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Feds Note Marijuana Reform Helps To Address Religious Discrimination In Other Countries, While Ignoring U.S. Policy

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The growing number of countries that are moving to repeal harsh penalties against marijuana use are helping to reduce religious discrimination against Rastafarians and other groups, the U.S. State Department noted in an annual report released on Wednesday.

But while the federal government is again making it a point to outline ongoing cannabis-related discrimination in some foreign countries and territories, the latest edition of the Report on International Religious Freedom declines to recognize the inherent discrimination that exists in the U.S., where marijuana remains federally illegal.

“Religious freedom is a human right; in fact, it goes to the heart of what it means to be human—to think freely, to follow our conscience, to change our beliefs if our hearts and minds lead us to do so, to express those beliefs in public and in private,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a briefing about the report. “For many people around the world this right is still out of reach.”

The new State Department document discusses cannabis policies in more than a dozen nations and how they intersect with religious liberties, including by noting that a growing movement toward legalization and decriminalization is helping to reduce discrimination that has been prevalent in the past.

Here’s a breakdown of what the report found:

Antigua and Barbuda

This country is one that is enacting reforms that are leading to a reduction in feelings of religious discrimination connected to cannabis.

It decriminalized marijuana “for any use” and the new law “recognizes the government’s responsibility to uphold the religious rights of persons of the Hindu and Rastafarian faiths,” the State Department said.

Further, members of these faith groups are allowed to “apply for a special religious license to cultivate the plant within their private dwelling, use the plant for religious purposes within their private dwelling or within their approved place of worship, and transport the plant between their private dwelling and approved place of worship.”

The special license does not provide for commercialization or legal sales, however.

Bahamas

“Some Rastafarians continued to state the government violated their constitutional right to religious freedom by prohibiting the legal use of marijuana in ceremonial rituals,” the report states. “Rastafarians said police continued to arrest them for possessing small quantities of marijuana used in ceremonial rituals.”

Members of this group said law enforcement has been “disrespectful and intimidated them during detention.”

But change could be coming, with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis backing a policy change that would enable “Rastafarians and other religious groups who use cannabis for sacramental purposes be allowed to possess, cultivate, and use it for that reason.”

The prime minister said that, beginning this year, people with prior marijuana possession convictions could have their records expunged. However, that would require legislative action.

Meanwhile, the State Department notes that the Bahamas Christian Council opposes legalization, quoting the group as saying it “can see no societal or national advantage” to the reform.

Barbados

This is another nation that is seeing moves to reform cannabis laws.

The government last year announced its intention to decriminalize marijuana, which would be a welcome reform to the Rastafarian community, the report notes. Still, members of that group said they “hoped eventually further measures would enable them to cultivate marijuana on their farms for personal as well as commercial use.”

“Based on media reports, there appeared to be minimal opposition from mainstream religious organizations to the government’s marijuana decriminalization decision,” the department said.

Rastafarians the State Department spoke to noted that the “commercial and medicinal benefits of marijuana cultivation were well established, and the community was optimistic about further liberalization.”

Dominica

This nation has seen cannabis reforms that are seen as not going far enough by some.

Last year, the government decriminalized the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana for adults for personal religious use.

But “Rastafarians continued to press the government for complete legalization of marijuana use, stating they considered decriminalization to be a commercially focused half-measure,” the report says. “Representatives of the Rastafarian community said authorities did not enforce the law against using marijuana when the community used it in its religious rites.”

Grenada

The report briefly notes that the Evangelical community discussed the possibility of cannabis legalization in talks with Rastafarian leaders.

Guyana

Rastafarians “continued to state a law criminalizing the possession of 15 grams or more of marijuana infringed on their religious practices” and late last year the government’s cabinet responded by approving a decision to amend the law to remove custodial sentencing for small amounts of cannabis.

Jamaica

“Rastafarians continued to report wider societal acceptance despite continued negative stereotyping and stigma associated with their wearing locs and smoking marijuana,” the report says, adding that there was significant media attention paid to the 75th birthday of the late cannabis icon Bob Marley, “a Rastafarian advocate whose music and rhetoric helped popularize the religion in the 1970s.”

That said, the Jamaican Defense Force generally does not accept Rastafarians into its ranks, with the “strict codes of conduct regarding hair length and the prohibition of marijuana use among its members [being] obstacles to Rastafarian participation in the force.”

Malawi

The report says that “Rastafarians continued to object to laws making the use and possession of cannabis a criminal offense in the country, stating its use was a part of their religious doctrine.”

Saint Kitts and Nevis

This is another country where recent legal changes related to cannabis are helping to address aspects of discrimination against certain faithers.

Saint Kitts and Nevis legislators approved a bill last year that establishes a medical cannabis program, “aligning the law with a 2019 High Court ruling that the country’s prohibition of the cultivation and possession of cannabis was unconstitutional and an infringement on the freedom of conscience and religion of the Rastafarian community.”

“The law permits the private use of marijuana, including for religious activities,” the report says. “Under the legislation, the newly created Medicinal Cannabis Authority is responsible for issuing cultivator’s licenses exclusively for citizens of the island to grow cannabis for use in private residences and registered places of worship.”

Saint Lucia

The report notes that representatives of the Rastafarian community say “continued government enforcement of marijuana laws discouraged Rastafarians from using marijuana for religious purposes,” noting that “police increased enforcement of marijuana laws, including raids on marijuana plantations during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

But Rastafarians say they have had “constructive dialogue” with community leaders and local governments, and the “primary issue discussed was encouraging the government to legalize marijuana for religious purposes.”

A government commission was created to create recommendations on potential cannabis reforms. Rastafarians said “they were awaiting the public release of the report and were encouraged by the general trend towards decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in the Caribbean.”

“They said this trend could eventually lead to legal reforms that would allow Rastafarians to legally use marijuana for religious purposes,” the State Department notes.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

“Marijuana use is permitted for medical purposes and scientific research,” the report says. “According to government statements, the use of marijuana is also permitted for religious sacraments, but this policy is not enshrined in law.”

The State Department also noted that “officials continued to support Rastafarians and all other religious groups’ use of cannabis for sacramental purposes.”

Lawmakers are considering broader marijuana reform legislation, with government officials noting to U.S. personnel that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’s position is that “Rastafarians and all other religious groups were permitted to use cannabis for sacramental purposes.”

Sierra Leone

“The government continued to enforce a law prohibiting the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana, which Rastafarians said infringed on their freedom to access cannabis,” the report says, noting that marijuana use is “a core component of their religious practices.”

Trinidad and Tobago

Possession of to 30 grams of cannabis is lawful, but public consumption remains prohibited, the report says.

“The law also provides a pathway for the expungement of prior marijuana convictions, including for those using marijuana for religious rituals, and it allows individuals to cultivate plants for personal use,” it continues.

United States

The State Department report again does not discuss domestic cannabis policy or its discriminatory effects on marijuana consumers, even as U.S. courts have continually rejected cases arguing that religious exceptions should be made to the country’s cannabis criminalization laws that result in hundreds of thousands of arrests every year.

Congressional Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana Filed By Republican Lawmakers

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Wyoming Activists File 2022 Marijuana Decriminalization And Medical Cannabis Ballot Measures

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Wyoming lawmakers failed to pass a bill to legalize marijuana this session. But on Friday, two measures were submitted to the state to place medical cannabis legalization and adult-use decriminalization measures before voters on the 2022 ballot.

The Libertarian Party and state Rep. Marshall Burt (L) joined with activists to file the proposed initiatives with the secretary of state’s office.

The text of the medical cannabis proposal states that patients could purchase and possess up to four ounces of flower and 20 grams of “medical marijuana-derived products” in a 30-day period.

People with one of more than a dozen qualifying conditions—including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia—would also be able to cultivate up to eight mature plants for personal use.

Under the medical cannabis initiative, the Department of Revenue’s Liquor Division would be responsible for licensing marijuana businesses. The division would be required to promulgate rules by July 1, 2023.

The division “shall regulate the acquisition, growth, cultivation, extraction, production, processing, manufacturing, testing, distribution, retail sales, licensing, transportation and taxation of medical marijuana and medical marijuana-derived products and the operation of medical marijuana establishments in a manor that will not prove excessively burdensome for Patients to access medical marijuana or medical marijuana-derived products nor burdensome for licensed healthcare providers to certify their Patients,” the text of the measure states.

Meanwhile, activists’ separate decriminalization measure would impose small fines on people possessing up to four ounces of marijuana, without the threat of jail time. A first and second offense would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine, while a third and any subsequent offense would penalized by a $75 fine.

Cultivating marijuana would also be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine.

An error in the drafting of the decriminalization initiative appears that it would result in the inadvertent removal of jail time for cultivating opium and peyote as well, but a spokesperson with the Libertarian Party told Marijuana Moment that the section will be changed as part of the state’s revision and formatting period for submitting measures over the next couple of weeks.

“Having the freedom to choose cannabis, whether for medical use or personal use, is one of the hallmarks of the Libertarian Party,” the organization said in a new site dedicated to the campaign. “We believe that individuals know best when it comes to what treatments to pursue and what medicine and products to consume. When people are empowered to make decisions for themselves and are not restricted by government prohibition, they are happier and healthier.”

A bill to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use in Wyoming advanced out of a House committee in March, but it did not move further in the legislature by the end of the session.

For the more modest medical cannabis and decriminalization proposals, petitioners will have until February 14 to collect 41,775 valid signatures from registered voters to make the ballot after the state approves the formatting of the measures.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

A poll released in December found that 54 percent of state residents support allowing “adults in Wyoming to legally possess marijuana for personal use.” Presumably, that would mean that the more moderate proposals stand to pass if they’re certified for the ballot.

Wyoming’s neighbors Montana and South Dakota were among several states that approved marijuana legalization ballot measures in November.

Former U.S. Senator and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who now resides in Wyoming and identifies as a Libertarian, is not yet directly involved in this latest marijuana ballot push, despite having testified in support of the legalization bill that advanced in the state this year.

Laryssa Gaughen, communications director for the Libertarian National Committee, told Marijuana Moment on Thursday that he is “generally supportive of our effort,” however.

Meanwhile, the House legalization legislation, which was backed by the Republican chair of the Judiciary Committee, would have allowed adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to three ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 12 mature plants for personal use.

The measure was also cosponsored by the House speaker and other top GOP lawmakers.

Read the Wyoming marijuana reform initiatives being backed by the Libertarian Party below:

Wyoming Marijuana Initiatives by Marijuana Moment

Texas And Louisiana Governors Signal They’ll Sign Marijuana Reform Bills On Their Desks

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Connecticut Governor Tells Lawmakers To Pass Marijuana Legalization Bill In Special Session Next Week

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The governor of Connecticut on Thursday said he’ll be upset if the legislature fails to deliver him a bill to legalize marijuana in a special session that is set to take place next week.

“I will be,” Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said in response to a report’s question about whether he’ll be disappointed if the cannabis legislation doesn’t reach his desk. “Pass the bill. Let’s go. Vote on it and pass it.”

The Senate approved a legalization proposal in the final days of the regular session this week, but an expected House vote was called off as time ran short in the face of Republican opposition and threats to filibuster.

“We got to the most comprehensive bill in the country four months ago—a couple hundred pages,” the governor said at a briefing with reporters, referring to an initial measure he filed in January. “We know how to do this on a safe, regulated basis for adults. We know how to de-commercialize it, which is so important, and I think it’s time to vote. If you can’t vote this week, vote early next week, but vote.”

Lawmakers will reconvene for the special session on Wednesday morning.

Watch the governor discuss the legalization proposal, around 12:30 and 19:00 into the video below: 

 

The legalization proposal narrowly passed the Senate on Tuesday, but House lawmakers declined to take it up ahead of the end of the regular session.

Democratic leaders have insisted they have the votes to push through the nearly 300-page cannabis bill introduced over the weekend, but Republicans have broadly opposed it. Many expected a drawn-out debate Wednesday night, with GOP representatives trying to run out the clock to prevent a vote.

“I have a strong point of view to do whatever it takes to get this over the finish line,” Lamont said. “Around the country, we have red states and blue states that are passing this and doing it on a very careful, regulated way—and I think we’re ready to do the same.”

The bill that passed the Senate, S.B. 1118, is the product of weeks of negotiations between legislative leaders and Lamont’s office. It incorporates elements of the governor’s own proposal, SB 888, as well as an equity-focused legalization bill, HB 6377, from Rep. Robyn Porter (D).

As passed by the Senate, the legislation would legalize personal possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older and eventually launch a regulated commercial cannabis market in Connecticut, licensing growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services. The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be in charge of licensing and regulating cannabis businesses, with legal sales expected to begin in mid-2022.

Half of all business licenses would need to be issued to social equity applicants, defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income. Those applicants could also qualify for technical assistance, workforce training and funding to cover startup costs. Much of the revenue from the new commercial market would be reinvested back into communities hit hardest by the drug war.

For those who don’t want to buy cannabis commercially, home cultivation would also be allowed under the bill—first for medical patients, then eventually for all adults 21 and older.

Here are some key details about the Senate-approved legislation:

  • It would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis starting on July 1, and it would establish a retail market, with Rojas anticipating sales to launch in May 2022.
  • Regulators with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be responsible for issuing licenses for growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services.
  • Social equity applicants—defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income—would be entitled to half of those licenses.
  • A significant amount of tax revenue from cannabis sales would go toward community reinvestment.
  • Home cultivation would be permitted—first to medical marijuana patients and then later to adult-use consumers.
  • Criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of cannabis would be automatically expunged beginning in 2023. Expungement would apply to possession convictions from January 1, 2000 through September 15, 2015.
  • Beginning July 1, 2022, individuals could petition to have other cannabis convictions erased, such as for possession of marijuana paraphernalia or the sale of small amounts of cannabis.
  • The smell of cannabis alone would no longer be a legal basis for law enforcement to stop and search individuals, nor would suspected possession of up to five ounces of marijuana.
  • Absent federal restrictions, employers would not be able to take adverse actions against workers merely for testing positive for cannabis metabolites.
  • Rental tenants, students at institutions of higher learning, and professionals in licensed occupations would be protected from certain types of discrimination around legal cannabis use. People who test positive for cannabis metabolites, which suggest past use, could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care, educational opportunities or have action taken against them by the Department of Children and Families without another evidence-based reason for the action.
  • Cannabis-related advertising could not target people under 21, and businesses that allow minors on their premises would be penalized. Licensees who sell to minors would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. People in charge of households or private properties who allow minors to possess cannabis there would also face a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Adults 18 to 20 years old who are caught with small amounts cannabis would be subject to a $50 civil fine, although subsequent violations could carry a $150 fine and mandatory community service. All possession offenses would require individuals to sign a statement acknowledging the health risks of cannabis to young people.
  • Minors under 18 could not be arrested for cannabis possession. A first offense would carry a written warning and possible referral to youth services, while a third or subsequent offense, or possession of more than five ounces of marijuana, would send the individual to juvenile court.
    Local governments could prohibit cannabis businesses or ban cannabis delivery within their jurisdictions. Municipalities could also set reasonable limits on the number of licensed businesses, their locations, operating hours and signage.
  • Until June 30, 2024, the number of licensed cannabis retailers could not exceed one per 25,000 residents. After that, state regulators will set a new maximum.
  • Cannabis products would be capped at 30 percent THC by weight for cannabis flower and all other products except pre-filled vape cartridges at 60 percent THC, though those limits could be further adjusted by regulators. Retailers would also need to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products. Products designed to appeal to children would be forbidden.
  • The state’s general sales tax of 6.35 percent would apply to cannabis, and an additional excise tax based on THC content would be imposed. The bill also authorizes a 3 percent municipal tax, which must be used for community reinvestment.
  • Until June 30, 2023, all excise tax would flow to the state’s general fund. For three years after that, 60 percent of the tax revenue will go to a new Social Equity and Innovation Fund. That amount would increase to 65 percent in 2026 and 75 percent in 2028. Other revenue would go to the state’s general fund as well as prevention and recovery services around drug use disorders.
  • Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could become “hybrid retailers” to also serve adult-use consumers. Regulators would begin accepting applications for hybrid permits in September 2021, and applicants would need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. That fee could be cut in half if they create a so-called equity joint venture, which would need to be majority owned by a social equity applicant. Medical marijuana growers could also begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in the second half this year, though they would need to pay a fee of up to $3 million.
  • Licensing fees for social equity applicants would be 50 percent of open licensing fees. Applicants would need to pay a small fee to enter a lottery, then a larger fee if they’re granted a license. Social equity licensees would also receive a 50 percent discount on license fees for the first three years of renewals.
  • The state would be allowed to enter into cannabis-related agreements with tribal governments, such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians.

The Senate adopted one amendment to the bill before passing it on Tuesday that makes a number of substantial and technical changes. Among other revisions, it deletes a section that would have allowed backers of marijuana producers to obtain cultivation licenses without being subject to a lottery and clarifies that a higher percentage of equity joint-venture owners be from disproportionately impacted areas. It also expands equity provisions of the bill so that 100 percent of profits with joint ventures with existing businesses go to equity partners, rather than the 5 percent in the original bill, and exempts medical marijuana from potency limits that apply to adult-use products.

A fiscal note on bill projects that taxes and fees for marijuana would bring in an estimated $4.1 million in additional revenue for the state and municipalities in fiscal year 2022, which would grow over time to a projected annual haul of $73.4 million by fiscal year 2026.

While many of the components of the bill are expected to carry over into the special session, there will technically need to be a new legislative vehicle that must pass both chambers in order to get to the governor’s desk.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter said late last month that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.

He last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, according to a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week.

The competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating that officials have “got to think regionally when it comes to how we deal with the pandemic—and I think we have to think regionally when it comes to marijuana, as well.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Texas And Louisiana Governors Signal They’ll Sign Marijuana Reform Bills On Their Desks

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Texas And Louisiana Governors Signal They’ll Sign Marijuana Reform Bills On Their Desks

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The governors of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday separately indicated that they will sign marijuana reform bills that have recently been delivered to their desks.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) left no room for interpretation on how he would act on a medical cannabis expansion measure that the legislature sent him.

“Veterans could qualify for medical marijuana under new law,” he tweeted. “I will sign it.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) was less explicit, stating at a press briefing that he’s “interested in signing the bill that would lessen the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The governor noted that some reporters “may be surprised to hear” he’s inclined to approve the cannabis decriminalization measure, referring to his longtime opposition to broad legalization. That said, other recent comments Edwards has separately made signaled that he may be increasingly open to even more comprehensive proposals to completely end marijuana prohibition if they are ever sent to his desk.

When it comes to the current decriminalization measure, he said he and his staff are “reviewing that one now.”

Louisiana lawmakers also sent Edwards a separate bill last week to let patients in the state’s medical cannabis program legally smoke whole-plant marijuana flower. He didn’t weigh in on that proposal at the press conference, but he’s previously cited it as an example of the type of incremental reform he expected to advance.

In Texas, the marijuana measure that the governor says he will sign would add cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that qualify patients for medical cannabis. As passed in the House, it would have also included chronic pain as a qualifying condition, but that was removed by the Senate, and it was not re-added in a conference committee. Also, the legislation doubled the THC cap for marijuana products, increasing it from 0.5 percent to one percent. Originally the House-approved version increased the limit to five percent, but that was watered down in the Senate.

Abbott has not yet commented on a separate piece of drug policy reform legislation that the legislature also passed to require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. But for what it’s worth, that measure is also aimed at supporting military veterans’ health.

If all the bills are signed into law, it would represent a significant victory for advocates who have been working overtime in the conservative legislatures to get lawmakers on board. But in both states, there have also been defeats this session.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Texas bills to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis concentrates, update the state’s hemp program and broadly decriminalize marijuana advanced—but they did not make it over the finish line by the session’s end.

Partly because of those failures, a newly formed progressive coalition that’s being led by two former congressional candidates said it plans to take cannabis and other issues directly to voters by putting reform measures on local ballots across the state.

In Louisiana, there was an effort to pass a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis, but it stalled in the House after the chamber failed to pass a complementary measure on taxing recreational marijuana. Edwards did say last month that he believes the reform “is going to happen in Louisiana eventually.”

In April, Edwards also said that he had “great interest” in the legalization proposal, and he pledged to take a serious look at its various provisions.

Last year, the Louisiana legislature significantly expanded the state’s medical marijuana program by passing a bill that allows physicians to recommend cannabis to patients for any debilitating condition that they deem fit instead of from the limited list of maladies that’s used under current law.

Edwards signed the measure in June 2020 and it took effect weeks later.

Abbott, for his part, did not sign separate legislation to clarify that a positive marijuana test alone is not sufficient criteria for removing a child from their home. But he didn’t veto it, either, and it was enacted without the his signature last month and takes effect on September 1, 2021.

Prohibition remains on the books in both traditionally conservative states—but between legislative actions this session and both governors expressing some level of support for more modest reform, it can’t be said that advocates haven’t made progress.

California Uses Marijuana Tax Revenue To Fund Programs To Repair Drug War’s Harms

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lawson.

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