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NY Medicinal Psilocybin Bill Filed, NH Marijuana Legalization Bill Amended Again, More... (5/22/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on

Alaska lawmakers have approved a bill that would increase workplace saliva drug testing, a South Dakota marijuana legalization initiative appears poised to appear on the November ballot, and more.

South Dakota's Badlands. The state may not be such a bad land for pot smokers after November. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

New Hampshire Marijuana Legalization Bill Wins Senate Committee Vote but with Amendments Added. The marijuana legalization bill passed by the House, House Bill 1633, continues to mutate in the Senate, adding to concerns that the House will not accept those changes and the state will remain the only one in New England still enforcing marijuana prohibition.

The Senate had already approved the bill with amendments once but then sent it back to the Senate Finance Committee for review, with more amendments from Senate President Jeb Bradley (R) added in. Bradley said he opposes the legalization bill but "feels an obligation to try to make it better."

The measure will now go back to the full Senate for another vote before being sent back to the House for a concurrence vote. But House members had already signaled their opposition to changes in the Senate -- and that was before even more changes were made in the Senate Finance Committee.

The amendments accepted in committee included one halving the amount of marijuana adults could possess from four ounces to two, one delaying the legalization of possession until the legal market is up and running, and one that would increase the penalties for selling marijuana to minors.

South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative Appears Set to Appear on November Ballot. The marijuana legalization initiative from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws appears set to qualify for the November ballot after organizers handed in more than 29,000 raw voter signatures earlier this month.

To qualify, the measure needs only 17,508 valid voter signatures, and the common heuristic is that campaigns want to have at least 30 percent more raw signatures than needed to account for raw signatures found to be invalid. This campaign has more like 60 percent more signatures than needed, a very comfortable margin, indeed.

This will mark the third time the issue has gone before the voters. Legalization was approved at the ballot box in 2020, only to be thrown out by the state Supreme Court at the behest of Gov. Kristi Noem (R). Voters then rejected a legalization initiative in 2022.

This year's initiative is very bare bones, only legalizing the possession of up to two ounces and up to six plants by people 21 and over. There is no language regarding legal marijuana commerce, which would be left up to the legislature.


New York Bill Would Legalize Magic Mushrooms for Medicinal Purposes. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Bronx) has filed a bill that would allow for the cultivation and regulated use of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms, to treat certain specified medical conditions, Assembly Bill 10375. The bill is now before the Assembly Health Committee.

Conditions eligible for psilocybin treatment include anxiety, cancer, depression, and PTSD.

"The [Health] department shall be responsible for regulating the adult use of psilocybin with a permit, cultivation licenses and licensed cultivator operation requirements, certification of support services providers, and other authorized and related programs," the bill says. "The department shall create a reporting program to allow permit holders the optional opportunity to identify health and experience data in connection with adult use of psilocybin, including on health conditions."

Drug Testing

Alaska Lawmakers Pass Bill Letting Employers Use Saliva Testing for Drugs and Alcohol. On the last day of the legislative session Tuesday, lawmakers gave final approval to Senate Bill 196, which adds saliva testing to the state's "safe harbor" laws for drug and alcohol testing by employers. That means more employers in the state are likely to turn to saliva testing.

Saliva tests can detect recent drug use, while hair tests detect use weeks or months in the past, but not current impairment. Similarly, urine tests can detect the presence of marijuana metabolites for days or weeks after use, again not necessarily indicating impairment.

The state's "safe harbor" laws shield companies from legal claims related to drug or alcohol testing but were written before saliva testing was common, so it was not included.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jesse Bjorkman (R-Nikiski) said he filed it after the Alaska Power Association, an industry group for local electric companies, requested it.

"I think ultimately, it is a time- and money-saver for industry, and it also gets drug testing out of the way for employees in a way that's less invasive," he said. "I think that's good. As long as people aren't doing drugs or drinking when and where they shouldn't be, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about."

The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R).

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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