Cannabis Regulatory Update: Federal-State Marijuana 'Policy Gap' Widens, Legalization Push In South Carolina, Georgia, North Dakota

Federal-State Marijuana ‘Policy Gap’ Continues To Grow As More States Legalizes Cannabis

With more and more states legalizing both medical and recreational cannabis, the gap between federal and state cannabis policies seems to be widening, a new report showed.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a 101-page analysis on the heels of the U.S. House of Representatives approving the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, H.R. 3617, reported Marijuana Moment.

“The federal response to state actions to legalize marijuana has largely been to allow states to implement their own laws on the drug,” CRS said. “The gap between federal marijuana law and federal enforcement policy and the issues it creates continue each year.

CRS considered everything from banking challenges to trafficking trends in an attempt to take a full grasp of the status quo which “creates unique consequences for individuals who act in compliance with state law but violate federal law.”

“As organizations and individuals have pressed forward with the manufacturing, sale, and use of marijuana, consequences of the gap have arisen—two of the more publicized consequences for individuals are termination of employment due to marijuana use in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, and a range of implications for researchers and postsecondary students on college campuses,” the report noted.

“Other consequences include, but are not limited to, an inability to obtain or dismissal from certain types of employment, the inability to purchase and possess a firearm, inadmissibility for federal housing, and ineligibility for certain visas,” the researchers continued.

Georgians To Decide On Marijuana Ballot Question Next Month

Georgia voters will be deciding on a marijuana legalization question when they head to the polls for the primaries next month.

To gain perspective on what Georgians care about most, the state Democratic party leadership came up with nine non-binding advisory questions for the ballot this year.

“Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older, with proceeds going towards education, infrastructure and health care programs,” one of the questions asks.

While the vote results on May 24 will not change the law, at least not immediately, a pro-legalization sentiment among voters would be a clear message to elected officials.

“Our ballot advisory questions are one of many ways we engage with Democratic voters ahead of the midterm elections,” Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, told FOX 5 Atlanta.

Voters can fill out the Democratic ballot on Election Day regardless of their party affiliation.

In the meantime, medical cannabis became legal in Georgia nearly seven years ago. However, MMJ patients in the Peach State say that obtaining medical cannabis these past several years has been more difficult than it was before legalization, reported Alive. 

In 2019, the state passed a law meant to enable the licensing of up to six companies to cultivate and produce medical marijuana. But the legislation was stalled under the weight of litigation after litigation; sixteen protests were filed mostly by companies that were passed over for licenses.

North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Campaign Cleared For Signature Gathering

North Dakota officials have green-lighted the formatting of a petition for a proposed ballot measure to legalize marijuana in the state, reported Marijuana Moment.

New Approach North Dakota advocates filed the measure, backed by the national Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), earlier this month.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office approved the measure’s formatting.

The initiative would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to three plants for personal use.

Now activists need to garner 15,582 valid signatures from registered voters. The deadline to turn in the signatures and qualify for the ballot is July 11.

South Carolina Lawmakers Files Bill To Require Annual Marijuana Pardons On Cannabis Holiday

As of next year, South Carolina officials may be required to issue pardons for people with marijuana convictions on their records on the unofficial cannabis holiday under the new bill, Marijuana Moment writes.

Rep. JA Moore (D) seeks to create “420 Day” via a measure he introduced that would request the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services provide relief to at least 20% of people who’ve completed their sentence for simple marijuana possession annually. He wants that to happen on April 20.

The text of the legislation writes that proposal would only apply “to the pardoning of the offense of simple possession of marijuana and not to other unrelated convictions,” thereby leaving space for the department to grant more cannabis pardons.

“Possession of marijuana is a nonviolent offense and it’s a crime that has been enforced unjustly since its inception,” Moore said in a press release. “We need to force a conversation on this issue and that is the intention of my bill.”

The bill, H.7614, is now heading to House Judiciary Committee.

Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Norin on Unsplash

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Posted In: Al JaegerbillGeorgiaLegislationmarijuana megalizationMarijuana MomentMooreNorth DakotaScott HoganSouth CarolinaCannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsMarketsGeneral