It was another busy week in the world of marijuana reform across the United States, which resulted in the passing of several bills aimed at legalizing the leaf for medical purposes. A few others experienced some success as well, including proposals intended to reduce the sentences for pot offenders and the decriminalization of marijuana possession.
Read all about what went down last week in the High Times Legislative Roundup for June 1:
South Dakota: Pot Advocates Attempt to Ban Booze
Marijuana advocates in South Dakota have submitted proposals aimed at banning the use of alcohol and tobacco across the state. A group called Consistent South Dakota filed two initiatives last week with the Attorney General in hopes of outlawing alcohol and tobacco in 2016. The goal of both measures is to enforce penalties for these substances that are “consistent” with those imposed on marijuana offenders.
Louisiana: Penalty Reduction for Pot Offenders Passes Full Senate
Louisiana is a step closer to reducing the penalties associated with marijuana-related offenses. Last Monday, the full Senate voted 27 to 12 in approval of a measure that would establish a new penalty system for marijuana possession. Essentially, the bill would make it so no one ever does more than eight years in prison as the result of multiple convictions for this offense. Unfortunately, while previous reports indicated some leniency for first-time offenders, the language of the bill has since been amended and will not apply to initial convictions. Anything less than 14 grams would be punishable with a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail and a $300 fine. Governor Bobby Jindal has said he will sign this bill into law.
Louisiana: Medical Marijuana Clears Committee… Vote Coming Soon
After making a few changes, the House Committee on Health and Welfare passed a bill that would legalize a medical marijuana program—authorizing all forms with the exception of raw cannabis. It now heads to the full House for a third reading. If passed, the recent changes would need to be approved by the Senate before being sent to Governor Bobby Jindal for a signature or veto.
Michigan: Ballot Initiative to Legalize Marijuana in 2016 Postponed
It was announced earlier last week that the Michigan Cannabis Coalition was on the verge of collecting signature aimed at getting the issue of marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2016. However, instead, the organization said it would resubmit another version of the proposal at a later date. The proposed initiative would force the state legislature to consider legalizing a statewide cannabis industry. If they fail to review the issue, it would be left up to voters in 2016.
New Hampshire: Decriminalization Vote to Happen This Week
The state Senate will likely vote on the issue of marijuana decriminalization sometime this week. House Bill 618, which would strip the criminal penalties away from petty pot possession and replace them with a fine, has already received approval by the House of Representatives. A key Senate committee did not recommend the bill, but the full Senate is still expected to give it a vote. If it passes, however, it could hit another obstacle when it reaches the office of Governor Maggie Hassan. She said earlier this year that she did not support decriminalization.
Maryland: Governor Vetoes Bill to Decriminalize Pot Paraphernalia
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a bill last week aimed at decriminalizing the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Senate Bill 517, which would have brought the paraphernalia laws into the same light of the state’s laws for pot possession, failed to earn the governor’s signature because he felt it would be a threat to public safety.
Kansas: Bill to Reduce Pot Penalties Stalls in the Senate
A measure aimed at reducing the penalties associated with marijuana has stalled in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce announced last week that the bill needed more consideration before moving forward. It won the approval of the House of Representatives earlier this month but will not likely be addressed until 2016.
Oregon: Proposal Considered to Expunge Past Marijuana Convictions
A proposal that was considered dead earlier last year has been revived in an effort to expunge the records of people busted for pot possession. The House Senate committee brought the measure back to life last week, while reviewing Measure 91. The measure would allow pot offenders busted prior to legalization to apply to have convictions for pot possession removed from their records.
Oregon: Senate Approves Bill to Alter Medical Marijuana Program
The Oregon Senate has approved a bill that will make some seemingly unwanted changes to the state’s medical marijuana program. Senate Bill 964 would impose cultivation restrictions and force growers to submit monthly reports to the Oregon Health Authority. In addition, the measure also gives local governments the right to prohibit medical marijuana businesses.
South Dakota: Medical Marijuana Initiative Introduced
A proposal aimed at legalizing medical marijuana has been submitted to the state attorney general’s office. If it is approved, supporters will need to collect 13,871 valid signatures to earn a spot on the ballot in the November 2016 election.
Florida: Medical Marijuana Legal Debacle Ends
Judge David Watkins claims the regulations surrounding the state’s restricted medical marijuana program do not give advantages to large nurseries with political affiliations. The state is now free to proceed with licensing for cultivation operations. Senate Bill 1030, also known as the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014,” allows low-THC cannabis strains to be manufactured and distributed across the state for patients suffering from seizure disorders.
Minnesota: Medical Marijuana in Hospitals
The legislature has approved an amendment to the state’s medical marijuana program that will allow cannabis to be distributed by hospitals. The original language of the proposal allowed for health care providers to dispense medical marijuana to patients, but it did not specify the inclusion of hospitals. Last week, Governor Mark Dayton approved the updated version of the bill.
Connecticut: Children’s Medical Marijuana
Lawmakers are set to vote on a bill that would allow children with seizure disorders to have access to cannabis oil. Senate Bill 1064 would establish a program to provide non-intoxicating CBD oil to kids suffering from serious conditions, like epilepsy. If passed, Connecticut would become the second New England state to legalize medical marijuana for children. The bill is expected to receive a vote before the end of the session.
Vermont: State Will Expunge Pot Offenses
Governor Peter Shumlin recently signed a bill aimed at expunging the records of pot offenders. Senate Bill 115, which was introduced by Senator Joe Benning, allows people convicted of marijuana possession to petition to have their records expunged. In 2013, Vermont decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. The latest measure allows individuals to have this conviction, which is no longer considered a criminal offense, eliminated from their record.
Maine: Legislation to Legalize Marijuana Rejected
A key committee has rejected a proposal aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana. The Joint Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted against a measure that would create a taxed and regulated cannabis industry across the state. However, the House of Representatives is still expected to review the bill within the next few weeks in an attempt to get a leg up on two initiatives fighting to legalize the leaf in 2016.