Subcategories

Alabama Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Sessions, Jeff - (R - AL)

326 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-4124

Contact: www.sessions.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff

Communications: Stephen Miller 

 

Shelby, Richard C. - (R - AL)

304 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-5744

Contact: www.shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailsenatorshelby

Sen. Shelby is running for re-election in 2016, to a sixth term in office

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

The only legal form of marijuana in Alabama is CBD or cannabidiol, which is a compound in cannabis that has medical effects without the THC to get you high. Patients with debilitating epileptic conditions can use CBD as part of state-sponsored clinical trial at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Alabama legislators authorized this study on CBD in Senate Bill 174 in 2014.

Marijuana Policy Project on Alabama:

Last update: July 21, 2015

ACLU study shows Alabama’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates

Alabama has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the country. Possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to a year of incarceration. It’s clear these laws have not been successful, and new evidence shows that Alabama’s laws are not being evenly enforced.

A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Alabama are 4.4 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Alabama inching toward more humane marijuana policy

During Alabama’s 2015 legislative session, Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law a modest penalty-reduction bill. SB 67 creates a new class of felonies with lower penalties for several lower level crimes, including second convictions for marijuana possession. These convictions now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison rather than up to 10 years, along with lower maximum fines.

In addition to the passage of this limited step forward for Alabama’s marijuana policies, two other bills were introduced but not enacted this year. The first, SB 162, would have declared anyone with five nanograms of THC per milliliter in his or her blood guilty of driving under the influence, regardless of whether the person was actually impaired. Thankfully, this unscientific bill did not advance beyond the Senate. But it is regrettable that a bill to create a compassionate medical marijuana program — SB 326 — did not even pass in the Senate.

While progress has been slow, last year’s passage of Carly’s Law — a CBD-focused bill — and this year’s passage of SB 67 are good indicators of changing attitudes in the Yellowhammer State. A 2004 poll by the Mobile Register and the University of South Alabama found that 75 percent of respondents supported legalizing marijuana for medical use under a doctor’s supervision.

Alabama Cannabis News

Alaska Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators From Alaska

Dan Sullivan

702 Hart Senate Building Washington, D.C. 20510

Main: 202-224-3004 Fax: 202-224-6501

 

Lisa Murkowski

709 Hart Senate Building Washington, D.C. 20510

Main: 202-224-6665  Fax: 202-224-5301

Sen. Murkowski is up for reelection in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Marijuana is legal in Alaska for both medical and recreational users, with some restrictions. It is legal to grow your own herb and possess up to one ounce (4 ounces in your private residence), but it is still illegal to sell or consume in public.

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Alaska:

Last update: November 30, 2015

In a dramatic final series of votes on Friday, November 20, the Marijuana Control Board (MCB) settled on its final set of recommendations for the rules governing the emerging adult retail marijuana market in Alaska. Of critical importance, the board amended language that would have prevented retail marijuana locations from allowing adults to consume onsite. Under the revised rules, marijuana cafés could be licensed and allowed to operate unless prohibited by local communities.

Several other key changes were made, including the removal of the express ban on so-called “social use clubs” (which the board still says are unlawful), the cap on THC levels in concentrates, and a controversial amendment to the residency requirement that would allow outside investors to help fund marijuana businesses. Thanks so much to everyone who raised their voices in support of more sensible regulations. Detailed analysis of many of the key votes is covered here.

The final set of rules adopted by the board will be reviewed by the Department of Law and finally the lieutenant governor before they are made official in early 2016. Then, starting in the spring, businesses can begin the processes of applying for licenses to cultivate, process, test, or sell marijuana to adults 21 and over. For more information about Measure 2, check out this FAQ from the Alaska Department of Commerce. You can read a summary of the law here.

Alaska Cannabis News

 

Arizona Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators from Arizona-

 

US Senator John McCain

218 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510

Main: (202) 224-2235 Fax: (202) 228-2862

Sen. McCain up for reelection in 2016

 

US Senator Jeff Flake

Washington, D.C. Office Senate Russell Office Building 413 Washington, D.C. 20510

P: 202-224-4521 F: 202-228-0515

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

In 2010, voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act by a narrow margin of just over 50 percent. The citizen initiative (Proposition 203) called on the Arizona Department of Health Services to create a medical marijuana program. About 50,000 people participate in Arizona's medical marijuana program. The Medical Marijuana Act authorizes the possession and personal use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by patients with written certification from a physician to alleviate a variety of symptoms associated with conditions (and the treatment prescribed for these conditions) such as: cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Crohn's disease, and Hepatitis C.

State Penalties for Non-Medical Marijuana Use

It is important to note that recreational use of marijuana, possession with intent to sell, possession or sale of more than 28 grams, and non-medical cultivation of marijuana are still serious crimes in Arizona.

Marijuana Policy Project on Arizona:

Last update: September 15, 2015

Arizona has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country, but it does have a robust medical marijuana program. Unlike most states, the criminal penalty for possession of just one ounce of marijuana can be a felony that carries a potential penalty of 18 months in jail and a $150,000 fine. A 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that over 55% of drug arrests or citations in Arizona are for marijuana possession and that blacks are 2.4 times more likely to be arrested or cited for marijuana possession than whites despite similar rates of use.

Marijuana’s status as a criminal offense is a distraction for law enforcement and needs to change. In 2012, over 90% of all marijuana busts were for possession, yet during the same year, 92% of all reported burglaries, 74% of all reported rapes, and over 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

In one bright area, in 2010, Arizona voters approved Prop. 203, an MPP-drafted and funded initiative to allow the medical use of marijuana. More than 75,000 patients are currently registered and are able to obtain their medicine from more than 90 dispensaries. The program recently expanded with the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions. To learn about the program, visit the Department of Health Services’ medical marijuana webpage.

2016 Arizona ballot initiative

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona, sponsored by Marijuana Policy Project, has filed a ballot initiative with the Arizona Secretary of State. In order to place the initiative on the 2016 ballot, the campaign needs more than 230,000 signatures from Arizona voters; the campaign has collected over 70,000 signatures already. The initiative would establish a sensible tax-and-regulate system for retail sales of marijuana to adults in Arizona. Visit the campaign website to read a summary of the initiative. You can find the full version here. No gains or losses in 2015 legislative session This year’s legislative session has come to an end, and while it is unfortunate that the Arizona Legislature did not take the opportunity to improve marijuana-related laws, neither did it cause significant harm. Two bills sponsored by Rep. Mark Cardenas — one that would have decriminalized marijuana by removing criminal penalties, the other that would have allowed adults to use, grow, and safely purchase marijuana — did not advance. Fortunately, a terrible DUI bill that would have made criminals out of drivers who are not impaired also died. Rep. Sonny Borrelli’s bill, HB 2273, would have allowed courts to consider the presence of a metabolized form of THC, which was excluded from consideration in DUI cases by the Arizona Supreme Court. His misguided bill would have added consideration of the metabolized form of THC back into the DUI laws — ensuring that people who are not impaired would be found guilty of DUI. Fortunately, the bill did not pass. Both the Arizona Supreme Court and researchers for the federal government say metabolized THC has nothing to do with impairment.

Arizona Cannabis News

 

Arkansas Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Boozman, John - (R - AR)

141 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4843

Contact: www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact 

Sen. Boozman is up for re-election in 2016

 

Cotton, Tom - (R - AR) 124

Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2353

Contact: www.cotton.senate.gov/content/contact-tom 

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Arkansas drug laws allow some discretion by the court, with the possibility for up to one year of incarceration for possession of small amounts. The state also imposes mandatory minimum sentences for possession of more than 10 pounds or sale of more than 4 ounces. Possession of more than 500 pounds is considered trafficking, or "presumption of intent" to traffic.

Marijuana Policy Project on Arkansas:

Last update: August 17, 2015

Arkansans still considered criminals for choosing the safer choice

Arkansas has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation, but despite increasing interest around the country for improvements to marijuana laws, the Arkansas Legislature has shown little interest in changing its cannabis laws. Possessing less than four ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor carrying up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Possessing an ounce of marijuana or more by those who have twice been convicted of possession is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $6,000.

In 2012, there were at least 5,718 marijuana arrests in Arkansas. Of those arrests, over 90% were for marijuana possession. During the same year, 91% of all reported burglaries, including home invasions, and over 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. Law enforcement should stop wasting time on marijuana-related offenses and use its resources to stop real crime.

In addition to wasting law enforcement time on victimless marijuana offenses, marijuana enforcement has been extremely unequal in Arkansas. African Americans in Arkansas are over three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana compared with whites, although both black and white populations consume marijuana at similar rates. To learn more about how the war on marijuana can be used to discriminate against African Americans in the U.S. and in Arkansas, check out the ACLU’s recent report.

Medical marijuana

In November 2012, 48.56% of Arkansas voters voted for a medical marijuana measure. While this fell just shy of the votes needed to finally protect seriously ill patients from arrest, it did show substantial support for protecting patients. In all likelihood, support has grown as awareness has risen about marijuana’s medical benefits, including after Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN became supportive and profiled several patients. One patient was a young girl whose catastrophic seizures were effectively treated by a strain of marijuana that she did not smoke and that had very low THC.

Arkansas Cannabis News

California Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Boxer, Barbara - (D - CA)

112 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3553

Contact: www.boxer.senate.gov/contact/

Sen. Boxer is retiring in 2016

 

Feinstein, Dianne - (D - CA)

331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3841

Contact: www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me 

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

California marijuana laws changed drastically with the decriminalization of possession (under 28 grams) and legalization of medical marijuana under the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215). It is now akin to a traffic ticket and is only an infraction with no possible jail time involved. But possession with intent to sell, possession or sale of more than 28 grams, and non-medical cultivation of marijuana are still serious crimes in California that often carry prison sentences upon conviction.

Medical Marijuana Protections

In order to qualify for the protections afforded by California's medical cannabis laws, a person must be either a qualified patient or a primary caregiver. A person is considered to be a qualified patient if a physician recommends or approves of their medical use of marijuana. Typically, this means that the doctor will give a written recommendation to the patient as proof of the patient's status that entitles them to use, possess, and cultivate cannabis.

Marijuana Policy Project on California: 

Last update: November 16, 2015

MPP is proud to support the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which will empower California voters to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and replace it with a more sensible system. We look forward to working with the initiative proponents and doing whatever we can to help pass this measure and make history in California next year.

Under the proposed initiative, marijuana would be regulated, taxed, and treated similarly to alcohol. Adults would no longer be punished simply for possessing it, and law enforcement officials would be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes. It would take marijuana sales out of the underground market and marijuana cultivation out of California neighborhoods and national forests. The fact that it would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue each year is a huge bonus that would benefit all Californians.

In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law three pieces of legislation that will together regulate businesses serving medical marijuana patients in the largest program in the nation. The Department of Consumer Affairs and other regulatory agencies have until January 2017 to adopt rules overseeing the industry, and those rules are expected to go into effect in 2018. For an overview of the new laws, see our summary available here. Also this year, the legislature and governor approved a bill, spearheaded by Americans for Safe Access, to stop discrimination against medical marijuana patients awaiting organ transplants. The landscape of marijuana-related laws is shifting, and be sure you don’t miss out. If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for our email alerts to stay current on latest events!

The current legal status of marijuana in California

Under California law, possessing up to an ounce or less of marijuana is a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. While this is a more reasonable approach than many states take, California is still punishing tens of thousands of responsible adults for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than both alcohol and tobacco. A 2015 PPIC poll found that 55% of Californians believe marijuana should be legalized.

One of the most tragic failures in the war on marijuana is how hard it impacts racial minorities. The ACLU’s 2013 report entitled “The War on Marijuana in Black and White” shows that where blacks represent 6.7% of the population in California, they account for 16.3% of the arrests (or citations) for marijuana, while rates of usage are virtually the same between black and white populations.

It is true that California’s marijuana laws are not as draconian as some other states, but the state is still wasting precious resources on citing, arresting, and prosecuting marijuana offenders, while ensuring the profits of marijuana sales go to criminals instead of responsible businesses and supporting the state budget. And despite its reputation as being easy-going with respect to marijuana possession and use, California arrested or cited over 21,000 people in 2012 for marijuana-related offenses.

California Cannabis News

 

Colorado Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Bennet, Michael F. - (D - CO)

261 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5852

Contact: www.bennet.senate.gov/

Sen. Bennet is up for re-election in 2016

 

Gardner, Cory - (R - CO)

354 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5941

Contact: www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory 

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com: 

Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use, and ever since then, people have been curious about how the law works. How much can I buy? Who can I buy from? Can I grow and/or sell it? Before making any decisions, make sure you know how the Rocky Mountain State’s new laws work. Here is a brief summary of Colorado’s marijuana laws as they currently stand.

Marijuana Laws in Colorado

Marijuana possession and sale are legal in Colorado, within certain limits. All buyers must be 21, and the Department of Revenue regulates all licensing.

Visitors to Colorado would understand pot is not treated the same by other state marijuana laws and remains illegal under federal law by way of the Controlled Substance Act. And regardless of what a state’s marijuana laws say, federal law will always supersede state law. Thus far, federal law enforcement agencies have left policing marijuana within the state to Colorado authorities, but the federal government hasn’t given up on enforcing restrictions on interstate cases of pot possession, manufacturing and cultivation and trafficking and distribution.

Marijuana Policy Project on Colorado: 

Last update: September 28, 2015

At the beginning of 2014, Colorado became the first jurisdiction in the world to usher in a new era of regulated retail sales of marijuana for adults’ use, and today the results are overwhelmingly positive. Colorado collected more than $76 million in taxes and fees from the marijuana industry, a record amount will now go to schools, and voters are more supportive of marijuana legalization today than when they voted to end marijuana prohibition in 2012.

Meanwhile, overall crime in Denver is down slightly as compared to 2013. The state has licensed hundreds of retail dispensaries throughout the state and more than 16,000 individuals to work in the industry. That does not even include jobs created in collateral sectors, such as construction, law, accounting, and tourism. The success of Colorado’s unique industry has contributed to Denver’s commercial real estate boom and may have boosted the state’s record-breaking ski season. And despite dire warnings from prohibitionists, teen marijuana use has either remained steady or gone down, and driving fatalities have gone down. Click here for further details on life after legalization and regulation in Colorado.

Families find hope high in the Rocky Mountains

In the summer of 2013, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta released a documentary about medical marijuana called Weed, featuring a CBD-rich cannabis oil that could save lives. The oil successfully treated seizures caused by intractable epilepsy, which sometimes occur hundreds of times per day. Soon, more than a hundred families flocked to Colorado, most with a child suffering from similar seizures. They called themselves “medical refugees,” and Colorado’s medical cannabis was their last hope.

If you or someone you know would like to become a registered medical marijuana patient in Colorado, please visit the Department of Public Health and Environment’s website for a list of frequently asked questions, application information, and materials.

State and city officials addressing social consumption

Government officials and business organizations in Colorado have expressed a commitment to developing laws that allow for the social use of marijuana by adults in commercial establishments.

Rep. Kit Roupe has drafted a bill which would establish a retail cannabis club license category, which she expects to introduce when the legislature reconvenes in 2016. Adult marijuana users would be allowed to consume at licensed establishments that admit only those 21 and older, and some could qualify to also serve food and alcohol.

Denver civic and business leaders also agreed to work on the issue after the Campaign for Limited Social Cannabis Use withdrew a city initiative to create such a law, which was poised for the 2015 ballot. The campaign arrived at the decision after engaging in several productive discussions with city council members, the city attorney, a representative from the mayor’s office, and leaders of several major business organizations, including the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, the Colorado Restaurant Association, and the Downtown Denver Partnership.

Initiative backers are engaging in conversations with city officials and remain hopeful that they will result in a sensible social use law that the city is willing and able to implement. If not, they will have the option of putting one on the ballot during the 2016 presidential election, when increased voter turnout will create a more favorable electorate compared to this year.

Colorado Cannabis News

 

Connecticut Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Blumenthal, Richard - (D - CT) Class III

706 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2823

Contact: www.blumenthal.senate.gov/contact/

Sen. Blumenthal is up for re-election in 2016

 

Murphy, Christopher - (D - CT) Class I

136 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4041

Contact: www.murphy.senate.gov/contact

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Connecticut’s law approving the sale of marijuana for medical purposes was on the books since 2012. And growing the drug took off right away. Indeed, across Connecticut, growers cultivate marijuana for medical use in buildings with the exacting standards of pharmaceutical factories. Under the law, patients wishing to receive medical marijuana have to register with the state. To qualify, patients must have one of 11 debilitating conditions, which include cancer, Crohn's disease and HIV/AIDS.

That is all well and good, but what about a place for Connecticut residents to actually buy the plant? Among the challenges has been finding dispensing locations acceptable to Connecticut towns and cities. You must find a licensed dispensary.

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Connecticut:

Last update: October 4, 2015

Decriminalization and prohibition

Legislative history and background:

 

Since 2011, possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana has been a civil violation in Connecticut, punishable by a fine of up to $150, meaning it is not a jailable offense. Subsequent offenses are subject to increased fines ranging from $200-$500. Upon a third violation, offenders are referred to a drug awareness program. Most importantly, those accused of being in possession are not saddled with criminal records, which can mark a person for life. In addition to the fine, anyone under 21 who is found in possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana faces a 60-day suspension of his or her driver’s license.

Although Connecticut has improved its marijuana laws in recent years, penalties still exist for adults in possession of a substance that is less harmful than alcohol. Data reported to the FBI by state law enforcement shows that in 2012, 85% of all marijuana-related arrests or citations were for possession. During the same period, over 76% of all reported rapes and 85% of all burglaries, including home invasions, went unsolved. Law enforcement should focus its resources and time on serious crime instead of pursuing people in possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Recent events:

Several positive bills were introduced in 2015. Rep. Edwin Vargas’s HB 6473 and Rep. Juan Candelaria’s HB 6703 would each replace Connecticut’s prohibition of marijuana with sensible regulations for adults’ use.

A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that a majority of voters in Connecticut support legalizing cannabis for adults. Fifty-two percent of all voters, and 80% of voters under 30 years old, support legalizing the possession of personal use amounts of marijuana for adults.

Medical marijuana

Legislative history and background:

On June 1, 2012, Connecticut enacted a medical marijuana program that protects patients from arrest and prosecution if they have a valid registration card. The state Department of Consumer Protection oversees the program. A patient may obtain up to 2.5 ounces every month from a licensed dispensary, but home cultivation is prohibited. Unfortunately, the program does not currently allow for minors to access medical marijuana. Connecticut is one of the only states that prohibits seriously ill minors from having legal access to the state medical marijuana program. To learn more about the specifics of the Connecticut medical marijuana program, visit our state- by-state report.

Recent events:

In the last session, two bills were introduced that could help provide important access to medical marijuana for minors. HB 5892, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Ryan, would allow access to qualified minors who have permission and supervision by a parent or guardian. Another bill, HB 6862, would simply study how access by minors could affect them.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, added four new conditions to the list of qualifying medical conditions. So far in 2015, the department agreed with the Board of Physicians to include sickle cell disease, post laminectomy syndrome (“failed back syndrome”), severe psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis.

The Department of Consumer Protections also decided to add up to three additional dispensaries. The new dispensaries will likely be located in New Haven and Fairfield counties, where roughly 50% of the state’s patients live. The state received 19 applications for dispensary licenses. The department said it expects to make selections in early 2016, and the dispensaries could be open by June.

24/7 Wall Street on Connecticut:

In a March 2015 Quinnipiac University poll, 63% of Connecticut residents surveyed said they would be in favor of legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults. The state decriminalized marijuana use in 2011, decreeing that any possession of the substance up to a half of an ounce would have a maximum penalty of a $150 fine and could not be punishable by jail time. Before the law passed, the state’s marijuana arrest rate in 2010 was 259 per 100,000 people. By 2012 the rate had dropped to just 104 such arrests per 100,000, the sixth lowest rate in the country.

Currently, the state also has several bills in the legislature that would legalize marijuana use for adult residents and regulate the industry.

Connecticut Cannabis News

 

Delaware Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Carper, Thomas R. - (D - DE)

513 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2441

Contact: carper.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-carper

 

Coons, Christopher A. - (D - DE) Class II

127A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5042

Contact: www.coons.senate.gov/contact/

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

In January 2015, a new Delaware marijuana decriminalization bill was introduced. Under House Bill 39, Delawareans caught with an ounce or less of marijuana would face just civil fines and not a criminal record. But will the bill become state law? Will Delaware come to treat simple possession of the drug, and private use, like a traffic ticket? Previous attempts at decriminalization have failed in Delaware.

The legislation, House Bill 39, would treat simple possession of the drug, and private use, like a traffic ticket. Selling the drug, and also possessing marijuana with an intent to sell, would remain criminal offenses.

Marijuana Laws in Delaware

Other states have expanded their drug laws to cover marijuana legalization and decriminalization, but marijuana remains illegal in Delaware even in medicinal cases. Possession of even small amounts of marijuana is a crime in Delaware. Some jurisdictions may offer drug diversion programs for some first-time offenders with no criminal history, but it's still a criminal offense, risking jail sentences and heavy fines.

Marijuana Policy Project on Delaware:

Last update: June 30, 2015

Delaware decriminalizes marijuana

On June 18, 2015, Gov. Jack Markell signed HB 39 into law, making Delaware the 20th state to decriminalize — or in four cases, legalize — possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. The Senate approved the bill less than an hour earlier in a 12-9 vote, and the House previously approved it 24-14.

Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 will make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. HB 39 goes into effect six months after enactment.

Compassion center open as of June 26, 2015

Almost four years after the state’s medical marijuana act was signed into law, Delaware’s first compassion center has finally opened! First State Compassion opened to qualified patients on June 26, 2015. Unfortunately, it is limited to cultivating 150 plants — far too few to meet patients’ needs. MPP submitted comments urging the department to revise the regulations to ensure a workable program. While the department refused to lift the cap now, there is a possibility of doing so later if and when the current regulations prove too limited.

The Department of Health continues to accept applications for medical marijuana ID cards, which will be required for patients seeking to obtain their medicine from a compassion center. If you are interested in obtaining your medical marijuana ID card, please visit the medical marijuana program’s website or call them at (302) 744-4749 to receive application forms. If you have further questions about the medical marijuana program, please see our summary of the law.

24/7 Wall Street on Delaware:

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the University of Delaware, 56% of respondents in the state agreed that “the use of marijuana should be made legal.” There were 2,912 marijuana-related arrests in 2012 in Delaware, the 12th highest rate of all states per capita. In 2012, about eight out of 10 adolescents in the state did not perceive light marijuana use as dangerous, a fairly lax view.

Delaware Cannabis News

Florida Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Nelson, Bill - (D - FL)

716 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5274

Contact: www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill

 

Rubio, Marco - (R - FL)

284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3041

Contact: www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Sen. Rubio is retiring in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

While some other states have experimented with marijuana legalization and decriminalization, marijuana remains illegal in Florida even in medicinal cases. Possession of small amounts of marijuana is a crime in the Sunshine State, albeit having less than 20 grams on you is a misdemeanor. While the option of drug diversion programs may be available for some first-time offenders with no criminal history, it's still a criminal offense

Marijuana Policy Project on Florida:

Last update: May 8, 2015

The 2015 legislative session has adjourned, and — unfortunately — legislators failed to protect sick and suffering Floridians from arrest and prosecution before they left Tallahassee. United for Care immediately announced that it would collect the necessary signatures to put the issue before voters in November 2016. In November 2014, a similar measure received 58% of the vote, just shy of the 60% needed for voters to enact a constitutional amendment.

Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes sponsored the legislative effort, SB 528. The Florida Medical Marijuana Act would have protected seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana under a doctor’s recommendation. It also would have created a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure that patients have safe and reliable access to the medicine they need.

In addition to considering comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, the legislature was presented with legislation that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like Colorado does, a public policy proposal that St. Pete’s Polls found 58.8% of Floridians support. Unfortunately, the legislation, introduced by Rep. Randolph Bracy, was not voted on, but all Floridians should email their lawmakers in support of sensible marijuana policies. Finally, if you are a victim of marijuana prohibition and would like to help reform the current laws, please let us know.

To receive news about Florida marijuana policy reform as it happens, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service, if you haven’t done so already.

Florida Legislature passes CBD bill in 2014

Shortly before adjourning its 2014 legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that attempts to exempt a limited group of very sick people from criminal laws for using marijuana that is low in THC and high in CBD if certain requirements are met. Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on June 16, 2014. Unfortunately, the Department of Health has run into many issues implementing the law, which also leaves many patients behind and may not help even those it’s meant to. A summary of the new law is available here.

Courts continue to reject suspicionless drug testing law

An ACLU suit to enjoin implementation of a 2011 law, signed by Gov. Scott, requiring new applicants for temporary welfare assistance funded by TANF to undergo, and pay for out of pocket, mandatory and suspicionless drug tests was declared unconstitutional in October 2011. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the more conservative federal appeals courts, upheld the decision. In April 2014, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear Gov. Scott’s appeal, letting the appeal court decision stand.

However, despite failing at every level, Gov. Rick Scott continues his quest to drug test welfare recipients. The governor has filed a brief in appellate court seeking to re-argue the state’s right to drug test all individuals seeking welfare benefits. Once again, the 11th Circuit rejected Gov. Scott’s argument and declared the practice unconstitutional. The governor’s office stated that it would review the ruling, but the ACLU attorney referred to this judgment as “the end of the line for the governor’s crusade.”

Court established defense

Despite the fact that a medical necessity defense has been established by Florida case law, patients remain at risk of being arrested and jailed because legislators have yet to enact a medical marijuana law. To review a 1991 case that outlines Florida’s medical necessity defense, click here.

Florida Cannabis News

 

Georgia Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Isakson, Johnny - (R - GA)

131 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3643

Contact: www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

Sen. Isakson is up for re-election in 2016

 

Perdue, David - (R - GA)

383 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3521

Contact: www.perdue.senate.gov/content/contact-david

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

While Georgia traditionally has had quite strict laws regarding the use of cannabis, the Peach State allows the very limited use of the herb. House Bill 1, also known as the "Haleigh's Hope Act," permits eligible patients to possess cannabis oil with a low percentage of THC (which produces the "high"). This is subject to change, as this area of law and regulation continues to evolve.

Here’s a look at the current state of Georgia marijuana laws.

Marijuana Under Georgia Law

The possession, sale, trafficking, and cultivation of marijuana is illegal in most states, although a few states tightly regulate its recreational use (with varying approaches to retail sales and home cultivation). However, roughly half of all states allow the medicinal use of cannabis. Georgia marijuana laws are relatively strict, but many counties in the state offer alternative sentencing programs for offenders, which offer treatment in lieu of jail time. Possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana is a felony in Georgia, punishable by one to 10 years in prison.

Marijuana Policy Project on Georgia:

Last update: October 5, 2015

ACLU study shows Georgia’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates

Georgia has some of the most punitive marijuana laws in the country, with possession of a mere two ounces being punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It’s clear these laws have not been successful, and new evidence shows that Georgia’s laws are not being evenly enforced.

A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Georgia are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Georgia’s low-THC oil medical cannabis law moves forward

Haleigh’s Hope Act, which allows some seriously ill patients to possess oils containing CBD and small amounts of THC, became law in April 2015. According to news reports, hundreds of patients in the state are now part of the state registry. Unfortunately, the law leaves the vast majority of medical marijuana patients behind. In addition, the law falls short because there is no legal way for cannabis to be produced, refined, or distributed within Georgia, leaving families with no in-state access. Several have uprooted so that at least two family members could establish residency in Colorado, which allows in-state access. For a quick look at the law, take a look at our summary here.

Fortunately, the governor established a commission to look at aspects of the law, and the sponsor of Haleigh’s Hope Act, Rep. Allen Peake, is its chairman. He and other members of the commission are considering ways the law may be improved, and the commission will take those suggestions back to the governor before the end of the year. In addition, Rep. Michael Gravely recently signaled he will present legislation during next year’s session that would establish a workable system to cultivate, process, and distribute cannabis oil under the state’s low-THC program.

Georgia Cannabis News

 

Hawaii Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Hirono, Mazie K. - (D - HI)

330 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6361

Contact: www.hirono.senate.gov/contact

 

Schatz, Brian - (D - HI) Class III

722 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3934

Contact: www.schatz.senate.gov/contact

Senator Schatz is up for re-election in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

There are famous strains of marijuana named after the Aloha State: Maui Wowie, Kona Gold, Kauai Electric. Yet, the drug remains illegal in Hawaii. Both locally and nationally, marijuana legalization has been gaining traction, but it hasn't happened yet in Hawaii.

Colorado and Washington famously made national news in 2012 when they ended their prohibitions on marijuana in landmark referendums. Hawaii seemed like a natural state to take the same step. Residents have a reputation for both growing quality "pakalolo," and smoking it: according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, Hawaii has the 10th highest marijuana usage rate in the nation among those 18 and older.

Sure enough, in 2013 state Legislature introduced five bills to either legalize or decriminalize weed—reducing possession from a petty misdemeanor to a civil fine, essentially removing jail time for offenders. But the high didn’t last long. All the bills were defeated.

Hawaii Marijuana Laws/Penalties

Marijuana remains a crime in Hawaii. Indeed, many tourists and Hawaii residents are slapped with fines or jailed.

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Law

Medical marijuana, meanwhile, is permitted in Hawaii. Qualifying patients are permitted to possess three ounces of usable medical marijuana. Home cultivation allows no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. There are no state-licensed dispensaries. Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include:

  •  Cachexia
  •  Cancer
  •  Chronic pain
  •  Crohn's disease
  •  Epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures
  •  Glaucoma
  •  HIV or AIDS
  •  Multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity
  •  Nausea

Marijuana Policy Project on Hawaii:

Last update: October 4, 2015

Medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Hawaii; session in recess until 2016

In 2000, Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process. The law permitted patients to grow their own plants but did not allow for dispensaries. On July 14, 2015, Gov. David Ige signed two important medical marijuana laws.

HB 321 allows medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Hawaii, and SB 1291 strengthens civil protections for patients. HB 321 initially allows eight dispensaries (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two locations each. Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the license holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants, as well as the two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.

SB 1291 strengthens existing civil protections for medical marijuana patients and adds new protections that prevent landlords, schools, and courts from discriminating against medical marijuana patients.

Decriminalization and prohibition

The Hawaii Legislature has before it legislation that would replace criminal penalties for possession of marijuana with a civil violation and proposals to end the Aloha State’s marijuana prohibition by taxing and regulating adult marijuana sales similarly to Colorado. Hawaii has a two-year session, so lawmakers can take up these issues when they reconvene in Honolulu in January 2016.

A QMark Research poll, commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, found that 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana, 69% think that jail time for marijuana offenses is inappropriate, and an overwhelming 57% favor legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. This last number is 20% higher than the last poll conducted in 2005.

In addition to polling, an economic analysis was commissioned from University of Hawaii economist David Nixon. Dr. Nixon estimates that Hawaii could redirect $9 million annually if it stopped arresting individuals for marijuana possession. Additionally, Hawaii could generate tax revenues of up to $11 million annually if the state legalized, regulated, and taxed the sale of marijuana to adults.

Multiple bills have been filed that will end Hawaii’s marijuana prohibition this session, giving legislators the opportunity to take a fiscally sound approach to marijuana policy when they reconvene in 2016.

Hawaii Cannabis News

 

Idaho Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Crapo, Mike - (R - ID)

239 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6142

Contact: www.crapo.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm

 Sen. Crapo is up for re-election in 2016

 

Risch, James E. - (R - ID)

483 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2752

Contact: www.risch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

While a few states, including our eastern neighbor Washington, have recently legalized recreational marijuana use, the Gem State hasn’t followed suit just yet. Despite current legalization efforts in other states, marijuana possession and sale, even for medical reasons, remains prohibited. Here are the basics of Idaho’s marijuana laws.

Marijuana Laws in Idaho

Idaho has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation. Possession of any more than three ounces of pot is a felony, and a conviction for selling marijuana could mean ten years in prison and $30,000 in fines depending on how much is involved and how many prior convictions a person has.

Marijuana Policy Project on Idaho:

Last update: April 15, 2015

Under current Idaho law, an individual charged with possession of up to an ounce of marijuana faces a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Unfortunately, this draconian law hits minority communities the hardest. According to the ACLU, black Idahoans are over two and half times more likely to be arrested for possession than their white neighbors. Ask your lawmakers to end marijuana prohibition today. To learn more about Idaho’s marijuana laws, arrests, and use, please see Dr. Jon Gettman, Ph.D.’s comprehensive report.

Cannabis extracts bill heads to governor

In early April, the Idaho Legislature approved S1146, a bill that would protect some seriously ill Idahoans from being convicted for possessing medical marijuana oils with very low amounts of THC. It also only protects patients from a conviction, not an arrest, and does not provide in-state access to the oils. Despite these serious limitations, S1146 — which now heads to Gov. Butch Otter — is a step forward.

S1146 would allow Idaho physicians to recommend certain medical cannabis oils to patients who suffer from cancer, seizure disorders, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s, mitochondrial disease, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, or sickle cell disease. It would only allow medical marijuana oils containing no more than 0.3% THC and at least 15 times more CBD than THC. It fails to allow these oils to be produced in Idaho, which will make it difficult for patients to obtain them. However, this proposal is better than current law, which makes criminals out of the ill for simply trying to relieve debilitating symptoms.

Idaho Cannabis News

 

Illinois Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Durbin, Richard J. - (D - IL)

711 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2152

Contact: www.durbin.senate.gov/contact/

 

Kirk, Mark - (R - IL) Class III

524 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2854

Contact: www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=contact

Sen. Kirk is up for re-election in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

The cultivation, trafficking, sale, or possession of marijuana is a crime in Illinois under the state's Controlled Substances Act. But while laws criminalizing cocaine, heroin, and other hard drugs typically result in felony charges, Illinois marijuana laws are much more lax. For instance, possession of less than 2.5 grams of cannabis is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine. The state also allows the use of medical marijuana for eligible patients as part of a pilot program slated to run through 2018.

Marijuana Policy Project on Illinois:

Last update: September 28, 2015

First decriminalization bill dies, but a second one in the works A bill that would have replaced criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana with a civil fine failed to advance this year. Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto to HB 218, calling for an increase in the possible fine and a decrease in the amount of cannabis covered, but supporting the core purpose of the bill. The clock ran out on approving HB 218 with the amendatory language, but there is still plenty of time for a new vehicle to be used for a proposal the governor can sign. Fortunately, lawmakers are currently working on a compromise with the governor’s office, and a new bill is expected to emerge before the end of the year.

This change is long overdue in Illinois. The state has the fifth highest arrest rate for This This change is long overdue in Illinois. The state has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the nation. Penalties currently range from jail sentences of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $1,500 for possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana (about one-tenth of an ounce) to upwards of three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines for possession of more than 30 grams. A study by the ACLU found that despite similar marijuana use rates, enforcement is far from equal — blacks are 7.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Illinois than whites.

More than 100 cities and towns — including Chicago — provide relief to Illinois’ high penalties by giving officers the option to cite offenders and punish possession of small amounts with a fine only. Unfortunately, those local measures are unevenly and unequally applied.

Opportunities to improve medical cannabis program fall short

Two key medical cannabis bills emerged from the legislature and were under consideration by the governor, but both were vetoed. Rep. Lou Lang sponsored a bill — HB 3299 — to extend the state’s Medical Cannabis Pilot Program by a year, and Sen. Michael Hastings, sponsored SB 33, which would have added PTSD as a qualifying medical condition to the state medical cannabis pilot program. These decisions are a serious blow to many seriously ill patients across the state who had hoped for relief. Follow this link for more information on the state program, including applications.

Illinois Cannabis News

 

Indiana U.S. SenatorsMarijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Coats, Daniel - (R - IN)

493 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5623

Contact: www.coats.senate.gov/contact/

 Sen. Coats is retiring in 2016

 

Donnelly, Joe - (D - IN)

720 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4814

Contact: www.donnelly.senate.gov/contact/email-joe

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Up until the present, the Hoosier State has kept it simple – outlawing pot completely with some of the most stringent marijuana penalties in the country. But that could change with some state lawmakers hinting at medical marijuana or legalization in the future. Until then, here’s a brief summary of Indiana’s current marijuana laws.

Marijuana Laws in Indiana

Other states have expanded their drug laws to cover marijuana legalization and decriminalization, but marijuana remains illegal in Indiana even in medicinal cases. Possession of even small amounts of marijuana is a crime in the Indiana, albeit having less than 30 grams on you is a misdemeanor. Some jurisdictions may offer drug diversion programs for some first-time offenders with no criminal history, it's still a criminal offense, risking jail sentences and heavy fines.

Marijuana Policy Project on Indiana:

Last update: August 19, 2015

Indiana has some of the most draconian marijuana penalties in the country. Possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to a year of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. Sadly, almost 90% of all reported burglaries, including home invasions, and over 85% of all motor vehicle thefts go unsolved, according to the state-based reports from Indiana state law enforcement to the FBI for the year 2012. During the same year, law enforcement devoted valuable time and resources to either arresting or citing over 9,000 individuals for marijuana- related offenses, 86% of which were for possession.

African Americans often bear the brunt of unfair enforcement of marijuana prohibition policies, and in Indiana, African Americans are over three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than their white counterparts, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates. For more information on how the war on marijuana is often waged unequally, check out this report by the ACLU.

Another legislative session, another opportunity lost

Most Americans now support improving marijuana laws, whether it’s by reducing criminal penalties, implementing meaningful medical marijuana programs, or ending marijuana prohibition and controlling marijuana sales. Polls have shown that Hoosiers want to see that change happen in Indiana too, but unfortunately the legislature has again ignored the majority of the state’s voters and refused to change the state’s harsh laws. This year, Sen. Karen Tallian’s compassionate medical marijuana bill, SB 284, didn’t even receive a public hearing. A similar measure, HB 1487, sponsored by Rep. Sue Errington also did not advance. Please take a moment to ask your representative and senator to support medical marijuana, which can provide relief to thousands of Hoosiers.

If there is good news coming out of this year’s session, it’s that Indiana did not go backwards in its marijuana policy. Bills reminiscent of the 1980’s failed strategy of ever-increasing penalties also did not move forward, including SB 275 and SB 278, which would have greatly increased Indiana’s already harsh penalties for marijuana possession, despite research that shows that increasing penalties does not change behavior.

Given the benefits marijuana policy reform has — from allowing police to focus on real crime, to raising revenue through legalization and taxation, to improving seriously ill patients’ wellbeing with medical marijuana — it should be just a matter of time before legislators and the governor’s office catch up to the will of the voters.

Indiana Cannabis News

 

Iowa Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Ernst, Joni - (R - IA)

111 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3254

Contact: www.ernst.senate.gov/content/contact-joni

 

Grassley, Chuck - (R - IA)

135 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3744

Contact: www.grassley.senate.gov/contact

Sen. Grassley is up for re-election in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

In 2014, Iowa became one of a few states to legalize the possession and use of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive extract naturally found in marijuana plants. Even then, use of cannabidiol is limited to patients with intractable epilepsy and the law only provides for an affirmative defense for individuals and their caregivers if they are charged with possession of the extract. For the rest of the state, marijuana possession and sale remain illegal in Iowa. Selling marijuana in the state is a felony, punishable by up to 50 years in prison depending on the amount of marijuana, the location of the sale, and the criminal history of the defendant.

Marijuana Policy Project on Iowa:

Last update: June 10, 2015

Iowa has harsh marijuana laws and arrested more than 6,600 people for marijuana offenses in 2010. First-offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, one of the most severe first offense penalties in the country. Unfortunately, these draconian penalties hit minority and low-income communities the hardest. According to the ACLU, blacks in Iowa are almost eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana prohibition than whitesPlease ask your legislators to end marijuana prohibition now!

You can learn more about Iowa’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by economist Jon Gettman, Ph.D.

Iowa Legislature adjourns session; House fails to advance sensible marijuana policy

The Iowa Legislature adjourned its 2015 session on June 5, leaving multiple marijuana policy reform bills on the table. However, the Senate voiced its support for both medical marijuana and reducing penalties for marijuana possession, giving potential medical patients and marijuana policy reform advocates hope that 2016 will bring necessary changes to the state’s laws.

The 2015 session saw the Iowa Senate vote 26-19 in support of a compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana proposal! The bill would have built on the Medical Cannabidiol Act enacted in 2014. It sought to allow Iowans suffering from a variety of debilitating conditions — including HIV/AIDS, cancer, MS, and epilepsy — to use and safely access medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. Unfortunately, despite popular support for the proposal, the House failed to debate the issue.

In addition to passing legislation to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution, the Iowa Senate approved legislation that would have reduced the penalties for possessing marijuana. The maximum sentence for possessing up to five grams of marijuana would have been reduced to 30 days in jail. This would have been a big improvement upon the status quo, which calls for up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both for possessing even a single gram of marijuana. The House also failed to debate this bill, so it is important that all Iowans continue to email their lawmakers in support of reducing marijuana possession penalties.

2010 Board of Pharmacy ruling

In 2009-2010, MPP worked with Carl Olsen and Iowa Patients to lobby the Board of Pharmacy. Thank you to all who participated! You can watch the testimony here. On February 17, 2010, the Board of Pharmacy voted 6-0 to recognize marijuana’s medical value and to recommend that the legislature reschedule marijuana to only Schedule II. The public also supports medical marijuana. A February 2010 Seltzer & Co. Iowa poll found that 64% of Iowans support patient use of medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval!

Iowa Cannabis News

 

Kansas Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Moran, Jerry - (R - KS)

521 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6521

Contact: moran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-jerry

Sen. Moran is up for re-election in 2016

 

Roberts, Pat - (R - KS)

109 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4774

Contact: www.roberts.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=EmailPat

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

While states across the nation, starting with Colorado and Washington, have decided to legalize recreational marijuana, Kansas still considers marijuana to be a controlled substance that shouldn’t be used recreationally by its residents. In fact, Kansas doesn’t even have legalized medical marijuana, although about half the states do allow cannabis for medical purposes. In 2014, a compassionate cannabis bill died in a Kansas senate committee, but future reform is possible.

Marijuana Policy Project on Kansas:

Last update: July 21, 2015

Possession of any amount of marijuana — even a single gram — can land Kansans in jail for up to a year, as well as a $1,000 fine. If they’re caught with marijuana again, they could be convicted of a felony and face up to three and a half years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Studies have shown that these types of harsh penalties do not reduce marijuana consumption rates and law enforcement efforts take time away from serious crime. Instead, they cost taxpayers money and needlessly ruin lives. It’s time for a different approach. Based on 2012 figures reported by state law enforcement to the FBI, there were over 4,700 arrests or citations for marijuana-related offenses during the year in Kansas, most of them for possession. During the same period, over 92% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and over 66% of all reported rapes went unsolved by law enforcement.

Positive discussion continues in 2015, but no policy improvements

During the now-closed 2015 legislative session, two long-time advocates for compassionate medical marijuana laws again sponsored bills to create a workable medical marijuana system. Sen. David Haley and Rep. Gail Finney introduced identical bills that would have allowed patients to safely access and use medical cannabis, as is the case in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, both bills died this session. Seventy percent of Kansans support medical marijuana, which received a resolution in support from the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature.

Kansas Cannabis News

 

Kentucky Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

McConnell, Mitch - (R - KY)

317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2541

Contact: www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=contact

 

Paul, Rand - (R - KY)

167 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4343

Contact: www.paul.senate.gov/connect/email-rand

Sen. Paul is up for re-election in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Marijuana possession and sale remains almost entirely illegal in Kentucky. While a law was passed in April of 2014 allowing patients access to cannabidiol (or “CBD,” a non-psychoactive element of marijuana) in medicinal cases, it is not expected to increase availability or use. Although other states have amended their drug laws to permit marijuana legalization and decriminalization, possession and sale of marijuana is still a crime in the Kentucky, with certain levels of possession constituting a felony under state law.

Marijuana Policy Project on Kentucky:

Last update: July 22, 2015

ACLU study shows Kentucky’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates

A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Kentucky are six times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Kentucky House Speaker emerges as medical marijuana champion for 2015

Medical marijuana efforts got a big boost in Kentucky when House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D- Prestonsburg) announced that he would sponsor a medical marijuana bill for the 2015 session. Stumbo’s bill, HB 3, is a very restrictive bill that would have made medical marijuana legal for Kentucky patients who were certified by a physician.

Unfortunately, the legislature adjourned in late March without taking action on the bill.

Despite the bill’s failure, Stumbo told reporters that he sees the issue gaining support in Frankfort. “I think it’s one of those issues … that the more people learn about it, the less they fear it,” he said.

Kentucky legislators have been dragging their feet for years on medical marijuana, but that finally started to change in 2014, when members of the House Health and Welfare Committee made history by voting 9-5 to approve an effective medical marijuana bill, HB 350.

In 2013, the Lexington Herald-Leader editorialized in favor of allowing medical marijuana. Today, with Speaker Stumbo as a champion on the issue, even greater progress appears to be possible.

Lawmakers pass, governor signs limited CBD bill

On Thursday, April 10, 2014, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a proposal that is intended to allow patients to use cannabidiol (“CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana) if directed by a physician. The new law went into effect immediately with his signature, but it is extremely unlikely it will actually result in patients being able to access CBD. Despite concerns about access, and the fact that this legislation excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients, it is still a positive step forward.

For more information on this new law, please see our summary of SB 124.

Kentucky Cannabis News

 

Louisiana Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Cassidy, Bill - (R - LA)

703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5824

Contact: www.cassidy.senate.gov/contact

 

Vitter, David - (R - LA)

516 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4623

Contact: www.vitter.senate.gov/contact

Sen. Vitter is up for re-election in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Though the Legislature legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 1991, there's no mechanism in current law that allows for the legal dispensing of the drug. Doctors can legally prescribe it, patients can legally use it, but there is no middle man. Indeed, Louisiana lawmakers have defeating marijuana legislation left and right. In April 2014, a Senate committee quashed the best shot of setting up a medical marijuana industry in the state. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee killed a bill that would have set up the tightest law in the United States regulating the prescription, dispensing and use of marijuana for medical purposes. That same month, another Louisiana Senate Committee killed a bill that would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession. Current Louisiana state law penalizes first-time possession of any amount of marijuana up to 60 pounds with a $500 fine and six months in jail (a misdemeanor), a $2,500 fine and five years in jail for a second offense (a felony) and a third conviction can bring a $5,000 fine and a 20-year jail term (a felony). Many say the law is enforced unevenly, however, since law enforcement agents and prosecutors handpick which repeat offenders get charged with felonies.

Marijuana Policy Project on Louisiana:

Last update: July 1, 2015

ACLU study shows Louisiana’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates

Louisiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. First-offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to six months in jail. Unfortunately, these laws disproportionately effect Louisiana’s African American community. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Louisiana are 3.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Legislature adjourns after improving marijuana policies

Louisiana’s 2015 legislative session saw the passage of two bills that move marijuana policies in the right direction. On June 29, 2015, Gov. Jindal signed into law HB 149, which reduces penalties for possession of marijuana, and SB 143, which attempts to create a compassionate medical marijuana program.

HB 149 reduces the maximum jail time and maximum fines that may be imposed for possession of quantities of cannabis less than 60 pounds. The maximum term of incarceration for first offense possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis is reduced from six months to 15 days. Meanwhile, SB 143 purports to create a medical marijuana program; however, it only permits physicians to “prescribe” marijuana. Unfortunately, federal law does not currently allow physicians to prescribe any Schedule I substance, which includes marijuana. This means that Louisianans will most likely continue to be without access or legal protections for medial cannabis. Furthermore, the law states that either or both of Louisiana State University and Southern University, jointly or separately, have the right of first refusal to be licensed as production facilities.

Poll shows Louisiana voters support reform

The people of Louisiana are ready to rid their state of the overly harsh penalties currently imposed for marijuana offenses. A February 2014 LSU State Survey found 79% of Louisianans support allowing medical marijuana. These results are more than 10 points greater than an August 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey that found 65% support for medical marijuana. The PPP poll also found that 56% of likely voters favor citing individuals for simple marijuana possession over arresting them, and 53% think the state should change its law “to allow marijuana to be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, for legal use by adults age 21 and older.”

Louisiana Cannabis News

 

Maine Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Collins, Susan M. - (R - ME)

413 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2523

Contact: www.collins.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email

 

King, Angus S., Jr. - (I - ME)

133 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5344

Contact: www.king.senate.gov/contact

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Maine is ahead of the curve with medical marijuana dispensaries and civil infractions for small amounts of marijuana (under 2.5 ounces) since 2009.

Maine classifies drugs from W at the top to Z at the least dangerous. Sensically, Maine classifies marijuana as only a Class Z drug.

Marijuana Policy Project on Maine:

Last update: August 11, 2015

Did you know that Maine is a “decrim” state? In 2009, the Maine Legislature passed a measure that expanded the state’s decades-old decrim law by making possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana a civil penalty, punishable by only a civil fine. For possession of up to 1.25 ounces, the fine is $350-$600. If the amount is between 1.25 ounces to 2.5 ounces, the fine is $700- $1000. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces can lead to a definite jail term of up to six months.

Of course, while removing the potential for jail time is a good first step, only taxing and regulating marijuana will solve the supply problem and completely remove marijuana from the criminal market

Medical marijuana in Maine

Maine voters passed the state’s medical marijuana law, Ballot Question 2, into law on November 2, 1999 with 61% of the vote. The law was improved by a ballot initiative in 2009 (Question 5) to allow dispensaries and add additional qualifying conditions. All eight dispensaries are currently up and running and no major problems have been reported.

In 2011, the Maine Legislature passed legislation making patient registration optional in order to preserve patient privacy and tweaking several other portions of the law. You can read a summary of those changes here.

From 24/7 Wall Street:

Maine has a relatively high rate of marijuana use, with an estimated 16.24% of residents 12 and older having smoked pot at least once in 2012, the seventh highest rate in the county. In 2013, Portland, the state’s most populous city, voted to legalize possession of small amounts of the drug for adults. While this still goes against state policy, and law enforcement has continued to enforce Maine’s prohibition of the drug, it is a sign of the public’s willingness to make a change.

Maine Cannabis News

 

Maryland Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Cardin, Benjamin L. - (D - MD)

509 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4524 Contact: www.cardin.senate.gov/contact/

 

Mikulski, Barbara A. - (D - MD)

503 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4654

Contact: www.mikulski.senate.gov/contact/

Send. Mikulski is retiring in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Marijuana possession that used to send people to jail and into Maryland's criminal justice system could now amount to nothing more than a civil penalty.

In 2014, Maryland passed a new marijuana law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill will make possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

Possessing less than 10 grams of pot used to be enough to get you locked up and have a criminal record. Not anymore. Note that the 10 gram threshold is an important one. Police aren't going to be carrying scales with them to weigh the drug, so in essence, they need to eyeball it. If you possess less than 10 grams, you are subject to a civil penalty that replaces the criminal penalty of $500 and/or 90 days in jail.

Marijuana Policy Project on Maryland:

Last update: June 23, 2015

Gov. Hogan vetoes sensible legislation; General Assembly may consider override in January

The Maryland General Assembly had a busy 2015 as it relates to reforming the Free State’s marijuana policies. The following were sent to Gov. Larry Hogan (R):

  • SB 517, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, would have removed the penalty for marijuana paraphernalia and imposed a civil fine of up to $500 for public smoking. Unfortunately, this incredibly modest proposal was vetoed by the governor..
  • The Second Chance Act would allow individuals who have been convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors, such as possessing marijuana or paraphernalia, to apply to have those records shielded from certain records requests from potential employers or schools. The application could not be filed until three years after any sentence was served. Thankfully, Gov. Hogan saw fit to sign this sensible bill.
  • HB 490 would improve Maryland’s medical marijuana law, including by removing the requirement that patients be enrolled in a medical marijuana research program at an academic hospital. Gov. Hogan also signed this bill.

The end of session also brought about the end of the line for good bills. Lawmakers chose not to move forward on legislation that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol, but they advanced the conversation.

2014: A year of reform

Last year saw several victories for marijuana policy reform in Maryland. On April 14, 2014, then-Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation to remove criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, along with twin bills that will finally provide qualifying patients with safe, legal access to medical marijuana.

The decriminalization law replaced criminal penalties and possible jail time with civil fines for those possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana. Details are available here. Meanwhile, the 2014 medical marijuana law empowered the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission to provide relief to patients without the participation of hospitals. The state’s old 2013 medical marijuana law relied on teaching hospitals to become involved in the distribution of marijuana. Unsurprisingly, none have done so. The new, updated law allows dispensaries and growers to provide medical cannabis directly to registered patients whose certifying physicians recommend it.

From 24/7 Wall Street:

The recently adopted Maryland Medical Marijuana State Program permits certified physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients diagnosed with certain conditions. As a result, the state’s first marijuana dispensary, Greenway Consultations, opened this past June. Still, the possession of more than 10 grams of pot is a misdemeanor in Maryland, and possession of less than 50 pounds with the intent to distribute carries a penalty of up to five years incarceration and fines up to $15,000.

Even so, there is a good chance Maryland is on track to legalize the substance. Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill supported by marijuana legalization advocates during the current legislative session. The Second Chance Act, under certain circumstances, permits individuals convicted of possessing marijuana, to have their arrest shielded from some records requests. As in most states on this list, a majority of Maryland residents support the legalization of marijuana.

Maryland Cannabis News

 

Massachusetts Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Markey, Edward J. - (D - MA) 

255 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 

(202) 224-2742

Contact: www.markey.senate.gov/contact

 

Warren, Elizabeth - (D - MA) 

317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4543

Contact: www.warren.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Massachusetts:

 

Last update: September 21, 2015

Although possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable by a civil fine of $100 in Massachusetts, pursuant to an initiative campaign led by MPP in 2008, the prohibition of marijuana has plenty of opportunity costs. Time spent enforcing marijuana laws could better be used to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of serious and violent crime. According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, in 2012, the clearance rate for murder in Massachusetts was 47.9%; for rape and burglary, the clearance rates were 24.9% and 10.2%, respectively.

Additionally, new evidence suggests that Massachusetts’ marijuana laws are not being evenly enforced. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Massachusetts are 3.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Massachusetts will consider taxing and regulating marijuana 

One way or another, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will seriously consider ending marijuana prohibition in 2015 or 2016.

In March 2015, Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Belmont) and Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) introduced H.1561, a bill that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for legal use by adults. A bipartisan group of 13 co-sponsors has signed on in support. Unfortunately, Gov. Charlie Baker has said he will “vigorously” oppose legalization.

In November 2014, voters in 14 districts set the stage for meaningful reform when they approved non-binding ballot questions indicating support for making marijuana legal. The legislature will have an opportunity to heed the call of voters in 2015, but it is likely they will fail to act. In that case, MPP has announced that it plans to support a ballot initiative — led by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts — that will give Bay Staters an opportunity to end prohibition themselves in the November 2016 election.

Fifteen dispensaries approved; one finally opens in June 2015 

On November 6, 2012, 63% of Bay State voters approved Question 3, making their state the 18th to enact a compassionate medical marijuana program. More than two years later — long after deadlines had passed — the Department of Public Health allowed the first dispensary to begin cultivating on December 31, 2014. Since then, three additional dispensaries have been approved to begin cultivation, and the first dispensary opened in Salem on June 24, 2015.

Question 3 called for up to 35 dispensaries, but only 15 dispensary applicants were selected by the department in 2014. In June 2015, the department announced that it would scrap its controversial scoring system for applicants and that it would instead begin considering applications on a rolling basis.

Meanwhile, patients have been able to apply for ID cards since October 2014. The registration is mandatory: Unregistered patients are no longer afforded any protection from being arrested.

You can read our summary of Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law here.

From 24/7 Wall Street:

Though the state’s marijuana policy is relatively progressive, it appears that decriminalization has not gone far enough for the majority of voters. In a poll released last year by the Boston Herald, 53% of state residents were in favor of legalizing marijuana, while only 37% were against. Proponents of legalization may have a chance to change the state law again in November 2016. Democratic State Representative Dave Rogers and Democratic State Senator Patricia Jehlen introduced a bill to to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults.

Massachusetts Cannabis News

 

Michigan Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Peters, Gary - (D - MI) 

724 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6221

Contact: www.peters.senate.gov/content/contact-gary

 

Stabenow, Debbie - (D - MI) 

731 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4822

Contact: www.stabenow.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Michigan:

Last update: October 8, 2015

Cannabis decriminalization and legalization, one city at a time

Last year marked the addition of eight more cities to the ranks of those that have adopted decrim measures, bringing the total number to 18. Michiganians are sending the message loud and clear to state legislators — it’s time to improve state law and eliminate criminal penalties for personal possession! Another such measure will be before voters this November in Portage. For a complete list of cities that have either lowered or removed criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Michigan, click here.

Two groups have expressed interest in placing statewide legalization measures on the November 2016 ballot and have begun gathering the signatures necessary to get the initiatives included in the election. Read more about the various efforts here.

Regulatory bills pass the House

Several important bills to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis preparations passed the House and are being transmitted to the Senate. Rep. Mike Callton’s HB 4209 would establish important protections for Michigan’s medical marijuana businesses and patients by setting up a regulated and licensed dispensary system. A second bill, HB 4210, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Lyons, would clearly allow extractions and the products made from them, such as edibles. A third related bill, Rep. Klint Kesto’s HB 4827, would require an electronic “seed to sale” tracking system for cannabis plants and cannabis products.

These bills are not perfect, but the vast majority of their provisions reflect similar regulatory systems in other medical marijuana states and provide important protections for businesses that do not exist today. We hope they can be further improved in the Senate prior to passage before the end of the year. 

A regulatory system is overdue. There are far too many cases in which those who provide critical services to help the state’s seriously ill patients are treated like criminals in Michigan.

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Program

Application forms, along with the full text of the law and accompanying regulations, can be found at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.

Under the MMMA, patients can choose to either cultivate their own medical marijuana in an enclosed, locked facility or to designate a caregiver to do so for them. Caregivers can assist no more than five patients. Also, note that in late 2012, the legislature passed several bills that changed the way the program works. Here’s a helpful summary of those new laws.

Michigan Cannabis News

 

 

Minnesota Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Franken, Al - (D - MN) 

 309 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5641

Contact: www.franken.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Klobuchar, Amy - (D - MN) 

302 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3244

Contact: www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/contact-amy

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Minnesota:

Last update: July 1, 2015

In 2012, there were 12,051 marijuana-related arrests in Minnesota. Sixty-two percent of these arrests were for marijuana possession. While the penalty for a first offense of possessing a small amount of marijuana in Minnesota is a $200 fine and mandatory drug education, having two ounces could land Minnesotans in jail for five years! These arrests hit minority communities the hardest. According to data from the ACLU, African Americans in Minnesota are nearly eight times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors! You can learn more about Minnesota’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D

Legislature adjourns; medical marijuana program launches

On May 18, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned the first half of its 2015-2016 legislative session, and although lawmakers failed to improve significantly upon the restrictive medical marijuana program enacted last year, they did make some changes. While most of the changes were technical, legislation passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton included a provision that requires the health department to consider adding severe pain to the list of qualifying conditions by January as opposed to July 2016, as the law originally called for. While this will not allow individuals suffering from extreme pain to access medical marijuana immediately, it will hopefully mean they will be able to do so six months earlier.

Mere days after the session adjourned, the medical marijuana program patient and healthcare practitioner enrollment officially began, and on July 1, Minnesota’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors to qualified patients. Minnesotans with qualifying conditions who are interested in enrolling in the program, and healthcare practitioners who are interested in certifying some of their qualified patients, should contact the Minnesota Department of Health for details. Unfortunately, there have been reports that healthcare practitioners have been slow to enroll. However, the program is new to Minnesota’s healthcare practitioners, and enrollment just opened. We hope that more doctors will register as it becomes apparent this is a patient-focused law. If not, we will seek legislative changes.

Statewide television ad campaign highlights the need for medical cannabis in Minnesota

On April 2, 2014, MPP and Minnesotans for Compassionate Care began running television commercials across the state highlighting just one of many Minnesotans, and his mother, who could benefit from passage of a compassionate law. You can watch the ad here.

On April 8, 2014, we began airing a second ad featuring Patrick McClellan, who has found that medical cannabis alleviates his debilitating spasms far more safely and consistently than prescription medications. 

From 24/7 Wall Street:

According to a study conducted by SAMHSA, from 2010 through 2013, Minnesota teenagers’ attitudes toward occasional marijuana use have relaxed. In 2010, 70.9% of 12-17-year old state residents did not consider smoking pot once a month to be risky behavior. By 2013, 75.4% of teenagers held the same perception.

Minnesota Cannabis News

 

Mississippi Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Cochran, Thad - (R - MS) 

113 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5054

Contact: www.cochran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

 

Wicker, Roger F. - (R - MS) 

555 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6253

Contact: www.wicker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Mississippi:

Last update: April 15, 2015

Did you know Mississippi is a “decrim” state?

Mississippi is one of the 19 states that have decriminalized — or, in four cases, legalized — personal use marijuana possession. First offense possession of 30 grams (a little more than an ounce) is punishable by a $250 fine instead of jail time and a civil summons as opposed to arrest, as long as the offender provides proof of identity and a written promise to appear in court.

Unfortunately, new evidence suggests that Mississippi’s marijuana laws are not being evenly enforced. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Mississippi are 3.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Hope on the horizon for Mississippi

In 2014, along with a slew of other traditionally conservative states, Mississippi passed a law allowing for the limited use of certain types of medical marijuana. This law provides an affirmative defense to individuals suffering from debilitating seizure disorders for the use and possession of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis extracts. While this measure only protects a tiny number of the patients who could benefit from medical marijuana, it is a step in the right direction. For more information about this new law, check out our summary here.

Since 1968, Ole Miss has been the sole producer of federally legal marijuana in the United States. Yet, university researchers can expect the same slow, multi-year approval process that has prevented trials from going forward for decades. Even those trials that manage to be approved tend to be small-scale and short-term. 

Each month, under the government’s Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, federal authorities send four patients a tin canister filled with about 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, filled with marijuana grown at Ole Miss. If the federal government can grow medical marijuana for out-of-state patients in Mississippi, why can’t Mississippi’s seriously ill patients access the medicine they need?

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Alliance for Cannabis is not waiting for the legislature to act. They are working hard to collect more than 100,000 signatures for Ballot Initiative 48 by October 2, 2015. If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, voters in Mississippi will decide in the 2016 general election whether to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults.

Mississippi Cannabis News

 

Missouri Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Blunt, Roy - (R - MO) 

260 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5721

Contact: www.blunt.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form?p=cont...

Sen. Blunt is up for re-election in 2016

 

McCaskill, Claire - (D - MO) 

730 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6154

Contact: www.mccaskill.senate.gov/contact

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Missouri:

Last update: June 10, 2015

Missouri’s 2015 legislative session wrapped up on May 15, and while it was encouraging that legislators introduced several positive bills, none of them passed. Two bills were introduced that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol for adults 21 and older. Polls now regularly show Americans support ending the failed war on marijuana, and it’s past time for state laws to change accordingly.

Americans support allowing access to medical marijuana by an even bigger margin, yet Missouri also failed to enact a comprehensive, compassionate medical marijuana program this year. Several bills were introduced in 2015 that would have allowed qualified patients to have safe access to medical marijuana, but unfortunately these bills also fell short. However, it is significant that these bills that represent positive steps have become a regular fixture at the state capital. We hope to see further progress following the recent addition of the state’s high-CBD law, which was signed into law in 2014. 


Marijuana laws in Missouri

In 2014, lawmakers enacted SB 491, which lessens penalties for those possessing up to 10 grams of marijuana, beginning in 2017. But Missouri still has a long way to go to protect its adult residents who choose to possess or use a substance shown to be objectively safer than alcohol. Possession of over 35 grams — about 1.25 ounces — is a felony subject to a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $5,000 fine.

In perhaps the most outrageous marijuana sentence in the state, Missourian Jeffrey Mizanskey is currently serving a life sentence for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses under a severe three-strikes law. Until May 22, 2015, he had no possibility of parole. Mizanskey’s sentence was commuted by Gov. Nixon on May 22, giving him the possibility of parole — and the possibility of not dying in prison.

Many thousands of Missourians are arrested and branded criminals each year for marijuana offenses. In 2012, Missouri arrested or cited over 18,800 individuals for marijuana-related offenses, 92% of which were for possession. During the same year, 87% of reported burglaries — including home invasions — and 88% of motor vehicle thefts went unsolved by law enforcement. In addition to marijuana prohibition diverting police from more serious crime, it’s also been unevenly enforced among races. Blacks are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Missouri than their white counterparts, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates. For more information on how the war on marijuana consumers is often waged unequally, check out the ACLU’s recent report.

Missouri Cannabis News

 

Montana Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Daines, Steve - (R - MT) 

320 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2651

Contact: www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve

 

Tester, Jon - (D - MT) 

311 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2644

Contact: www.tester.senate.gov/Contact/index.cfm

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Montana:

Last update: September 8, 2015

 

Montana’s harsh marijuana laws and efforts to change them 

In Montana, possession of even a single joint for non-medical purposes can land a person in jail for six months, while possession of 60 grams or more (a little over two ounces) can result in a sentence of up to five years. These stiff marijuana penalties cause related negative consequences.

In 2012, there were 1,502 arrests or citations for marijuana-related offenses, 95% of which were for possession. The number of marijuana arrests more than tripled since 2003. At the same time, law enforcement was unable to solve 91% of all burglaries — including home invasions — and over 85% of all motor vehicle thefts. Instead of arresting adults for possession of a product that is safer than alcohol, law enforcement should focus its limited resources on going after real criminals. It’s past time for a better solution.

Medical marijuana program hangs in the balance

Since the state’s original medical marijuana law passed in Montana in 2004 with 62% support, the Montana Legislature has spent its time either ignoring the program, or at times, devising ways to undermine it.

In 2011, it got as close to repeal as possible, according to Rep. David Howard. Its approach was to prohibit providers from cultivating or providing marijuana unless they could do it free of charge. Testing marijuana for safety or potency was simply illegal. The law was quickly challenged, and after four years in the courts, the final decision on the constitutionality of the law — dubbed “repeal in disguise” — may soon be decided by the Montana Supreme Court. If the law is upheld, over 75% of current medical marijuana patients today would have to either start growing marijuana themselves or find someone willing to give it to them for free. Even if the program can continue as it has for the past several years, Montana’s unregulated system is a tremendous risk for those who work to provide for seriously ill patients.

This precarious position has put Montana on the map as one of the only states that has tried to roll back medical marijuana programs that typically receive wide support nationally. 

Montana Cannabis News

 

Nebraska Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Fischer, Deb - (R - NE) 

454 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6551

Contact: www.fischer.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Sasse, Ben - (R - NE) 

386A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4224

Contact: www.sasse.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-ben

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Nebraska:

Last update: June 8, 2015

 

Did you know Nebraska is a “decrim” state?

Nebraska is one of the 19 states that do not jail individuals found in possession of a small amount of cannabis — at least for a first offense. First offense possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable under Nebraska law by a $300 fine (and a possible drug education course) instead of jail time, and is a citation as opposed to an arrest. Second offense possession of up to an ounce carries a $400 fine and up to five days in jail, and third offense possession is punishable by up to a week in jail and a fine of $500. Second and third offense possession are misdemeanors, but are only citable, and not arrestable, offenses.

Even so, there were still 7,756 marijuana arrests and/or citations in 2012. Unfortunately, these arrests disproportionately affect minority communities. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Nebraska are nearly five times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors, despite similar use rates.

You can learn more about Nebraska’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D.

Medical marijuana bill tabled until 2016

The Nebraska Legislature has adjourned for 2015, and unfortunately medical marijuana legislation was left on the table. However, the state took huge strides this year toward enacting sensible legislation that would allow the seriously ill to use and obtain medical marijuana with the approval of their doctors. The bill carries over to next year, meaning it will only need two successful Senate votes in order to send it to the governor. 

Although a majority of the Senate has already voted in support of this bill, passage and enactment are not guaranteed. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) has indicated he opposes medical marijuana protections, and a veto override would require 30 votes. Since it takes 30 votes to override a veto, it’s vital that senators hear their constituents want them to stand up for patients. It’s vital that senators continue to hear that their constituents want them to stand up for patients by supporting medical marijuana.

Introduced by Sen. Tommy Garrett, LB 643 would allow patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, and other serious ailments to obtain and use medical marijuana products if recommended to do so by their doctors.

In other news, legislation that would have actually increased, not decreased, penalties for certain marijuana crimes failed to advance this year and, for all intents and purposes, is dead. Any effort to increase marijuana penalties in 2016 must start again from scratch.

Nebraska Cannabis News

 

Nevada Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Heller, Dean - (R - NV) 

324 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6244

Contact: www.heller.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

 

Reid, Harry - (D - NV) 

522 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3542

Contact: www.reid.senate.gov/contact

Sen. Reid is retiring in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Nevada:

Last update: September 8, 2015

Nevada is one of the 20 states that have decriminalized personal use marijuana possession. Four of those states, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon, have adopted laws that legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Although Nevada is considered a “decriminalization” state, simple possession of marijuana can still be treated harshly. First offense possession of up to an ounce is punishable by a $600 fine instead of jail time, but it remains a misdemeanor. The individual is subject to arrest and drug addiction screening that could lead to mandatory treatment and rehabilitation, and a criminal conviction can lead to a lifetime of discrimination which can limit job opportunities and housing options. A second offense carries a $1,000 fine and drug addiction screening. The penalties for third and fourth offenses continue to worsen. Incredibly, possession of two ounces could land a Nevadan in jail for four years.

There were still over 8,500 marijuana-related arrests or citations in Nevada in 2012, and 85% of them were for marijuana possession. That same year, nearly 90% of reported burglaries, including home invasions, and over 92% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. Law enforcement should stop wasting time and resources on failed marijuana prohibition policies, particularly when most Americans now agree marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.

Nevada’s medical marijuana regulations bear fruit, with legalization on the horizon for voters

Two years after the Nevada Legislature passed a law allowing regulated dispensaries and cultivators to serve the state’s medical marijuana patients, the system is finally rolling out. So far, at least two dispensaries have opened, with dozens to follow across the state. Meanwhile, cultivators and processors are working overtime to meet demand. This modest but important phase is a huge step to providing help to the state’s seriously ill patients, as well as those medical marijuana patients visiting Nevada.

Meanwhile, a campaign to bring legalization for adults 21 and over is underway in the Silver State. Initiative Petition 1, which would tax and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol, has been certified for the 2016 ballot. Unfortunately, the Nevada Legislature missed an opportunity to adopt the measure this year, but Nevada voters will consider the Initiative to Tax and Regulate Marijuana in November of next year.

How do medical marijuana patients visiting Nevada get access while in the state?

One of the positive features of Nevada’s medical marijuana law is that the state recognizes the patient status of non-residents who are qualified under their state government’s laws. Current rules require out-of-state visiting patients to visit a Nevada dispensary to sign an affidavit and receive instructions from dispensary staff in order to be protected. At that point, state law will protect qualified visitors who make purchases at state-licensed stores.

For updates on the status of the department’s roll out including news and valuable links, visit the Department of Health and Human Services Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health’s website. Agency rules adopted in April can be found here.

Nevada Cannabis News

 

New Hampshire Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Ayotte, Kelly - (R - NH) 

144 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3324

Contact: www.ayotte.senate.gov/?p=contact

Sen Ayotte is up for re-election in 2016

 

Shaheen, Jeanne - (D - NH) 

506 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2841

Contact: www.shaheen.senate.gov/contact/

 

Marijuana Policy Project on New Hampshire:

Last update: July 27, 2015

N.H. Senate fails to decriminalize in 2015; new poll finds 60% support for legalization

New Hampshire had a great opportunity in 2015 to join the rest of New England by decriminalizing marijuana possession. The effort got off to a strong start when HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and seven co-sponsors, passed the House by a huge 297-67 margin March 11. This sensible bill would have reduced the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation.

Unfortunately, although the Senate held a heated debate over the bill on the last day of its session June 4, senators were not able to agree on a compromise and the bill was “tabled.” It can be revived again, but not until the Senate reconvenes in January.

As a result of this temporary setback, possession of up to one ounce remains punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2000.

While some politicians continue to oppose sensible reforms, public opinion continues to turn strongly against the prohibition of marijuana. In July, new polling from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that 60% of Granite Staters support legalizing marijuana and 72% support decriminalization.

For a detailed analysis of how a criminal record can have far-reaching effects for New Hampshire residents, check our report, Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions Associated with Marijuana Offenses in New Hampshire.

Three applicants approved to operate N.H. dispensaries, but patients are still fighting for legal protections and access

On July 23, 2013, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill allowing seriously ill New Hampshire residents to use marijuana for medical purposes. Unfortunately, before doing so, she insisted on several changes. As a result, the law is not yet effective for patients. MPP’s Matt Simon described the situation — and the frustrations felt by patients — in “Confusion, Delays, and Continued Arrests,” a report issued on the two-year “anniversary” of the signing of HB 573.

On June 9, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that three applicants had received approval to operate four dispensaries (known as alternative treatment centers or ATCs) in the state. There will be one dispensary in each of four geographic areas. You can read more about the program at the department’s website.

Unfortunately, the attorney general’s office recommended an unnecessary delay that is harming patients. Although patients are still being arrested in the state, the AG’s office has said patients should not be able to apply for ID cards (which would protect them from arrest) until the first dispensary is ready to open. The health department has followed this recommendation, leaving patients at risk.

A summary of the law is available here.

N.H. House makes history, votes to legalize and regulate marijuana

On January 15, 2014, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 170-162 to approve a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for use by adults in the “Live Free or Die” state. This was the first time any state legislative chamber has approved such a bill.

An October 2, 2014 WMUR Granite State Poll found that 60% of New Hampshire adults supported the bill — HB 492. Unfortunately, Gov. Maggie Hassan said she would veto the bill if it reached her desk. “I just think it’s the wrong message to send to young people,” she explained.

New Hampshire Cannabis News

 

New Jersey Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Booker, Cory A. - (D - NJ) 

359 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3224

Contact: www.booker.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Menendez, Robert - (D - NJ)

528 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4744

Contact: www.menendez.senate.gov/contact/

 

Marijuana Policy Project on New Jersey:

Last update: December 3, 2015

On November 9, Gov. Chris Christie signed A4587, which requires schools and some other facilities to create policies to allow medical marijuana to be administered. No other state has passed such a law. Thank you to everyone who made this important reform a reality!

Several other improvements to New Jersey’s marijuana policies have been under consideration by the legislature this session. These include: Assemblyman Reed Gusciora’s decriminalization bill, A218, which would impose a civil fine for the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana; a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol; and several proposals to improve New Jersey’s existing medical marijuana program.

Voters are ready for reform. A poll released in June 2013 found that 67% of New Jersey voters favor reducing penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil fine, with no possibility of jail time. Gov. Christie has threatened to veto such measures if they passed. So it is especially important for your lawmakers know that you want them to support A218. 

Meanwhile, an impressive coalition of public safety, medical, civil rights and religious organizations, and individuals has formed to work for broader reform in the Garden State, including legalization. The coalition — New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR ) — includes the ACLU of New Jersey, NAACP State Conference of New Jersey, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), and MPP. NJUMR advocates ending prohibition by legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana like alcohol for adults, a proposition supported by 58 percent of New Jerseyans, according to a 2015 poll. Please check out the coalition’s site, and then urge your legislators to support treating marijuana similarly to alcohol.

New Jersey medical marijuana program slowly growing

Although the Garden State’s medical marijuana program was signed into law in 2010, implementation has been slow. Last summer, several local editorial boards called out the “dysfunction” of the state program. Currently, it serves only about 5,236 patients out of an estimated tens of thousands, through only five operational treatment centers, despite having been made law more than four years ago. Gov. Chris Christie has attributed this to a lack of demand for medical marijuana. However, the low participation is more likely caused by unreasonably strict requirements.

Another obstacle facing patients in New Jersey is the fact that not all doctors can recommend medical marijuana. Unlike other states with medical marijuana laws in effect, only doctors who register with the state are allowed to qualify patients for New Jersey’s program. Information on how to find a doctor who can qualify patients for the MMP is available here.

ACLU study shows New Jersey’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates

In New Jersey, possession of even a single joint for non-medical purposes is punishable by up to six months of incarceration and up to a $1,000 fine.

A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in New Jersey are 2.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

New Jersey Cannabis News

 

New Mexico Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Heinrich, Martin - (D - NM) 

303 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5521

Contact: www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact 

 

Udall, Tom - (D - NM) 

531 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6621

Contact: www.tomudall.senate.gov/?p=contact

 

Marijuana Policy Project on New Mexico:

Last update: April 15, 2015

New Mexico is one of 23 states (plus D.C.) that have removed criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. For information on New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, including information on qualifying conditions and how to become a patient, please visit the New Mexico Health Department’s information page.

For non-medical use, New Mexico’s marijuana laws are less draconian than those of most states. Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for non-medical purposes is punishable by a $50-100 fine and up to 15 days in jail. A second offense, or a conviction for possession of more than an ounce, can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison term of up to one year.

However, 19 other states have removed the possibility of jail time, with four of them having legalized marijuana for adults and regulated it like alcohol. In both 2014 and 2015, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino sponsored a resolution to ask voters whether to end marijuana prohibition in New Mexico, replacing it with taxation and regulation. 

New Mexico misses opportunity to decriminalize marijuana

The New Mexico Legislature’s 2015 session ended in late March, and with it died SB 383, a bill that would have decriminalized marijuana throughout the state.

SB 383 would have replaced criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana with a $50 civil fine. It also would have removed the possibility of jail time for possession of up to eight ounces. Although SB 383 passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote, the House did not take it up.

The state legislature failed to act despite a strong call from voters. In November 2014, voters in Santa Fe and Bernalillo Counties — representing 40% of the state’s population — approved advisory questions asking their elected officials to support decriminalization. The questions won with 73% support in Santa Fe County and 59% in Bernalillo County.

New Mexico Cannabis News

 

New York Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Gillibrand, Kirsten E. - (D - NY) 

478 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4451

Contact: www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/ 

 

Schumer, Charles E. - (D - NY) 

322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6542

Contact: www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck 

Sen. Schumer is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on New York:

Last update: November 12, 2015

On July 5, 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a limited medical marijuana bill into law, which included several revisions he insisted upon. After 18 years of work, led by tireless Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, New York became the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law. The program is supposed to be operational once the Commissioner of Health and the Superintendent of State Police have certified that it can be implemented in accordance with public health and safety interests — and not before January 5, 2016. The health department’s FAQ on the program is available here.

While it’s an important step forward, the law falls short in several areas — it leaves out several serious conditions, will not allow patients to smoke cannabis, and allows very few producers and dispensaries. In early spring 2015, the Department of Health issued regulations to implement the law, which Assemblyman Gottfried explained were needlessly restrictive and “gratuitously cruel.” In October, the Department of Health made mandatory online training available to physicians who will recommend marijuana to patients.

One of the initial law’s flaws was partially remedied on November 11, 2015, when Gov. Cuomo signed a bill allowing expedited access to marijuana for some patients. However, patients still lack legal protections, and it remains unlikely that medical marijuana will be available to any patients before January.

Many thanks to all the patients, loved ones, legislators, supporters, donors, and organizations — including Compassionate Care New York — whose tireless work led to the enactment of New York’s medical marijuana law and who continue to work to improve the program.

New York City to finally comply with 1977 decrim

New York was one of the first states in the nation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. Unfortunately, in recent years, the “public view” exception to New York’s 1977 decriminalization law has been widely abused by police officers. New York City police have told tens of thousands of people, mostly young people of color, to empty their pockets — thus making them criminals once their marijuana was in public view.

Finally, however, the tide is turning. Last July, Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson announced his office would stop prosecuting low-level marijuana possession cases. In November 2014, Mayor Bill DeBlasio followed suit, ordering the New York Police Department to stop arresting people for marijuana possession and instead issue civil citations. This will finally bring the city police in line with state law since 1977.

Still, Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes have proposed a more comprehensive fix to New York’s unfair and wasteful marijuana laws — legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol.

New York Cannabis News

 

 

North Carolina Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Burr, Richard - (R - NC) 

217 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3154

Contact: www.burr.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.C..

Sen. Burr is up for re-election in 2016

 

Tillis, Thom - (R - NC)

185 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6342

Contact: www.tillis.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me 

 

Marijuana Policy Project on North Carolina:

Last update: October 4, 2015

Like most states that have marijuana prohibition, people of color are disproportionately arrested for marijuana offenses. According to government data compiled by the ACLU, while blacks make up 22% of the population in North Carolina, they account for 50% of marijuana-related arrests, despite the fact that whites and blacks use cannabis at similar rates.

Medical marijuana legislation reintroduced in Raleigh

In February 2015, Rep. Kelley Alexander introduced comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, HB 78. The bill would protect North Carolinians with a variety of serious medical conditions and doctors’ recommendations from arrest and prosecution for using medical marijuana. It would also set up a system of cultivation, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products, ensuring that patients whose doctors recommend they use marijuana have safe and reliable access to it.

In 2014, North Carolina enacted a CBD-focused law that leaves the vast majority of potential medical marijuana patients without legal protections. It also fails to provide an in-state source for cannabis extracts. For more information, please see our summary of the law.

North Carolina Cannabis News

 

North Dakota Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Heitkamp, Heidi - (D - ND) 

110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2043

Contact: www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

Hoeven, John - (R - ND) 

338 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2551

Sen. Hoeven is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on North Dakota:

Last update: July 21, 2015

North Dakota has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. First offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to a year in prison and up to a $2,000 fine.

A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in North Dakota are 4.4 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

North Dakota lags behind neighbors on marijuana policies

North Dakota’s eastern neighbor stopped jailing adults for simple possession of marijuana back in 1976 while its neighbor to the west has had a medical marijuana law for nearly a decade. But in North Dakota, marijuana users — including those using marijuana to treat debilitating pain or the effects of cancer — are still branded criminals.

This year’s session of the Legislative Assembly saw the introduction of positive legislation, which was encouraging. House Bill 1430, supported by a bipartisan group of seven legislators, would have created a comprehensive medical marijuana system for North Dakotans. Unfortunately, the bill failed in the House, and the regular legislative session has now adjourned. Let your legislators know that, when they reconvene for the 2017 session, it will be time to stand up for compassionate and sensible policies.

North Dakota Cannabis News

 

Ohio Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Brown, Sherrod - (D - OH) 

713 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2315

Contact: www.brown.senate.gov/contact/ 

 

Portman, Rob - (R - OH) 

448 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3353

Contact: www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=contact..

Sen. Portman is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Ohio:

Last update: December 1, 2015

On November 3, 2015, voters rejected an amendment that would have legalized medical and adult use cannabis, while controversially allowing commercial cultivation only at 10 specifically designated parcels. While Ohioans did not approve that particular proposal, polls have made it clear they are eager for more sensible marijuana policies.

Since Election Day, lawmakers have demonstrated renewed interest in discussing marijuana policy change. On November 4, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni and Sen. Kenny Yuko sent a letter to General Assembly leaders calling on them to work toward bipartisan legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Even Gov. John Kasich is open to the legislature studying whether medical marijuana should be approved, deferring to doctors’ expertise. And a recent Quinnipiac poll shows 90 percent support for medical marijuana among Ohioans.

Hopefully, given strong support for marijuana policy reform among Ohio’s residents, the Ohio Legislature will act to craft a workable medical marijuana program for seriously ill patients. In 2015, the only reform bill presented would allow very limited access to cannabidiol (CBD) — which is one of the dozens of cannabinoids in marijuana. The bill has failed to advance since February, and even if it passed, it largely fails to authorize any cultivation.

Marijuana laws in Ohio

Possession of less than 100 grams (or about 3.5 ounces), giving 20 grams or less of marijuana to another person, or growing less than 100 grams of marijuana are each considered  “minor misdemeanors,” punishable by a maximum fine of $150. A minor misdemeanor is not a “jailable” offense, but a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for a period ranging from six months to five years.

While Ohio’s marijuana penalties are less draconian than its neighbors, law enforcement officers are still wasting valuable time and resources. In 2012, Ohio officers arrested or cited 14,374 people for marijuana-related offenses, 94% of which were for possession only. At the same time, 91.6% of all reported burglaries — including home invasions — and 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

Ohio Cannabis News

 

Oklahoma Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Inhofe, James M. - (R - OK) 

205 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4721

Contact: www.inhofe.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact..

 

Lankford, James - (R - OK) 

316 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5754

Contact: www.lankford.senate.gov/content/contact-james 

Sen. Lankford is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Oklahoma:

Last update: May 21, 2015

With the potential penalty of up to one year in jail and a mandatory two years for second and subsequent offenses, Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in strict penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana.

Based on reports of arrests provided by state law enforcement to the FBI, in 2012, state law enforcement arrested over 9,349 people for marijuana-related offenses, over 91% of which were for possession only. During the same year, over 78% of all reported rapes and 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. African Americans in Oklahoma are 2.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates. Check out this recent report by the ACLU on how the war on marijuana is often a war on black Americans.

Oklahoma passes high-CBD law

2015 emerged as an important milestone for Oklahoma — it is the year the state joined the ranks of those that provide legal protections for seriously ill patients who might benefit from cannabis strains high in cannabidiol, one of the active ingredients in marijuana. Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law HB 2154, known as “Katie and Cayman’s Law.” Sponsored by Rep. Jon Echols and Sen. Brian Crain, the law allows access to high-CBD (also known as low-THC) cannabis oil for patients with severe forms of epilepsy and other serious seizure conditions, when recommended by a doctor. While this is an important step in the right direction, the state lacks any regulated mechanism for the production of state-compliant cannabis oil for patients to use. Please take a moment to ask your state representative and senator to support regulated in-state access to cannabis oils for qualifying patients in Oklahoma.

As with all current laws providing access to high-CBD products, Katie and Cayman’s Law is very limited and leaves behind most patients who could benefit from whole-plant medical marijuana and its various products. For a closer look at HB 2154, click here. For a broader look at CBD laws and where they fall short, take a look at our analysis available here.

In addition to issues with HB 2154’s workability, it leaves behind patients with cancer, intractable pain, and other serious illnesses — along with the strains they could benefit from. No seriously ill Oklahoman should be left behind.

Oklahoma Cannabis News

 

Oregon Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Merkley, Jeff - (D - OR) 

313 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3753

Contact: www.merkley.senate.gov/contact/

 

Wyden, Ron - (D - OR) 

221 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5244

Contact: www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/ 

Sen. Wyden is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Oregon:

Last update: October 15, 2015

On November 4, 2014, 56% of Oregon voters overwhelming approved Measure 91! Oregon and Alaska, whose voters also approved a similar measure that same night, joined Washington and Colorado in taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. Voters in D.C. approved a measure that removes all penalties for possession, use, and cultivation by adults 21 and older.

Effective July 1, 2015, Measure 91 legalized the private use, possession, and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older. The ballot measure also requires the liquor commission to license and regulate four types of marijuana businesses to produce, process, wholesale, and sell marijuana for adults’ use. The state is expected to being accepting applications for these businesses in January 2016. For more information, please see our summary of the law.

In the meantime, lawmakers in Salem passed, and Gov. Kate Brown signed, a proposal that allows adults 21 and older to purchase a limited amount of marijuana from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries beginning as of October 1, 2015. This measure more quickly provides a safe and legal access point for adults while the state continues to fully implement the ballot initiative.

Passage of Measure 91 is largely due to the good and hard work of everyone at the Yes on 91 campaign. However, it never would have succeeded without the support of the voters. Thanks to you, adults in Oregon are no longer be penalized by the state for choosing to use marijuana in private.

Oregon Cannabis News

 

Pennsylvania Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Casey, Robert P., Jr. - (D - PA)

393 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6324

Contact: www.casey.senate.gov/contact/ 

 

Toomey, Patrick J. - (R - PA) 

248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4254

Contact: www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=contact 

Sen. Toomey is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Pennsylvania:

Last update: November 23, 2015

More than a year after the Senate first approved compassionate medical cannabis legislation, the House may be ready to finally take up this compassionate issue. 

The Senate overwhelmingly passed medical cannabis legislation again in May, but the bill stalled in the House Health Committee. Despite pressure from the public and his colleagues, Chairman Matt Baker remained obstinate until Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R) attempted to file a discharge petition that would bring SB 3 to the House floor. Before Miccarelli could call for a vote on the discharge petition, Baker agreed to send the bill to the House Rules Committee.

House Majority Leader David Reed (R), a strong supporter, created a special working group to draft recommendations for a House bill. At the end of September, the working group sent its recommendations to Leader Reed. The Rules Committee advanced the bill to the floor on November 18, and several amendments were filed on November 20.

Please urge your representative to call for a swift vote and to stand firm for patients — including by opposing an arbitrary cap on THC, removing a proposed prohibition on whole plant cannabis, and supporting immediate legal protections for patients. Gov. Wolf, the Senate, and the public all strongly support patients. The most recent poll showed 90% of Pennsylvanians support legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Decriminalization and prohibition

On October 1, 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana in the City of Brotherly Love, making it the largest U.S. city to have done so. The ordinance removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine of $25, similar to a traffic ticket.

Under state law, however, an individual arrested for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in Pennsylvania can still be sentenced to a maximum of 30 days in jail and fined up to $500. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Pennsylvania are 5.2 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Pennsylvania Cannabis News

 

 

Rhode Island Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Reed, Jack - (D - RI) 

728 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4642

Contact: www.reed.senate.gov/contact/ 

 

Whitehouse, Sheldon - (D - RI) 

530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2921

Contact: www.whitehouse.senate.gov/contact/ 

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Rhode Island:

Last update: October 17, 2015

When it gaveled out of session on June 25, the Rhode Island Legislature did so without first voting on replacing marijuana prohibition with a responsibly regulated and limited marijuana market that allows adults to possess, purchase, and consume marijuana free from penalty. Considering its overwhelming public support, we believe enacting the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act should be a top priority when lawmakers return to Providence in 2016, but we need you to make this happen.

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is supported by a broad array of individuals and organizations, including racial justice advocates, former law enforcement officials, clergy, public health researchers, medical doctors, economists, and local business owners. In addition, recent polling found 57% of Rhode Island voters support replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation.

Championed by Rep. Scott Slater and Sen. Josh Miller, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of cannabis. It would also direct the Department of Business Regulation to license and regulate marijuana producers and at least 10 retail marijuana stores. A sample estimate prepared by MPP, and endorsed by University of Rhode Island economics professor John Burkett, estimates Rhode Island can expect to raise roughly $58 million each year off the taxes proposed in this bill. For more information on the legislation, please see our summary of the bill.

Many thanks to our fellow members of the Regulate Rhode Island coalition, and everyone else in Rhode Island fighting to end marijuana prohibition in a sensible way. Please be sure to sign up for MPP’s legislative alerts so that you can stay up-to-date with the act’s progress.

 Rhode Island’s current possession and medical marijuana laws

 While it is still illegal for most adults in Rhode Island to use, possess, or cultivate cannabis, the Ocean State is one of 20 across the country that have decided to no longer jail individuals for simple possession. In 2012, an MPP-led lobbying effort culminated in passage of a law that reduced the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana to a $150 civil fine. If the individual is under 18, their parent or legal guardian will be notified, and the minor will be required to complete a drug awareness and education program. A third possession offense within 18 months would result in criminal charges.

Rhode Island also has a compassionate medical marijuana program that has been bringing relief to many seriously ill residents for almost a decade. The law protects registered patients from arrest and prosecution for possessing, using, or cultivating a limited amount of marijuana if they have a doctor’s recommendation to do so. The law was amended in 2009 to allow for regulated compassion centers that can distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients. For more information on the medical marijuana program, which MPP played a leading role in enacting, please visit the Rhode Island Department of Health website.

From 24/7 Wall Street:

Marijuana use in the small New England state is pervasive. An estimated 20% of Rhode Islanders aged 12 and up used the drug at least once in 2012. No other state in the country had wider use.

Of the states that have not legalized recreational marijuana use, Rhode Island’s laws are among the most lenient. Possession of up to an ounce is a civil violation punishable by a maximum fine of $150. First time offenders do not face jail time or risk a criminal record. However, possession of amounts in excess of an ounce carry criminal penalties and potential jail time.

Rhode Island Cannabis News

 

South Carolina Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Graham, Lindsey - (R - SC)

290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5972

Contact: www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-senator-gr..

 

Scott, Tim - (R - SC) 

520 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6121

Contact: www.scott.senate.gov/contact/email-me 

Sen. Scott is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on South Carolina:

Last update: June 8, 2015

In 2012, marijuana possession arrests (as opposed to arrests for manufacture or sales) accounted for 88% of all marijuana-related arrests in South Carolina. Unfortunately, these arrests affect minority communities in South Carolina most harshly. According to the ACLU, black South Carolinians are almost three times as likely to be arrested as their white neighbors, despite similar use rates. These arrests are made at the expense of preventing and solving violent and property crimes. It is time that South Carolina reform its criminal penalties for marijuana possession to free up the necessary time and money to go after the violent criminals who cause true havoc in our communities.

South Carolina adjourns for the year; medical marijuana legislation still pending

 The South Carolina Legislature has adjourned for 2015, but not before it finally began to take a serious look at legislation to create a medical marijuana program in the Palmetto State! Committees in both the House and Senate discussed the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act (H 4037/S 672), which will be waiting for them when they reconvene in 2016..

Sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act would allow patients suffering from a listed condition to use and safely access medical marijuana if recommended by their doctors. Like the Put Patients First Act also introduced this year, this bill is more comprehensive than and addresses the many flaws of the legislation passed last year in an attempt to make certain medical marijuana products accessible to a limited class of patients.

South Carolina Cannabis News

 

South Dakota Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Rounds, Mike - (R - SD) 

502 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5842

Contact: www.rounds.senate.gov/contact/email-mike 

 

Thune, John - (R - SD)

511 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2321

Contact: www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact 

Sen. Thune is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on South Dakota:

Last update: August 13, 2015

No sensible marijuana policies proposed this session

In 2015, no marijuana policy reform was proposed at all in the South Dakota Legislature. However, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe opted in June to legalize cannabis. The tribe is the first in the nation to legalize marijuana, following the Justice Department’s December 2014 decision to allow Native American tribes to do so. The tribe will be growing and selling cannabis on South Dakota tribal lands by December 2015.

Meanwhile, the state lags far behind. In 2012, there were 2,297 arrests for marijuana possession in South Dakota, and 127 arrests for marijuana sales. Possession of just a small amount of marijuana in the state carries a potential penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine! Even more alarmingly, a recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that South Dakota was among the top 10 states with the largest racial disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates. Despite people of all races using marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in South Dakota are nearly 4.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

South Dakota Cannabis News

 

Tennessee Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Alexander, Lamar - (R - TN) 

455 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4944

Contact: www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email 

 

Corker, Bob - (R - TN) 

425 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3344

Contact: www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailme 

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Tennessee:

Last update: May 21, 2015

In Tennessee, possession of any amount of marijuana — even as little as a single gram — can land you in prison for up to a year, with a mandatory fine of between $250 and $2,500. Tens of thousands of cases enter the system each year, families are impacted, and futures jeopardized.

Also, be sure to check out this ACLU report that shows the extent to which marijuana laws are used to target members of the African American community in Tennessee. For every white person arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2001, there was an average of 1.8 arrests of black individuals. By 2010, there were four African Americans arrested for every white arrested. Studies have shown that rates of marijuana use among blacks and whites are approximately the same.

Tennessee modifies ineffective medical marijuana law, but still falls short

In May 2014, Gov. Bill Haslan signed a bill intended to allow seriously ill seizure patients to have access to cannabis oil containing large amounts of CBD and only trace amounts of THC. Unfortunately, like many similar bills in other states, the law turned out to be ineffective, and those it was designed to serve were not able to obtain cannabis oil. Nearly a year later, Gov. Haslan signed a second bill, SB 280, in an effort to find a workable solution. While the law does provide protections for patients, it requires them to travel across state lines to a state where it can be obtained and return to Tennessee. Because CBD is a controlled substance under federal law, transporting it between states is an offense both under federal law and under the laws of the states patients would have to travel through. In addition, the law remains very limited, in that it applies only to seizure patients. To learn more about SB 280, click here. For more information on the shortcomings of laws limited to CBD, click here.

Two compassionate, comprehensive medical marijuana bills were rejected by the legislature in 2015. HB 561 and SB 660 would have established medical marijuana programs similar to those found in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Both bills stalled in committee.

Tennesseans support providing seriously ill patient's access to medical marijuana by a wide margin. In early 2014, an MTSU poll indicated voters support such a measure by 75%. 

Tennessee Cannabis News

 

Texas Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Cornyn, John - (R - TX) 

517 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 

(202) 224-2934

Contact: www.cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm 

 

Cruz, Ted - (R - TX) 

404 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5922

Contact: www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=email_senator 

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Texas:

Last update: August 17, 2015

It was a historic year in Texas!

The 2015 legislative session wrapped up in June, and it was historic in the movement to improve marijuana laws in the Lone Star State. All told, there were five bills that would have reduced penalties for possession of marijuana, one of which would have completely legalized access for adults. In addition, there were four bills to provide legal access to medical marijuana. A very limited medical marijuana bill — now the Compassionate Use Program — was signed into law, but is unlikely to function without significant changes. Nonetheless, it is a strong sign that the state legislature recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana for seriously ill patients. A summary of the law is available here.

Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Moody previously proposed a key bill, which would have replaced criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $250. Despite a powerful hearing in support of this sensible bill, HB 507, it fell short when time ran out at the end of the session. The bill would have allowed individuals to avoid arrest, possible jail time, and the stigma of a criminal conviction for possessing a small amount of marijuana. We expect a similar bill will be introduced during the next session in 2017.

According to a June 2015 poll conducted by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune, 68% of Texans support our efforts to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession.

Texas Cannabis News

 

 

Utah Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Hatch, Orrin G. - (R - UT) 

104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5251

Contact: www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=Email-Orrin 

 

Lee, Mike - (R - UT)

361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5444

Contact: www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact 

Sen. Lee is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Utah:

Last update: September 28, 2015

Under current Utah law, possession of as little as an ounce or less of marijuana can result in a six-month jail sentence. Unfortunately, minority and low-income communities in Utah are disproportionately the ones who face these draconian penalties. The ACLU recently found that black Utahans are over three and three-quarters times as likely to get arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors.

Comprehensive medical marijuana legislation gains support in Utah Senate

In 2014, the Utah Legislature passed, and Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law, a bill allowing individuals suffering from intractable epileptic disorders to legally possess and use CBD oils if certified to do so by their neurologists. While this limited new program represents progress, much more must be done to protect patients. The program excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients and may not even help those it was meant to protect.

In 2015, state Sen. Mark Madsen introduced S.B. 259, a bill that would have created a comprehensive medical marijuana program that would protect registered, qualifying, medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution. The bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but failed by one vote on the Senate floor. Sen. Madsen vowed to continue fighting for passage of medical marijuana legislation in the next session.

Currently, there is no companion bill in the Utah House.

Utah Cannabis News

 

Vermont Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Leahy, Patrick J. - (D - VT) 

437 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4242

Contact: www.leahy.senate.gov/contact/ 

 Sen. Leahy is up for re-election in 2016

 

Sanders, Bernard - (I - VT) 

332 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5141

Contact: www.sanders.senate.gov/contact/ 

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Vermont:

Last update: September 28, 2015

On June 6, 2013, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed H. 200, which eliminated the state’s criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and replaced them with civil fines. This was a major victory for MPP and its legislative allies in Montpelier, who worked hard to build support for this sensible reform. Leading law enforcement officials, including Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, supported the bill, which went into effect July 1, 2013.

Click here for details on how H. 200 changed Vermont’s penalty structure.

As a result of this reform, Vermont police and prosecutors now waste less time and taxpayer money on enforcing laws against marijuana possession. Individuals caught possessing an ounce or less of marijuana in the Green Mountain State are now fined but do not receive a criminal conviction. Those under 21 are now generally sent to diversion.

House Speaker supports ending marijuana prohibition; Gov. Shumlin and most Vermonters agree

Vermont’s effort to legalize and regulate marijuana received a boost in August when House Speaker Shap Smith announced that he would support a legalization and regulation bill in 2016. Smith, who has announced that he is running for governor, joins Gov. Peter Shumlin and other Vermont political leaders as public supporters of ending marijuana prohibition.

On January 16, 2015, researchers from the Rand Corporation presented legislators with an in-depth report on marijuana legalization and regulation options in Vermont. The report, which was authorized by the legislature in 2014, revealed that approximately 80,000 Vermonters are regular marijuana users and that they spend about $175 million each year buying cannabis from the illicit market. The researchers estimated that Vermont could reap between $20 million and $75 million per year in taxes if it decides to regulate.

Following the release of the report, Gov. Shumlin said he favors legalization and wants Vermont to move forward in a responsible fashion. Additionally, Commissioner of Public Safety Keith Flynn has said he supports taking “a hard look” at the idea, and many legislative leaders have gone further by saying they support regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol.

The case for regulating and taxing marijuana in Vermont was bolstered in September 2015 when a poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute found 56% support for the idea. Only 34% of Vermonters said they were opposed.

In 2015, Senator David Zuckerman (P-Hinesburg) introduced S. 95, which would replace Vermont’s prohibition of marijuana with a system of sensible regulation. Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington) introduced an identical bill in the House. Although the legislature adjourned for the year in May without voting on a marijuana regulation bill, an important Senate committee held several meetings seeking to determine “The Vermont Way” to end prohibition. These meetings are expected to lay the groundwork for a new marijuana regulation bill for 2016.

Legislature passes bill to expand access for patients!

In 2014, MPP worked with the legislature to expand Vermont’s law so more patients can benefit from safe, legal access. S. 247, sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), passed the House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Shumlin May 27. This change in law eliminated the cap of 1,000 patients who were allowed to access dispensaries. It also allowed naturopaths to certify patients, allowed dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and called for a study of the potential impacts of legalization and regulation. To view the rules for the Vermont Marijuana Program (VMP), please visit the Vermont Criminal Information Center website.

From 24/7 Wall Street:

According to a Rand research study on marijuana legalization, Vermonters consumed between 15 to 25 metric tons of marijuana, worth between $125 million and $225 million, in 2014. More than 19% of state residents 12 years and over reported using marijuana in the past year, the third highest share nationwide. Also, according to the Vermont Department of Health, marijuana consumption is more common among 12- to 17-year-olds in Vermont than in any other state in the nation.

As in every other state likely to legalize pot, possessing less than an ounce or less of the drug is not punishable by incarceration. Possessing more than an ounce, the selling of any amount, or cultivating the plant, however, is considered a misdemeanor. Selling a half ounce or more, or cultivating three or more plants, is a felony.

Vermont Cannabis News

 

Virginia Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Kaine, Tim - (D - VA) 

231 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4024

Contact: www.kaine.senate.gov/contact 

 

Warner, Mark R. - (D - VA)

475 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2023

Contact: www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact 

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Virginia:

Last update: September 14, 2015

According to the Virginia Uniform Crime Report, there were 22,948 marijuana arrests in 2014. Currently, possessing up to half an ounce (14 grams) of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for first time offenders. Subsequent offenses face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Virginia is surrounded by states that take more sensible approaches to marijuana. In 2014, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and Maryland decriminalized simple marijuana possession. (Subsequently, Washington, D.C. voters legalized the adult use, possession, and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana.) Meanwhile, on Virginia’s southern border, North Carolina has had a weak decriminalization law on the books since the 1970s.

In January, Sen. Adam Ebbin introduced SB 686, which would have replaced the severe existing criminal penalties for personal possession of marijuana with a $100 civil fine. Unfortunately, later that month, the bill was indefinitely stalled by the Senate Court of Justice Committee in a vote along party lines, with five Democrats in support and nine Republicans opposed.

Virginia takes a small step forward toward sensible marijuana policy

Early this year, HB 1445 passed both chambers, and on February 26, 2015, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed it into law. This extremely narrow law provides some small relief to a very minute percentage of the commonwealth’s patients who could benefit from access to medical cannabis. It allows patients with intractable epilepsy to avoid a conviction, but not an arrest, for possessing certain low- or no-THC medical cannabis oils. It does not provide for any in-state access to these treatments.

A Quinnipiac poll released in April 2015 found that 86% of Virginia voters support the legalization of medical marijuana.

Virginia Cannabis News

 

Washington Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Cantwell, Maria - (D - WA) 

511 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3441

Contact: www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-maria 

 

Murray, Patty - (D - WA) 

154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2621

Contact: www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme 

Sen. Murray is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Washington:

Last update: August 25, 2015

Despite initial supply issues and the fact that retail stores did not open until July 8, 2014, Washington generated roughly $70 million dollars in marijuana taxes over the course of the first year of regulated sales. Meanwhile, the state continues to save additional money due to a sharp decrease in misdemeanor cases. In 2013, 120 misdemeanor cases were filed compared to 5,531 cases in 2012.

It has now been over two years since a majority of Washington voters decided that it was time to end the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition. The state has enacted common sense regulations to ensure safety and to prevent access by youth and, as indicated above, is now realizing revenue from sales instead of wasting it on enforcement. While there is certainly still work to be done, it is clear that the doom and gloom scenarios anticipated by opponents to reform have not materialized, giving comfort to policy makers across the country who are weighing similar policy changes in their jurisdictions.

Legislature overhauls medical marijuana program

Washington lawmakers spent much of the 2015 legislative session tackling issues related to the state’s marijuana laws. Perhaps the most high profile bill to be enacted this year was an “omnibus” style bill lawmakers championed in an effort to to harmonize the medical marijuana law with the adult use system set up by the passage of Washington’s legalization initiative, I-502, in November 2012.

Under this bill, any sales of marijuana, be they for medical or adult use, must take place at an I-502 licensed facility. I-502 license holders may apply for a special medical marijuana endorsement, meaning they have staff trained to know about the medicinal qualities of different types of marijuana and stock products intended for medical use. The state has also created a voluntary medical marijuana registry to give patients who choose to register protection from arrest for using medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. For more information on this law, please see The Stranger’s overview.

Unfortunately, the focus placed on harmonizing the medical marijuana program with the adult use market left little bandwidth for lawmakers to tackle the important issue of finally decriminalizing possession of marijuana for those under 21. Even after passage of I-502, Washingtonians under 21 still face criminal penalties for the simple possession of marijuana. According to the ACLU, nationwide, 62% of marijuana arrests in 2010 were for people who were 24 and younger, and 34% were for teenagers or youth. 

Washington Cannabis News

 

District of Columbia Marijuana News and Politics

From FindLaw.com:

In November 2014, District voters approved the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Initiative (commonly known as Initiative 71). The new D.C. marijuana law became effective in February 2015. The District joined Alaska, Colorado and Washington state in making the drug legal. What is Legal in D.C.? It is legal for a person who is at least 21 years old to:

  • Possess two (2) ounces or less of marijuana;
  • Transfer one (1) ounce or less of marijuana to another person who is at least 21 years old, so long as there is no payment made or any other type of exchange of goods or services; 
  • Cultivate within their residence up to six (6) marijuana plants, no more than three (3) of which are mature;
  •  Possess marijuana-related drug paraphernalia – such as bongs, cigarette rolling papers, and cigar wrappers – that is associated with one ounce or less of marijuana; or
  • Use marijuana on private property.

What is Still Illegal Under the New Law? T

he penalty for an individual arrested for smoking or consuming marijuana in public can be up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. Restaurant and business owners that allow patrons to use marijuana could lose their business license and certificate of occupancy. The penalty for possession of more than two (2) ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense and can lead to up to six (6) months in jail and/ or a $1,000 fine.

Basically, a person can still be arrested for:

  • Selling any amount of marijuana to another person;
  • Possessing more than two (2) ounces of marijuana;
  • Operating a vehicle or boat under the influence of marijuana ; or
  • Smoking, eating, or drinking marijuana – or holding or carrying a lighted roll of paper or other lighted smoking equipment filled with marijuana – in any public space, such as on any street, sidewalk, alley, park, or parking area; In a vehicle on any street, alley, park, or parking area; or any place to which the public is invited.

Federal Law and Marijuana in D.C

Although D.C. has decriminalized possession of up to two (2) ounces of marijuana for persons over the age of 21, federal law continues to prohibit the possession or use of any amount of marijuana.

As a result, federal law enforcement officers may arrest anyone in the District for possession or use of any amount of marijuana as a violation of federal law. For example, the U.S. Park Police can arrest a person for possessing or using any marijuana on the National Mall, Rock Creek Park, or any other National Park Service land.

Washington D.C. Cannabis News

 

West Virginia Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Capito, Shelley Moore - (R - WV) 

172 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6472

Contact: www.capito.senate.gov/contact/contact-shelley 

 

Manchin, Joe, III - (D - WV) 

306 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3954

Contact: www.manchin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form 

 

Marijuana Policy Project on West Virginia:

Last update: July 22, 2015

West Virginia legislators fail to act in 2015

In each of the last four years, bills have been introduced in the West Virginia House that would have legalized marijuana for medical use in West Virginia. In 2015, the conversation moved to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson), Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall (R-Wyoming), and Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) showed strong leadership by sponsoring a medical marijuana bill, SB 546. An identical bill, HB 2909, was introduced in the House by Delegate Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson) and a bipartisan group of 10 co-sponsors.

These sensible, compassionate bills would have provided relief to patients with a variety of serious, debilitating conditions, but, unfortunately, legislative committees failed to take action and the bills did not advance. Patients and advocates will have to wait until 2016 before they can try again.

2014 poll shows increased support

A poll released in January 2014 shows that statewide public support for medical marijuana increased since a similar poll was conducted last winter. The new poll — which was commissioned by MPP and conducted by Public Policy Polling — found that support for medical marijuana increased to 56% (up from 53%), and opposition dropped to 34% (down from 40%). As public opinion continues to evolve, we need to help legislators understand that supporting medical marijuana will help them rather than hurt them in their re-election efforts.

West Virginia Cannabis News

 

Wisconsin Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Baldwin, Tammy - (D - WI) 

717 Hart Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5653

Contact: www.baldwin.senate.gov/contact 

 

Johnson, Ron - (R - WI) 

328 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5323

Contact: www.ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact 

Sen. Johnson is up for re-election in 2016

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Wisconsin:

Last update: September 14, 2015

An individual in Wisconsin convicted of mere possession of less than an ounce of marijuana faces a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000! Ask your legislators to support legislation that replaces the threat of jail time and the disastrous criminal record that accompanies a criminal conviction for marijuana possession with a simple civil fine. This simple policy change would allow law enforcement to focus on violent crimes. It would also help reduce the consequences of alarming racial disparities in marijuana enforcement. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Wisconsin are almost six times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors are.

2015-2016 session underway; proposal to tax and regulate marijuana unveiled

 The 2015-2016 legislative session is underway in Madison, and so far two positive marijuana-related bills have been introduced. The first would legalize marijuana for adults, while the second would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) has once again introduced legislation that seeks to regulate the production and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. If successful, Wisconsin would join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska in recognizing that marijuana is safer for both consumers and non-consumers alike when it is tested, labeled, produced, and sold by regulated and tax-paying businesses. If you are a resident of the Badger State, please take a minute to write your lawmakers and ask them to support this proposal.

In addition to Rep. Sargent’s legalization bill, a proposal to replace the criminal penalty for possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana with a less severe civil fine was jointly introduced by Rep. Mandela Barnes in the Assembly and Sen. Chris Larson in the Senate.

Wisconsin Cannabis News

 

Wyoming Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Barrasso, John - (R - WY) 

307 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6441

Contact: www.barrasso.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form 

 

Enzi, Michael B. - (R - WY) 

379A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3424

Contact: www.enzi.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=e-mail-sen..

 

Marijuana Policy Project on Wyoming:

Last update: July 29, 2015

Small steps for marijuana policy reform in the Cowboy State 

The 2015 session started off on a hopeful note when Rep. James Byrd introduced a bill that would have replaced criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a speeding ticket. The bill was unfortunately defeated on the House floor, but it started an important conversation about appropriate penalties for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Meanwhile, the legislature passed two helpful bills that became law in July. First, a penalty-reduction bill sponsored by Sen. Cale Case and Rep. Kendell Kroeker gives judges the option not to prosecute first time offenders under the influence of controlled substances such as marijuana, an option that previously existed only for the crime of possession. Also, a bill sponsored by Rep. Robert McKim allows the use of CBD oil to treat seizures.

This type of reform is especially important considering the racial disparity found in marijuana possession arrests. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Wyoming are 3.2 times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than their white neighbors, despite similar rates of marijuana use.

Wyoming Cannabis News