The Florida legislature meddles with foreign policy, Wisconsin Republicans remain in search of agreement on advancing medical marijuana, and more.
Wisconsin Republicans Appear to Be at Impasse over Medical Marijuana Plan. Prospects for legalizing medical marijuana dimmed this week after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said Tuesday he would not compromise with Senate Republicans who oppose his proposal to create state-run dispensaries.
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) said last week that the state-run dispensaries were "a non-starter."
But Vos countered that "months and months of negotiation" had resulted in a "very detailed bill" that has the votes to pass among Republicans.
"Taking and renegotiating the bill means we probably lose votes in our caucus," Vos said. "So I'd rather get us through to keep the promise we made, which is to have a comprehensive bill that can actually become law as opposed to an ethereal idea that maybe somebody could support someday but it never actually makes it anywhere."
Vos's bill is highly restrictive. It limits medical marijuana to people with a specified list of qualifying conditions, does not allow the use of smokeable marijuana, and would limit the number of dispensaries to five.
Wisconsin is one of only a dozen states that have yet to legalize medical marijuana.
[Editor: It would be useful for the study of cannabis business and regulation to be able to observe an actual state-run system. But would a state-run cannabis system survive court challenges? A state running a federally illegal enterprise is different from states establishing through regulation what is considered legal under state law. The federal budget rider prohibiting DOJ interference in state medical marijuana systems might not help, since other parties besides DOJ could bring a court action.]
New Jersey Bill Would Legalize Magic Mushrooms. The man who first pressed for marijuana legalization in the state legislature, Senate President Nick Scutari (D), is now leading the way on the legalization of psilocybin-bearing magic mushrooms. He and three cosponsors, including GOP Sen. Holly Schepisi, have filed a bill to do just that, Senate Bill 2283.
A similar bill was pulled for revisions last year, but now it is back and while the language in the bill, called the "Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act," is centered around mental health, it decriminalizes the use of psilocybin by anyone 21 or older and expunges past and pending offenses involving the drug. Adults could "possess, store, use, ingest, inhale, process, transport" four grams or less of psilocybin.
The bill also creates a framework for how psilocybin would be regulated, with the Department of Health issuing licenses for producers, testing laboratories, and "service centers" where psilocybin could be consumed therapeutically. Those service centers would have to offer a "preparation session" for initial screening of patients and an "administration session" where an employee remains with the patient after he takes psilocybin.
The bill, which was introduced last week, is now before the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
Florida Senate Committee Clears Proposal to Name Drug Cartels Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security on Tuesday passed a memorial calling for drug cartels be designated as foreign terrorist organizations. The measure is Senate Memorial 1020.
The memorial does not have the power of law but instead would urge the US Secretary of State to designate drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
"As we're faced with escalating threats posed by drug cartels, the United States finds itself at a critical juncture where bold measures must be taken to protect our security," Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R) told the committee. "Drug cartels have claimed responsibility for the armed abduction and killing of Americans unapologetically," Ingoglia continued. "The cartels have been responsible for the smuggling, sexual exploitation, and abuse of men, women and children."
The bill passed out of committee on a 4-0 vote. It is now before the Senate Rules Committee.
Designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations has been a popular tack lately among Republicans frustrated with the situation on the border and record high levels of deadly drug overdoses, but it is unclear just what difference such a designation would make.