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CA Governor Vetoes Naloxone Insurance Bill, Idaho Governor Signs Fentanyl Mandatory Minimums, Bill... (2/26/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1206)

The New Hampshire House (once again) approves a marijuana legalization bill, a psilocybin decriminalization bill gets filed in Connecticut, and more.

Marijuana Policy

New Hampshire House Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House last Thursday approved a marijuana legalization bill, House Bill 1633. The vote was 239-14.

The House floor vote took place after the bill was amended by its sponsor, Rep. Erica Layon (R) in the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee. She said the changes were made to assuage the concerns of some members of the Senate.

"It's a compromise," Layon said. "Every single person in a seat here can find a reason to vote against the amendment and vote against the bill. But the question is, do we have a net benefit to the state by passing this? I believe we do."

The bill would legalize the possession of up to four ounces for people 21 and over but does not have a home cultivation provision. It would also set up a system of tightly regulated commercial marijuana sales via no more than 15 retail outlets.

The House has repeatedly passed legalization bills in recent years, only to see them die in the Senate. And Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has long opposed legalization, although this year he expressed openness toward a model with state-run dispensaries. This bill does not have those.


Connecticut Bill Would Decriminalize Psilocybin. A new bill from the Joint Judiciary Committee and cosponsored by Rep. David Michel (D), House Bill 5297. The bill would make possession of up to a half-ounce of psilocybin a punishable by no more than a $150 fine -- and no possible jail time.

Second offenders could be fined from $200 to $500, and anyone who pleads guilty twice or more would face a referral to a drug treatment program. Possession of more than a half-ounce would be a Class A misdemeanor.

Similar legislation passed the House last year but died in the Senate. And it is not clear that Gov. Ned Lamont (D) is on board, either.

"The governor has concerns about broad decriminalization of mushrooms,"said spokesperson David Bednarz.

The bill is now before the Joint Judiciary Committee.

Drug Policy

Idaho Governor Signs Fentanyl Mandatory Minimums Bill into Law. Gov. Brad Little (R) on Monday signed into law a bill creating mandatory minimum sentences for some fentanyl offenses, House Bill 406.

The bill would mandate a three-year mandatory minimum for trafficking between four and 13 grams of fentanyl, five years for 14 to 27 grams, and 10 years for more than 28 grams or 500 pills. It also includes a provision allowing prosecutors to seek a charge of drug-induced homicide if a dealer supplies fentanyl that results in a fatal overdose.

The state already has mandatory minimums for other drugs, and bill sponsors argued that fentanyl mandatory minimums were necessary to ensure the state held true to tough-on-crime policies.

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, said during the House debate she felt "torn" on the bill.

"We all want to stop fentanyl," said Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard. "The problems that I see with the bill are all the unintended consequences of putting people in prison and the emotional strain on families and the grandparents that call me with their children in prison."

Harm Reduction

California Governor Vetoes Naloxone Cost Reduction Bill. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has refused to sign legislation that would have required insurers in the state to cover the cost of over-the-counter naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1060, passed out the legislature on unanimous votes, but Newsom was unmoved.

"While I support providing access to opioid antagonists to individuals with opioid use disorder or other risk factors, this bill would exceed the state's set of essential health benefits, which are established by the state's benchmark plan under the provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act," he said in a veto message. "[The legislation] would not only increase ongoing state General Fund costs, but it would set a new precedent by adding requirements that exceed the benchmark plan."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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