Maryland Lawmakers Vote to Decriminalize Marijuana

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Senate Bill 297 would decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis in Maryland.

On the same day a measure to legalize cannabis was scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, Maryland’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved Senate Bill 297 to decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis.

The bill now moves to a full Senate vote, where its passage would send it to the House, then governor. If it becomes law, possessing up to 10 grams in the state would change from a misdemeanor, to a simple $100 ticket.

As-mentioned, lawmakers today also scheduled a hearing for a measure recently introduced that would legalize cannabis, House Bill 1453, which will be heard on Tuesday, March 19.

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WA Lawmakers Vote to Use Legal Marijuana Revenue to Expand Early Learning

By a vote of 59-38, Washington’s House of Representatives voted today to approve a measure that would direct revenue that might be raised from Initiative 502 to expand early learning.

Parenting Magazine.
Parenting Magazine.

Legal cannabis retails outlets are expected to begin opening next year, baring federal interference, and a large portion of the tax revenue was directed to the state’s general fund, which the legislature has control over.

This vote is the first clear indication that lawmakers are expecting an incoming revenue stream, and it’s the first time they’ve shown any lean towards where they want the money to go.

Read moreWA Lawmakers Vote to Use Legal Marijuana Revenue to Expand Early Learning

New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Bill Advances

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New Hampshire could be the next state to legalize medical marijuana.

New Hampshire House lawmakers on the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee voted 14-1 today in favor of passing HB 573, a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The bill (now on its way to a full House vote), if passed, would grant N.H. residents the right to possess and purchase cannabis for medical purposes, or to grow their own (up to 3 plants, in a space no larger than 50 ft). It would also allow patients from out of state to possess cannabis, though no more than 2 ounces.

Read moreNew Hampshire Medical Marijuana Bill Advances

Illinois Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Legislation

By a vote of 11-4, Illinois’s House Human Services Committee approved HB 01, to legalize medical marijuana in the state. The bill is now up for consideration of a full IL-medical-marijuana-640x259House vote, where its passage would send it to the Senate.

The measure would authorize the Department of Public Health to issue licenses to qualifying patients who receive a recommendation from a doctor. Those who do would be able to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces in a 14 day period, and cannabis cultivation and distribution centers would be authorized for qualifying patients to obtain their medicine.

Read moreIllinois Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Legislation

Initiative Launches in Idaho to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Compassionate Idaho, a non-profit, grassroots reform group, has been attempting to legalize medical3660_419544238096137_2125050601_n marijuana in Idaho for several years now. Having built up their base, learned from past efforts, and attempting to harness growing momentum, the group has announced that they’ll soon begin collecting signatures on a new initiative aiming for the 2014 ballot.

We had the chance to speak with Lindsey Rinehart, Executive Director of Compassionate Idaho, regarding this upcoming effort.

According to Lindsay, the intent of the measure is simple, “We are seeking to legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill and terminally ill patients.

Recent polling shows that roughly 80% of residents in our country support such a move, as does 75% of those in Idaho.

Read moreInitiative Launches in Idaho to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Bill Legalizing Hemp in Kentucky Passes House Committee

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Senate Bill 50 took its next step towards becoming law today, by passing through Kentucky’s House Agriculture and Small Business Committee.

Recently Kentucky’s Senate voted 31-6 to approve legislation to legalize industrial hemp in the state, sending to the House. Today, the bill passed through the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee with just one dissenting vote, Republican Tommy Turner. The measure has multiple high-profile endorsers such as U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnel.

The bill now awaits being scheduled for a full House vote, although Speaker Greg Stumbo hasn’t said whether or not he’ll allow it; he’s recently stated concerns. We urge constituents to contact him, asking him to allow a full floor vote.

Read moreBill Legalizing Hemp in Kentucky Passes House Committee

Oregon Initiatives to Legalize Marijuana in the Works

The proponents of last year’s Measure 80 to legalize cannabis, which was on Oregon’s ballot, oregon-cannabis-tax-act-octa-2012 announced today that they’re planning a new effort to get measures on the ballot in 2014, if the legislature doesn’t act this session.

This past November the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (Measure 80), which would have legalized cannabis for adults, had a great showing, though ultimately failed with a vote of 47% to 53%. Despite the defeat, these final numbers surprised many in the political world, as just two years prior an initiative to allow medical cannabis dispensaries failed with a considerably lower vote.

Now, the proponents of this act are getting behind recent efforts in the state’s legislature to bring legalization to the state. But if they don’t act swiftly, they’re taking action themselves.

Read moreOregon Initiatives to Legalize Marijuana in the Works

Support Bill 1632 to Legalize Cannabis in Massachusetts

House Bill 1632 would legalize cannabis in Massachusetts.
Bill 1632 would legalize cannabis in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is known for being considerably lenient on cannabis, at least compared to the majority of the country. In 2009 voters approved a measure decriminalizing cannabis possession, making it just a small fine, and just last year,  residents voted to approve cannabis as a legal medicine in the state.

Now, lawmakers are attempting to make the substance legal for all adults, 21 and older. Their vehicle is House Bill 1632, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

The bill has yet to receive a committee hearing, but it’s not too late. However, constituents should feel hurried to contact their legislators, and members of the committee, asking them to support this measure (you can look up your districts legislators here).

Read moreSupport Bill 1632 to Legalize Cannabis in Massachusetts

Hawaii Senate Votes Unanimously to Decriminalize Marijuana

Hawaii's State Capitol.
Hawaii’s State Capitol.

In an applaud-worthy and eye-opening showing of unity, Hawaii’s Senate voted today, unanimously, to approve Senate Bill 472 to decriminalize cannabis possession. The measure would make possession of up to an ounce no longer an arrestable misdemeanor offense, but instead a civil infraction of no more than $1,000.

Last week the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure, also unanimously. The bill is sponsored by 13 of the state’s 25 senators.

Read moreHawaii Senate Votes Unanimously to Decriminalize Marijuana

Former DEA Chiefs: It’s “Outrageous” Federal Lawsuits Haven’t Been Filed Against Colorado and Washington

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Former DEA heads are getting worried.

In a joint statement being released today, 8 former DEA chiefs are urging President Obama to sue Colorado and Washington to overturn their recent initiatives to legalize the retail sale of cannabis to adults.

In the statement, which was received early by the Associated Press, the group says that the longer they wait, the harder it’ll be for the government to stop these measures. They say that not acting swiftly could create “a domino effect” in which other states will follow.

Read moreFormer DEA Chiefs: It’s “Outrageous” Federal Lawsuits Haven’t Been Filed Against Colorado and Washington