Marijuana and Cannabis Legislation
Azel Praer/Flickr The seeds of change are sprouting in Kansas
The way that the laws are currently written, you really do not want to get busted with weed in Wichita, Kansas...or any part of Kansas for that matter.
A first-time offense for simple pot possession in Kansas will earn you a misdemeanor charge on your record, up to a $2,500 fine, and even a year in jail. Get popped a second time and you could be looking at a felony.
But if the pro-cannabis advocacy group Kansas for Change has their way, that may be about to change for the better.
In 1999, the voters in Maine approved the state's first medical marijuana bill with a lopsided 61% approval. A decade later, the law was improved upon to allow for storefront dispensaries and to broaden the list of acceptable medical conditions that marijuana could be recommended for. In 2011, the law was built upon once again, protecting patients' rights by making many registration processes optional.
In November of 2013 Portland, Oregon became the first city on the east coast to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21. In November of this year, the city of South Portland became the second.
Statewide recreational marijuana legalization -similar to what we've seen in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and D.C. - appears to be inevitable in Maine.
Emboldened by recent federal developments that seemingly gives states more authority to regulate medical cannabis, an Indiana state Senator says she's ready to (once again) push a medical marijuana bill through the state legislature.
Indiana State Sen. Karen Tallian.
State Sen. Karen Tallian has unsuccessfully ran marijuana-related bills for years (including decriminalization measures) that didn't even get the respect of a hearing in a committee. But Tallian says that the time is right to have a real discussion about legalizing marijuana for medical uses in her state and urged Republicans on the other side of the aisle to get their heads out of the sand.
Florida For Care, the group that put together a bipartisan Blue Ribbon Committee to dictate regulatory standards had the medical marijuana amendment passed back in November, is hosting a couple of conferences they've dubbed "The Future of Medical Marijuana in Florida."
With Amendment 2 defeated in the polls in November, the group is moving forward to start, as they put it, "strategizing and planning in advance of Florida's Legislative Session."
The next legislative session is scheduled for March.
A bill filed Monday in advance of the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature would make the maximum penalty for the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a $100 fine. The fine would not count as a criminal conviction and could not considered as such by anyone performing a background check.
Current Texas law classifies the possession of any amount of marijuana less than 2 ounces as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000. In 2007, the state passed a law allowing for marijuana users to cited for the misdemeanor and released. Harris, Dallas and Tarrant, the three biggest counties in the state, have not adopted cite-and-release, but Dallas has signaled its intention to do so as part of a January 2015 pilot program.
In a move that political pundits and cable news carnival barkers are calling a "bi-partisan victory" the U.S. Senate narrowly avoided another damaging government shutdown by passing a last-minute multilayered spending bill over the weekend to keep the gears turning in Washington D.C. until at least September of next year.
To see just how convoluted and counterproductive our political process has become, you need look no further than this spending bill, and buried deep within in it, one Republican's response to the weed legalization movement that he sees surging through state politics, including the nation's capital.
Virginia isn't very friendly when it comes to cannabis. Less than a half-ounce can get you up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines and anything over a half-ounce nets you anywhere from a mandatory year in jail to 10 years. Even paraphernalia can get you a year in the pokey.
But a proposal from Virginia state Sen. Adam Ebbin would ease some of that by decriminalizing an ounce or less of pot and dropping the fine to $100. The bill would also lessen the penalties for people caught growing six plants or less - though that would still remain illegal.
We should be well beyond questioning whether or not marijuana helps our returning veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. But instead, vets are still denied access by Veterans Affairs doctors who are bound by federal laws prohibiting weed.
A bill introduced yesterday by Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Dana Rohrabacher of California and co-signed by 10 other bipartisan lawmakers, would change that.
This week's asshole prohibitionist award goes to Kent County (Michigan) Prosecutor William Forsyth, who single-handedly has challenged the will of voters in Grand Rapids after they decided in 2012 to decriminalize up to 2.5 ounces of pot.
He's failed so far, but now the case is in the hands of the state Court of Appeals.
Forsyth first challenged the law in 2013, saying voters have no right to pass a measure that makes city laws conflict with state laws. But his challenge was shut down when a county circuit court judge said voters did have the authority.
Voters in Washington D.C. may have approved the legalization of limited amounts of pot for adults 21 and up earlier this month, but the U.S. Congress will have the final say. According to D.C. law, any new legislation Congress can either approve or reject new legislation in within 60 days.
The bill would also become law if no action is taken in that time - and that's exactly what some lawmakers want to see happen.