Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.
The House passed both the MORE Act and a bill on medical marijuana research. New Jersey gets to work on cannabis legislation. Lawsuits abound in states that just legalized. Mexico’s move to allow marijuana hits a snag. And finally, cannabis has been a part of winter holiday celebrations for a long time.
As expected, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the MORE Act, which would end the federal prohibition on the use of cannabis. As monumental an achievement as this is, the bill has no chance of passage in the Senate, so it is a largely symbolic gesture.
medical marijuana research
It’s been a busy few days for the House and cannabis, as legislators passed a bill to expand research into medical marijuana this week. Supporters of the legislation point to the DEA’s inaction as one reason the bill is needed. The agency currently faces yet another lawsuit over its delays in approving proposals to study cannabis. Although the Medical Marijuana Research Act attracted bipartisan support, this is another bill the Senate will not consider in the 116th Congress.
Passing an initiative to allow marijuana use is only the first step in the process of legalization. Then the hard work of crafting a bill to implement the will of the voters begins. The New Jersey Senate is working on that part now. After some back and forth over social equity provisions, the Judiciary Committee plans to take up a compromise bill later this month. Further bulletins as events warrant.
The courts find themselves involved in legalization issues as well. In South Dakota, a sheriff and the state’s highway patrol superintendent filed a lawsuit challenging the ballot initiative allowing marijuana use. The suit claims that the initiative changed the state’s constitution, and therefore required a state convention to appear on the ballot. The state’s attorney general defended the law, while Governor Noem supports the lawsuit – awkward.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the city of Madison told the state’s Supreme Court that the recently passed medical marijuana initiative qualified for the ballot unconstitutionally. The state Secretary of State has until December 28 to file a brief in the case.
Lawsuits exist outside the United States as well. In New Zealand, where voters recently defeated a referendum to legalize marijuana, a group asked the country’s High Court to nullify the vote. Supporters of the referendum claim that voters were given misinformation about what the new law would allow. The country’s Electoral Commission has until today to respond.
In the latest twist in an ongoing saga, Mexico’s lower house put off a vote on legalization until 2021. As we reported last week, the Senate passed the bill, leading many to think the United States could be sandwiched between two countries where cannabis is legal. Now, that won’t occur until at least next February.
Pagans marking the winter solstice used cannabis as part of their festivities. From incense to holiday beers, marijuana helped people make merry at the darkest time of the year.
Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!