The movement to reform our failed marijuana policies has been progressing tremendously, and victories are being accounted for all across the globe. One of those victories includes the State of Illinois, whose House and Senate recently voted to approved legislation legalizing the possession and state-licensed sales of medicinal marijuana. All that is left before the measure becomes law is a signature from the governor. He stated today that he has an “open mind” on the issue, knowing that legislation is heading his way.
In other words: He isn’t in support of the measure, but he understand that the rest of his state is, including his Lt. Governor. Even if he doesn’t sign the measure, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is extremely unlikely to veto it, which indicates that the legislation will become law (the governor’s options are a veto to kill the bill, a signature to make the bill law, or he can ignore it, meaning it will become law after a short time-period elapses).
This will make Illinois the 20th medical marijuana state in America. The statistical significance of this? With Illinois becoming a medical marijuana state, that makes 40% of the entire nation. Four out of every ten U.S. states will have legalized some form of medical marijuana, all while the federal government continues the propagandist myth that cannabis has no medical value, and that people should be thrown in prison for its usage. Times are changing, and, just like with the end of alcohol prohibition, states are leading the way.
In Illinois, activists will still have work to do. The new medical marijuana measure is a huge – drastic even – step forward for the state, and one that’s not only needed, but is long overdo. However, the proposal is far from perfect, including the fact that, rather than being cemented into law, the bill implements a 4-year starter program, allowing the state’s legislature to revoke the law in 2018 if it’s proven ineffective. Because of this, advocates of medical cannabis in Illinois need to be in constant contact with their elected officials, urging them to improve upon the law – such as allowing home cultivation – rather than considering putting an end to it. The 4-year starter program should be quickly renewed to be a permanent function of Illinois state law. We predict that this will eventually happen, especially with such intense public support for medical marijuana (which is around 85% in the U.S.), but advocates need to be clear to their elected officials that they won’t stand for anything less.
In New Hampshire, the state’s House of Representatives approved a measure in March to legalize medical cannabis, which was voted through overwhelmingly, 286 to 64. The measure has since been moving its way through the Senate – it passed its initial Senate committee unanimously earlier this month. The measure now awaits a full Senate vote, which is expected to happen this week. We spoke briefly with the prime sponsor of the measure, Representative Donna Schlachman, who let us know that she’s optimistic that the Senate will approve the measure.
In this instance, the measure will head to Governor Maggie Hassan for final consideration. Unlike New Hampshire’s last governor, John Lynch, who actually vetoed medical marijuana legislation more than once (the only reason New Hampshire residents don’t have a legal right to this medicine right now), Hassan has publicly stated her support for medical marijuana on numerous occasions. Given this, Hassan won’t veto a measure. The biggest debate at the moment is whether or not the provision will allow home-cultivation: The House approved the measure with home-cultivation, but the Senate is likely to approve an amended version that has this provision removed. However, advocates are still fighting to assure that patients can grow their own, and a compromise will need to be established.
Regardless of whether or not home-cultivation is included, the measure is on track to pass. Even without the provision, patients will be authorized to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, which they would obtain through one of several dozen dispensaries. This is a massive step forward.
Baring a large change in trajectory, the U.S. will have 21 medical marijuana states before the end of the summer, with numerous others actively working to become the 22nd.
Times are changing, and fast.