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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.

California offers $100 million to rescue struggling legal marijuana industry

California offers $100 million to rescue struggling legal marijuana industry

California legal marijuana industry is getting $100 million from government for support

The California Legislature on Monday approved a $100-million plan to bolster California’s legal marijuana industry, which continues to struggle to compete with the large illicit pot market nearly five years after voters approved sales for recreational use.

Los Angeles will be the biggest beneficiary of the money, which was proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to be provided as grants to cities and counties to help cannabis businesses transition from provisional to regular licenses.

“California voters approved Proposition 64 five years ago and entrusted the Legislature with creating a legal, well-regulated cannabis market,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. “We have yet to reach that goal.”

Many legal marijuana growers, retailers and manufacturers have struggled to make the transition from a provisional, temporary license to a permanent one renewed on an annual basis — a process that requires a costly, complicated and time-consuming review of the negative environmental effects involved in a business and a plan for reducing those harms.

As a result, about 82% of the state’s cannabis licensees still held provisional licenses as of April, according to the governor’s office.

The funds, including $22 million earmarked for L.A., would help cities hire experts and staff to assist legal marijuana businesses in completing the environmental studies and transitioning the licenses to “help legitimate businesses succeed,” Ting said.

The grant program is endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said in a letter to legislators that the money is “essential in supporting a well-regulated, equitable, and sustainable cannabis market.”

Separately, the governor wants to give legal marijuana businesses a six-month extension beyond a Jan. 1 deadline to transition from provisional licenses by complying with mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act. That extension, which faces opposition for delaying promised environmental safeguards, was not included in the state budget bill approved Monday and is still being negotiated with lawmakers.

The governor’s proposal to extend provisional licenses has drawn objections from a coalition of seven environmental groups including Sierra Club California, Defenders of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy.

They said in a letter to Newsom that the proposal allowing the extension of provisional licenses and interim alternatives to CEQA rules goes against what voters were promised and is “wholly inadequate to protect local communities and the environment.”

 
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.

Washington State Announces ‘Joint for Jabs’ Covid Vaccine Program

Washington State Announces ‘Joint for Jabs’ Covid Vaccine Program

Washington state joint for jabs

A vaccine can now get you some pre-rolled bud in the state of Washington.

The state’s liquor and cannabis board announced on Monday that in an effort to support coronavirus vaccinations, it will temporarily allow state-licensed cannabis retailers to give a free joint to adults who get their first or second dose at a vaccine clinic at one of the retail locations.

Call it the latest bounty in an ever-expanding list of incentives popping up across the country meant to push Americans to get their shots. “Joints for jabs” and similar campaigns have been around for months, with cannabis activist groups and local dispensaries offering joints for vaccinations. Now, a state is promoting the program.

Health experts have repeatedly said vaccine demand would wane and each new shot in an arm would be harder to achieve either because of hesitancy, access or logistical challenges for the population left unvaccinated.

“Since the start of the pandemic itself, we’ve always had about a quarter of the population that’s been like, ‘Uh, I really don’t know,’ ” said Rupali Limaye, a behavioral and social scientist that studies vaccine hesitancy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It makes sense we’re at this place where we’re having to persuade people to get the vaccine.”

She said it was “pretty fascinating” to see how creative states can get with their incentives, especially as health officials and local leaders figure out how to tailor messaging, and incentives, around different segments of the population. Officials in New Jersey and D.C., for example, said they were targeting younger populations with campaigns offering free beer for shots.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also announced a suite of other vaccine incentives last week — including lottery prizes, sports tickets and game systems — to help encourage unvaccinated residents.

“For some people it may be enough to say, ‘You get a doughnut.’ For others, they may need something more, like a college scholarship,” Limaye said. “To me, it matches the general principles of how we should focus on behavioral science, by meeting people where they are.”

Vaccination incentive campaigns have ballooned in recent weeks — getting a vaccine can make you a millionaire, or at least get you a free beer. These marketing strategies from local leaders and corporations have taken on added urgency as vaccination levels across the country fall. The Biden administration has itself pushed an array of incentives to get more people vaccinated ahead of the Fourth of July, a deadline set by the president to get 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated.

In recent days, the nation’s daily average doses has dropped to under a million, down more than two-thirds from a mid-April peak of more than 3.3 million daily average doses, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. The lag puts Biden’s national goal at risk, even as more than a dozen states have already reached the 70 percent milestone.

 

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