The Nevada Senate has approved a resolution urging Congress to federally legalize marijuana.
About a month after the Assembly passed the legislation from Assemblyman Reuben D’Silva (D), the Senate advanced it in a vote of 18-3 on Wednesday.
It states that cannabis has “many well documented medical uses,” yet remains a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), “alongside heroin.”
The resolution goes on to note that Nevada voters have approved ballot initiatives to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, and that a state district court ruled last year that the state Board of Pharmacy’s designation of cannabis as a Schedule I substance is unconstitutional.
Further, because of the federal classification of marijuana, patients are “unable to receive medical insurance prescription health coverage” for cannabis, and they’re also not covered under health savings accounts.
It goes on to discuss the financial barriers that marijuana businesses face under federal prohibition, namely the lack of access to banking services that forces many licensed businesses to operate on a cash-only basis that makes them targets of crime.
“Marijuana does not belong in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a classification intended for exceptionally dangerous substances with high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use,” the resolution says.
Therefore, “the members of the 82nd Session of the Nevada Legislature hereby urge Congress to support legislation to remove cannabis from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.”
The now-enacted measure requires the Assembly’s chief clerk to “prepare and transmit a copy of this resolution to the Vice President of the United States as the presiding officer of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and each member of the Nevada Congressional Delegation.”
Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, said in a press release that the legislature “has made its intent crystal clear with the passage of AJR 8 and that intent conforms to the Nevada Constitution: cannabis has medical value and does not belong on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.”
The Nevada Senate has overwhelmingly approved AJR 8 in an 18 to 3 vote with all but 3 Rs joining all Ds in support, meaning the resolution has passed and will be delivered to Congress with Nevada officially urging Congress to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 federally. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 https://t.co/1MuohQvuE0
— Athar Haseebullah, Esq. (@atharesq) May 24, 2023
“Whether Congress chooses to act is a decision they must make, but the voices of Nevadans and the intent of this Legislature are without ambiguity,” he said. “Nevada remains a national leader in cannabis reform.”
The Delaware Senate also approved a resolution in March that implores the federal government to end marijuana prohibition. That vote happened weeks before the legislature approved a pair of cannabis legalization and sales bill that the governor is allowing to become law without his signature.
A congressional resolution filed by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) in 2021 similarly called on federal policymakers to legalize cannabis and expunge all prior non-violent marijuana convictions.
Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) said last month that he will be reintroducing his comprehensive cannabis legalization legislation, though the prospects of passage are doubtful this session given that Republicans now hold the majority in the House.
An attempt to federally deschedule marijuana through an amendment to a fentanyl-related bill fell short this week after it was not made in order in the House Rules Committee.
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In Nevada, lawmakers have taken up a number of drug policy bills so far this session, including a proposal to increase the state’s cannabis possession limit and remove barriers to employment in the marijuana industry.
A Senate committee last month approved a bill that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes.
Nevada law enforcement regulators also recently proposed to revise the state’s employment policy so that prior marijuana possession convictions for amounts that are now legal would no longer be a disqualifying factor for police recruits.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) separately voted to send a proposed regulatory amendment to the governor that would formally protect athletes from being penalized over using or possessing marijuana in compliance with state law.
NSAC, which regulates unarmed combat sports within the state, voted unanimously to stop penalizing professional fighters for testing positive for marijuana in 2021, but the policy hasn’t been integrated into the code. The new amendment would change that.
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.