High Times Legislative Roundup: December 14

Cannabis activists keep plugging away at the system in an effort to legalize the leaf in more parts of the United States. Some of the biggest action of the past week comes from California, where two powerful groups backing separate initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana have reportedly banded together to put a single proposal in front of voters in 2016. Unfortunately, activists in Florida are not enjoying the same level of success, officially announcing the end to a bid to end prohibition by way of constitutional amendment.

Read all about this and more in the High Times Legislative Roundup for December 14:

Texas: Dallas Working on Cite-and-Release Program

The Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee held a hearing last week in an attempt to decide whether to launch a “cite-and-release” program for those people caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana. In 2007, Texas passed a law that allows police departments to issue tickets for minor marijuana offense rather than arrest. Unfortunately, the law has not been widely received. Yet, the committee did not express any hardcore opposition to implementing such a program. The proposal will now go before the full council for their consideration.

Ohio: Farm Bureau Discussing Medical Marijuana

Although the organization says they oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana, the Ohio Farm Bureau has reportedly met with lawmakers to discuss the potential for legalizing a medical sector. Marijuana legalization was part of the group’s annual policy adoption process, which consisted of hundreds of delegates from all 88 counties.

“We oppose the cultivation and sale of marijuana in the state of Ohio for recreational use,” the group said in a statement. “The following principles and considerations must be addressed as part of any legalization of marijuana in the state of Ohio: funding for addiction/treatment programs, tax structure, exclusion from the constitution, no monopoly structure, use of sound science and research, a strong regulatory system, federal reclassification, workplace regulation, grow sites and appropriate access.”

There is no word yet whether this group will be involved in drafting legislation.

California: ReformCA Teams Up With Sean Parker to Legalize Weed

ReformCA has teamed up with Sean Parker and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom to put a single marijuana initiative on the California ballot in 2016. Six members of the board behind the ReformCA initiative tossed their “Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016” into the garbage last week in an effort to get behind Parker’s recently introduced “Adult Use of Marijuana Act.”

“We have carefully reviewed amendments submitted by the proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and we’re convinced it’s time to endorse that initiative and unite everyone behind a single, consensus measure to achieve a legal, regulated system, which a majority of voters have consistently said they want,” David Bronner, a board member, said in a statement.

Additional board members are expected defect sometime this week when ReformCA officially withdraws its initiative from the running.

Georgia: CBD Production Not Likely to Happen

Representative Allen Peake has revealed plans to introduce a proposal in the next legislative session that would allow the production of CBD products in the state of Georgia. Although the state legalized CBD oil earlier this year for patients with a recommendation from a doctor, the bill did not come with a cultivation or distribution provision. Unfortunately, this has forced patients to smuggle the oil in from a legal state, risking federal drug trafficking charges if caught crossing state lines. Governor Deal said last week that he is not keen on the idea of bringing marijuana production into the state because he fears it would be difficult to control. The details of Peake’s latest proposal are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks once Deal’s research committee releases its report on this issue.

Florida: Recreational Marijuana Initiative Shut Down

Unfortunately, Florida will not be getting a recreational cannabis market in 2016. Regulate Florida, the group working to end prohibition in the Sunshine State, recently announced it was pulling the plug on its campaign. Organizers blame the decision on their inability to collect the 683,000 signatures needed before the February deadline.

“The reality is showing us that we’re not going to get the million petitions or signatures verified by February 1,” Michael Minardi, the group’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “We had an uphill battle, honestly with getting a million signatures realistically from the end of August until December. We did believe with the movement and the momentum that we had that we could get this done, but unfortunately, we don’t think we’re going to at this point.”

Florida: Supreme Court Cancels Medical Marijuana Hearing

The Florida Supreme Court canceled a hearing last week intended to allow marijuana’s opposing forces air their grievances against an initiative aimed at legalizing it for medicinal purposes in 2016. That’s because there was no opposition this time around. In 2014, several groups along with Attorney General Pam Bondi begged the Supreme Court not to allow United For Care’s ballot measure to move forward… but they were unsuccessful. This year, all of these organizations, which include the Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Medical Association, announced that they would not contest the issue. United for Care must still collect around 346,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot in 2016.

Nebraska: Medical Marijuana Proposal Set for Next Session

Nebraska State Senator Tommy Garrett is working to get his proposal to legalize medical marijuana pushed through the state legislature. Earlier this year, he introduced LB643, but it was tabled shortly thereafter. However, Garrett plans to resurrect the issue once the legislative session reconvenes in January. The measure comes attached with a very restrictive program, allowing only the consumption of pills and vapors while maintaining a strict ban on raw cannabis.

North Dakota: Bill to Protect Confidential Informants

Inspired by the case of Andrew Sadek, Representative Rick Becker says he plans to introduced a piece of legislation in the next session that would offer protections for confidential informants. The bill will be designed in the image of similar laws, which prevent police from “promising” reduced sentences or immunity for becoming a rat.

Illinois: Decriminalization Bill Introduced

Illinois lawmakers are working again to see if they can get a decriminalization bill approved in the next session. Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy submitted an updated proposal to the state legislature last week that addresses the issues expressed by Governor Bruce Rauner for a bill he vetoed earlier this year. The current measure seeks to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with the possession of up to 10 grams of weed by imposing fines of between $100-$200.

Washington D.C.: Controversy Surrounding Cannabis Clubs

Emergency legislation put forth last year by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser banning cannabis consumption in private businesses is set to expire at the end of January. However, there is some talk within the D.C. Council about adopting the law on a permanent basis – eliminating any possibility for cannabis clubs in the nation’s capital. Some argue that by not allowing marijuana use in private businesses, it puts restrictions on those who have no place else to smoke weed. Testimony against the ban was heard last Thursday during a judiciary committee hearing. The council is expected to decide on this issue early next year.

Montana: Move to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

An initiative aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana in Montana has been approved to begin the signature-collecting phase of its campaign. Earlier last week, the Attorney General approved the language of the proposal. The group behind this effort must now gather more than 24,000 signatures in order to get the issue in front of voters in 2016.

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