This week, House and Senate lawmakers in Washington state approved legislation, Senate Bill 5605, facilitating the expungement of past low-level marijuana convictions.
The legislation now awaits action by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who has previously called for pardoning those with criminal records for marijuana violations.
The measure provides the courts with the discretion to vacate any misdemeanor marijuana conviction. Those seeking to have their records expunge will need to petition the sentencing court for the vacation of their records.
Governor Inslee has previously stated that he “believes that forgiving these convictions will allow people to move on with their lives without these convictions causing additional burdens on people, their families, their employers and their communities.”
Once signed, the new law goes into effect on July 27, 2019.
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DENVER, CO — This week, the Colorado General Assembly passed two bills expanding patient access to medical marijuana, which now await the Governor’s signature.
Colorado’s pro-cannabis Governor, Jared Polis, is expected to sign the measures into law.
DPA championed SB19-013, which adds any condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid to the list of disabling medical conditions that authorize a person to use medical marijuana. The House approved this bipartisan bill on Tuesday and yesterday the Senate, which had originally released it in February, concurred with House amendments for final passage. In addition to giving Coloradans the option of accessing medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids, this bill amends the requirements for physicians who recommend medical marijuana for pediatric patients with disabling medical conditions, to make the criteria less burdensome for families.
The General Assembly also passed SB19-218 with prime sponsorship by Senator Gonzales (District 34) and Representative Jaquez Lewis (District 12). This bill broadly addresses regulations for the medical marijuana program and includes provisions to allow dentists and advanced practice practitioners to make recommendations for medical marijuana. This authority has previously been limited to doctors of medicine or osteopathic medicine.
“These bills represent a crucial synergy between harm reduction and marijuana policy,” said Art Way, Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
“Allowing medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids will help prevent overdose deaths by giving patients a legitimate, viable alternative,” added Way. “Allowing a broader range of medical practitioners to recommend medical marijuana will increase opportunities for patients to engage with their health providers and determine what’s safest for them.”
Prime sponsors Senators Marble (District 23) and Ginal (District 14) and Representatives Hooton (District 10) and Ransom (District 44) ushered SB19-013 through with support from dozens of advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, Safe Access Colorado, American Medical Refugees, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA), Influential X, Colorado NORML, Access Hope, Denver NORML, CannAbility Foundation, Canna-Patient Resource Connection, Cannabis Consumers Coalition, Veterans for Natural Rights and more. With enactment of SB19-013, Colorado would join a handful of other states, including Illinois, New York, Missouri, New Mexico and New Jersey, which have implemented harm reduction measures related to opioids through their medical marijuana programs.
CONCORD, NH — The New Hampshire Senate approved a bill Thursday (14-10) to allow participants in the state’s therapeutic cannabis program to cultivate their own cannabis.
House Bill 364 will now head back to the House, where it passed in a voice vote on March 7. If the House concurs with the Senate version, it will be sent to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu.
House Bill 364 would allow possession of three mature cannabis plants, three immature plants, and 12 seedlings for each patient. Thursday’s vote marked the first time the Senate has ever supported legislation allowing home cultivation of medical cannabis. If the bill becomes law, New Hampshire will be the first state to add home cultivation to a medical cannabis program that initially limited patients’ source of cannabis to dispensaries.
“This critically important bill will make medical cannabis more accessible to qualifying patients in New Hampshire,” said Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Medical cannabis is not covered by health insurance, and many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries. For some, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option.”
MONTPELIER, VT — A bill to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use in Vermont received approval Thursday from the House Government Operations Committee.
The bill is expected to be reviewed by the Ways and Means and Appropriations committees before it receives a vote on the House floor. With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, supporters of S. 54 are urging the House to complete its work on S. 54 in a timely fashion and bring it to the floor for a vote.
Senate Bill 54 would create a system of regulated marijuana production and sales for adult use in Vermont. Retail sales would be subject to a 16% tax, and municipalities could establish a 2% local option tax if they host a retailer. It would also change the word “marijuana” to “cannabis” throughout state statutes. A detailed summary of S. 54 is available here.
Laws regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use have been enacted in nine states and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Vermont and D.C. are the only two U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis is legal but not regulated for adult use.
The Vermont Senate has passed bills to regulate and tax cannabis for adults’ use on several occasions since 2016, but this is the first time such a bill has been approved by a committee in the House.
“We applaud the committee for advancing S. 54, and we urge the House to complete its work on S. 54 without delay,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is leading a coalition in support of the legislation. “Cannabis has been legal for adults in Vermont for the better part of a year, and it’s time for it to be regulated and taxed in order to protect public health and safety. This legislation reflects years of careful study and deliberation, and it proposes a thoughtful and measured approach to establishing a legal cannabis market. Most Vermonters support regulating the production and sale of cannabis, and they have waited long enough for lawmakers to develop such a system.
“Several states around the country have already implemented similar laws, and they are finding significant public health and safety benefits. Cannabis is being subjected to strict testing, packaging, and labeling requirements that ensure products are not contaminated and that consumers know what they are getting. Cannabis cultivation, processing, and sales are taking place in tightly regulated facilities that are creating jobs and generating tax revenue for their communities. It is by no means a panacea, but it is undoubtedly a huge improvement over the failed system of prohibition that it is replacing.”
BISMARCK, ND — House and Senate lawmakers in North Dakota have passed legislation, House Bill 1050, reducing marijuana possession penalties.
The measure now awaits action from Republican Gov. Doug Burgum.
Under the proposal, the possession of up to one-half ounce (14.175 grams) of cannabis or marijuana-related paraphernalia for a first-time offender is reclassified from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, to an infraction — punishable by a fine but no possibility of jail time.
Those charged with subsequent infractions over the course of a calendar year may face the possibility of misdemeanor charges.
In 2016, North Dakota ranked sixth in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests.
Separate provisions in the measure reduce penalties for the possession of up to 500 grams of cannabis from a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to a class B misdemeanor. Penalties for the possession of greater amounts are amended from a felony to a Class A misdemeanor.
If signed into law, the new penalties will take effect on August 1, 2019.
ATLANTA, GA Republican Gov. Brian Kemphas signed legislation into law to facilitate the licensed production and distribution of oils and other products containing limited amounts of plant-derived THC in Georgia.
House Bill 324 (aka Georgia’s Hope Act) establishes a regulatory commission to oversee the eventual “production, manufacturing, and dispensing” of products possessing specified quantities of plant-derived THC to qualified patients.
The law allows for the licensing of up to six privately owned cultivation operations, and also seeks collaboration with the University of Georgia in the manufacturing of THC-infused extracts and oils.
Under a 2015 state law, qualified patients are exempt from criminal prosecution for the possession of oil extracts containing not more than 5 percent THC and an amount of CBD equal to or greater than the amount of THC.
However, the law failed to provide any mechanism for patients to obtain low-THC products from a state-regulated producer or provider.
Approximately 9,500 patients are currently registered with the state to possess medical cannabis products.
It is anticipated that it may take up to two years before any state-licensed facilities are up and running.
OLYMPIA, WA — Washington state’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee has signed legislation, House Bill 1095, permitting qualified patients access to cannabis-infused products while on school grounds.
The new law explicitly permits parents or guardians “to administer marijuana-infused products to the student while the student is on school grounds.”
It also mandates that school districts “permit a student [who is a qualified medical cannabis patient] to consume marijuana-infused products … on school grounds, aboard a school bus, or while attending a school-sponsored event.”
The new law goes into effect on July 27, 2019.
Children can now take medical marijuana at school, thanks to new law just signed by @GovInslee. The man in the green behind the Gov., John Barclay, fought for law bc of his daughter, River. She was too ill to attend the bill signing. #walegpic.twitter.com/vgz1RrXt68
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