Medical marijuana dominated the realm of legislative efforts last week in the United States. Several bills were tossed around in their respective state legislatures, while one particular measure was introduced that could lay the groundwork for the most comprehensive medical marijuana program ever passed in the Southern part of the nation. The biggest news, however, was the announcement of New York’s three-legged medical marijuana regulations, which have stirred an uprising among supporters that will undoubtedly force the issue back into the legislature later this year in hopes of repairing its regulatory shortcomings.
Read all about what went down last week in the High Times Legislative Roundup for April 6:
Federal: CBD Bill Introduced to Congress
Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania has introduced a proposal to Congress aimed at eliminating cannabidiol from the Controlled Substances Act. The bill (House Bill 1635) would allow high CBD strains of marijuana, which are non-intoxicating, to be distributed state-to-state without breaking federal law. This proposal is similar to a provision included in the CARERS Act, which seeks to legalize medical marijuana nationwide.
Alabama: Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced
Alabama wants to be one of the next states to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes. Lawmakers introduced a bill in the State Legislature earlier last week aimed at establishing the most comprehensive medical marijuana program in the South. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Bobby Singleton, would allow patients suffering from a list of 25 qualified conditions to have access to up to ten ounces of marijuana per month. The measure comes with three recommendation classes that will allow physicians to determine how much medicine a patient should receive every month.
Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Advances
A restrictive medical marijuana bill was approved last week in a major House committee. The proposal, which was sponsored by Representative Ryan Williams, managed to clear the House Health Subcommittee, and will now go before the full group for further consideration. If approved, patients suffering from around five qualified conditions will be allowed access to cannabis, but they would not be allowed to consume it by smoking. Instead, the law mandates that medicinal cannabis be administered in pill form or with the use of a patch. The full committee will hear the bill sometime later this week.
New York: Final Regulations for Medical Marijuana Issued
The New York State Department of Health has announced its final regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program. Despite “hundreds” of concerns over the first draft being too restrictive, the health commissioner did not make any substantial changes to benefit the patients. The law will only allow consumption through edibles and oils, and only 20 dispensaries will be charged with supplying the entire state with medicine. There are also regulations that control the types of strains permitted, with the overall cost to low-income patients remaining a factor. Perhaps, most importantly, no additional qualified conditions were added, leaving thousands of New Yorkers ineligible.
Missouri: House Panel Approves Medical Marijuana
The legalization of medical marijuana will now be considered by the full House. Last week, a House panel gave their unanimous approval on a measure that would provide some patients with access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. It is now up to the House to decide whether the measure is restrictive enough. House Speaker John Diehl feels confident the measure will continue to advance, but they want to examine it closely to ensure not too many patients will receive its benefit.
Virginia: Hemp Cultivation Signed Into Law
Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed legislation making the cultivation of industrial hemp legal in Virginia. The law will allow the cultivation of the plant for research programs sponsored by state universities. The research will be conducted at Virginia State University and Virginia Tech.
“Hemp is good for agriculture, it is good for the environment and is good for jobs,” said Delegate Joseph Yost. “[The bill] sets up the necessary framework for Virginia to begin immediately moving forward on researching industrial hemp and eventually moving towards full commercialization.”
Idaho: Group to Launch Initiative to Legalize Medical Marijuana
Marijuana activists have filed the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State in hopes of getting an initiative to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016. New Approach Idaho, which was established just a few months ago, hopes to not only legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes but also decriminalize the possession of small amounts and provide farmers with the ability to cultivate hemp. The coalition will need to secure 47,623 signatures by April of next year to qualify for the ballot.