Cannabis legislation has been in the headlines for years now, but federal regulatory reforms on other mind-altering substances are also making headway in C0ngress. Meanwhile, at the state level, California is modifying the supply chain for recreational marijuana and North Carolina is examining loosening its marijuana possession laws. Find out more in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that could allow certain patients to use classified drugs such as marijuana, psilocybin, and MDMA that have not yet gone been approved through the clinical trial process. The legislation, known as the Right to Try Act, would permit patients with life-threatening illnesses who have exhausted all other treatment options to try certain experimental drugs that have undergone Phase 1 clinical research and that are undergoing further clinical research under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) procedures. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent in August, so the bill now awaits President Trump’s signature. Although his administration, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has generally taken a hardline stance against marijuana and other drugs, Trump urged Congress to pass the Right to Try Act in his State of the Union Address this year.
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On Thursday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government approved a bill for 2019 funding that includes a provision barring the District of Columbia from expanding its implementation of recreational marijuana legalization. D.C. voters passed a recreational cannabis law in 2014, though it has since been hampered by congressional efforts to prevent the implementation of a regulated, taxed recreational cannabis market in the capital. Congress has used D.C.’s status as a non-state district reliant on federal funding to prevent the allocation of District funds – which are determined by Congress – to implement recreational marijuana.
On May 18, the state of California released an updated set of regulations for the state’s new recreational cannabis industry, which has been operating under a set of emergency rules since November. The new regulations largely leave the prior rules intact while making some modifications to provide further clarity and address concerns raised by marijuana businesses. Under the new rules, recreational and medical marijuana businesses will continue to be allowed to use the same growers and distributors, rather than having separate supply chains for each. The dollar value of cannabis products that delivery drivers may carry will be increased from $3,000 to $10,000, and drivers will only be allowed to carry the amount of product ordered in advance and stocked at a physical location prior to delivery. Some regulations were also eased to help smaller marijuana businesses.
Last week, a bill was introduced in the North Carolina House that would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. If enacted, the legislation would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to four ounces of cannabis. Possession of more than four ounces would be a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine and no more than 120 days in jail. Those previously convicted of an offense made legal by the measure could have their records expunged. The bill now faces committee review and approval.