Virginia Republicans are in no hurry to get a legal marijuana market going, a Missouri bill would legalize psilocbying for therapeutic purposes, and more.
Virginia House Committee Kills Watered Down GOP Marijuana Sales Bill. Marijuana is legal in the state, but there is nowhere to buy it, which some lawmakers say presents public safety concerns. Those concerns, however, were not enough for a watered down bill to allow for sales, House Bill 1464, to get any traction. It was defeated in a 5-2 party-line vote in the House Committee on General Laws. While a similar marijuana sales bill is still alive in the Senate, the House defeat is a strong sign that this year's legislative session will be another year of deadlock on the issue.
Missouri Bill Would Legalize Psilocybin for Therapeutic Purposes. For the second session in a row, Rep. Tony Lovasco (R) has filed a bill relating to "natural medicines," but after last year's bill, which would have legalized several natural psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, failed, this year he has sharpened his focus. House Bill 869, which was filed last month, calls for only for psilocybin to be legal and only for people with treatment-resistant depression or terminal illness, which would be administered by medical professionals. Even so, the bill does not appear to have much momentum. It has not been assigned to a committee, nor are any hearings scheduled.
Group of Lawmakers Ask Biden to Return Drug Czar to Cabinet Position. A bipartisan group of lawmakers called Thursday for President Biden to return the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP—the drug czar's office) to a Cabinet-level position. They cite rising overdose deaths and "constantly evolving" drug threats. The drug czar had been a Cabinet member from 1988, when the position was created, until 2009, when President Obama removed him. In their Thursday letter, the lawmakers noted that Biden was a leading proponent of the creation and expansion of the drug czar's office and that he had previously called for the drug czar to serve at the Cabinet level. The lawmakers, Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Reps. David Trone (D-MD) and Katie Porter (D-CA) called on Biden to restore the position and announce it during his State of the Union speech next week.
Colombia Ponders Legalizing "Mini-Crops" of Small Coca Farmers. The National Narcotics Council, which is charged with implementing and evaluating the National Drug Policy for the next decade, is considering a proposal to legalize small-scale coca farming. The move would be aimed at crops between six and 25 acres and seek to reduce the persecution of peasant producers for mixing illicit crops with their food crops. The government has already moved to reduce the forced eradication of coca crops from 125,000 acres to 45,000 acres. Police said they were unable to reach their 2022 goal because of blockades by grower communities that prevented the entry of eradicators.