Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
This week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (finally, after 111 day) signed three pieces of enabling legislation into law carrying out voters’ Election Day demands to legalize adult-use marijuana possession and license retail marijuana sales.
Lawmakers in Puerto Rico held the first hearing on legislation to protect medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination.
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: SB 46 was approved by the Senate on 2/24/21, and how heads to the House!
Forthcoming legislation seeks to limit the THC concentration in both medical and adult use marijuana to 15% and to reduce the standard dosing sizes to 5 mg and 10 mg.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 56, which seeks to expand cannabis-based medicine access for registered patients in public schools.
The bill requires school boards to implement policies allowing for the storage, possession, and administration of cannabis-based medicine by school personnel. It also allows school personnel to volunteer to possess, administer, or assist in administration of cannabis-based medicine and protects those who do from retaliation.
Update: SB 56 was approved by the Senate Education Committee on 2/24/21, and now heads to the Committee on Appropriations.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 111, which seeks to establish a social equity program in the office of economic development and international trade (OEDIT) to support entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry.
Update: SB 111 was approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations on 2/23, and was then approved by the full Senate on 2/24/21.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1058, which seeks to promote social distancing in the marijuana industry by allowing telehealth and other services.
The bill permits a physician to treat, counsel, and conduct appropriate personal physical examinations, in person or remotely via telephone or video conference, to establish a bona fide physician-patient relationship with a patient seeking a medical marijuana card.
Update: HB 1058 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee on 3/3/21.
At the request of Governor Lamont, Senate Bill 888 was introduced, 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.
Under Lamont’s measure, a three percent tax would apply to marijuana retail sales, on top of the state’s standard 6.35 percent sales tax, a portion of which would be reinvested in communities most harmed by prohibition. The measure would also facilitate the expungement of past convictions involving the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana.
Update: SB 888 was heard in the Joint Committee on Judiciary on 2/26/21.
House Bill 1361 was introduced, which would allow those 21 and older to legally possess and purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal use. House Bill 1363 would impose an excise tax on marijuana cultivators of $50 per ounce, and would also allow municipalities to impose an additional excise tax of up to 15 percent.
Legislation is pending to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
House Bill 1215 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, to a noncriminal civil violation, punishable by a $100 fine or community service.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 117, to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.
The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible to receive an authorization for CBD therapy to include those with ulcerative colitis.
Update: HB 117 was approved by the House Regulated Industries Committee on 2/24/21.
Senate Bill 758 would increase from 3 grams to 1 ounce: (1) the minimum amount of marijuana that a defendant must possess to be charged with a petty misdemeanor; and (2) the maximum amount of marijuana that a defendant convicted of possessing marijuana could have possessed without being disqualified from the subsequent expungement of the record of that conviction.
Update: SB 758 is scheduled for decision making in the Senate Committee on Judiciary on 3/2/21.
Senate Bill 241 would authorize qualifying patients and qualifying out-of-state patients to transport cannabis between islands of the State for personal medical use.
Update: SB 241 was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary on 2/24/21.
House Bill 1028 is pending, to provide a defense to DUI prosecution for a person who operates a vehicle with marijuana or its metabolite in the person’s blood under certain conditions.
Update: HB 1028 was originally written to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession, but was amended by the House to instead provide a defense to DUI prosecutions for those that have marijuana in their system but are not impaired. The measure was approved by the House by a 79 to 15 vote on 2/22/21, and now heads to the Senate.
House File 648 would remove the threat of jail time for marijuana possession. It also reduces the penalty for possession with intent to distribute up to 42.5 grams of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Under existing state law, the possession of any amount of marijuana for a first offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Governor Laura Kelly introduced a medical cannabis legalization proposal that would fund Medicaid expansion. Under this measure, patients would be prohibited from smoking and vaping, and potency would be limited to 35% THC.
House Bill 2184: 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: HB 2184 was heard in the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs on 2/24 and 2/25/21.
Legislation is pending to legalize marijuana for adults in Minnesota.
Senate File 757, companion to House Majority Leader Winkler’s HF 600, was introduced which would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to ten pounds of marijuana in a private residence, up to 1.5 ounces in public, and grow up to eight plants (up to four mature) for personal use. The bill also includes expungement, on-site consumption, delivery, and social equity provisions.
Separate, similar legislation was also introduced to regulate adult use marijuana, House File 1511, allowing adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces and grow up to eight (up to four mature) marijuana plants.
Update: HF 600 was approved by the House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee on 2/23/21.
House Bill 501 would prohibit the state government from sharing medical marijuana user or registry information with the federal government. If passed, any state official who violates this law would be committing a felony offense.
Update: HB 501 was heard in the House Downsizing State Government Committee on 2/24/21.
Legislation is pending that would significantly restrict the adult use cannabis program in Montana.
Senate Bill 341 would:
- Impose a purchase limit for consumers of one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrate per week;
- Scale back employment protections for patients and consumers;
- Prohibit those with past drug convictions from participating in the cannabis industry; and
- Limit the potency in all adult use cannabis and cannabis products to 15 percent.
Update: SB 341 was heard in the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee on 2/26/21.
Legislation is pending to delay the implementation of I-190, the adult use marijuana initiative approved by Montana voters in the 2020 election.
As written, I-190 says that rules and regulations for businesses must be in place by October 2021, and adult use marijuana sales can begin by January 22. House Bill 457 would delay these deadlines by at least one year.
Update: SB 457 was heard in the House Business and Labor Committee on 2/26/21.
Legislation is pending that would strengthen employment protections for registered medical cannabis patients in Montana.
House Bill 582 would prohibit employers from barring off-the-job medical marijuana use as a condition of employment. The measure would also allow employees to take action against an employer for wrongful discharge.
Update: House Bill 568 was heard in the House Business and Labor Committee on 2/24/21.
Legislation is pending that seeks to limit the number of adult use marijuana retail outlets allowed to operate in the state.
House Bill 568 “would limit dispensaries to one per 1,000 county residents with a cap of 10 dispensaries per county,” which would result in only about 100 retail outlets statewide.
Update: House Bill 568 was heard in the House Business and Labor Committee on 2/24/21.
Legislation is pending, to amend certain marijuana penalties for juvenile offenders. Currently under state law, those under 21 can face up to 8 hours of drug education or counseling and a $100 fine for up to one ounce of marijuana possession.
House Bill 517 would remove these penalties for those between 18-20, and remove the fine for those under 18 caught in possession of any amount of marijuana.
Update: HB 517 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 2/24/21.
Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 158, which seeks to revise penalties imposed on minors caught in possession of marijuana.
Currently in the state of Nevada, minors caught with up to one ounce of marijuana face a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in the county jail.
This bill would revise the current penalties to eliminate the possibility of jail time or a fine. The new penalty for a minor in possession of under one ounce of marijuana would be up to 100 hours of counseling or participation in support groups.
Update: AB 158 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on 3/3/21.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 350, which permits qualifying patients to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
The measure would permit registered patients to grow up to three mature plants, three immature plants, and 12 seedlings for therapeutic use. The measure also legalizes the personal possession of up to eight ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.
Update: HB 350 was approved by the House on 2/24/21, and now heads to the Senate.
Legislation is pending to expand medical cannabis access.
House Bill 89 would add “moderate to severe insomnia” as a qualifying condition for eligibility for medical cannabis treatment.
House Bill 605 would add “moderate to severe insomnia” as well as “opioid use disorder” to the definition of qualifying medical condition.
The measure also would allow out-of-state residents qualified in other jurisdictions to purchase therapeutic cannabis at New Hampshire dispensaries, and allow patients and caregivers to cultivate up to 3 mature cannabis plants, 3 immature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings in private.
Update: HB 89 and HB 605 were heard in the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 2/23/21. HB 605 is scheduled for an executive session on 3/2/21.
Senator Singleton’s (D) bill, S3420 and companion A5363, would permit registered patients and caregivers to grow up to four mature plants and four immature plants, after registering as a home cultivator with the state.
Under current state law, growing up to five marijuana plants is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
House Bill 12 would allow adults to purchase up to two ounces of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six mature plants for personal use. Those who possess more than two ounces must store it in a locked space. Under this measure, those convicted of an offense involving up to two ounces of marijuana possession would be eligible for automatic expungement after two years, those currently incarcerated for these offenses would be eligible for dismissal.
Senate Bill 363 would allow adults to purchase up to two ounces of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six mature plants for personal use. Those who possess more than two ounces must store it in their residence. Under these measures, those convicted of an offense involving up to two ounces of marijuana possession would be eligible for automatic expungement, those currently incarcerated for these offenses would be eligible for dismissal.
Senate Bill 288 would allow adults to legally possess and purchase up to two ounces of marijuana. This measure includes a two percent excise tax on retail sales, and would also allow licensed on-site consumption lounges.
Senate Bill 13 would also allow adults to possess up to two ounces of marijuana. Under this measure, personal cultivation of up to three plants would be decriminalized, punishable by a $500 fine, and retail sales would be taxed at 20 percent plus state and local sales taxes.
Update: House Bill 12 was approved by the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on 2/24/21. SB 363, SB 13, and SB 288 are scheduled for public hearings in the Senate Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee on 2/27/21.
House Bill 1420 would allow adults 21 and older to legally purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana from a licensed retail outlet.
House Bill 1501 would impose a 15% tax on adult use marijuana retail sales if and when adult use marijuana is legalized by lawmakers.
HCR 3031 would amend the state’s constitution to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults. If approved by lawmakers, this measure would place a ballot measure before voters to weigh in on during the 2022 election.
Update: HB 1420 and HB 1501 were approved by the House on 2/23/21. They both now head to the Senate. HCR 3031was defeated on the House floor on 2/23 and is now dead.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1201, to reduce the penalty for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
If passed, the bill would amend penalties so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is classified as a civil rather than a criminal offense, punishable by a ticket of up to $50. The measure also reduces penalties for the possession of larger quantities of marijuana.
Update: HB 1201 was approved by the House on 2/23/21. The bill now heads to the Senate.
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 approved by the House on 2/24/21, and now heads to the Senate.
The first bipartisan piece of adult use marijuana legalization legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania!
Legislation by Senators Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D) would allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana and legally purchase it from licensed retail outlets.
Under the measure, home cultivation of up to five marijuana plants would be allowed for medical cannabis patients only. Those with prior convictions for offenses made legal by the bill could get their records expunged. The state’s six percent sales tax, along with a ten percent excise tax, would be applied to marijuana retail sales.
Legislation is pending that seeks to delay the implementation of Measure 26, the voter-approved ballot measure to legalize medical cannabis access for qualifying patients.
After Governor Kristi Noem, along with legislative leaders, announced their plan to delay the implementation of Measure 26, House Bill 1100 was amended by lawmakers to reflect this plan.
Measure 26 was scheduled to take effect on July 21, 2021, just eight months after voter approval, but this new piece of legislation would delay that timeline by at least one year.
Update: HB 1100 was approved by the House on 2/25/21, and now heads to the Senate.
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 141, seeking to automatically remove certain misdemeanor marijuana possession charges and convictions from appearing on a background check.
Update: SB 141 was approved by the Senate on 2/22/21, and now heads to the House Judiciary Committee, where it is scheduled for a public hearing on 3/1/21.
Legislation is pending, House Bill 1203, that seeks to allow local banks and credit unions to service marijuana businesses.
Update: HB 1203 was approved by the House on 2/22/21, and then approved by the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee on 2/25/21.
House Bill 208 and House Bill 239 to allow certain cancer patients to possess and use full extract cannabis oil that is intended to be ingested orally or used topically.
House Bill 666/Senate Bill 1493 would allow disabled veterans with quadriplegia to possess and use liquid extract cannabis if certain criteria met.
Update: HB 239 and HB 666 are scheduled for a public hearing in the Health Subcommittee on 3/2/21.
HB 490/SB 118 are pending, which would establish a medical cannabis commission to study laws and legislation regarding the medical use of cannabis and report findings and recommendations for future legislation on how to best establish an effective, patient-focused medical cannabis program in this state.
Update: SB 118 was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Government Operations Committee on 2/24, but it was delayed until 3/3/21.
House Bill 489 / Senate Bill 153 would prohibit government agencies from taking adverse actions against certain individuals based on positive urine tests for THC at the level of 35 nanograms per milliliter or less.
The measures would also create a “rebuttable presumption” that it is not abuse for a parent or guardian to provide hemp products to a child, and prohibit a court from revoking a person’s bail, probation, or parole solely due to a positive drug test for THC.
Update: SB 153 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/2/21.
Legislation is pending that would expand Utah’s medical cannabis program.
Senate Bill 170 would:
- Expand the pool of medical professionals who can recommend medical cannabis to patients, and
- Allow patients to access their medicine while their application is being reviewed, before they receive an ID card.
Senate Bill 192 would authorize DOH to issue an additional medical cannabis pharmacy license to dispense medical cannabis to patients in a specific geographic region.
Update: SB 170 was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 2/25/21. SB 192 was approved by the Senate on 2/26, and now heads to the House.
Legislation is in conference committee, SB 1406 and HB 2312, to legalize and regulate the responsible use of cannabis by adults 21 and older. The deadline is fast approaching, and if the House and Senate conferees do not reach a compromise in the next day, the bills will fail.
The legislature has approved SB 1333 and HB 2218, which seeks to improve Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Program by permitting pharmaceutical processors to produce and distribute cannabis products other than cannabis oil.
Update: HB 2218 was approved by the House on 2/22/21 on a concurrence vote. The bill now heads the governor’s desk
The legislature has approved HB 1988, which seeks to improve Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Program. The bill will ensure those in hospice, nursing, and assisted living facilities are able to safely access medical cannabis, and that the continued allowance of telemedicine for patient certifications is maintained post-pandemic.
Update: HB 1988 was approved by the legislature on 2/23/21. The measure noe heads to the governor’s desk.
Legislation is pending, HB 2113, which seeks to establish a process for the automatic expungement of criminal records for certain convictions, deferred dispositions, and acquittals and for offenses that have been nolle prossed or otherwise dismissed.
Update: HB 2113 was approved by the legislature on 2/26/21 and now heads to the governor.
That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more!