Efforts to legalize marijuana in the United States are starting to pick up once again now that summer is coming to a close. Some of the biggest news to surface last week was word that United for Care, the group attempting to get medical marijuana back on the ballot in Florida’s 2016 general election, is ahead of the signature collecting game. Other highlights include several initiatives being approved by their state’s respective Secretary of State to begin collecting signatures to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, not to mention the submission of another major initiative aimed at legalizing a recreational cannabis industry next year in California.
Read all about this and more in the HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup for August 24:
Florida: Medical Marijuana Bill Filed with State Legislature
One state lawmaker is trying to pass legislation to legalize yet another restricted medical marijuana bill in the state legislature before United for Care has a chance to legalize a full medical marijuana market in the 2016 election. Republican State Representative Greg Steube resubmitted a piece of legislation last week aimed at amending the state’s current Charlotte’s Web law by increasing the amount of growers allowed and by expanding the program’s list of qualified conditions. Although Steube believes the legislature could be ready to move on the bill in 2016, organizers with United for Care argue that lawmakers are not going to take this issue seriously unless they are forced. However, UC says they are already way ahead of schedule in collecting the signatures required to put the issue back up to the voters in 2016.
Illinois: Statewide Decriminalization Could Be Around the Corner
Illinois is on its way to becoming the twenty-first state to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. On Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner released an amendatory veto that would allow the state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of weed. If approved by the General Assembly, the new law would allow anyone caught in possession of less than 10 grams to simply pay a fine up to $200. In addition the new law would establish a THC limit of 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood before motorists are considered impaired. This would be the highest limit for stoned driving in the nation. The original language of the bill, which has been on Rauner’s desk for the past couple of months, was not nearly as strict. It suggested that possession of less than 15 grams of weed be punishable with a fine of up to $125. However, pot advocates are still pleased with the progress being made in Illinois.
Idaho: Initiative to Legalize Medical Marijuana Needs Signatures
Idaho marijuana advocates are pushing to legalize medical marijuana in the 2016 election. New Approach Idaho was recently approved to start collecting the necessary 47,623 voter signatures to earn a spot on next year’s ballot. However, the group has run into a snag because only around 50 percent of the signatures they have managed to collect so far have been valid. The group desperately needs more Idaho voters to come forward to sign the petition. Find out more here.
Wyoming: Campaign to Legalize Medical Marijuana
Marijuana supporters in Wyoming are making a move to legalize cannabis for medicinal use in the next presidential election. Wyoming NORML recently began collecting signatures for their initiative…they must secure 51,370 signatures by February 8 in order to earn a voice in the November 2016 election. Although the organization’s signature goal is more than what is actually required by the state, the group wants to make sure to qualify at least 25,700 signatures. Find out how to sign the initiative here.
Ohio: State Will Vote on Marijuana Legalization in 2015
Ohio will get to decide whether or not to legalize marijuana this November. Secretary of State Jon Husted announced last week that ResponsibleOhio managed to certify the necessary 320,267 signatures needed to earn their initiative a spot on the ballot in the upcoming election. The initiative must now go before the Ohio Ballot Board sometime this week for final approval. ResponsibleOhio reportedly spent over $2 million to successfully complete this phase of their campaign. However, in order to win, they must combat opposing forces that suggest the group is working to establish a cartel-like cannabis trade, as well as lawmakers attempting to kibosh their plans with another initiative aimed at banning monopolies. The election will take place on November 3, 2015.
Arizona: Recreational Marijuana Initiative On Track
Arizona is well on its way to voting on the issue of recreational marijuana in the next election. Organizers with Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced last week that they have already managed to collect 50,000 signatures for their initiative within the past 10 weeks—and there are no signs of this momentum winding down. The campaign has until July 2016 to submit 150,642 signatures to the state, so the likelihood of the initiative being included on the ballot in the 2016 election is very good. Representatives for the Marijuana Policy Project, who are assisting in this campaign, believe they will collect 200,000 before the deadline. If voters approve this measure, the state would set up a taxed and regulated cannabis industry similar to the one currently underway in Colorado. A recent press release indicates that legal marijuana in Arizona stands to generate $40 million in tax revenue for schools. Learn more about how to sign the initiative here.
Massachusetts: Initiative to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
A recent update from the Marijuana Policy Project reveals that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts is about ready to begin collecting signatures in hopes of earning a spot on the ballot in 2016. The group needs to secure around 65,000 valid signatures in order to make this happen. Organizers are expected to get started within the next few weeks. Find out more about supporting the cause here.
North Dakota: Initiative to Legalize Medical Marijuana
Since the North Dakota state legislature apparently has no interest in approving medical marijuana, a Fargo man has made it his mission to get it legalized on his own. Rilie Ray Morgan, a local financial planner, is preparing to submit an initiative to the Secretary of State in hopes of being permitted to start collecting signatures to put the issue in front of voters in 2016. Morgan is reportedly still working on the draft to his proposal, but says it is similar to House Bill 1430, which failed in the state legislature earlier this year.
California: Initiative to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
California could soon have another initiative on books aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016. Last week, the NAACP submitted their initiative, the "Community Act to Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis of 2016,” to the Secretary of State in an effort to secure a spot on the ballot in the next presidential election. Reports indicate that the NAACP filed the initiative without intention of actually running a campaign. They are, however, working in support with ReformCA, a group that is believed to have the best chance at legalizing recreational weed in California next year.
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