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MA Governor Pardons Marijuana Possessors, AK Psychedelic Task Force Bill Advances, More... (4/4/24)

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A New York bill aims to crack down on illicit weed sales, a Hawaii bill to deepen pot decriminalization advances, and more.

Psilocybin mushrooms. Psychedelic task force bills are moving in Alaska and Maine. (Pixabay)
Marijuana Policy

Hawaii Pot Decriminalization Bill Advances After Legalization Bill is Killed. The possession of up to three grams of marijuana is currently decriminalized, but a bill moving in the legislature this session, Senate Bill 2487, would expand decriminalization by allowing for up to an ounce and by reducing the fine from $130 to $25.

"Heavily fining or putting people in jail for possession of some small amount simply serves to impair people to hold a job, get loans, things you need to advance in society," said bill cosponsor Sen. Chris Lee (D). "Decriminalizing possession of cannabis is something that is a big step forward," added Lee.

Movement on the bill comes just a day after a marijuana legalization bill was effectively killed in the House Finance Committee. The decriminalization bill has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, passed a second reading Wednesday, and now awaits a final Senate floor vote.

Massachusetts Governor Mass Pardons Pot Possession Offenders. A proposal from Gov. Maura Healey (D) to pardon potentially hundreds of thousands of people busted for pot possession in the state over the years will go into effect after being approved by the Governor's Council Wednesday.

"Thousands of Massachusetts residents will now see their records cleared of this charge, which will help lower the barriers they face when seeking housing, education or a job," Healey said in a statement.

The pardons go into effect immediately, and anyone who wants a certificate showing the pardon can obtain one online.

Healey opposed marijuana legalization when serving as state attorney general even though state voters made clear they supported it, voting it in in 2016. Healey now says she has "evolved" on the issue.

New York Lawmakers Press for Bill Targeting Illegal Weed Shops. Assembly Member John Zaccaro (D) and State Sen. Jamaal Bailey (D) are pressing fellow lawmakers to support a bill that would increase penalties for businesses selling illicit marijuana, Assembly Bill 8428. The bill would allow for the revocation of liquor, tobacco, and lottery licenses for businesses caught selling weed without a proper license.

The bill comes as the state struggles to implement its scheme for legal marijuana commerce, whose roll-out has been excruciatingly slow. Lawmakers and industry leaders alike are pointing a finger at illicit pot sales at businesses as one reason the move to legal sales has been so bumpy.

"We have been inundated with an illicit market that has taken over the news cycle and today we're here to say enough is enough," said Zaccaro at a rally Wednesday. "This legislature will not stand for what is taking place."

Bailey said the bill "does something that makes you think twice about peddling illegal cannabis," and evens out the playing field for operators who followed the rules. "If you want to gamble with that (and) take away your livelihood, no longer will you be able to play lotto, no longer will you be able to stock essential things in your store," he said. "This is a clear message, a shot across the bow."

For all the talk, though, the bill was referred to the Assembly Economic Development Committee in December and still sits there.


Alaska Psychedelic Task Force Bill Advances. The House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday voted to approve a bill that would create a state task force on regulating psychedelic-assisted therapy once the therapeutic use of substances such as MDMA and psilocybin wins federal approval, House Bill 228.

Approval came after the committee adopted an amendment changing the name of the task force and clarifying its objective. The bill now heads for the House Rules Committee.

The bill would not change the legal status of any drugs but would merely create that legislative task force, which would be charged with making recommendations on licensing and regulating psychedelic therapeutics by the end of the year.

Maine Senate Approves Bill to Create Psychedelic Commission to Study Regulated Access. A bill that would originally have legalized psilocybin and allow adults to use it at licensed facilities has passed the Senate, but only after being watered down in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee to become a study bill on how to create a "legal framework for the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs, including but not limited to psilocybin."

The measure, LD 1914, now goes to the House.

It would create a 13-member panel of legislative appointees, health experts, a military veteran, academics, and people with experience in psychedelics policy to review "medical, psychological and scientific studies, research and other information on the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating behavioral health conditions," as well as how other states have approached regulating psychedelics access.

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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