With the current legislative session about to come to an end, many lawmakers have crawled back to their respective caves in an attempt to prepare themselves for the battles to come. Several states, like Texas and Vermont, managed to emerge last week with an indication that legislators and pot advocates are taking progressive steps towards legalizing the leaf in one way or another.
Here is a more detailed look at what your pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:
Federal: Defense Against Medical Marijuana Raids
Lawmakers are preparing to debate the issue of medical marijuana and government raids in approved states. The goal is to introduce a measure that will prevent appropriated funds for the Department of Justice to be used to bust medical marijuana programs in states where they have been passed. Although medical marijuana is legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia, marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government. This budget amendment would serve to protect patients, providers and state representatives against federal prosecution.
Texas: Medical Marijuana Push
Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism announced last week that they plan to talk to lawmakers in upcoming sessions about legalizing medical marijuana for sick children. "We're not talking about smoking reefer or bong hits," said MAMMA representative Talia Michelle. "We are talking about a completely organic medicine, which is proven to help children with seizure disorders and children with cancer."
The group says it will start meeting with lawmakers at the beginning of 2015.
Arkansas: Wording Rejected
The Arkansas Attorney General has once again refused a ballot measure to legalize marijuana based on the wording of the document. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told Arkansans for Medical Cannabis that their proposal must provide a clearer understanding of how the state would operate a legal cannabis trade before giving it his approval. The group cannot begin to collect the required signatures until the attorney general first authorizes the proposal.
Vermont: Study Marijuana Legalization
Last week, officials announced that they are preparing to conduct a study to determine how the state would handle legalized marijuana. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said the study would look at Colorado and Washington State in an attempt to gather enough valuable data to determine what a legalized marijuana trade would look like in Vermont. Legislators are asking the study be finished by January 2015.
Missouri: Decriminalization Bill to Be Signed
A measure to decriminalize marijuana in Missouri has been forwarded to the desk of Governor Jay Nixon for his signature. The bill would strip away the criminal penalties for any person caught with up to ten grams of weed, and slap them with a small fine instead of jail. That is unless you have been busted anywhere in the United States for marijuana before. Those unfortunates could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and be sentenced to jail.
Massachusetts: Tax Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is not currently taxed in Massachusetts, but one lawmaker has introduced a measure that could change that. Last week, Senator Brian Joyce made an amendment to a bill that would impose a 6.25 percent sales tax on medicinal herb. However, that amendment was found to be ineligible and was swiftly eliminated. Yet, Joyce has vowed to address the issue in the state budget. He argues that taxing medical marijuana could be beneficial for the state -- generating a estimated $60 million per year in state taxes.
Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Hearing
A Pennsylvania Senate committee is expected to give the issue of medical marijuana a second chance next month. Last week, Governor Tom Corbett changed his position on the issue of legalizing CBD for children with epilepsy. However, there is uncertainty about how the upcoming hearings will play out. There are concerns about the Governor’s pilot program not providing the appropriate access, while other lawmakers simply refuse to stand behind the proposed measure until the Food and Drug Administration approves marijuana for medicinal use.
Florida: Charlotte’s Web Bill to Be Signed
Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign Senate Bill 1030, which would allow patients access to the non-intoxicating marijuana strain, Charlotte’s Web. The governor told the media last week that he fully intends to sign the CBD bill that was approved just before the legislative session ended. "As a parent and a grandparent, I always worry about any family, making sure if they're suffering they get the health care they need. My goal on that is to make this safe for children. I plan on signing that bill. I worry about these children getting the health care they need,” he said.
Minnesota: Medical Marijuana
Last week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced plans to sign the medical marijuana legislation passed by the House. In a letter to state lawmakers, Dayton voiced his support for the House measure because it entails tighter regulations than the bill passed by the Senate. A deal was struck later in the week, which now sets Minnesota up to become the 22nd state to legalize medical marijuana.
Governor Dayton said last week, he intends to sign the bill and issued this statement:
“This bill is citizen government at its best. It has been led by parents, who deeply love their children, are anguished by their pain, and insist their government try to help them. As a father and grandfather, I both understand and admire their devotion. I also congratulate the bill’s authors, Representative Carly Melin and Senator Scott Dibble, for their extraordinary efforts. I thank them for their willingness to bring together groups with very different perspectives and to work with them to achieve this result. Finally, I want to credit Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, who added his invaluable medical and public health expertise to the bill’s final deliberations. I look forward to signing this bill into law. And I pledge that my administration, led by Dr. Ehlinger, will do everything possible to implement it as swiftly and successfully, as is possible.”
It should be noted that patients will not be able to smoke marijuana -- only the use of edibles and oils will be permitted.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.