Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.
It was a big week, as the states that legalized deal with how to implement their new marijuana laws. Surrounding states may take action in response. On the federal level, House Democrats will vote on legalizing cannabis. Does this seem radical? Not to the 68% of Americans who support legal marijuana. Will a key House member join the new Biden administration? The DEA and USDA hemp rules continue to draw criticism, both in court and in Congress. One place where marijuana was not a winner at the ballot box was New Zealand. And finally, the New Jersey vote gives rise to a Google search.
Last week’s vote led to a flurry of activity in the Garden State. Legislators passed two bills out committee in the Senate and the Assembly. One of the major issues up for debate is how cannabis will be taxed. So when will we see sales? Not soon – it will probably take a year or more. Meanwhile, lawmakers are calling for an end to arrests for possession. So who gets to take charge of all this drama? Dianna Houenou will chair the new Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
other northeast action
So what does all this activity mean for New Jersey’s neighbors? Connecticut Governor Lamont (D) advocates regional action. New York Governor Cuomo (D) believes 2021 could be the year his state legalizes, due to budget shortfalls. Rhode Island’s Senate Majority Leader McCaffrey (D) also wants in on the action. Looking south, Pennsylvania’s Lt. Governor Fetterman (D), a long-time supporter of legalization, hopes his state will follow suit.
Turning our attention to the West, Maricopa County in Arizona announced they will toss all pending cases for marijuana possession. Pima County will follow suit. All of which activity spurred New Mexico to take another look at cannabis legislation.
Montana passed marijuana legalization last week, but not everyone is on board with that decision. Opponents of the measure had filed suit to stop it before the election, but were unsuccessful. Now they’re back, arguing that the initiative is unconstitutional. Happily for legalization advocates, a legislative measure to undo the results is off the table for now.
south dakota / MINNESOTA
South Dakota’s successful ballot initiatives have not gone unnoticed in neighboring Minnesota. Supporters of legalization there aren’t rushing to introduce new legislation, but are hoping some changes to the state’s medical marijuana law could result.
What about states a little further from the legalization action? They’ve felt the green rush as well. Texas State Representative Gutierrez (D) plans to introduce a bill in the coming days to legalize both medical and adult-use cannabis. While in Florida, the State Senate withdrew a motion to dismiss a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana.
So what’s happening on the federal level? The House of Representatives will vote on marijuana legalization in December. The bill in question removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s drug schedules. What are the bill’s chances in the Senate? Well, Minority Leader Schumer (D) is on board. And some spending bills include cannabis-related provisions.
Not that polls are always accurate <cough> Election 2020 <cough>, but the latest Gallup Poll shows that 68% of Americans surveyed support marijuana legalization. This is the highest level recorded since 1969, when the question was first asked. Support was over 50% is all age groups.
So how does the new administration view marijuana? The cannabis industry is hoping for banking reform and less trouble with the Department of Justice. Could Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) be joining the new Cabinet as the next Secretary of Transportation? We’ll just have to wait and see.
The course of true love never did run smooth, and neither does the course of hemp regulations. The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the DEA’s rules asked the judge to order the agency to answer questions concerning hemp byproducts. The U.S. Senate criticized the USDA’s hemp rules, in an Appropriations Committee report.
Following up on last week’s post, New Zealand’s cannabis legalization initiative did in fact fail at the ballot box. Those voting against the measure eked out a narrow victory over initiative proponents.
Returning to New Jersey, Google searches for “how to roll a joint” increased significantly after the results came in.
Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!