Marijuana legalization is inevitable, according to a Pew Research Poll released last week. The survey indicates a significant shift in public opinion, with nearly 70 percent of millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) reportedly offering their support for federal legalization. Even the majority of the older generations side with ending marijuana prohibition -- 53 percent of Gen X and 52 percent of the Baby Boomers say they believe the time has come to change the laws.
Last week, state lawmakers fought it out to make marijuana legalization happen sooner rather than later -- mostly by way of medical marijuana legislation, with CBD bills continuing to be a popular trend.
Here is glimpse at your pot-friendly lawmakers’ most recent attempts to legalize the leaf:
Federal: Drug Sentencing Reform
Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that the Obama Administration still supports an overhaul of sentencing laws for federal non-violent drug-related crimes.
In the past, both Holder and President Obama have stated that the current drug laws seem to target a disproportionate amount of minorities and poor citizens. The new guidelines would cut federal drug cases by about 11 months, which would affect roughly 70 percent of future federal cases.
The Sentencing Commission will vote on this issue in April.
Kentucky: Force Government to Arrest Marijuana Users
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced his support for a piece of legislation in the House of Representatives called the Enforce the Law Act, which would give Congress the right to pursue legal action against the president for not enforcing laws.
“We write laws and he is just deciding willy-nilly if he likes it he enforces it, if he doesn’t, he won’t enforce it, and we really think he needs to be chastened, rebuked, and told that he needs to obey the constitution,” said Paul.
The bill passed the house in a vote of 228-5, with 181 Democrats voting against it. President Obama says he intends to veto the bill if it crosses his desk.
Alabama: CBD Bill Approved
Last week, Alabama lawmakers gave their final approval on a measure aimed at giving children suffering from epileptic seizures access to CBD oil. In a unanimous vote of 27-0, the Alabama Senate passed the bill called Carly’s Law that would provide $1 million in funding for the University of Alabama at Birmingham to study the effects of cannabis oils as treatment for seizures.
Governor Robert Bentley now must sign it.
Nevada: Las Vegas Approves Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Last Wednesday, the Clark County Board of Commissioners voted to approve medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of Las Vegas, as well as unincorporated portions of Clark County. The board expects to begin accepting application around the middle of April.
The city is currently working on establishing new regulations.
Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill Dead
A unanimous vote by the Georgia state Senate last week put medical marijuana one step closer from becoming a reality…and then it died. House Bill 885 or the “Kids Care Act,” which would allow cannabis oils to be made available to children suffering from life threatening seizures, was given the green light by the state Senate last Thursday. Yet, an autism amendment has reportedly killed the bill for this session.
Maryland: Medical Marijuana Bill Passes
A piece of legislation aimed at tightening up Maryland’s medical marijuana law was passed earlier last week in a vote of 127-9. House Bill 881 would make some significant changes in the current law, including allowing certified physicians to recommend medical marijuana to their patients instead of the program being run by academic institutions.
“This bill is only for those patients who have relationships with their doctors who have debilitating illnesses, so it’s very, very tightly restricted,” said Del. Cheryl Glenn, a lead co-sponsor of the bill.
Under the new measure, physicians would be required to register with the state commission and renew every two years.
New Jersey: Will the People Decide on Marijuana?
New Jersey voters may get to decide if they want marijuana decriminalized. Last week, Assembly members Reed Gusciora and Michael Patrick Carroll introduced a bill that would leave the issue of legalizing up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use up to the state’s registered voters.
However, the bill must first pass before the State Assembly, the Senate and be signed by Governor Christie before it can earn a slot on the ballot.
Assembly Bill 2842 would not establish a taxation and regulatory system for a recreational marijuana trade, and criminal penalties for possession of over an ounce would still be enforced.
New Hampshire: Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances
On Tuesday, the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee voted 14-5 to adopted a subcommittee amendment that would establish a tax and regulatory system for legal marijuana. House Bill 492 would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and over and allow limited home cultivation.
A recent Granite State Poll indicates that 60 percent of adults in New Hampshire support this measure, while 36 percent do not.
California: Initiative Failed
Legal weed in California is less likely this year. Earlier last week, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative, which is one of the last remaining initiatives to legalize marijuana in the state, announced they did not secure enough signatures to get on the ballot in 2014.
Berton Duzy, a representative for CCHI, said although there is still a small chance the organization would get an opportunity to gather more signatures, their efforts will be most likely deterred until 2016.
Michigan: Medical Marijuana Expanded to PTSD Patients
Patients suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can now be prescribed medical marijuana in Michigan. In a vote that took place earlier this month by members of the Medical Marihuana Review Panel, the expansion of qualified conditions to include PTSD was approved 6 to 2.
Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Bill Under Revision
A bill aimed at legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee must be revised before receiving additional consideration. House Bill 1385 was stalled in committee last week over verbiage of the bill, specifically because it does not list qualifying conditions.
However, Representative Sherry Jones, the bill’s sponsor, will have an opportunity to make the necessary changes and keep it in play. Jones says she plans to amend the bill and press on. "This is not the ’60s. It's not the ’70s. All the hippies have grown up now. So we need to move forward. We need to move up to 2014 and look at the other 22 states that already use this, that know how to dose it. There are some who have been using it for 16 years.”
The House committee will revisit the bill sometime this week.
Arizona: Medical Research Bill Refused Hearing
Last week, Senator Kimberly Yee said she would not give a bill aimed at launching medical marijuana research a hearing. House Bill 2333 would allocate $6 million in state funding to be used for research purposes. However, Yee says she believes the money would be better suited elsewhere.
“I believe these funds would be better used to educate our general population, especially our youth, about the harms of recreational marijuana,” she said.
Senator Yee recently sponsored Senate Bill 1389, which would make it mandatory for all taxes and fees acquired from the Arizona medical marijuana program to be used to discourage the use of marijuana.