The fight to legalize marijuana in the United States keeps moving forward. Some of the biggest news of the week comes from Michigan, where cannabis advocates have submitted more than enough signatures to earn a spot on the ballot this November. Other highlights include some action in the Illinois legislature to expand the state’s medical marijuana pilot program, as well as a last minute push in Montana to collect enough signatures for a chance to bring medicinal cannabis back from the grave.
Read all about these actions and more in the HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup for June 6:
Illinois: Medical Marijuana Program Expanded
The medical marijuana pilot program currently underway in Illinois could receive a two-and-a-half-year expansion. House lawmakers voted last week in approval of a bill that would expand the program until 2020, while also adding PTSD and terminal diseases to its list of qualified conditions. The proposal is now set to go before the Senate for consideration. If it is approved, which is expected, the bill will move to the office of Governor Bruce Rauner for a signature or veto.
Ohio: MPP Suspends Campaign to Put Initiative on November Ballot
Ohio voters will not get to decide this November whether the state should legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, the group supported by the Marijuana Policy Project, has pulled the plug on its campaign to put a medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot. Citing the state legislature’s recent passage of House Bill 523, which is expected to be signed by Governor Kasich, and the hardships of raising enough funds to run a successful ballot measure, the group said that because Ohio’s medical marijuana program is set to become better than states like New York and Minnesota there was really no reason for them to continue. The group has been accused of striking a deal with the state legislature, but those allegations have been denied.
New York: General Assembly Approves Two Medical Marijuana Bill
The New York General Assembly recently approved two bills aimed at improving the state’s medical marijuana program. The first, which was introduced by Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, would make it mandatory for the Department of Health to publish a list of doctors certified to issue recommendations for the program. The other, sponsored by Senator Savino, would allow nurse practitioners, in addition to doctors, to provide patients with recommendations. Both proposals now head to the Senate for consideration.
Michigan: Marijuana Advocates Submit Signatures
Michigan voters could get to decide this November whether the state should legalize marijuana for recreational use. MILegalize, the group working to put a ballot measure in front of the people, submitted 350,000 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office last week. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that a piece of legislation currently sitting on the desk of Governor Rick Snyder asking for clarification to the state’s 180-day window on signatures collecting campaigns could disqualify all of the petitions the group has gathered in 2016. But for now, MILegalize is sitting back and waiting to see what happens. Neither the Governor’s office nor the Secretary of State have said whether the signing of the legislation would actually have a negative impact on the initiative. Supporters for the campaign say that if it comes down to it, they will fight for all of the signatures they have collected in court. If approved, Michigan would have a chance at legalizing weed in a manner similar to what is currently underway in Colorado.
Arizona: Arizonans for Mindful Regulation Call Its Quits
Due to an inability to secure the necessary signatures before the deadline, Arizonans for Mindful Regulation (AZFMR), a group that was working to get their version of recreational marijuana on the November ballot, has reportedly brought its campaign to a screeching halt. However, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), which is being supported by the Marijuana Policy Project, is still running strong. Although the two campaigns started out working together, there were disputes over the definition of “real legalization” that caused a split. Now, the AZFMR is organizing a “Vote NO” campaign against the CRMLA in an effort to prevent the MPP from turning Arizona into another version of Colorado.
Montana: Medical Marijuana Initiative Needs Last Minute Support
In an attempt to stabilize the state’s medical marijuana program, organizers behind Initiative 182 are engaging in a last-ditch effort to collect the remaining signatures needed to get their proposal on the ballot in the November election. The group says it already has about 25,000 more than what is needed, but they are hoping to gather another 10,000 to act as a buffer against any that get disqualified. The initiative seeks to repeal the legislation passed in 2011 that prohibits providers from servicing anymore than three patients at a time. Although a lawsuit was thought to have remedied this, to some degree, the Supreme Court sabotaged the action earlier this year. Cannabis advocates say Initiative 182 would bring Montana’s medical marijuana program back to life.