It was another solid week in the world of marijuana reform across the United States. Although the legislative session is winding down for the summer, a number of proposals, including the passing of a decriminalization bill in Delaware, advanced to the next level. Other highlights from the past week include Oregon lawmakers finally agreeing on the rules to guide its newfound cannabis market, as well as the passing of a bill that could provide emergency medical marijuana access to patients in New York.
Read all about what went down last week in the High Times Legislative Roundup for June 22:
Oregon: Marijuana Regulations Finally Approved
The Oregon legislature has finally approved a bill hashing out the regulatory affairs of its recreational marijuana trade. Last week, the joint House-Senate Committee approved the rules, which allows the proposal to go before the full House for consideration. The bill covers a number of issues, including an agreement on local controls, as well as allowing local governments to ban marijuana-related businesses. The House could vote on the bill later this week.
New York: Emergency Medical Marijuana Bill
The New York state legislature has approved a measure that would allow seriously ill patients to have emergency access to medical marijuana. In a vote of 50 to 12, the proposal authorizing specific patients to have cannabis medicine before the launch of the full program in 2016 was sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature. The governor’s office said they “will review the legislation in the context of implementing the Compassionate Care Act” but did not give any indication on whether or not the bill would be signed. Some lawmakers believe this proposal is crucial for patients that may not survive to see the unveiling of the full program next year, while others worry focusing on “emergency use” will only undermine the big picture.
Delaware: Senate to Vote on Decriminalization
Delaware has become the 20th state in America to decriminalize marijuana possession. House Bill 39, which was approved in the House earlier this month, was given final approval in the Senate late last week. Almost immediately following the vote, Governor Jack Markell signed the bill into law, and it will go into effect in six months. The new laws strips away the criminal penalties associated with the possession of up to an ounce of weed and replaces it with a $100 fine. Underage kids, however, can still be prosecuted for this offense.
California: Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Assembly
California has tried for years to put regulatory restraints on its nearly two-decade-old medical marijuana program. Now, both the state Senate and Assembly have approved legislation to regulate the industry from seed to sale. The goal of Assembly Bill 266 is to create a dual-licensing system that would force cannabis businesses to get permits from several different agencies, while Senate Bill 654 would establish industry rules. So far, there has been no agreement on regulations for the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, but there is pressure from the federal government for lawmakers to come up with a plan before the session ends. Governor Jerry Brown has not chimed in on the issue.
Rhode Island: Call on Legislators to Regulate Weed Like Alcohol
Regulate Rhode Island, a group trying to legalize a statewide recreational marijuana market, asked lawmakers last week to give their support to legislation that would allow the state to regulate marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. The plea comes as the proposal—the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act—runs the risk of dying in the legislature if the House and Senate do not vote on it before the session ends later this month. There has been no word whether the measure will be acted upon, or if the group’s plea fell on deaf ears.
Ohio: ResponsibleOhio Being Watched for Potential Fraud
ResponsibleOhio is reportedly being watched for fraudulent activity. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has instructed county election boards to carefully review the voter registrations submitted by the group because he believes there is a high risk for fraud—or at bare minimum, sloppy work. The group needs 306,000 valid signatures to qualify for the 2016 November election. Organizers claim they already have 550,000 signatures ready to submit. There are some concerns that ResponsibleOhio will establish a monopolized cannabis trade if their proposal is approved by voters in 2016.
Wisconsin: Milwaukee Mayor Reduces Pot Penalties
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has signed off on a proposal reducing the penalty for pot possession to a $50 fine. Earlier this month, the City Council suggested reducing the penalty for possession of 25 grams or less from a maximum fine of $500 to $50, an offering that, up until now, had been rejected by the local brass. The city’s ordinance against public consumption still stands, however. Anyone caught smoking weed in public can still be punished with a fine up to $500.