VT Senate Approves Safe Injection Site Bill, CT House Approves Bill to Regulate Cannabis Products, More... (5/3/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1211)
Consequences of Prohibition

A Republican US senator from Tennessee engages in some Reefer Madness, a safe injection site in Burlington, Vermont, is one step closer to happening, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Republican Senator Reveals Neanderthal Views on Marijuana Reform. Sen. Bill Hagerty, a Tennessee Republican, recently revealed views on marijuana reform that come straight from the era of Reefer Madness. He called marijuana a "gateway drug," a theory that has long been discredited. And he said that Democrats' moves to legalize marijuana reflect "pro-criminal, anti-American policies."

"What the Joe Biden administration -- what Leader Schumer -- is trying to do is basically stimulate more crime on American streets," Hagerty said. "Here we have Chuck Schumer basically lowering the barriers for gateway drugs like marijuana, and it's going to damage society, and this is exactly what Democrats have been pushing. This is not good for America."

The push for marijuana legalization is an effort to "incentivize more drug usage in America," he said. "We need to be constraining drug usage, not encouraging it."

As for the SAFER Banking Act, Hagerty claimed it "facilitates an entire infrastructure, an ecosystem, for more drug usage in America."

"We need to be constraining drug usage, not encouraging it," he said.

He also called Biden administration marijuana reform efforts "obscene" as he accused it of engaging with reform for "completely political reasons."

He also does not favor any regulation of the industry even where it is legal. "I don't think we should be doing anything to facilitate an ecosystem of drug abuse," he said. "That's precisely what's going on."

Interestingly, Hagerty and his GOP colleagues seem to understand the consequences of prohibition. They opposed a proposed ban on menthol cigarettes, saying it would empower international criminal organizations to take advantage of the illicit market that would emerge.

Connecticut House Approves Bill to Regulate the Sale of Cannabis Products. The House on Tuesday approved a bill to regulate the sale of hemp products containing THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, House Bill 5150. The measure passed on a vote of 130-16.

While marijuana has been legal in the state since 2021, lawmakers did not anticipate the flood of hemp products that have entered the state without being regulated. Those products, including THC-infused beverages, would face limits on where and to whom they could be sold, with some products barred for people under 21.

The bill broadens the definition of a "high-THC hemp product" and creates a new category of "THC-infused beverages," which would be required to comply with regulations for the manufacture of hemp products. High-THC products can only be sold by licensed marijuana retailers, and this bill bars high-THC products from being sold in grocery stores, convenience stores, and drugstores.

A separate provision of the bill would expand "disproportionately impacted area," those parts of the state deemed to have been disproportionately affected by criminal cannabis laws and from where applicants for licenses to sell recreational marijuana were given priority. Under the bill, some social equity cultivator applicants could partner with hemp producers to receive a license that allows cultivation outside a disproportionately impacted area. It would also expand what is considered a disproportionately impacted area to include state tribal reservations and other land owned by the tribes.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Harm Reduction

Vermont Senate Approves Bill for Burlington Safe Injection Site. The Senate on Thursday approved a bill to allow and fund a safe injection site in the state capital of Burlington, House Bill 72. The move is part of a pilot program aimed at reducing overdose deaths.

"As long as there's demand for addictive substances, these problems will persist," said Sen. Ginny Lyons (D) during debate. "HB 72 will allow for the establishment of a safe haven for those with addiction at overdose protection centers. "I know that many of you in this body think of this as a controversial topic, and I had been with you for a long time," Lyons continued. "I had my reservations as this issue was discussed over the past seven years. And now we have a robust body of research having multiple positive effects of overdose prevention centers and no negative ones. It's time for us to move forward."

The bill passed the House in January but was significantly amended in the Senate. It originally allowed for two safe injection sites but now allows only one. And the amount of funding was cut from $2 million to $1.1 million. So now, the House will have to either approve those changes or send the bill to a conference committee to iron them out.

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