Several States Call for Renewed Cannabis Legalization Efforts, New Jersey Makes Changes to Adult-Use Bill: Week in Review

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This week, lawmakers in Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Virginia and Connecticut renewed efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis during the 2021 legislative session, while an Alabama senator announced plans to reintroduce a medical cannabis legalization bill this year. Elsewhere, in New Jersey, lawmakers proposed changes to legislation to implement the state’s adult-use cannabis program in an attempt to meet the demands of the governor, who refused to sign an earlier version of the bill.

Here, we’ve rounded up the top 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

  • Rhode Island: Regulators have received 45 applications for six new medical cannabis dispensary licenses in the state. If all applicants meet the requirements for a license, six will randomly be selected in a lottery to operate retail locations in different regions across the state. Read more
  • Missouri: Rep. Shamed Dogan has filed legislation that would place an adult-use cannabis legalization measure on the state’s 2022 ballot. Meanwhile, Missourians for a New Approach has announced plans for a separate 2022 ballot initiative after an unsuccessful signature campaign to get the issue before voters in 2020. Read more
  • Alabama: Sen. Tim Melson plans to reintroduce a medical cannabis legalization bill this year. Medical cannabis legislation passed the Alabama Senate during the 2020 session, but failed to clear the House. Read more
  • Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced New Year’s Eve that he would expunge nearly half a million cannabis records and issue pardons for thousands more low-level cannabis convictions. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which passed in 2019 to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois, mandated that 47,000 cannabis-related arrest records between 2013 and 2019 be expunged by Jan. 1. Read more
  • Illinois lawmakers have proposed the creation of 75 new cannabis retail licenses to give disadvantaged and minority applicants a second chance at licensing following the controversial licensing lottery to issue an initial 75 dispensary licenses. A work group made up of lawmakers and members of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration met this week to finalize details of the bill, which will be introduced in a lame-duck session that starts Jan. 8, before new lawmakers are sworn in Jan. 13. Read more
  • Minnesota: House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler is again renewing his push to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state, announcing plans to reintroduce a legalization bill this year. Winkler told WCCO that he sees “Senate leadership as being the number one obstacle,” but said that if lawmakers agreed to place an adult-use legalization initiative on Minnesota’s 2022 ballot, “it would pass overwhelmingly.” Read more
  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is again calling for cannabis legalization this year, announcing an adult-use proposal Jan. 6 as part of his upcoming State of the State agenda. This is Cuomo’s third attempt in three years to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state; last year, Cuomo included a legalization proposal in his state budget, but the plan was ultimately cut in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more
  • New Jersey: Lawmakers have proposed fines for underage cannabis use in a new version of an adult-use legalization bill in an attempt to meet the demands of Gov. Phil Murphy, who refused to sign an earlier version of the bill unless such penalties were added. The new version of the bill, A.5211, imposes a fine of at least $250 for those ages 18 to 20 who possess up to 6 ounces of cannabis, and a fine of $500 or more for those who possess more than 6 ounces, which is the legal limit under New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis law. Read more
  • Virginia: Del. Steve Heretick has reintroduced a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis. Heretick has proposed legislation related to decriminalization and legalization in the past, and this year’s bill would legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis in the state. Read more
  • Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont renewed his push for adult-use legalization during his State of the State address Jan. 6, announcing that it is a priority for the new legislative session. Connecticut’s 2021 legislative session opened Jan. 6, and Lamont, a Democrat, kicks off the session with increased majorities in the House and Senate, which could increase his chances of passing an adult-use legalization bill. Read more
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