OR Decrim In Effect, Senate Leadership Marijuana Legalization Plan, More...(2/1/21)

Oregon becomes the first state to implement drug decriminalization, Virginia marijuana legalization bills are moving, a New Jersey bill could help break the marijuana legalization impasse there, and more.

Drug arrests are expected to drop by more than 90% after decriminalization went into effect today in Oregon. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Senate Leadership Coalition Announces Intention to Release Comprehensive Legislation to End Marijuana Prohibition. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday (D-NY) issued a joint statement declaring their intention to release a draft discussion bill outlining how best to legalize and regulate cannabis and cannabis commerce in a post-prohibition America. "The War on Drugs has been a war on people -- particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs," the senators said. "We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority. In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations. Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation."

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) filed a marijuana legalization bill, HF 600, on Monday. "This bill is ready to go from the Minnesota House," Winkler said at a press conference. "Our priorities are to end the black market" and provide a "safe, regulated marketplace." The bill includes social equity components, expungement of marijuana arrest records, on-site consumption, delivery services, and a ban on local prohibitions. It also allows for the home cultivation of up to eight plants, up to four of which can be flowering.

New Jersey Assembly Committee Approves Bill on Teen Pot Possession. The Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee last Friday approved A5342, which sets penalties for minors caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana. Disagreements between Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and key legislators on the issue have delayed final passage of marijuana decriminalization and legalization implementation bills that passed weeks ago. It is hoped that once the bill passes, those measures can now get the governor's signature.

Virginia Marijuana Legalization Bills Moving Fast as Deadline Approaches. The House version of the marijuana legalization bill, HB 2312, passed out of the House Courts of Justice Committee on Sunday and now heads to the House Appropriations Committee. If approved there, it would then head for a House floor vote. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved the Senate version of the bill, SB 1406. It now heads to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee and, if passed there, to a Senate floor vote. Since last Friday, the bills have passed through a total of five committees and subcommittees.

Drug Policy

Oregon Drug Decriminalization Goes into Effect. A drug decriminalization initiative approved by voters in November went into effect effective Monday. Now, possession of small amounts of illicit substances is punishable only as a citation with a fine. The fine can be avoided by undergoing a chemical dependency assessment. Possession of less than a gram of MDMA or heroin, two grams of meth or cocaine, 12 grams of psilocybin, and 40 units of LSD, methadone, or oxycodone, is now decriminalized. The measure also includes funding for increased drug treatment access.

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