New Mexico adult use bill advances • Alabama medical cannabis bill advances • Scotts Miracle-Gro creates $2.5M justice fund • & more…

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New Mexico adult use bill advances.

Earlier this month, Cannabis Wire reported that adult use cannabis proposals have been introduced in both the House and the Senate in New Mexico, and that, of the two in the House, a House committee tabled one bill while advancing another that is more focused on equity.

On Wednesday, that bill, HB 12, introduced by Rep. Javier Martínez, advanced out of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee (8-4).

Several changes were made to the bill, including penalties for underage use.

“Given the fact that this country and our state is slowly but surely moving away from civil fines for minors who break the law—mostly because it really hits people in low-income communities harder, oftentimes those kids can’t pay the fines, it goes to the parents and the parents can’t pay the fines, it’s a snowball effect—we removed those fines and fees and created instead civil infractions,” Martínez said.

“So this means that a kid who is caught violating any piece of this Act would be subject to disciplinary action and some continuing education, some sort of process that is restorative and that is not a punishment,” he continued. 

Another important change involved the removal of earmarks for the creation of specific funds detailed in the original bill, one of which would go toward communities most impacted by the drug war. “It seemed a little bit, you know, putting the cart before the horse to be earmarking money that we don’t have,” Martínez said. “But we keep these funds in place so that when revenues do come in, the appropriating committees of the legislature can then fund those specific funds through these revenue sources.”

Other changes include: clarifying that employers can take action against employees who are impaired at work; moving back when sales could begin from October 2021 to January 2022 (this date is for existing medical licensees and new microbusiness licensees; sales can start in September 2022 for all other new licensees); and lowering the excise tax from 9% to 8% and making the local option tax 4%.

Medical cannabis advances in Alabama.

Last year, Senator Tim Melson introduced a medical cannabis bill that cleared the Senate, but ultimately died by session’s end. This year, Melson introduced SB 46, which was read for the first time in the Senate, and referred to committee, in early February. Already, on Wednesday, the bill quickly cleared the full Senate (21-8). 

Similar to last year’s legislation, SB 46 is quite restrictive, and does not allow for the sale of cannabis products that can be vaped or smoked.

Scotts Miracle-Gro gives $2.5 to create a social justice fund.

As Cannabis Wire has previously reported in our coverage of cannabis lobbying both at the state and the federal level, one company that consistently outspends most others is Scotts Miracle-Gro.

(For example, we reported that the company was a major backer of legalization in New Jersey, and a top contributor to New Approach PAC, which is a top funder for legalization campaigns across the country.)

Now, its parent company, the Hawthorne Gardening Company, has announced that it will dedicate $2.5 million to create The Hawthorne Social Justice Fund within The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation in an effort to “help address the racial injustice and systemic inequality related to the enforcement of existing cannabis laws in the United States.”

Specifically, the funding will go toward existing organizations working on social injustice, and, later, toward grants focused on “job creation, entrepreneurship and increased investment opportunities in minority communities.”

“We know people of color are disproportionately prosecuted for minor cannabis offenses, even though their use is on par with use by white people,” said Hawthorne EVP Chris Hagedorn in a statement. “This fact … calls for us to use our voice and our resources to help individuals and communities that have felt the painful effects of prohibition.”

The company acknowledged its role in “cannabis policy discussions,” and said that it will push for clemency and expungement, among other legal reforms, and for cannabis tax revenues to be “reinvested into the communities most impacted by the war on drugs.”

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