Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved legislation (HR 5634: The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018) to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials assessing the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis. The vote marks the first time that lawmakers have ever decided in favor of easing existing federal restrictions which limit investigators ability to clinically study marijuana in a manner similar to other controlled substances.
On the other hand, a congressional conference committee opted not to include a Senate-passed provision in a bill to fund the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure is known as the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which sought to facilitate veterans’ access to medical cannabis in jurisdictions that regulate it.
Also, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of Congress’s more ardent drug warriors—signed on as a cosponsor of the STATES Act, to remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales.
At the state level, New Mexico’s health secretary approved adding obstructive sleep apnea as a medical cannabis qualifying condition, but rejected adding opioid addiction, muscular dystrophy, Tourette’s syndrome, eczema and psoriasis. Separately, regulators are holding a series of public meeting next month to receive feedback on proposed hemp rules.
Vermont’s marijuana legalization study committee held a meeting. And California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill prohibiting the marketing of cannabis products on websites used by minors.
At a more local level, Brooklyn, New York’s district attorney is moving to expunge thousands of marijuana convictions. And Manhattan’s district attorney is moving to vacate misdemeanor marijuana warrants. He appeared in court to move to dismiss 3,000 marijuana cases dating back to 1978.
The Lancaster, Pennsylvania City Council amended a proposed marijuana penalty reduction ordinance, with a final vote expected later this month. The Green Bay, Wisconsin Common Council is considering lowering fines for marijuana possession. And Oklahoma City, Oklahoma’s City Council heard testimony on a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance.
Following are the bills we’ve tracked this week pending before California Governor Jerry Brown, and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.
Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.
Decriminalize Cannabis: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sponsoring the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.
Assembly Bill 1793 seeks to allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence. The bill was approved by the Senate last week.
Update: AB 1793 awaits action from Governor Brown.
Senate Bill 1127 would help students with severe medical disabilities attend school by allowing a parent or guardian to come on school grounds to administer medical cannabis to them in non-smoking and non-vaping forms. The bill was already approved by the Senate earlier this year.
Update: After failing to gain enough votes for passage in the Assembly on 8/23, a motion to reconsider was granted and on 8/27, SB 1127 was approved by the Assembly with a 42-29 vote. The bill now awaits action from Governor Brown.
Senate Bill 829 would exempt compassionate care programs from paying state cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions.
Update: SB 829 was approved by the full Assembly with a 65-2 vote on 8/29. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence since it was amended in the Assembly. SB 829 is being heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Friday 8/31, and then will go to the Senate floor for a vote.
That’s all for this week!