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Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Under Consideration

Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Under Consideration

rhode island cannabis legalization being considered by house

On Tuesday, the RI House of Representatives Committee on Finance examined legislation that would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, with legislators and the public showing strong support for the bill and contemplating how it could be improved. The proposal in the House differs from the Senate’s recently passed, similar legislation in a number of key areas, including automatic expungement for past cannabis offenses and oversight and impact fees to be paid to municipalities where retail stores open.

“I try to take input from a lot of the stakeholders in the cannabis world,” said sponsoring representative Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence). “Patients, caregivers, cultivators, existing compassion centers and the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. I try to take everyone’s input and compromise the best piece of legislation that I can for a legal, adult-use, recreational cannabis program.”

 

The legislation, if approved in the House and signed into law, would legalize cannabis in the state, allowing possession up to one ounce by individuals over the age of 21. It also allows for home grow comparable to neighboring Massachusetts, with adults being able to grow up to 12 plants, with six active plants at any given time.

Fifteen recreational cannabis licenses would be made available if the legislation is approved, with five of those being designated for equity applicants. Three of the licenses would go to the state’s three existing compassion centers and seven new licenses would be up for grabs, with one of those slots set aside for a co-op business.

“We can work on the number of retail [licenses],” said Slater. “I’m open to adjusting that number. I think it’s important.”

“What I’ve found is that we have people, small businesses, our constituents, investing their money and there was no market for them,” he continued, speaking to the state’s expansion of medical marijuana access in recent years. “They got their licenses, they paid their fees, they did all the right things and I feel that we oversaturated the market and I don’t want to do that again.”

Last week, the RI Senate passed similar legislation, though Slater said his bill bears some significant differences.

The first, said Slater, is that past cannabis-related offenses, both misdemeanors and felonies, would be automatically expunged if the legislation is approved. The Senate bill also offers expungement for past cannabis offenses, though that bill lays out a process to apply for expungement. Further, Slater’s bill would not create a five-member cannabis control commission as in the Senate’s version, but would leave oversight to the state’s Department of Business Regulation.

“My bill leaves the regulation to DBR, which has been doing a good job to authorize and promulgate regulations to effectuate the legislation,” said Slater.

California Lawmakers Approve Bill To Legalize Psychedelics Possession

California Lawmakers Approve Bill To Legalize Psychedelics Possession

California psychedelics possession has been legalized by legislators

A California Assembly committee on Tuesday approved a Senate-passed bill to legalize possession of psychedelics, clearing its first major hurdle in the chamber.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee advanced the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D), in a 5-3 vote.

This comes one day after the senator held a rally with military veterans, law enforcement and health officials to build support for the proposal.

SB 519 would remove criminal penalties for possessing or sharing numerous psychedelics—including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD and MDMA—for adults 21 and older.

The sponsor supported a committee amendment that removed ketamine from the list of psychedelics included in the reform. That’s in addition to a series of technical revisions that were made to the legislation.

The full Senate approved the bill earlier this month, and it still has two more Assembly panel stops—the Public Health and Appropriations Committees—before moving to the floor and then, potentially, to the governor’s desk.

“Under SB 519, we will no longer arrest people and incarcerate them for the simple personal possession of psychedelics for personal or shared use,” Wiener told the committee on Tuesday. “That’s really the question here: Do we believe that we should be arresting someone because they possess psychedelics for personal use? I don’t think we should. Frankly, I think most people don’t think we should be doing that.”

A California Assembly committee on Tuesday approved a Senate-passed bill to legalize possession of psychedelics, clearing its first major hurdle in the chamber.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee advanced the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D), in a 5-3 vote.

This comes one day after the senator held a rally with military veterans, law enforcement and health officials to build support for the proposal.

SB 519 would remove criminal penalties for possessing or sharing numerous psychedelics—including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD and MDMA—for adults 21 and older.

The sponsor supported a committee amendment that removed ketamine from the list of psychedelics included in the reform. That’s in addition to a series of technical revisions that were made to the legislation.

The full Senate approved the bill earlier this month, and it still has two more Assembly panel stops—the Public Health and Appropriations Committees—before moving to the floor and then, potentially, to the governor’s desk.

“Under SB 519, we will no longer arrest people and incarcerate them for the simple personal possession of psychedelics for personal or shared use,” Wiener told the committee on Tuesday. “That’s really the question here: Do we believe that we should be arresting someone because they possess psychedelics for personal use? I don’t think we should. Frankly, I think most people don’t think we should be doing that.”

Wiener has described its prospects going forward as “very challenging,” but he made the case at Monday’s press event that it is a necessary policy change to advance mental health reform and end criminalization.

Under the measure, the state Department of Public Health would be required to establish a working group “to study and make recommendations regarding possible regulatory systems that California could adopt to promote safe and equitable access to certain substances in permitted legal contexts.” Those recommendations would be due by January 1, 2024.

For psilocybin specifically, the legislation would repeal provisions in California statute that prohibit the cultivation or transportation of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material” that contain the psychoactive ingredient.

The bill originally included record sealing and resentencing provisions for people previously convicted of psychedelics possession offenses, but that language was removed in its last committee stop prior to the Senate floor vote as part of an amendment from the sponsor.

Mexico top court decriminalizes recreational marijuana use

Mexico top court decriminalizes recreational marijuana use

Mexico cannabis legalization has been passed in the supreme court
Mexico’s Supreme Court on Monday decriminalized recreational marijuana use for adults, drawing a cautious welcome from activists who said users face a “legal vacuum” until lawmakers pass a stalled legalization bill.

“Today is a historic day for liberties,” court president Arturo Zaldivar said, after eight of the 11 judges backed the decision declaring the drug’s prohibition under the health law to be unconstitutional.

The ruling comes after Congress failed to enact legislation allowing recreational marijuana use by an April 30 deadline set by the country’s highest court. The landmark bill was approved by the lower house in March but still needs final approval by the upper house, the Senate.

In April, the ruling majority in the Senate said it was considering postponing the final discussion on the law until September. The Supreme Court urged Congress to issue the necessary legislation “in order to generate legal certainty.”

Legal obstacles

Pro-legalization campaigners said the Supreme Court ruling left cannabis users facing many uncertainties. Mexico United Against Crime, a non-governmental organization, said the decision “does not decriminalize the activities necessary to carry out consumption” such as production, possession and transportation of marijuana.

The ruling “leaves a legal vacuum with respect to the consumption, cultivation and distribution of cannabis,” it added, calling on Congress to issue the necessary legislation. Veteran pot legalization activist Jorge Hernandez Tinajero, who is part of the Mexican Association of Cannabis Studies, was also skeptical about the announcement.

“They do not dare to go further,” he said, adding that recreational users still faced legal obstacles to possessing marijuana.

​Massive market

One consequence of the court ruling is that recreational users will be able to obtain a permit from national health regulator Cofepris more easily, said Adriana Muro, director of rights group Elementa.

“What had happened on previous occasions was that Cofepris denied those permits,” she told AFP.

“Now that permission has to be given automatically,” she added.

But that does not open the door to commercialization or personal possession of more than the five grams already allowed, said Francisco Burgoa, a constitutional lawyer and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“Congress urgently needs to legislate, but I think that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is not personally in favor,” he told AFP.

The legislation would make Mexico, home to 126 million people, one of just a few countries, including Uruguay and Canada, to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Cannabis use for medicinal purposes has been decriminalized in Mexico since June 2017. Experts say the legal recreational market could be worth billions of dollars in Mexico, where authorities seized 244 tons of marijuana in 2020.

The legalization push is partly aimed at curbing drug-related violence that claims thousands of lives each year in the Latin American nation. More than 300,000 people have been murdered since the government deployed the army to fight the drug cartels in 2006.

Denver opens applications for cannabis delivery licenses, consumption lounges

Denver opens applications for cannabis delivery licenses, consumption lounges

Denver cannabis delivery licenses are being accepted now

Applications are now open for marijuana delivery and transporter licenses in Denver for the first time in the city’s history, the Department of Excise and Licenses announced.

The city is also accepting applications for new marijuana store locations for the first time since 2016, in addition to applications for marijuana cultivation and manufacturing licenses.

This comes two months after Denver changed its marijuana policy to allow for social equity delivery and hospitality businesses where patrons can consume marijuana on the premises. Applications for the hospitality business licenses are expected to open in November, the department said.

“This is a big part of the biggest overhaul in marijuana rules and regulations since initial legalization that the mayor signed into law on 4/20,” said Eric Escudero, spokesman for the Department of Excise and Licenses.

Under Denver’s new marijuana policy, there is no cap on the number of licenses and permits available, and there is no deadline to apply.

Social equity applicants are defined as Colorado residents who have never had a marijuana license revoked and meet one of the following social equity criteria:

  • Applicant lived in an opportunity zone or a disproportionately impacted area between 1980 and 2010
  • Applicant or immediate family was arrested, convicted or suffered civil asset forfeiture due to a marijuana offense
  • Applicant’s household income doesn’t exceed 50% of the state median income

By providing exclusivity to social equity applicants, Denver officials say they are trying to make up for the damage caused by the War on Drugs and the unequal persecution of disadvantaged communities for marijuana offenses.

House Committee Approves Marijuana Protections For Banking

House Committee Approves Marijuana Protections For Banking

A house appropriations committee has approved a cannabis banking amendment

A House subcommittee on Thursday approved a large-scale funding bill that includes provisions protecting banks from being punished for working with marijuana businesses and allowing Washington, D.C. to legalize cannabis sales.

The move by congressional Democrats to let the District of Columbia set its own marijuana policies is in contrast with a budget released last month by President Joe Biden, which proposed continuing the longstanding Republican-led rider that has prevented the city from spending its own money to regulate adult-use cannabis commerce.

The banking-related provision is less far-reaching than more robust standalone bills the House has passed on four occasions, but would still provide some protections to banks that work with state-legal marijuana operators.

Both measures are attached to a bill to fund various federal agencies for Fiscal Year 2022 that was approved by the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittee in a voice vote. The full House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the legislation on Tuesday.

In a press release, the panel called the rider blocking local D.C. marijuana policymaking an “objectionable” measure that “undermine[s] home rule.”

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said in a press release that she’s “very pleased the bill respects D.C.’s right to self-government by allowing D.C. to spend its local funds as it sees fit, including on…recreational marijuana commercialization.”

“With Democrats controlling the White House, House and Senate,” she said, “we have the best opportunity in over a decade to enact a spending bill with no anti-home-rule riders, as this D.C. appropriations bill does and as I requested.”

After the Biden budget was released, Norton told Marijuana Moment that she was “very disappointed” over the decision, especially considering that fact that he’s voiced support for D.C. statehood.

The exclusion of the D.C. provision from the Fiscal Year 2022 FSGG appropriations bill could set the stage for conflict between lawmakers and the president. The Biden administration has already disappointed advocates by declining to take meaningful action on cannabis reform as promised on the campaign trail, and his inclusion of the D.C. rider was seen as an outright hostile act.

The District’s mayor said in April that local officials are prepared to move forward with implementing a legal system of recreational cannabis sales in the nation’s capital just as soon as they can get over the final “hurdle” of congressional interference.

The ongoing blockade is the result of an amendment that was first added by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) when Republicans controlled the House and has since been continued in annual appropriations legislation. The House on several occasions has since passed spending bills that do not include the cannabis ban, but it has been included in final enacted legislation because the Senate under GOP control insisted on reinserting it.

United Nations calls for global ban on cannabis advertising

United Nations calls for global ban on cannabis advertising

United Nations cannabis advertising law

The United Nations on Thursday called for a global ban on all advertising that promotes cannabis products, in a move that it said could mimic its efforts to lead a global effort to limit tobacco marketing and use.

The UN can only recommend such a move, and it would be up to member nations to implement and enforce any kind of advertising ban.

A comprehensive ban on advertising, promoting and sponsoring cannabis would ensure that public health interests prevail over business interests,” the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime wrote in its annual World Drug Report.

“Such a ban would need to apply across all jurisdictions,” the global agency added.

The agency noted in its report that pot products “have almost quadrupled in strength in the United States of America and have doubled in Europe in the last two decades.”

Even as the products have become more potent over the last 20 years, the percentage of adolescents who view the drug as harmful has decreased by as much as 40 percent over the past 20 years, the UNODC said.

It added that marijuana can lead to mental health disorders in long-term, heavy users.

“Aggressive marketing of cannabis products with a high THC content by private firms and promotion through social-media channels; can make the problem worse,” the UN officials wrote in their report.

The UNODC did not specify how such a ban would work, but noted that “the measures could work in a way similar to the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”

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