Cannabis Regulatory Update: Hawaii Senate Votes For Legalization, NJ Still In Question, South Dakota AG Won't Defend Adult-Use
Hawaii Senate Says Yes To Cannabis Legalization
Hawaii Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs voted in favor of two cannabis measures on Tuesday. (h/t Marijuana Moment)
The first bill asks for adult-use cannabis legalization and the other to amend the state’s current decimalization law.
The Aloha State decriminalized the possession of up to three grams of cannabis in 2019, under a law that went into effect in 2020.
The law also replaced criminal penalties with a $130 fine.
The new bill, SB 758, proposes decriminalization for up to 28.5 grams of cannabis. It is now sent over to the Judiciary Committee.
The legalization bill, SB 767, asks for cannabis legalization and enabling licensed companies to grow, manufacture, and sell cannabis products. Furthermore, it suggests for the adults to be allowed to cultivate up to three mature plants for personal consumption.
SB 767 now awaits a joint hearing between The Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means committees, after which it is supposed to reach the chamber floor.
Cannabis advocates in Hawaii believe there is a strong chance for the amendment bill on cannabis decriminalization to get voted for.
Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, together with other cannabis supporters, is asking from lawmakers to include social equity requirements.
The state also anticipates another important voting this Friday – on the proposal of magic mushrooms legalization for therapeutic use.
New Jersey’s Cannabis Legalization Bill Still In Question
In spite of voting for cannabis legalization during the November election, New Jersey is still struggling to figure out the details of the ballot measure.
Democratic Governor Phil Murphy asked for a “cleanup bill” that will impose higher fines for underage people caught with cannabis.
This Tuesday, another compromise was halted, questioning the future of cannabis legalization in the Garden State once again. (h/t NJ.com).
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union postponed the voting out of fear the bill would not have enough support to pass the full Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet on Wednesday to review another cannabis-related bill together with a “cleanup” bill, added Scutari.
One of the main difficulties lies in balancing two requests – 1) to discourage those under 21 to consume cannabis and 2) make sure there are no biased policing against them.
Two bills – one that launches the legal cannabis industry, and the other that stops arrests have been on Muprhy’s desk for almost two months.
The problem is in the type of penalties – the legalization bill proposes that those underage caught with cannabis should be treated with persons offense, while the decriminalization bill ends all penalties.
The question is if the bill makes enough compromise for Murphy. If so, Murphy could “sign legalization, decriminalization, and youth penalties into law as a package.”
Murphy also has an option of vetoing until the deadline, and if he chooses to do nothing, the bill would turn into law without him signing.
Several previous efforts to make a compromise and push the governor to sign the bill have failed, this may be the last chance.
Another voting is scheduled in the Assembly and Senate for Friday.
South Dakota AG Aborts Defense Of Adult-Use Cannabis Initiative
Another state facing cannabis legalization challenges is South Dakota.
The Mount Rushmore State was one of five states that welcomed cannabis-related ballot proposals on Nov. 3.
However, the initiative was ruled unconstitutional by circuit judge Christina Klinger.
It was ruled unconstitutional on the technicality – violating the state’s single-subject requirement.
The state Governor Kristi Noem was first to challenge the amendment, ordering a lawsuit to cancel the adult-use portion of the measure.
Now, the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office is aborting its defense of the recreational marijuana initiative. (h/t Marijuana Business Daily)
While it is the duty of state Attorney General offices to defend state laws, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s office stated he completed his duty by defending the measure in the lower court, according to the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls.
“It’s difficult to understand when he (Ravnsborg) argued clearly that it (the initiative) was lawful,” Matt Schweich, deputy director of The Marijuana Policy Project, which supported the cannabis legalization campaign in the state, told the outlet.
The Marijuana Policy Project is working together with the legalization group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws to make an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Schweich stays optimistic about the appeal.
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