Despite the holidays, there were several measures introduced last week to legalize marijuana in the United States. There are rumors circulating over a supposed “cartel”-like initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, while an organization in Missouri pushing to legalize recreational marijuana with an anarchist initiative endured some problems with their proposal. In addition, it looks like lawmakers in South Carolina are pushing to decriminalize weed, while other in Georgia are hitting 2015 with all guns blazing in hopes of establishing both a recreational and medical marijuana program.
Read all about this and more in this week’s High Times Legislative Roundup: December 29.
Ohio: 2015 Could Be the Year for Recreational and Medical Marijuana
There is currently an initiative underway in Ohio aimed at legalizing medical marijuana via constitutional amendment in the November 2015 election. Interestingly, unlike measures introduced in other states, this campaign would only allow a small group of about ten farmers to cultivate the state’s entire cannabis crop, according to reports from a Cleveland news source. Although very little information has been provided regarding the organization spearheading this campaign as well as details surrounding the initiative itself, there are already some concerns that this proposed concept would essentially legalize a marijuana mafia that would control all of the profits from a cannabis market.
“If you put that creators of the Sopranos and Breaking Bad in the same room they couldn’t come up with a plot this far-fetched,” said Jon Allison, a lawyer, with the Drug Free Action Alliance. “Perhaps the details will help clarify things, but right now it sounds like 10 wannabe drug lords are going to ask Ohio voters to constitutionally protect their cartels and turf.
South Carolina: Decriminalization Bill Introduced
State Representative Mike Pitts pre-filed a measure with the state legislature last week aimed at decriminalizing the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Essentially, the bill, if passed, would strip away the criminal penalties associated with this offense and replace it with a $100-$200 fine for a first offense – up to $1,000 for a second offense. The bill is expected to be heard when state lawmakers return to session on January 12.
Georgia: Two Bills Filed to Legalize Marijuana
Senator Curt Thompson recently introduced Senate Bills 6 and 7, which are aimed at legalizing marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Senate Bill 7 would allow patients and caregivers to possess up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to eight plants for conditions ranging from cancer to chronic pain, while Senate Bill 6 is a voter initiative to legalize a recreational marijuana market similar to Colorado and Washington state. Although Thompson would not speculate on the potential success of either bill, a recent press release indicated that he is eager to work on finding “the best possible solution for Georgians.”
Missouri: Anarchist Initiative Rejected
Earlier last week, High Times reported on an anarchist initiative filed by Mark Pendersen and Kansas City NORML, seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri. Unlike similar measures, this initiative comes without age restrictions, legal recourse for DUI, and minimal taxes. However, last week, the organization’s proposal was rejected by the secretary of State’s office for a few minor issues, according to reports. The group must now revamp the language and resubmit documentation, which they are expected to do.
United States: Virgin Islands Decriminalize Marijuana
The Virgin Islands have officially decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Earlier last week, Senate lawmakers went against Governor John DeJongh’s veto on a decriminalization measure included in the 2015 budget, voting unanimously 14-0 to pass the law. Now, any adult over the age of 18 caught in possession of cannabis will simply receive a citation between $100-$200, instead of enduring jail time. Underage offenders will be required to complete a drug awareness class.