioner for Home Affairs and Migration, Ms. Ylva Johansson, spoke on behalf of the EU and its Member States, and highlighted the importance of the recently published EU Roadmap to fight drug trafficking and organized crime and the establishment of the EU Drugs Agency in July 2024.

"A number of speakers drew attention to the emergence of highly agile drug trafficking networks, a record-high supply of certain drugs, and the significant lack of harm reduction services. "Drug challenges are evolving swiftly, as synthetics change the market, trafficking networks evolve their business model, and illicit markets overlap with conflict and instability," said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly. "The global response is at an important juncture, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs must use this milestone session to unite around balanced responses that safeguard our communities, promote public health, and uphold human rights."

"The Chair of the CND, Ambassador Philbert Johnson of Ghana, launched a ‘Pledge4Action’ initiative and, for the first time, 57 Member States and the EU made pledges on the challenges identified in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, committing to turn their drug policies into action. Making the first pledge, European Commissioner Johansson pledged 'for the European Union to increase its preparedness and capacity to react to future developments by empowering its European Union Drug Agency to carry out proactive threat assessments and to develop a rapid European drug alert system complementary to the already existing Early Warning System that will contribute to safeguarding public health and security.'

"During the ceremonial opening, a High-Level Declaration on the Mid-Term Review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration was adopted by consensus. EU Ambassador Carl Hallergård welcomed its adoption and "its emphasis on the need for new approaches to overcome persistent barriers in the next five years".  He also highlighted that the EU stands ready to pursue and strengthen cooperation and exchange between all relevant stakeholders, including Member States, UN entities, the academic and scientific community, civil society, and the private sector.

"On the margins of the High-Level Segment, European Commissioner Johansson met with UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia Luis Gilberto Murillo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador Ms. Gabriela Sommerfeld, and US White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta and Assistant Secretary of State Todd Robinson. Furthermore, discussions were held on an envisaged UNODC project aimed at creating a regional partnership to tackle drug use disorders and related harms in South Eastern Europe through a health- and human-rights centered response.

"During its regular session this week, the Commission will consider resolutions addressing rehabilitation and recovery management programs; improving the access to and availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes; preventing and responding to drug overdoses; and alternative development.

"The 67th regular session of the CND will end on 22 March 2024 in Vienna, Austria."

Hondurans Bust Another Coca Plantation. Coca planting, once restricted to South America's Andean region, is becoming normalized in the Central American country of Honduras. Authorities there announced Monday that they had busted yet another coca plantation and cocaine lab—at least the 29th coca or marijuana plantation raided this year, along with eight cocaine labs and "more than a million plants eradicated" so far. 

In the latest bust, the authorities noted that "In the operations aimed at combating drug trafficking that were carried out in Iriona Colón and Trinidad Santa Bárbara, three drug laboratories with chemical precursors for the production of coca paste were also seized."

The armed forces said eradication efforts are ongoing throughout the country and "special operations teams from the Army, Air Force, Naval Force and the PMOP [Military Police of Public Order] are carrying out security operations to locate more plantations in various sectors of the country."

Coca produced in Central America is thousands of miles nearer to the North American cocaine market than coca produced in South America. 

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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