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NJ Legal MJ Implementation Bill Advances, MS Health Dept Joins Lawsuit to Block MedMJ, More... (12/15/20)

Medical marijuana bills are coming in Kentucky and South Carolina, a bill to implement voter-approved marijuana legalization in New Jersey is advancing, and more.

Medical marijuana bills are coming next year in Kentucky and South Carolina. (Wikimedia)
Marijuana Policy

New Jersey Legal Marijuana Implementation Bill Advances. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved S21, a bill designed to set up the legal recreational marijuana market approved by voters in November, on Monday. The bill now heads for a Senate floor vote. Companion legislation in the Assembly is also expected to advance this week. The bill would send 70% of marijuana sales tax proceeds and 100% of proceeds from a new excise tax to communities most severely impacted by marijuana prohibition.

Medical Marijuana

Kentucky Lawmaker to Reintroduce Medical Marijuana Bill. State Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville) has said he will reintroduce a medical marijuana bill that passed the House this year but failed to get action in the Senate because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "The support in the House will be even stronger than it was last year," Nemes said. "We have replaced a number of 'no' votes with 'yes' votes in the Republican caucus due to retirement and defeating Democrats, so we will be stronger in the House. The whole question is what the Senate will do."

Mississippi Health Department Joins Lawsuit Against Medical Marijuana Initiative. The state Department of Health filed a friend of the court brief Monday in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the will of voters who resounding approved a medical marijuana initiative in November. The agency argued that it shouldn't have to perform the "Herculean feat" of creating a medical marijuana program in just the seven months mandated by the initiative. But the brief goes further, also arguing that citizens have no inherent right to amend the state constitution. And it argues that the initiative violates the state constitution because it contains multiple subjects, including taxation, changing the criminal code, and zoning issues. No indication yet on when the court may rule.

South Carolina Lawmakers Pre-File Bills to Legalize Medical Cannabis. Lawmakers in both the state House and Senate have pre-filed medical marijuana legalization bills, H 3361 and S 150, respectively. The bills are both titled the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. The bills are identical to legislation considered during the 2019 session, but not filed this year during a legislative session shortened by the pandemic.

Drug Policy

Activists Call on President-Elect Biden to Abolish the Drug Czar's Office. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is calling on the incoming president to abolish the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office). "The ONDCP represents a bygone era," the group said in a blog post announcing a letter campaign to that end. "Today, most Americans now agree that the adult use of marijuana ought to be legal, and the majority of states have legalized the substance for either medical or recreational use. There is no longer any legitimate need for the Drug Czar's office or for a Drug Czar." NORML also called for the White House to not appoint former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-MA), a foe of marijuana legalization, as drug czar. There is a letter than you can sign at the link.

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