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Cannabis Regulatory Update: Schumer's Chief Counsel Reveals What's Happening With Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill, Efforts In LA, KS, ME, Italy

Chuck Schumer’s Chief Counsel Reveals What’s Happening With Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill

Benzinga · 04/29/2022 14:05

Chuck Schumer’s Chief Counsel Reveals What’s Happening With Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill

Reginald Babin, who serves as chief counsel to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) discussed the next move on the federal marijuana legalization bill writes Marijuana Moment.

Babin spoke at an event hosted by the Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation (CFCR), and said that “ “there is a bit more work to be done in terms of figuring out where the sweet spot is at least in the Senate in terms of what we can do this year.”

This happened just several days after Schumer confirmed again he was postponing the filing of a comprehensive marijuana reform proposal from April to sometime before the August recess, this time making a promise that he would respect the timeline.

 “Make no mistake, I’m working diligently with my Senate colleagues to make sure that the federal government catches up. This bill will be comprehensive, and I promise we will introduce this important legislation before the August recess,” the Senate Majority Leader said at the National Cannabis Policy Summit last Friday.

Schumer's top staffer Babin further noted that the team is currently working on finding the balance on the Senate side and that the final legislative text will “hopefully” be filed soon, as they build the ideal framework.

When asked during the event when the time would be right to allow reform to advance, Babin replied:  “I would say it makes sense when it makes sense. Legislating is not a thing [where] you can identify a time on the calendar where it makes the most sense to do something. It’s a never-ending process…but we are in constant conversation on number of issues.

“We are having a number of conversations with a number of different paths forward and ultimately choosing the path that makes the most sense that helps the most people in the immediate,” he concluded.

Seeing that Babin claims that you can’t really identify a time for one legislation right after Schumer promises to officially file it before the August recess after several delays, the question is – are we going to see yet another delay? 

Louisiana House Committee Vote For Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill In Committee 

Louisiana House Committee on Health and Welfare passed House Bill 566 which aims to change the authority over medical marijuana and broaden cultivation in the state, reported Marijuana Moment.

Committee members unanimously approved the measure, sponsored by Rep. Larry Bagley (R), on Wednesday. Under this bill, the authority over Louisiana’s medical marijuana program would be shifted from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to the Louisiana Department of Health.

What’s more this measure would also strip the limit of two production licenses in the state that are currently granted to the agricultural centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University.

 “My bill would change the regulation of the medical marijuana industry from the ag department to LDH, and we had several meetings with LDH and the ag department to make sure that would be ok, and for the additional growers,” Bagley said.

“Let’s look to see what our neighbors are doing,” he added. “In Arkansas, a state that has over 1 million fewer citizens than… Louisiana, they have eight growers. The state of Florida has 22 growers. Oklahoma, which has no caps, has well over 1,000 growers. Missouri has 60 growers. The state of Mississippi adopted a medical cannabis program this year and they put no caps on the number of growers in their program.”

Kansas House Presents Compromise On Two Medical Marijuana Legislations, Pushing The State Closer To Reform

Kansas House lawmakers presented their plan and offered compromises for medical marijuana legalization in the state on Thursday, indicating that the state reform is one step closer, reported Marijuana Moment.

The move follows the appointment of the bicameral conference committee with a duty to seal the deal on the issue. Negotiators went over two different medical marijuana measures – one that was approved in the House bud was rejected by the Senate and the other that was taken up by the Senate and reviewed in committee last month.

The House members have made a compromise quickly, thanks to the two chamber’s proposals not being that different in the first place.

3 Cannabis Bills In Maine Become Law Without Governor’s Signature 

Several marijuana-related bills became law this week absent the signature of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

Three cannabis bills in Maine became law this week without Democratic Governor Mills’ signature, reported NORML.

The first bill, LD 1827, allows licensed cannabis retailers to provide home delivery of various marijuana products and plants and seedlings to adults 21 or older, and also enables curbside pick-up.

The second bill, LD 1928, broadens legal protections for caregivers of medical marijuana patients and enables physicians to consult their patients and issue marijuana authorizations through telehealth.

The third one, LD 1957, aims to make a bigger diversity in the industry by annulling prohibitions on appointing applicants with criminal records over specific cannabis offenses.

There was also another cannabis-related measure, but that was signed into law by the Governor earlier this month – LD 1995. This bill enables localities to obtain financial reimbursements for the costs related to licensing and regulating cannabis businesses.

The Italian City of Bologna Supports Recreational Cannabis Reform

Could Italy be the next European country to push for cannabis reform? It looks possible, considering that the Italian city of Bologna is already making some moves. According to HighTimes, four city counselors in Bologna have stepped up openly advocating for adult-use marijuana reform for their municipality. 

For now, the idea is to keep discussing marijuana legalization on a local level to maintain political pressure and to come up with the most simple logistical proposals. The counselors suggested that recreational access should be available at the city’s pharmacies, similar to Switzerland, and should roll out this summer.  

Photo: Courtesy of Joel Muniz on Unsplash