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Top Mexican Senator Says Lawmakers Will Again Take Up Marijuana Legalization In New Session

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Mexican lawmakers will again take up the issue of establishing rules for a regulated marijuana market in the new legislative session that begins on Wednesday, a top senator says.

The country’s Supreme Court first deemed the prohibition on personal consumption and cultivation of cannabis for adults unconstitutional in 2018. Since then, there’s been an ongoing effort in the Congress to legislate on the issue鈥攂ut lawmakers have repeatedly failed to meet court deadlines to end marijuana criminalization.

The court took matters into its own hands in June and invalidated prohibition, without a regulatory scheme in place. Also that month, President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador said his administration will respect the court’s decision, and he indicated that further reforms could potentially be placed before voters on the ballot.

But Sen. Julio Ram贸n Menchaca Salazar of the MORENA party said in a new statement on Monday that cannabis legalization will ideally be taken up by the legislature in the forthcoming session after regular orders of business are addressed.

The senator noted the fact that both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies have passed legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis, but could not agree on the details before lawmakers adjourned for the last session.

鈥淭he ideal is to finish the legislative process鈥攖o be able to have, without the pressure of time, the possibility of retaking this opinion, taking the good that was done in the Chamber of Deputies, because some modifications were correct,” Menchaca, who chairs the Senate Justice Committee, said, according to a translation.

He added, however, that the Senate-passed reform initiative that was revised in the Chamber of Deputies could be further “enriched with the participation of the senators.” He also said lawmakers in the opposite chamber sent the Senate a revised bill “with inconsistencies, some of them unconstitutional.”

Despite being granted multiple Supreme Court extensions to enact a policy change, the Congress failed to get the job done by the latest April 2021 deadline鈥攄ue in large part to key differences between the proposals from the two chambers.

The resulting inaction prompted justices to hold a聽vote on a general declaration of unconstitutionality in June. A majority agreed to end criminalization, though the Ministry of Health still has some regulatory authority with respect to permitting personal cultivation.

The Senate approved a legalization bill late last year, and then the Chamber of Deputies聽made revisions and passed it in March, sending it back to the originating chamber. A couple of Senate committees then聽took up and cleared the amended measure, but leaders quickly started signaling聽that certain revisions made the proposal unworkable.

That鈥檚 where the situation stood for weeks as the court鈥檚 latest April 30 deadline approached. There was an expectation that the Senate would again ask the court for an extension, but that did not take place. Instead, lawmakers have begun floating the idea of holding a special legislative session in order to get the job done this year.

After the Chamber of Deputies approved the Senate-passed legalization bill, senators said that the revised proposal was critically internally conflicted鈥攐n provisions concerning legal possession limits, the definition of hemp and聽other聽issues鈥攁nd lawmakers themselves could be subject to criminal liability if it went into effect as drafted.

But Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal Avila said in April that if the court were to make a declaration of unconstitutionality before a measure to regulate cannabis was approved, it would result in 鈥渃haos.鈥

Sen. Eduardo Ram铆rez Aguilar of the ruling MORENA party said in April that 鈥渁t this time,聽it is important to legislate in the terms that are presented to us鈥 and then consider additional revisions to cannabis laws through subsequent bills.

That鈥檚 been the position many legalization advocates have taken as well, urging lawmakers to pass an imperfect bill immediately and then work on fixing it later.

Under the prior proposal, adults 18 and older would be allowed to purchase and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. The deputies made changes that principally concern the regulatory structure, rules for the commercial market and licensing policies.

One of the most notable changes made by the Chamber of Deputies was 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.

Deputies also approved additional revisions to increase penalties for unauthorized possession of large amounts of cannabis, prevent forest land from being converted to marijuana growing areas and to require regulators to 鈥渃oordinate campaigns against problematic cannabis use and鈥evelop permanent actions to deter and prevent its use by minors and vulnerable groups.鈥

Advocates had hoped for more. Throughout this legislative process, they鈥檝e called for changes to further promote social equity and eliminate strict penalties for violating the law.

While the bill would give priority for licenses to marginalized communities, advocates are worried that there might not be strict and specific enough criteria to actually ensure that ends up being the case. They also pushed for an amendment to make it so a specific percentage of licenses would be set aside for those communities, but that did not happen.

Monreal Avila, the Senate majority leader, said ahead of the Chamber of Deputies vote that there 鈥渋s no problem if they modify the cannabis law, we have no problem.鈥

The president, for his part, said in December that a vote on legalization legislation was聽delayed due to minor 鈥渕istakes鈥 in the proposal.

The legalization bill聽cleared a joint group of Senate committees聽prior to the full floor vote in that chamber last year, 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 last year as well, but the pandemic delayed consideration of the issue. Salazar of the MORENA party said in April that legalizing cannabis could fill treasury coffers at a time when the economy is recovering from the health crisis.

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.

Court Dismisses DEA Marijuana Rescheduling Case, But Judge Says Cannabis Reclassification May Be Coming Anyway

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Amazon Endorses GOP-Led Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana

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Amazon, the second largest private employer in the U.S., is backing a Republican-led bill to federally legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

The company’s public policy division said on Tuesday that it is “pleased to endorse” the legislation from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who filed the States Reform Act in November as a middle-ground alternative to more scaled back GOP proposals and wide-ranging legalization bills that are being championed by Democrats.

“Like so many in this country, we believe it鈥檚 time to reform the nation鈥檚 cannabis policy and Amazon is committed to helping lead the effort,” the company, which previously expressed support for a separate, Democratic-led legalization bill, said.

Amazon has worked to adapt to changing marijuana policies internally as it’s backed congressional reform, enacting an employment policy change last year to end drug testing for cannabis for most workers, for example.

Months after making that change鈥攁nd following the introduction of the States Reform Act鈥擬ace met with Amazon and received the company’s endorsement, Forbes reported.

鈥淭hey don鈥檛 want to sell it,鈥 the freshman congresswoman said, adding that Amazon is primarily interested in backing the reform for hiring purposes instead of as a way to eventually sell cannabis. “It opens up the hiring pool by about 10 percent.鈥

Brian Huseman, Amazon鈥檚 vice president of public policy, said the bill “offers comprehensive reform that speaks to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus to end the federal prohibition of cannabis.鈥

Amazon’s drug testing decision was widely celebrated by reform advocates and industry stakeholders. Initially, the company only talked about ending the policy going forward. But it later disclosed that the policy change would also be retroactive, meaning former workers and applicants who were punished for testing positive for THC will have their employment eligibility restored.

The reason for the move away from marijuana testing was multifaceted, Amazon said at the time. The growing state-level legalization movement has made it 鈥渄ifficult to implement an equitable, consistent, and national pre-employment marijuana testing program,鈥 data shows that drug testing 鈥渄isproportionately impacts people of color and acts as a barrier to employment鈥 and ending the requirement will widen the company鈥檚 applicant pool.

The GOP congresswoman’s bill already has the support of the influential, Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

The measure would end federal cannabis prohibition while taking specific steps to ensure that businesses in existing state markets can continue to operate unencumbered by changing federal rules.

Mace’s legislation has been characterized as an attempt to bridge a partisan divide on federal cannabis policy. It does that by incorporating certain equity provisions such as expungements for people with non-violent cannabis convictions and imposing an excise tax, revenue from which would support community reinvestment, law enforcement and Small Business Administration (SBA) activities.

Marijuana Moment聽first reported on an earlier draft version of the bill in November, and it quickly became apparent that industry stakeholders see an opportunity in the Republican-led effort.

The reason for that response largely comes down to the fact that there鈥檚 skepticism that Democratic-led legalization bills鈥攊ncluding the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that Amazon has also endorsed鈥攚ill be able to pass without GOP buy-in. While Democrats hold majorities in both chambers, in addition to controlling the White House, the margins for passage are slim.

The MORE Act did聽clear the House Judiciary Committee in September, and a previous version passed the full House during the last Congress. Senate leadership is preparing to file a separate legalization proposal聽after unveiling a draft version in July.

Virginia House Committee Pushes Back Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Until 2023, But Senate Proposal Still Pending

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Virginia House Committee Pushes Back Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Until 2023, But Senate Proposal Still Pending

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A bill to decriminalize a wide array of psychedelics in Virginia was taken up by a House of Delegates panel on Monday, only to be pushed off until 2023. But there’s still a separate but similar reform proposal that’s pending in the Senate.

Advocates were hopeful that a House Courts of Justice subcommittee would advance the reform, especially after an amendment from the sponsor was adopted to more narrowly apply decriminalization to medical practitioners and people using psychedelics in treatment with a practitioner.

But following some discussion of Del. Dawn Adams’s (D) bill, members approved a motion to carry it over to next year to give the legislature more time to refine it and build support. It was a disappointment for activists, and there was particular surprise that the delay motion was made by House Minority Leader Charniele Herring (D)鈥, who is well known for championing marijuana legalization in the state.

Adams said in her opening remarks before the subcommittee that she has “spent considerable time hearing from researchers, meeting with both local and nationwide community advocates, speaking with veterans and personally reading dozens of publications and studies about the benefits of plant medicine.”

“What I’ve been able to learn is that there is strong evidence to support plant medicines鈥攐nce thought dangerous鈥攖hat really are effective and safe treatments,” she said.

There seemed to be some confusion among certain members about what the legislation would actually do.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 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.

One member asked whether doctors would be able to prescribe psychedelics and whether the state would “see peyote stores and psilocybin stores basically popping up.”

The bill as amended wouldn’t legalize psychedelics for medical or recreational use. It would simply make it so practitioners and people participating in psychedelics treatment would face a $100 fine for possessing peyote, ibogaine, psilocybin or psilocyn. Currently, such possession is considered a Class 5 felony.

Any dollars collected from psychedelics possession violations would go to the state鈥檚 Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund, which supports substance misuse treatment programs and drug courts.

But following testimony from advocates and researchers, Herring said that “there’s a lot of issues have been raised” and that she’d like to see a “prescription element” built into the legislation. Of course, because the psychedelics are federally controlled substances, doctors are precluded from prescribing them, but they could theoretically make recommendations, as is done in medical cannabis states.

In any case, the motion carried and that bill has now been set aside until next year. Now advocates are eager to see what happens with a separate, more limited reform measure that was considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

At that meeting, there was bipartisan support鈥攊ncluding from the GOP minority leader鈥攂ut also talk about making the decriminalization proposal more medically focused. The sponsor, Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D), agreed to go back and make revisions so that the panel could reconsider it at a future meeting. The expectation was that it would be taken back up this week, but it’s not currently listed on the panel’s agenda for Wednesday.

The bill is scaled back compared to the House version because, as drafted, it would only decriminalize psilocybin and psilocyn by adults 21 and older. It’s unclear what kind of amendments the sponsor might offer when the committee takes up the legislation again.

At a recent virtual event organized by the reform group Decriminalize Nature Virginia,聽the sponsors of both bills participated as hosts, sharing their perspectives about the growing body of research indicating that psychedelics could be powerful tools to combat conditions like treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If the legislature does approve the legislation, it could face resistance from the state鈥檚 incoming Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, who has expressed concerns about聽implementing a commercial marijuana market聽in line with what the Democratic legislature and outgoing governor approved last year.

These psychedelics reform proposals are some of the latest to be introduced in state legislatures this session as the decriminalization movement spreads.

For example, two Republican Oklahoma lawmakers recently filed bills meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, and one of the measures would further decriminalize low-level possession of the psychedelic.

A GOP Utah lawmaker also introduced a bill last week that would set up a task force to study and make recommendations聽on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs聽and possible regulations for their lawful use.

In Kansas, A lawmaker also recently filed a bill to聽legalize the low-level possession and cultivation聽of psilocybin mushrooms.

A Republican Missouri lawmaker introduced a bill this month to give residents with serious illnesses legal聽access to a range of psychedelic drugs聽like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD 聽through an expanded version of the state鈥檚 existing right-to-try law.

California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to聽legalize psychedelics possession聽stands a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor鈥檚 desk this year. It already cleared the full Senate and two Assembly committees during the first half of the two-year session.

In Michigan, a pair of state senators introduced a bill in September to聽legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery聽of various plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.

Washington State lawmakers聽also introduced legislation this month聽that would legalize what the bill calls 鈥渟upported psilocybin experiences鈥 by adults 21 and older.

In Vermont, a broad coalition of lawmakers representing nearly a third of the House introduced a bill to聽decriminalize drug possession.

New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to聽decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs.

Last year, the governor of Connecticut signed legislation that includes language requiring the state to聽carry out a study into the therapeutic potential聽of psilocybin mushrooms.

At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this month, urging that the agency聽allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin聽as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution.

Oklahoma Republicans File Bills To Decriminalize Psilocybin And Encourage Research On Medical Benefits

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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Mississippi Lawmakers Reach Deal To Send Medical Marijuana Bill To Governor This Week

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Mississippi House and Senate lawmakers have reached an agreement to send a bill to legalize medical marijuana to the governor’s desk this week. Following Senate action on Tuesday, the bill will now go to a bicameral conference committee to finalize details of the legislation, with votes in both chambers for final passage expected on Wednesday.

Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R) and Rep. Lee Yancey (R) discussed the agreement at a press conference on Tuesday. There was an opportunity for a concurrence vote in the Senate鈥攚here the bill originated and advanced to the House this month and was then amended鈥攂ut following pushback from the Mississippi Municipal League (MML) over a House change related to zoning rules for cannabis businesses, the Senate voted against concurrence and will instead move the measure to conference.

This comes more than 14 months after voters in Mississippi passed an initiative to legalize medical cannabis鈥攁 law the state Supreme Court later overturned. And the bill that’s being tweaked again is the result of months of negotiations and last-minute changes to a nearly 450-page bill.

“This has been a long journey, and it鈥檚 nice to be in a place where everyone is in agreement,” Yancey said on Tuesday. “It looks like we will finally be able to provide relief to those people with debilitating illnesses who so badly need it. Medical cannabis will now be an option for them as soon as we get the conference report signed and sent to the governor.”

While the overall bill will remain largely the same as an earlier version passed by the Senate this month, the recent House amendments reduced the overall monthly amount of cannabis products available to patients, removed the Department of Agriculture and Commerce from oversight of the industry and expanded zoning allowances for cannabis cultivators and processors.

Only the zoning allowances provision will change. Instead of allowing cultivators and processors to operate in commercial zoning areas, as would have been allowed under the bill as amended by the House, they would only be permitted in industrial or agriculture zoned areas, satisfying MML.

Assuming that conference goes as planned, the legislature will then formally transmit the bill to Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who then has five days, excluding Sundays, either to sign it into law or return it with objections. Both the Senate and House, however, have passed the legislation with veto-proof majorities. If the governor doesn鈥檛 take any action by the deadline, the bill will become law without his signature.

Reeves has been wary of legalization in recent months, at one point threatening to veto a draft bill if it made it to his desk. Since then, proponents in the legislature have worked to balance the voter-approved initiative’s more permissive proposals against the governor’s calls for tighter restrictions.

The governor said last week that the measure has become 鈥渂etter鈥 with every revision and rightly predicted further amendments by the House.

Provided the bill becomes law, dispensaries would be licensed about six months later, meaning Mississippi’s medical cannabis program could be up and running, at least in limited form, by the end of the year.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 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.

The bill, SB 2095, draws heavily from provisions negotiated by lawmakers in the second half of last year, as legislative leaders prepared a bill for an anticipated special session last summer that the governor never called. Supporters say the lengthy proposal represents a middle ground between the more permissive plan approved by voters and the narrower approach preferred by Reeves and some lawmakers.

The legislation as amended by the House would allow patients with about two dozen qualifying medical conditions to purchase the equivalent of 3.5 grams of marijuana (or 1 gram of cannabis concentrate) per day, with a maximum monthly limit of 3 ounces. Voters approved a monthly limit of 5 ounces in 2020, and the bill as passed by the Senate last week would have allowed 3.5 ounces, but that was further scaled back by the House earlier this week.

Qualifying conditions under the bill include cancer, Parkinson鈥檚, Huntington鈥檚, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, Alzheimer鈥檚, sickle-cell anemia, Crohn鈥檚, ulcerative colitis, neuropathy, spinal cord disease or severe injury as well as chronic medical conditions or treatments that produce severe nausea, cachexia or wasting, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms or chronic pain.

Further conditions could be added later by regulators via petition. State-issued patient registration cards would cost $25, though some people could qualify for a lower price.

Registered patients would be subject to purchase limits that would restrict them to no more than one 鈥渕edical cannabis equivalency unit鈥 per day, which the bill defines as 3.5 grams of cannabis flower, one gram of concentrate or up to 100 milligrams of THC in infused products. While those limits are significantly lower than in most states where cannabis is legal for medical patients, Reeves said last year the program should allow only half those amounts.

Patients or caretakers would be forbidden from growing their own cannabis under the proposal. Products from state-licensed companies, meanwhile, would be limited to 30 percent THC for cannabis flower and 60 percent for concentrates.

There would be no limit on the number of licensed businesses under the plan.

Medical marijuana would be taxed at a wholesale rate of 5 percent, and purchases would also be subject to state sales tax.

While smoking and vaping cannabis is allowed for patients, both would be illegal in public and in motor vehicles. It would still be a crime for patients to drive under the influence.

The legislation would task the Mississippi Department of Health to oversee the new industry and establish a nine-member advisory committee to make recommendations on issues such as patient access and industry safety.

Previous versions of the bill also tasked the state Commission of Agriculture and Commerce with regulatory duties, but the House removed the agency through an amendment. Commissioner Andy Gipson, who for months had pushed back against the plan, thanked House Speaker Philip Gunn and other lawmakers for making the change in a statement issued last week.

鈥淭he best place for a truly medical program is under the Department of Health, which reflects the will of the voters in Initiative 65,鈥 Gipson said, according to SuperTalk Mississippi. 鈥淭his change is good policy for Mississippi agriculture and allows us to focus on our core mission. It is also good policy for the taxpayers of Mississippi because it achieves greater efficiency in the use of funds by reducing the number of agencies involved in the program.鈥

Licensing of cannabis businesses other than dispensaries鈥攊ncluding cultivators, processors, transporters, disposal entities, testing labs and research facilities鈥攚ould begin 120 days after the bill鈥檚 passage, with the first licenses issued about a month after that. The dispensary licensing process would kick off 150 days after passage, with the first licenses coming a month later.

Cannabis businesses may have to get seek local approval to operate, and municipalities can adopt zoning and land use restrictions.聽In general, local governments could not ban medical cannabis businesses outright or 鈥渕ake their operation impracticable,鈥 the bill says, but a separate provision would allow local governments to opt out of the program altogether within 90 days of the bill鈥檚 passage. In such cases, citizens could then petition to put the question to a vote.

Mississippi voters decisively approved聽a broad legalization initiative in November 2020. The state Supreme Court overturned the measure on procedural grounds last May鈥攕imultaneously doing away with the state鈥檚 entire initiative process.

For much of last year, it appeared lawmakers were set to pass a medical marijuana bill during a special legislative session, but the governor ultimately decided against calling the special session after reaching an impasse with lawmakers. Those who supported legalization said at the time that responsibility for the failure rested with Reeves.

Later that month, Reeves dodged questions from patient advocates about why he鈥檇 failed to call the special session. Then in late December, he said on social media that he had 鈥渞epeatedly told the members of the Legislature that I am willing to sign a bill that is truly medical marijuana,鈥 but stressed that there should be 鈥渞easonable restrictions.鈥

Last week, before the House floor vote, Yancey, who chairs the House Drug Policy Committee and who鈥檚 been working on the legislation with Blackwell, said that he never imagined he鈥檇 be in the position to legalize cannabis. But he said he worked to ensure the bill was focused on providing medicine to patients, not paving a route to a recreational program as critics have claimed.

鈥淲hen I got involved in this bill, I said, 鈥楬ow can we build a wall around this program so the people who get it are the people who need it the most, and only the people who need it the most?鈥 Yancey said. 鈥淭his is not for everybody out on the street. This is not for a bunch of kids. This is for hurting people with debilitating conditions.鈥

A poll released in June found that a majority of Mississippi voters support legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, with 63 percent saying they want the legislature to pass a bill that mirrors the ballot measure聽that was nullified by the Supreme Court.

New York Doctors Can Now Recommend Medical Marijuana To Patients For Any Condition They See Fit

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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