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NH Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances, Zelensky Signs Ukraine MedMJ Bill, More... (2/15/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1205)

It's all marijuana policy today, from Madison and Phoenix to Bonn and Kyiv.

Marijuana Policy

Arizona Bill to Allow Interstate Marijuana Commerce Wins Committee Vote. The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday first rejected and then reconsidered and approved a bill to authorize interstate commerce in marijuana once federal policy changes, House Bill 2770. The measure originally failed on a 5-5 vote before later passing on a 6-4 vote.

"The reason I’m running this is because I’m a big believer in interstate commerce," said Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R), who chairs the committee. "And my understanding is, if we don't do something like this before the feds legalize it, then we would have to wait a year, maybe two years, for our statute to catch up to whatever the feds do."

"They could legalize it next week or in ten years. We really don't know. But the point of me running this bill this year, this moment, is to be prepared so that when it does come, we can go off to the races and our marijuana industry can be successful and beneficial in every way possible," the chairman said.

The bill must now be approved by the House Rules Committee before heading for a House floor vote.

Three West Coast states -- California, Oregon, and Washington -- have already adopted laws that allow their governors to agree to allow marijuana imports and exports between consenting jurisdictions. All three rely on changes in federal marijuana laws or policies to go into effect.

New Hampshire House Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to approve a marijuana legalization bill, House Bill 1633. The measure would put in place "procedures for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis" and "the licensing and regulation of cannabis establishments."

The bill easily passed out of committee on a 17-3 vote. It would legalize the possession of up to four ounces for people 21 and over but would only allow home cultivation for registered medical marijuana patients.

The bill provides municipalities with the opportunity to ban marijuana sales, but offers protections to users with language saying that the odor of cannabis or burnt cannabis, or the possession of a quantity of cannabis that the officer does not have probable cause to believe exceeds the possession limit of cannabis, shall not constitute in part or in whole probable cause or reasonable suspicion and shall not be used as a basis to support any stop or search of a person or motor vehicle."

The bill now heads to the House Finance Committee.

Medical Marijuana

Maryland Senate Committee Approves Bill to Protect Patients' Gun Rights Under State Law. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill meant to protect medical marijuana patients' right to bear firearms under state law, Senate Bill 348.

The bill passed without debate, except from bill sponsor and committee chair Sen. Mike McKay (R), who noted that "we’ve passed the bill like probably five times" over recent sessions, though the measure has not yet been enacted into law.

The bill would protect the rights of registered medical cannabis patients to buy, own, and carry firearms under Maryland law, even though they are still restricted from doing so under federal statute.

The measure now heads for a Senate floor vote. Companion legislation in the House, House Bill 296, has yet to move in committee.

South Carolina Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill. The state Senate on Wednesday approved a medical marijuana bill from Sen. Tom Davis (R), Senate Bill 423. The final vote was 24-19 and came a day after the Senate gave it initial approval.

The Senate passed an earlier version of the bill in 2022, only to see it stalled in the House. This bill now goes to the House.

Davis said his goal had always been to "come up with the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country that empowered doctors to help patients -- but at the same time tied itself to science, to addressing conditions for which there’s empirically based data saying that cannabis can be of medical benefit."

He added that he thought his bill "can actually be used by several states that maybe regret their decision to allow recreational use, or they may be looking to tighten up their medical laws so that it becomes something more stringent."

The bill would allow patients to obtain medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries if they have a doctor's recommendation for treatment of specified qualifying conditions as well as for terminal illnesses and chronic diseases where opioids are the standard of care.

Wisconsin Republican Medical Marijuana Effort Dead. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said Friday that the restrictive medical marijuana bill he was supporting is dead and that he is no longer willing to call a floor vote on it. He made the announcement after Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) had made clear that the bill was "a non-starter" for his caucus members.

LeMahieu said he and his members objected to the bill's adoption of state-run dispensaries. "Why would we let government grow the size of government?" he asked.

Vos had said last month he was unwilling to budge from his proposed bill, and now here we are.

"We see that the Senate wants to have a more liberal version than the one that we’re willing to pass," Vos said Thursday. He said he had the votes to pass the measure in the House but would not bring it up with no path to advance in the Senate.


German Marijuana Legalization Votes Coming Next Week. It's official: A bill to legalize marijuana is officially on the legislative agenda for next week, although it will take three more votes to get it done. The Bundestag's Finance Committee will vote next Wednesday, followed by the Health Committee and then the full chamber.

The announcement came after a hiccup forced two weeks ago by the Social Democratic Party, which resulted in the bill being slightly revised to expand monitoring and reporting requirements related to the black market.

The bill would allow for the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana beginning in April and for social clubs that could distribute marijuana to members beginning in July. The bill does not include commercial sales, but officials are planning to introduce a bill to establish pilot programs for commercial sales in select cities at a later date.

Ukrainian President Signs Medical Marijuana Bill into Law. President Vladamir Zelensky on Tuesday signed a bill into law that legalizes medical marijuana in the country. The legislation allows the prescribing of marijuana-based medicines for various conditions including, pain, cancer, and PTSD.

The Health Ministry estimates that the number of people who could benefit from treatments for those conditions has "tripled" since Russia invaded the country two years ago.

While advocates had been pushing for medical marijuana for years, the war and associated mental health crisis heightened the urgency of getting it passed.

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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