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Mexican Committees Approve Revised Marijuana Legalization Bill, With Floor Vote Expected Wednesday

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Lawmakers in two key committees in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies amended and approved a Senate-passed bill to legalize marijuana nationally on Monday, setting the legislation up for floor action that is expected on Wednesday.

Members of the chamber’s Health and Justice committees approved the cannabis bill in a joint vote of 34-11, with 12 abstentions.

Lawmakers made several significant revisions from the version that passed the Senate in November.

Generally speaking, however, most of the main provisions of the legislation remain intact. Adults 18 and older would still be allowed to purchase and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use, for example. But lawmakers revised the regulatory structure, rules for the commercial market and licensing policies, among other aspects.

Among the most significant amendments is that the revised bill would not establish a new independent regulatory body to oversee the licensing and implementation of the program as was approved by the Senate. Instead, it would give that authority to an existing agency, the National Commission Against Addictions.

To the dismay of advocates, the bill was also changed to include a provision requiring that people who want to grow their own marijuana at home register with the government for approval to do so.

Another change would be the creation of a license category for vertically integrated marijuana businesses that could control all areas of production and sales. However, there is language included in the measure to “prevent undue concentration that affects the market.”

While the bill would give priority for those licenses to marginalized communities, advocates are worried that there might not be strict criteria to actually ensure that ends up being the case. They had wanted to specific percentage of licenses to be set aside for those communities, but that’s not in the new bill.

For the purposes of public consumption, cannabis would be treated the same as tobacco under the amended legislation, but it could not be sold online or through the mail.

The text of the revised measure also seeks to reframe the reform as being about protecting public health rather than economic growth.

鈥淕iven that the proposed legislation would open the legal market for cannabis, a substance considered to be a narcotic in the international treaties signed by our country, it is essential that the law issued for this purpose has a clear and defined public health approach,” it says. 鈥淔or this reason, it is essential to modify the approach that predominates in the bill, which considers the cultivation of cannabis as a means for economic growth and community development; which, if maintained like this, would encourage production and commercialism, neglecting public health, contrary to the guiding model that these committees intend to build.”

Additional changes are likely to be considered when the full Chamber of Deputies takes the bill up on the floor on Wednesday.

If deputies approve the legalization bill in amended form it will head back to the Senate, where lawmakers will consider the other chamber’s changes.

The draft of the revisions that the joint committees approved on Monday first circulated over the weekend.

While legalization advocates are happy to see the issue advancing, they do have problems with several provisions of the legislation.

Mexico Unido said that the revised proposal still “criminalizes users, puts criminal and administrative sanctions on them and invades their privacy.”

“The current ruling removed the locks on vertical market integration and the entry of the junk food and beverage industry,” it said. “And it did not eliminate excessive requirements such as seed control, traceability and testing, which exclude small participants.”

There would be six licensing categories under the proposal: production, distribution, sales, marketing and research鈥攊n addition to one that would provide for vertical integration.

Another change in the latest version concerns edibles, which would not be allowed to be marketed on a temporary basis until additional research is conducted into the products.

Following a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that deemed the prohibition on personal possession and cultivation of marijuana unconstitutional, lawmakers have been tasked with ending criminalization鈥攂ut they鈥檝e repeatedly pushed back deadlines to enact the policy change.

Now the legislature聽has until the end of April to legalize cannabis nationwide, and it seems this week鈥檚 action will set the stage for Congress to make good on its obligation.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, for his part, said in December that an earlier anticipated vote on legalization legislation was delayed due to minor 鈥渕istakes鈥 in the proposal.

He said 鈥渢here was no time to conduct a review鈥 in the legislature before the prior December 15 Supreme Court deadline, but he noted that issues that need to be resolved are 鈥渕atters of form鈥 and 鈥渘ot of substance.鈥

The聽Senate passed the legalization bill in November聽and transmitted it to the Chamber of Deputies.聽Several committees took up the bill, with the Human Rights and Budget and Public Account Committees representing one panel that considered and advanced it just before the the court granted lawmakers鈥 latest deadline extension request.

While advocates are pushing for lawmakers to formally end prohibition, they hoped the delay would give them more time to try to convince the legislature to address their concerns about certain provisions of the current bill, namely the limited nature of its social equity components and strict penalties for violating rules.

The legalization bill聽cleared a joint group of Senate committees聽prior to the full floor vote in that chamber, with some amendments being made after members informally聽considered and debated the proposal聽during a virtual hearing.

Members of the Senate鈥檚 Justice, Health, and Legislative Studies Committees had聽approved a prior version of legal cannabis legislation聽last March, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed consideration of the issue.

The legislation as ultimately approved by the Senate made some attempts to mitigate the influence of large marijuana corporations. For example, it stated that for the first five years after implementation, at least 40 percent of cannabis business licenses must be granted to those from indigenous, low-income or historically marginalized communities.

Households where more than one adult lives would be limited to cultivating a maximum of eight plants. The legislation also says people 鈥渟hould not鈥 consume cannabis in homes where there are underaged individuals. Possession of more than 28 grams but fewer than 200 grams would be considered an infraction punishable by a fine but no jail time.

Sen. Julio Ram贸n Menchaca Salazar of the MORENA party said in April that legalizing cannabis could聽fill treasury coffers at a time when the economy is recovering from the pandemic.

As lawmakers work to advance the reform legislation, there鈥檚 been a more lighthearted push to focus attention on the issue by certain members and activists. That push has mostly involved planting and gifting marijuana.

In September, a top administration official was聽gifted a cannabis plant by senator聽on the Senate floor, and she said she鈥檇 be making it a part of her personal garden.

A different lawmaker聽gave the same official, Interior Ministry Secretary Olga S谩nchez Cordero, a marijuana joint聽on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies in 2019.

Cannabis made another appearance in the legislature in August, when Sen. Jesusa Rodr铆guez of the MORENA party聽decorated her desk with a marijuana plant.

Drug policy reform advocates have also been cultivating hundreds of marijuana plants in front of the Senate, putting pressure on legislators to make good on their pledge to advance legalization.

Read the text of the revised Mexico legalization bill below:聽

Mexico Chamber of Deputies … by Marijuana Moment

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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.

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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Most Kansas City Government Workers Will No Longer Face Pre-Employment Marijuana Tests Following City Council Vote

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Most government workers in Kansas City, Missouri will no longer face pre-employment drug tests for marijuana under an ordinance that the City Council approved on Thursday.

The measure, which was introduced by Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) in July, was passed by local lawmakers in an 11-2 vote.

鈥淚t shall be unlawful for the City of Kansas City to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana in the prospective employee鈥檚 system as a condition of employment,鈥 the text of the ordinance states.

Lucas, who last year filed a since-enacted measure to聽remove all local criminal penalties for cannabis possession, celebrated the latest development.

“Opportunities should not be foreclosed unnecessarily. Glad to see passage of our law eliminating pre-employment screening for marijuana at Kansas City government for most positions,” he said. “One step of many in becoming a fairer city.”

There are some exceptions to the policy change. Law enforcement, workers who require a commercial driver鈥檚 license and those who are involved in the supervision of 鈥渃hildren, medical patients, disabled or other vulnerable individuals鈥 can still be screened for cannabis.

Last year, the mayor announced a pardon program for those with previous convictions for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia.

Drug testing for cannabis has become a hot topic of late since the Olympics聽suspension of U.S. runner Sha鈥機arri Richardson, with more people arguing that use of the plant shouldn鈥檛 lead to punishments, especially given the ongoing rise of the legalization movement. The World Anti-Doping Agency recent announced that it would review its marijuana policy for athletes next year.

The Biden administration has come under fire this year for terminating or otherwise punishing staffers who were honest about their past cannabis use as part of the background check process.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said that nobody in the White House was聽fired for 鈥渕arijuana usage from years ago,鈥聽nor has anyone been terminated 鈥渄ue to casual or infrequent use during the prior 12 months.鈥 However, she鈥檚 consistently declined to speak to the extent to which staff have been suspended or placed in a remote work program because they were honest about their history with marijuana on a federal form that鈥檚 part of the background check process.

In June, a powerful congressional committee released a report that urges federal agencies to reconsider policies that result in the firing of employees who use marijuana legally in accordance with state law.

Separate standalone legislation has been previously introduced by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) to聽provide protections for federal workers聽who consume cannabis in compliance with state law, but it never received a hearing or a vote and has not been refiled so far this Congress.

As of last year, New York City employers are no longer able to聽require pre-employment drug testing for marijuana聽as a part of the hiring process鈥攖hough there are a series of exemptions to the policy. The City Council approved the ban in 2019, and it was聽enacted without Mayor Bill de Blasio鈥檚 (D) signature.

Statewide in Missouri, voters may see multiple marijuana initiatives on the state鈥檚 2022 ballot, with a group filing an adult-use legalization proposal last month that could compete with separate reform measures that are already in the works.

Full-Page Washington Post Ad Calls For Marijuana Prisoner’s Freedom While Celebs Make Money In Industry

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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Full-Page Washington Post Ad Calls For Marijuana Prisoner’s Freedom While Celebs Make Money In Industry

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Supporters of a 26-year-old man who is currently incarcerated while awaiting sentencing for a federal marijuana charge took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post on Thursday, blasting the hypocrisy of his imprisonment while celebrities like Beyonce, Jay Z, Seth Rogen and Willie Nelson stand to profit off the legal cannabis industry.

Jonathan Wall faces up to 15 years in prison on charges that he and other conspired to traffic marijuana from California to Maryland over two years. His family says this is a flagrant miscarriage of justice that highlights the need for relief for Wall and for broader federal marijuana reform.

The ad has the headline, “Who will be the last person incarcerated for marijuana in the United States?”

“Cannabis corporations are in Maryland and 26 other states making billions in revenue growing, manufacturing and distributing pot,” it says. “Cannabis conglomerates wonderfully engaged in branding, licensing , product innovation, research and development.”

Click to access washington-post-marijuana-ad.pdf

It notes that, just miles away from where Wall is being held, consumers can buy marijuana from major marijuana businesses like Curaleaf or Acreage Holdings, which counts former GOP House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) among its board members.

“But then you鈥攁long with the likes of Jay Z, Seth Rogen, and Willie Nelson鈥攚ould be in violation of U.S. federal law and subject to incarceration,” the ad says. “26-year-old Jonathan Wall faces life in prison while Beyonce says that she鈥檚 starting a cannabis farm. This is not the way the law is supposed to work.”

“President Biden recently gave a speech about how 20 years in Afghanistan was too long and that our continued involvement there was a mistake. Well, what about more than 50 years of proven failure, 50 years of gross economic waste, 50 years of caging our own citizens, 50 years of asset forfeiture abuse, 50 years of enforcement disparity and evisceration of the constitutional rights of people of color. In a country where you can guy an assault rifle and fifth of whiskey, federal prohibition of cannabis has never been about more than fear, bias, race, stigmatization and control.”

This isn’t the first time that the Biden administration has faced demands to provide relief for people criminalized over marijuana.

Congressional lawmakers have also recently pushed President Joe Biden to grant clemency to nearly 20,000 people in the federal prison system鈥攊ncluding those with drug convictions.

A group of more than 150 celebrities, athletes, politicians, law enforcement professionals and academics separately signed a letter that was delivered to Biden, asking him to issue a 鈥渇ull, complete and unconditional pardon鈥 to all people with non-violent federal marijuana convictions.

While advocates are looking for more, the Biden administration is asking a fraction of people聽with drug convictions who were placed on home confinement amid the coronavirus pandemic to apply for the relief.

“It is time for our government to admit that it has made a mistake,” the new ad says.

Mississippi Lawmakers Reach Deal On Medical Marijuana Legalization, Plan To Request Special Session

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House Officially Passes Defense Bill With Marijuana Banking Protections, But Key Senators May Block Path Ahead

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a large-scale defense spending bill that includes an amendment to shield banks that works with state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. Now advocates and industry stakeholders are left wondering: what’s the fate of the reform in the Senate? And can it make it to the president’s desk?

New comments from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)鈥攚ho’s helping lead the charge to advance comprehensive marijuana legalization and who has been severely critical of efforts to enact banking reform first鈥攕ignal that the path to pass the incremental policy change through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could be in jeopardy in the Senate. Other key senators have also expressed skepticism about the reform’s prospects through this process.

For supporters, things may have been more simple if the Senate had moved to include cannabis banking reform in its own version, but the text of NDAA released by Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday does not contain that language. That means the matter will need to be settled in a bicameral conference committee after the full Senate formally passes its bill. At that point, negotiators from both chambers will work to resolve differences between their separate proposals.

Already, there’s pushback from key senators to including the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the NDAA that’s ultimately sent to President Joe Biden. That’s not especially surprising considering that leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has insisted on passing comprehensive justice-focused marijuana legalization first rather than advance an incremental reform on banking. But recent statements do raise questions about the prospects of enacting the reform through the defense bill.

It’s not that the SAFE Banking Act is partisan or especially controversial on its face; it’s a matter of legislative priorities for certain senators and a question of germaneness in NDAA. As of Tuesday, when the reform amendment was officially attached to the House version of the bill, it has now passed five times in the chamber, usually along largely bipartisan lines.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), chief sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, spoke with Marijuana Moment about the process moving forward in a phone interview on Wednesday. He was optimistic about the measure’s prospects with NDAA as the vehicle, though he conceded that he hadn’t spoken with Schumer or other key senators who are actively finalizing legalization legislation that they hope to see move first.

“I think the fifth time is the charm,” he said. “I mean, obviously, we still have to do some work to make sure that it remains part of the NDAA as the House and the Senate go to conference. So we still have work to do with the Senate to make sure that it remains part of it. But I think that it will.”

“I mean, the fact that it deals with cartels and national security, on top of the need for the public safety piece of this thing, I think that we鈥檒l be able to convince the conference committee and the conferees generally to keep it in,” he said. “But we still have work to do.”


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 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.

Some advocates have expressed support for enacting the achievable banking policy change while working to build support for more comprehensive reform.

鈥淓nactment of the SAFE Banking Act would improve public safety and business efficiency in the 36 states that currently permit some form of retail marijuana sales,鈥 NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. 鈥淭he Senate should ensure this provision remains in the final version of this funding package and enact it swiftly.鈥

鈥淭he SAFE Banking Act is only the first step toward making sure that state-legal marijuana markets operate safely and efficiently,” he said. “The sad reality is that those who own or patronize these currently unbanked businesses would still be recognized as criminals in the eyes of the federal government and by federal law. This situation can only be rectified by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances.鈥

Schumer and certain other senators, meanwhile, have insisted the banking issue should be tackled by holistically ending marijuana prohibition. They argue that it is inappropriate to pass what is seen as an industry-focused reform that helps businesses and investors while leaving unaddressed the harms of decades of racially disparate prohibition enforcement that should be addressed with equity-focused legalization.

Booker, who is helping Schumer alongside Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) to produce a final legalization bill has said he would proactively work to block any senators who attempt to get marijuana banking reform passed聽before enacting social justice-focused legalization legislation.

And Booker told Politico on Wednesday that cannabis banking is “something that should not be included” in NDAA.

“It undermines the ability to get comprehensive marijuana reform and the kind of things that are harder to get done like expungement of people’s records,” he said, echoing a point that Schumer made in an interview with Marijuana Moment in April. And a spokesperson for the majority leader affirmed that his position has not changed in light of the House development.

Should a senator propose a floor amendment to the chamber’s version of the defense bill to incorporate SAFE Banking, Booker left open the possibility of standing in its way.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), sponsor of the standalone Senate version of the SAFE Banking Act, also declined to say whether he would push to attach the reform to NDAA and told Politico he’d 鈥渓ove to see if we can even do the more comprehensive [reform]鈥攖hat’d be even better.鈥

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), meanwhile, told Roll Call that the issue hasn’t been discussed by members of his panel. And bipartisan supporters of the reform鈥攊ncluding Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Rand Paul (R-KY)鈥攖old the outlet they weren’t certain that the Senate would pursue marijuana banking through NDAA.

Schatz also said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “doesn鈥檛 like” the marijuana banking proposal, and so “he鈥檚 going to have to consult with the Republicans in his conference who are in favor of this reform, but so far he鈥檚 been blocking it.”

Based on these comments, it seems increasingly clear that the effort to enact SAFE Banking through the must-pass defense bill faces a tough road ahead. And despite bipartisan support for the proposal on its own, it’s an open question as to whether the negotiators in committees of jurisdiction will be able to reach a consensus.

At an initial meeting of the House Rules Committee about NDAA on Monday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), who is managing the bill for the chamber, acknowledged that while some members might consider certain amendments 鈥渟uperfluous鈥 to defense spending matters, the annual legislation has been used as a vehicle to advance non-germane legislation in the past. He added, though, that doing so has historically required the issues at hand to have broad bipartisan support in order to survive the House-Senate conference committee process.

He didn鈥檛 specifically cite the cannabis banking proposal, but Perlmutter himself said earlier in the hearing that 鈥渨hether something is superfluous is always in the eyes of the beholder,鈥 signaling that he feels his measure鈥檚 germaneness in this context is up for interpretation.

Smith said that 鈥渨hatever superfluous items the Rules Committee decides to put in order and get attached to this bill, we go to conference, and in conference, we work in a bipartisan fashion.鈥

But beyond Smith and Reed, it will also be up to leading members of key committees that handle banking issues to decide whether the measure gets a ride to the president’s desk in NDAA.

鈥淲e鈥檙e not going to pull one over on anybody here. We鈥檙e going to have to work with committees of jurisdiction鈥攏ot just the chairs, but the ranking members as well鈥攖o come to some agreement on those before we go forward,鈥 he said. 鈥淪o if you see an item that you consider to be superfluous being added to the bill, don鈥檛 freak out.鈥

The chair鈥檚 comments about needing support from leaders of committees of jurisdiction raise questions about whether the amendment stands a chance in conference with the Senate following House approval. Not only did House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) vote against the standalone SAFE Banking Act this year and in 2019, but on the Senate side, even Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH)聽has been generally unenthusiastic about advancing the reform.

On the flip side, House Finance Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) is a supporter of the banking reform and brought it through her panel last Congress. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-PA), for his part, has previously聽voiced support for advancing the SAFE Banking Act.

Perlmutter has said that he appreciates that Senate leadership is pushing for a more comprehensive end to federal marijuana prohibition鈥攁nd he agrees with Booker that promoting social equity is an important objective鈥攂ut he feels the SAFE Banking Act is urgently needed聽to address public safety issues resulting from the industry鈥檚 lack of access to traditional financial institutions.

Some of the strongest proponents for broad reform like Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) voted in favor of the SAFE Banking Act in April despite the body yet having taken up a legalization measure this session.

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