New York Senator Files Bill To Extend Marijuana Equity Benefits To Transgender And Non-Binary People – Marijuana Moment

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A New York senator has filed a bill to make it so transgender and non-binary people can qualify as social equity applicants under the state’s marijuana law.
Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D) introduced the legislation in an attempt to resolve an “unintended consequence” of the adult-use law, which would currently “force certain individuals from choosing between their gender identity and receiving priority for a license,” the bill’s justification section states.
That’s because, as enacted, the marijuana law gives licensing priority to women-owned businesses, as well as other marginalized groups or communities most impacted by prohibition. The language around social equity for women creates inadvertent complications for the transgender and gender-nonbinary community.
For example, a person who was born biologically female and transitioned, or identifies as nonbinary, might need to decide between filling out an application based on the gender assigned at birth or miss out on equity benefits.
“This bill will include transgender and gender-nonbinary individuals in the social and economic equity plan giving them priority in licensing,” the legislation says. “Every New Yorker deserves the right to express and identify their gender as they choose.”
“The social equity aspect of the [Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act] is meant to uplift historically marginalized groups through economic opportunities in the cannabis industry and this bill furthers that effort,” it continues.

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The legislation, filed on Friday, has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.
Currently, adults 21 and older can possess up to three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrates—and they can also smoke marijuana in public anywhere tobacco can be smoked—but there aren’t any shops open for business yet.
Under the law signed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) earlier this year, 50 percent of cannabis businesses licenses will be set aside for equity applicants.
The first licensed recreational marijuana retailers in New York may actually be located on Indian territory, with one tribe officially opening applications for prospective licensees in October.
In July, a New York senator filed a bill to create a provisional marijuana licensing category so that farmers could begin cultivating and selling cannabis ahead of the formal rollout of the adult-use program. The bill has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.
Because the implementation process has been drawn out, however, one GOP senator wants to give local jurisdictions another year to decide whether they will opt out of allowing marijuana businesses to operate in their area—a proposal that advocates say is unnecessary and would create undue complications for the industry.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), who replaced Cuomo after he resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal, has repeatedly emphasized her interest in efficiently implementing the legalization law.
At a recent event, she touted the fact that she had quickly made regulatory appointments that had been delayed under her predecessor. “I believe there’s thousands and thousands of jobs” that could be created in the new industry, the governor said.
Meanwhile, New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held its first meeting last month, a key step toward implementing the state’s adult-use marijuana program.
Members of the board, who were appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, announced that medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell flower cannabis products to qualified patients. The $50 registration fee for patients and caregivers was also permanently waived.
Earlier this month, regulators also approved rules for the state’s cannabinoid hemp program, notably clarifying that flower from the crop can be sold but delta-8 THC products are currently prohibited from being marketed.
Adding pressure to get the market up and running is the fact that regulators in neighboring New Jersey recently released rules for its adult-use marijuana program, which is being implemented after voters approved a legalization referendum last year.
The state comptroller recently projected that New York stands to eventually generate $245 million in annual marijuana revenue, which they say will help offset losses from declining tobacco sales.
For the first year of cannabis sales, the state is expected to see just $20 million in tax and fee collections. That will be part of an estimated $26.7 billion in new revenues that New York is expected to generate in fiscal year 2021-2022 under a budget that the legislature passed in April.
The state Department of Labor separately announced in new guidance that New York employers are no longer allowed to drug test most workers for marijuana.
Meanwhile, a New York lawmaker introduced a bill in June that would require the state to establish an institute to research the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.
Republican Lawmakers File Bill To Tax And Regulate Marijuana As Alternative To Democratic Proposals

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.
GOP Congresswoman’s Marijuana Legalization Bill Draws Fire From Home-State Republican Party
Republican Lawmakers File Bill To Tax And Regulate Marijuana As Alternative To Democratic Proposals
Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment’s Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.
GOP Congresswoman Says She Used Marijuana To Treat Depression After Being Raped
Marijuana Legalization Attitudes Vary Significantly Within Partisan Coalitions, Pew Survey Shows
Bipartisan cannabis decrim bill in WI (Newsletter: November 17, 2021)
Bipartisan Wisconsin Lawmakers Unveil Marijuana Decriminalization Bill
Psychedelics Use Associated With 55 Percent Decrease In Daily Opioid Consumption, Study Finds
First Responders No Longer Disqualified For Past Marijuana Use In Austin
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A Republican congresswoman who made waves after introducing a bill to federally legalize marijuana this week said on Tuesday that she personally used cannabis for a short time in her youth, and it helped her get off of pharmaceutical drugs she was prescribed for depression after being raped at age 16.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) shared the story on Fox Business’s “Kennedy” after being asked whether she herself smokes marijuana.
“When I was 16, I was raped,” the congresswoman said. “I was given prescription medication that made the feelings I had of depression worse, and I stopped taking those prescription drugs and I turned to cannabis for a brief period of time in my life.”
I had the chance to speak with #cannabis freedom fighter @RepNancyMace about her latest bill to #freetheweed! #Kennedy pic.twitter.com/akifdJ3QvE
— Kennedy (@KennedyNation) November 17, 2021

Because she was able to experience the therapeutic benefits of cannabis firsthand, Mace said she more acutely understands the need to provide access to vulnerable communities, particularly military veterans who suffer from a host of mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.
She said he new legislative effort is “particularly protective of veterans, ensuring that they’re protected, not discriminated against and that the [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] can utilize cannabis for their PTSD and their protections for PTSD,” she said.
“When I talk to vets and I see that pain, it hurts because I felt that pain before in my life,” Mace said. “Veteran suicide, we see every single day.”
Mace shared her personal story one day after formally filing the States Reform Act, legislation that would federally deschedule marijuana, allow states to make their own decisions about cannabis policy, provide a pathway for expungements for people with non-violent marijuana convictions and establish a relatively hands-off federal regulatory scheme.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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The bill is being framed as an alternative to wide-ranging Democratic legalization proposals like the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that passed the House Judiciary Committee in September.
Also in the background, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are finalizing a separate reform bill.
As Mace alluded to in the Fox interview, her legislation does take specific steps to provide anti-discrimination protections for veterans and allow VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis. Also, part of the revenue that the government would receive from a three percent excise tax imposed under her bill would fund veterans mental health programs.
“I try to be very thoughtful about including measures that both conservatives and Republicans, moderates and Democrats could get along with,” she said on Tuesday. “This is a nonpartisan issue. This is common sense and pragmatic.”
Some Republicans have led, or joined their Democratic colleagues, on other marijuana bills, but they’ve generally been far more scaled back measures—simply protecting states that choose to legalize or descheduling cannabis without touching social equity issues or creating a federal tax on sales.
Mace also noted the strong public support for reform. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults said they back legalizing cannabis in a Gallup poll released this month—and that includes majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Yet, despite that support, President Joe Biden continues to oppose adult-use legalization. Instead, he’s supportive of more modest proposals to federally decriminalize cannabis, legalize the plant for medical use and let states set their own policies.
Whether he’d sign any Democratic- or Republican-led legalization bill is an open question.
While the president is personally against comprehensively ending prohibition, the Congressional Research Service released a report this month explaining steps he and his administration could take to repair the harms of cannabis criminalization.
Another group that isn’t keen on legalization, regardless of who’s leading on it, is the South Carolina Republican Party. Mace’s home-state party released a statement opposing the legislation shortly after its introduction.
Marijuana Legalization Attitudes Vary Significantly Within Partisan Coalitions, Pew Survey Shows

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis/Side Pocket Images.
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It’s well known that there’s growing bipartisan support for marijuana legalization in the U.S.. But a newly released survey from the Pew Research Center reveals significant intraparty differences in how people of varying political perspectives view the issue of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. At the same time, there is a broad consensus across ideological lines that patients should be able to legally access marijuana for medical purposes.
At a top level, the poll identifies a common trend: Democrats are more likely to support full marijuana legalization than Republicans are. But it’s not that simple. Pew placed respondents in one of nine political cohorts across the spectrum and found that opinions on marijuana policy can vary significantly, even among people who share core sociopolitical beliefs.
“Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics. Republicans and Democrats agree on very little—and when they do, it often is in the shared belief that they have little in common,” Pew said in its report, which was published last week. “Yet the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats sometimes obscures the divisions and diversity of views that exist within both partisan coalitions—and the fact that many Americans do not fit easily into either one.”
Take cannabis, for example.
While recent polls have found a growing percentage of Republicans are embracing marijuana legalization, the Pew data offers a window into where that surge in support is coming from. Principally, it’s the so-called Ambivalent Right, the youngest conservative group, which backs legalizing medical and recreational legalization at 60 percent.
People classified in the Ambivalent Right cohort “hold conservative views about the size of government, the economic system and issues of race and gender. But they are the only group on the political right in which majorities favor legal abortion and say marijuana should be legal for recreational and medical use,” Pew said.

That’s the only right-leaning typology expressing majority support for adult-use and medical cannabis legalization. But two of the others—the Populist Right and Committed Conservatives—do hover just under the 50 percent mark. The exception is “Faith and Flag Conservatives,” only 33 percent of whom said they favor full legalization.
People grouped into that cohort “are intensely conservative in all realms; they are far more likely than all other typology groups to say government policies should support religious values and that compromise in politics is just ‘selling out on what you believe in.’”
But despite the deep conservative beliefs of this group, 47 percent of respondents who fit the bill still said that cannabis should be legal for therapeutic use. By contrast, only 19 percent said marijuana should be totally prohibited.
Committed Conservatives and the Populist Right, however, are fairly evenly divided on recreational cannabis legalization.
People associated with the former typology “express conservative views across the board, but with a somewhat softer edge.” With respect to marijuana, 44 percent said it should be legal for any use, whereas 43 percent said it should only be legalized for medical purposes.
Via Pew.
The Populist Right are conservatives with lower levels of education who are likely to live in rural places. The poll found that 45 percent of people in this group back adult-use and medical legalization, while 44 percent said just medical cannabis should be legal.
Just 11 percent of respondents from each of those two categories said marijuana should be outright banned.
Meanwhile, Stressed Sideliners, a centrist cohort that’s defined by low political engagement and a “mix of conservative and liberal views,” also support ending prohibition across the board at 62 percent.
On the left side of the spectrum, there was majority support for marijuana legalization among every typography of Democratic-leaning respondents. But even so, there was a 26 percentage point difference between the Progressive Left, who back full legalization at 91 percent, and Democratic Mainstays that support the reform at 65 percent.
The Mainstays are “the largest Democratic-oriented group, as well as the oldest on average,” Pew said. The Progressive Left, meanwhile, “have very liberal views on virtually every issue and support far-reaching changes to address racial injustice and expand the social safety net.”
Seventy percent of Establishment Liberals, defined as people with progressive views but who feel less inclined to back sweeping change, support adult-use and medical marijuana legalization. And 73 percent of the Outsider Left feel the same. That group is “very liberal in most of their views, but they are deeply frustrated with the political system—including the Democratic Party and its leaders.”
Overall, the poll—which was based on interviews with 5,109 Americans from April 5-11 and incorporated into the broader survey released this month—found that 60 percent of respondents favor broad legalization, 31 percent support medical cannabis legalization and just 8 percent say it should be prohibited altogether.
This is the latest in a series of polls showing that most Americans are ready to end prohibition.
A Rasmussen Reports survey released last week found that 62 percent of Americans want to see marijuana legalized nationwide.
That came days after a survey from Gallup found that 68 percent of U.S. adults said they back legalizing cannabis.
That’s the same percentage that the firm reported for its last poll in November 2020, where support had reached its highest level since 1969.
The release of these poll results comes as congressional lawmakers continue to pursue reform. A key House committee approved a legalization bill in September, and Senate leaders are also pushing a plan to end federal cannabis prohibition. Additionally, a new Republican-led effort to federally legalize and tax cannabis was introduced in the House on Monday.
Yet, despite the solid public support for reform, particularly among Democrats, President Joe Biden continues to oppose adult-use legalization. Instead, he’s supportive of more modest proposals to federally decriminalize cannabis, legalize the plant for medical use and let states set their own policies.
While the president is personally against comprehensively ending prohibition, the Congressional Research Service released a report this month explaining steps he and his administration could take to repair the harms of cannabis criminalization.
Recent state and local polling has also continued to show the public backing broad marijuana reform.
For example, as multiple Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce bills to legalize cannabis, support for the reform is at a record high in the state, according to a recent survey.
Marijuana legalization is more popular in Maryland than Biden and the state’s two U.S. senators, a poll released late last month found.
At the national level, Gallup released a survey in August showing that nearly half of American adults have tried cannabis.
Last year, the firm also published a survey finding that about 70 percent of Americans view smoking cannabis to be a morally acceptable activity. That’s higher than their views on the morality of issues such as  gay relationships, medical testing of animals, the death penalty and abortion.
Bipartisan Wisconsin Lawmakers Unveil Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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Bipartisan Wisconsin lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, a notable development in a state where cannabis reform has consistently stalled in the GOP-controlled legislature despite support from the Democratic governor.
Reps. Shae Sortwell (R) and Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D) are sponsoring the legislation in the Assembly, with a companion bill being led in the Senate by Sens. Kathleen Bernier (R) and Lena Taylor (D). There are currently about a dozen cosponsors attached to the proposal across both chambers and parties.
At a time when more and more local Wisconsin jurisdictions are independently enacting cannabis reforms, this bill seeks to standardize decriminalization at the state level. That said, some advocates have pointed out that, in doing so, it may undermine some city policy changes by mandating higher fines than are now currently in effect.
The measure would make it so possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana would be punishable by a $100 civil fine without the threat of jail time under state law for a first offense.
Importantly, the bill would also eliminate “counting” of offenses if they involve 28 grams of cannabis or less, meaning people would not be subject to enhanced penalties for repeat offenses.
While it remains to be seen whether the legislature will have the appetite to advance the measure, the sponsors say they’re working to strike a balance between legalization—as the governor, advocates and some legislators want—and the status quo of criminalization.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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“Trying to bring together different areas of the state and different political perspectives can be difficult on any issue, and particularly on this one,” Sortwell said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I know I’ve spoken with some really hardliners who want to continue to make sure that this is completely illegal, want to leave it at felony levels for everything, really crack down hard on the usage of it,” he said. “And then we’ve got some people on the other end of the political spectrum that want full legalization, want it regulated like alcohol.”
“I believe this bill that we have put together does our best to pull together the best of both worlds, trying to bring together all perspectives across the state to try to find some sort of middle ground where we can move forward,” the representative said.
Local governments would have some flexibility in setting their own policies, but they could not impose a civil fine of less than $100 or more than $250 for low-level possession. And courts could choose to impose a minimum of 16 hours, or a maximum of 40 hours, of community service in lieu of a civil fine.
While advocates are still pushing for comprehensive legalization—and a trio of senators announced the filing of a bill to accomplish that in August—this reform would at least help address the punitive approach that Wisconsin has taken to cannabis.
As it stands, marijuana possession is punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for a first offense. People convicted of a subsequent offense would face a felony charge punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and up to three and a half years in prison.
However, there is a complicating factor in the new bill. The discretion that local municipalities would be afforded is limited, and it appears the legislation could actually lead to increased civil penalties in cities that have imposed much lower fines for possession. In Milwaukee, for example, the fine is set at $1, while the new measure would require that to be increased to $100.
“We know that by putting this bill into effect that we can get rid of that patchwork at the local ordinances in different areas. We can set a standard across the state,” Ortiz-Velez, who also championed local reform as a Milwaukee County supervisor, said. “I look forward to this bill having a hearing to hear the people of Wisconsin get to weigh in on this matter.”
The new decriminalization bill would also reduce penalties associated with paraphernalia—making the penalty a $10 civil fine instead of a maximum $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
“The bill also specifies that a citation issued for possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia must contain provisions for a deposit in lieu of a court appearance,” according to a legislative analysis. “The court may consider the deposit as a plea of no contest and enter a judgment without the person appearing in court.”
Police would also have some discretion under the legislation. They wouldn’t be required to take a person to jail, book them or take their fingerprints for cannabis possession; they would simply need to collect basic personal information including the person’s name and address.
Finally, the legislation also provides liability protections for employers who choose not to drug test most workers for THC. There are some exceptions, including companies that are contracted with the federal Department of Transportation.
Sortwell said at Tuesday’s press event that he’s spoken to Assembly Republican leadership about the proposal and “they didn’t give me a ‘no,’ so I take that as a win.”
“They didn’t give me a ‘no,’ they didn’t give me a ‘yes,’” he said. “They took it under advisement.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) is a supporter of legalization and complained in April that he was “tired” of hearing about sales figures from his neighbor’s adult-use market, joking that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) “thanks me for having Wisconsinites cross the border to buy marijuana.”
Evers tried to legalize recreational and medical marijuana through his proposed state budget earlier this year, but a GOP-led legislative committee stripped the cannabis language from the legislation in May. Democrats tried to add the provisions back through an amendment the next month, but Republicans blocked the move.
Other Republican lawmakers have filed bills to more modestly decriminalize marijuana possession in the state, but none of those proposals advanced during this year’s session.
Evers held a virtual town hall event in April where he discussed his cannabis proposal, emphasizing that polling demonstrates that Wisconsin residents back the policy change.
Locally, Wisconsin voters in three jurisdictions last year approved non-binding advisory questions in favor of marijuana legalization. Those moves came after Wisconsinites overwhelmingly embraced cannabis reform by supporting more than a dozen similar measures across the state during the 2018 election.
Late last year, city officials in the state’s capital, Madison, voted to remove most local penalties for cannabis possession and consumption, effectively allowing use by adults 18 and older.
Again, that policy change could be impacted if the new bipartisan bill is enacted as introduced, potentially requiring Madison to impose a $100 fine for possession of up to 14 grams.
Read the text of the bipartisan marijuana decriminalization bill that the Wisconsin lawmakers introduced below: 

Click to access wisconsindecrimbill.pdf

Click to access wisconsindecrimbill.pdf
First Responders No Longer Disqualified For Past Marijuana Use In Austin

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