Unfortunately, marijuana it is still illegal across most of the United States. And as much as all of us had hoped that recent reports of President Obama’s authority to eliminate pot prohibition would have persuaded him to revisit “The 1970 Controlled Substances Act” and say to himself, “Dang, I really can legalized weed.” It didn’t happen.
According to a recent Time magazine interview with Vice President Joe Biden, the Obama Administration does not intend to change its current position on marijuana in the near future. “Our policy for our Administration is still not legalization, and that is [and] continues to be our policy,” he said.
Therefore, it continues to be up to our state lawmakers to make legalization happen.
This is what they were up to last week:
Alaska: Initiative Qualifies for Summer Ballot
Election officials in Alaska say an initiative aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana has obtained enough signatures to secure a place on the ballot this summer.
According to reports, more than 31,500 qualified signatures were collected, which was a thousand more than required by the state. The election office is expected to certify the documentation with the lieutenant governor within the next couple of weeks.
If this measure passes, Alaska will join Colorado and Washington as the third state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Arizona: Bill to Legalize Marijuana Introduced
A group of Arizona lawmakers introduced a bill last week aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana. Representative Ruben Gallego, the primary sponsor for House Bill 2558, says the plan is to regulate and tax cannabis across the state similar to how it is currently being done in Colorado.
The bill would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, in addition to the ability to grow a number of plants. Licensed retail marijuana shops would also be permitted.
State lawmakers have also introduced a decriminalization bill -- House Bill 2474 -- that would allow individuals to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, with the penalty for the offense being downgraded from a felony to the equivalent of a traffic ticket.
Indiana: Senate Votes to Legalize Hemp
On Monday of last week, the Indiana state Senate unanimously voted to legalize industrial hemp. If the bill passes, the state would need to apply for a waiver from the federal government to begin cultivating the product.
Supporters of industrial hemp in Indiana say approval of this bill was inevitable. “This was a corporate backed bill with the farmers union holding hands,” said Bill Levin, cannabis lobbyist with Re-Legalize Indiana. “It was a pre greased bill -- meaning it was agreed behind closed doors that everyone pass it. There was no democratic republican fight on this bill at all.”
The bill must now receive approval from the House and the governor before becoming law.
Oklahoma: Not Hearing Bill to Legalize Marijuana
Legislation was recently introduced that would decriminalize marijuana in Oklahoma, but one state senator says he does not intend to hear it.
Senator Don Barrington said last week that he believes Senate Bill 2116 is simply a rehashed version of a bill put down last year by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, so he does not plan on reviewing it in his Senate Subcommittee.
Senator Connie Johnson, the primary sponsor of the bill, says this is her fourth attempt at introducing this legislation.
Georgia: New Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced
A group of state lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes. House Bill 885, which is a research bill, would incorporate seizures into the list of qualified medical conditions, like glaucoma and cancer, eligible for treatment with medicinal herb.
The bill is a very limited piece of medical marijuana legislation that will legalize cannabidiol oils for sick children.
Kansas: Senator Refuses to Hear Medical Marijuana Bill
Senator Mary Pilcher Cook said that after she blocked medical marijuana legislation last year, she was harassed on her social networks with obscenity and pornography.
Last week, she declined to comment when asked if she had any plans of allowing a hearing on medical marijuana legislation -- Senate Bill 09 -- also known as the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act.
The bill has remained stagnant since it was introduced, and it appears to have been intentionally silenced and left for dead.
Alabama: Committee Approves Possession of CBD Oil
Last Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill aimed at legalizing CBD oil for specific patients. This measure will give parents and patients the right to possess cannabidiol oil to use as treatment for certain types of illness.
What’s more is the bill will give designated users a legal defense against any possession charges if they are ever busted with CBD oils.
Colorado: Open Container Bill Introduced
Colorado lawmakers introduced a bill last week aimed at better defining open container laws as they pertain to marijuana. Senator Pat Steadman says the proposed legislation would make it harder to prove an open-container infraction by adding “consumption and possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia to the crime of underage possession or consumption of alcohol"
Under Senate Bill 14-129, prosecutors would be required to prove three elements: “that the container has a broken seal, that the contents were partially removed, and that there is evidence that marijuana was consumed in the vehicle." The current law only mandates the prosecution determine one of these factors.
Steadman says his bill only addresses the issue of open container and will not encompass the issues of reckless driving and DUI.
State Lawmakers also introduced a bill that would allow marijuana dispensary owners to confiscate suspected phony IDs. House Bill 1122, which was heard on Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee, aims to tighten up the current laws by making taking additional efforts to ensure marijuana is only being sold to those 21 and over.
Washington, DC: Decriminalization Approval
Earlier last week, the DC City Council voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the district, this would eliminate criminal penalties and classify the offense a civil infraction -- punishable with a $25 fine.
An amendment to maintain the current penalties was submitted prior to last week’s vote by Council Chairman Phil Mendleson, which could mean bad news for supporters of decriminalization. If this measure is approved, the penalty for public consumption of marijuana will remain up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
The DC City Council is expected to vote again on the decriminalization act sometime in March. The council will then have to make the decision on Mendleson's proposed amendment.
California: Approved to Begin Collecting Signatures
Supporters of the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of California received approval last week to begin collecting signatures for a November ballot measure.
If this piece of legislation passes, it would legalize recreational marijuana across the state for adults 21 and over. Supporters are expected to begin collecting signatures soon, likely before you read this report on Monday morning.
Supports must gather the signatures of 500,000 registered voters before June 30 to qualify for the ballot.
Oregon: Governor Supports Legalization
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said last week that he wants the legislature to act on the pending Senate Bill 1556 that would legalize marijuana.
He recently told reporters the state needs to get prepared for legal marijuana. "I hear the drumbeats from Washington and Colorado," said Kitzhaber. "I want to make sure we have a thoughtful regulatory system. The legislature would be the right place to craft that."
The proposed legislation seeks to make it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana in their personal dwellings and up to an ounce outside the home.