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Norway’s Government Moves to Decriminalize Drug Possession
At a time when numerous jurisdictions across the U.S. are weighing drug decriminalization proposals, the government of Norway on Friday proposed a bill to end the criminalization of personal possession of illicit substances.
Officials from the country’s Liberal Party unveiled the decriminalization legislation, which would make low-level possession a civil offense, rather than one that carries criminal penalties. Possession cases would also require mandatory treatment.
“Decades of repression have taught us that punishment doesn’t work. On the contrary, punishment can make things worse,” Education Minister Guri Melby said during a press conference on Friday, according to AFP. “Drug addicts need help, not punishment.”
“We will no longer stand by and watch people being stigmatized and called criminals when they are in fact ill,” the official said.
Refusal to comply with substance misuse treatment could result in a fine, but not the threat of jail time, under the proposal.
New Massachusetts Bills Would Decriminalize All Drugs, Study Entheogens
Massachusetts lawmakers introduced legislation Friday that will attempt to end the state’s war on drugs. One proposal, a statewide decriminalization bill, was introduced Friday. It would replace criminal penalties for the possession of any controlled substance with a civil fine of up to $50. To avoid the fine, individuals could enroll in a “needs screening to identify health and other service needs, including but not limited to services that may address any problematic substance use and mental health conditions, lack of employment, housing, or food, and any need for civil legal services.”
Another bill would establish an interagency task force that would “study the public health and social justice implications of legalizing the possession, consumption, transportation, and distribution of naturally cultivated entheogenic plants and fungi.”
New York Governor Reveals Amendments to Marijuana Legalization Plan Weeks Before Budget Deadline
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has released the full text of amendments to his marijuana legalization plan that he hopes will resolve disagreements with legislative leaders over his original proposal.
The main changes would allow cannabis delivery services, specify how social equity grant funding is distributed and lower the proposed penalty for selling marijuana to people under 21, all of which were previewed earlier last week.
Advocates say the changes address some key concerns but don’t go far enough. Under the amendments, for example, home cultivation of cannabis would still be criminalized and there would be no automatic expungements of past convictions.
A separate, comprehensive bill supported by top lawmakers and advocates that’s been introduced in the legislature does include a home grow option—one of several differences that could make or break an agreement ahead of the April 1 budget deadline.
New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Latest Marijuana ‘Clean Up’ Bill Amid Week of Uncertainty
On Friday, a key New Jersey Senate committee advanced a “clean up” bill designed to satisfy requests from Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
The legislature has already sent enabling legislation to the governor’s desk, but he’s yet to take action on it because he’s pushing for the inclusion of cannabis-related penalties for underage people. A newly revised bill to address the issue cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 6-2 vote, with one abstention.
As amended, the legislation would make underage possession of marijuana subject to a written warning. That policy would also apply to underage alcohol consumption, which is currently considered a petty disorderly persons offense. Another amendment would make it so 15 percent of cannabis tax revenue goes to “underage deterrence and prevention.”
Advocates have pushed back against Murphy’s underage penalties request, arguing that it threatens to perpetuate the consequences of racially discriminatory enforcement practices.
NFL Explores How Marijuana and CBD Can Be Used as Opioid Alternatives for Players
The National Football League and NFL Players Association are launching an effort to learn about the potential of marijuana and its components like CBD as alternative treatment options for pain.
They’re also more generally interested in discovering how cannabis use affects athletic performance.
A request for information that was published on Tuesday states that the league’s goal is “to identify investigators who have the current capability to carry out studies aimed at supplementing the NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee’s (‘PMC’) knowledge about pain management and athletic performance in NFL players.”
Meanwhile, the league’s drug testing policy changed demonstrably last year as part of a collective bargaining agreement.
Under the new policy, NFL players will not face the possibility of being suspended from games over positive tests for any drug—not just marijuana.