[Canniseur: The New Mexico legislature couldn’t pass the bills to legalize. But cannabis is decriminalized now. The least they could do and that’s what the legislature did. Now the legislative session is over for the year, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens next year.]
New Mexico is likely to become the next state to decriminalize marijuana, with legislation to do so on its way to the desk of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).
With just hours left in the legislative session, lawmakers gave final approval to bill to remove criminal penalties for cannabis possession early on Saturday morning.
The win for marijuana reformers comes amidst disappointment that a broader bill to legalize and regulate cannabis sales that was passed by the House earlier this month ended up getting stalled in a Senate committee.
The successful decriminalization bill was first approved earlier this month by the Senate. The House took it up on Friday, approving minor amendments made by the Judiciary Committee, and the proposal then went back to the originating chamber for a final vote to be sent to Grisham for her signature.
That bill was unique compared to marijuana legalization laws that have been enacted in other states in that it would have mostly put legal cannabis sales in state-run stores (while making some allowances for the licensing of private retailers).
Meanwhile, the decriminalization proposal, sponsored by Joseph Cervantes (D), would decrease penalties for possession of up to half an ounce of cannabis to a $50 fine, treated as a penalty assessment misdemeanor without the threat of jail time.
“SB 323 could have a positive fiscal impact on the courts, prosecutors, and public defenders; workloads could be lessened by reducing the charges of possession of marijuana up to one-half ounce and use or possession of drug paraphernalia to penalty assessments,” it says. “These penalty assessments would not require court hearings, unless the charges are contested.”
“Currently, these charges carry criminal penalties that require court hearings to be set automatically. Criminal charges, which carry the potential of jail time, require the defendant to be arraigned by a judge, and often require additional hearings to resolve the charges,” the Legislative Finance Committee document explained. “Processing of penalty assessments involves less court resources than criminal cases.”
Grisham said during her election campaign last year that she supports legalizing marijuana with appropriate safeguards, but she has not commented specifically on the more modest decriminalization bill that is now on its way to her desk.
[Canniseur: The New Mexico senate still must pass it, so it’s not a done deal. But, another state may be going to adult use. They seem to be doing this for the right reasons too.]
New Mexico’s House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use on Thursday.
After getting a favorable report from two Housecommittees last month, the legislation cleared the full chamber in a narrow 36-34 vote, but not before being significantly amended from its original form.
Sponsored by Reps. Javier Martinez (D) and Antonio Maestas (D), the bill would establish a retail cannabis system in the state and would automatically seal previous records of individuals with convictions for marijuana offenses that are made legal by the bill.
Before final passage on the floor, Martinez offered a compromise substitute version of the bill that its sponsors worked out with Republicans “in the spirit of bipartisanship.”
Under the compromise approved by the House, marijuana stores would generally be run by a new state regulatory commission. In areas where there isn’t a government-run retail operation within 25 miles, private sellers could be licensed.
Manufacturers would be privately licensed.
Notably, the amended bill also requires that cannabis consumers maintain a receipt of sale for marijuana they possess. Those found without the receipts could face criminal charges, Martinez said when describing the changes.
The initially proposed legal possession limit of two ounces was lowered to one ounce.
And, unlike the original House legislation, the new version does not allow for home cultivation of recreational marijuana. Patients would still be allowed to grow their own medical cannabis, however.
The Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Health would have varying regulatory responsibilities.
Marijuana tax revenue would be directed toward a grant fund for research into marijuana, public education campaigns, community grants for workforce training and substance abuse and mental health treatment.
In the first year, #cannabis legalization is projected to generate 11,000 jobs and more than $70 million in tax revenue. #nmleg#nmpol
[Editor’s Note: We feel the full legalization of hemp is a precursor to the full legalization of cannabis. Agree or disagree?]
A bipartisan group of members of Congress is pushing the Trump administration to provide a legal pathway for food products infused with the marijuana compound cannabidiol, better known as CBD.
In a letter sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday, the lawmakers wrote that a series of recent actions by state and local officials in New York City, Maine and Ohio to crack down on the sale of CBD foods and beverages have “spurred a tremendous amount of confusion among product manufacturers, hemp farmers, and consumers of these products.”
FDA has so far refused to say whether it was involved in the local crackdowns in any way.
“In light of the aforementioned state enforcement actions and the resulting confusion, we are calling on FDA to swiftly provide guidance on lawful pathways for food products with CBD,” the 12 lawmakers, led by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), wrote to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Following the federal legalization of hemp and products derived from it late last year through the Farm Bill, FDA released a lengthy statement saying that it reserves the right to regulate cannabis-based products. The agency would take action against businesses making unsupported claims about CBD’s therapeutic potential, it said, even if the products in question were derived from legal hemp crops, and it warned against introducing such products into interstate commerce.
Gottlieb did say in the statement, however, that “pathways remain available for the FDA to consider whether there are circumstances in which certain cannabis-derived compounds might be permitted in a food or dietary supplement.”
He also said that FDA would hold a public meeting on the issue to “gather additional input relevant to the lawful pathways by which products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds can be marketed, and how we can make these legal pathways more predictable and efficient.”
Now, the group of House members is urging him to hurry it up, and they want answers to the following questions by Friday:
1. When will FDA provide guidance on lawful pathways for food products with CBD? For example, it would seem the GRAS Notification Program would be one such pathway.
2. Has FDA advised states—such as New York, Maine or Ohio—that have recently taken enforcement actions against food products with CBD?
3. When will FDA hold a public hearing on the regulation of products containing CBD?
Hemp production is a growing market for farmers and rural communities across the country. We’re urging Commissioner @ScottGottliebMD to provide lawful pathways for hemp-derived #CBD products. #mepolitics
“States are looking for immediate leadership from the Federal Government to eliminate confusion around this issue,” the House lawmakers wrote. “Furthermore, numerous states are pursuing legislative efforts that would allow for the intrastate commerce of food products with CBD, potentially leading to a patchwork of state regulations.”
Lawmakers joining Pingree on the letter include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Peter Welch (D-VT), among others.
Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) also sent a separate letter to the FDA last month criticizing “outdated regulations,” that “limit producers from taking full advantage of the industrial hemp market” such as the development of hemp-derived CBD products.
Read the full text of the new CBD letter to the FDA below:
[Editor’s Note: This new legislation is the fourth standalone cannabis bill that has been filed so far during the 116th Congress, which began last week. Hopefully at least one will pass this year.]
A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers on Friday filed legislation that, if enacted, would essentially revive the Obama-era marijuana enforcement memo that was rescinded by then-U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year.
The full text of the Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act, sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) and six other House members, is not yet online. But a bill that Correa filed last Congress under the same title would have clarified that the attorney general “shall not prosecute for any conduct that concerns marihuana for medicinal or recreational use and is authorized by the laws of the State involved.”
That legislation also carved out several exceptions for areas where the Justice Department could continue to enforce federal anti-cannabis laws, such as:
Distribution of marijuana to minors.
Revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.
Diversion of marijuana from States where it is legal under State law in some form to other States.
State-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity.
Violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
Drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.
The growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands.
Marijuana possession or use on Federal property.
Those provisions closely mirror the so-called Cole Memo that was issued by the Obama Justice Department in 2013 to essentially direct federal prosecutors to respect state marijuana laws by not interfering with their implementation except in certain circumstances.
“The Department’s ill-conceived decision adversely affects California and other states that in ‘good faith’ implemented regulatory frameworks that relied on the memo,” Correa said in remarks inserted into the Congressional Record on Friday. “The repeal of the Cole Memo contravenes the will of the American public. Furthermore, this decision will negatively affect numerous Americans who utilize cannabis for medical purposes.”
“We need to provide consumers, patients, businesses, and regulators with certainty.”
Lawmakers that have so far signed onto Correa’s new proposal include Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-AK), Dina Titus (D-NV), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA). It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
The version that Correa filed last Congress did not receive a hearing or a vote.
The new legislation is the fourth standalone cannabis bill that has been filed so far during the 116th Congress, which began last week.
Ed. Note: Michigan: Vote for Proposal 1. North Dakota: Vote Yes for Measure 3. This is the last week before elections. The opposition is taking a strong stand by putting a lot of money into the campaign to defeat Proposal 1 and Measure 3. Do not allow the naysayers, telling bald-faced lies, change your mind.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted, “Illinois gubernatorial race is the latest example of marijuana legalization being good politics as well as good policy. Legalization is playing a role in swing state elections, adding more support for our federal cannabis reform agenda.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill to stop revoking driver’s’ licenses from people convicted of drug offenses and other crimes unrelated to motor vehicle operation.
A report from Colorado regulators on the impact of legalization found that youth marijuana use has not increased, among other data points.
Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean tweeted in support of medical cannabis.
Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan and Republican challenger Janssen Willhoit agreed during a debate that marijuana sales should be legalized.
Minnesota Democratic attorney general candidate Keith Ellison, currently a congressman, tweeted, “As a civil rights attorney for 16 years, I saw too many lives ruined by the failed War on Drugs. Restarting it may help Trump’s friends in the for-profit prison industry, but serves no one else. It is time for a new approach focused around rehabilitation.”
Maryland regulators ordered a medical cannabis company’s products pulled off of shelves, but won’t say why.
New Mexico lawmakers held a hearing on allowing medical cannabis at schools.
Michigan regulators will consider medical cannabis license applications on Monday.
North Dakota’s first medical cannabis manufacturing facility is up and running.
Washington State regulators sent a bulletin about marijuana transportation requirements, regional licensing applications and more.
Newark, New Jersey’s mayor says that cities should get a big chunk of tax revenue from legal marijuana.
Here’s a look at where Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro stands on drug policy.
Thai lawmakers will hold a seminar on medical cannabis on Tuesday.
The Canadian government and an organization it partnered with on distributing marijuana education brochures ended their relationship over the group’s refusal to stop accepting funds from pharmaceutical and cannabis companies.
/ SCIENCE & HEALTH
A study found that “the specialty publication GreenState, which reported on health issues related to cannabis, exhibited significant shortcomings when compared to its parent publisher, the San Francisco Chronicle,” and noted several issues with promotional articles.