Marijuana and Cannabis Legislation
Minnesota state capitol.
Lawmakers in other states are now turning to Minnesota's new cannabis law as a model for their own legislation, despite the law's restrictions on eligibility and usage.
Over the past few weeks, legislators in both Pennsylvania and Georgia have turned to the Minnesota law, which passed in May, as a starting point for bills in their own states. But while the Minnesota law makes medical marijuana legal, it's limiting, offering only certain kinds of cannabis for certain patients.
In January of this year, The Washington Post conducted a poll of Washington D.C. residents which found that 8 in 10 polled said they were in favor of either decriminalization, or straight up legalization, of weed in the nation's capital.
In March, the City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis possession, knocking the punishment down from a year in jail, to a $25 fine. The District's medical marijuana program is expanding, and much like in Colorado, none of these things are leading to the reefer madness we've been warned about for decades.
But with legalization talk being passed around the tightest circles in the nation's capital, leave it to local Congressional Republicans to try to halt the inevitable progress of reform.
At precisely 2:51 a.m. on Friday, June 20, the New York State Assembly passed the Compassionate Care Act, which (when the bill passes the senate, as it is widely expected to, when it is taken up around 10 a.m.) will make New York the 23rd state in the union where medical marijuana is legal...as long as you don't smoke it. Seriously: Patients will need to use a vaporizer, pills or other extraction method. The use of joints, bongs and pipes--anything you light up--is strictly verboten.
Under the new law, physicians will have to go through a certification and registration process before they can prescribe the drug legally. Patients, likewise, will need to be certified by a doctor, and they will have to register with the Department of Health, which will provide an ID card proving one's certification, but they will be free to carry up to 30 days supply of medical pot.
A proposed law to begin strict, statewide regulation of marijuana dispensaries would allow edibles and concentrates (wax, honey oil, dabs, shatter) to be sold legally in California dispensaries.
An earlier version of the bill proposed by Sen. Lou Correa would have banned concentrated cannabis products, often blamed for home-lab explosions triggered by butane extraction processes. Medical marijuana advocates have been dead set against the legislation.
The New York State Legislature has just more than three days to approve a bill that would legalize medical marijuana across the state, before the legislative session ends on Thursday, June 19. If it doesn't pass--and it hasn't passed the last sixteen times it has been introduced--it will be back to the drawing board.
Activists who have pushed to pass the bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, remain stubbornly confident this will be the year--it is, after all, the furthest the bill has made it through the legislature since it was initially introduced in 1997. But Governor Andrew Cuomo is not bending over backwards to help move the legislation along. To the contrary, on Monday, Cuomo enumerated a laundry list of changes he wants to see implemented before he will support the bill to the Daily News.
The governor of South Carolina has approved a restrictive CBD-only bill into law in her state. But despite the moral victory for cannabis activists, the fact that it doesn't allow cannabis to be cultivated in the state, nor does it even allow for psychoactive chemicals to be extracted or given to patients may be a real hinderance.
Some sick and ill Iowa residents will now have access to a very limited form of medical marijuana after Gov. Terry Branstad signed a CBD-only medical cannabis bill into law last Friday.
But to access that medicine, patients are going to have to navigate some major legal gray areas and travel at least two states away.
A bill that would ban the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from prosecuting medical marijuana patients, caregivers and businesses which are otherwise following state laws is up for debate this week in Washington D.C.
Similar measures have failed in recent years, but bipartisan backers of the bill - including author Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California - say they've got the support this time around.
With less than a month to go in the 2014 session, the New York State Assembly yesterday approved a medical cannabis bill. The bill would legalize the possession of up to two and a half ounce of herb for qualified patients as well as allow state-regulated dispensaries. The bill will now head to the state Senate.
Yesterday, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a baker's dozen worth of bills on various topics. But arguably the two most high-profile measures had to do with marijuana: legislation to establish a one-ounce-of-cannabis equivalent for concentrates and a proposal to make marijuana edibles more identifiable.
A prominent marijuana advocate praises these measures as examples of responsible legislation even though it's quite unclear at this point what the new laws will actually do.