Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
On Tuesday, a majority of the Virginia legislature concurred with Gov. Northam’s recommended changes to the adult use legalization bill on his desk. This means that beginning July 1, 2021, adults in Virginia will be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household without penalty, rather than on January 1, 2024 — the enactment date initially approved by lawmakers last month. The timeline by which state regulators have to enact provisions licensing commercial cannabis production and sales remains July 1, 2024.
Separately, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign an adult use legalization bill into law early next week.
At the local level, A legislative committee of the Philadelphia, PA city council approved a bill to ban pre-employment drug testing for marijuana.
Following are new legislative developments from the past week, and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state, and the NORML blog for regular updates.
Don’t forget to sign up for the NORML email list, and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and U.S. Congress.
Actions to Take
President Biden was crystal clear on the campaign trail when he stated: “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.” Now, as President, he has the power to do just that.
Legislation is pending to establish a medical marijuana access program for qualified patients with a physician’s recommendation to access medical marijuana from licensed retail outlets.
Senate Bill 46 would not allow patients to smoke herbal marijuana or vape, but would allow forms including pills, oils, lozenges patches, nebulizers and inhalers.
Update: Senate-approved SB 46 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/7/21.
Legislation is pending to expand the medical use of marijuana for dogs, cats and other pets in California.
Assembly Bill 384 would require new guidelines for veterinarians to follow when recommending medical cannabis treatment to any animal (excluding livestock).
Update: AB 384 was re-referred to the Committee on Business and Professions, where it will be heard on 4/13/21.
At the request of Governor Lamont, Senate Bill 888 is pending to legalize adult use marijuana, which would allow adults to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. The possession of any amount greater than 1.5 ounces would be punishable by a fine.
Update: SB 888 was approved by the Committee on Judiciary. The measure was amended to include additional social equity provisions, automatic expungement, and to no longer criminalize limited personal cultivation.
The Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act is pending to allow qualifying patients to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of medical cannabis. This measure would prohibit smoking and vaping.
Update: The Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act was removed from consideration on the House floor and re-referred to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee (which already approved the bill earlier this session).
Multiple pieces of legislation have been introduced to legalize and regulate adult-use marijuana in Louisiana.
House Bill 524 would remove criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession statewide. The measure would also allow localities (parishes) within Louisiana to regulate marijuana retail sales only if voters approve it via a proposed ballot measure during the 2022 election. If approved by lawmakers and then by voters, it would allow an individual to purchase and possess up to one ounce and cultivate up to six cannabis plants for personal use.
House Bill 637 would legalize and regulate adult use cannabis sales with a focus on a social equity licensing structure that would reduce barriers of entry for communities most harmed by prohibition.
House Bill 568 seeks to establish an excise tax on cannabis, and sets up a structure for the allocation of such revenues to education, mental health, police, and transportation programs.
Legislation has been introduced, House Bill 652, which seeks to reduce penalties for the low-level possession of marijuana.
If passed, the bill would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana from up to 15 days in jail and a maximum $300 fine, to a $50 fine only.
Legislation has been introduced, House Bill 391, which would repeal the prohibition on physicians recommending medical marijuana for “inhalation” and in “raw or crude” form.
It also allows dispensaries to dispense two and a half ounces of marijuana per 14 day period.
Senate Bill 190 is pending which would prohibit a person from being denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm solely on the basis that the person is authorized to use medical cannabis.
Update: SB 190 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/8/21.
Legislation has been introduced to legalize and regulate the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults in North Carolina.
Senate Bill 646 would allow adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and 15 grams of concentrates, and to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use.
The measure would also facilitate the automatic expungement of past convictions for any offenses made legal under this bill. It also would create an Office of Social Equity to promote participation by those from “communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition and enforcement in order to positively impact those communities.”
Senate Bill 483 has been introduced, which would also make up to one and one half ounces of marijuana an infraction instead of a misdemeanor, as well as automatically expunge past convictions for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.
Legislation has been introduced to regulate medical cannabis for patients in North Carolina.
Senate Bill 711 has the best chance for passage, as it is supported by both Republicans and Democrats. This bill would allow qualifying patients, with a physician’s recommendation, to access a 30-day supply of medical cannabis at a time via licensed retail outlets.
Senate Bill 669 would also allow registered patients, with a physician’s recommendation, to access medical cannabis via licensed retail outlets. This bill would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis to any patient whom they believe would benefit from its therapeutic use. It also includes protections for patients with regard to employment, education, parental rights, housing, and those needing organ transplants.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 2272, which seeks to limit the number of medical cannabis dispensaries permitted to operate in the state of Oklahoma.
The bill would end the distribution of additional licenses to new businesses this fall, and allow currently operating businesses to have their licenses revoked if they don’t meet certain criteria.
Update: HB 2272 was approved by the Appropriations Committee on 4/7/21.
House Bill 2022 would create a “nonresident medical marijuana patient license” for out-of-state patients who are at least 18 years old, have their application signed by an Oklahoma physician, and pay the $200 fee. This license would be valid for two years.
Update: HB 2022 was heard in the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee on 4/8/21.
H5021 would prohibit employers from refusing to hire, discharging or otherwise discriminating against any individual because of their medical use of marijuana.
Update: H5021 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House State Government & Elections Committee on 4/12/21.
House Bill 5190 would allow veterinarians to recommend medical cannabis treatment to animals with a debilitating medical condition.
Update: H5190 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House State Government & Elections Committee on 4/12/21.
Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee.
House Bill 413/Senate Bill 1439 would remove criminal and civil penalties for the possession or casual exchange of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults.
Update: HB 413 was scheduled for consideration in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 4/6/21, but was deferred until 4/14.
Several bills are pending to reduce criminal penalties for certain marijuana possession offenses.
House Bill 441 would eliminate arrests and prevent loss of a drivers license and a criminal record for up to two ounces of marijuana possession.
House Bill 2593 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to two ounces of THC concentrate.
Update: A number of bills were heard in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on 4/6/21. HB 441 and HB 2593 were approved by the committee.
HB 1535 which would add Cancer, Chronic Pain, and PTSD for Veterans while allowing the Department of State Health Services to add new qualifying conditions through their administrative rule-making process. HB 1535 would also raise the THC cap to 5% and create “Institutional Review Boards” which will facilitate research and track the impact of medical cannabis on patients participating in the program.
Update: HB 1535 was unanimously approved by the House Public Health Committee on 4/7/21.