A State-By-State Update on Efforts to Reform Cannabis Policies Across the U.S.
Earlier this year a proposal to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis was introduced.
Under current Alabama law, the possession of any amount of cannabis can net someone a prison sentence of up to a year; under this new proposal – House Bill 76 – the possession of an ounce or less of cannabis would be a simple $100 ticket. The measure currently sits in the House Judiciary Committee.
This August in Alaska an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis will be put to a vote of the people. If approved, the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, and the private cultivation of up to 6 cannabis plants, would be legal for anyone 21 and older. State-licensed cannabis retail outlets would also be authorized. The initiative would take effect early 2015.
Last month a proposal (House Bill 2558) to legalize recreational cannabis was introduced in the state’s House of Representatives, with thirteen lawmakers signed on as cosponsors. The proposal is modeled after Colorado’s Amendment 64, and would legalize the possession, cultivation and state-licensed sales of cannabis.
A separate cannabis-related measure, House Bill 2474, would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, reducing the charge to a $100 ticket. This proposal also has 13 cosponsors.
Advocates of an initiative to legalize medical cannabis in Arkansas are currently gathering signatures in an attempt to put their measure to a vote this November. The proposal, put forth by Arkansas for Compassionate Care, would legalize cannabis possession and cultivation for qualified patients, and would also legalize dispensaries.
On Sunday The California Democratic Party voted to make the legalization of recreational cannabis an official party platform. This decision falls in line with the opinion of 65% of those in the state, according to recent polling.
Advocates of the Marijuana, Control Legalization & Revenue Act are currently collecting signatures (they began last month) in an attempt to put their initiative to a vote this year. They need to collect roughly half a million signatures by June 30th, and are currently fundraising in an attempt to garner enough money to pay for professional signature gatherers.
A legislative committee has projected that Colorado will make over $180 million in tax revenue from legal recreational cannabis sales in the first 18 months; this isn’t much of a surprise, given that recreational cannabis sales exceeded $5 million in the first week (sales began January 1st), with less than 50 stores open.
On March 1st registration officially began for legal hemp cultivation, marking the dawn of legal hemp in the state.
- District of Columbia (U.S. Capital)
On March 4th the Washington D.C. Council gave approval to a measure to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis. The proposal now goes to the district’s mayor, who’s in support of the measure.
Earlier this month Florida’s House of Representatives passed a measure to legalize medical cannabis extracts that are low in THC, and high in CBD. The measure currently sits in the state’s Senate, where its approval will send it to the governor for consideration.
In addition to this measure, companion bills – Senate Bill 1562 and House Bill 1039 – have been filed in the state to legalize the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and the private cultivation of up to 6 cannabis plants, for those 21 and older, in addition to state-licensed cannabis distribution centers.
And of course, this November Florida voters will have the opportunity to legalize medical cannabis through a voter-approved initiative.
On March 3rd, with an 171 to 4 vote, Georgia’s House of Representatives approved a measure to legalize medical cannabis extracts for those with certain qualifying conditions.
House Bill 885 – also know as the “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” named in honor of Haleigh Cox, a child who suffers from a medical conditions that causes frequent and severe seizures – would permit certain academic medical centers (defined as a research hospital that operates a doctor residency program) in the state to grow, process and distribute medical cannabis extracts for those with cancer, glaucoma and seizures.
Last week Hawaii’s Senate gave unanimous approval to a measure which would establish a research program to study the use of hemp for biofuel and remediation.
Polling released last month found that 66% of those in Hawaii support decriminalizing cannabis, and 85% support legalizing medical cannabis dispensaries.
The organization Compassionate Idaho – now an official subchapter of Americans for Safe Access – in continuing to work on getting an initiative to legalize medical cannabis on the state’s ballot.
On January 1st the state’s new medical cannabis law – which legalizes the possession of 2.5 ounces of cannabis for patients, as well as medical cannabis dispensaries – took effect. The state has until the end of April to determine regulations for dispensaries.
Indiana’s full legislature has given approval to a proposal to legalize industrial hemp. The measure currently sits on the governor’s desk; he has 60 days to either sign the measure into law, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.
Iowa lawmakers continue to discuss legislation to legalize medical cannabis, with support growing at a rapid pace. To add to this, recent polling has found that a strong majority – 59% to 37% – of the state’s residents support such a move.
In February Kentucky’s House Health and Welfare Committee voted to approve House Bill 350, a proposal to legalize the possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis, the cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants, and state-licensed dispensaries. The measure currently sits in the House Judiciary Committee.
Recent polling has found that a majority – 53% – of those in Louisiana support the legalization of recreational cannabis. Only 37% are opposed.
Last month over 40 state lawmakers in Maine signed a letter urging the state to consider the legalization of recreational cannabis, something state lawmakers are continuing to do.
Last week Maryland’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved a proposal to decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis. A separate proposal to legalize medical cannabis has garnered over 60 cosponsors.
Massachusetts is currently moving forward with its recently-approved medical cannabis law; dispensaries are expected to be open by the end of the year.
A Supreme Court ruling from February set legal precedent across the state that localities can’t ban medical cannabis, though they can establish regulations.
Last week Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Review Panel voted to add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying medical cannabis condition.
On March 5th Minnesota’s House Health and Human Services Policy Committee gave approval to House Bill 1818, a proposal to legalize medical cannabis.The measure, which would legalize the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and the private cultivation of up to 12 plants, is cosponsored by 36 lawmakers.
On February 20th Mississippi’s full Senate passed a measure to legalize medical cannabis extracts for those with certain qualifying conditions. The measure currently sits in the House of Representatives.
State lawmakers are currently discussing legislation to add PTSD as a qualifying medical cannabis condition.