#NORML #News Source: @norml @WeedConnection Posted By: email@example.com media :: news - Tue, 14 Jan 2020 04:20:21 PST
South Dakota: Adult-Use Legalization Initiative Certified for 2020 Ballot
Pierre, SD: A proposed measure legalizing and regulating the adult use and retail sale of marijuana in South Dakota has qualified for the 2020 ballot.
South Dakota's Secretary of State's Office acknowledged Monday that the proposed constitutional amendment will appear on the November ballot. The measure permits individuals 21 and older to possess and to purchase up to an ounce of cannabis and creates a system to license and regulate retail marijuana businesses. Limited home cultivation is also permitted under the measure.
The proposal is the second marijuana-specific initiative to be approved by the Secretary of State's office in recent weeks. Last month, officials similarly certified Measure 26, which legalizes patients' access to medical cannabis, for the November ballot.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana by adults. In December, New Jersey lawmakers also decided to place an adult-use legalization question on the November 2020 ballot.
Additional information on the pending South Dakota initiatives is available from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.
Hawaii: Minor Marijuana Possession Offenses Decriminalized
Honolulu, HI: Legislation takes effect on Saturday, January 11, decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.
The new law, which was passed in July, reduces penalties involving the possession of up to three grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, formerly punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a criminal record, to a non-criminal violation – punishable by a $130 fine. It also provides procedures for the courts to grant an expungement order for those previously convicted of a marijuana possession offense involving no more than three grams.
The law was enacted absent the Governor's signature.
Some lawmakers are hoping to expand the scope of the law in the coming legislative session.
Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of marijuana.
Mississippi: Medical Cannabis Initiative Certified for 2020 Ballot
Jackson, MS: Mississippi's Secretary of State's Office notified lawmakers on Tuesday that petitioners, Mississippians for Compassionate Care, had gathered a sufficient number of signatures to place a medical cannabis access initiative (Measure 65) before voters this November.
The proposed constitutional amendment establishes a state-licensed system of dispensaries to provide cannabis products to qualifying patients. The measure places no limit on the number of dispensaries and mandates that local municipalities "shall not impair the availability of and reasonable access to medical marijuana." The proposal further mandates that state officials begin providing licenses for retailers no later than August 15, 2021.
According to the Ballotpedia website, Mississippi lawmakers have the opportunity to either adopt of reject the measure prior to the November vote. The legislature may also choose "to approve an amended alternate version of the measure. In this case, both measures would appear on the ballot together."
On Wednesday, the Mississippi State Board of Health today passed a resolution "strongly" opposing the initiative, opining, "Marijuana consumption has numerous known harms and is contrary to the mission of public health."
Under state law, the possession of over 30 grams of cannabis is defined as a felony offense, punishable by up to three years in prison. The proposed initiative permits qualifying patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of cannabis per 14-day period.
In 2014, state lawmakers passed legislation permitting those diagnosed with intractable epilepsy to possess certain products containing CBD. But the law provides no legal supply source for such products.
Voters in at least two additional states, New Jersey and South Dakota, will also be deciding on marijuana-specific initiatives this November.
Additional information about the campaign is available from Mississippians for Compassionate Care.
New York: Empire State NORML Files Suit Seeking Patients' Access to Medical Cannabis While on Probation
Empire State NORML and others are suing the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Services (DOCCS) so that qualified patients may access medical cannabis products while on probation.
The lawsuit – filed by NORML Legal Committee member David Holland on behalf of Empire State NORML, a nurse practitioner, and several state-registered patients – contends that the DOCCS and its subsidiaries violate state law by prohibiting petitioners access to cannabis while they serve out their term of probation supervision.
Petitioners argue that the state's medical cannabis access law explicitly forbids state officials from taking discriminatory actions against qualified patients. Petitioners reject the DOCCS' claim that allowing medical cannabis use to those on probation will subject the agency to federal reprisals, such as the loss of federal funds.
Petitioners opine: "DOCCS' reliance upon the safe harbor provision, ... which does not compel an individual or entity to 'act' or otherwise take action which violates federal law or may cause the loss of federal funding, ... is misplaced. Congress has passed legislative and budgetary appropriation measures restricting federal law enforcement from utilizing federal funds to enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act in New York and [in] the other 32 states that have legalized medical marijuana. These purposeful restrictions passed and imposed by Congress itself on the enforceability of the federal CSA against the investigation and prosecution of state-compliant medical marijuana programs renders the federal law a nullity. ... [Therefore,] Respondents ... cannot properly rely upon the 'safe harbor' provision ... as a means to strip Probationer Petitioners of their protected status under the Compassionate Use Act."
Petitioners seek a declaratory judgment from the state Supreme Court against the DOCCS determining petitioners "rights and privileges under Public Health Law 3369(2)."
In Decembers, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the right of patients to access medical cannabis products while on probation unless there exists material evidence to show that prohibiting such use "is necessary and appropriate" to accomplish explicit sentencing goals. Justices on the Supreme Court for the state of Pennsylvania are deliberating over a similar suit, and are anticipated to rule on the matter this year.
The case is Empire State NORML et al. v. New York State Department of Corrections and Community Services et al.
Study: Packaging Cannabis in Vacuum-Sealed Plastic Masks Smell
Fort Collins, CO: Subjects are unable to identify cannabis when it is packaged in vacuum-sealed plastic, but can do so when it is packaged in resealable sandwich bags, according to data published in the journal Science & Justice.
A team of investigators affiliated with Colorado State University evaluated whether untrained observers could correctly identify dried cannabis flower based solely on smell. They reported, "[O]pen and casually packaged cannabis was identified with high accuracy, while material packaged in doubly vacuum-sealed plastic was correctly identified at rates no different from chance."
Authors concluded: "Interpretation of the plain smell doctrine is complicated in states where possession of a small amount of cannabis, or possession by persons with medical marijuana cards, has been legalized. ... Given the results of the present study, smell-based searches where the material was vacuum-sealed within one or more layers of plastic may lie beyond the 'sphere of reliability.'"
Full text of the study, "Human olfactory detection of packaged marijuana," appears in Science & Justice.
Italy: High Court Rules in Favor of Home Cultivation Rights
Rome, Italy: Italians may grow personal use amounts of cannabis at home without penalty, according to a determination by the nation's supreme court.
Justices opined that "at home, small-scale cultivation activities are to be considered excluded from the application of the penal code." The defendant in the case was cultivating two marijuana plants.
The ruling is similar to a decision made by South Africa's top court in 2018 when justices concluded that it is not "a criminal offense for an adult to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption." More recently, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that laws criminalizing the private use and cultivation of cannabis by adults are unconstitutional.
Texas: Low-Level Marijuana Arrests Decline
Austin, TX: Prosecutors filed far fewer misdemeanor marijuana possession cases in the second half of 2019, according to data compiled by the Texas Office of Court Administration and published by the Texas Tribune.
According to the data, the number of prosecutions filed fell from an average of 5,600 per month in the first six months of 2019 to less than half that total in the second half of the year. The decline comes after lawmakers amended the legal status of hemp. Because police lack a field test that can readily distinguish between cannabis and hemp-based on THC content, some jurisdictions have limited or halted marijuana-related prosecutions. However, officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety indicate that new field test technology is anticipated to be available later this year.
For more information, visit Texas NORML.
Maine: Regulators Now Accepting Marijuana Business Applications
Augusta, ME: State regulators have begun accepting applications from those wishing to open licensed, adult-use retail cannabis facilities.
Maine voters initially approved the legalization of adult-use cannabis sales in November 2016 by passing a statewide initiative, but lawmakers — led by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage — repeatedly took steps to delay the law's implementation.
Applications may be submitted online to the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy. Licensed stores are anticipated to be operational by spring 2020.
As per state rules, retailers will not be permitted to sell adult-use customers more than 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and/or five grams of concentrate in a single day. Retailers will need to first receive local approval before applying for a state operator's license.
For more information, visit the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy.