Aside from implementing Maine's new adult-use marijuana law, there are other marijuana policy bills being heard in Augusta. Four Maine legislators, from both parties, have introduced bills that would help Mainers with past marijuana convictions. You can read more the bills and sponsors here.
Earlier this month, the Portland Press Herald published an editorial in favor of these reforms, saying: "Times change, and laws need to change with them. Maine voted to put the old marijuana laws behind us, and lawmakers should complete the process."
The bills would either seal past convictions or permanently erase them from their records. The language for these bills is not available yet, butgenerally adults who have convictions on their records for crimes that are no longer illegal — home cultivation and personal possession — may apply for their records to be sealed or expunged. Please ask your lawmakers to support this commonsense criminal justice reform.
As an aside, I hope to see you at next week's Cannabis Industry Mixer in Portland on Thursday, February 7. You can see the details and get your free tickets here. See you then!
Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 to reject a bill that would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Instead of listening to the numerous patients who testified at the public hearing, the committee recommended that HB 1476 be sent to “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year. But there’s still hope. Next, the bill is expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks. Gov. Chris Sununu has not expressed a public position on the bill.
This bill is critically important because many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option. There is no need for further study before allowing limited home cultivation by registered patients and caregivers, especially now that it is becoming clear that access to cannabis is a key to addressing the opiate crisis.
The New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee is expected to vote on HB 1476 next Tuesday, April 24.
The bill, which has already passed the House in a voice vote, would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. Others have to drive long distances in order to reach a dispensary. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option.
On Wednesday, Leon County Judge Karen Gievers ruled that Joseph Redner, a 77-year-old cancer patient, may grow his own marijuana plants. Redner is a registered medical marijuana patient in Florida. Unfortunately, the Department of Health has already filed an appeal and will fight the decision.
Tampa Bay Times reports:
The ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers applies only to Redner, 77. The Florida Department of Health responded quickly, filing an appeal.
The department had said Floridians are barred under state rules from growing cannabis for their personal use, including those who are legally registered as medical marijuana patients.
But Redner and other critics across the state say the health department continues to create barriers for more than 95,000 registered patients in Florida that could benefit from marijuana. Redner is a stage 4 lung cancer survivor and a registered medical marijuana patient.
"Under Florida law, Plantiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, soley for the purpose of his emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician," Gievers said in her ruling. The word "solely" is bolded and underlined for emphasis in the document.
"The court also finds … that the Florida Department of Health has been, and continues to be non-compliant with the Florida constitutional requirements," the judge added, referring to the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 that made medical marijuana legal.
Redner’s attorney, Luke Lirot of Clearwater, said the judge was right to "castigate the health department for being a barrier to medicine."
While this ruling only applies to Joseph Redner, it most certainly opens the door for other Florida patients to finally be allowed to cultivate their medicine at home.
Regulators overseeing the Washington state adult-use cannabis industry are considering a change in the law that would allow adults to cultivate cannabis at home. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) conducted a hearing yesterday and is accepting written testimony through Wednesday, October 11.
We strongly encourage Washington residents who support home cultivation to submit comments. Comments can be submitted to email@example.com.
All seven of the other adult-use states allow at least some adults to grow their own cannabis at home, and every state allows adults to brew their own beer.
The law directs the board to study home cultivation in light of federal policy and consider options. One option would be for the state to oversee home cultivation activities directly. Another option would provide more local control. A third option would simply leave the law as is and continue to prohibit non-medical home cultivation.
North Dakota Sen. Rich Wardner’s medical marijuana bill, SB 2344, continues to work its way through the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, being revised and improved along the way. While an earlier version of the bill would have significantly harmed patients, the current version — which passed the House in early April— leaves more of the will of the voters intact. Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of establishing a medical marijuana program last November, in a margin greater than the support received by President Trump.
The current version of the bill, which you can read about here, allows whole plant cannabis and other preparations, but does not permit extracts or edibles. Advanced practice nurses will now be able to issue certifications to patients, though 18-year-olds will still need their parents’ permission to enroll. Unfortunately, the bill would eliminate the tightly controlled home cultivation provision that was included in Measure 5, along with the petition process to expand the list of qualifying conditions. However, terminal illnesses will be added to the program, along with critical legal protections originally missing from the voter initiative.
While MPP still believes the current version of the bill has severe limitations, we are pleased that the bill has improved, and recognize that clear legal protections are an essential element of medical cannabis laws.
On Friday, we received a clear indication of what to expect from the Massachusetts Legislature in the next few months. Politicians introduced a number of bills that would adversely impact the implementation of Question 4 and restrict the new law’s home cultivation and personal possession limits.
Legislators have filed bills that would push back sales of edibles by two years, reduce home grow and personal possession limits, give local officials the power to block marijuana establishments, unnecessarily restructure the Cannabis Control Commission, and increase the legal age limit to 25.
These are clear attempts to reverse the will of the 1.8 million voters who approved Question 4.
If you are a Massachusetts resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them that you oppose any attempts to significantly alter Question 4, including those listed above.
A survey release this week by Public Policy Polling showed that 66% of voters in the District of Columbia support Mayor Muriel Bowser pursuing legal methods to allow D.C. to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol despite a Congressional ban.
Voters overwhelming approved Initiative 71 in 2014, which made marijuana legal in the nation's capital, but Congress passed a budget rider that prevents the implementation of regulated commercial cultivation and retail establishments. Provisions related to personal possession and limited home cultivation were unaffected by the law and are currently legal in D.C.
This poll shows that the vast majority of D.C. voters would support the mayor using reserve funds to implement a system to tax and regulate marijuana. This would not only show that D.C. rejects Congressional interference with the will of the voters, but also bring the illicit marijuana market out of the shadows and reap millions in tax revenue.
In addition, 61% of voters are in favor of giving adults a safe and lawful place to consume marijuana outside their homes. Supporters including MPP met with the mayor last week, and she said she was open to working with us and our allies on the D.C. Council to move forward on a compromise that would end the blanket ban on use outside the home, currently set to expire on April 13. This will help restore the rights that D.C. voters supported when they voted yes on Initiative 71.
S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018. The bill will now go to the Senate Committee on Finance for consideration.
The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is working to build support for the bill and keep up the momentum. It recently launched a television ad, produced by the Marijuana Policy Project, which features former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney. Cheney was also the subject of a series of web ads launched earlier this month.
Earlier this month, patients practically begged the New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee to approve HB 1622, a bill that would allow them to grow up to two mature marijuana plants until a dispensary opens within 30 miles of their residences.
Sadly, even though this bill had already passed the New Hampshire House with 227-73 (76%) support, and even though all five senators on the committee had previously supported home cultivation, the committee refused to move HB 1622 forward. Only Senator John Reagan(R-Deerfield) spoke up on behalf of patients who can’t afford to wait for dispensaries to open, but his appeals fell on deaf ears. After very little discussion, the committee voted 3-1 to recommend the bill for “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year.
It’s clear that the Senate has no actual intention of studying this bill. Less than a week after the Senate refused to consider a House-approved decriminalization bill, senators are again attempting to avoid a vote on whether or not patients should be allowed to grow their own cannabis.