High Times Legislative Roundup: Feb 2

President Obama said last week that he believes more states will continue to legalize marijuana, but he did not reveal any plans to do this on a federal level. Therefore, until Uncle Sam gets serious about the repeal of prohibition, it looks as though it is up to each state to pass initiatives and introduce legislation if they ever hope to reform the pot laws.

Another report published last week by ArcView indicates that the illusion surrounding the “inevitability” of federal legalization is actually preventing change. Too many people are simply sitting along the sidelines waiting for a pot market to open up in their neighborhood because they are convinced enough pressure is being applied to Congress to seal the deal.

These people are under the misconception that there exists a legion of marijuana superheroes flying around Washington D.C., risking life and limb every single day so that all of us can, one day, use marijuana legally across America. The reality is: we are still outnumbered on Capitol Hill, and as long as we maintain a level of arrogance and complacency over the issue, we are going to lose… and, in the meantime, they are laughing at us.

High Times magazine has nearly 4.5 million followers on Facebook – here lies the super force of pot reform. More of these readers need to start getting mad and taking an active role in the reform of marijuana laws in this country, rather than spending time conducting personal smear campaigns against the opinions of other digital socialites who are, for the most part, desperately seeking the same result – the legalization of marijuana in the United States. If we cannot get over ourselves or form some functional allegiance, of sorts, we are all doomed to live in a prohibition society for many more years to come.

Here is a look at the legislative happenings of the past week:

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Legislation Reintroduced

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have reintroduced a measure aimed at legalizing medical marijuana. Senate Bill 3, which is similar to a bill that failed last year, has bipartisan support, as well as the backing of Governor Tom Wolf. In a press conference held early last week, Senators Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer announced the measure would allow patients suffering from specific conditions to be allowed access to medical marijuana. The bill would not permit the smoking of cannabis, but would allow the use of edibles and oils.

New Hampshire: Decriminalization Considered

State Representative Adam Schroadter has introduced a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire. House Bill 618 would strip away the criminal penalties associated with the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by making it punishable with a $100 fine. The measure would also make punishments less severe for growers – making it a misdemeanor instead of a felony to grow up to six plants. The House passed a similar measure, last year, but it was never given any consideration by the Senate.

Kansas: Wichita to Vote on Decriminalization

Voters in Wichita will get to decide whether to decriminalize the possession of marijuana in the upcoming April election. In a vote of 6 to 1, the city council approved the measure last week for the city ballot. There is some concern whether decriminalization would be allowed by Kansas due to conflicting laws, but the plan is to move forward with the vote and hope for the best. City officials say, however, if the state does reject the ordinance, they do not intend to fight to have the decision overturned.

Virginia: Decriminalization Bill Killed

A Senate committee killed a bill last week aimed at decriminalizing marijuana possession in Virginia. The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted to eliminate Senate Bill 686, which would have removed the criminal penalties associated with the offense and replaced them with a $100 fine. Rumor has it that opposition from various state law enforcement agencies is ultimately the reason the proposal was snuffed out.

Mississippi: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

Senator Deborah Dawkins recently introduced legislation that would allow residents of Mississippi to cultivate a limited amount of medical marijuana. Senate Bill 2318 would not establish a traditional medical marijuana program, but it would reclassify cannabis a Schedule II substance throughout the state and allow patients suffering from specific conditions to grow their own crop. If passed, patients with conditions ranging from HIV/AIDS to Crohn’s disease would be permitted to possess up to 30 grams, three mature plants, and four seedlings.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, and is expected to be heard during this session.

Delaware: Decriminalization Bill Introduced

Delaware lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at decriminalizing marijuana possession. House Bill 39 would eliminate the criminal penalties of this offense and replace them with a $100 fine. Those fines would be required to be paid within 90 days or else they would double. In addition, anyone caught smoking pot in public would be forced to pay a $200 fine and spend five days in jail.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

State Representative Jeff Brandes has introduced the Florida Medical Marijuana Act, which would allow patients suffering from conditions ranging from cancer to Parkinson’s disease to be treated with cannabis. This measure is separate from an initiative that was launched weeks ago by United for Care, which is attempting to get the issue of medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016.

“Senate Bill 528 is a very good start and we believe one that would serve as a huge step forward for Florida’s suffering patients and their families,” said Elias Egozi, with United for Care. “This bill proves that the massive support we received in the last election – 58% of voters – plus our quick work to bring the petition back for 2016 is getting recognized by reasonable legislators like Senator Brandes.”

Texas: CBD-only Bill Introduced

A couple of Texas lawmakers have introduced legislation called the “Texas Compassionate Use Act” that would establish a restricted medical marijuana program – allowing the use of non-intoxicating CBD oils for epilepsy patients. Oddly enough, if passed, the program would be overseen by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and it would only allow epilepsy patients access to medical marijuana oils containing no more than .5 percent THC.

New Mexico: Decriminalization Bill Introduced

Senator Joseph Cervantes has introduced a bill aimed at decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Mexico. Senate Bill 383 would make up to four ounces of marijuana a civil infraction instead of a criminal offense. If passed, this measure would make a first offense possession charge punishable with a $50 fine, with each subsequent offense of the same amount considered a misdemeanor that comes with a fine of $100. In addition, four-eight ounces would be considered a misdemeanor offense punishable with a $300 fine. Anything over eight ounces would be a felony.

Similar legislation was successful two years ago in the House of Representatives, but it failed to garner Senate support before the end of the session.


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