Cali to Congress: let’s talk cannabis • Adult use advances in Minnesota, Hawaii, nears finish line in VA • NJ is up in the air • & more…

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California’s cannabis advisory group holds first meeting of 2021.

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Cannabis Advisory Committee, which advises the Bureau, held its first meeting of 2021 on Wednesday. (Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the culmination of the group’s 2020 work.)

The agenda included everything from a presentation on the “state of cannabis equity,” from the United CORE Alliance, to a discussion of topics for subcommittees to consider this year. Members of the public suggested topics from “mental health risks of marijuana use” to a look at the unique considerations of rural communities to a reconsideration of the track-and-trace system, which one speaker called “an expensive failure.” Track-and-trace also came up earlier in the meeting during public comment, along with complaints about the smell of cannabis and confusion over permitting and licensing. 

One particularly illuminating part of the meeting occurred during an “informational presentation” on Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget plan to consolidate cannabis licensing. (Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the budget plan.) After the presentation by Nicole ElliottNewsom’s Senior Advisor on Cannabis, one Committee member, Beverly YuAssistant Legislative Director, United Domestic Workers (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930, asked a question.

“With the recent shift in political leadership on the federal level, do you foresee any opportunities for partnership on the federal side?” Yu asked.

“Absolutely, yes,” Elliott said. “First, we have great representation in Washington, D.C., whether that be Congressional representation or representation in the administration. As the administration is getting settled and prioritizing their efforts in response to Covid, we are having very high level conversations with partners here and in Washington, D.C. on possibilities. 

“And we’re also doing some internal assessments around some of our asks, if you will. We’ve also had conversations with our Congressional members, including the co-chair of the Congressional [Cannabis] Caucus [], preliminary discussions, just to try and better understand what priorities look like for the year ahead. And those will continue to evolve. But we anticipate having a much stronger partnership in Washington, D.C., moving forward on the issues related to cannabis, and we’re very excited for the possibilities.”

Minnesota House committee holds first hearing on adult use bill.

As Cannabis Wire reported earlier this month, Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced an adult use cannabis legalization bill, similar to the one he introduced last year. On Tuesday night, as we reported in Wednesday’s newsletter, Winkler talked about his bill with US Rep. , a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and US Rep. Ilhan Omar, also of Minnesota.

On Wednesday afternoon, Winkler’s bill, HF 600, got its first hearing in the House Commerce Finance and Policy committee.

“The reason this bill is in front of you today, Mr. Chair and members, is because we have cannabis laws in place today that are doing more harm than good,” Winkler said at the start of the hearing.

Winkler then gave an overview of amendments that he said “represents feedback provided by organizations and people since we drafted the bill and introduced it last session.” 

He continued, “We make changes to the Cannabis Management Board to represent more people with a social justice background and organized labor. We make clear that the Clean Indoor Air Act is not affected by passage of this bill. And we make a number of other technical changes that I think put the bill in better shape based on the feedback we’ve received.”

After an hour and a half of public testimony and discussion of the bill, the committee voted 10-7 to refer the bill to the Labor, , and Military Affairs Finance and Policy committee, where it will be discussed next week.

Adult use bill advances in Hawaii.

As Cannabis Wire reported earlier this month, several adult use bills were introduced in the Hawaii legislature. One of those bills, SB 767, advanced on Wednesday, out of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs. You can read written testimony both in favor and against the bill here.

In NJ, cannabis legislation is up in the air.

As we reported in yesterday’s newsletter, the Senate Judiciary Committee was set to again discuss new cannabis “clean up” legislation in the afternoon, but that meeting was cancelled. Gov. Phil Murphy has until the end of the day to take action on the adult use and decrim bills already on his desk.

Adult use nears the finish line in Virginia. 

As Cannabis Wire has reported, adult use bills were introduced in both chambers of the Virginia legislature. Earlier this month, each bill passed in its own chamber over to the other. This week, each bill passed in the opposite chamber. Now, their differences must be reconciled, but the bills’ backers are feeling confident. 

Senator Adam Ebbin, who introduced one of the bills, said in a tweet, “We will iron out the differences between the bills in conference, but equitable legalization of cannabis is nearly assured in Virginia!”

More Cali to Congress: let’s talk cannabis • Adult use advances in Minnesota, Hawaii, nears finish line in VA • NJ is up in the air • & more…