MN Final Legal Pot Votes Coming Soon, WA Lawmakers Compromise on Drug Possession Law, More… (5/16/23)
Rerolled: May 16, 2023 | #STDW
A Florida marijuana legalization initiative will get a state Supreme Court review, Washington's governor signs into law a bill protecting pot-smoking employees, and more.
Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative Gets State Supreme Court Review. State Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) on Monday formally submitted the marijuana legalization initiative from Smart and Safe Florida for vetting by the state Supreme Court. Proposed initiatives need more than 222,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for review by the court, and the Smart and Safe Florida initiative has already wildly exceeded that number. The high court will determine issues such as whether the proposed ballot language is clear and whether it is limited to a single subject. When Moody filed the initiative for review Monday, she signaled that she would oppose it, writing that "the proposed amendment fails to meet the requirements” of part of state law. Opponents successfully used Supreme Court review to block two legalization initiatives in 2021.
Minnesota Lawmakers Finalize Adult-Use Legalization Language, Prepare to Send It to Governor’s Desk. With the legislative session set to end this week, lawmakers have resolved differences between the legalization bills passed by the two chambers, Senate File 73 and House File 100, and each chamber is now preparing for final floor votes, which could happen as early as Wednesday. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz will sign it into law once it reaches his desk. The final agreement sets possession limits at two ounces for flowers and allows for the home cultivation of up to eight plants, four or which can be mature. The measures also include the automatic review and expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses and sets up a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Retail sales will be taxed at 10 percent and on-site consumption will be allowed at permitted events.
Washington Governor Signs Bill Protecting Employees from Drug Testing for Marijuana. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has signed into lawSenate Bill 5132 to lay out broad protections for employees who consume marijuana while imposing limitations on employment drug testing for marijuana. There are exemptions for exemptions for jobs that involve federal security clearances or background investigations, in law enforcement, the fire department, first responders, corrections officers, the airline or aerospace industries, or in safety-sensitive positions.
The law says: "It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in the initial hiring for employment if the discrimination is based upon: (a) The person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace; or (b) An employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids."
Washington State Lawmakers Reach Deal to Keep Drug Possession a Crime. Faced with a July 1 deadline to replace the state's felony drug possession law, which was invalidated by the state Supreme Court in 2021, bipartisan legislative leaders announced Monday that they had reached a deal under which simple drug possession would be a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for the first two offenses and up to a year after that. Police and prosecutors, though, would be encouraged to divert cases for treatment and other social services, and the compromise includes millions of additional dollars to pay for that. Prosecutors would have the ability to ask courts to end pre-trial diversion if defendants fail to make substantial progress. The legislature is set to vote on the proposal today. Lawmakers earlier rejected efforts both to reinstate the felony drug possession charge and to decriminalize drug possession.
Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) called it "a fair compromise that addresses urgent concerns about public disorder but follows evidence-based practices in helping people in need."
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