HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup: January 11

The New Year is in full swing, and marijuana activists are working harder than ever to legalize the leaf in more parts of the United States. Some of the biggest news of the week comes from the eastern part of the nation, where Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has called on the state legislature to legalize a cannabis industry in 2016. In the Midwest, the word on the street is that several states are working to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use.

Read all about this and more in the HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup for January 11:

Kentucky: Push to Legalize Medical Marijuana in 2016
Former Congressman Mike Ward recently announced the formation of a group called Legalize Kentucky Now, which will work with state lawmakers and government officials to pass a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky. Ward will get out in front of the General Assembly in the current session and steer the system towards a policy that increases tax revenue, while providing the sick with an effective alternative to prescription drugs. Reports indicate that Ward will attempt to meet with Governor Matt Bevin, who supports medical marijuana, to see if he can drum up support from the top.

Indiana: Bill Filed to Legalize Medical Marijuana
Senator Karen Tallian recently submitted a bill aimed at legalizing medical marijuana for those patients suffering from a list of conditions ranging from AIDS to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Senate Bill 209 is similar to other measures the lawmakers has introduced over the past several years but has been unable to get a hearing. Although she believes her attempt in 2016 will result in a similar outcome, she plans to keep plugging away at the issue until she is allowed a voice. Several other marijuana-related measures have also been introduced, including one aimed at legalizing CBD oil for epileptic children. All are expected to be rejected by the committee. 

Virginia: Lawmakers Works to Decriminalize Marijuana
Senator Adam Ebbin has filed a bill that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana in small amounts throughout the state. Senate Bill 104 would eliminate the criminal penalties currently associated with the offense and replace them with a fine of $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for a third. The bill is expected to be heard by the State Legislature in the upcoming session. 

Vermont: Bill Submitted to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Senator Jeanette White recently announced the submission of a bill that would legalize a statewide cannabis industry. The proposal seeks to legalize the cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana for adults 21 or over, taking on a regulatory model similar to the one overseen by the Liquor Control Board. White’s bill is unique in the way that it bans marijuana edibles, but allows the state to establish a number of cannabis lounges for on site consumption. Last Thursday, Governor Peter Shumlin told lawmakers that he wanted them to get serious about passing legislation to regulate and tax marijuana. Most of his prerequisites for such an effort fall in line with White’s proposal. Vermont is expected to become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana through the state legislature. If all goes according to plan, Vermont residents could be cultivating their own personal crop by later this summer. 

Georgia: Lawmaker Attempts to Legalize Medical Marijuana Cultivation
Representative Allen Peake has introduced a proposal that he hopes will take a worthless cannabis oil possession law and turn it into medical marijuana program that allows cultivation. Last year, the lawmaker was behind the passing of the Haleigh’s Hope Act, which allows specific patients to register with the state to have a specific amount of CBD oil in their possession. The bill, however, did not come with a cultivation and distribution provision, which has forced people to smuggle the medicine in from legal states. Peake’s latest proposal aims to remedy the problem by creating a system where between two to six cannabis producers would be allowed to operate in the state, giving patients access to the medicine without encouraging them to break federal law.

New Mexico: Push to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Representative Bill McCamley has filed a measure aimed at establishing a taxed and regulated cannabis industry in New Mexico. The bill would essentially allow people 21 or over to purchase weed in a manner similar to what is currently underway in Colorado. It would also legalize industrial hemp production across the state. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be much of a chance for McCamley’s proposal making it out of the State Legislature alive. Republican forces are reportedly already disregarding any measure that has to do with marijuana. Nevertheless, the bill will be discussed, perhaps only briefly, in the upcoming legislative session. 

Washington D.C.: Cannabis Clubs Banned Again
Although the D.C. Council originally steered toward allowing cannabis clubs in the nation’s capital, a last minute cell phone campaign by Mayor Muriel Bowser promoted lawmakers to reverse their decision for at least the next 90 days. The council now has the next month to hash out the details on a definitive plan before the extension on Bowser’s ban runs out in the spring. 

Missouri: Medical Marijuana Initiative Approved for Signatures
New Approach Missouri, the organization working to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, has been cleared by the Secretary of State to begin collecting the 160,000 signatures needed to get their initiative on the ballot in November. The group, which seeks to legalize the leaf for patients suffering from serious conditions, has set a goal of gathering a half a million signatures to ensure they are able to qualify enough of them to earn a voice in the upcoming election. The group still needs several hundred thousands more dollars in order to successfully launch the next phase of its campaign. 

Missouri: Two Bills Filed To Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal has submitted a proposal that would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Senate Bill 762 would give adults 21 or older the freedom to purchase up to an ounce of weed at retail outlets across the state. However, unlike similar measures, this bill would not allow people to engage in home cultivation. Another measure – House Joint Resolution 57 – has been filed in the House, which seeks to allow voters to decide whether the state should legalize weed for adults in a manner similar to what the state currently allows for alcohol. Both bills are expected to be heard later this month. 

New Hampshire: Several Bills Introduced to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Three marijuana bills aimed at legalizing marijuana have been filed in the State Legislature for consideration in 2016. Representative Michael Sylvia has introduced House Bill 1610, which would allow adults 21 or over to cultivate and possess marijuana without establishing a taxed and regulated system. Essentially, residents would be allowed to grow up to six plants and transfer up to an ounce to at a time – but no money could change hands. The second proposal – House Bill 1675 – introduced by Representative Michael Brewster, would legalize a recreational cannabis trade with a tax rate of $30 per ounce. However, adults 18 or older would be allowed to grow up to six plants for personal use and be in possession of over 2 pounds. Finally, a group of lawmakers have proposed another bill (House Bill 1694) to legalize a recreational cannabis trade; only this one comes with a possession limit of up to an ounce and a tax rate of 15 percent. It would allow residents to grow up to six plants, while also making it legal for industrial hemp production.

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