Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

State & Local Legislatures

RSS Feed for this category

AG Garland Moves to End Cocaine Sentencing Disparities, BC Decriminalization Granted, More... (12/19/22)

Kansas City, Missouri, dismisses open marijuana cases, Colombia Congress advances marijuana legalization bill, more...

Attorney General Merrick Garland (DOJ)
Marijuana Policy

Tennessee Lawmaker Will File Marijuana Legalization Bill. State Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) said last Friday she plans to cosponsor a marijuana legalization bill with Rep. Bob Freeman (D-West Nashville) in the coming session. Previous attempts at passage of such a bill have come up short, but Campbell is ready to try again: "We're filing a full legalization bill," Campbell said. "We are in the process of modifying our last bill and haven't filed it yet."

Kansas City Dismisses Hundreds of Marijuana Cases Following Statewide Legalization Vote. Municipal court workers in the Missouri city have "dismissed over 500" open marijuana cases since statewide marijuana legalization took effect on December 8. Voters statewide approved legalization in the November election. City officials depenalized pot possession in 2020 and had already dismissed over 2,400 marijuana cases. They now report no remaining open marijuana misdemeanor cases in the city.

Opiates and Opioids

Senate Passes END FENTANYL Act in Bid to Reduce Drug Smuggling. The Senate last Thursday passed SB 4460, the "Eradicating Narcotic Drugs and Formulating Effective New Tools to Address National Yearly Losses of Life (END FENTANYL) Act." This legislation would require the Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to update agency policies at least once every three years, and require the Commissioner of CBP to review and update the Office of Field Operations' policies and handbooks at least once every three years. It would also require the Commissioner to report to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives about the changes.

Sentencing Policy

US Attorney General Moves to End Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparities. In a memo to federal prosecutors last Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland instructed them to file charges that avoid mandatory minimum sentences that are triggered by small amounts of crack cocaine in small-time, nonviolent cases. For decades, crack has been treated more harshly in federal sentencing even though there is no scientific basis for it, and that has led to "unwarranted racial disparities," Garland wrote. "They are two forms of the same drug, with powder readily convertible into crack cocaine."

But Garland's move could last only as long a his tenure in office. To permanently end sentencing disparities between the two forms of the drug, Congress would have to act. The House passed such a bill last year, and there are still hopes that the Senate will pass its version of the bill, S.2156, as part of an omnibus appropriations bill before the current session ends.

International

British Columbia Drug Decriminalization to Last for Three Years. The decriminalization of the possession of up to 2.5 grams of drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, an cocaine in the Canadian province, which was granted by the federal government as an emergency measure in the face of an overdose epidemic, has now been set to begin on January 31, 2023, and will be extended until January 31, 2026. The BC Coroners Service reports 1,827 fatal drug overdoses so far this year.

Colombia House and Senate Agree on Marijuana Legalization Bill. The Chamber of Representatives and the Senate have both voted to reconcile their differing versions of a marijuana legalization bill, clearing the way for final votes to come early in the new year. The bill must again pass both chambers because it is a constitutional amendment, and a key Senate sponsor of the bill says it should be formally enacted by June. In final negotiations, lawmakers agreed to limit marijuana consumption and marketing in public spaces and near school zones. They also agreed to have the law go into effect 12 months after final passage.

Last Minute Push for SAFE Banking ACT, NH Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed, More... (12/15/22)

Some Texas town officials are trying to run roughshod over the will of the voters on marijuana enforcement, sponsors of the SAFE Banking Act are not giving up hope yet, and more.

State-legal pot businesses seek access to financial services through the SAFE Banking Act. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Last Minute Push for SAFE Banking Act. With the curtain about to close on the current Congress, Senate sponsors of the SAFE Banking Act (HR 1996) are still trying to get the bill passed. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) tried and failed to get the bill attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, but now they're trying to get it attached to the omnibus funding bill, but again face Republican opposition, including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Nine Republicans have previously sponsored the bill, but it would need 10 votes to overcome a filibuster. Earlier in the session, the bill was blocked by the Democratic leadership, which was holding out for a comprehensive marijuana legalization bill.

New Hampshire Lawmakers Filed Marijuana Legalization Bill. Incoming Democratic House leader Matt Wilhelm (D-Manchester) is a main sponsor of a new marijuana legalization bill filed in the House last week. The bipartisan bill would legalize marijuana for people 21 and over and set up a system of taxed and regulated retail sales. While similar bills have failed in years past, Wilhelm said it is "long past" time for the state to stop "wasting scarce tax dollars and valuable local and state policing resources by continuing a restriction that has failed for decades and needlessly ruined the lives of many young and poor Granite Staters."

Texas Towns Seek to Undo Will of Voters on Marijuana Ordinances. Voters in five Texas towns and cities approved ending criminal enforcement of marijuana prohibition by voting for local ballot measures that ban arrests and tickets for possessing less than four ounces of weed. But elected officials in those localities are balking, with some saying the effort violates state laws and hinders police officers.

In Harker Heights, the city council repealed the ordinance two weeks after the vote. In Killeen, the Bell County DA attempted to undo the ordinance, but the city council approved it anyway. In San Marcos, the Hays County Criminal DA has asked for the state attorney general's opinion about enforceability of the ordinance, while in Denton, the city council certified the initiative, but the city manager opposes implementing part of it.

White House Extends National Drug Trafficking Emergency, OTC Naloxone Could Be Coming, More... (12/13/22)

Kansas lawmakers will push for a medical marijuana bill when the session begins in January, Connecticut's dispensaries will be able to sell to any adult beginning in January, and more.

The opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. There is a move afoot to make it available OTC. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Connecticut Recreational Marijuana Sales Set to Begin January 10. The state Department of Consumer Protection, which regulates marijuana in the state, has announced that the state's seven existing medical marijuana dispensaries had "successfully completed the necessary steps for conversion to a hybrid license," allowing them to also sell to the adult recreational market beginning January 10. Sales will be limited to a "a total of ¼ ounce of cannabis flower or its equivalent per transaction," according to the DCP. The move comes more than a year and a half after Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed a marijuana legalization bill into law.

Medical Marijuana

Kansas Lawmakers Plan to Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill at Start of Session Next Month. Since the end of the last legislative session, members of the Special Committee on Medical Marijuana have been meeting, compiling data, and evaluating research, and now they say they are ready to file a medical marijuana bill at the beginning of the session beginning next month. "I think what I’m going to do is — and any member is more than welcome — is to take this information and create the bill," said. Sen. Rob Olson (R-Olathe), chair of the medical marijuana committee. "And I’m going to work on a bill with a couple members and then if anybody wants to sign on in the Senate, they’ll be more than able to sign onto that bill and introduce it at the beginning of session." He also called on House lawmakers to file similar legislation. "I think that’s probably the best way forward," Olson said. Kansas is one of the 13 states that have still not legalized medical marijuana.

Foreign Policy

White House Formally Continues Drug Trafficking State of National Emergency. The White House on Monday issued an executive order continuing a state of national emergency "to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by global illicit drug trafficking." Noting that drug overdoses are killing tens of thousands of Americans each year, the order warns that: "Drug cartels, transnational criminal organizations, and their facilitators are the primary sources of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals that fuel the current opioid epidemic, as well as drug-related violence that harms our communities.  International drug trafficking — including the illicit production, global sale, and widespread distribution of illegal drugs; the rise of extremely potent drugs such as fentanyl and other synthetic opioids; as well as the growing role of Internet-based drug sales — continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.  For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 14059 of December 15, 2021, must continue in effect beyond December 15, 2022.  Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 14059 with respect to global illicit drug trafficking."

Harm Reduction

Major Drug Maker Applies to Sell Over-the-Counter Naloxone. In a move that addiction experts say could save tens of thousands of lives, a major drug maker has applied to sell the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone over-the-counter. Emergent BioSolutions is now seeking permission to sell the drug without a prescription and says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to fast-track its review. A decision is expected by the end of March. Drug policy experts agreed that making naloxone more widely available is an important step in reducing drug overdoses but raised one concern: price. If OTC naloxone is too expensive, many people using drugs on the street just won't buy it, said University of North Carolina drug researcher Nabarun Dasgupta. "If we have this resource scarcity mentality that this is an expensive product, this is a special product, then people will not take enough kits to do what they need to do."

Fed Judge Gives DOJ Only One-Month Extension in Safe Injection Site Case, More... (12/8/22)

Moves are afoot to rein in Oregon's underground marijuana production, an Iowa law is blocking health authorities from including fentanyl test strips in harm reduction boxes, and more.

Illegal marijuana grow in Jackson County, Oregon. (Jackson County SO)
Marijuana Policy

Oregon 1Bill Would Double Penalties for Illicit Marijuana Grows. Faced with massive unpermitted marijuana growing—police have seized 105 tons of weed this year—and a rising chorus of complaints from police, legal growers, and neighbors, lawmakers have prepared a draft bill that would double maximum prison sentences and fines for unlawful manufacture of more than 100 plants and possession of more than two pounds in public or eight pounds at home. Under the proposed bill, the maximum sentence would jump from five years to 10 and the maximum fine  would jump to $250,000. The bill would also punish property owners for environmental damage and prohibit the use of water (which is owned by the state) for unlicensed marijuana grows. Voters approved legalization in 2014, at least partly on the grounds it would reduce illegal grows, but legalization proponents now say illicit grows will be a problem until the plant is legalized nationwide.

Harm Reduction

Federal Court Gives Justice Department One Month to Respond in Philadelphia Safe Injection Site Case. A federal judge has given the Justice Department just a one-month extension before it has to respond in a lawsuit about the legality of a proposed Philadelphia safe injection site. The Trump administration Justice Department sued to block Safehouse from opening in 2019, and the Biden Justice Department has continued the case while seeking repeated extensions as it talked with Safehouse But when Justice asked for another extension, Safehouse balked at the requested two-month delay, and the judge subsequently cut that request in half. Once it comes, the Justice Department's response should shed some light on whether the agency will or will not continue to challenge the legality of safe injection sites. The department said in February it was evaluating the sites, including discussions about appropriate "guardrails" for them, but with yet another extension request this month, Safehouse's patience is growing thin. "Safehouse did not consent to today’s DOJ request for more time," the group said the day of the filing, noting that the case "has been pending for almost four years." As the group noted, "more than 3,600 lives have been lost in Philadelphia to the opioid overdose crisis" while the case has been ongoing.

Iowa Law Blocks Fentanyl Test Strips from Being Included in Harm Reduction Boxes. The Polk County (Des Moines) Health Department is adding harm reduction boxes at its office and urgent care locations around the city. The boxes will include tourniquets, cotton filters, and needle disposal containers, but not fentanyl test strips, which are considered drug paraphernalia under state law. The Health Department said it supports changing that law, but that has not happened yet. Lawmakers in at least five other states—Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Wisconsin—have taken that action this year.  

Marijuana Banking Language Again Bumped from Approprations Bill, DC MedMJ Reforms, More... (12/7/22)

Marijuana is legal in Missouri as of tomorrow, Indiana voters are ready for marijuana legalization, and more.

Access to banking services for state-legal marijuana businesses remains stalled on Capitol Hill. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

SAFE Banking Act Language Excluded from Defense Spending Bill. The effort to somehow pass legislation that would provide state-legal marijuana businesses with access to the banking system has been thwarted once again as SAFE Banking Act language was excluded from the 2023 defense reauthorization bill. While Democratic Senate leadership, which had been holding out for a full legalization bill, blocked earlier efforts to attach the language to various appropriations bills, this time, Republican Senate leadership was the obstacle, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticizing Democrats for trying to include the banking provision. "We're talking about a grab bag of miscellaneous pet priorities, like making our financial system more sympathetic to illegal drugs, or permitting reform in name only that's already failed to pass the Senate earlier this year," McConnell said in a floor speech. "If Democrats wanted these controversial items so badly, they had two years to move them across the floor." 

Indiana Poll Has Majority Support for Marijuana Legalization. For years, marijuana reform has gone nowhere in the Republican-dominated state legislature, but a new poll shows how out of touch the lawmakers are with their constituents. A Ball State University poll has support for legalization at 56 percent and support for medical marijuana at 85 percent. Only 15 percent of respondents did not think it should be legal in either case.

Missouri Marijuana Legalization Goes into Effect Tomorrow. As of Thursday, December 8, possession of up to three ounces of marijuana by adults will no longer be a crime. This after voters last month approved Amendment 3. There's just one hitch: While adults can legally possess the herb, they won't be able to buy it at a dispensary without a medical marijuana card until next year. That is when existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to acquire comprehensive licenses allowing them to sell to any adult. The result will be a short-term boon for the state's black and gray market marijuana sellers. State residents will be able to grow up to six plants on their own beginning in February, but they will have to register with the state and pay $150 for the privilege.

Medical Marijuana

DC Council Approves Bill to Eliminate License Caps, Promote Equity, Provide Tax Relief, More. The city council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that broadly reworks the city's medical marijuana program. The measure needs to pass a second reading at a yet unspecified date before going to the mayor's desk. The bill would eliminate caps on licenses for marijuana businesses, provide tax relief to operators, encourage greater social equity, create new businesses categories for on-site consumption lounges, and provide a pathway for current gray market "gifting" operators to enter the licensed market. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act would also codify that adults can self-certify as medical marijuana patients. The bill was carried by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

Colombia Senate Approves Weed Legalization, DOJ Seeks Delay in Philly Safe Injection Site Case, More... (12/6/22)

An Ohio marijuana legalization bill gets a hearing, a Filipino father wins a small measure of justice for his young son killed in Rodrigo Duterte's drug war, and more.

Legal marijuana is one vote away in the Colombian legislature.
Marijuana Policy

Ohio Marijuana Legalization Bill Gets House Hearing. A pair of legislators, Reps. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) have sponsored a marijuana legalization bill,  House Bill 382, which got a hearing in the House Finance Committee Monday, but no vote. The bill would legalize the possession of up to 5 ounces by people 21 and over, as well a authorizing a marijuana regulatory agency within the Commerce Department to oversee licensing and regulation of marijuana production and sales. There are only a few weeks left in the legislative session, so the bill's prospects are clouded, but the p.air are also supporting a ballot initiative from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. That initiative is currently before the legislature. If lawmakers fail to pass it, it would then go to the voters provided campaigners gather a second set of signatures.

Harm Reduction

Justice Department Asks Court for More Time in "Complex" Safe Injection Site Case. In a case where the Trump Justice Department sought (so far, successfully) block a Philadelphia safe injection site from operating, the Biden Justice Department is now asking a federal court for more time to respond in a lawsuit aimed at settling the legality of such sites in the United States. The group behind the safe injection site, Safehouse, had agreed to earlier delay requests but said it "did not consent" to this one and planned to file an opposition motion Tuesday. Justice said Monday that it "believes an additional two months are necessary to permit careful consideration of the government’s harm reduction and public safety goals.The discussions to date, which have involved coordination among multiple constituencies addressing a novel and complex subject matter, have been and continue to be productive,"it said, noting that DOJ had a status conference with Safehouse attorneys last month and "provided an update"to the court. Safehouse argued that Justice has had enough time and that people are dying of overdoses every day while the department dithers. While the Philadelphia site remains blocked for now, authorities in New York City opened the first officially sanctioned safe injection sites in the country last year. The Biden Justice Department did not seek to shut it down.

International

Colombian Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. The Senate on Tuesday approved a marijuana legalization bill on a 56-3 vote. The measure has already won initial approval in the Chamber of Representatives, but more votes are still required before it becomes law. Under the bill, authorities would have six months to set rules for the legal marijuana market. The bill would amend the constitution to support "the right of the free development of the personality, allowing citizens to decide on the consumption of cannabis in a regulated legal framework"and would mitigate "arbitrary discriminatory or unequal treatment in front of the population that consumes." The bill has won seven legislative votes, but because it is a constitutional amendment, it must be debated and voted on eight times over two calendar years. The next calendar year starts in less than a month.

Philippine Family Allowed to Correct Death Certificate Killed in Duterte's Drug War. An appeals court has granted Rodrigo Baylon's petition to modify the death certificate for his nine-year-old son, Lenin, who was killed by stray bullets in an operation where police in Caloocan City killed two women drug suspects. Lenin's official death certificate falsely claimed that he died from bronchopneumonia. The Reuters news agency has identified at least 14 other cases of drug war victims deaths' being falsely attributed to natural causes. Baylon's effort to correct his son's death certificate was rejected by a lower court in 2019, but the Court of Appeals agreed with him and ordered the cause of death changed to "gunshot wound," a ruling Baylon called "a small victory." Tens of thousands of people were killed in the bloody drug unleashed by then-President Rodrigo Duterte after he took office in 2016. 

NV On-Site Pot Smoking Lounges, Mexican President Wants to Know Where "La Barbie" Is, More... (12/2/22)

Sen, John Hickenlooper (D-CO) has filed a bill to prepare for federal marijuana legalization, the Nevada Supreme Court rules in favor of a medical marijuana patient fired for off-duty use, and more.

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, "La Barbie," in custody in Mexico in 2012. (CNN screen grab)
Marijuana Policy

Federal Bill to Create Commission to Prepare for Legalization Filed. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) on Thursday filed the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE) Act, which would direct the attorney general to set up a commission to make recommendations for how federally legal marijuana should be regulated. "A decade after Colorado pioneered marijuana legalization, Americans overwhelmingly support the same at the federal level,"Hickenlooper said in a press release. "This bipartisan, bicameral framework, based on Colorado’s Amendment 64 Task Force, will replicate our success nationally." Companion legislation has been filed in the House."

Nevada Awards 20 Provisional Licenses for Marijuana Consumption Lounges. The state's marijuana regulatory agency, the Cannabis Compliance Board, has issued 20 provisional licenses for marijuana consumption lounges, with half of them reserved for social equity applicants. The licenses were handed out via a random drawing. Social equity licensees who have a nonviolent marijuana conviction and who live in an underprivileged neighborhood are eligible for discounted fees. The board approved consumption lounges in June and estimates that an additional 40-45 licenses will be issued.

Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Medical Marijuana Program Adds New Qualifying Conditions. The state Department of Health has announced it is adding irritable bowel syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder to the list of qualifying medical conditions for the state's medical marijuana program. The changes will go into effect on August 1, 2023. "We are adding the new qualifying conditions to allow patients more therapy options for conditions that can be debilitating,"said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. Two other conditions, gastroparesis and opioid use disorder were not approved.

Nevada Supreme Court Rules Workers Fired for Off-Duty Medical Marijuana Use Can Sue Former Employers. The state's highest court ruled Thursday that workers who are medical marijuana patients can sue their former employers if they have been fired for off-duty marijuana use. The ruling came in the case of Jim Roushkolb, a registered patient who used medical marijuana to ease PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health issues arising from a 1995 assault. His former employer, Freeman Expositions, fired him in 2018 after he tested positive for THC in the wake of a workplace incident where a plexiglass sheet fell and shattered. All employees at the scene were ordered to take drug tests, and Roushkolb was fired even though the company knew he was a medical marijuana patient.

Ohio Bill Would Expand Medical Marijuana Access. A measure that has already passed the Senate, Senate Bill 261, would add new qualifying conditions but more importantly would also let doctors recommend medical marijuana for any condition they deem necessary. Proponents are now trying to get in through the House in what is left of the state legislature's lame-duck session . "I think that that’s the best path we can go on,"said bill sponsor Sen. Nicki Antonio (D-Lakewood). "I think there’s a lot of value in being able to have this treatment opportunity available to people as an alternative to all kinds of things that may have other side effects."

Foreign Policy

Mexican President Wants to Know Whereabouts of "La Barbie, Convicted Cartel Chief Now Missing from American Prison. Notorious drug kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, nicknamed La Barbie for his fair complexion and blond hair, was sentenced to 49 years in US federal prison in 2018, but now no longer appears in the Bureau of Prisons databases that have details of all prisoners doing time in federal prisons, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to know where he is. "What is happening in the United States with Mr. Villarreal is strange," López Obrador said during a press conference on Wednesday. "Someone has made it known that he is no longer in the registry of prisoners and we want to know where he is." López Obrador asked Washington for transparency and said the situation needed to be clarified as quickly as possible. "There is no reason for him to leave prison because his sentence is for many years, unless there has been an agreement." While the explanation for La Barbie's absence could be as innocent as that he is hospitalized for a medical condition, there is rising speculation that he may have struck a deal with US authorities around the looming trial in New York of former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna, who is accused of collaborating with drug cartels. La Barbie was arrested in 2012 in an operation orchestrated by Garcia Luna and has repeatedly accused him of working with the cartels.

RI Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin, Berkeley Could Decriminallize LSD, More... (12/1/22)

A global coalition is calling on UN drug bureaucracies to condemn the sudden resumption of drug executions in Saudi Arabia, a new Gallup poll has continuing high support for marijuana legalization, and more.

Legal pot sales for adults have begun in Rhode Island. (Sondra Yruel/DPA)
Marijuana Policy

Gallup Poll Finds Support for Marijuana Legalization Steady at 68 Percent. A new Gallup poll finds that support for marijuana legalization remains at a record high 68 percent for the third year in a row. It's a remarkable evolution in public opinion over the past half-century, with support at a measly 12 percent in 1969, rising to 31 percent in 2000, and achieving majority support in 2013. In every Gallup poll since 2016, at least 60 percent have supported legalization.

Rhode Island Recreational Marijuana Sales Have Begun. As of today, five existing medical marijuana dispensaries are now "hybrid" stores, selling recreational as well a medical marijuana. The first sale was shortly after 5 a.m., when Mother Earth Wellness in Pawtucket opened its doors.

Harm Reduction

Ohio House Approves Fentanyl Test Strip Decriminalization Bill. The House on Wednesday approved a bill to try to reduce drug overdose deaths by decriminalizing the possession of fentanyl test strips, House Bill 456. Ohio saw 5,204 people die of drug overdoses in 2020, 81 percent of them involving fentanyl. Similar legislation has been filed in the Senate.

Psychedelics

Berkeley Health Commissioners Recommend Decriminalization of Use of Hallucinogens, Including LSD. The Bay area city's health commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to recommend that the city council decriminalize the use of psychedelics, and they did not limit themselves to natural psychedelics, explicitly embracing the decriminalization of LSD as well. The city is now in line to become the first to decriminalize LSD if the city council approves it. Fifteen cities across the country have decriminalized natural psychedelics, but those measures excluded synthetic psychedelics such as LSD.

International

Global Coalition Calls on International Bodies to Condemn Saudi Arabia Drug Executions. The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Harm Reduction International, and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty along with 32 other NGOs have called on the International Narcotics Control Board and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to act on urgent measures in response to the series of drug-related executions carried out by the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia since November 10, 2022. The groups called on both organisms to seek confirmation from the Saudi government of the status of dozens of people on death row and at imminent risk of execution and to demand that the Saudi government immediately halt all drug-related executions. The Saudi government had halted drug executions in January 2020, but suddenly and without warning resumed them on November 10 and announced 20 such executions on November 24. 

Another Poll Shows Supermajority for Marijuana, OH Fentanyl Test Strip Bill Moving, More... (11/30/22)

A push is on to get marijuana on the ballot in Ohoi next year, the UNODC warns Bolivia about synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, and more.

Fentanyl test strips can save lives. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Poll: Nearly Three in Four Likely Voters Support "Ending the Federal Ban" on Marijuana, Other Federal Reforms. A new poll from the progressive-leaning Data for Progress finds 74 percent of likely voters say that they "support ending the federal ban on marijuana." Eighty-five percent of Democrats, along with 74 percent of Independents and 63 percent of Republicans, endorsed repealing federal prohibition. Similar levels of support were evidenced for allowing state-legal marijuana programs "lawful access to US financial systems," not barring workers in the marijuana industry from accessing federal benefits, and not removing people from federally assisted housing in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal.

Ohio Advocates Push to Get Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Measure on 2023 Ballot. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has begun signature gathering to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the November 2023 ballot. The campaign now has about eight weeks to collect 130,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. In the meantime, under a court settlement, the legislature will take up the measure in January, and i-- it fails to pass it, it will go before voters—provided the campaign has come up with the required signatures. The initiative would allow people 21 and over to possess and consume marijuana, which would come with a 10 percent sales tax.

Harm Reduction

Ohio Fentanyl Test Strip Decriminalization Bill Wins Committee Vote. A bill to try to reduce drug overdose deaths by decriminalizing the possession of fentanyl test strips, House Bill 456, won a final House committee vote Monday before heading to a House floor vote Wednesday. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kristin Boggs(D-Columbus)described the change as "one more avenue"to avoid overdose.  Ohio saw 5,204 people die of drug overdoses in 2020, 81 percent of them involving fentanyl. Similar legislation has been filed in the Senate.

International

UN Says Growth of Bolivian Coca Crop Slows but Warns of Synthetic Drugs. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union warned Bolivia about the presence of synthetic drugs in the national market even as they acknowledged a slow-down in the increase of coca production. UNODC said coca cultivation had increased 4 percent in 2021, the lowest increase in recent years, but the Bolivian government challenged that figure, saying there had actually been a slight decrease. But fentanyl was also on the UNODC's mind: "There were seizures of synthetic drugs including fentanyl, an opioid that causes a large number of deaths in Europe. There is a national market. This is a problem for us and it will be for Bolivia", said Trolls Wester, UNODC Bolivia representative.

Letter to House Leaders Calls for Drug Decriminalization, Colombia Legal Pot Bill Advances, More... (11/23/22)

A New Hampshire coalition begins laying the groundwork for another try at marijuana legalization, Rhode island adult use marijuana sales at existig dispensaries are set to begin next week, and more.

Adult use marijuana sales will begin December 1 in Rhode Island. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

New Hampshire Coalition Prepares to Try Again with Legalization Bill. A bipartisan coalition is preparing to once more try to push a marijuana legalization bill through the legislature, ending the state's status as an island of pot prohibition in a New England sea of states that have already legalized it Among the groups joining efforts are the conservative Americans for Prosperity, as well as the New Hampshire Cannabis Association, the New Hampshire chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Marijuana Policy Project,  and the House Democratic Cannabis Caucus. The coalition is conferring with lawmakers from both parties and says its bill will have bipartisan sponsorship. In past sessions, including this year, bills have passed the House only to be die in the Senate.

Rhode Island Set to Commence Adult Use Marijuana Sales on December 1. Governor Dan McKee (D) and the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation’s Office of Cannabis Regulation announced Tuesday that five licensed medical marijuana compassion centers have received state approval to begin selling adult use marijuana on or after December 1. Pursuant to the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor McKee in May, a call for applications for “hybrid retail licenses,” which allow licensed compassion centers to sell both medical marijuana as well as safe, well-regulated and competitively priced marijuana products to Rhode Island adults over the age of 21, was issued in early October. The five compassion centers that have received state approval to commence adult use sales are Aura of Rhode Island (Central Falls), Thomas C. Slater Center (Providence), Mother Earth Wellness (Pawtucket), Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center (Portsmouth), and RISE Warwick (Warwick).

Drug Policy

Human Rights Watch Organizes Joint Letter to House Leadership Urging Passage of Federal Drug Decriminalization Bill. Dozens of racial justice, social justice, drug policy, criminal justice, public health, harm reduction and other advocacy groups have cosigned a letter to the House leadership calling for "ending criminal penalties for the possession of personal-use amounts of drugs." The letter noted that of more than 1.15 million drug arrests in 2020, 86 percent were for simple drug possession, even though "we have an abundance of evidence that demonstrates that drug arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration have had no substantial effect on ending problematic drug use or curbing the illegal drug supply in the United States." The letter called for passage of the Drug Reform Act of 2021(HR 4020), stating "to begin meaningfully addressing our country's mass incarceration and overdose epidemics, we urge Members of Congress to commit to support comprehensive legislation that decriminalizes drug possession and centers health, equity, autonomy, and justice."

International

Colombia Marijuana Legalization Bill Wins Senate Committee Vote. A marijuana legalization bill supported by the government of President Gustavo Petro that has already advanced in the Chamber of Representative has now won a Senate committee vote and heads for a Senate plenary vote. The bill would legalize the possession and use of the plant by people 18 and over and support "the right of the free development of the personality, allowing citizens to decide on the consumption of cannabis in a regulated legal framework." Justice Minister Nestor Osuna told the Senate Monday, "The national government supports this draft legislative act for the adult use of cannabis. We believe that it is very important that this step be taken towards a responsible market—a responsible regulation that allows us to overcome this prohibitionist atmosphere."

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School