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Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Signed into Law by Governor

Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Signed into Law by Governor

louisiana marijuana decriminalization

A bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use in Louisiana will become law after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the legislation from Democratic Rep. Cedric Glover Tuesday.

“This is not a decision I took lightly,” Edwards said. “The state of Louisiana should no longer incarcerate people for minor legal infractions, especially those that are legal in many states, that can ruin lives and destroy families, as well as cost taxpayers.”

Although Edwards said the bill won’t technically “decriminalize” possession of small amounts of pot, the penalty would be less than most speeding tickets.

The bill would make possession of 14 grams or less — about half an ounce — a misdemeanor in all cases and limit the fine to $100 with no jail time. It takes effect Aug. 1.

Glover said he believes House Bill 652, which is based on a local ordinance passed in Shreveport, found a sweet spot with those whose attitudes about weed are evolving but who don’t yet support full legalization.

“One thing I think we can find common ground on is the belief that the possession of small amounts of marijuana should not lead you to jail or to become a felon,” Glover has said repeatedly. Glover formed a rare alliance with conservative Shreveport Republican Rep. Alan Seabaugh, whose amendment in the House set the parameters for penalties.

“It essentially provides for the officer to write a ticket with no jail time,” Seabaugh said then. Louisiana had been one of 19 states that haven’t either legalized pot or decriminalized it.

The bill does not alter the penalties for someone who is distributing marijuana, only for possession. A bill from Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson that would have legalized the sale and use of marijuana died in the House earlier in the session.

But a bill from Republican Houma Rep. Tanner Magee adding smokable cannabis to the state’s medical pot program options has already won final passage and also has the governor’s support.

 

NFL Paying $1 Million to Fund Cannabis Research

NFL Paying $1 Million to Fund Cannabis Research

the NFL is funding cannabis research

After putting out a formal request for information about pain management alternatives to opioids in February, the NFL and NFL Players Association are providing $1 million to fund research on cannabinoids and pain relief, according to Front Office Sports.

“While this represents a different stance by the league, it’s still conservative compared to players who use cannabis or cannabis products – particularly CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has gained mainstream acceptance,” per FOS.

The NFL did shorten the window during which it tests players for THC and raise the threshold to trigger a positive test last season, but players can still be fined several weeks’ salary and be forced to join a treatment program for testing positive for the inhibiting chemical in marijuana. Though it shouldn’t be the case, that currently makes the use of CBD – which both past and current players swear by – somewhat of a grey area in the NFL.

In the February information request, the NFL-NFLPA’s pain management committee said it was looking for information including:

  1. The potential therapeutic role of medications and non-pharmacological interventions that are considered to be alternatives to opioids in routine pain management of NFL players. Medications may include, but are not limited to, cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (“CBD”).
  2. The impact of cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance in NFL players.
  3. The potential therapeutic role of medications and non-pharmacological interventions that are considered adjunctive to routine post-surgical orthopedic pain management in NFL football players.

Nothing is for certain, but it seems like a good assumption the new funding will be used to delve into some of the areas mentioned above.

“This isn’t an NFL or a sports issue; this is a societal issue,” the NFL’s chief medical officer Allen Sills told Bloomberg.

Nevada Governor Signs Multiple Marijuana Reform Bills

Nevada Governor Signs Multiple Marijuana Reform Bills

nevada governor passed more cannabis reform bills last week

Carson City, NV: Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed multiple marijuana reform bills into law.

On Monday, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 341. The new law, which takes effect on October 1, 2021, provides regulations for the establishment of on-site “cannabis consumption lounges” for those ages 21 and older. Regulators must still determine the specific types of cannabis products that are “appropriate for consumption” in the facilities.

Alaska and Colorado have previously enacted legislation explicitly permitting social consumption sites for cannabis, and New York’s nascent adult-use law also regulates on-site facilities. Similar legislation is currently pending in California.

Late last week, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 400 into law. It amends the state’s traffic safety statutes so that the operation of a motor vehicle with trace amounts of either THC or its metabolite is no longer a per se violation of law. The new law takes effect on October 1, 2021.

Under the state’s existing traffic safety laws, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with low levels of either THC or the 11-hydroxy-THC metabolites in one’s blood or urine, even absent any further evidence of psychomotor impairment. The revised measure eliminates the application of those limits in certain circumstances.

NORML has consistently opposed the imposition of THC per se limits, opining that such thresholds are not evidence-based and that they may lead to the criminal prosecution of people who consumed cannabis several days previously but are no longer under its influence.

Also on Friday, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 158, which revises first-time penalties imposed upon minors who possess small quantities of cannabis. It reduces existing penalties — which include up to six-months in jail and a $1,000 fine — to community service. The measure also requires courts to automatically seal records for these offenses if the offender completes the term of their sentence. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2021.

Trump Clemency Recipient Says MORE Act Will Leave Many Prisoners Behind

Trump Clemency Recipient Says MORE Act Will Leave Many Prisoners Behind

MORE Act may not help cannabis convictions

Advocates are eager for a House vote on a recently reintroduced bill to federally legalize marijuana—but some others are sounding the alarm about provisions related to resentencing that might not help to repair the harms of the war on drugs in the way lawmakers are aiming for.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances. But it also has a concerted focus on social equity, which includes providing for resentencing for people convicted over certain federal marijuana offenses.

To many advocates and legislators, there’s a necessity to couple legalization with equity. And that’s what the resentencing language, along with other provisions, is supposed to achieve. But in a letter to congressional lawmakers, a pro-reform individual who received clemency for a cannabis conviction from President Donald Trump warned that the bill, as written, would not have the impact that the sponsors intend.

Because the legislation gives significant deference to the courts to make decisions on resentencing petitions—but also declines to resolve cases where there are aggravating factors such as possession of a firearm or sums of money at the time of an arrest—relief could be out of reach for a large number of federal inmates, the letter states.

Craig Cesal, who is serving a sentence of supervised release after being granted clemency by Trump over a federal cannabis trafficking case, said in the letter that many people incarcerated for marijuana “would receive no relief from their conviction at all” under the MORE Act, and some would “continue to serve life sentences for conduct which would no longer be considered illegal.”

He pointed to three specific parts of the legalization legislation that could keep people incarcerated over marijuana based on the language.

First, it would give “discretion to the sentencing court as to whether the marijuana conviction or related conduct would be expunged.” The bill states that people would be eligible for expungement only if their case was non-violent, and courts have frequently disagreement about what constitutes a violent offense.

Second, it does not “provide relief for additional counts of conviction inextricably relying on the criminality of the marijuana offense.” For example, if a person who was convicted on a cannabis charge was in possession of a firearm that would’ve otherwise been lawful if marijuana wasn’t illegal, that could complicate resentencing processing.

Finally, those “whose offense involved five or more people, which is most marijuana offenses, would be specifically excepted from relief under the MORE Act,” Cesal said.

A spokesperson for the Judiciary Committee did not respond to Marijuana Moment’s requests for a reaction to Cesal’s concerns about the chairman’s bill.

Connecticut Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

Connecticut Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

Connecticut cannabis legalization has passed in the Senate

The Connecticut Senate early Tuesday morning passed a bill to legalize marijuana, sending the proposal to the House for final approval with just days left in the legislative session.

House leaders say they plan to take up the legislation in that chamber before Wednesday’s end-of-session deadline but after first tackling the state budget.

The cannabis bill is the product of weeks of negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) office. Finalized language was introduced only on Saturday, giving lawmakers little time to review the roughly 300-page proposal.

But during a marathon floor debate that stretched into the early hours Tuesday morning, the Senate passed the bill in a 19–17 vote.

“We have seen what has been wrought by having a war on drugs,” Sen. Gary Winfield (D) said on the floor before the vote. “Whole communities have been decimated. And some people will say, ‘Well, there are not a lot of people in our state in jail for cannabis today,’ but there are vestigial ways in which communities are still impacted by what we were doing.”

Noting that cannabis was once available in American apothecaries, Winfield ran through the history of the drug war and argued that marijuana prohibition’s racist origins and consequences continue to be felt in Connecticut today.

“The reason I think we should legalize cannabis is not because of the money—that’s an important part of this,” he added, “but because we should have never made cannabis an illegal drug. It should never have been prohibited. It should never have been a Schedule I drug, particularly given how it got there.”

Asked whether there will be enough support in the House to pass the measure, Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) said earlier Monday that he believes the votes will be there—but he’s “still answering lots of questions” from members about specific provisions.

“I’m confident that we’ll get there,” he said.

House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) added that “we do expect it to pass.”

“We don’t think we’ll have 97 votes,” he said, referring to the total number of Democratic members in the Connecticut body. “We understand there will be noes in our caucus … But we’ve heard from a few people on the other side of the aisle too that have had a chance to digest and stuff, and I would say there’s a few people involved in conversations there too.”

Biden’s proposed budget keeps a block on recreational weed sales in Washington, DC

Biden’s proposed budget keeps a block on recreational weed sales in Washington, DC

A rider that has effectively blocked recreational cannabis for years in Washington, DC appears in President Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget, which may keep weed on the back burner yet again.

Even though residents of DC voted to legalize possession of recreational marijuana in 2014, the measure has been in limbo since then, derailed by a rider to DC’s appropriations bill first introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), that prohibits the District from spending its local funds on commercialization of recreational cannabis, such as dispensaries. And Biden’s proposed 2022 budget includes the rider’s language yet again.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said in a statement she was having a hard time reconciling the Biden administration’s support for DC statehood with its budget that would prevent DC from commercializing recreational cannabis. “With Democrats controlling the White House, House and Senate, we have the best opportunity in over a decade to enact a D.C. appropriations bill that does not contain any anti-home-rule riders,” Norton said.

Asked if the president plans to remove the language from the proposed budget, a Biden administration official said in an email to The Verge that the president “continues to strongly support DC statehood, under which the people of DC could make policy choices just like other states.”

DC has long had a so-called “gray market” for marijuana, with medical cannabis legal, and recreational cannabis technically legal, but unable to be taxed or regulated because of the Harris rider. DC voters first approved medical marijuana in 1998, but it too was initially blocked, by the Barr Amendment, legislation that Congress finally overturned in 2009.

Biden, once a leading voice in the “War on Drugs” of the 1980s and ’90s, said during the 2020 presidential campaign that it was “time to decriminalize” marijuana use, but so far during his administration there’s been little action to do so at the federal level. Dozens of US states have legalized medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both, and public opinion supporting legal weed is at an all-time high. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), have said they would work together to advance comprehensive cannabis reform.

In February, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed legislation “to create an equitable adult-use cannabis program” in DC, which would impose a 17 percent tax on cannabis sales. But it’s unlikely to take effect if the rider remains in Biden’s proposed 2022 budget.

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