California began legal recreational marijuana sales on Monday, and even more states are making big moves this week toward ending cannabis prohibition.
Here’s what to expect…
On Wednesday, the Vermont House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to discuss a Senate-passed marijuana legalization bill, with floor action expected later in the week.
House and Senate leaders and Gov. Phil Scott (R) have signaled in recent weeks that they are prepared to legalize marijuana shortly after the legislature reconvenes for the year. Because the state operates on a biennium, all that is needed is one more House vote in favor of a previously-Senate-passed bill that the governor has pledged to sign.
The legislation is different that other existing legalization laws because it would not create a system of taxed and regulated cannabis sales, at least not initially. It would instead legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana as well as low-level home cultivation, while a study commission would examine potential future legal commercialization.
Also on Wednesday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives is expected to consider a noncommercial cannabis legalization proposal similar to the Vermont legislation.
As introduced, the bill coming to the floor would create a full system of legal, taxed and regulated cannabis sales. But, because opponents say that passing the legislation now would be premature in light of a legislative study commission that’s currently examining how legalized marijuana commerce could one day work in the state, supporters will move to amend the bill to only allow low-level possession and home cultivation.
If the bill is amended and passed, it would then advance to the Senate, where it would face a tougher road to enactment.
On Friday, the Maine Legislature’s Committee On Marijuana Legalization Implementation will meet to discuss pending legislation to enact the cannabis ballot measure that voters approved in November 2016.
Gov. Paul LePage (R) vetoed a previous version of implementation legislation last year, and lawmakers couldn’t muster enough votes to override. It’s unclear what changes will need to be made in order to either win support from LePage or from a sufficient number of legislators to make another veto moot.
On Wednesday, the Delaware General Assembly’s Adult Use Cannabis Task Force will hold a meeting.
The panel’s mandate is to issue a report “containing actionable solutions” concerning “adoption of a model for regulation and taxation of adult-use cannabis in Delaware, including local authority and control, consumer safety and substance abuse prevention, packaging and labeling requirements, impaired driving and other criminal law concerns, and taxation, revenue, and banking issues.”
Members are scheduled to review and discuss a draft report outline, according to Wednesday’s agenda.
After Vermont and New Jersey — where lawmakers are expected to pass a marijuana legalization bill with the support of incoming Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) Delaware is seen as part of a second tier of states that could end prohibition this year, but aren’t necessarily expected to. Others include Connecticut, Illinois and Rhode Island.
The action this week represents just the beginning of what advocates believe will be an extremely busy year for marijuana legislation. Five or more states could vote on cannabis ballot measures, and a number of legislatures are posted to pass legalization bills.