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Cannabis Legalization Bill, Legislation Aimed at Increasing Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana Introduced in U.S. Congress: Week in Review

This week, Sen. Ron Wyden introduced S. 420 to legalize cannabis at the federal level and ease the longstanding tension between states where cannabis is legal and the U.S. government, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug. In other news, Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Barbara Lee introduced The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

Federal: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill Feb. 8 to decriminalize marijuana and allow for it to be taxed and regulated. The proposal, identical to a bill in the House, aims to ease the longstanding conflict between states where cannabis is legal in some form and the U.S. government, which categorizes marijuana as a dangerous illegal drug, similar to LSD or heroin. Read moreElsewhere in Congress, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD and other serious medical conditions. Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 33 states that regulate it. Read moreNew Mexico: An adult-use cannabis legalization bill advanced in the New Mexico House Feb. 9. Lawmakers spent about three hours listening to testimony and poring over concerns about workplace safety, how to measure intoxication in impaired drivers and whether a recreational program would damage the state’s medical cannabis program. Read moreIllinois: State Rep. Carol Ammons has filed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois that likely goes further than other legislators prefer, but it has officially started the debate over complex legislation that will need to serve many interests. The legislation would allow licensed businesses to grow and sell cannabis, and residents to grow up to 24 plants at home. Read moreD.C.: The National Cannabis Roundtable will be spearheaded by former House Speaker John Boehner, who already is involved in the marijuana business as a member of the board of advisors of Acreage Holdings. Boehner will provide advice and serve as honorary chairman of the roundtable. Read moreNorth Dakota: State lawmakers are considering proposals that would make it easier for patients to get doctor approval for medical marijuana. One that appears headed for a floor vote in the House would remove the requirement that doctors who certify a patient assert that medical marijuana will help that person. Read moreOregon: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing Feb. 7 on Senate Bill 582, which would establish a framework for “cross-jurisdictional coordination and enforcement of marijuana-related businesses” between adjoining states in which cannabis is legal (right now, that would be California, Nevada and Washington). The bill specifically prohibits transporting marijuana by air, because airspace is federally regulated, or through “any mode of transportation subject solely to federal regulation.” Read moreHawaii: The Hawaiian Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously has recommended a bill decriminalizing marijuana, clearing its first hurdle to becoming law. If passed, the legislation would permit adults 21 and older to possess, cultivate and consume marijuana, and would establish a licensing scheme for the cultivation, sale and use of small amounts, as well as implement excise and income taxes regarding sales. Read moreAlaska: The Alaska recreational marijuana industry could be put in legal jeopardy by one of the governor’s proposed crime bills unless clarifying language is added to the legislation. Senate Bill 32 returns sentencing ranges to pre-Senate Bill 91 levels and makes it a felony to possess certain drugs. Read moreFlorida: The Florida House Health and Human Services Committee approved on a 14-2 vote a bill designed to comply with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ demand that lawmakers repeal a ban on smokable medical marijuana by mid-March, but there remain differences with a similar bill moving in the Senate. The bill restricts the use of smokable marijuana to pre-rolled, filtered cigarettes. Read more
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