This week, New Jersey lawmakers voted to advance legislation that would legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis. Elsewhere, North Dakota and North Carolina introduced bills to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is out.
- Florida: An appeals court will hear arguments Jan. 8 in a legal battle about whether a ban on smoking medical marijuana violates a 2016 constitutional amendment. The case stems from a 2017 state law that was designed to carry out the voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Read more
- Oregon: Draft recommendations prepared by the Oregon Cannabis Commission say the state needs an independent agency to regulate marijuana, rather than relying on three disparate agencies. As it stands, marijuana is regulated by three agencies—the OHA, Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Oregon Department of Agriculture—whose powers and responsibilities extend far beyond cannabis into public health, alcohol and crop services. Read more
- Illinois: When lawmakers reconvene in January for the first legislative session of the new year, Illinois State Sen. Heather Steans and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy plan to introduce new legislation aimed at fully legalizing cannabis. The new push is supported by Gov.-Elect J.B. Pritzker and House Speaker Mike Madigan, who announced last week that he now supports Pritzker’s proposal to legalize marijuana for adult use. Read more
- North Dakota: After an effort to legalize recreational marijuana failed at the ballot box, North Dakota State Rep. Shannon Roers Jones plans to introduce legislation reducing penalties for possessing a small amount of the drug. Under the proposal, people caught with a small amount of marijuana would only pay a fine and avoid creating a criminal record. Read more
- New Jersey: After four hours of public testimony and debate, New Jersey’s legislators advanced an adult-use cannabis legalization bill Nov. 26 in a joint Senate and Assembly Budget Committee vote of 7-3 and 7-2, respectively. The bill will now go to the full Senate and Assembly floors for separate votes, which could happen as soon as next month. Read more
- Massachusetts: After the first five days of adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts—between only two licensed dispensaries statewide—customers purchased more than $2.2 million worth of cannabis products, according to data released by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. New England Treatment Access (NETA), in Northampton, and Cultivate, in Leicester, sold 56,380 “units,” meaning 56,380 separate cannabis products. Read more
- Michigan: Michigan lawmakers have approved permanent medical marijuana licensing rules, including a provision to allow dispensaries to deliver the drug to cardholders’ homes. The regulations were passed Nov. 27 by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, a panel of legislators that oversees rules proposed by state agencies. Read more
- The next day, on Nov. 28, a mini-panic over a shortage of marijuana from licensed growers ended when the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board agreed to consider a new resolution next week that would allow licensed dispensaries to continue to purchase, test and sell marijuana from registered caregivers, who have been supplying dispensaries while state-licensed growers get up and running to produce usable marijuana. Prior to the announcement, the licensed dispensaries had 30 days to sell all their marijuana products from caregivers and then transition to getting product from licensed growers. Read more
- North Carolina: Some North Carolina lawmakers are taking steps to relax the law when it comes to marijuana possession, introducing a new bill to legalize possession of up to four ounces of marijuana. One of the bill's co-sponsors, Paul Lowe Jr., said it’s about decriminalization more than legalizing the drug: “We’re criminalizing more and more people that probably shouldn't be criminalized. Something should be done, but they shouldn't be criminalized.” Read more
- Canada: Eight academic institutions have obtained licenses from Health Canada to cultivate cannabis for scientific purposes, allowing them to closely study the drug that was legalized for recreational use in October. Some received special licenses a few months before legalization and will be moving to licenses with fewer restrictions in the future. Read more
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