It was another exciting week in the world of marijuana legalization in the United States. Perhaps the biggest news to surface was the coming of a key initiative in California that activists believe could be the one that legalizes a statewide cannabis industry in 2016. Other highlights include the signing of a law in Hawaii that finally allows the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as decriminalization efforts coming to another Florida municipality.
Read all about this and more in the High Times Legislative Roundup for July 20:
Texas: No Plans in 2015 to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Over the past week, there has been a mix of rumors and old news circulating the Internet regarding Texas lawmakers and their attempt to legalize recreational marijuana. Although a bill was introduced earlier this year (House Bill 2165), it was ultimately snuffed out before it ever had a chance to make it to the House floor. Sadly, the only marijuana-related legislation in Texas to pass in 2015 was a “worthless” low-THC bill aimed at giving epilepsy patients access to cannabis oil. It will be next year before lawmakers are able to throw their hats back into the ring.
North Carolina: Medical Marijuana Changes
The North Carolina Senate recently approved some changes to the state’s CBD law that will make cannabis oil available to more patients. House Bill 766, which was passed in a unanimous vote of 47 to 0, would allow additional patients to receive CBD oil by no longer making it mandatory to be a part of the pilot study program. The bill would give patients permission to use CBD oil as long as they have a recommendation from a board certified neurologist. House Bill 766 would also make minor changes to the THC limits.
UPDATE: Governor Pat McCroy has signed this bill into law.
California: Key Initiative to Legalize Marijuana in 2016
ReformCA, the organization that activists believe has the best chance at legalizing marijuana in California in 2016, says it will be submitting its initiative to the attorney general’s office within the next few weeks. Once it is approved, the group will need to collect 365,000 signatures in order to earn a spot on the ballot in the next presidential election. Previous reports have indicated that ReformCA will receive financial support by both the business community and drug policy reform advocacy groups. ReformCA says it will take up to $20 million to run a successful campaign.
Hawaii: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Signed Into Law\
For the first time in 15 years, Hawaii will begin to license medical marijuana dispensaries. Earlier last week, Governor David Ige signed a piece of legislation allowing the islands to license eight dispensaries that will cultivate and sell medicinal cannabis to the state’s 13,000 patents. Although medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii since around 2000, patients, until now, have been forced to rely on home cultivation and the black market for weed. The new dispensaries are expected to be operational by November 2016.
Colorado: Lawmakers Reject PTSD for Medical Marijuana
Although marijuana is fully legal in Colorado, the Board of Health voted 6 to 2 last week against allowing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from being included as part of the state’s qualified medical conditions. Even with Colorado’s leading medical examiner and a panel of doctors recommending that the state add the condition to the medical marijuana program, it was unsuccessful based on a lack of scientific evidence. Yet, as Dr. Sue Sisley pointed out, patients are going to use cannabis to treat PTSD regardless of the state’s opinion. Many will simply seek the counsel of their local budtender in the recreational sector instead of seeking the help of a physician.
Maine: Pot Legalization Campaign in Full Swing
Maine’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group attempting to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, revealed last week that fundraising efforts have been a success, and their push to get an initiative passed in the next election is in full swing. Thousands of signatures have already been collected, and organizers say that if they can maintain the current momentum, the initiative will make it on the ballot.
Florida: The Keys Going Forward with Decriminalization
Following in the footsteps of Miami-Dade County, lawmakers in the Florida Keys are moving forward with an ordinance that will allow police to handle small time marijuana possession with a citation instead of an arrest. The Monroe Board of County Commissioners said their ordinance allows police to issue a $100 citation to anyone caught holding under 20 grams of weed. However, if the offender has a criminal record, the officer would still be permitted to seek an arrest. The measure basically mimics the ordinance passed last month in Miami-Dade.
Massachusetts: Legislation to Prevent Discrimination Against Patients
A proposal aimed at preventing medical marijuana patients from being discriminated against has been submitted in the state legislature. House Bill 2065 would make it unlawful for officials overseeing housing, employment, school admissions, etc. from discriminating against an individual based on their participation in the state’s medical marijuana program. The measure is scheduled to be discussed soon in the legislature’s joint committee.
Ohio: Toledo Decriminalization on the Ballot
The issue of marijuana decriminalization will be decided on in the city’s September election. Sensible Toledo, the organization responsible for running the “Sensible Marihuana Ordinance,” managed to collect the required 13,000 signatures needed to earn a spot on the ballot in the 2015 primary election. However, city officials say that even if the ordinance is approved, there could be problems with implementation.
Washington: Seattle Moves to Shut Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
The Seattle City Council has unanimously approved a plan that will force some medical marijuana dispensaries to close their doors before next summer. Dispensaries that began operating after January 1, 2013 will no longer be permitted to operate in the city. Others established before 2013 will be allowed to remain open. The decision to pull the plug on approximately 60 dispensaries comes after several months of debate.
South Dakota: Possible Decriminalization in 2016
An initiative to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in South Dakota was approved last week by the state’s Attorney General. The organization behind the proposal is expected to begin collecting signatures in the near future in hopes of securing a voice in the November 2016 election. Supporters must collect around 13,871 valid signatures before this November in order to qualify. If passed, any adult 18 and older caught in possession of less than an ounce of weed would receive a fine of $100 and be forced to relinquish their stash. Minors, however, would be subjected to a $300 fine. In South Dakota, this offense is currently a misdemeanor with a penalty of a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison.