No more pot smoking on the streets of Amsterdam's red light district, a bipartisan marijuana legalization bill gets filed in Ohio, and more.
Ohio Bipartisan Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed. Even as signature-gatherers are out pounding the streets for a final round of signatures to put a legalization initiative on the November ballot, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers have reintroduced their own legalization bill, the Ohio Adult Use Act. The act would legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana by people 21 and over and would set up a system of regulated marijuana sales with a retail tax of 10 percent.
Opiates and Opioids
House Approves HALT Fentanyl Act Making Broad Classes of Fentanyl Analogues Illegal. The Republican-led House on Thursday approved HR 467, the Halt All Lethal Trafficking (HALT) of Fentanyl Act. The bill's summary says: "This bill permanently places fentanyl-related substances as a class into schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act… Under the bill, offenses involving fentanyl-related substances are triggered by the same quantity thresholds and subject to the same penalties as offenses involving fentanyl analogues (e.g., offenses involving 100 grams or more trigger a 10-year mandatory minimum prison term). Additionally, the bill establishes a new, alternative registration process for schedule I research that is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Veterans Affairs or that is conducted under an investigative new drug exemption from the Food and Drug Administration."
The bill was strongly opposed by congressional progressives and a wide swathe of civil society organizations who worry that the Biden administration and congressional Democrats (74 House Democrats voted for the bill) are supporting crackdowns on drug users and sellers at the expense of public health efforts. The bill now goes to the Senate. The White House issued a statement saying it supports aspects of the bill such as permanent scheduling, but also wants to do more promote public safety. It has not threatened to veto the bill.
California Senate Approves Bill to Decriminalize Natural Psychedelics. The state Senate on Wednesday approved Senate Bill 58, which decriminalizes the possession of "certain hallucinogenic substances," including psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline. The bill also repeals laws banning the cultivation of "spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material which contain psilocybin or psilocyn."
Peyote is excluded from the list of decriminalized substances because, bill author Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) noted, the cactus is "nearly endangered" and should be reserved for spiritual use by members of the Native American Church.
The bill now heads to the Assembly. In 2021, Weiner introduced a similar bill that passed the Senate only to die without a floor vote in the Assembly.
Amsterdam Red Light District Street Pot Smoking Ban Goes into Effect. A municipal ban on smoking marijuana on the streets of Amsterdam's famous red light district went into effect Thursday. The area is known for its brothels, sex clubs, and cannabis cafes and attracts millions of tourists each year, but the traffic is viewed as a nuisance by many residents. The move is part of a push by Mayor Femke Halsema to "clean up" the area. People are still allowed to smoke pot in the cafes and on their terraces, but those caught smoking in the street will face 100 Euro ($110) fine.