Colorado Governor Signs Psychedelics Bill

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law on May 23 that established a regulatory framework for psychedelic substances. 

SB23-290, also called Natural Medicine Regulation and Legalization, was signed just a few weeks after it was approved in the Senate with House amendments. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Steven Fenberg and Rep. Judy Amabile, and is set to take effect starting on July 1.

The Colorado Times Recorder spoke with Tasia Poinsatte, director of the Healing Advocacy Fund of Colorado, last month about the bill’s potential. “Our state is facing a mental health crisis, and our current system has been unable to meet the needs of those who are struggling, including the many veterans in our state who are at a high risk of suicide,” said Poinsatte. “Colorado voters agreed with the passage of Prop. 122 that we need to open new, innovative pathways to healing for those who are struggling with mental health conditions.”

The law doesn’t place limitations on personal possession for any psychedelic substance, ranging from dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, ibogaine, psilocybin, or psilocin. Psilocybin and psilocin will be administered at “healing centers,” but it does allow other substances to be added later.

The bill also states that anyone under 21 who possesses or consumes a natural medicine product will only be subject to a fine of $100 or less, and a maximum of four hours of “substance use education or counseling.” More than one offense results in the same fine and education requirement, with an added 24 hours of “useful public service.”

The cultivation of natural medicine is permitted if it’s happening on a person’s private property within a 12-by-12-foot space. However, anyone who is not licensed and “knowingly manufactures [a] natural medicine product using an inherently hazardous substance” is committing a level 2 drug felony. An “inherently hazardous substance” refers to solvents such as butane, propane, and diethyl ether.

The bill also includes protections for consumers, stating that a person using a natural medicine doesn’t solely constitute as child abuse or neglect, is not grounds for being denied health coverage, doesn’t disqualify a person to be discriminated against if they’re eligible for organ donation, and “must not be considered for public assistance benefits eligibility.”

A person with a natural medicine conviction is also eligible to have the conviction record sealed “immediately after the later date of final disposition or release from supervision.”

The bill calls for the creation of a natural medicine advisory board to examine “issues related to natural medicine and natural medicine product, and making recommendations to the director of the division of professions and occupations and the executive director of the state licensing authority.” It also requires the creation of a division of natural medicine to be established within the department of revenue to regulate licensing for “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storage, distribution, transport, transfer, and dispensation of natural medicine or natural medicine product between natural medicine licensees.”

Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, also referred to as the Natural Medicine Health Act, by 52.64% last November to decriminalize psychedelics. “This is a historic moment for both the people of Colorado and our country,” said Natural Medicine Colorado coalition director Kevin Matthews. “I think this demonstrates that voters here in Colorado are ready for new options and another choice for healing, especially when it comes to their mental and behavioral health.”

The initiative took effect in December 2022. “Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” said Polis. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”

Coverage from Westword shows that advocates aren’t happy with the law, stating that it’s too restrictive. According to sponsor Amabile, the bill is solid but won’t make everyone happy. “My takeaway from the testimony is that ballot measure 122 is controversial,” Amabile said at a meeting in late April. “It has a lot of aspects that some people like. It has aspects that the people who like some parts of it don’t like. It has parts that nobody likes.”

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Zurich To Launch Cannabis Legalization Pilot Program

The government of Switzerland has approved a plan to legalize the possession and consumption of cannabis in the city of Zurich as part of a three-year pilot program to assess the social and economic impacts of legalizing cannabis. Through the trial, thousands of Zurich residents will be able to purchase cannabis for personal use beginning this summer.

“The trial will have a broad focus to gain data on the effects of different strengths of cannabis, on what helps individuals make informed decisions and on the pros and cons of different models of sale,” said Barbara Burri, a project manager at Zurich’s municipal health department.

The pilot program will allow a test group of up to 2,100 Zurich residents to purchase regulated doses of cannabis for personal use from pharmacies, social clubs and special dispensaries. Researchers have made arrangements for a total of 21 supply points to be located throughout the city. Sales of cannabis for the study are expected to begin at the supply points beginning in August of this year. 

The study’s participants will have the option of a variety of cannabis products with different potencies of THC and CBD. All cannabis products obtained through the pilot program will be organically produced by licensed Swiss companies and lab tested for purity and potency. Prices of cannabis available at the study supply points will be set to reflect prices of the city’s illicit market.

After receiving government approval, two producers—Pure Production AG and Swissextract—will begin cultivating cannabis for the study, according to a report from Forbes. The first harvest of cured cannabis flower is expected to be ready in July, with cannabis concentrates coming to the pilot program’s supply points in October.

Participants in the study, which is being conducted by the Zurich city council in association with the University of Zurich, will be required to answer a questionnaire every six months during the three-year study period. The questionnaire will ask participants about their cannabis consumption habits and the health effects of their cannabis use. 

Study Focuses On the Impacts of Legalization in Zurich

The leaders of the study say that the goal of the pilot program is to determine the conditions under which cannabis legalization in Switzerland can be compatible with “promoting individual and public health and safety,” according to a report from CNBC. Data collected from the trial will be released on a rolling basis beginning next year.

“The idea is to get robust real world evidence that serves policymaking for new [national] regulation on cannabis,” Burri said

Researchers conducting the study will compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of different cannabis products and supply sources. The study will also assess the current illicit cannabis market in Zurich, with the research focusing on maintaining public health, ensuring public safety and protecting young people from the risks of cannabis use.

Zurich residents interested in participating in the cannabis legalization pilot study can register for the program online. Participants must be active cannabis users at least 18 years old. Pregnant women, professional drivers and those with underlying health conditions are not eligible to participate in the research pilot. Study candidates who show signs of drug dependence or poor health due to drug use are also ineligible.

Public health studies have determined that about a third of adults in Switzerland have tried cannabis. Zurich, the alpine nation’s most populous city with about 420,000 residents, has about 13,000 regular cannabis users, according to research. 

In 2020, the Swiss federal parliament passed a so-called experimental article in the Narcotics Act, which allows studies to be carried out on the regulated sale of cannabis. On May 15, 2021, the amendment to the Narcotics Act went into effect, enabling pilot trials with the controlled sale of cannabis for recreational purposes.

The city of Basel was the first municipality in Switzerland to conduct a pilot study, launched last year with 400 participants. Other pilot studies planned for the Swiss cities of Bern, Lausanne, Geneva, Biel, Thun, Olten and Winterthur will be conducted in the upcoming months.

Malta is the only country in the European Union that has legalized recreational cannabis for personal use, although sales of adult-use cannabis have not been legalized on the tiny island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. Germany will likely be the next EU member to legalize recreational marijuana, with legislation expected from lawmakers soon. The Czech Republic has also announced plans to legalize cannabis for adults, although details of the plan have not yet been released.

Cannabis legalization plans that would allow cultivation for personal use have been proposed by officials in Luxembourg and Belgium. And last month, the Netherlands launched a pilot program for cannabis sales in the cities of Tilburg and Breda.

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Tennessee Legislators Demand Return of Children to Parents After Cannabis Possession Arrest

On March 16, the Tennessee Democratic Caucus demanded that five children taken during a traffic stop by law enforcement be returned to their parents immediately.

On February 16, a traffic stop conducted by Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) pulled over Deonte Williams, Bianca Clayborne, and their five children (a four-month-old infant, and kids ages two, three, five and seven), who were all traveling to a funeral. While the stop was originally due to the vehicle having a “dark tint and traveling in the left lane while not actively passing,” five grams of cannabis were found in Williams’s possession.

Williams was arrested, and Clayborne was cited but not arrested. She was told by THP that she could follow a patrol car back to the Coffee County Justice Center to bail Williams out. Six hours after the traffic stop occurred, Clayborne waited with her five children on a bench inside the criminal justice center, until her kids “were forcibly removed from her side while an officer restrained her from reaching for her crying baby,” she told Tennessee Lookout. During the time she was waiting, the Department of Children’s Service (DCS) obtained an emergency court order to take custody of the kids while she waited for Williams.

According to the DCS petition obtained by Tennessee Lookout, the DCS believed that the children were neglected, and that there was no “less drastic” alternative than taking the kids away.

“It’s just so shocking to the conscience that in 2023 this is happening,” said one of the couple’s attorneys, Jamaal Boykin. “I just have to believe if my clients looked different or had a different background, they would have just been given a citation and told you just keep this stuff away from the kids while you’re in this state and they’d be on their way.”

It’s been over a month since the incident, and the children still have not been returned to the family. Clayborne is currently breastfeeding her youngest child and has seen a drastic reduction in milk supply in the absence of her baby. She’s also suffered from lack of sleep and a panic attack.

The events of this incident have reached state legislators who are now also speaking up about the injustice.

Sen. London Lamar referred to the events as “ridiculous” and “overuse of power.” “DCS, Coffee County, y’all need to do the right thing before the situation gets worse, and we have a nation of people coming to the rescue of this Black family,” Lamar said. “Give them their children back. It’s borderline discrimination, because if this was any other family, as their attorney said, we don’t even think this would be the outcome.”

Sen. Raumesh Akbari also spoke out about keeping families together. “It is outrageous that the state forcefully separated Bianca Clayborne, a breastfeeding mother, and Deonte Williams from their kids and have allowed this to continue for nearly a month,” Akbari said. “The state exercised extreme and flawed judgment in taking their children and it seems they’ve doubled down on this poor decision. No family is perfect, but an imperfection, like a simple marijuana charge, is no excuse for tearing a family apart. The state is supposed to support reunification. If they don’t have a better reason, they must immediately return these five children to their parents.”

When Tennessee Lookout reached out to DCS for a statement, they did not respond for comment. Reaching out to the THP for a request of the traffic stop officers was denied because of an ongoing investigation.

An instant hair follicle test on both Williams and Clayborne was conducted at their first court appearance, which occurred one week after the children were taken by DCS. Tennessee Lookout spoke with an unnamed Coffee County administrator, who explained that in general, hair follicle tests are “inadmissible” in court because they can potentially result in false positives.

“This is even more reprehensible when the drug test used to justify keeping these children in foster care is known to be ‘inadmissible’ by the county’s own court administrator,” said the couple’s other attorney, Courtney Teasley.

Teasley shared on Twitter how concerned citizens can help. “We’ve received many requests of ppl wanting to help disrupt with their dollars. If you would like to support #DisruptManchester Here is the link to donate:… Thank you all for helping disrupt a system of oppression!” Teasley wrote on Twitter on March 18.

On March 20, Teasley invited all concerned citizens who want to help bring attention to the issue to court watch the ongoing case, and attend a press conference in front of the courthouse in Manchester, Tennessee.

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Vermont Lawmakers File Several Bills To Legalize Psychedelics, Other Drugs

Lawmakers in Vermont have introduced several bills aimed at making sweeping changes to the state’s drug laws. 

The website Psychedelic Spotlight has a primer on the four separate pieces of legislation that would “decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, expand harm reduction services, remove criminal penalties for using and selling psilocybin and decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi.”

In the case of bill H.423, lawmakers are seeking a monumental reform. The measure, which has a companion bill in the Vermont state Senate, would decriminalize all drugs.

The text of the bill reads: “This bill proposes to change the penalties for possession of a personal use supply of drugs from a misdemeanor or low-level felony to a civil offense subject to a $50.00 penalty. A person cited for such an offense may avoid paying the penalty by agreeing to participate in a screening for substance use disorder treatment and related services. The bill would also establish the Drug Use Standards Advisory Board for the purpose of determining the benchmark personal use dosage and the benchmark personal use supply for regulated drugs with a goal of preventing and reducing the criminalization of personal drug use. Individuals previously arrested for or convicted of possession of a regulated drug in an amount under the benchmark personal use supply amount would also be eligible for immediate sealing of criminal history records. Additionally, to prevent overdose, the bill would also authorize the operation of drug-checking programs to allow individuals to obtain analysis of a regulated drug previously obtained by an individual for purposes of determining the chemical composition of the substance and identifying chemical contaminants. The bill would establish a pilot project to support the development and operation of such programs.”

According to Psychedelic Spotlight, “nearly a third” of Vermont’s House of Representatives has sponsored that bill. 

Two other bills, one filed in the House and the other in the Senate, specifically address psilocybin mushrooms. 

The bill H.439, sponsored by a handful of House members, would “decriminalize some chemical compounds found in plants and fungi that are commonly used for medicinal, spiritual, religious, or entheogenic purposes.” 

S.114, introduced in the state Senate, would go even further. That measure would remove “criminal penalties for possessing, dispensing, or selling psilocybin,” while also establishing the Psychedelic Therapy Advisory Working Group.

The group would “examine the use of psychedelics to improve physical and mental health and to make recommendations regarding the establishment of a State program similar to Connecticut, Colorado, or Oregon to permit health care providers to administer psychedelics in a therapeutic setting,” according to the text of the legislation.

As that bill referenced, other states have already changed their laws around psychedelic substances such as mushrooms––and more are sure to follow. 

Earlier this month, lawmakers in Nevada introduced a bill that would open the door for research into psilocybin and MDMA.

Specifically, that measure would set up “procedures for a research facility to obtain the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct certain studies involving certain controlled substances; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving psilocybin and MDMA if conducted in connection with and within the scope of an approved study; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving 4 ounces or less of fungi that produces psilocybin or psilocin; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

But advocates in Vermont may want to temper their expectations. As Psychedelic Spotlight noted, the state’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, “famously vetoed two more restrained drug policy reforms last year, so who knows what he’ll do with this month’s proposals.”

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Hawaii Senators Pass Adult-Use Cannabis Bill

On March 7, the Hawaii Senate voted to pass an adult-use cannabis bill in a 22-3 vote. Also referred to as SB669 SD2, the bill would set up a framework for cultivation, manufacturing, sales, and taxes. It would allow residents to possess up to 30 grams, cultivate up to six plants for personal use, and also decriminalize small amounts of cannabis as well.

The bill was first introduced by Sen. Joy A. San Buenaventura, Sen. Stanley Chang, Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, and Sen. Angus LK McKelvey on Jan. 20, and has consistently worked through numerous committee hearings. Sen. Keohokalole chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, where amendments were addressed, including establishing penalties for unlicensed cultivation, protecting employers who want to prohibit employee cannabis use, preventing any cannabis business from opening within 1,000 feet of youth-related areas, and other changes to address cannabis licensing that does not allow monopolies to develop. 

“Today marks a significant step forward in the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Hawaiʻi. These amendments are reflective of the Senate’s commitment to ensuring a fair and well-regulated cannabis market that provides safe access to both adult consumers and existing medical patients,” said Keohokalole. “If legalization of adult-use cannabis is something that is supported by the Governor, we hope his administration, which has thus far opposed every proposal to legalize adult-use cannabis, will work with us to bring this to fruition.” 

After passing in the Senate with amendments, it was sent to the House for consideration on the same day.

On Jan. 11, a different adult-use cannabis bill, HB-237, was introduced by Rep. Hawaii Rep. Jeanné Kapela. This bill would establish a regulatory framework for legalization as well, but would also include language to allow out-of-state patients to benefit from medical cannabis law, and would make medical cannabis sales exempt from being charged with the general excise tax. Additionally, Kapela introduced HB-283, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against potential hires or current employees for their medical cannabis consumption. Neither HB-237 and HB-238 have progressed past hearings, which were held in late January.

A recent poll published by the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association at the end of January found that 86% of adult Hawaiian residents are in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis, with only 9% in opposition, and 5% saying that they don’t know. The poll also found that adult-use was slightly more popular than medical, in a 45% to 41% comparison. Overall, the state could collect up to $81.7 million in taxes and $423 million in gross revenue if cannabis legalization was passed. 

An additional report from the Dual Use Cannabis Task Force also published its findings in January, and shared that cannabis tax revenue could reach between $34 million to $53 million. 

Kapela focused on the data provided by that task force report to create the bill she introduced. “We all know, and Hawaii’s people know, that it is high time to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults in Hawaii. This year we stand on the precipice of history,” Kapela said. “Following the recommendations of a task force devoted to addressing cannabis policy, we now have a roadmap for legalizing recreational cannabis in our islands.”

Aside from the pace of support for cannabis legalization from legislators, efforts to legalize therapeutic psilocybin have also become popular. One such bill, SB-1454, was introduced in January, and unanimously passed in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on Feb. 6. It aims to establish regulations to create a “therapeutic psilocybin working group” to examine the medical benefits of psilocybin for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and end-of-life psychological distress.

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Justice Department Launches Expungement Application

The time is now to expedite the process and get proof of pardon for low-level federal cannabis convictions that no longer stand today yet still haunt individuals, sometimes decades later. According to a March 3 announcement, the U.S. Department of Justice is launching the application to make the expungement process easier for people with low-level federal cannabis convictions. 

For people who are interested, you’ll need to gather personal details like name, mailing address, email address, and citizenship status. You’ll also need to know the docket or case number and the code section that was charged, and provide copies of documentation, such as charging documents (indictment, complaint, or criminal information) or conviction documents. It’s also important to know the exact date the sentence was imposed.

Pardons for low-level cannabis convictions were promised by President Joe Biden last October.

“Today, the Justice Department is launching an application for eligible individuals to receive certificate of proof that they were pardoned under the Oct. 6, 2022, proclamation by President Biden,” the department wrote on March 3. 

“On Oct. 6, 2022, the President announced a full, unconditional and categorical pardon for prior federal and D.C. offenses of simple possession of marijuana. The President’s pardon lifts barriers to housing, employment and educational opportunities for thousands of people with those prior convictions. President Biden directed the Justice Department to develop a process for individuals to receive their certificate of pardon.”

The Application for Certificate of Pardon will be available on the Office of the Pardon Attorney’s website. People with eligible cases may submit documentation to the Office of the Pardon Attorney and receive a certificate indicating the person was pardoned on Oct. 6, 2022, for simple possession of cannabis.

The President’s pardon can assist pardoned cases by removing civil or legal penalties such as restrictions on the right to vote, to hold office, or to sit on a jury.

The process makes getting proof of pardon quite a bit easier for people seeking to obtain licenses, bonds, or employment. President Biden said last October that the point of pardoning low-level cannabis convictions is to “help relieve the consequences arising from these convictions.” 

In order to be eligible for a certificate, an applicant must have been charged or convicted of simple possession of cannabis in either a federal court or D.C. Superior Court, and the applicant must have legally resided the United States at the time of the offense. In addition, an individual must have been a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident on Oct. 6, 2022.

Those who were convicted of state-level cannabis offenses do not qualify for the pardon.

In a historic move on October 6, 2022, Biden announced that he will pardon people with federal convictions for simple possession of cannabis, and announced that he will direct the U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to begin the process of reviewing the classification of cannabis at the federal level.

The White House statement noted that under current federal law, cannabis falls under Schedule I alongside deadly drugs like fentanyl. The White House will  “review expeditiously” the plant’s current classification.

“As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden tweeted. “Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out.”

For more information about determining eligibility and to find answers to frequently asked questions, visit Presidential Proclamation on Marijuana Possession.

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Alaska Scrubbing Hundreds of Pot Convictions from Court Database

Hundreds of Alaska residents will have their prior marijuana convictions removed from the state’s online court database.

That move follows an order late last month from the state Supreme Court last month, according to local media reports

Local news station KTUU reports that, as of May 1, “marijuana possession convictions of about just under 800 Alaska residents will be removed from Courtview, a public, online database of court cases.”

The order “follows years of similar, unsuccessful, legislative efforts to join a nationwide trend,” according to the Anchorage Daily News.

“I’m glad that the Supreme Court has ordered this,” said Democratic state Sen. Scott Kawasaki, as quoted by the Anchorage Daily News.

As stipulated by the state Supreme Court, the removal from the system will apply to individuals who were “convicted of possessing less than one ounce of marijuana … or a prior version of that statute that criminalized the same conduct, or a municipal ordinance that criminalized that same conduct if … the defendant was 21 years of age or older at the time of the offense, and … the defendant was not convicted of any other criminal charges in that same case.” 

According to the Anchorage Daily News, those “records will still be available for inspection at courthouses and will be discoverable by a formal criminal background check, but they won’t be as easy to find for the general public.”

Alaska legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2014, when a majority of the state’s voters approved a ballot measure ending the prohibition on pot. 

“Given that (marijuana) has been legal for eight years, it appeared to the Supreme Court that this was an appropriate time not to have people, as I say, suffer the negative consequences that can stem from having your name posted on Courtview. Because the conduct is considered legal right now,” said Nancy Meade, the general counsel for the Alaska Court System.

In September, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, issued an order establishing a new task force “to review the current marijuana tax and fee structures, and regulations applicable to marijuana operators, and provide recommendations for improvement to the Office of the Governor.”

“In the past seven years Alaska’s marijuana industry has flourished but is still considered a new and evolving industry in Alaska,” Dunleavy said in the announcement. “As we would expect to see with any new industry, concerns have been raised about the structure the industry has been operating under. A cornerstone of my administration has been to review unnecessary regulations that are a burden to business, while ensuring oversight to protect the health, life, and safety of all Alaskans. It is my hope that with the formation of the Governor’s Advisory Task Force on Recreational Marijuana, we can bring together a variety of voices and perspectives to evaluate existing provisions and consider recommendations to improve the viability of the industry.”

Dunleavy’s office said the task force will be comprised of 13 members, three of whom will be “The Commissioner of the Department of Revenue or the Commissioner’s designee; The Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development or the Commissioner’s designee; [and] The Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture.”

The remaining ten members of the task force are identified as follows: “One member who sits on the Alaska Marijuana Control Board; One member who represents a city, borough, or municipality that allows recreational marijuana businesses within its jurisdictional boundaries; One member that is a standard licensed marijuana cultivator in the State; One member that is a limited licensed marijuana cultivator in the State; One member that is a licensed marijuana product or concentrate manufacturer in the State; One member that is a licensed marijuana retailer in the State; Three licensed marijuana operators from any segment of the industry; [and] One public member.”

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Delaware Lawmakers Renew Effort To Legalize Pot

Democratic lawmakers in Delaware last week performed what has become an annual legislative ritual by introducing measures that would legalize recreational marijuana.

And, as per recent tradition, their biggest obstacle remains the most senior member of their own state party. 

The Delaware News Journal reports that members of the state House of Representatives introduced a pair of bills on Friday “to legalize and create a recreational marijuana industry in Delaware, setting up a likely fight within the Democratic Party this legislative session.” 

The anticipated intra-party feud centers around Democratic Gov. John Carney, who has long been opposed to marijuana legalization and has stymied efforts by Democrats in the legislature to end the prohibition on pot. 

Last year, Carney vetoed a bill that would have legalized recreational pot in the state. 

Despite holding a majority in each chamber of the state General Assembly, Democratic lawmakers were unable to override Carney’s veto.

“[The legalization bill] would, among other things, remove all penalties for possession by a person 21 years of age or older of one ounce or less of marijuana and ensure that there are no criminal or civil penalties for transfers without remuneration of one ounce or less of marijuana between persons who are 21 years of age or older,” Carney said in a statement following his veto.

“I recognize the positive effect marijuana can have for people with certain health conditions, and for that reason, I continue to support the medical marijuana industry in Delaware,” he continued. “I supported decriminalization of marijuana because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount of marijuana—and today, thanks to Delaware’s decriminalization law, they are not.”

“That said, I do not believe that promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interests of the state of Delaware, especially our young people,” Carney added. “Questions about the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns, remain unresolved.”

Democrats who are backing the two bills introduced in the state House last week are hopeful that Carney will eventually come around.

“My hope is that with continued open dialogue with the governor’s office, that will help alleviate a veto,” Democratic state House Rep. Ed Osienski, one of the sponsors of the legislation, told the Delaware News Journal. “I have more support from my members … for a veto override, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.”

According to the outlet, a “Carney spokeswoman said Friday that the governor’s views on marijuana have not changed.”

According to the Delaware News Journal, the bill dedicated to removing all penalties for possession would “require a simple majority or 21 votes.”

The other bill “would create a framework to regulate the growth, sale and possession of weed,” essentially treating pot like alcohol, and would require “a three-fifths vote because it deals with revenue and taxation,” the Delaware News Journal reports.

The measures also include social equity provisions aimed at enhancing opportunities in the new marijuana industry to individuals from communities who have been historically targeted by anti-drug policies.

The News Journal has more details on the two proposals:

“Delawareans would buy marijuana from a licensed retail marijuana store. The bill would allow for up to 30 retail licenses to be distributed within 16 months of the legislation going into effect. The process will be competitive, with prospective retailers being rewarded for providing good salaries and benefits and hiring a diverse workforce.”

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Tennessee Lawmakers Unveil Cannabis Legalization Bill

A pair of Democratic state lawmakers in Tennessee this week introduced a bill to legalize both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis in the state. The bill, known as the “Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act” (HB0085), was introduced in the House by Representative Bob Freeman—supported by fellow Democrat Senator Heidi Campbell—on Tuesday.

“This bill will support medical and recreational cannabis use because many other states already have recreational use,” Campbell said in a statement quoted by local media.

Bill Legalizes Possession Of Up To 60 Grams Of Weed

If passed, the bill would legalize the possession, use, and transportation of up to 60 grams of marijuana or up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrates for adults aged 21 and older. The measure also legalizes the home cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants by adults in a secure location at home. Under the bill, parents and legal guardians would also be permitted to administer medical cannabis products to their minor children with a doctor’s authorization.

“It’s a full legalization of cannabis across the state,” Freeman noted in a statement last month.

The bill also legalizes commercial cannabis activity and tasks the Tennessee Department of Agriculture with drafting regulations to govern the cultivation, processing, and sale of cannabis and cannabis products in the state. The measure notes that more than three dozen states have legalized marijuana in some form and that Tennessee should follow suit “in order to remain competitive nationally and globally in the burgeoning cannabis industry.” The lawmakers also note that legal cannabis is readily available in five states that border Tennessee.

“If people can drive across the border to Indiana to get cannabis, then it doesn’t make any sense that we in Tennessee would be missing out on that economic advantage,” Campbell said.

Tennessee Still Prohibits All Marijuana

Tennessee is one of the few states that have yet to pass legislation to legalize marijuana, even for medicinal use. Freeman said that legalizing recreational marijuana would put an end to the disproportionate enforcement of laws that prohibit the possession and use of cannabis.

“If you live in a wealthy part of the state and a wealthy community in our city, and you get picked up using some cannabis for personal consumption, the odds of you getting a slap on the wrist and nothing happening is pretty high,” he said last month. If you live in a poorer neighborhood and you get picked up with cannabis, you’re going to jail.”

Three states bordering Tennessee—Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama—have legalized medical marijuana, while neighboring Missouri and Virginia have legalized both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis. Proponents of legalization argue that Tennessee is missing out on tax revenue from the money residents spend on cannabis in neighboring states.

“Let’s not delude ourselves that people aren’t crossing the border and getting cannabis from other states. Of course they are,” Campbell said. “So, that’s just income we’re missing out on.”

Tennessee Democrats Support Legalization

Freeman and Campbell’s proposal is supported by fellow Democratic lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature. House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons praised the bill last month after they announced their plan to introduce the legislation.

“The legalization of cannabis in Tennessee is long overdue. For too long, much of the TN GOP has stood in the way,” Clemmons wrote in a tweet. “Let’s do this in 2023!”

Previous attempts to legalize marijuana in Tennessee have met stiff opposition from Republican lawmakers, who enjoy a solid majority in both the state Senate and the House of Representatives. Republican state Senator Richard Briggs said that he opposes both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis, noting the federal law has already made CBD legal nationwide.

“I’m not in favor at all of recreational marijuana and I have a lot of concerns about medical marijuana until we know more about it,” Briggs said. “I don’t think that it should be generally available. And at least at this point until something changes.”

Despite Republican opposition, Freeman rates the chance that the Tennessee legislature will legalize marijuana this year as “a solid 7, 7.5,” on a scale of one to 10. But Campbell expressed far less optimism.

“Pretty low—I won’t give you a number,” she said, “but I have no delusions we’re going to pass it this session.”

But Campbell added that introducing the legislation is still important to keep the conversation about cannabis policy reform moving forward.

“We ran it last session, and I think it’s important to run it so that we keep the issue alive, we keep the messaging going,” she said. “Obviously, at some point, that’s going to happen, so we’re just going to keep knocking on that door until somebody opens it.”

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U.K. Police Chiefs Call for Decriminalization of First-Time Drug Offenses

A group of police chiefs in the United Kingdom is developing a plan to effectively decriminalize the possession of drugs including cannabis and cocaine. If adopted by the government, the use and possession of small amounts of recreational drugs would be treated as a public health issue for first-time offenders, rather than a criminal offense subject to prosecution and jail time or other punishment.

The proposals, which were developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, would effectively decriminalize the possession of Class A drugs including cocaine and Class B substances such as marijuana. Under the plan, individuals caught with illegal drugs would be offered an opportunity to attend drug education or treatment programs, rather than being subjected to prosecution. 

Police would take no further action against those who agree to complete the program, giving them a chance to avoid a criminal record. Those who fail to complete the drug program or who are subsequently caught with illicit drugs would still be subject to criminal prosecution.

Jason Harwin, the former NPCC lead on drugs and a former deputy chief constable, is working with the College of Policing on the new partial decriminalization strategy.

“We should not criminalize someone for possession of drugs,” he said in a statement quoted by The Telegraph. “It should be diversion to other services to give them a chance to change their behaviors.”

Fourteen of the U.K.’s 43 police forces have already adopted policies similar to the drug decriminalization proposal from the nation’s police chiefs. But the plan is at odds with the country’s Conservative Party government, which has floated proposals to stiffen the penalties on recreational drugs including cannabis.

In October, U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman revealed that she was considering tightening the classification of cannabis under the nation’s drug laws over concerns that marijuana is a gateway drug and can lead to serious health problems. Braverman’s review followed calls from law enforcement leaders to reclassify cannabis as a Class A drug, the same category assigned to substances including heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy.

Braverman is against the decriminalization of cannabis, saying that efforts to reform cannabis policy send a “cultural” symbol that marijuana use is acceptable, according to a report from The Times. The home secretary is also concerned about evidence that cannabis use can lead to serious physical health problems including cancer and birth defects and mental health conditions including psychosis.

The more strict Class A drug designation for cannabis would make penalties for marijuana offenses more severe, including prison terms of up to seven years for possession and penalties of up to life in prison for marijuana producers and suppliers. An unidentified source close to Braverman told The Times that the home secretary believes the more severe penalties are justified because they would serve as a deterrent to cannabis use and trafficking.

“We’ve got to scare people,” she reportedly said.

In July, then-Home Secretary Priti Patel announced proposed new sanctions on users of cannabis and other drugs that include the confiscation of driver’s licenses and passports under a new three-strikes policy for illicit drug use. 

“Drugs are a scourge across society. They devastate lives and tear communities apart,” Patel said in a statement from the government. “Drug misuse puts lives at risk, fuels criminality and serious and violent crime and also results in the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people.”

Under the proposal, which was detailed in a white paper drafted by the Home Office, those caught with illegal recreational drugs would face fines and mandatory drug education. They could also be banned from nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

“Drugs ruin lives and devastate communities which is why the Government is committed to tackling both the supply and demand for drugs, as set out in the 10-year Drug Strategy,” a Home Office spokesperson said in a statement to the press. “Our White Paper on new, tougher penalties for drug possession set out proposals for tackling demand and we have welcomed views on this. We will be publishing our response in due course.”

But drug policy reform advocates and health professionals are resisting the government’s proposed tougher approach to drug use. On Sunday, more than 500 public and health and drug organizations issued an open letter to the U.K. government expressing “serious concerns” about the plan, which they said would likely criminalize young and vulnerable people while diverting scarce police resources from more serious problems.

Professor David Strain, the chairman of the British Medical Association’s board of science, said the Government’s plans appeared “to be doubling down on a failed model by promoting ever harsher sanctions that perpetuate the stigma and shame already acting as a barrier to individuals seeking help, and ultimately discouraging drug users from seeking the healthcare services they need.”

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