There was no opposition in the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy to fresh legislation targeting persistent issues with host community agreements and social equity in the new cannabis industry, setting the Legislature up to involve itself in cannabis policy more closely than it has since rewriting voters’ legalization law five years ago. All 16 members of the committee who weighed in on the legislation (H 174/S 72) in the poll that closed late last week were in favor of advancing the bill to put tighter restrictions on the legally-required contracts between marijuana businesses and their host communities, establish a Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund and lay the groundwork for cities and towns to allow on-site cannabis consumption establishments. And all 14 committee members who registered an opinion on a bill (S 73) relative to the expungement of convictions for marijuana possession voted to advance it favorably. The more wide-ranging bill (H 174/S 72), which a spokesperson said is a priority for House Speaker Ron Mariano, addresses aspects of state laws that cannabis regulators and industry entrepreneurs have been increasingly vocal about taking issue with. The Legislature has long maintained a hands-off approach to marijuana policy. Lawmakers passed up their opportunities to act before voters approved decriminalization in 2008, medical marijuana in 2012 and adult legalization in 2016, but then delayed and rewrote significant portions of the 2016 ballot law legalizing marijuana. Otherwise, the Legislature has largely avoided cannabis issues though some provisions in the new committee bill mirror those of a bill that the House passed in early 2020 but which never surfaced in the Senate.

Cannabis Law Report, 02/01/2022 20:06:00

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