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High Times Legislative Roundup: Dec. 8

Last Friday, the United States celebrated the 81st anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition; a measure that pot supporters argue would be an ideal model for the nationwide legalization of marijuana. While alcohol was banned in America for nearly 14 years, cannabis prohibition is poised to hit the eight decade mark within the next few years. Yet, Uncle Sam remains on the sidelines of the nation, allowing states to pass legislation to legalize the leaf without giving a proper reach around to those individuals crucified in the blackened purgatory between state and federal law.

Despite the blatant hypocrisy of this circle jerk, pot advocates are scurrying to introduce measures to legalize marijuana in their state, most of which have their eyes on the 2016 election, as experts predict this will be the turning point of American pot reform.

Here is what your pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:

New Mexico: Drops Fees for Medical Marijuana ID

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, the state is dropping the proposed annual fee of $50 for medical marijuana identification. The decision was made to do away with the fee because many patients argued that they could not afford the added expense. Additional changes that could be made before the end of the year include eliminating criminal background checks for patients who want to cultivate their own medicine and a reduction in the number of plants that people are allowed to grow.

California: Two Bills Filed to Legalize Marijuana

Two bills were filed in California last week aimed at establishing regulations for the medical marijuana industry. Assembly Members Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Rob Bonta introduced Assembly Bill 26 and 34, which essentially serves to inform the legislature of their intent to impose regulations on the state’s medical marijuana program. It has been nearly 20 years since voters approved Prop 215, and still no definitive regulations have put the industry on a leash. The state legislature is being pressured this year to come up with a comprehensive policy to better control the state’s billion-dollar medicinal pot market.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Legislation Introduced

State Senator Curt Thompson has introduced a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in Georgia similar to what is going on in Colorado and Washington. The measure would also allow for a statewide medical marijuana program. Yet, while it appears Thompson’s efforts are mainly being used to drum up a discussion on the issue, other lawmakers working to legalize marijuana solely for medicinal purposes appear to be more interested in approving restricted pot legislation in the form of CBD-only legislation. Last week, lawmakers heard yet another round of testimony from parents who want cannabis oil legalized for their sick kids. Unfortunately, beating this dead horse again in 2015 could prevent the state from passing a workable piece of legislation that benefits more than just a small group of patients in need.

Idaho: Hopes to Legalize Marijuana in 2016

New Approach Idaho plans to launch an initiative to legalize marijuana in 2016. Although previous efforts by other pro-marijuana groups have been unsuccessful, the new organization says they will focus their efforts on legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes, with their sights set on full legalization shortly thereafter. There is speculation the group would only be required to collect under 60,000 verified signatures to get a ballot measure approved. Yet, lack of support and finances will undoubtedly make this effort a difficult task.

Minnesota: Pot Labs Launched

The Minnesota Department of Health recently approved two pot labs that will produce all of the state’s medical marijuana. LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions now have the responsibility of opening four distribution centers before the beginning of July 2015. With that being said, it appears that patients with a doctor’s recommendation for cannabis will have access to the herb by the summer of 2015.

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