California Bills To Legalize Psychedelics Possession, Allow Interstate Marijuana Commerce And More Teed Up For Key Hurdle Next Week | Big Indy News
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California Bills To Legalize Psychedelics Possession, Allow Interstate Marijuana Commerce And More Teed Up For Key Hurdle Next Week

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California bills to legalize psychedelics possession, create the infrastructure to allow interstate marijuana commerce, prohibit localities from banning medical cannabis delivery services and impose new labeling requirements for cannabis products are all teed up for consideration in a key Assembly committee next week.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee placed all four of those proposals, as well as a litany of unrelated measures, on its suspense file on Wednesday. If the panel approves the Senate-passed bills at a follow-up meeting next week, they will then head to the Assembly floor.

There was no discussion of any of those bills during the panel’s lengthy meeting on hundreds of pieces of legislation on Wednesday, but the procedural development is positive news for advocates who are eager to advance reform this session. Lawmakers are more likely to debate the proposals when they meet next week.

Here’s a breakdown of the drug policy measures that will be considered in the committee before potentially moving to the floor: 

SB 519: Sen. Scott Wiener (D) has put significant work into a bill that would legalize the possession of certain amounts of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA by adults 21 and older. It’s already passed the Senate and moved through two Assembly committees, but it was placed on pause last year in order to give the sponsor more time to build support.

The senator told Marijuana Moment late last year that he felt the measure had a “50/50” chance of being enacted into law this year.

The legislation would remove criminal penalties for possessing substances like psilocybin, DMT, MDMA and LSA for adults 21 and older.

If the Appropriations Committee does ultimately clear the bill for floor consideration and it passes in the full chamber, it would still need to go back to the Senate for approval of Assembly amendments before potentially heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) desk.

There’s been some tension within the psychedelics advocacy community over the proposal, which was previously amended to include possession limits and remove ketamine from the list of substances that would no longer be criminalized.

Under the measure, the state Department of Public Health would be required to establish a working group “to study and make recommendations regarding possible regulatory systems that California could adopt to promote safe and equitable access to certain substances in permitted legal contexts.” Those recommendations would be due by January 1, 2024.

For psilocybin specifically, the legislation would repeal provisions in California statute that prohibit the cultivation or transportation of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material” that contain the psychoactive ingredient.

The bill originally included record sealing and resentencing provisions for people previously convicted of psychedelics possession offenses, but that language was removed in its last committee stop prior to the Senate floor vote as part of an amendment from the sponsor.

SB 1186: Another bill from Wiener, the legislation would “prohibit a local jurisdiction from adopting or enforcing any regulation that prohibits the retail sale by delivery within the local jurisdiction of medicinal cannabis to medicinal cannabis patients or their primary caregivers by medicinal cannabis businesses.”

Currently, more than half of the state’s cities and counties do not allow any type of cannabis licensees to operate in their area, which has created a regulatory vacuum that many feel is allowing the illicit market to thrive. This legislation is aimed at promoting patient access, but it could theoretically help address that overarching problem.

State officials launched a new resource in May, providing people with an interactive map showing where marijuana businesses are permitted—and where they are blocked from opening—throughout the state.

Newsom also recently signed a budget bill that includes a provision to create a $20 million one-time grant program to support the development and implementation of local retail licensing efforts.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

SB 1326: Sen. Anna Caballero (D) had a bill placed on the Appropriations Committee suspense file that would set the stage to allow for interstate marijuana commerce from California to other legal states, as long as the federal government allows for it through legislation or a Justice Department waiver.

“The bill would prohibit an entity with a commercial cannabis license issued under the laws of another state from engaging in commercial cannabis activity within the boundaries of this state without a state license, or within a local jurisdiction without a license, permit, or other authorization issued by the local jurisdiction,” a legislative analysis says.

Late last year, a campaign called the Alliance for Sensible Markets started rallying the business community to join them in asking governors from four key states, including California, to seek Justice Department guidance on interstate cannabis commerce.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has already signaled that she’d be on board, signing a bill in 2019 that would allow marijuana to be imported and exported from other states if federal law or policy provides for it. Activists had hoped to get similar legislation enacted in California last year, but the coronavirus pandemic derailed that.

Shortly after Oregon’s governor signed the interstate commerce bill, two members of the state’s congressional delegation filed a measure that would similarly allow for such activity, preventing the Justice Department from interfering in states that have affirmative agreements to sell marijuana across state lines. The legislation did not advance, however.

SB 1097: A bill from Sen. Richard Pan (D) that also advanced to the suspense file on Wednesday would require the state Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) to “adopt regulations to require cannabis and cannabis product labels and inserts to include a clear and prominent warning regarding the risks that cannabis use may contribute to mental health problems, in addition to existing labeling requirements.”

There are already labeling requirements for marijuana products sold in California, but Pan’s legislation would impose new rules—a proposal that some industry groups feel is unnecessary.

The legislation would also require DCC to create and post public pamphlets with “prescribed information, including, among other things, the recommendation that new users start with lower doses and the dangers of purchasing illegally sold cannabis and cannabis products.”

Here’s an overview of recent drug policy developments in California:

Another bill that Wiener is sponsoring to create a pilot program for safe drug consumption sites in certain areas of California is advancing. The legislation cleared its final legislative vote this week and now heads to the governor’s desk.

Last month, California officials awarded more than $1.7 million in grants help promote sustainable marijuana cultivation practices and assist growers with obtaining their annual licenses. A total of $6 million will be allotted through the program, which was first announced in August 2021 and will remain open for applications through April 2023.

Regulators also recently announced that they are soliciting input on proposed rules to standardize cannabis testing methods in the state—an effort that they hope will stop marijuana businesses from “laboratory shopping” to find facilities that are more likely to show higher THC concentrations that they can then boast for their products.

Meanwhile, California officials are distributing another round of community reinvestment grants totaling $35.5 million with tax revenue generated from recreational marijuana sales.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced last month that they’ve awarded 78 grants to organizations throughout the state that will support economic and social development in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

The amount of funding and number of recipients increased from last year’s levels, when the state awarded about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations through the CalCRG program.

California has taken in nearly $4 billion in marijuana tax revenue since the state’s adult-use market launched in 2018, the Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reported late last month. And for the first quarter of 2022, the state saw about $294 million in cannabis revenue generated from the excise, cultivation and sales tax on marijuana.

The state collected about $817 million in adult-use marijuana tax revenue during the last fiscal year. That represented 55 percent more cannabis earnings for state coffers than was generated in the 2020-2021 period.

California officials also announced in January that the state had awarded $100 million in funding to help develop local marijuana markets, in part by getting cannabis businesses fully licensed.

Arkansas Marijuana Activists Plan To Defend Legalization Ballot Initiative In State Supreme Court After Officials Decline To Certify

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Wisconsin Governor Signals Willingness To Compromise With Republicans On Medical Marijuana

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Wisconsin’s Democratic governor said he thinks Republicans who control the state legislature may be willing to work with him to legalize medical marijuana in 2023.

In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio on Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers (D) said there is “no question” that he will again include recreational cannabis legalization in the biennial budget request he submits to the legislature early next year, but indicated his willingness to proceed with a more limited medical marijuana program if GOP leaders remain unwilling to end prohibition altogether.

“There’s an increasing number of people in the legislature that might be willing to go towards medicinal marijuana,” Evers said. “If the legislature can rally around medicinal marijuana, I certainly would sign that bill.”

“Even though the people of Wisconsin by huge numbers in polling support recreational marijuana in the state of Wisconsin, I just don’t know if the Republicans are there yet,” he continued. “All I know is that there is talk on the Republican side, from what I’ve heard, around medicinal.”

Earlier this month, an overview of state agency budget requests showed the Department of Revenue (DOR) asked the governor to again include recreational and medical marijuana programs in his forthcoming budget proposal, as he did in his last request. The overview also included a suggestion from the State Public Defender to decriminalize cannabis possession.

The DOR request called for the creation of a medical marijuana registry program through which patients over the age of 18 who are diagnosed as “having or undergoing a debilitating medical condition or treatment” could obtain authorization to purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries.

The agency also wants the authority to issue retail marijuana permits and levy taxes on recreational sales, which it estimates would generate annual revenues of $165.8 million for Wisconsin beginning in 2024. Democrats have repeatedly complained that the state is bleeding tax revenues to the illicit market and legal marijuana programs in neighboring states like Illinois.

DOR did not request funding, administration, or enforcement powers for either cannabis program, but instead indicated it would “like to collaborate with the governor and other state agencies” around the resources needed to manage them.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Evers’ offer to compromise around medical marijuana comes after several years of Republican obstruction around his efforts to deliver on his reform pledge, even though a top GOP assemblymember has admitted legalization is essentially inevitable.

Evers won re-election last month after campaigning on cannabis reform and has relentlessly pursued the issue since taking office in 2019. His first biennial budget sought marijuana decriminalization and the establishment of a medical program. The GOP-controlled legislature has, however, stymied every one of his attempts.

The governor included broader marijuana legalization in his 2021 proposal but Republicans stripped it out of the budget. Democrats tried to add it back in via amendment that summer but were rebuffed by the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee. The conflict led the governor and other Democratic policymakers to call on Wisconsinites to pressure their representatives to support Evers’ agenda.

Assemblyman Evan Goyke (D) argued at the time that the state was becoming “more and more of an island” among neighboring states that had embraced reform, framing medical marijuana as “an attempt at compromise” with Republicans opposed to a recreational program. He argued that the “sky has not fallen” in other states that have allowed patients to access cannabis.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have proposed modest decriminalization measures for marijuana possession but none of those proposals advanced in the last session.

A GOP-introduced bill to create a medical marijuana program that received a hearing this year was restrictive, prohibiting smokable marijuana products and forbidding patients to grow cannabis for personal use. Patients could only obtain cannabis preparations in the form of oils, pills, tinctures or topicals.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R) and Rep. Patrick Snyder (R), also did not contain equity provisions like expungements that are favored by progressives.

Other Republicans, like Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, have expressed support for medical cannabis reform.

“Currently 36 other states, including our neighbors Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota, have passed laws allowing patients with certain medical conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it,” a co-sponsorship memo that Felzkowski and Snyder sent to fellow legislators says. “Medicine is never one-size-fits-all, and it is time for Wisconsin to join the majority of the country in adding another option which may help patients find the relief they need.”

A strong majority of Wisconsinites support marijuana legalization and nine local non-binding advisory questions on the subject passed by wide margins in the 2022 election.

Upon winning reelection this year, Evers told the media that “at some point in time, the will of the people will become the law of the land.” He has even taken steps via executive order to urge the legislature to start the process of amending the state Constitution to allow citizens to place initiatives on the ballot. Advocates believe such an amendment could help voters advance marijuana reforms on their own.

Until those laws change, marijuana possession in Wisconsin is punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for a first offense. People convicted of a subsequent offense would face a felony charge punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and up to three and a half years in prison.

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Marijuana Banking Bill Sponsor Makes Final Symbolic Push In Last Committee Hearing Before Retiring

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The lead sponsor of marijuana banking legislation made one final symbolic push for his measure on Friday in his last committee meeting as a member of Congress before he retires.

Frustrated that the Senate has consistently failed to take up the bill even after it has passed the House several times, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) filed the text of his Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act as an amendment to large-scale omnibus appropriations legislation.

The congressman called the exclusion of his cannabis provisions one of a handful of “glaring omissions” from the bill, but he did not end up forcing a vote on the issue, saying that “there is not a lot of latitude to be making big amendments and sending things back to the Senate” in light of a looming storm as well as what would be a government shutdown if the spending bill is not enacted in short order.

“We passed it to the Senate seven times to watch it go nowhere, under Democrats and Republicans, so the blame goes across both sides,” the congressman told fellow members of the Rules Committee, which prepared the Senate-passed omnibus legislation for a last-minute House floor vote before members head home for the Christmas holiday.

Advocates had hoped that a so-called SAFE Plus package involving banking, expungements and other cannabis provisions would be included in the omnibus bill, but that didn’t happen. Even though key legislators agreed on the framework of the marijuana reform deal, they couldn’t push past opposition from Republican leaders who refused to allow it to be attached to the legislation.

Perlmutter said senators played a “chess game” that led to that chamber being in control of what got included in the year-end government funding bill.

“I feel like they’ve played the game by delaying up to a Christmas holiday, and you jam it down the House members’ throats,” he said. “It puts a lot of power into the Senate and to our leadership.”

Other members of the Rules panel, which began considering the omnibus on Thursday evening before finishing up on Friday, cheered Perlmutter, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, for his longstanding efforts on cannabis banking.

“On the SAFE Banking Act, you have so imprinted in our brains that legislation that even in your absence we will continue to offer those amendments, because it’s the right thing to do,” committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said.

“I’ve had people come up to me who run cannabis businesses who say that because people can’t use credit cards, because people can’t use checks, people wait in line with lots of cash,” he said. “There’s a public safety issue here, and it makes no sense. If states have already moved ahead, why is it taking the federal government so long to make the necessary adjustments so that these businesses can operate like any other business? We will get there, I hope sooner rather than later.”

McGovern also joked that the the panel should adopt a “bipartisan resolution naming your chair the SAFE Banking chair, so that whoever sits there can know that that’s their job” to push the marijuana reform in the future.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), the GOP ranking member of the Rules Committee, said that Perlmutter “even finally beat me into submission on SAFE banking,” noting that he has ended up voting for the legislation several times.

“Whether I agree with legalization or not, I talk to many law enforcement professionals and people in the financial services industry and they tell me about the hardships that this creates and frankly the opportunities for criminals because they know these are cash-heavy enterprises and the difficulties that can be associated with money laundering,” he said. “All those things would be improved enormously if we passed your legislation.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had worked in recent weeks to craft the SAFE Plus compromise, but it faced opposition from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Republicans.

McConnell’s opposition has also been cited as the reason the reform wasn’t included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this month.

A Senate source had said last week that Schumer was “making a last ditch effort” to attach the cannabis banking language to the spending bill—but the majority leader wasn’t able to get the deal done. He said the issue would need to wait until the next Congress, which will see Republicans in control of the House.

It’s clear that negotiations were sensitive around adding anything new to the spending bill, and drug policy reform suffered as a final deal was forged. In addition to the lack of SAFE Banking or SAFE Plus language, the legislation also omitted several other reform proposals that were attached to spending measures approved in the House and Senate earlier this year. The final bill also maintains a rider that blocks Washington, D.C. from implementing a system of regulated cannabis commerce—another major setback for advocates.

Advocates will now look ahead to 2023 and the possibility of advancing the reform in a divided Congress.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) had signaled that he viewed cannabis banking as a likely 2023 issue, though a staffer said last week that he was still be open to passing it through the spending package if it contained broader provisions.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who will serve as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress, recently indicated that he similarly feels the issue will need to be decided after the lame duck. The congressman said that he remains opposed to SAFE Banking, but he left the door open to advancing it if that’s the will of his Republican colleagues.

“What I’ve pledged is having an open process. I told my members my view of it,” he said. “Members are able to come to their own conclusion about the bill. It’s so variable state by state.”

For his part, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has also pinned blame on McConnell, saying that his vocal opposition to cannabis reform has had a chilling effect of GOP members who might otherwise be amenable to passing legislation that contains SAFE Banking language.

“They’re dead set on anything in marijuana,” he said, referring to Republican leadership. “That to me is the obstacle.”

“The caucus is clearly divided but the people in power in their caucus are clearly against doing anything on marijuana,” he added.

New Washington Bill Would Allow Interstate Marijuana Commerce

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Maryland Lawmakers’ Marijuana Workgroup Examines Employment And Driving Concerns Following Voter-Approved Legalization

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Maryland lawmakers who are part of a marijuana legalization workgroup convened on Tuesday, hearing testimony on workplace and impaired driving policy issues related to the reform.

Members of the Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup—which was formed last year by House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D)—took testimony from representatives of the non-profit National Safety Council (NSC).

The witnesses advised the panel on a number of issues as lawmakers work to inform future regulations following Maryland voters’ approval of a legalization referendum during last month’s election, which triggered the implementation of complementary legislation covering rules for basic policies like possession and low-level home cultivation.

The focus of this latest meeting was on drug testing policy for workers and drivers.

“Throughout this entire process, all of us here have given thoughts and raised concerns about how legalizing recreational cannabis will impact employees in the workplace, how employers could enact or adjust policies when it comes to employment protections for off-duty cannabis cannabis use and how government bodies could legislate laws to appropriately respond to and address this issue and any related concerns,” Del. Luke Clippinger (D), who sponsored both the referendum bill as well as a complementary implementation measure and serves as the chair of the workgroup, said at the beginning of the meeting.

NCS takes a neutral position on marijuana legalization and decriminalization issues, and the conversation generally reflected the organization’s interest in supporting evidence-based practices for states that move ahead with the reform.

Jane Terry, vice president of government affairs at NCS, said that it’s likely a matter of time before every state in the U.S. has “some type of legalization” or cannabis is legalized at the federal level. Lawmakers should take steps to prepare for that inevitability, she said.

“What we really want to drive home is that it is impairing when you use it, and it’s going to have safety impacts,” she said. “So how can we really try to mitigate those impacts?”

One of the group’s main takeaways is that it’s difficult for employers and law enforcement to determine active impairment from THC, as current tests detect metabolites from the cannabinoid that can remain present in a person’s system for weeks after consumption.

Dave Madaras, president of the Chesapeake Region Safety Council, echoed several of Terry’s points, emphasizing to the lawmakers that a person could use cannabis off-duty in compliance with the state’s new law on Friday and “then Monday morning, I could take a drug test, and I can come up positive—but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m impaired. Actually, I’m probably not impaired at all.”

The witnesses also went over a number of policy recommendations for legislators to consider. Notably, they argued against states setting “per se” THC limits for driving impairment because “it’s not based on science, and it’s not necessarily showing impairment.”

At the workgroup’s prior meeting last month, members talked about how to tax cannabis and distribute revenue.

Maryland House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke (D), who has also served as a member of the legislative workgroup, said in October that he would be voting in favor of legalization at the ballot, and he emphasized that the vote would be “the beginning of the conversation.” It has since been announced that Luedtke will be joining the administration of Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D).

The language of the ballot referendum itself was straightforward, but where the more complex aspects of the reform come into play is with the complementary HB 837.

Under that legislation, the purchase and possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis will be legal for adults. The legislation also will remove criminal penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces. Adults 21 and older will be allowed to grow up to two plants for personal use and gift cannabis without remuneration.

Past convictions for conduct made legal under the proposed law will be automatically expunged, and people currently serving time for such offenses will be eligible for resentencing. The legislation makes it so people with convictions for possession with intent to distribute can petition the courts for expungement three years after serving out their time.

Even though voters have passed the referendum, the reform won’t take effect immediately. Possession of small amounts of cannabis will become a civil offense on January 1, 2023, punishable by a $100 fine for up to 1.5 ounces, or $250 for more than 1.5 ounces and up to 2.5 ounces. Legalization for up to 1.5 ounces won’t kick in for another six months.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Advocates have taken issue with that protracted timeline. Having possession legalization take effect sooner was among several asks they made that were not incorporated into the legislation. They also wanted lawmakers to include a provision preventing police from using the odor of marijuana alone as the basis for a search.

Adult-use legalization began to advance through Maryland’s legislature in the 2021 session, but no votes were ultimately held. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing last year on a legalization bill, which followed a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a separate cannabis proposal.

Maryland legalized medical cannabis through an act of the legislature in 2012. Two years later, a decriminalization law took effect that replaced criminal penalties for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine of $100 to $500.

Meanwhile, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) separately allowed a bill to create a state fund to provide “cost-free” access to psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury to take effect without his signature this year.

New Washington Bill Would Allow Interstate Marijuana Commerce

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