Ohio Lawmakers Clear Way for Legal Pot Sales, Saudis Execute Two Drug Smugglers, More... (5/14/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1212)

A House panel wants to do away with drug testing military recruits for weed, Minnesota sees tens of thousands of marijuana expungements, and more.

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

House Panel Proposes Ending Pot Testing for Military Recruits in Defense Bill. The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel has included in the defense appropriations bill a provision to bar military branches from subjecting recruits to drug testing for marijuana. The subcommittee also wants a Defense Department update on the status of its clinical trials on psychedelics.

Subcommittee members want to see the two provisions included in the full committee markup of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act next week.

Here is the language of the pot-testing provision:

SEC. 531 PROHIBITION ON CANNABIS TESTING FOR ENLISTMENT OR COMMISSION IN CERTAIN ARMED FORCES.

Subject to subsection (a) of section 504 of chapter 31 of title 10, United States Code, the Secretary of the military department concerned may not require an individual to submit to a test for cannabis as a condition of enlistment of such individual as a member, or the commission of such individual as an officer, of an Armed Force.

Minnesota Sees Nearly 58,000 Expungements After Marijuana Legalization. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) announced Monday that it had completed 57,780 expungements of criminal records for violating state marijuana laws. The expungements were mandated in the state's approval of marijuana legalization last year.

"We are pleased to be able to deliver on this legislative priority," said BCA superintendent Drew Evans. "Minnesotans will see changes to their records immediately and as additional expungements are made in the months and years ahead."

Now that the records are sealed at the state level, officials will send lists of the expunged cases to local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies so they can also be removed from local records.

The automatic expungements applied only to misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Felony offenses will be individually handled by a five-member Cannabis Expungement Board, which will not issue expungements in cases involving violence, weapons, or threats.

"The Cannabis Expungement Board is tasked with the thoughtful and careful review of cannabis-related felonies and we are quickly moving forward to build a team to accomplish the work," said Jim Rowader, executive director of the Expungement Board.

This board will begin deliberations with its first meeting scheduled soon, setting the stage for ongoing reviews. Given the one-by-one nature of the assessment, these revisions could take years.

Ohio GOP Lawmakers Clear Way for Legal Pot Sales as Early as Next Month. The legislature's Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review voted to approve rules for legal marijuana commerce in the state, clearing the way for a dual licensing program that will allow existing medical marijuana dispensaries to pot products to the recreational markets.

After a November 2023 legalization initiative went into effect in December, weed had been legal in the state, but there was (and is) no way for non-patients to buy it as Republican legislators who had opposed it dawdled over crafting regulations.

Applications for recreational marijuana businesses should be available no later than June 7, and recreational sales could begin by the end of June, said Jim Canepa, superintendent of the Division of Cannabis Control. But he also had a word of caution:

"I don't want to give anyone false hopes," he said. "We're following the timeline in the initiated statute. We have a small but mighty staff, but there's (a) bandwidth (issue) there."

International

Saudi Arabia Executes Two Syrians for Drug Smuggling. The state-run Saudi Press Agency reports that two Syrians, Imad Mahmoud Hussein and Mustafa Mahmoud Hussein, had been executed on drug smuggling charges in the northwestern Tabuk region. They had been caught smuggling Captagon, a Middle Eastern amphetamine.

Tens of millions of Captagon tablets have been seized in the region in recent years, with Saudi Arabia and Jordan being key destinations. It is believed that Captagon was manufactured illicitly by ISIS during the Syrian civil war, but it is now widely assumed that the Assad regime and its associated militias have taken over the manufacture and distribution of the drug. The drug trade would help the regime overcome economic sanctions.

Saudi Arabia is one of only a handful of countries that still allow the death penalty for drug offenses. Others in this group include China, Iran, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore.

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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