Senate SAFE Banking Act Refiled, Vancouver Island Drug Checking Storefront Opens, More... (3/24/21)

New York legislative leaders say they're almost ready to file a marijuana legalization bill as the clock ticks down, South Dakota's governor is proposing marijuana decriminalization as part of a plan to lower the number of plants medical marijuana patients can grow, and more.

Marijuana is on the agenda at statehouses around the country. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

SAFE Banking Act Refiled in Senate With 29 Cosponsors. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) have reintroduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would provide protections to financial institutions doing business with state-legal marijuana enterprises. A companion bill was filed in the House last week. The bill passed the House last year only to die in the Republican-controlled Senate. But the Democrats are in control this year.

Maryland Marijuana Legalization Bill Dies. The push to legalize marijuana this year has ended after legislation that would have done so died on Monday. That was the date of a legislative deadline for bills to have passed in at least one chamber.

New York Marijuana Legalization Bill "Really Close" After Lawmakers Reach Agreement on Key Issues. Lawmakers expect to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in the next few days after they said they had reached agreement on issues around impaired driving and home cultivation. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-New York City) said the bill was "really close" and legislative aides were working on final language. Any bill introduced now must "age" for three days before being considered, but Stewart-Cousins said it should be approved before the end of the month.

South Dakota Governor Proposes Marijuana Decriminalization. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is proposing marijuana decriminalization as part of a bill that would also limit the number of plants medical marijuana patients could grow. Up to an ounce would be decriminalized, but a second offense would be a misdemeanor. State voters approved marijuana legalization in November, but Noem has sponsored court challenges that have found it unconstitutional. A final decision is up to the state Supreme Court.

Wyoming Marijuana Legalization Bill Dies. A bill that would have legalized marijuana in the Cowboy State, House Bill 209, has died after it failed to meet a Monday legislative deadline for further consideration. The bill had been advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee, but never got a vote on the House floor.

Medical Marijuana

Tennessee Medical Marijuana Bill Dies. A bill that would have legalized medical marijuana in the state had died after it failed to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The measure, SB0854/HB0621, would have created a full-fledged medical marijuana system in the state.

International

Canada's Victoria Opens Free Drug Checking Site. A free drug checking site has opened in Victoria's North Park neighborhood to provide anonymous drug testing to anyone who requests it. The storefront site is part of a harm reduction effort run by the Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project, which is headed by researchers from the University of Victoria. "People can bring any sample to us and we're able to try to test that sample and give people as much information as possible," explained Bruce Wallace. "We can be able to detect fentanyl and report on some of the ingredients that might be more linked to overdose, but it's also around creating a respectful, non-stigmatizing area," Wallace said.

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