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Idaho Senator Revives Constitutional Drug Prohibition Amendment
After failing to whip the two-thirds vote in the House for the constitutional drug prohibition amendment that passed the Senate, Idaho Sen. C. Scott Grow on Wednesday debuted a rewrite of the amendment in the House.
Grow’s proposed amendment would add Schedule I & II drug prohibition to the state constitution if approved by voters. It would mandate that those drugs could only be legalized by a two-thirds vote of the legislature.
The express intent, according to Grow, is to beat back medical marijuana initiatives that have been proposed every two years, but failed to make the ballot in Idaho, since 2010.
Grow described medical marijuana states like neighboring Utah as being on the “slippery slope toward drug legalization.” He also implied that over half his fellow legislators would fall prey to the corrupting influence of marijuana industry money if there weren’t a two-thirds vote required to legalize medical marijuana.
Grow admits that “constitutional amendments trump initiatives,” so that if his drug prohibition bill is on the same ballot as a currently-circulating medical marijuana initiative, a win for prohibition beats any vote for medical marijuana.
Marijuana Legalization Could Curb Opioid Crisis in West Virginia, Governor Says
If West Virginia lawmakers send a bill to legalize marijuana to his desk, he will sign it, Gov. Jim Justice (R) said on Tuesday.
The governor expressed that he’s personally against legalization but can see the trend developing nationwide toward it.
Hawaii Marijuana Legalization Bill Heads to Senate Floor, Along with Separate Measure to Expand Decriminalization
Hawaii lawmakers on Wednesday voted to move forward with a bill that would legalize marijuana sales in the state and allow adults 21 and over to grow the plant at home. The vote comes a day after a Senate panel approved separate legislation to significantly increase the amount of cannabis that is decriminalized under current state law.
The proposal, Senate Bill 767, would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. The state Department of Health would craft rules around business licensing and retail sales by July 1, though it’s not yet clear when stores would open.
Hawaii lawmakers have since removed criminal penalties for possessing three grams of cannabis, replacing the punishment with a $130 fine and no possibility of jail time.
A bill approved Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, SB 578, would increase that threshold to 30 grams, or just over an ounce.
Alabama Senators Approve Marijuana Decriminalization Bill in Committee
An Alabama Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession.
The Judiciary Committee advanced the legislation after brief discussion in a 6-3 vote. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Under the proposal, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton (D), possessing less than two ounces of marijuana would be a simple violation that carries a $250 fine. That’s consistent with a previous version of the senator’s decriminalization bill that also moved through committee in 2019 but later died without a floor vote.
But unlike that last version, this one also seems to take a fine-only approach to possession of more than two ounces of marijuana as well, or possession in the first degree. Possessing two or more ounces of cannabis would be a class C misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine for the first offense and $500 for a second offense.
DEA Claims Federal Hemp Legalization is Complicating Marijuana Enforcement
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says the federal legalization of hemp is creating law enforcement complications, claiming that the policy is giving cover to criminal organizations that traffic in still-illegal marijuana.
Former Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last year that DEA “really didn’t like the whole program to begin with,” referring to the crop’s legalization, and USDA “had some pushback from DEA” when it was crafting rules for the market.
DEA, for its part, maintains that the policy change “creates opportunities for criminals looking to exploit state legalization, while presenting challenges for federal law enforcement.”