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Supreme Court Rejects Reduced Charges for Low-Level Crack Offenders, ICC Prosecutor Seeks to Open Philippine Drug War Investigation, More... (6/14/21)

Connecticut lawmakers will meet in special session this week in a bid to get marijuana legalization done, Wyoming activists began initiative campaigns for marijuana decriminalization and medical marijuana, and more.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has requested authorization to open a formal investigation of Phiiippines drug war abuses. (ICC)
Marijuana Policy

Connecticut Lawmakers to Take Up Marijuana Legalization in Special Session This Week. After failing to reach agreement on marijuana legalization legislation during the regular legislative session, lawmakers are set to return to Hartford this week to take up the issue. Democrats say they have the votes to pass it, despite Republican concerns.

Wyoming Marijuana Advocates Roll Out Medical Marijuana, Decriminalization Initiative Campaigns. Marijuana advocates and Libertarian Party members held a press conference outside the state capitol in Cheyenne as they turned in two ballot initiatives, one that would legalize medical marijuana and one that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Sentencing

Supreme Court Rejects Reduced Charges for Low-Level Crack Cocaine Offenders. The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the First Step Act does not apply to low-level crack cocaine offenders, even though supporters of the law said it was intended to do so. The court held that the language of the law meant it applied only to people convicted of possessing larger amounts of cocaine, not those arrested with only a small amount. The decision was unanimous.

International

International Criminal Court Likely to Proceed with Official Investigation of Philippine Drug War Killings. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has concluded its preliminary examination into drug war-related abuses in the Philippines and decided there is sufficient evidence to request judicial authorization to proceed with an official investigation. "The situation in the Philippines has been under preliminary examination since 8 February 2018," said Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. "During that time, my Office has been busy analyzing a large amount of publicly available information and information provided to us under article 15 of the Statute. On the basis of that work, I have determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of Philippines 'war on drugs' campaign."

Idaho Activists Ponder Two Marijuana Initiatives for 2022, Asian Meth Boomed During Pandemic, More... (6/11/21)

Brazil's lower chamber of parliament approves a hemp and medical marijuana bill, a federal appeals court hears arguments in a marijuana rescheduling case, and more.

The global pandemic boosted meth production in Asia, a new UNODC report finds. (DEA)
Marijuana Policy

Federal Appeals Court Hears Marijuana Rescheduling Arguments in Case Against DEA. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Thursday in a case pitting a group of scientists and military veterans against the DEA. The plaintiffs seek to force the DEA to formally reconsider marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug.

Idaho Activists Eye Two 2022 Marijuana Initiatives. Gem State activists are aiming to get two marijuana-related initiatives on the 2022 ballot. One, called the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act, would set up a system of dispensaries for patients, who would not generally be allowed to grow their own. The other, the Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act, would allow for people to possess up to three ounces of marijuana on private property or while driving in one's vehicle back from a legal weed shop in another state. Both initiatives face major challenges in what is arguably the most anti-marijuana state in the county.

International

Asian Meth Industry Boomed During Pandemic, UNODC Reports. Asian drug trafficking organization flooded markets with meth and other synthetic drugs even as the global economy ground to a halt last year because of the pandemic, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report Thursday. "While the pandemic has caused the global economy to slow down, criminal syndicates that dominate the region have quickly adapted and capitalized. They have continued to aggressively push supply in a conscious effort to build the market and demand," Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement provided to CNN.

Brazil Lower House Approves Bill Legalizing Hemp, Medical Marijuana Cultivation. The Chamber of Deputies' Special Commission on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow for the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal, veterinary, scientific, and industrial use despite the best efforts of allies of anti-reform President Jair Bolsonaro. Marijuana could be grown only by companies, patient associations, or NGOs -- not individuals. The bill now goes to the Senate.

NY Syringe Legalization Passes Senate, Portugal Ponders Marijuana Legalization, More... (6/10/21)

Marijuana legalization bills in Delaware and Rhode Island get delayed, Morocco's parliament has approved the legalization of hemp and medical marijuana, and more.

Even though coca planting in Colombia was down last year, cocaine production was up, UNODC says. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Federal Bill to Let Researchers Study Marijuana from Dispensaries Wins Committee Vote. Tucked inside an omnibus transit bill is a provision that would let researchers study marijuana from state-legal marijuana shops instead of relying on marijuana from the only currently federally authorized source. That bill and its marijuana research provision passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week and now heads for a House floor vote.

Delaware Marijuana Legalization Vote Delayed. The House was set to vote on a marijuana legalization bill, House Bill 150, Thursday, but that didn't happen. Bill sponsor Rep. Edward Osienski (D) said lawmakers needed more time to consider proposed changes in the bills. "House Bill 150 is an extremely important piece of legislation with many complicated moving parts," he said. "In recent days, a number of amendments have been filed by myself and other legislators that would make significant changes to the bill as written. Accordingly, my colleagues and I need time to consider the implications of these various amendments before bringing the bill to the House floor for a vote."

Rhode Island House Speaker Says Marijuana Legalization Bill Could Be Taken Up in Summer or Fall. Marijuana legalization won't be taken up during the remaining days of the regular legislative session, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (D) said. "Marijuana legalization will not be decided until after the budget is adopted this month," Shekarchi said Wednesday. "It is possible we will return sometime in the summer or fall."

Harm Reduction

New York Senate Approves Bill Decriminalizing Needle Possession. The state Senate this week approved Senate Bill 2523, which would decriminalize the sale and possession of needles for injecting drugs. The bill now goes to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass.

International

Colombia Coca Planting Shrank Last Year but Cocaine Output Increased, UNODC Says. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says in a new report that Colombia managed to reduce the area of coca planting by 7% in 2020, but that the potential production of cocaine derived from coca grew by 8%. That means the country produced more than 1,228 metric tons of cocaine last year. UNODC said the increase in production despite the decrease in cultivation was because farmers are sowing more productive varieties of coca, using more efficient agricultural techniques, and planting multiple crops in the same year.

Morocco Parliament Approves Hemp, Medical Marijuana Legalization -- But Not Recreational Marijuana. The upper house of Parliament has approved a bill to legalize the cultivation and sale of cannabis for industrial and medicinal purposes, but as Interior Minister Abdeluafi Laftit said, "the illegal use and consumption of marijuana is still prohibited in the country." The bill has already passed the lower house.

Portuguese Parliament to Debate Proposed Marijuana Legalization Bills. Portugal decriminalized drug possession two decades ago, but has never gotten around to legalizing marijuana. That could be about to change. Parliament will meet soon to debate two draft laws that would legalize marijuana.

National Poll Find Majority Supports Drug Decrim, CT Legal Pot Bill Delayed, More... (6/9/21)

Connecticut's marijuana legalization bill gets bumped to a special session later this month, Washington state marijuana regulators allow pot shops to hand out free joints to people who get vaccinated in-store, and more.

Marijuana Policy

Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Bill Delayed to Special Session. Facing threats of a filibuster from Republican House members on the last day of the regular session, House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said he was delaying a planned vote on Senate Bill 1118 and would take up the topic during a special session later this month. That means the bill, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, will technically die at midnight tonight and will have to pass both chambers during the special session.

Washington State Regulators Okay Joints for Jabs. The state Liquor and Cannabis Board announced Monday it will allow licensed dispensaries to provide a free joint to customers who get vaccinated at in-store clinics. "Participating cannabis retailers may only provide a pre-roll joint, and no other product may be provided as part of this allowance," the board said. The temporary allowance will expire on July 12.

Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Patient Sues Former Employer for Firing Him for Off-Duty Medical Marijuana Use. A medical marijuana patient, Jamal Campbell, is suing his former employer, Watco Companies and Watco Transloading LLC, in federal court for firing him for using doctor-recommended medical marijuana to treat an injury he got at work. Campbell says the state's medical marijuana law should protect him. The state's top court ruled last year that employers cannot fire medical marijuana patients for marijuana use as long as they don't use it at work.

Pennsylvania Court Okays Unemployment Claim After Medical Marijuana Firing. A state appeals court ruled Tuesday that a warehouse worker fired from his job testing positive for marijuana is entitled to unemployment benefits because his employer was aware he was a medical marijuana patient. With its ruling, the court upheld an earlier decision by the state Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.

Psychedelics

Connecticut Governor Signs Therapeutic Psilocybin Study Bill. Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on Monday signed into law Senate Bill1083, which includes a provision mandating that the state carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms. "Such study shall include, but need not be limited to, an examination of whether the use of psilocybin by a person under the direction of a health care provider may be beneficial to the person's physical or mental wellbeing," the text of the measure states.

Drug Policy

On 50th Anniversary of "War on Drugs," New Poll Shows Majority of Voters Support Ending Criminal Penalties for Drug Possession, Think Drug War is a Failure. Wednesday, ahead of the 50th anniversary of when President Richard Nixon declared the "war on drugs," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released a Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI) poll showing strong support for eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession and replacing it with a new approach centered in public health. The poll found 66% of voters support "eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession and reinvesting drug enforcement resources into treatment and addiction services," 63% say drug use should be addressed as a public health issue while only 33% say it should be addressed as a criminal justice issue, 65% support ending the "War on Drugs," 64% support repealing mandatory minimums for drug offenses, 61% support commuting sentences of drug war prisoners, and a whopping 83% say the "War on Drugs" has failed.

CT Senate Votes to Legalize Marijuana, VT Governor Signs Marijuana Social Equity Bill, More... (6/8/21)

Louisiana is one signature away from marijuana decriminalization, Colorado's governor signs a bill tightening up medical marijuana regulations, and more.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has just signed a bill designed to bring social equity to the state's retail pot sector. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

Connecticut Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. The Senate early Tuesday approved a marijuana legalization bill, Senate Bill 1118. The House is set to take up the bill Wednesday, the end-of-session deadline. The bill is the product of weeks of negotiations between Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and legislative leaders, and final language was only introduced on Saturday.

Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Goes to Governor's Desk. With a final vote in the Senate Monday, a bill to decriminalize the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana, House Bill 652, is now headed for the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).

Nevada Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Marijuana Consumption Lounges. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) last Friday signed into law a bill that paves the way for marijuana consumption laws in the state, Assembly Bill 341. It creates two new licensing categories for marijuana businesses, "retail cannabis consumption lounge" and "independent cannabis consumption lounge."

Vermont Governor Signs Marijuana Social Equity Bill. Gov. Phil Scott (R) has signed into law Senate Bill 25, which will establish a fund to help people of color and others affected by past marijuana laws open businesses in the new marijuana market. Retail marijuana sales are set to begin in October 2022 after a bill allowing them passed last year.

Medical Marijuana

Colorado Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Restrictions Bill. Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Monday signed into law House Bill 1317, which includes added medical and mental health reviews during patient applications, an expanded medical marijuana tracking system, and a required dosage amount.

Pennsylvania House Approves Making Medical Marijuana Pandemic Revisions Permanent. The House on Monday approved a bill which would make permanent changes temporarily put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Under the bill, patients could continue to pick up their medicine outside a dispensary instead of coming into the building and could purchase a three-month supply instead of a one-month supply. The measure now heads to the Senate.

Amazon Comes Out for Marijuana Legalization, CA Psychedelic Decriminalization Bill Passes Senate, More... (6/2/21)

A new poll finds surprising but still minority support for therapeutic uses of psychedelics, a Nevada bill to allow marijuana consumption lounges heads to the governor's desk, and more.

Magic mushrooms and other psychedelics could be decriminalized in California. (Pixabay))
Marijuana Policy

Amazon Will Support Federal Marijuana Legalization, Drop Marijuana Drug Testing for Some Jobs. Amazon consumer boss Dave Clark said in a blog post Tuesday that the company's public policy team would actively support passage of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act and will quit screening potential hires for marijuana use except for positions regulated by the Department of Transportation.

Nevada Lawmakers Send Marijuana Consumption Lounge Bill to Governor. The state Senate on Monday approved a bill allowing marijuana consumption lounges, Assembly Bill 341. The measure had passed the Assembly last week and is now headed for the desk of Governor Steve Sisolak (D).

Psychedelics

Poll: More Than A Third of Voters Say Psychedelics Have Medicinal Use. A new Hill-HarrisX poll finds that more than a third (35%) say psychedelic substances such as magic mushrooms have a medical use. The poll comes amid increasing excitement in the research community over the medicinal potential of psychedelics and as voters in various locales begin moving to decriminalize and/or allow their therapeutic use.

California Senate Approves Psychedelic Decriminalization Bill. The state Senate on Monday approved a bill to decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of psychedelics, Senate Bill 519. The bill now heads to the Assembly, where it must be approved before going to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom (D).

Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed in House, MD Governor Vetoes Paraphernalia Decrim, More... (5/28/21)

The proposed Biden budget retains the ban on selling and taxing marijuana in Washington, DC, marijuana consumption lounge bills are moving in California and Nevada, and more.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has vetoed a bill that would decriminalize the possession of drug paraphernalia. (Creative Commons
Marijuana Policy

Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in House. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D=NY) reintroduced a marijuana legalization bill Friday morning, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act. The House passed a similar version of the bill last year, only to see in die in the GOP-led Senate. This year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he will filed a legalization bill shortly.

Biden Budget Keeps Ban on DC Marijuana Sales. President Biden's first proposed budget retains congressionally imposed on selling and taxing marijuana in the nation's capital. House Democrats could ignore that that proposal and vote to undo the budget rider that blocks the District from moving forward, but that could get complicated in the evenly divided Senate.

California Assembly Approves Bill to Allow Food and Drink Sales at Marijuana Consumption Lounges. The Assembly on Thursday approved Assembly Bill 1034, which would alter the state's marijuana laws, which already allow consumption lounges, to allow those lounges to sell non-marijuana foods and drinks. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Nevada Assembly Approves Marijuana Consumption Lounge Bill. The Assembly on Thursday approved Assembly Bill 341 on a 29-12 vote. The bill would allow existing pot retailers to open a consumption lounge at one of its facilities. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Medical Marijuana

Colorado Bill with Stricter Rules for Medical Marijuana Wins Committee Vote. After a lengthy hearings, the House Public& Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee unanimously approved a bill, House Bill 1317, proposing stricter rules for medical marijuana patients and physicians, as well as new packaging requirements for commercial marijuana concentrate and state-funded research into the mental-health effects of potent marijuana products. The bill now goes before the House Finance Committee.

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Restrictive Medical Marijuana Rules. In a ruling Thursday, the state Supreme Court upheld the state's restrictive medical marijuana rules, rejecting a challenge from a grower who was denied a license. The grower had argued that the state's regulation did not comply with the 2016 constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana. A 2017 law created steep barriers to entry in the industry by mandating that licensees had to operate in every aspect of the business.

Drug Policy

Federal Bill to Make Fentanyl Schedule I Filed in House. A bipartisan pair of congressmen filed the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act on Thursday. The drug and its analogs have been temporarily placed in Schedule I, a classification that was set to expire earlier this month, but was extended to October 2022. This bill, and companion legislation already filed in the Senate, would make the move permanent.

Illinois Legislature Approves Bill Restoring Food Stamp Benefits for Drug Felons. With a vote in the Senate Thursday, the legislature has approved House Bill 88, which would provide that a conviction for a drug crime would no longer make people ineligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (food stamps) benefits. The ban is federally imposed, but contains a provision allowing states to opt out from enforcing it, and nearly all states have.

Harm Reduction

Maryland Governor Vetoes Drug Paraphernalia Decriminalization Bill. Governor Larry Hogan (R) vetoed a bill that would have decriminalized the possession of drug paraphernalia on Wednesday, Senate Bill 420. He cited public safety concerns in his veto message. But bill sponsor Senator Jill Carter (D-Baltimore) has vowed to override the veto. The bill passed with a veto-proof majority in the House, but not the Senate.

Good Pot Polls in NH & UT, ME Drug Decrim Advances, More... (9/27/21)

Little Rock makes small-time pot possession the lowest law enforcement priority, a Texas medical marijuana expansion bill is now one House vote away from passing, and more.

Marijuana legalization has overwhelming support in new polls from New Hampshire and Utah. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

New Hampshire Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from the University of New Hampshire has 75% support for marijuana legalization, with even a slightly higher number (78%) saying they supported letting people by it from licensed retailers if it is legalized. Support for Governor Chris Sununu (R), who opposes legalization, by contrast, is at 51%.

Utah Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from Change Research and released by the US Cannabis Council had support for regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at 73% and support for federal marijuana legalization at 66%.

Little Rock Makes Marijuana Possession Lowest Law Enforcement Priority. City directors approved a municipal ordinance to make misdemeanor marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority on a 7-3 vote Tuesday. Although the police chief said the department hasn't sent anyone to jail for small-time pot possession for several years, directors said without a formal policy there was a risk of selective enforcement.

Medical Marijuana

Texas Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill. The Senate late Tuesday approved House Bill 1535, which would expand the state's medical marijuana program to include all forms of PTSD and cancer, but not chronic pain. The bill now goes back to the House for approval of changes made in the Senate.

Drug Policy

Maine Joint Committee Advances Drug Decriminalization Bill. The Joint Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved a drug decriminalization bill, LD 967, but was split on how to handle decriminalization as the bill goes forward. The bill would make drug possession a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine, which could be waived if they submit to an "evidence-based assessment for proposed treatment for substance use disorder."

International

Morocco House Votes to Legalize Hemp, Medical Marijuana. The House on Wednesday approved a bill legalizing hemp and medical marijuana. The bill would allow for "the legal uses of cannabis, medical, cosmetic and industrial," with the aim of "converting illicit crops that destroy the environment into sustainable legal activities that generate value, money and employment." The bill must still be approved by the legislature's upper house.

CA Psychedelic Decrim Bill Advances, NM Patient Sues Over Purchase Limits, More... (5/20/21)

The Louisiana House rejected marijuana legalization but is now considering a legalization study resolution, Arizona's governor signs into law a bill legalizing fentanyl test strips, and more.

magic mushrooms (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Louisiana House Committee Approves Resolution Calling for Study of Marijuana Legalization. Days after a marijuana legalization bill died in the House, a House committee has approved a resolution calling for the creation of a committee to study the impacts of legalization. The committee would include legislative leaders, prosecutors, sheriffs, medical marijuana industry representatives, criminal justice reform advocates, LSU, and Southern Ag.

Medical Marijuana

New Mexico Patient Sues State Over Medical Marijuana Purchase Limits, Plant Counts. Medical marijuana patient and activist Jason Barker is suing the state over limits on medical marijuana purchases. Under the state's new marijuana legalization law, people can buy up to two ounces at a time, but under state rules, patients may only purchase eight ounces every 90 days. "The law is clear, all medical cannabis patients may purchase at least two-ounces of medical cannabis at any one time, tax free, beginning on June 29, 2021," Barker's lawyer said. Barker also alleges the state's 1,750-plant cap on medical marijuana producers infringes on patients' rights by reducing supply and increasing prices.

Harm Reduction

Arizona Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Fentanyl Test Strips. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Wednesday signed into law a bill that legalizes fentanyl test strips in a bid to reduce drug overdoses in the state. The bill is SB1486. Drug use claims far too many lives each year," Ducey said in a signing statement. "We want everyone who is using drugs to seek professional treatment. But until someone is ready to get "help, we need to make sure they have the tools necessary to prevent a lethal overdose."

Psychedelics

California Psychedelic Decriminalization Bill Heads for Senate Floor Vote. A bill that would decriminalize the possession of psychedelics, Senate Bill 519, has passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is now headed for a Senate floor vote. The bill would remove criminal penalties for possessing or sharing numerous psychedelics -- including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD and MDMA -- for adults 21 and older. Mescaline derived from peyote is not included because of concerns about its scarcity for Native American Church religious purposes.

LA House Vote Kills Marijuana Legalization Effort, AZ Legislature Approves Needle Exchanges, More... (5/19/21)

A Connecticut poll has strong continuing support for marijuana legalization, a Pennsylvania poll has surprisingly strong support for drug decriminalization, and more.

A bill that would allow for needle exchanges is now on the desk of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R). (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Connecticut Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from Sacred Heart University show continuing strong support for marijuana legalization even as the governor and legislative leaders struggle to come to agreement on rival proposals. The poll had support at 64% (35.8% strongly and 28.1% somewhat). That's a slight decrease from overall support at 66% in February, but still strong.

Louisiana House Kills Marijuana Legalization Effort. Marijuana legalization is dead for the year after the House on Tuesday failed to advance House Bill 434, which would set up a tax structure for marijuana sales. That bill needed a two-thirds majority because it is a tax measure, but didn't even get a majority, failing 47-48. That prompted bill sponsor Rep. Richard Nelson (R-Mandeville) to pull the legalization bill itself, which he also sponsored.

Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Expansion, Smokable Marijuana. On the final day of the legislative session, lawmakers approved a bill that will expand the state's medical marijuana program by allowing patients to smoke the buds of the dried plant. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Tim Walz (D).

Drug Policy

Pennsylvania Poll Has Majority Support for Drug Decriminalization. A new poll from Data for Progress has found that 60% of voters support having their district attorneys eliminate "criminal penalties for simple possession of a controlled substance." Some 71% of Democrats supported the proposal, while only 43% of Republicans did.

Harm Reduction

Arizona Legislature Approves Allowing Needle Exchange Programs. The legislature has passed a bill that would allow needle exchanges in the state, with the House voting 57-2 to advance it Tuesday. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

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