Booker Marijuana Provisions Pass House Judiciary Committee

2017 Booker bill provided framework for MORE Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Three key marijuana provisions designed to reverse decades of failed drug policy and first introduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) passed the House Judiciary Committee today: record expungement, reinvestment in the communities most harmed by the War on Drugs, and removing marijuana from the list of deportable offenses.

Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, originally introduced in 2017, was the first congressional bill to incorporate record expungement and community reinvestment with marijuana legalization. This legislation along with a Booker provision to remove marijuana from list of deportable offenses provided the framework for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (MORE) passed by the House today.

“This is a significant tipping point. The Committee passage of this bill is an important step towards reversing decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income individuals. These draconian laws have sacrificed critical resources, violated our values, destroyed families and communities, and failed to make us safer,” Senator Booker said.This legislation continues us down the path towards justice and I’m excited to see momentum growing around the movement to fix our nation’s broken drug laws.”

Background on Booker’s leadership on issues of marijuana and criminal justice:

Booker has seen the effects of our broken marijuana laws first-hand, dating back to his time as a tenant lawyer, City Council member, and Mayor of Newark, where he created the city’s first office of prisoner re-entry to help formerly incarcerated individuals re-integrate into their communities. He is the author of the landmark Marijuana Justice Act, which would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, automatically expunge the records of those convicted of federal marijuana use and possession crimes, and reinvest resources into the communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs through a community fund. Since introducing the bill in 2017, Booker has garnered support from Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Ed Markey (D-MA).

In the Senate, Booker was an outspoken critic of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ effort to revive the failed War on Drugs. More recently, he pressed Attorney General William Barr on his stance on marijuana legalization and the rescission of the Cole memo, winning a commitment from Barr to leave states alone that have  legalized marijuana.

In addition to the Marijuana Justice Act, Booker is the co-author of the bipartisan CARERS Act, which would allow patients to access medical marijuana in states where it’s legal without fear of federal prosecution, and the bipartisan REDEEM Act, which would allow nonviolent drug offenders to petition a court to seal and expunge their drug offenses, while automatically sealing, and in some cases expunging, the nonviolent records of juveniles. These reforms would reduce a major barrier that formerly incarcerated individuals face when attempting to rejoin society. He is also a cosponsor of the Fair Chance Act, which prohibits the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment. Earlier this year, the Fair Chance Act passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Government and Reform Committee. In June, Booker introduced legislation to remove marijuana from list of deportable offenses.

House Panel Bill Rewrite Will Move Marijuana To Regulated Substances List

ALASKA:  The House Judiciary Committee plans to move marijuana from the state’s list of controlled substances to regulated substances, its chairwoman announced Friday.

The move to rewrite Senate Bill 30, which chiefly deals with updating the state’s existing criminal code, is a departure from the approach taken by the Senate but one state officials say will improve regulation and enforcement.

Cynthia Franklin, the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which is charged with forming regulations for marijuana, testified in support of moving marijuana into a regulated substance, matching the will of the voters who passed Ballot Measure 2 last fall. She said it ultimately will help consolidate existing crimes and penalties for marijuana misconduct, allowing the stronger and clearer standards for regulators and law enforcement.

“It was their intention and desire that marijuana be a legal substance for individuals 21 and older,” she said. “That makes it in the same category as alcohol: a legal, but dangerous and regulated substance. Having those rules in one place makes it easier, we believe for law enforcement to understand them.”

House Panel Advances Bill Creating Alaska Marijuana Control Board

ALASKA:  A bill to create a marijuana board moved forward in the House on Wednesday.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced a new version of a bill to create a board to help regulate the commercial marijuana industry. It now goes to House Finance for consideration.

The bill, introduced by Gov. Bill Walker, would create a five-member board to develop regulations and consider applicants for marijuana businesses.

Alaska Lawmakers Hold Marijuana Show And Tell

ALASKA:  Alaska lawmakers on Friday used a committee hearing to learn more about marijuana as they work on regulating it.

The House Judiciary Committee has spent the past several weeks discussing a bill to decriminalize recreational marijuana and make other uses and acts illegal.

On Friday, they had the opportunity to see and smell – but not use- marijuana. A representative from each the Juneau Police Department, state Department of Law and the legalization effort provided information about various forms of the drug.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, and chair of the committee, said she was familiar with regular marijuana, but didn’t know what hash was or how it was used.