With today the deadline for bills to move to their final committees, only one of the dozens of marijuana bills introduced this year in the state Legislature remains in discussion.
Senate Bill 2659, which broadens the types of products dispensaries are allowed to sell, is the only marijuana- or marijuana dispensary-related bill still alive.
The bill would update the language of existing laws to allow dispensaries to sell “transdermal devices,” as opposed to the “transdermal patches” currently permitted, thus allowing products such as injectors to be sold. The bill also includes suppositories, as well as a less stringent definition of “manufactured cannabis product.”
Of the more than 30 bills introduced this session involving medical marijuana, only SB 2659 survived. The others were tabled after failing to meet legislative deadlines.
The vast majority of the now dead bills were abandoned by early February, which is the deadline for a bill to be passed by its first committee. These bills included minor proposals, such as one House bill that would substitute all legal references to “medical marijuana” with “medical cannabis,” and sweeping alterations to the state’s marijuana laws, such as several bills that would have legalized the personal use of cannabis or repealed criminal penalties for possessing marijuana.
Among the abandoned bills were proposals to recognize out-of-state residents as qualified patients for cannabis, reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug, permit the use of marijuana to treat opioid withdrawal, permit dispensaries to provide marijuana free of charge to qualifying patients under the poverty line and prohibit employers from firing employees for being qualified medical marijuana patients, among other things.
A mere handful of bills survived beyond their first committee referral in their initial chamber. SB 2651, which would have allowed dispensaries to employ felons convicted of Class C felonies not involving drugs or fraud, successfully passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health before failing to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee in mid-February.
An identical fate befell SB 3053, which would have allowed dispensaries to sell edible cannabis products, while the Commerce Committee deferred the similar SB 2132, which would have allowed the state Department of Health to authorize companies to partner with dispensaries to manufacture edible products.
Still more bills that were carried over from the 2017 legislative session failed to make any headway this year. SB 319 could have established a Marijuana Dispensary Special Fund if it hadn’t failed to make any headway after being reintroduced in January.
Meanwhile, two unrelated Senate bills — SB 305, relating to video monitoring at dispensaries, and SB 174, which would have broadened the list of medical conditions to qualify for medical marijuana to include epilepsy and arthritis, among others — failed to pass any committee this year despite passing third readings in both chambers last year. According to legislative records, the Senate disagreed with amendments made to each bill by the House last year, with both chambers failing to come to an agreement by a late April 2017 deadline.
Although SB 2659 is still active as of press time, it might soon join the other failed bills. The bill has to pass its final committee — the House Committee on Finance — by the end of today or it, too, will be consigned to legislative oblivion.
Email Michael Brestovansky at email@example.com.