Connect with us

Politics

Mexican Supreme Court Again Extends Marijuana Legalization Deadline

Published

on

The Mexican Supreme Court granted a request to again extend the deadline for the nation’s Congress to legalize marijuana on Friday.

Ever since the court declared in 2018 that the prohibition on personal possession and cultivation of cannabis is unconstitutional, lawmakers have been working to enact a policy change, accordingly. But while bills have been introduced to accomplish that, negotiations have taken longer than expected.

An initial deadline for legalization was set for October 2019, but Senate leaders requested an extension amid disagreements about legislation that was heading toward a vote. The court approved that request and said Congress had until the end of this month to reform the country’s marijuana policy.

But as the coronavirus pandemic forced lawmakers to put most legislative activities on hold, another extension was requested.

The new deadline for lawmakers to end prohibition is December 15鈥攖he end of the next legislative session. Politco.mx first reported the development.

Sen. M贸nica Fern谩ndez, president of the Senate’s Board of Directors, thanked the court for approving the extension.

Although lawmakers conceded they would not be able to meet this month’s deadline, substantial progress has been made nonetheless on the cannabis legislation.

During a joint meeting of the Justice, Health, Legislative Studies and Public Safety Committees last month, members approved a聽revised marijuana reform bill that had been circulated.

The proposal as introduced would聽allow adults 18 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Individuals could grow up to 20 registered plants as long as the total yield doesn鈥檛 exceed 480 grams per year. Medical patients could apply to cultivate more than 20 plants, however.

Personal possession would be capped at 28 grams, but possession of up to 200 grams would be decriminalized.

The Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis, a decentralized body established under the measure, would be established and responsible for regulating the market and issuing licenses for marijuana businesses.

The bill proposes a 12 percent tax on cannabis sales, with some revenue going toward a substance misuse treatment fund.

Public consumption would be permissible, except in spaces designated as 100 percent smoke-free. Hemp and CBD would be exempt from regulations that apply to THC products.

An earlier version of the legislation was approved by Senate committees last year ahead of the court鈥檚 October deadline.

Advocates have expressed frustration over the more recently revised version, noting that it hadn鈥檛 been changed to address their concerns.

They would like to enhance social equity provisions, provide protections for cannabis consumers and ensure that market empowers domestic farmers, especially those most impacted under the drug war鈥攁nd they hope that lawmakers will the new deadline extension to carefully consider their concerns and work them into an amended version of the legislation.

“We hope that this will give them the time to take up this issue again in the fall and that they will be able to integrate the changes that we have recommended, including taking away the very high and expensive sanctions for certain activities such as smoking in public,” Zara Snapp, a legalization activist with the Instituto RIA and the coalition #RegulacionPorLaPaz, told Marijuana Moment. “We also hope that this will provide them with the opportunity to integrate social justice into every aspect of the bill.”

“We believe that this bill is urgent for Mexico, particularly once we get past the pandemic and are ale to restart the economy. Regulating cannabis will be a key measure that could be used to generate formal jobs and provide a more just wage for people who are involved in this entire production chain,” she said.

Lawmakers Want Business Owners With Marijuana Convictions To Be Eligible For Coronavirus Relief

This story was updated to include comment from Snapp.

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.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Politics

Texas Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization Bill In Committee

Published

on

A bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Texas鈥攁s well as a separate proposal to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis concentrates鈥攁dvanced out of a key House committee on Friday.

These are the latest developments that have come after a week where Texas lawmakers have considered a medley of marijuana reform measures. But arguably the most significant piece of cannabis legislation to move out of committee would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a class C misdemeanor that carries a fine but no threat of jail time.

The full House of Representatives approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in the Senate that session.

This time around, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved the decriminalization bill, which would also prevent law enforcement from making arrests over low-level possession. Other decriminalization proposals that were under consideration by the panel this week would not prohibit that enforcement action, which is key because police are currently able to incarcerate people who are arrested for class C misdemeanors even though the charge itself does not carry the risk of jail time in sentencing.

The advancing legislation, HB 441, sponsored by Rep. Erin Zwiener (D), would also prevent the loss of a driver’s license or the creation of a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce.

Separately, the committee advanced legislation to make possession of up to two ounces of cannabis concentrates a class B misdemeanor.

Both bills were among the subjects a lengthy hearing the panel held on Tuesday.

“Marijuana bills are moving through the committee process at record speed this session,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “There’s good reason to be optimistic about the upcoming votes and the House and advocates will be doubling down their efforts to influence senators.”

This action comes one day after the House Public Health Committee unanimously approved a bill to significantly expand the state鈥檚 medical marijuana program.

Sponsored by Chairwoman Stephanie Klick (R), the bill would add cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (for veterans only) as conditions that could qualify people for the state鈥檚 limited medical cannabis program.

It would further allow the Department of State Health Services to add more qualifying conditions via administrative rulemaking. And it would also raise the THC cap for medical marijuana products from 0.5 percent to five percent.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 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.

On Thursday, the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee also discussed legislation that would make certain changes to the state鈥檚 hemp program, including imposing rules related to the transportation and testing of consumable hemp products.

While the Texas legislature has historically resisted most cannabis reforms, there are signs that this session may be different.

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said during a Texas Young Republicans event last month that while he wouldn鈥檛 be able to distinguish marijuana from oregano,聽he said, 鈥淚 understand the issue.鈥

The speaker said that he voted for a limited medical cannabis legalization bill during his freshman year in the legislature, and his support for the reform is partly based on the fact that he has a 鈥渟ister with severe epilepsy, and small amounts of CBD oil makes a big difference in people鈥檚 lives.鈥

Phelan also noted that he was a 鈥渏oint author鈥攏o pun intended鈥 of cannabis decriminalization legislation last session.

鈥淚 was able to go back home and explain it, and it wasn鈥檛 a big deal,鈥 he said. 鈥淭o me, it鈥檚 a reasonable criminal justice reform issue.鈥

Texans鈥 support for legalizing marijuana has聽grown significantly over the past decade, according to a poll released last month.

Sixty percent of state voters now back making cannabis legal 鈥渇or any use,鈥 the University of Texas and Texas Tribune survey found. That compares to just 42 percent who said the same back in 2010.

Leaders in both chambers of the legislature have recently indicated that they anticipate more modest proposals to be聽taken up and potentially approved this session, particularly as it concerns expanding the state鈥檚 limited medical cannabis program.

Phelan said he thinks 鈥渢he House will look at鈥 reform measures this year, including bills to legalize for adult use. He said the lawmakers will likely 鈥渞eview those again, and some will get traction, some will not.鈥 However, the Senate remains an obstacle for comprehensive reform.

Legislators in the state聽prefiled more than a dozen pieces of cannabis legislation聽ahead of the new session. That includes bills that would legalize recreational marijuana, allow high-THC cannabis for medical use and decriminalize low-level possession of marijuana.

That said, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who presides over the Senate, has killed prior efforts to enact reform in the state, raising questions about the prospects of far-reaching changes advancing in the chamber.

Nevada Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Bill To Allow On-Site Consumption Lounges

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.
Continue Reading

Politics

Nevada Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Bill To Allow On-Site Consumption Lounges

Published

on

A bill to allow on-site marijuana consumption lounges advanced through a Nevada Assembly committee on Friday. The panel separately passed a measure making it so the concentration of THC in a person’s blood cannot be singularly used to determine impairment while driving.

The social use legislation, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Steve Yeager (D), would create two new licensing categories for cannabis businesses in the state. One would be for “retail cannabis consumption lounges” and the other would be an “independent cannabis consumption lounge.”

Existing retailers could apply for the former license and sell products that could be consumed on-site by adults 21 and older. Independent lounges would not be permitted to sell cannabis on their own, but would need to have marijuana products delivered to consumers from another source.

That said, independent licensees could submit a request to regulators to sell cannabis that they produce or to enter into a contract with an adult-use retailer to sell their products.

The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board would also be responsible for creating regulations for on-site facilities and setting fees for license applicants. Businesses that qualify as social equity applicants would have a reduced fee.

Under the legislation, a person “who has been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis, including, without limitation, adverse effects on an owner, officer or board member of the applicant or on the geographic area in which the applicant will operate” is considered a social equity applicant.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 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.

Yeager proposed a large-scale amendment to the proposal before it was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It builds on the definition and scoring system for social equity applicants, revises public safety requirements for lounges and ensures that products purchased at lounges cannot be removed from the facility, among other changes.

The Las Vegas City Council in 2019 approved an ordinance allowing for social consumption sites within city limits.

That year, Alaska became the first state to enact regulations that provide for the on-site use option at dispensaries. Colorado followed suit with legislation approved that legalized cannabis “tasting rooms” and “marijuana hospitality establishments” where adults could freely use cannabis. Social consumption sites are also provided for in New York’s recently enacted marijuana legalization law.

In Nevada, adding new license types and giving consumers this option鈥攅specially in the tourist-centric state鈥攃ould further boost marijuana and other tax revenues. And Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has had a particular interest in ensuring that those tax dollars support public education, which he talked about during a State of the State address in January.

Sisolak has also committed to promoting equity and justice in the state鈥檚 marijuana law. Last year, for example, he聽pardoned more than 15,000 people聽who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession.

That action was made possible under聽a resolution the governor introduced聽that was unanimously approved by the state鈥檚 Board of Pardons Commissioners.

Under the impaired driving bill that separately cleared the committee on Friday, the per se blood test for THC would no longer be used in determining impairment.

Advocates have argued that the limit is arbitrary and there’s a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating a link between the amount of THC metabolites present in the blood and active impairment.

New Mexico Governor Sends Marijuana Bill Sponsors A ‘Save The Date’ For Expected Legalization Bill Signing

Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.

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.
Continue Reading

Politics

Biden Gets Yet Another Congressional Letter Blasting Marijuana-Related White House Firings

Published

on

President Joe Biden has received yet another letter from a lawmaker demanding answers about his administration’s practice of firing or otherwise punishing staffers for prior marijuana use.

Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) noted the national push to end prohibition and how the White House’s actions reveal a troubling disconnect.

“Cannabis is legal for either medical or adult use in 36 states, with numerous states pursuing efforts to further legalize for adult use,” the congresswoman wrote. “In Minnesota, our state legislature is expected to vote on measures to legalize cannabis in the coming months following years of political and community organizing by activists throughout the state.”

“Minnesotans and the American people are demanding change to our harsh and unequally applied cannabis laws,” she wrote. “I look forward to seeing your Administration reverse course on this harmful and unnecessary hurdle to hiring diverse and talented public servants.”

Craig also mentioned efforts to legalize marijuana at the federal level and commented on Biden’s prior statements on more modest reforms.

“I stand ready to work with you as we revisit our country鈥檚 drug laws, including the descheduling of cannabis as a Class 1 drug at the federal level,” she said. “You have previously expressed your commitment to decriminalizing cannabis in acknowledgement that a cannabis conviction or even the stigma of cannabis use can ruin lives and prevent people from voting, gaining employment and contributing to society.”

This is the third letter from lawmakers that Biden has been sent regarding the federal marijuana employment controversy.

A coalition of 30 members of Congress sent a letter last month that sharply criticizes the administration for terminating or punishing multiple White House staffers who disclosed their prior cannabis use. They pointed out that Vice President Kamala Harris and at least one one other Cabinet member are聽on record about their own marijuana use experiences.

Prior to that, Rep. David Joyce (R-OH)聽sent a similar message to the president condemning news of the marijuana-related firings for people who were honest about their history with cannabis on a federal form that鈥檚 required as part of the background check process.

鈥淪imply put, in a nation where the truth is considered malleable, we need to demonstrate to our young public servants that telling the truth is an honorable trait, not one to be punished,鈥 the congressman wrote. 鈥淚 respectfully request that your administration discontinue punishment of staff for being honest about their prior cannabis use and reinstate otherwise qualified individuals to their posts.鈥

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki聽addressed the controversy last month, saying during a press briefing that while Biden could theoretically end the policy of聽firing staff over prior marijuana use himself, that鈥檚 not happening as long as cannabis is federally illegal.

She later said that the president’s stance on marijuana legalization 鈥渉as not changed,鈥 meaning he’s still opposed to the comprehensive reform.

Psaki has previously聽attempted to minimize the fallout over the cannabis firings, with not much success, and so her office released a statement last month stipulating that nobody was fired for 鈥渕arijuana usage from years ago,鈥 nor has anyone been terminated 鈥渄ue to casual or infrequent use during the prior 12 months.鈥

Read the new letter to Biden on White House marijuana employment policy below:聽

Letter to Biden Regarding C… by Marijuana Moment

New Mexico Governor Sends Marijuana Bill Sponsors A ‘Save The Date’ For Expected Legalization Bill Signing

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.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Marijuana Moment