A recent Pew Research Center poll reveals that the majority of Americans believe marijuana will soon be legalized on a federal level, regardless of their opinion on the matter. Some lawmakers say this will happen in the next decade…others say it could be as early as the next five years. Until that happens, however, state lawmakers are forced to duke it out with one another in an attempt to loosen the pot laws in your neck of the woods.
Last week, the big news was decriminalization in DC and, of course, the ongoing trend to make cannabis oil available for children inflicted with seizures. Yet, in New Jersey, lawmakers actually threw their balls over their shoulders and got serious about recreational marijuana.
Read all about it in this week’s legislative roundup:
Michigan: Re-Legalize Edible?
Earlier last week, the Michigan state house approved a bill that would re-legalize medical marijuana edibles. While the statutes surrounding edible forms of cannabis in Michigan have been hot and cold for sometime, the latest measure would serve to make medical marijuana more flexible by allowing caregivers and patients the right to possess up to 16 ounces of solid marijuana butter, 72 ounces of liquid and seven grams of gas.
The Senate will meet soon to discuss this issue.
Recreational marijuana may be put to a vote in several Michigan cities later this year. Supporters say they have gathered enough signatures to put the issue of street legal reefer to a vote in the following: Oak Park, Hazel Park, Utica, Lapeer, Port Huron, Onaway, Harrison Township, East Lansing, Saginaw, Mount Pleasant, and Benzie County.
If this measure is passed, adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana without facing criminal prosecution.
Washington DC: Decriminalization Bill Becomes Law, Heads to Congress
Marijuana has officially been decriminalized in Washington D.C. Last week, Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill into law that would make possession of up to an ounce of weed a civil infraction with a fine of $25.
“This is a victory for the District and a victory for justice,” said Council member Tommy Wells. “This bill is a tremendous stride to end the disproportionate sociological and economic impact of marijuana arrests on African Americans — arrests that pull families apart and keep our residents from jobs, higher education and housing opportunities.”
The measure must now go before Congress for a 60-days review process.
California: Donations Need for 2014 Ballot Measure
The California Cannabis Hemp Act of 2014 is struggling to secure the necessary funds to put the issue of legalized marijuana on the ballot in 2014. They have until April 17 to gather the required signatures needed to have the measure voted on in the November election.
So, if you want marijuana legalized in California this year, you are asked to donate what you can to the CCHA: http://cchi2014.org/donate.html
Mississippi: Approval of Cannabis Oil
Last week, the state House approved a measure that would allow access to cannabis oil used to treat children suffering from seizures. House Bill 1231 was passed by a vote of 112-6, with the likelihood of it making it to the governor’s office.
While Governor Phil Bryant has voiced some concerns over medical marijuana in the past, a spokesperson from his office said he is open to consider the measure once it lands on his desk.
New Jersey: Bill to Legalize Marijuana
In addition to previous measures introduced by Reed Gusciora and Michael Patrick Carroll, Senator Scutari announced last week he was filing of a companion measure to legalize marijuana in New Jersey, similar to those used in Colorado and Washington State.
Senate Bill 1896 would establish a tax and regulatory system that would be administered by a division of Alcohol Beverages and Marijuana Control.
Regardless of these efforts, Governor Christie has said he will not support marijuana legalization or even decriminalization as long as he remains in office. However, as Senator Scutari said, “He’s not going to be governor forever.”
Kansas: Decriminalization Petition Launched
Kansas for Change is seeking to decriminalize marijuana in Wichita. The organization told the Wichita City Council earlier last week that they will soon return with thousands of verified signatures on a petition aimed at stripping away the criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of pot. The bill would make the offense a civil infraction punishable with a $25 ticket.
The council would be responsible for either approving the measure or setting it out there for the voters to decide.
If the proposal is passed, state and federal laws would still apply, and anyone caught in possession of weed could still be prosecuted.
New York: Medical Marijuana Dropped From Budget
Although the New York Assembly included medical marijuana in their budget proposal, the Senate and the Governor refused to authorize it for the final budget, leaving seriously ill New Yorkers extremely frustrated.
The Compassionate Care Act managed to pass through the Assembly four times, but in the end, the Senate simply would not allow a vote. For obvious reasons, this has supporters of the proposed medical marijuana program upset.
“As a physician who knows medical cannabis could help patients in New York, I’m disappointed that the compassionate care act was not included as part of the budget,” said Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, co-chair of NY Physicians for Compassionate Care. “The science is clear, and physicians in New York want another tool to help patients with serious illnesses, such as cancer, MS, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy. It’s time for the senate to step up and pass the Compassionate Care Act without further delay.”
Maryland: Marijuana Bill Revamp
Earlier last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted to finance research they hope would provide them with the evidence they need to pursue a decriminalization measure further down the road. Previous legislation, Senate Bill 364 aimed to decriminalize marijuana immediately, but the bill was amended to include the implementation of a task force study instead.
The task force, which will consist of members of the legislature, public defenders, and law enforcement, would be expected to give their recommendation in two years.
UPDATE: The Maryland House ended up voting to decriminalize marijuana. Over the weekend, Chairman Joseph Vallario reconvened the committee to take a second look at Senate Bill 364. After making some amendments, it was advanced to the floor by a vote 13-8. The Senate is set to look over the amendments on Monday, which if passed, the measure will go to the desk of Governor Martin O’ Malley to either be vetoed or signed into law.
Indiana: Hemp Is Now Legal
Indiana became the 11th state to legalize industrial hemp last week after Governor Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 357 into law. In a recent statement, the governor said “Hemp will potentially create thousands of new, sustainable, and green jobs for Hoosiers.”
Although no plan has been released for how the state plans to handle its hemp program, what is known is that the Indiana Seed Commissioner, Dr. Robert Waltz, at Perdue University, will administer it.
“S.B. 357 also is dependent upon approval of the federal government. Under the recent federal farm bill, the 10 states that had already re-legalized industrial hemp could proceed with test crops. Indiana will have to be added to that list before we can grow hemp again in Indiana,” according to Indiana NORML.
Oregon: Marijuana Edibles Approved
Last Monday, the Oregon Health Authority announced it would only ban marijuana edibles packaged in a manner attractive to children. Previously, officials intended on banning all marijuana-infused items, but after some community backlash, the OHA reached a compromise.
The new regulations under Senate Bill 1531 prohibit marijuana edibles packaged with brightly colored wrappers and packages shaped to look like toys, animals or candies.
The new rules went into effect on April 1.
Alabama: Carly’s Law Signed
Last Tuesday, Governor Robert Bentley signed a bill known as “Carly’s Law,” which will allow the University of Alabama at Birmingham to conduct cannabis oil research. The new law will go into effect on June 1, pending the approval of two federal agencies.
The project has been approved for $1 million.
Nevada: Medical Marijuana Legal
Last week, medical marijuana officially became legal in Nevada. However, government officials say dispensaries and grow operations are not expected to take place for another 10 months.
“There are so many what ifs,” said Adam Mayberry, a representative for Sparks, Nevada. “The reports I have seen put it at later this year or early 2015. It is possible you could see it by later this year — and I want to emphasis late.”
The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services is now currently accepting applications for a permanent staff to assist in processing the state’s marijuana license applicants.
Kentucky: Cannabis Oil Bill Receives Legislative Approval
A bill that would allow access to cannabis oils for children suffering from debilitating seizures received final legislative approval earlier last week and is now set to be signed by Governor Steve Beshear.
Senate Bill 124 is expected to be signed into law because the governor has voiced no concerns over the measure as long as law enforcement tenders their support – and they do.
The bill will allow cannabis oil research in Kentucky, which will take place at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville medical schools. It is here where anyone enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program will receive treatment with CBD oil.