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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

West Virginia Governor Would Support Taxing The ‘Absolute Crap’ Out Of Marijuana To Replace Income Tax

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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Mississippi Lawmakers Float Special Session To Restore Medical Marijuana Following Supreme Court Ruling

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Without a special session, the earliest that the Legislature could enact a medical marijuana program would be in January when the 2022 session begins.

By Bobby Harrison and Geoff Pender, Mississippi Today

A special legislative session is being discussed by political leaders in the wake of last week鈥檚 explosive ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court striking down both the state鈥檚 new medical marijuana program and the entire initiative process where citizens can gather signatures to place issues on the ballot for voters to decide.

Sources close to the issue said that lawmakers have broached the issue of a special session with Gov. Tate Reeves鈥檚 (R) office.

Without a special session, the earliest that the Legislature could enact a medical marijuana program would be in January when the 2022 session begins. And it would take even longer to re-instate the initiative process since it would require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the Legislature and then approval by voters presumably during the November 2022 general election.

During a special session, legislators could have an opportunity to create a medical marijuana program and perhaps to fix the language in the state鈥檚 initiative process that resulted in last week鈥檚 Supreme Court ruling.

House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) says he supports Reeves calling a special session to allow legislators to reinstate the state鈥檚 initiative process.

鈥淲e 100% believe in the right of the people to use the initiative and referendum process to express their views on public policy,鈥 Gunn said in a statement. 鈥淚f the legislature does not act on an issue that the people of Mississippi want, then the people need a mechanism to change the law. I support the governor calling us into a special session to protect this important right of the people.鈥

Efforts to garner comments from Reeves and Lt. Gov Delbert Hosemann (R), who presides over the Senate, have been unsuccessful thus far. On the day of the Supreme Court ruling, Bailey Martin, a spokesperson for Reeves, told the Daily Journal in Tupelo, 鈥淟ike most Mississippians, Gov. Reeves is interested and intrigued by the Supreme Court鈥檚 decision on the recent ballot initiative. He and his team are currently digesting the Court鈥檚 58-page opinion and will make further comment once that analysis is complete.鈥

Senate President Pro Tem Dean Kirby, (R), said he has not heard discussions about a special session, but said, 鈥淚 would not be opposed to a special session鈥 to take up the issue of medical marijuana. He pointed out the Senate passed a bill earlier this year in the 2021 session that would have put in place a medical marijuana program if the Supreme Court struck down the medical marijuana initiative. The House did not take up the Senate proposal, opting to wait for the Supreme Court ruling.

Kirby said he had not studied the issue of whether there should be an effort in special session to take up fixing the entire initiative process.

Rep. Robert Johnson, (D), the House minority leader, who was critical of last week鈥檚 Supreme Court ruling, said he would support a special session to take up both issues.

Secretary of State Michael Watson (R), who oversees state elections and the initiative process, said via social media he also supports the governor calling a special session.

鈥淚 strongly encourage Gov. Reeves to call a special session to address this issue,鈥 Watson said, adding that the issue of medical marijuana also should be taken up during a special session. Watson also said the Legislature should take steps to ensure initiatives approved earlier by voters are not rendered void by the Supreme Court decision released Friday afternoon.

In a 6-3 ruling last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the medical marijuana initiative that was approved overwhelmingly by voters in November and in the process voided the state鈥檚 initiative that has been in effect since 1992.

In the process of voiding the process, six initiatives that were at varying stages of trying to garner the required number of signatures were killed. Those efforts were:

  • Expanding Medicaid.
  • Enacting early voting.
  • Enacting term limits.
  • Legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • Giving voters the opportunity to restore the old flag that contained the Confederate battle emblem in its design.
  • Replacing the 1890 flag that contained the Confederate battle emblem. That already has been done by the Legislature.

The Supreme Court ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the city of Madison and its mayor, Mary Hawkins Butler. The lawsuit alleged the initiative process should be voided because the Constitution requires the signatures to be gathered equally from five congressional districts as they were configured in 1990. In 2000, the state lost a U.S. House seat based on U.S. Census data, rendering it impossible to gather the signatures as mandated in the Constitution, the lawsuit argued.

The state鈥檚 highest court agreed.

Also at issue is two initiatives that passed in 2011 where the signatures were gathered from the original five congressional districts and whether they will be efforts to challenge those proposals. Those initiatives enacted a requirement to have a government-issued photo ID to vote and a prohibition on the government taking private land for the use of another private entity. After voters approved placing the voter identification issue in the Constitution, it also was approved as general law by the Legislature. So, if the voter ID initiative is struck down, it is not clear how it would impact the general law.

When asked if the Southern Poverty Law Center might challenge the voter ID initiative based on the Supreme Court ruling, Brandon Jones, policy director with the group, said 鈥淟ike a lot of other folks, we are in the very early states of considering options for voters and the issues impacted by last week鈥檚 ruling. We haven鈥檛 made any decision yet.鈥

SPLC also would have been heavily involved in the effort to pass a Medicaid expansion initiative had it not be halted by the Supreme Court ruling.

This story was first published by Mississippi Today.

Voters In Conservative Louisiana Districts Support Legalizing Marijuana, Poll Shows With House Vote Scheduled

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Minnesota Lawmakers Approve Smokable Medical Marijuana As Broader Legalization Stalls

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A bill to legalize marijuana in Minnesota that recently passed the House isn’t advancing in the Republican controlled Senate this session鈥攂ut advocates scored a different kind of victory on Monday when it comes to expanding the state’s medical cannabis program.

That includes legalizing smokable forms of marijuana for registered patients.

Over the weekend, a bicameral conference committee approved the reform, in addition to several other marijuana-related changes, as part of an omnibus health bill. The House adopted that report on Monday in a 77-57 vote, and the Senate followed suit in a 66-1 vote, sending it to the governor’s desk.

This is just the kind of compromise that House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), sponsor of the broader legalization measure that moved through 12 committees before being cleared by the chamber, predicted would come about in the face of GOP resistance to the idea of ending prohibition altogether.

The most significant change to Minnesota’s medical cannabis program would allow adults 21 and older to access smokable marijuana products. If the final legislation is signed by the governor, that policy would have to take effect by March 1, 2022, or earlier if rules are developed and the state’s cannabis commissioner authorizes it.

There are few remaining states that have medical cannabis programs in place but where smokable products are still prohibited. The Louisiana House approved a bill to allow access to flower products, and it’s heading to the Senate floor. In Alabama, the governor has a medical marijuana legalization bill on her desk that would include a ban on smokable cannabis.

Back in Minnesota, dispensaries could also provide a curbside pickup option for patients under the proposed omnibus legislation. The report further removes restrictions for designated caregivers and allows them to tend to six registered patients at once, rather than just one.

鈥淥ver the course of 12 public hearings this year and a statewide tour visiting 15 communities, Minnesotans were loud and clear that our state鈥檚 medical cannabis program was too expensive, and that allowing flower could significantly improve access,鈥 Winkler said in a press release.

鈥淎s a result of Minnesotans who made their voices heard over the course of years鈥攚hether you are a veteran suffering from PTSD, a person with a serious health condition, or a parent with a sick child鈥攎ore people will gain the ability to live healthy, fulfilled lives,” he said. “Without Minnesotans鈥 activism and personal stories, and without a historic vote in the Minnesota House to legalize cannabis for adult use, this accomplishment would not have been possible.鈥

There was one change attached to the health bill that could be of concern to advocates. It would make it so regulators could remove health conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana if they receive a petition from a member of the public or a task force. Currently, the commissioner is only able to approve new conditions or modify existing ones.


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.

Still, activists are excited about the overall expansion of the program under the legislation.

鈥淨uite contrary to the claim of some GOP members that reforms to the state’s restrictive medical cannabis program are the 鈥榖ackdoor鈥 to full legalization, the adult-use bill helped open the front door this session for the sorely needed reforms patient advocates have been working toward for years,” Leili Fatehi, campaign manager for Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation, told Marijuana Moment.

These are generally positive developments for advocates and patients, but there’s still disappointment over the fact that Winkler’s full legalization bill has stalled in the Senate.

Gov. Tim Walz (D), who hasn’t been especially vocal about the issue in recent weeks as the legislation has advanced, weighed in on the House passage of the legislation on Friday.

“I鈥檝e thought for a long time about that,” he said, adding that “we know that adults can make their own decisions on things, we know that criminalization and prohibition has not worked.”

“I鈥檝e always thought that it makes sense to control how you鈥檙e doing this and to make sure that adults know what they鈥檙e getting into, and use it wisely,” he said. “I also think there鈥檚 a lot of inequity about how folks have spent time in jail or been arrested around this, especially in communities of color.”

“I know a lot of states鈥攐ther states, conservative states like South Dakota鈥攐thers have done this. I think there鈥檚 a way to do it,” he added. “I say that as a father of a 14-year-old. I certainly don鈥檛 encourage it. I certainly wouldn鈥檛 encourage my son to over-abuse alcohol. I wouldn’t encourage him to do some of those things, but when adults are of a certain age I trust them to make a good decision.”

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R), meanwhile, reiterated his opposition to legalization in an interview with WCCO-TV over the weekend, though he said medical cannabis expansion and lowering criminal penalties for marijuana are areas of interest.

“What I do think we should continue to explore is lowering the criminal offenses鈥攁nd are there medical reasons that we’re missing?” he said. Those are two things that I hear a lot of, but just making recreational marijuana illegal, I don’t think that’s wise.”

Rep. Rena Moran (D), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, commented in a separate interview with the station that cannabis criminalization has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and has funneled “way too many people into the criminal justice system.”

While it seems the legislature is heading into a special session to pass the state budget after not being able to get it done by Monday’s end of the regular session, it seems unlikely that the Senate would be willing to take up the legalization bill during that time.

The majority leader鈥檚 legislation as introduced was identical to a proposal he filed last year, with some minor technical changes. Winkler, who led a statewide listening to gather public input ahead of the measure鈥檚 introduction, called it the聽鈥渂est legalization bill in the country鈥聽at the time. It did not advance in that session, however.

Under the measure, social equity would be prioritized, in part by ensuring diverse licensing and preventing the market from being monopolized by corporate players. Prior marijuana records would also be automatically expunged.

On-site consumption and cannabis delivery services would be permitted under the bill. And unlike in many legal states, local municipalities would be banned from prohibiting marijuana businesses from operating in their areas.

Retail cannabis sales would be taxed at 10 percent. Part of that revenue would fund a grant program designed to promote economic development and community stability.

The聽bill聽calls for the establishment of a seven-person Cannabis Management Board, which would be responsible for regulating the market and issuing cannabis business licenses. It was amended in committee month to add members to that board who have a social justice background.

People living in low-income neighborhoods and military veterans who lost honorable status due to a cannabis-related offense would be considered social equity applicants eligible for priority licensing.

Cannabis retails sales would launch on December 31, 2022.

Walz in January he called on lawmakers to pursue the reform as a means to boost the economy and promote racial justice. He did not include a request to legalize through his budget proposal, however.

The governor did say in 2019 that he was directing state agencies to prepare to implement reform聽in anticipation of legalization passing.

Winkler, meanwhile, said in December that if Senate Republicans don鈥檛 go along with the policy change legislatively, he said he hopes they will聽at least let voters decide on cannabis聽as a 2022 ballot measure.

Heading into the 2020 election, Democrats believed they had a shot of taking control of the Senate, but that didn鈥檛 happen. The result appears to be partly due to the fact that candidates from marijuana-focused parties in the state聽earned a sizable share of votes聽that may have otherwise gone to Democrats, perhaps inadvertently hurting the chances of reform passing.

In December, the Minnesota House Select Committee On Racial Justice adopted a report that broadly details race-based disparities in criminal enforcement and recommends a series of policy changes,聽including marijuana decriminalization and expungements.

Alabama Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Alabama Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill

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The governor of Alabama on Monday signed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state that was sent to her desk earlier this month.

Following the measure’s passage, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signaled that she intended to sign after “thoroughly reviewing it.” But while there was a general expectation that she would recommend amendments, she signed it as is.

While the measure was approved with a two-to-one margin in both the House and Senate, some Republican lawmakers vigorously opposed its passage,聽staging a lengthy filibuster that delayed the final votes.

鈥淪igning SB 46 is an important first step,” Ivey said in a press release. “This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied. On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days.”

In addition to being able to sign or veto the bill, Ivey had had the opportunity to propose line-item amendments and send it back to lawmakers, who could then approve or reject them. But she apparently did not see the need to pursue that option.

鈥淎s research evolves, [Sen. Tim Melson (R)] and I discussed how critical it is to continue finding ways to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe and responsible operation in Alabama,” the governor said.

While Ivey hasn鈥檛 been especially vocal about the issue, she was asked聽about a prior medical cannabis legalization bill in 2019聽and聽said, 鈥淚鈥檓 still trying to get the details, but if it鈥檚 tightly controlled and limited to just those illnesses as verified by medical professionals, it鈥檇 be worth considering.鈥

A restrictive medical marijuana bill is essentially what lawmakers sent to the governor.

Under the legislation as approved, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of about 20 conditions, including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain. Regulators would not be able to independently add additional conditions, leaving that decision up to lawmakers in future sessions.

The bill also prohibits raw cannabis, smoking, vaping and candy or baked good products. Patients would instead be allowed to purchase capsules, lozenges, oils, suppositories and topical patches.

For physicians to be able to recommend cannabis to patients, they would have to complete a four-hour continuing education course and pass an exam. The course would cost upwards of $500 and doctors would also be required to take refresher classes every two years.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) expressed support for the reform鈥攁nd he called on lawmakers to send the bill to the governor ahead of their final votes.

鈥淚 support legalizing medical marijuana to help those with cancer and other serious medical issues ease their pain,鈥 he posted on Twitter. 鈥淭he majority of the medical community agrees. The Alabama House should pass this important bill before the session ends.鈥

Ivey signed聽a bill in 2019 that established a medical cannabis study commission. That piece of legislation was originally a medical marijuana legalization bill that cleared the Senate but then was gutted in the House.

Late last month, the governor signed another聽bill that expands expungement eligibility for certain convictions, including misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Mississippi Supreme Court Overturns Medical Marijuana Legalization Ballot That Voters Approved

Photo courtesy of Evan Johnson.

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