A State-By-State Update on Efforts to Reform Cannabis Policies Across the U.S.
Nebraska’s full Senate this month gave approval to a proposal to legalize industrial hemp. The measure currently sits in the House, which is expected to vote on the measure soon.
In January Nevada’s Governor signed a proposal legalizing medical cannabis dispensaries, which are expected to open sometime next year.
Also in January, a campaign aimed at putting a cannabis legalization initiative on the state’s 2015 ballot officially got underway; advocates are required to collect roughly 102,000 signatures to qualify.
- New Hampshire
Earlier this month New Hampshire’s full House of Representatives voted to legalize medical cannabis cultivation, a year after voting to legalize medical cannabis possession and dispensaries.
The same week, the state’s House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee passed a proposal to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis, making it a simple fine.
- New Jersey
In January New Jersey’s Legislature gave approval to a proposal legalizing industrial hemp. In addition, a proposal to legalize recreational cannabis was announced last month by the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- New Mexico
In early March New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced that she will be implementing rules changes to the state’s medical cannabis law which adds Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions for an individual to become a medical cannabis patient.
- New York
In January New York Governor Andre Cuomo took executive action that will implement a long-dormant state-law which allows for the medical use of cannabis for certain conditions, and allows for distribution centers to distribute cannabis to qualified patients.
Despite this move, many advocates rightfully believe that it doesn’t go far enough, and lawmakers are continuing to discuss the full legalization of medical cannabis, and its expected that a provision to do just that will be including in the legislature’s upcoming budget bills.
- North Carolina
A Public Policy Polling poll released earlier this year found that a plurality of the state’s voters – 48% to 42% – are in support of legalizing recreational cannabis.
Polling released in February – conducted by Quinnipiac University – found that 87% of those in the state favor the legalizing of recreational cannabis, with just 11% opposed to the move.
An initiative to decriminalize cannabis possession was filed this month in Oklahoma City.
In February Oregon’s House Judiciary Committee voted to approve putting a proposal to legalize recreational cannabis to a vote of the people this November. The measure currently sits in the House Rules Committee.
Although it has yet to advance out of committee, bipartisan legislation was filed in January to legalize medical cannabis, a move that’s supported by 85% of registered voters in the state, according to recent polling.
- Rhode Island
A proposal to legalize recreational cannabis was filed last month by the Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
- South Carolina
Legislation was filed this month in South Carolina to legalize medical cannabis, including private cultivation (6 plants) and safe access points.
In February the state’s Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 839, a proposal to legalize industrial hemp. The measure is expected to be voted on by the full Senate soon.
Tennessee’s House Health Committee will soon hold a public hearing on a proposal to legalize medical cannabis, according to the Chair of the committee.
In January Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his support for decriminalizing cannabis, the same week as two cannabis-related proposals were filed in the state’s legislature; one to legalize medical cannabis, and one to significantly reduce the penalties associated with cannabis possession.
On March 6th Utah’s Senate Health and Human Services Committee gave unanimous approval to a measure to legalize medical cannabis extract that’s low in THC; the measure has already been approved by the state’s full House, 62 to 11.
A proposal to legalize recreational cannabis was filed in January in Vermont by Senator David Zuckerman. The proposal would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces, and the cultivation of up to 3 plants. Cannabis retail outlets would also be legalized.
Washington continues to move forward with implementation of the state’s newly legal recreational cannabis market, with retail outlets expected to be open by the end of the year.
However, medical cannabis patients are in the midst of a serious battle; the state’s Senate has recently approved Senate Bill 5887, a proposal to, among other negative changes, bring forth a mandatory patient registry, shutdown all current medical cannabis safe access points, etc.. The measure currently sits in the state’s House, where it has until March 13th (the end of the session) to be given approval.
Earlier this month a proposal to legalize the possession of up to a half ounce of cannabis was filed in the state’s legislature.
According to recent polling, a majority of those in the state (50% to 44%) are in favor of such a move.
A measure to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis was introduced in Wyoming’s House of Representatives at the end of January. The same month, an initiative to legalize medical and recreational cannabis – aiming for the 2016 ballot – was filed by Wyoming NORML.
If you’re in the U.S. and want to urge your lawmakers to support these efforts, you can look them up by clicking here.
[Editor’s Note: Sources are hyper-linked throughout the article.]