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Kansas City, MO: City Council Approves Measure Eliminating Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing for Most City Workers

Members of the Kansas City, Missouri city council approved a local ordinance that will prevent pre-employment marijuana testing for most prospective government employees.

Ordinance No. 210627, which was approved with an 11 to 1 vote, says, “It shall be unlawful for the City of Kansas City to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana in the prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.”

Kansas City Mayor Quentin Lucas, who sponsored the measure, said, “Opportunities should not be foreclosed unnecessarily. Glad to see passage of our law eliminating pre-employment screening for marijuana at Kansas City government for most positions. One step of many in becoming a fairer city.”

Certain government positions would be excluded from the protections under this law, such as law enforcement; positions requiring a commercial drivers license; those caring for children, medical patients, disabled or other vulnerable individuals; and positions “where the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public.”

Members of the council approved a municipal ordinance last year repealing all local penalties specific to activities involving the personal possession of marijuana. The Kansas City Mayor’s Office has also launched an online system to facilitate the process of pardoning those with low-level marijuana convictions.

Kansas City’s measure is similar to other municipal laws that have recently been enacted in several other cities, including Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, and Washington, DC, limiting employers’ abilities to drug test certain employees for off-the-job marijuana exposure.

Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition to Receive Committee Vote In US House

Last night, we sent you a message about the SAFE Banking Act passing the House of Representatives as part of the NDAA.

Today, we have an even better bit of news to share with you: The MORE Act, which repeals federal marijuana criminalization, is set to be voted on by members of the powerful House Judiciary Committee NEXT WEEK.

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. We need to push as many members of Congress to co-sponsor and publicly support the advancement of this bill. That is why we need you to send your Representative a message NOW!

For those who need a refresher, here’s what you need to know about the MORE Act:

– It removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act – thereby eliminating the existing conflict between state and federal marijuana laws and providing states with the authority to be the primary arbiters of cannabis policy within their own jurisdictions.
– It facilitates the expungement of low-level federal marijuana convictions, and incentivizing state and local governments to take similar actions;
– It creates pathways for ownership opportunities in the emerging regulated industry as well as other sectors of the economy for local and diversely-reflective entrepreneurs who have been impacted under prohibition through the Small Business Administration grant eligibility;
– It allows veterans, for the first time, to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors;
– It removes the threat of deportation for immigrants accused of minor marijuana infractions or who are gainfully employed in the state-legal cannabis industry;
– It provides critical reinvestment grant opportunities for communities that have suffered disproportionate rates of marijuana-related enforcement actions.
During the last Congressional session, NORML members drove in hundreds of thousands of messages in support of the MORE Act. We cannot let up. We need you to send a message to your lawmakers now.

Thanks for showing up, standing up, and speaking out.

Next Week: House Judiciary Committee to Advance Historic MORE Act

Members of the House Judiciary Committee have scheduled a hearing next week to mark up HR 3617: The Marijuana, Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021. The Act repeals the long-standing federal prohibition of marijuana – thereby ending the existing state/federal conflict in cannabis policies and providing state governments with greater authority to regulate marijuana-related activities, including retail sales.

“We are excited to see Chairman Nadler and House Leadership move forward once again with passing the MORE Act. Public support and sound public policy demand the repeal of federal marijuana prohibition, Congressional action on this legislation is long overdue. The days of our failed federal policy of prohibition are numbered,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.

While House members deliberate over the MORE Act, members of the Upper Chamber continue to review public comments regarding The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, introduced by Senators Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

What the MORE Act Does: The legislation’s provisions remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act – thereby eliminating the existing conflict between state and federal marijuana laws and providing states with the authority to be the primary arbiters of cannabis policy within their own jurisdictions.

FURTHER: The MORE Act would also make several other important changes to federal marijuana policy, including:

– Facilitating the expungement of low-level federal marijuana convictions, and incentivizing state and local governments to take similar actions;
– Creating pathways for ownership opportunities in the emerging regulated industry as well as other sectors of the economy for local and diversely-reflective entrepreneurs who have been impacted under prohibition through the Small Business Administration grant eligibility;
– Allowing veterans, for the first time, to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors;
Removing the threat of deportation for immigrants accused of minor marijuana infractions or who are gainfully employed in the state-legal cannabis industry;
– Providing critical reinvestment grant opportunities for communities that have suffered disproportionate rates of marijuana-related enforcement actions.

Following action by the House Judiciary Committee, the MORE Act would require further consideration or waiver by the various jurisdictional committees before receiving a floor vote.

Key Facts Underscoring Marijuana Policy Reform Efforts:

According to the FBI UCR, over 545,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in 2019 alone. Over 90% of those arrested were charged with mere possession.

According to a recent report by the ACLU, Black Americans are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related crimes than white Americans.
The state-legal cannabis industry employs over 321,000 full-time workers; that is over six times the number of jobs specific to the coal industry.
While the substance is not without harm, cannabis is objectively less harmful than legal and regulated alcohol and tobacco.

National Polling

Quinnipiac University, April 2021

Question: Do you think that the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States, or not?

– Overall: 69% Yes – 25% No
– Democrat: 78% Yes – 17% No
– Republicans: 62% Yes – 32% No
– Independents: 67% Yes – 28% No
– Gallup Polling, Nov. 2020

Question: Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?

– Overall: 68% Yes – 32% No
– Democrat: 83% Yes – 16% No
– Republicans: 48% Yes – 52% No
– Independents: 72% Yes – 27% No

Pew Research Center, April 2021

Question: Which comes closer to your view about the use of marijuana by adults?

– 60% It should be legal for medical AND recreational use
– 31% It should be legal for medical use ONLY
– 8% It should NOT be legal

Breakdown:

– 12% of Republicans say marijuana should NOT be legal
– 5% of Democrats say marijuana should NOT be legal

History of the MORE Act:

On December 4th of 2020, Members of the House of Representatives voted to approve the MORE Act, HR 3884, by a margin of 228 to 164. However, under the leadership of then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (K-KY), the full Senate did not consider the legislation prior to the close of the 116th Congressional session.

HR 3884 was carried in the 116th Congress by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and in the Senate by Vice President Kamala Harris.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, along with Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee, Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Chairwoman Sheila Jackson Lee, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, and Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velรกzquez reintroduced the 2021 version of the bill in May.

Kamala Harris is now Vice President of the United States and is unable to reintroduce companion legislation. In July, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, along with Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Judiciary Committee’s Senator Cory Booker introduced a discussion draft for public comment of forthcoming legislation, The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, that seeks to similarly remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

House Advances SAFE Banking Act as Part of the Must-Pass NDAA

NORML Supports Swift Enactment; Stresses Need for Further Federal Reforms

Washington, DC: The NDAA funding package passed by the US House of Representatives includes the provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which allows state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to engage freely in relationships with banks and other financial institutions. The language was offered as an amendment to the bill by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D), Earl Blumenauer (D), Barbara Lee (D), Nydia Velazquez (D), David Joyce (R), and Steve Stivers (R).

This vote marks the fifth time that House members have advanced SAFE Banking legislation in recent years. House members last approved the measure in April as a stand-alone bill by a vote of 321 to 101. At that time, all Democrats and just over half of Republicans in the House voted for the bill.

“Enactment of the SAFE Banking Act would improve public safety and business efficiency in the 36 states that currently permit some form of retail marijuana sales,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal, “The Senate should ensure this provision remains in the final version of this funding package and approve it swiftly.”

Strekal added: “The SAFE Banking Act is only the first step toward making sure that state-legal marijuana markets operate safely and efficiently. The sad reality is that those who own or patronize these currently unbanked businesses would still be recognized as criminals in the eyes of the federal government and by federal law. This situation can only be rectified by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances.”

Currently, thousands of state-licensed cannabis businesses are unable to partner with the banking industry due to federal restrictions. They are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, access loans, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Congress must move to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

For these reasons, NORML has long advocated that federal lawmakers vote “Yes” on The SAFE Banking Act.

The NDAA now advances to the Senate for consideration.

In an exchange on Tuesday with Politico reporter Natalie Fertig, Republican Senate co-lead of the SAFE Banking Act Senator Kevin Cramer said “(I)f it’s a vehicle that can carry it, I think it’d be fine. … Any vehicle’s good that gets it to pass it.”

Analysis: Growing Number of States Allow Reimbursement of Medical Cannabis Costs by Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Medical Marijuana
A limited but growing number of states permit eligible patients to be reimbursed for their medical cannabis-related costs through their workers’ compensation insurance (WCI) plans, according to a just-published analysis of state policies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that these policy changes are further evidence of the legitimacy and social acceptance of medical cannabis. “For millions of patients, cannabis is a legitimate therapeutic option. More and more, our laws and regulations are recognizing this fact and evolving their policies accordingly.”

Researchers affiliated with the federal agency assessed rules and regulations in 36 states permitting medical cannabis access. They identified six states – Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York – that explicitly allow for employees to have their medical cannabis expenses reimbursed. In three of those states – New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York – reimbursements were ordered as a result of state Supreme Court rulings issued earlier this year.

By contrast, authors identified six states where workers’ compensation insurance is expressly prohibited from reimbursing medical marijuana-related costs: Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Washington.

In all other jurisdictions, the law is either silent on the issue or states that insurers are “not required” to reimburse employees who are injured on the job for the costs related to their use of medical cannabis.

Authors said that they expected the number of states permitting marijuana-related compensation to increase in the coming years “as more workers petition state courts and administrative agencies for cannabis WCI reimbursement.”

An abstract of the study, “Review of cannabis reimbursement by workers’ compensation insurance in the US and Canada,” appears in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

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