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Marijuana Policy

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Chronicle AM: Yang on Safe Injection Sites, Bloomberg on Marijuana, More... (12/5/19)

Michigan pot shops see high demand on opening day, Democratic contenders stake out drug policy positions, Maine finally has all pot business applications ready, and more.

Andrew Yang wants to decriminalize opiates and fund safe injection sites like this one in Vancouver. (vch.ca)

Marijuana Policy

Michael Bloomberg Backs Decriminalization as Marijuana Views Evolve Amid Presidential Run. Faced with criticism over his past positions on marijuana, former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg has now come out in support of decriminalization, which still leaves him lagging behind most of the Democratic pack. "He believes no one should have their life ruined by getting arrested for possession, and, as a part of his reform efforts that drove incarceration down by 40 percent, he worked to get New York State laws changed to end low-level possession arrests," a spokesman said. "He believes in decriminalization and doesn’t believe the federal government should interfere with states that have already legalized."

Maine Says All Marijuana Licenses are Now Available. More than three years after voters legalized marijuana, the state has finally made available all applications for marijuana cultivation, products manufacturing and retail facilities. That means the state could see pot shops open by the spring.

Michigan Pot Shops Forced to Impose Purchase Limits as Demand Overwhelms. High customer volume is forcing marijuana retailers to limit purchases so there will be enough weed to go around. The four shops that opened Sunday saw combined sales of $221,000 that first day. Each of the four shops has had to turn customers away, too. Some customers waited as long as four hours to get inside.

Medical Marijuana

Florida Senator Introduces Bill Providing Broad Employment Protections to Medical Marijuana Users. A bill recently introduced by state Sen. Lori Berman (D) Would provide various protections to job applicants and employees who use medical marijuana. The measure is Senate Bill 962.

Harm Reduction

Andrew Yang Calls for Investments in Safe Injection Sites. Entrepreneur and Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang says he supports government funding for safe injections sites as part of an effort to counter the country's overdose epidemic. "I would not only decriminalize opiates for personal use but I would also invest in safe consumption sites around the country," Yang said Thursday.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

MS MedMJ Sales Begin, Myanmar Opium Production Increases, More... (1/27/23)

A Minnesota marijuana legalization bill is cruising right along, Hong Kong bans CBD as a "dangerous drug," and more.

Opium production is Myanmar has jumped dramatically since the military coup nearly a year ago. (UNODC)
Marijuana Policy

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Keeps Advancing. A marijuana legalization bill, House File 100, has won approval in the House Labor and Industry Finance and Policy Committee Thursday. That's the fourth committee to approve it in the House. Meanwhile, a companion bill in the Senate was approved by the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

Ohio Bill Would Protect Drivers with THC in Their Systems. State Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) has filed Senate Bill 26, which would protect drivers from facing charges for having THC in their system as long as they can prove they were not impaired. The bill would remove the per se limits for marijuana and marijuana metabolites for the purpose of determining whether the driver was Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI). Without a set per se level (where the state assumes one is intoxicated), the bill effectively removes the automatic license suspension for those caught with THC in their systems.

Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Sales Have Begun in Mississippi. Nearly a year after medical marijuana was legalized in the state, the first legal sales have taken place. The first sales occurred Wednesday at The Cannabis Company in Brookhaven and at two Oxford dispensaries, Hybrid Relief and Star Buds. More than 1,700 patients are currently enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program. Voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in 2020, only to have it invalidated by the state Supreme Court. The legislature then passed a bill authorizing it.

International

Hong Kong Bans CBD as "Dangerous Drug." As of next Wednesday, Hong Kong will ban CBD, a cannabinoid that does not produce the same psychoactive effects as its more potent fellow cannabinoid, THC. "Starting from February 1, cannabidiol, aka CBD, will be regarded as a dangerous drug and will be supervised and managed by the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance,"customs intelligence officer Au-Yeung Ka-lun said ."As of then, transporting CBD for sale, including import and export, as well as producing, possessing and consuming CBD, will be illegal,"he added.

Mexican Senator Will File Bill to Legalize Natural Psychedelics for Treatment of Mental Health Problems. Sen. Alejandra Lagunes of the Ecological Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) said Wednesday she will present a bill to legalize and regulate natural psychedelics for the treatment of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. She made the comments at the Intercultural Forum on Entheogenic Medicine, which was held in the federal Senate."It’s scientifically proven that psilocybin from psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline from peyote, DMT from ayahuasca and the Colorado River toad are not drugs. They have a high therapeutic potential, low toxicity and don’t create physical dependence or abuse,"she said.

Myanmar Opium Production Booming After Coup, UNODC Says. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a new report that opium production is up 33 percent since the military took over the government in February 2021. Farmers in parts of the country have "little option" but to grow opium, reversing years of efforts to reduce poppy planting, said UNODC regional representative Jeremy Douglas. said "At times like these many farmers see opium as particularly attractive – given predictable demand and the fact that brokers will typically buy the entire crop at the farm gate," said International Crisis Group Myanmar advisor Richard Horsey.

Drug Decrim Bills Filed in MA, NY; Colombia to Reduce Forced Coca Eradication, More... (1/26/23)

Delaware bills to legalize marijuana are moving, a North Carolina medical marijuana bill is filed, and more.

A Colombian coca farmer. The Petro government is moving away from forced eradication efforts. (dea.gov)
Marijuana Policy

Delaware Marijuana Legalization Bill Wins Committee Vote. The House Health and Human Development Committee on Wednesday approved House Bill 1, which would legalize marijuana. The vote comes just one day after another committee approved House Bill 2, which would set up a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Rep. Ed Osienski (D), sponsor of the bills, said he expected House floor votes in March.

DC Council Files Bill to Allow Legal Marijuana Sales. Despite an ongoing congressional ban blocking the District of Columbia from allowing legal marijuana sales, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and six other council members have introduced a revised bill, Bill 25-0052,  to create a regulated legal marijuana commerce market. DC voters legalized marijuana in 2014, but the congressional rider in place since then has thwarted efforts to allow legal sales. The bill would allow people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of weed and grow up to six plants, three of which could be mature. It also creates a regulatory agency, which would approve licenses for cultivators, manufacturers, microbusinesses, retailers, and testing facilities, and sets a tax rate of up to 13 percent (6 percent for medical marijuana).

Medical Marijuana

North Carolina GOP Senators File Medical Marijuana Bill. On the first day bills could be filed in the new General Assembly session, Senators Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) and Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) filed Senate Bill 3, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state. Known as the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, the bill allows the use of medical marijuana for a specified list of debilitating conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The pair filed a similar bill last year that passed the Senate but never got any traction in the House.

Drug Policy

Massachusetts Drug Decriminalization Bill Filed. Rep. Samantha Montaño (D) has filed HD 2741, which would eliminate a section of state stature that prescribes criminal penalties for drug possession. Instead of fines or jail, people caught with drugs would be required to participate in "a needs screening to identify health and other service needs, including but not limited to services that may address any substance use disorder and mental health conditions, lack of employment, housing, or food, and any need for civil legal services." Anyone who provided proof they had completed a screening within 45 days would see their citations dismissed.

New York Drug Decriminalization Bill Filed. Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D) has filed a bill, Senate Bill 2340, that would eliminate criminal and civil penalties for drug possession while also creating a task force that’d be responsible for studying and making recommendations about additional reforms. Under the bill, people caught with drugs could either pay a $50 fine or take part in a "needs screening to identify health and other service needs, including but not limited to services that may address any problematic substance use and mental health conditions, lack of employment, housing, or food, and any need for civil legal services." The bill also calls for a drug decriminalization task force that would be charged with making "recommendations for reforming state laws, regulations and practices so that they align with the stated goal of treating substance use disorder as a disease, rather than a criminal behavior."

International

Colombia Will Reduce Forced Coca Eradication Efforts. The government of President Gustavo Petro announced Tuesday that it will be reducing coca eradication efforts in what would be a major shift of policy for Colombia. A new National Policy will reduce forced eradication efforts by 60 percent as the government experiments with alternative approaches to the coca cultivation problem. The Petro government is considering implementing a program agreed to a part of the 2016 peace deal with the FARC that provides subsidies to coca farmers in exchange for voluntary eradication. Although that agreement was part of the deal, it was never implemented by former President Duque, who opposed the overall treaty. 

CO Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Filed, Czech Legal Pot Bill Coming in March, More... (1/25/23)

A pair of Delaware marijuana legalization bills are moving, Ukraine patients and veterans beseech the parliament to act on a pending medical marijuana bill, and more.

Marijuana legalization is on the agend in Delaware and the Czech Republic. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Delaware Marijuana Legalization Regulation Bill Advances. One of a pair of bills that aim to legalize marijuana has passed its first committee hurdle. House Bill 2, which deals with taxation and developing rules for the legal marijuana industry, passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee on a 7-2 vote Tuesday. The other bill in the package sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski (D), House Bill 1, is getting a hearing today. That bill legalizes marijuana. (Update: House Bill 1 was approved by the House Health and Human Development Committee today.) Last year, the legislature passed the basic marijuana legalization bill only to see it vetoed by Gov. John Carney (D), but narrowly defeated the regulation bill. This year, Democrats are in a stronger position and could override a gubernatorial veto.

Asset Forfeiture

Colorado Bill Would End Civil Asset Forfeiture and Further Opt State Out of Federal Program. Three Republican lawmakers have filed a bill to end civil asset forfeiture and replace it with a criminal process requiring a conviction before asset forfeiture could proceed. The measure, House Bill 1086, would also make it more difficult for law enforcement to do an end run around state law by handing cases off to the feds, who then return most of the seized funds back to the originating law enforcement agency. The bill also reduces the percentage of seized funds that law enforcement agencies can get under state forfeiture from 50 percent to 25 percent.

International

Czech Marijuana Legalization Bill to Be Presented in March. A draft marijuana legalization bill should be ready by the end of March, anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril said. The bill will cover rules for cultivation, production of marijuana products, distribution, sale, and export to other countries. Voboril said he wanted the new marijuana regime in place next year. There are currently plans to create a registry of consumers, small producers, or marijuana associations, but talks in working group set up by the prime minister are ongoing.

Ukraine Patients', Human Rights, and Veterans' Groups Call for Legal Medical Marijuana. A bill that would legalize the medical use of marijuana (No. 7457) has been sitting before parliament for the past six months, and now patient, veteran, and human rights groups are appealing to members of Parliament to move on it. Some 89 groups have joined the appeal. "The patients' community has been fighting for six years to ensure that people with serious illnesses can relieve pain with medicines based on medical cannabis. These are patients with epilepsy, cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, multiple sclerosis and PTSD. Such treatment is a normal practice in more than 50 countries of the world. Today, our patients abroad can receive medicines based on medical cannabis, it is necessary to give them such an opportunity in Ukraine," said Inna Ivanenko, the executive director of the Patients of Ukraine Charitable Foundation.

DE Marijuana Legalization Bills Filed, NM Bill Would Increase Fentanyl Penalties, More... (1/23/23)

A Minnesota marijuana legalization bill continues to move, a New Hampshire bill that would legalize DMT gets a hearing, and more.

This could finally be the year Delaware legalizes weed. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Delaware Marijuana Legalization Bills Filed. Last year, Gov. John Carney (D) vetoed a marijuana legalization bill and legislative Democrats lacked the votes to override it, but this year, with renewed Democratic strength in the legislature, the push is on again. Rep. Ed Osienski (D), who has led the effort for years, has now filed a pair of marijuana legalization bills, House Bill 1 and House Bill 2. The former would legalize marijuana, while the latter would regulate the industry. Committee hearings on the bills will be held this week.

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Wins Second Committee Vote. A bill to legalize marijuana, House File 100, continues to move. It passed its second committee vote last Friday, being approved by the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee on a voice vote, with amendments. It still faces up to a dozen committee votes before it reaches the House floor.

Opiates and Opioids

New Mexico GOP Lawmakers Seek to Increase Fentanyl Penalties. Reps. William Rehm (R), Randall Pettigrew (R) and Stefani Lord (R) have filed House Bill 60, which attempts to address the state's fentanyl problem by increasing penalties for possessing specified amounts of the drug. The bill would increase prison sentences for fentanyl possession by three, five, or seven years, depending on the quantity. If someone possessed more than 25 pills, three years would be added; the seven-year increase would kick in if more than 75 pills were found .The bill is scheduled to be heard first by the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, but a date for the hearing hadn't been set.

Psychedelics

New Hampshire Bill Would Legalize DMT. A bill that would legalize dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, got a hearing in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee last week. The measure, House Bill 216, would exempt dimethyltryptamine or DMT from the controlled drug act. It is sponsored by Rep. Matthew Santonastaso (R). Speakers at the hearing cited the drug's religious use as well as its potential to help people dealing with PTSD and help people overcome addictions. The state police testified in opposition to the bill. No vote was taken.

VA Lawmakers Nix Medical Psilocybin, SC MedMJ Bills Filed, More... (1/20/23)

A Montana bill would block child welfare workers from removing children simply because of a parent's drug use, San Francisco is ready to move forward on safe injection sites, and more.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is now pushing for safe injection sites. (Creative Commons)
Medical Marijuana

South Carolina Sees Second Medical Marijuana Bill Filed. A bipartisan medical marijuana bill, the Compassionate Care Act (HB 3486/SB 423), has been filed in both houses this week. It would allow physicians to recommend marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions and have them purchase it from state-licensed and -regulated businesses. This is the second medical marijuana bill filed this year. The first, the No Patient Left Alone Act (HB 3215) is similar, but would allow dispensaries to grow their own product. The Compassionate Care Act got through the House last year only to die in the Senate.

Psychedelics

Virginia GOP Lawmakers Block Bill Legalizing Magic Mushrooms for Medical Use. A bill that would allow the use of magic mushrooms for medical purposes, House Bill 1513, has been killed by a subcommittee vote of the House Committee for the Courts of Justice. The bill would have allowed doctors to prescribe the drug for the treatment of depression, PTSD, or end of life anxiety. A bill that would direct Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to create a psilocybin study committee remains alive, however.

Child Welfare

Montana Bill Would Block Child Removals Based Solely on Parental Substance Use. An omnibus child protective reforms bill, House Bill 37, aimed at making the removal of children from parental households more difficult includes a provision that bars child welfare workers from removing a child for neglect or abuse based only on "substance use by a parent or guardian, disorderly living conditions, other factors closely related to economic status, or a child's obesity." The GOP-championed bill came after a year of study in the bipartisan Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee. It passed the House Judiciary Committee Friday and now heads for a House floor vote.

Harm Reduction

San Francisco Mayor Looking Again at Safe Injection Sites. Mayor London Breed (D) said Wednesday that she is working with Supervisor Hillary Ronen (D) to undo a city law that is an obstacle to nonprofits setting up safe injection sites in the city. Breed and other city officials say they are ready to move forward with privately-funded sites, but to do so, the Board of Supervisors will have to repeal a 2020 ordinance that prohibits safe injection sites. While city politicians had been fearful of a federal reaction to a safe injection site, they have been impressed by New York City's pair of safe injection sites that have operated for more than a year without federal harassment. "The Biden administration and the Newsom administration… are not going to throw San Franciscans in jail or cut off our federal funding because we're saving lives and stopping open-air drug use," Ronen told city staffers.

More Asset Forfeiture Reform Bills Filed, SD MedMJ Expansion Bill Advances, More... (1/19/23)

The US Virgin Islands legalizes marijuana, a Mississippi fentanyl test strip bill is moving, and more.

Reefer in paradise. The US Virgin Islands have legalized marijuana. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

US Virgin Islands Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization, Expungement Bills. Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. (D) has signed into law a pair of bills legalizing marijuana and setting up an expungement process for people with marijuana convictions. "From the beginning of the Bryan-Roach Administration, we have worked towards the legalization of the adult use of cannabis, and today, with the hard work of the members of the 34th Legislature and prior Legislatures and the efforts of my team, we are finally here and finally signing into law the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act," the governor said.

Separately, the governor also proclaimed that "all criminal convictions for the simple possession of marijuana" are fully and completely pardoned. The legalization bill allows people 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of buds, 14 grams of concentrates, and one ounce of marijuana products such as edibles and ointments. The bill has no provision for home cultivation, except for people who use marijuana for religious purposes. It also creates a regulatory agency for marijuana commerce and sets a minimum 18 percent tax on dispensary sales, and it includes several equity components.

Medical Marijuana

South Dakota Bill to Allow for Wider Use of Medical Marijuana Heads for Senate Floor Vote. A bill that expands the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use to include PTSD, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma, Senate Bill 1was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday and now heads for a Senate floor vote. The bill came out of the "Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee,"which met in the interim after the 2022 legislative session. That committee is made up of state lawmakers and officials, law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and industry experts from across the state. The bill passed the committee on a 6-1 vote.

Asset Forfeiture

Mississippi Bill Would End Civil Asset Forfeiture and Opt State Out of Federal Program in Most Cases. Rep. Dana Criswell (R) has filed House Bill 622, which would end civil asset forfeiture and effectively opt the state out of a program that allows police to do an end run around state forfeiture laws by handing cases off to the federal government (and getting a big cut of the proceeds). The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary B Committee.

New Hampshire Bill Would Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture Process and Take Steps to Opt Out of Federal Program. Reps. Dan McGuire (R) and Daniel Popovici-Muller (R) have filed House Bill 593, which would require a prior criminal conviction before asset forfeiture could occur in most cases. The state has a special asset forfeiture process for drug offenses, and this bill would require prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction in most cases before proceeding with asset forfeiture. It would also take steps to opt the state out of a program that allows police to do an end run around state forfeiture laws by handing cases off to the federal government (and getting a big cut of the proceeds). The bill is now before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Harm Reduction

Mississippi Fentanyl Test Strip Decriminalization Bill Wins House Committee Vote. The House Drug Policy Committee on Wednesday approved House Bill 7, which would decriminalize fentanyl test strips by removing them from the state's definition of drug paraphernalia. Under current state law, possession of fentanyl testing devices is punishable by up to six months in jail. Committee Chairman Lee Yancey (R) said the measure is not encouraging drug use, but aimed at saving lives. "We're just trying to prevent a mistake from becoming a fatal mistake," Yancey said. The bill must pass the full House by February 9 to stay alive.

Another Good Pot Poll, OR Bill to Re-Criminalize Drug Possession, More... (1/18/23)

Oregon Republicans want to undo the will of the voters on drug decriminalization, Mexico's former top security official is now on trial in New York for taking bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, and more.

Former Mexican Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna is now on trial in NYC on drug corruption charges. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

Another Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization, Social Equity. A new poll from Data for Progress has two-thirds (65 percent) support for marijuana legalization -- in line with a number of recent pot polls. Some 75 percent of Democrats were in favor, as were 67 percent of independents, and even 52 percent of Republicans. The poll also asked about two measures of social equity and found support for both. Some 57 percent of respondents said they would support reserving an initial round of business licenses for people negatively impacted by the war on drugs, while 65 percent said they would support directing a large portion of marijuana tax funds for "community-based initiative programs, such as job placement and skill services, substance use treatment programs, and financial literacy courses."

Drug Policy

Oregon Republicans File Bill to Undo Voter-Approved Drug Decriminalization. Led by Rep. Lily Morgan (R), a group of Republican lawmakers have filed House Bill 2973 to "repeal Measure 110's dangerous drug legalization. "Measure 110 was the voter-approved 2020 initiative that decriminalized -- not legalized -- the possession of personal use amounts of drugs and directed that a portion of marijuana tax revenues go to support drug prevention and treatment. The bill is now before the House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care.

Law Enforcement

Trial for Mexico's Former Top Security Official on Drug Corruption Charges Now Underway in New York City. Genaro Garcia Luna, who served as then-President Felipe Calderon's security secretary between 2006 and 2012, went on trial in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday. He is accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for helping its members move drugs and avoid capture. This was precisely the period when Calderon accelerated his country's war on drug by deploying the military, starting an era of deadly cartel wars that has yet to let up. Garcia Luna moved to the US after leaving office and was arrested here in 2019. The trial is expected to last for around eight weeks and should uncover the inner workings of the cartels' strategies for continuing to be able to operate despite the government's declared war against them.

Medical Marijuana Update

The state legislative season is upon us, and medical marijuana keeps popping up at statehouses, and in Congress.

National

GOP Congressman Files Bill to Protect Gun Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients. The first piece of marijuana reform legislation in the new Congress is a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to purchase and possess firearms. Sponsored by Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), along with Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), the Second Amendment Protection Act seeks to amend federal law around the "sale, purchase, shipment, receipt, or possession of a firearm or ammunition by a user of medical marijuana." Under current law, people who use marijuana can't buy or possess guns because they're considered to be "an unlawful user of or addicted to" a federally controlled substance. Mooney filed a similar bill in 2019, but it did not advance.

North Dakota

North Dakota Senate Approves Bill to Raise Patients' 30-Day THC Limit. The Senate has approved Senate Bill 2068, which increases the amount of THC in products such as tinctures and lotions that patients may purchase in a 30-day period. The limit is currently 4,000 milligrams, and the bill originally would have doubled that to 8,000 milligrams, but bill sponsor Sen. Kristin Roers (R-Fargo) amended it down to 6,000 milligrams after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 for a "do not pass" recommendation. The measure now heads to the House.

Ohio

Ohio Bill Would Revamp State's Medical Marijuana Program. State Sens. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) and Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) last week filed Senate Bill 9, which would let doctors recommend medical marijuana for any debilitating condition, let growers expand their operations, and expand the number of dispensaries in the state. Similar legislation stalled in the Assembly last year. The bill would also rationalize oversight under the sole purview of the Department of Commerce. Currently, three separate state agencies regulate medical marijuana, which some in the industry say is burdensome.

South Carolina

South Carolina Sees Two Medical Marijuana Bills Pre-Filed. With the legislative just getting underway, lawmakers in Columbia have already pre-filed two separate medical marijuana bills. The Put Patients First Act (House Bill 3226) is cosponsored by Democratic Minority Leader Todd Rutherford and freshman Republican Rep. Jay Kilmartin. It would make marijuana available to registered patients with a doctor's recommendation. The bill would allow caregivers and dispensaries to "cultivate, grow, and dispense marijuana for medical use." The other bill, the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (House Bill 3486) also has bipartisan sponsors and would "authorize the use of cannabis products by patients with debilitating medical conditions who are under the care of a physician, with exceptions."

South Dakota

South Dakota Bill Would Bar Pregnant or Breast-Feeding Women from Access to Medical Marijuana. Anti-marijuana and anti-abortion zealot Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence) has filed a bill that would block the Health Department from issuing medical marijuana cards to pregnant or breast-feeding women, House Bill 1053. The bill has been referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee. Deutsch served as treasurer for Protecting South Dakota Kids, a ballot measure committee that successfully opposed the 2022 marijuana legalization initiative and he also is a past president of South Dakota Right to Life, an anti-abortion group.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin GOP Lawmakers Move Closer to Legalizing Medical Marijuana. For years, the Republican-controlled legislature has fended off any and all efforts to advance marijuana reforms, but it could be different this year. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu has said that he thinks a bill to create a medical marijuana program in the state could be passed this legislative session as long as regulations are put forward to ensure it's for those in serious pain. "Our caucus is getting pretty close on medical marijuana," LeMahieu said, marking the first time the Republican Senate leader has expressed support for the notion. Republican Assembly Leader Robin Vos has in recent years expressed support for medical marijuana, while Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has long called for the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana. Two-thirds of Wisconsinites support legalizing marijuana and a super-majority of 80 percent support medical marijuana.

NH Bill Would Legalize Psychedelics, Federal Bill Would Ensure Gun Rights for MedMJ Patients, More... (1/17/23)

A New York bill would end civil asset forfeiture, a Utah bill would decriminalize fentanyl test strips, and more.

Evo Morales may no longer be president of Bolivia, but he still has his eye on the region. (Creative Commons)
Medical Marijuana

GOP Congressman Files Bill to Protect Gun Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients. The first piece of marijuana reform legislation in the new Congress is a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to purchase and possess firearms. Sponsored by Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), along with Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), the Second Amendment Protection Act seeks to amend federal law around the "sale, purchase, shipment, receipt, or possession of a firearm or ammunition by a user of medical marijuana." Under current law, people who use marijuana can't buy or possess guns because they're considered to be "an unlawful user of or addicted to"a federally controlled substance. Mooney filed a similar bill in 2019, but it did not advance.

Psychedelics

New Hampshire Bill to Legalize Possession of Psychedelics Filed. Rep. Kevin Verville (R) has filed House Bill 328, which states that the "possession or use of a hallucinogenic drug by a person 21 years of age or older shall not be an offense."It would also reduce penalties for LSD manufacturing and possession by people under 21. The bill does not name specific drugs, but state statute lists mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, and LSD as examples of hallucinogenic substances. The bill has been referred to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Asset Forfeiture

New York Bill Would End Civil Asset Forfeiture and Opt State Out of Federal Forfeiture Program. Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter (D) and eight Democratic cosponsors have filed Assembly Bill 641, which would end civil asset forfeiture in the state and replace it with a criminal process. Passage of the bill would also effectively opt the state out of a program that allows police to circumvent more strict state forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the feds. Under the bill seizures could occur only if the "prosecuting authority secures a conviction of a crime that authorizes the forfeiture of property and the prosecuting authority establishes by clear and convincing evidence the property is an instrumentality of or proceeds derived directly from the crime for which the state secured a conviction." The bill would also require that seized funds be deposited in the state's general fund. Under current law, police can keep up to 60 percent of asset forfeiture proceeds, creating an incentive for "policing for profit." The bill is now before the Assembly Codes Committee.

Harm Reduction

Utah Bill to Decriminalize Fentanyl Test Strips Filed. State Sen. Jenifer Plumb (D) has filed Senate Bill 86, which would legalize the use and possession of fentanyl test strips. Under current state law, the test strips are criminalized as drug paraphernalia, but the bill would create an exemption from liability under the state Controlled Substances Act. Test strips are an increasingly popular harm reduction measure in the fight to reduce fentanyl-related drug overdoses. The bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee.

International

Former Bolivian President and Coca Grower Setting Up Regional Organization. Former Bolivian President Evo Morales, forced out of office in the wake of disputed elections in 2019, will set up the headquarters of his plurinationalist, indigenist movement in the region in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The movement will convene next week with coca growers from Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, as well as Bolivia as Morales commences what he described as a struggle for the "plurinational peoples of Latin America." Continuing strife in Peru after the arrest and jailing of leftist President Castillo in December, as well as continuing strife in Bolivia's Santa Cruz province after the arrest of rightist Gov. Luis Fernando Camacho have placed Bolivian coca growers under unprecedented hardships. Morales rose to power as a Bolivian coca grower leader and still controls six coca grower unions in the Chapare.

Drug War Issues

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