Legislative Alert - Thursday, May 19th, 2016: Groundbreaking Marijuana Study Approved
- Pennsylvania Background Check Loophole Closed
- First of its Kind Marijuana Study
- Georgia Governor Helps Clear First-time Offenders
- Vermont Bans the Box
Pennsylvania Background Check Loophole Closed
The Pennsylvania State Senate has passed a bill that will close a big loophole in the law that mandates background checks for certain professions. In 2014 the state made some quick changes to the law after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. When they made those changes, hospital personnel, clergy, mental health professionals and doctors were all left off the list for the mandatory background checks. Senate Bill 1156 puts them back in. While there are no reports of any hospital changing its policies to take advantage of the loophole, child advocates say they just want to make sure it is crystal clear that all adults that have close contact with children go through the proper background screening. The bill, which passed 48-to- 0, now moves to the State House.
First of its Kind Marijuana Study
One of the biggest roadblocks to legalizing marijuana is that there is no solid scientific research to prove that it helps with pain and other health conditions. Research funding has been withheld because marijuana remains on the list of Schedule 1 drugs. But now, for the first time ever, the DEA has given the green light for a study to determine if marijuana can help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Two million dollars in funding is coming from the state of Colorado. The research will be conducted in medical centers in Arizona and Maryland. Scientists will study 4 different types of cannabis to see how it affects 76 veterans. The study is expected to take up to 3 years.
Georgia Governor Helps Clear First-time Offenders
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed Senate Bill 367 into law, a move that is expected to help people rebuild their lives after running into trouble with the law. Among other things, this legislation will help ensure cases are properly closed when sentences are completed, removes lifetime bans on food stamp eligibility after the successful completion of felony drug sentences, and expands an executive ban the box order to include licensure applications.
Vermont Bans the Box
The majority of employers in the state of Vermont may no longer ask for criminal history information on their employment applications. The bill, signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, is very broad, and seems to apply to any employer that is not regulated by mandatory background screening requirments. Employers may, however, ask about criminal records during an interview, or once a prospective employee has been deemed otherwise qualified for the position.