Connect with us


HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup: April 13

Mike Adams



Happy 420, kids! This week’s HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup is being written under some extremely… well… high conditions right smack dab in the middle of the Mile High City. As most of you are aware, Colorado was the first state to repeal the prohibition of marijuana and lay a regulatory framework for recreational sales. Now, buying weed in cities like Denver and Aurora is as easy as purchasing a six pack of beer. So, it makes complete sense to celebrate this high holiday, of sorts, with the Cannabis Cup, the largest and most enthusiastic tribute to weed in the entire universe. Being in this place for only a day is all the proof one needs to know that legalization should be happening all over the United States.

So, without further ado, here is what some of the pot-friendly lawmakers were up to in your neck of the woods last week.

Federal: Bill to Reschedule Marijuana/Legalize CBD Introduced in Congress
A bill has been introduced in Congress that aims to reschedule marijuana and legalize specific extracts from the plant nationwide. It is called the Compassionate Access Act, and it would remove cannabis from its current Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act and rank it a Schedule II. The proposal would also eliminate cannabidiol (CBD) from the DEA’s controlled substances list and make the medicine more accessible in states that have medical marijuana programs in place.

Maryland: Bill to Decriminalize Pot Paraphernalia Approved
Maryland lawmakers put their final seal of approval on a measure last week aimed at decriminalizing marijuana paraphernalia across the state. The House of Delegates approved Senate Bill 517 by a vote of 83 to 53. The proposal is now on its way to the desk of Governor Larry Hogan to be signed into law. This is good news considering that while the state decriminalized marijuana possession last year, the bill did not remove the criminal penalties surrounding paraphernalia. The new law will also reduce the maximum penalty for public pot consumption from a $1,000 fine to $500. It is expected to take effect in October.

New Mexico: Hemp Farming Bill Vetoed, While Policing for Profit Outlawed
The prospect of growing industrial hemp is no longer an option in New Mexico. Governor Susana Martinez vetoed the bill that would have legalized the cultivation of the product for research purposes. Senate Bill 94 was largely successful in both the state Senate and the House of Representatives, but ultimately it met its demise once it landed on the governor’s desk.

“New Mexicans across the political spectrum are ready for hemp to be an option for the agricultural sector and to improve our economy,” said Emily Kaltenbach of the New Mexico chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Governor missed an important opportunity to support New Mexico’s farmers and small business owners.”

However, the governor did sign a bill into law making the Civil Asset Forfeiture program illegal in the state. This means that police agencies will no longer be permitted to seize and capitalize on personal property without charging a suspect with a crime.

Massachusetts: Initiative Filed to Legalize Marijuana in 2016
Massachusetts could be one of the next states to legalize a recreational marijuana market. On Friday, an organization called Bay State Repeal filed the necessary paperwork to get an initiative to establish a statewide cannabis industry on the ballot in the November 2016 election. It is up to the Attorney General to decide whether the language of the proposal is fine the way it is, or if it needs to be revised, which is expected. The group has until August to file its final draft.

Wisconsin: Bill Introduced to Legalize Marijuana
Representative Melissa Sargent has submitted a proposal aimed at legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. LRB-0188 would allow people over the age of 21 to possess up to a half ounce of weed for any purpose. Tourists, however, would only be allowed to possess up to a quarter ounce. In addition, residents would be permitted to grow up to 12 plants, as long as they have a cultivation permit from the state. The bill would also establish a market for medical marijuana, which would be regulated by the Department of Health Services and qualify patients to purchase medicine without the 25 percent sales tax.

Idaho: CBD Bill Vetoed by the Governor
Idaho Governor Butch Otter has vetoed a piece of legislation that would have allowed children with seizure disorders to have access to cannabidiol (CBD oil). While the governor says he “sympathizes” with patients and their families, he does not believe there is enough evidence to suggest that cannabis is medicine, and therefore does not believe a law should be passed based on pure speculation.

“I don’t know what more I or senior members of my administration could have done to help legislators understand our strong opposition to this legislation,” Governor Otter wrote in a veto message.  “Both the House and Senate were told by the Office of Drug Policy, the Department of Health and Welfare, and the Idaho State Police — as well as prosecutors and local law enforcement officers from throughout Idaho — that there were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solutions in this bill to let it become law.”

Although the vetoing of this bill is disheartening, the law would not have been enough to truly benefit patients in need. It did not come with any provisions allowing for cultivation and distribution, which would have forced those wanting this medicine to smuggle it in from legal states.

Oklahoma: CBD-Only Legislation Approved
The Oklahoma Senate did not flinch at approving a proposal last week aimed at legalizing CBD oil for children suffering from seizure disorders. The bill passed earlier this year in the House of Representatives but must now return for a second time so they can approve some changes. Once this happens, the bill will head to the desk of Governor Mary Fallin for her signature. The law would allow for children under 18 to qualify for clinical trials in which they would receive CBD oil from select universities. If the governor signs it, the law will take effect immediately.

Mississippi: Ballot Initiative in Full Swing, But Struggling
Marijuana supporters in Mississippi are struggling to collect the required signatures needed to legalize the herb for recreational use in 2016. Ballot Initiative 48 currently only has about 4,000 signatures, according to organizers, with a total of over 107,000 needed by October. This means that each of the state’s 5 major districts need to produce 21,444 signatures in order to be successful. Organizers say Jeremy Bufford, the initiative’s latest sponsor, intends to donate $1 for every signature collected in each district, with $2 per signature going to District 2. Visit for more information.

Georgia: Hemp Bill Introduced & Governor Signs CBD Bill
State lawmakers have introduced a proposal aimed at legalizing the research of industrial hemp. The law would establish a pilot program, which would allow the state to conduct studies into the operations of a hemp program. The bill is in response to legislation introduced earlier this year with hopes of legalizing industrial hemp. Lawmakers are expected to address these measures when they reconvene in 2016.

Also, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill into law last week, which gives patients with certain debilitating conditions to access to cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD oil.

“For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over,” Deal said. “Now, Georgia children and their families may return home, while continuing to receive much-needed care.”

Now, patients suffering from seizures, cancer, sickle cell anemia, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease can possess up to 20 ounces of marijuana oil, as long as it does not go over 5 percent THC. Patients will be required to get a registration card from the Department of Public Health.

Iowa: Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill
On Wednesday, the Iowa Senate approved legislation that could end up establishing a comprehensive medical marijuana program across the state. Senate Bill 484 will now head to the House of Representatives for further consideration, which some fear will not go well. That is because the Republican-dominated House does not believe that medical marijuana should be made legal because it violates federal law. If passed, patients could see dispensaries open no later than April 2016.

(Photo Courtesy of Link Magazine)



HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup: April 13

Mike Adams



Despite the fact that nearly half the United States has legalized cannabis for medicinal and recreation purposes, lawmakers continue to deny progress as it pertains to the reform of the drug laws that bind us. Sure, there has been an impressive amount of forward momentum, so far, this year, but there remains an unnerving twinge of resistance churning around inside the belly of the America. It is reassuring, however, that a legion of bloody-knuckled activists are still out there swinging even after the bell has sounded. The bout has officially become a full-blown street fight, and soon, we believe, Uncle Sam will find himself curb stomped on the steps of Capitol Hill.

Read all about what went down last week in the HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup for April 13:

Federal: Tax Reform Legislation Introduced to Congress
The unjust tax laws surrounding the cannabis industry could be remedied in the near future. Representative Earl Blumenauer and Senator Ron Wyden have plans to introduce a piece of legislation this week in both chambers of Congress that will allow businesses that grow and sell marijuana to be eligible for tax deductions in the same manner as other legitimate commence.

The bill is called the Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2015 and it would essentially establish an exemption to the IRS Code 280E that would allow cannabis-related businesses to take deductions, which are currently not allowed due to their profiting from a Schedule I substance. The passing of this measure would be a huge weight off the backs of the cannabis industry, which is sometimes forced to pay as much as a 90 percent federal income tax rate. This bill would readjust the tax rate to around 20 percent. 

Missouri: Marijuana Bills Progressing
Last week, a couple of marijuana-related bills gained momentum in Missouri. The Missouri Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 255, which would enable individuals to cultivate industrial hemp. This is companion legislation for House Bill 830, which was approved last month by the Committee on Economic Development and Business Attraction. These proposals would make it so residents could obtain a license from the state to grow industrial hemp, as long as the herb was no stronger than .03 THC.

In addition, House Bill 800, which aims to legalize a statewide medical marijuana program, received approval by the House Select Committee on General Laws. If passed, the bill would allow for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana to patients suffering from a restricted number of debilitating conditions. The measure is expected to be sent to the House floor for a vote. 

Idaho: CBD Bill Approved by State Legislature
The Idaho Legislature has put their seal of approval on a measure that would allow the possession of a non-intoxicating form of cannabis oil. Earlier last week, the House voted in favor of Senate Bill 1146, which was previously approved in the Senate. The bill now goes before Governor Butch Otter for either his signature or a veto. If signed into law, parents and adult patients would be able to lean on the “medical necessity” defense in court if they happen to get caught in possession of CBD oil. Essentially, the law would not legalize or even decriminalize the substance, only provide patients with a fighting chance against prosecution if they ever find themselves faced with drug possession charges. The bill is really just an example of a cut-rate policy written by lawmakers who are too afraid to take real steps towards providing patients with the medicine they need. 

Kansas: Wichita Voters Decide to Decriminalize Marijuana…Sort of
Wichita voters approved an initiative last week to reduce the penalties for offenses pertaining to the possession of marijuana. On Tuesday, 54 percent of the voters sided in favor on lowering the penalties associated with first-time marijuana possession – making it a criminal infraction punishable with a $50 fine rather than being charged as a misdemeanor. Unfortunately, a legal battle is expected to take place before the ordinance can go into effect. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has announced plans to sue the city in an attempt to block the ordinance because it directly conflicts with state law. 

Washington: Senate Approves Reduction of Retail Pot Tax
In an attempt to make the prices of legal weed more comparable to the black market, lawmakers have voted for the removal of specific marijuana taxes. Last week, the Washington Senate approved the elimination of the first two levels of excise tax on the recreational marijuana market, while increasing the tax rate at the retail level to 37 percent. As it stands, marijuana is taxed in Washington at a rate of 25 percent each time the product is sold through the distribution chain. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

Michigan: Ballot Initiative to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Michigan could be one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana. The Michigan Cannabis Coalition has submitted a proposal aimed at establishing a statewide cannabis market similar to those in Colorado and Washington. It is now up to the Board of State Canvassers to approve the language of the initiative, which the group hopes will happen without issue. Supporters of the proposal will then be challenged to collect 252,000 signatures before the initiative can be transmitted to the state legislature. If lawmakers fail to take a vote on the issue, the proposal will be automatically added to the ballot in the November 2016 election. 

Texas: State Legislature Hates Marijuana Bills
A number of bills aimed at reforming the marijuana laws in the Lone Star State were discussed last week at a Criminal Jurisprudence Committee meeting, but did not achieve much success. Two proposals aimed at decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana was met with resistance even though supporters argued that the rest of the nation was headed in this direction. A second measure, which aims to legalize recreational marijuana, was not met with any enthusiasm at all, while even a restrictive CBD bill to legalize a non-intoxicating form of cannabis oil for epilepsy patients seems to have been completely disregarded. The session is scheduled to end soon, and it appears that none of the proposed legislation will make it out alive.

Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Bill Delayed Until 2016
A bill aimed at legalizing medical marijuana for specific patients has died in committee. Both the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the House Health Committee failed to come to a decision on a bill aimed at legalizing the herb for certain debilitating conditions. Therefore, the proposal is now considered a dead issue until next year. Although lawmakers were not able to articulate exactly what changes they would like to see made to this particular piece of legislation, most of them agree the bill needs work before it can move forward. Fortunately, there is CBD-only bill still making its way through the legislative channels, but even this restrictive proposal has been met with a great deal of resistance, which could manifest a similar fate.