Lawmakers in many states have started to pre-file marijuana law reform legislation and some sessions have already begun holding hearings. This week’s update highlights legislative developments in Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
House Bill 28 seeks “to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal on January 1, 2024.”
HB 1101 and HB 1090 seek to automatically expunge all criminal history records of an arrest, charge not initiated by arrest, order of supervision, or order of qualified probation for any person who, on or after January 1, 1970, has been convicted of, or is serving an order of supervision for, the possession of cannabis.
Senate Bill 70 seeks to decriminalize simple possession of one ounce or less of cannabis, cannabis, hashish, and hash oil.
House Bill 1297 seeks to decriminalize simple possession of less than 2 oz of marijuana in the state of Indiana.
Under existing state law, possession of any amount of these substances is criminal, and the people of the state of Indiana are subject to some of the harshest punishments in the nation for these offenses.
HB 1263 would permit the use of medical marijuana by persons with serious medical conditions as determined by their physician while also instituting patient protections.
SB 0237 would permit the use of medical marijuana by those with qualifying conditions or a serious medical condition that their doctor deems could benefit from the use. Patients would be permitted to possess eight oz less of dried marijuana; home cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants.
Currently, Indiana has no medical cannabis program, depriving thousands of Indianans afflicted by numerous and wide-ranging medical conditions of proven-effective cannabis treatments.
House Bill 1248 seeks to establish a regulated market for the adult use of cannabis. If passed, this bill would allow adults to possess up to four ounces of dried cannabis flower, and 25 mg of concentrates and cultivate up to four plants in their homes. The bill also includes provisions for equity in licensing.
Senate Bill 0308 seeks to permit adults 21 years and older to possess cannabis. The bill allows adults to purchase one ounce of cannabis or five grams of cannabis concentrate per day, with home delivery being allowed. Additionally, there are licensing equity provisions for minorities or veterans.
Under existing law, the sale or cultivation of up to 30 grams of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000. Possessing over 30 grams of cannabis is defined as a felony offense.
Senate File 73 seeks to legalize marijuana possession, manufacturing, delivery, and retail sale in the state of Iowa. Residents that are 21 years or older may possess 30g of marijuana flower, 5g of marijuana concentrate, and 500mg of THC in an infused product. Non-Residents may possess up to half of those amounts. No more than one ounce of marijuana or its equivalent in retail marijuana products may be purchased per transaction.
Under existing state law, possession of any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of incarceration, with subsequent offenses climbing to the level of a felony offense. Cultivation and distribution of any amount is a felony offense punishable by five years of incarceration.
Senate Bill 88 seeks to require that certain records relating to certain convictions of cannabis possession that have been pardoned by the Governor be automatically expunged..
Senate Bill 51 seeks to amend statutes relating to the determination of reasonable suspicion and probable cause concerning Cannabis in the state of Maryland. If passed, this bill would “provid[e] that, with a certain exception, a finding or determination of reasonable suspicion or probable cause relating to possession of contraband or other criminal activity may not be based solely on evidence of the odor of certain cannabis, the possession of or suspicion of possession of cannabis, or the presence of money in proximity to cannabis.”
Senate Bill 73 seeks to substitute civil penalties in place of criminal penalties for certain offenses relating to manufacturing, cultivating, possessing, and possessing with intent to distribute cannabis products outside of the regulated market.
Maryland voters in 2022 approved a referendum requiring lawmakers to provide laws regulating the commercial cannabis market, but they have not yet done so.
UPDATE: HF 100 is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, January 11th in the Committee on Commerce, Finance, and Policy.
HF 100 and SF73 seek to allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to two ounces of cannabis and to home-cultivate up to eight plants (of which four may be mature). In addition to creating a system of licensed, private cannabis businesses, municipalities, and counties would have the option of owning and operating government dispensaries. Those with prior marijuana convictions would have their records automatically expunged. The legislation also allows for on-site consumption lounges and cannabis delivery services. It also contains language banning the sale of unregulated synthetic cannabinoids, which is consistent with Board of Pharmacy rules put into place last year.
Additionally, the legislation seeks to promote social equity and inclusion among licensees by prioritizing licensure to underrepresented populations, such as people living in low-income neighborhoods and military veterans who lost their honorable status because of a cannabis-related offense.
House Bill 338 seeks to legalize the possession of up to one oz of marijuana and the cultivation of no more than three mature plants.
Senate Bill 2097 seeks to “delete the criminal penalty for the possession of less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana in Mississippi.” Currently, under state law, only possession of up to 30 grams as a first offense is not subject to criminal penalty.
By striking references to cannabis from the state’s CSA, Legislative Bill 22 seeks to repeal existing criminal penalties for most all marijuana-related activities. While it is unrealistic to think that lawmakers would ultimately agree to such an option, this bill can serve as a starting point to begin important legislative discussions regarding further reducing marijuana possession penalties and regulating the commercial cannabis market.
Legislation is pending to legalize the adult use of cannabis in New Hampshire. Polling shows 74 percent of Granite State voters support legalizing cannabis. Under existing state law, simple possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of cannabis is a civil violation, with over ¾ being a misdemeanor punishable with up to 1 year of incarceration.
HB 639 seeks to legalize the home cultivation of up to six plants, of which three can be mature, for adults 21 and older. It further authorizes a new, stand-alone Cannabis Commission to regulate commercial cannabis production and sales, with oversight from an independent advisory board. Sales to adults would be subjected to the 8.5 percent Meals and Rooms Tax.
HB 344 permits adults to possess up to 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis, five grams of hashish, and certain cannabis-infused products. It legalizes the home cultivation of up to six plants.
House Bill 360 repeals the possession and use of cannabis for persons over the age of 21 in the state of New Hampshire. If passed, this bill would strike most all current references to cannabis (marijuana) in the state’s Controlled Drugs Act, amending the statutes to provide for safe and legal possession and consumption for those over the age of 21.
UPDATE: HB 82 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee on 1/19/23.
HB82 seeks to enhance the employment rights of qualified medical marijuana patients. If passed, this bill would prevent employers from refusing to hire, or firing qualified medical marijuana patients solely because of a positive drug test.
HB 431 seeks to permit qualifying patients and designated caregivers to home-cultivate up to six plants (no more than three mature) for their own personal therapeutic use. Recently, New Hampshire’s Therapeutic Cannabis Medical Oversight Board voted to endorse legalizing medical marijuana home cultivation.
Senate Bill S1023 seeks to establish reciprocity between New York’s medical cannabis program and those of other states, with a secondary goal of “promulgat[ing] regulations for the approval of pre-roll products in the medical cannabis program.”
UPDATE: The Senate has amended and passed SB 2068 with a vote of 33 to 14. Originally, the bill sought to double the maximum purchasable THC purchasable from 4,000 mg to 8,000 mg. The bill now seeks to raise the maximum amount of THC to 6,000 mg.
Senate Bill 2068 seeks to increase the maximum monthly purchasable amount of products containing THC by qualified patients. Currently, the maximum monthly allowance is 4,000 mg.
UPDATE: SD1 has a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee scheduled for 1/18/23.
SD1 seeks to remove the ability of medical cannabis patients and others to petition the Department of Health to add new qualifying conditions. If passed, new conditions could only be added by an act of the legislature. Lawmakers are not doctors and decisions over which patients may benefit from medical cannabis should not be left solely up to their discretion.