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U.S. House of Representatives approves cannabis banking bill

U.S. House of Representatives approves cannabis banking bill

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation that would allow banks to provide services to cannabis companies in states where it is legal, a step towards removing what analysts say is a barrier to development of a national industry.

Lawmakers voted 321-101 to approve the bill and send it to the Senate.

The bill clarifies that proceeds from legitimate cannabis businesses would not be considered illegal and directs federal regulators to craft rules for how they would supervise such banking activity.

Banks have generally been unwilling to do business with companies that sell marijuana or related products, fearing they could run afoul of federal laws.

That has left companies in the marijuana industry with few options, including relying on just a handful of small financial institutions or doing business in cash.

The American Bankers Association has lobbied aggressively for the “SAFE Banking Act” bill.

“Banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law prohibiting it,” the group wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Monday. “Congress must act to resolve this conflict.”

Thirty-six states have legalized medical cannabis while 17 states now allow adult use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in an early-April interview with Politico, said he would try to advance legislation legalizing marijuana use for adults. Asked about the SAFE Banking Act, he said he would like to see such a bill move forward as part of a more comprehensive measure – even if President Joe Biden was not supportive.

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Moves past 6th House Committee

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Moves past 6th House Committee

Minnesota marijuana legalization has been passed in a 6th house committee

A bill to legalize marijuana in Minnesota is going through a thorough vetting process, with a sixth House committee on Wednesday giving the reform proposal a green light following a hearing.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), Speaker Melissa Hortman (D) and other lawmakers filed the measure in February. It would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to eight plants, four of which could be mature.

Days after a separate panel approved the legislation with amendments, the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee passed it in a 9-7 vote.

“The purpose of House File 600 is to eliminate the harm that cannabis has in our society,” Winkler said of the bill at the hearing. “The primary harm that cannabis poses in Minnesota is the prohibition and criminal enforcement of cannabis.”

“The goal of House File 600 is to shift in a legal marketplace that is policed and over-policed disproportionately and instead to create a policy of repair, an opportunity for those most adversely affected by the war on drugs,” he said.

The House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee was the last body to approve the bill, on Monday, and members there adopted a number of changes to the proposal. For example, it now stipulates that members of a cannabis advisory council established under the bill could not serve as lobbyists while on the panel and for two years after they end their service.

Before that hearing, the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, the Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee, the Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and the Commerce Finance and Policy Committee each advanced the measure.

Its next stop is the State Government Finance and Elections Committee.

Winkler recently said that he expects the legislation to go through any remaining panels by the end of April, with a floor vote anticipated in May.

Still, even if the legislation does make it all the way through the House, it’s expected to face a significant challenge in the Republican-controlled Senate, where lawmakers have signaled that they’re more interested in revising the state’s existing medical cannabis program than enacting legalization of adult use.

After the New York legislature approved a recreational cannabis legalization bill—which the governor promptly signed into law—Winkler said that Minnesota is “falling behind a national movement towards progress.”

Steve Fox, who helped legalize marijuana in Colorado, has died at 53

Steve Fox, who helped legalize marijuana in Colorado, has died at 53

Steve Fox, Colorado legalization advocate and Vicente Sederberg LLP member has passed

​Fox was lead drafter of 2012’s Amendment 64, giving rise to the massive legal cannabis industry

One of the leaders of Colorado’s first-in-the-nation recreational marijuana legalization movement, Steve Fox, has died at the age of 53.

Fox was the lead drafter of Colorado Amendment 64, which passed in 2012 with a little more than 55% of the vote, and he also lobbied for legal weed in the state capitol.

“We are truly heartbroken to share news of the passing of our partner and dear friend Steve Fox,” wrote the cannabis law group Vicente Sederberg LLP, where Fox was a leader since 2010. Fox also served as a managing partner of VS Strategies since co-founding the group in 2013.

Fox conceptualized and co-founded Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), as well as coauthored the 2009 book “Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People To Drink?,” according to the Vicente Sederberg release.

Mason Tvert, among Amendment 64’s chief proponents and a friend and colleague of Fox, described Fox as inspirational.

“He made me feel like we could do anything,” Tvert told The Post. “This guy, he was truly passionate about helping people, both those around him and those that he knew were being affected by bad policies. And he never got a ton of recognition and he didn’t really seek recognition. He was always proud to be the guy behind the scenes.”

Fox had worked for President Bill Clinton’s second presidential campaign in Little Rock, Ark., as well as in Congress, Tvert said.

Tvert also noted that Fox was not from Colorado, but “was as responsible if not more responsible than any single individual for getting cannabis legalized and advancing this industry so far.” Since Colorado legalized weed, several states have followed, with New Mexico and New York just this year. Colorado itself has sold at least $10 billion in marijuana since legalization.

In 2013, Fox received an award from the Drug Policy Alliance in recognition of his influence on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, the cannabis law group’s letter said.

New Mexico Cannabis Legalization Signed into Law by Governor

New Mexico Cannabis Legalization Signed into Law by Governor

New Mexico cannabis legalization has passed

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation Monday legalizing recreational marijuana use within months and kicking off sales next year, making it the seventh state since November to put an end to pot prohibition.

The governor, a Democrat, has supported marijuana reform as a way to create jobs and shore up state revenue.

On Monday, she also touched on concerns about the harm inflicted on racial and ethnic minorities by drug criminalization and tough policing, noting that the new law could free about 100 from prison and expunge criminal records for thousands of residents.

“It is good for workers. It is good for entrepreneurs. It is good for consumers,” she said of legalization. “And it brings about social justice in ways in which we have been talking about and advocating for, for decades.”

The signed bill gives the governor a strong hand in oversight of recreational marijuana through her appointed superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department.

Agency Superintendent Linda Trujillo said people age 21 and over will be allowed start growing marijuana at home and possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of cannabis outside their homes starting on June 29.

Recreational cannabis sales start next year by April 1 at state-licensed dispensaries.

Virginia Cannabis Legalization Will Now Take Effect July 1, 2021

Virginia Cannabis Legalization Will Now Take Effect July 1, 2021

Virginia cannabis legalization has been moved forward by a new provision

Following today’s legislative approval of Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s amendments to Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312, Virginia becomes the first southern state to legalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults. 

Senate Bill 1406, introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Senate President Pro Tempore Senator Louise Lucas (D-18), and House Bill 2312, patroned by House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46), establish a statutory timeline for the legalization of the commercial marijuana market in Virginia. The measure also permits for the personal possession and cultivation of cannabis by those ages 21 or older.

Last week, Gov. Northam recommended changes to the legislation to permit the personal use provisions of the law to take effect on July 1, 2021 rather than on January 1, 2024 — the enactment date initially approved by lawmakers. Today, a majority of the legislature concurred with that change.

Therefore, beginning July 1, 2021, adults will be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household without penalty.

The timeline by which state regulators have to enact provisions licensing commercial cannabis production and sales remains July 1, 2024.

Commenting on the final passage, NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, said: “This is an incredible victory for Virginia. Legalization will bring an end to the thousands of low-level marijuana infractions occurring annually in the Commonwealth — ending a discriminatory practice that far too often targets Virginians who are young, poor, and people of color.” 

Majority Leader Charniele Herring added: “It is a huge day for equity in the Commonwealth. Virginia is now the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana use, and I am so proud to have been able to carry this monumental legislation. I am ever grateful for the commitment and advocacy from NORML on this topic. Getting Virginia to this day would not have been possible without their hard work and dedication to the cause.”

Senator Adam Ebbin said: “The passage of SB1406 caps off years of struggle to reform our broken and outdated marijuana laws and begins the deliberate steps to repeal the harms of the failed prohibition. I am thankful to NORML, the Governor, and my colleagues for moving this 283 bill from inception to passage over the last four months, and look forward to continuing to partner with them to establish a regulated, equity focused, adult-use marketplace in the coming years.”

Newly released statewide polling data finds that 68 percent of registered voters in Virginia, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans, support legalizing marijuana for adults.

“Virginians were very clear that they are ready for legalization this year, sending over 8,800 emails in support of these measures,” Pedini added.

New York legalizes adult use marijuana, expunges former pot convictions

New York legalizes adult use marijuana, expunges former pot convictions

New York legalized cannabis

New York officially legalized weed Wednesday as Gov. Cuomo signed legislation that will regulate the sale of recreational marijuana for adults and expunge the records of people previously convicted of possession.

Legislators approved the long-stalled measure late Tuesday, sending the bill allowing adults over 21 to use weed legally to the governor’s desk.

“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis.”

Officials say the marijuana market will eventually lead to as many as 60,000 new jobs and generate $350 million in revenue annually.

Adults over 21 will also be allowed to grow marijuana at home. It will be a while before legal sales begin or plants are allowed to grow as the newly-created Office of Cannabis Management is formed and finalizes rules and regulations. Most experts predict sales will start in late 2022 or early 2023.

Some parts of the law take effect immediately as anyone previously convicted of possessing an amount of marijuana now under the legal limit will automatically be subject to expungement and resentencing.

As of Wednesday, New Yorkers can legally possess less than 3 ounces of marijuana and consuming cannabis is permitted in public wherever smoking tobacco is allowed.

Law enforcement can no longer arrest or prosecute anyone for possession of pot under the three-ounce limit. A police officer can still use the odor of burning cannabis as a reason to suspect a driver is intoxicated, but can’t use that smell alone as justification for searching a car.

Once a marketplace is gearing up, the law allows for localities to opt-out of retail sales at the local level. It also sets a 9% sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional 4% tax split between the county and locality.

As far as tax revenue, the plan is to dedicate 40% of the funds to reinvestment in communities disproportionately impacted by the drug war, another 40% to schools and public education, and 20% to drug treatment, prevention and education.

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