Cannabis activists keep plugging away at the system in an effort to legalize the leaf in more parts of the United States. In Florida, while United for Care works to actually legalize a full-scale medical marijuana program, lawmakers continue to pussy foot around with various proposals that may never help a single patient. On the East Coast, supporters working to end prohibition in Massachusetts appear on track to get a voice in the next election. Even mostly unsung states like North Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming are grinding the axe of pot reform in their neck of the woods.
Read all about this and more in the HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup for December 7:
Florida: Medical Marijuana for Terminally Ill Still in Play
A bill aimed at allowing terminally ill patients access to medical marijuana under the Right to Try Act is still getting attention in the state legislature. The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee met last week to discuss the bill, while a House version is still pending review in a separate committee. Both bills are slated for the 2016 legislative session beginning in January. However, this measure is being backed by the same lawmakers responsible for the state’s CBD-only bill, which has not served a single medical marijuana patient since being signed by the governor over a year ago.
North Dakota: Medical Marijuana Campaign Begins Collecting Signatures
The signature collecting campaign is now underway for an effort aimed at legalizing a medical marijuana program across the state of North Dakota. The ballot language was approved last week by Secretary of State Al Jaeger, giving organizers of the North Dakota Committee for Medical Marijuana permission to launch their campaign. The group must secure around 13,500 verified signatures by February 15 to earn a spot on the ballot in 2016. If passed, medical marijuana would be available to patients suffering from around a dozen qualified conditions.
Massachusetts: Recreational Marijuana Likely on the Ballot in 2016
Massachusetts’s voters will most likely decide on recreational marijuana in 2016. Last week, supporters with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted over 100,000 signatures to ensure at least 69,000 were verifiable by the state. If all is in order, the measure will be forwarded to the Massachusetts Legislature for their consideration. Failure to take up the measure will force the campaign to gather another 11,000 signatures in order to put the measure on the ballot in 2016. The initiative seeks to legalize a statewide cannabis industry similar to what is currently underway in Colorado. It would allow people 21 or older to purchase weed from retail shops in the same way they do beer. All purchases would be hit with a special excise tax of 3.75 percent in addition to the regular sales tax. Bay State Repeal, a group supporting a competing initiative, failed to collect the necessary signatures to receive further consideration.
Ohio: Task Force Could Begin Looking Into Medical Marijuana
Ohio lawmakers may soon consider the legalization of medical marijuana. According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is kicking around the idea of assembling a task force that would review the potential of passing such a measure. However, nothing seems to be set in stone even though lawmakers have been reportedly working to draft a bill for consideration in the next legislative session. Fortunately, an independent group is working to get the question of a fully legal market on the ballot in 2016.
Minnesota: Patients With Intractable Pain Get Medical Marijuana
Minnesota will open its medical marijuana program up to pain patients later next year. Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger announced last week that the state has decided to add “intractable pain” to its list of qualified conditions. The majority of this decision appears to stem from the fact that fewer than 1,000 patients have been approved for participation since the program’s launch in July. Some believe the addition of intractable pain will quadruple patient registrations.
Arkansas: Attorney General Rejects Marijuana Initiative Once Again
A proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas has, once again, been rejected by state attorney general Leslie Rutledge. This marks the second time Rutledge has denied the initiative based on ambiguous language. A similar measure was introduced last month, but it failed to receive consideration based on grammatical and spelling errors.
Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Not Happening Anytime Soon
Lawmakers gathered last week to discuss a proposal to create a functional medical marijuana program. However, during the public hearing, state Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner suggested the Haslam Administration would not get behind this issue. State Senator Steve Dickerson, who introduced the measure, testified that it was essential to expand on the state’s current program because very few patients are receiving any benefit. The proposal was ultimately slatted for a “summer study,” which is basically where legislation goes to die.
Wyoming: Medical Marijuana Supporters Announce Secret Weapon
Wyoming NORML has appointed new leadership to help get their initiative to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016. Lee Roith has reportedly taken over as interim executive director for the organization after the recent resignation of Chris Christian. The group’s proposal, the Wyoming Cannabis Act of 2016, has only managed to collect around 7,000 of the 25,000 signatures needed to get a voice in the November election. They have about two months left before the deadline.
Nebraska: Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana
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.
Virginia: Expungement Bill to Be Considered
State Senator Ryan McDougle announced last week that he will get behind a proposal in the next legislative session to expunge some marijuana convictions. Although the details of the bill remain unclear, reports indicate it will allow convictions for simple possession to be considered for expungement for those people under the age of 21. McDougle told The Daily Press that this measure is one of several he plans to introduce in January.
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