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CA Therapeutic Psychedelics Bill Advances, KY Prison Guards Tase Prisoners for Drug Test Fails, More... (4/16/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1209)

There was some torture-style nastiness over failed drug tests in a Kentucky prison, Kentucky lawmakers act to expedite medical marijuana licensing, and more.

Therapeutic psychedelics could be coming to California after a bill in Sacramento advances. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

New Hampshire Governor Won't Sign Marijuana Legalization Bill. Local media is reporting that Gov. Chris Sununu (R) will not sign into law a marijuana legalization bill, House Bill 1633, that won a required second vote in the House last week. The bill had to be passed twice in the House because it contains financial elements.

The governor had opposed legalization until this year but said he could support it only if marijuana commerce came under a state liquor store model. He did hold open the prospect that the bill could be modified to meet his desires in the Senate.

Filed by Rep. Erica Layon (R), the bill would legalize the possession of up to four ounces of weed by people 21 and over but contains no provision for home cultivation. It would also establish legal marijuana commerce through 15 tightly regulated retail pot shops. But it does not comport with Gov. Sununu's demand that commerce be done under a state liquor store model.

"Governor Sununu has been crystal clear about the framework needed for a legalization bill to earn his support, focusing on harm reduction and keeping it out of kids' hands," his office said in a. "The legislation passed today doesn't get us there but the Governor looks forward to working with the Senate to see if we can get it done."

Medical Marijuana

Kentucky Lawmakers Approve Bill to Expedite Medical Marijuana Licensing. Lawmakers have approved a bill, House Bill 829, that will speed up the licensing of medical marijuana businesses in a bid to get medicine to patients by the beginning of next year. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Andy Beshears (D), who is expected to sign it.

Lawmakers approved a medical marijuana program in 2023 that is set to go into effect on January 1, 2025 but under the terms of that bill, medical marijuana growers cannot obtain licenses until that date. That means they cannot start their grow operations until sometime later that year, once they are licensed, leaving patients without their medicine through the spring and summer.

The bill just passed by the legislature moves up the licensing timeline to allow growers, processors, and dispensaries to get licenses and start growing as early as this summer. That was just fine with Sen. Stephen West (R), the sponsor of the original medical marijuana legislation.

"It does allow these businesses -- the growers especially -- to get up and running, start growing product so there's actually something there to sell January 1," West said.


California Therapeutic Psychedelics Bill Advances. The Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee passed Senator Scott Wiener's (D-San Francisco) bipartisan Senate Bill 1012, which allows adults 21 and older to use certain psychedelic substances in a regulated context, and under the supervision of a licensed and trained facilitator. The bill does not allow the sale, personal possession, or use of psychedelics outside of a supervised context.

The bill passed 7-4 and heads next to the Senate Public Safety Committee.

"Psychedelics, when used safely, can turn people's lives around, and we owe it to Californians to make these substances accessible in a safe and secure context, under the supervision of a licensed professional," said Senator Wiener. "I thank the Business and Professions Committee for recognizing that need today."

The bill covers psilocybin/psilocyn (mushrooms), Dimethyltryptamine (DMT, the active ingredient in ayahuasca), MDMA, and mescaline (other than peyote). It establishes a professional licensing board to train facilitators, develop guidelines, and regulate the safe and responsible supervised use of psychedelics.

Last fall, the Legislature passed SB 58 -- authored by Senator Wiener and supported by Assemblymember Waldron -- which would have decriminalized the personal use and possession of certain psychedelic substances. In a message explaining his decision to veto the bill, Governor Newsom urged the Legislature to send him a bill establishing therapeutic guidelines for the use of psychedelics in California.

SB 1012 is a direct response to the Governor’s request. The bill creates the Board of Psychedelic Facilitators under the Department of Consumer Affairs, which will license and regulate professional facilitators who are trained in psychedelic-assisted therapy. Once licensed, these facilitators will provide supervised access for persons 21+ to certain regulated psychedelic substances (psilocybin/psilocyn, DMT, mescaline (excluding peyote), and MDMA produced and tested by licensed entities. The use of these substances will be permitted only under the supervision of the licensed and trained facilitator.

Law Enforcement

Kentucky Prison Guards Tased Prisoners for Failing Drug Tests. Three guards at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex were fired and one was suspended for 30 days after tasering inmates for failing drug tests. The firings and suspensions took place in June 2023, but a 630-page investigation by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet obtained by local media only went public this week.

The fired guards were Boone Collins, Robert Grim, and Alan Dube, and the guard suspended was Justin Newsome.

The investigation took place after a federal lawsuit was filed in March. That lawsuit alleges inmates were forced to drink their own urine or get tased -- a claim the investigation did not address.

The report found that the guards told inmates who failed drug tests they would throw away the positive sample and not get written up if they agreed to be tased.

Officers Collins and Grim tased inmates while sergeants Newsome and Dube watched and failed to stop them or take any action.

While the four employees punished all denied the allegations at some point, the internal investigation included video footage from April 5, 2023, showing lights from taser usage coming from behind a curtain where inmates were providing urine samples.

The report found that at least six inmates were tased after failed drug tests. One of the inmates told investigators an officer said to him, "Either you get tased or take the dirty."

Another said officers "tased the shit out of me" and that his arm "smelled like burnt skin all night, with scabs on it."

And an inmate who didn't test positive said he heard officers make "an announcement, 'If you piss dirty you can take a write-up or let us hit you with the taser.'"

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb declined to comment on the federal lawsuit, which also charges an initial "coverup" by prison officials, but acknowledged that the incident was investigated and disciplinary action taken.

"This incident was thoroughly investigated, and multiple disciplinary actions were taken including employee terminations," she said.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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