Great Plains MedMJ Bills Filed, Biden Criticized Over Call for Harsh Fentanyl Penalties, More… (2/9/23)
Rerolled: February 9, 2023 | #STDW
An Arkansas Republican files a bill to put marijuana legalization before the voters in 2024, harm reductionists and drug reformers criticize the president's call for stronger criminal penalties around fentanyl, and more.
Arkansas Republican Files Bill to Put Marijuana Legalization on 2024 Ballot. State Sen. Joshua Bryant (R-Rogers) filed a bill Wednesday to put a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana on the 2024 general election ballot. The bill, SJR13, would legalize marijuana for adults and allow "craft or home growing" of pot plants. The move comes after a 2022 constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana was defeated at the polls by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.
Kansas Senators File Medical Marijuana Bill. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee has filed a medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 135. The measure would set up a system of licensed dispensaries from which patients could obtain a 30-day supply of marijuana, but only in the form of concentrates, topicals, or edibles—smoking or vaping would not be allowed. Patients suffering from a specified list of 21 medical conditions would be eligible. Patients would have to register with the state, but people who have a doctor's recommendation but have not registered would face only a fine for possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. Similar legislation passed the House in 2021, only to die in the Senate.
Nebraska Medical Marijuana Bill Gets Hearing. The single-chamber legislature's Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a medical marijuana, bill from Sen. Anna Wishart (D), Legislative Bill 588. The committee heard testimony from experts and advocates who relayed information about the plant's therapeutic value, as well as from Wishart herself, the state's most prominent medical marijuana advocate. Wishart has led so far unsuccessful efforts to put the effort directly before voters as a ballot initiative. "My goal is that no family has to flee our state to get access to medical cannabis for themselves or a loved one," Wishart said in her opening remarks. "This bill is not going to fail because of lack of compromise or thoughtfulness on the part of all of the senators and the stakeholders that have worked on this. If this bill fails, it will fail like it has in the past because of political pressure from a few people in our state who wield their power to stamp out the will of the people."
Drug Reformers, Harm Reductionists Criticize Biden's State of the Union Call for Harsher Fentanyl Penalties. Harm reductionists and drug reformers took issue with one part of President Biden's plan to address the fentanyl crisis—his call for "strong penalties to crack down on fentanyl trafficking." Such an approach would only make matters worse, advocates said. "When you criminalize things, you create stigma around substances," said Maritza Perez Medina, director of federal affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. "If people know they’re going to get in trouble for using substances, they’re going to be reluctant to call for help." Harm reduction advocacy group PAIN organizer Harry Cullen said that efforts to suppress fentanyl have led to the emergence of other dangerous substances in the drug supply, such as the veterinary drug xylazine. "To double down on criminalization is not the way forward," Cullen said.
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