It feels as though this country is on the brink of something big in the realm of marijuana reform. Last week, a gang of federal lawmakers got together to sign a letter to President Obama demanding that he reclassify marijuana from its Schedule I status…or delist it completely.
While it is anyone’s guess how the president will respond, or if he will at all, this country’s progress in destroying prohibition cannot be denied. Too many people are hungry for it -- and according to marijuana regulators in Colorado, legal weed is a smooth operation, presenting no major safety issues and raking in over $1 million a month in tax revenue.
Forward-thinking lawmakers can clearly see the potential, and because of this, they have remained diligent about introducing legislation to legalize the leaf. As it stands, 14 states, including Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, are seeking full legalization, according to statistics from NORML.
Eleven other states hope to pass legislation for medical marijuana: Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Minnesota and Wisconsin, while Alabama, Arizona, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming are working to decriminalize.
Here are what your pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:
Federal: Bill Introduced to Allow Drug Czar to Speak the Truth
A bill was filed last week by Representative Steve Cohen called “The Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014,” which serves to repeal a federal law that requires the US Drug Czar to “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use” of any Schedule I drug, including marijuana.
This law has prevented the office of Drug Czar from voicing their opinion on the issue of marijuana policy, as well as prevented them from researching the medical marijuana programs currently employed in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
“It’s extraordinary if you really think about it: a federal law prohibiting a federal agency from even studying an issue, and then directing that agency to oppose any reform no matter what scientific or other evidence emerges,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “That such a law remains on the books is disgraceful. I pity the intellectually-honest staff at the drug czar’s office who are muzzled and censored, and effectively compelled to lie when they testify before Congress and speak to the public.”
Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Legislation Gains Co-Sponsor
Last week, Memphis Senator Ophelia Ford announced she would co-sponsor the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act; a bill aimed at legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee. This announcement by Ford will keep the bill alive and kicking in both the Tennessee House and Senate.
The bill would allow medical marijuana to be used by patients suffering from debilitating diseases like cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Maryland: Decriminalization Bill Introduced
While running for governor of Maryland, Delegate Heather R. Mizeur is also attempting to legalize marijuana in the state. Last week she filed a bill that would decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana -- subject to a civil fine of $100 instead of criminal prosecution.
“I feel like we have a great opportunity to get something done this session,” said Mizeur about her “decriminalization” bill. “We don’t need to wait another year to make sure people’s lives aren’t ruined with our failed prohibition policy.”
Mizeur’s bill has bi-partisan support, with 40 co-sponsors, which she hopes will encourage an evolution in the gateway drug mentality of Governor Martin O’Malley.
New Mexico: Marijuana Legislation Stalls
A measure that would allow voters in New Mexico to decide whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana failed to be discussed at a recent Senate Rules Committee, keeping the bill from advancing.
Supporters were reportedly not very happy when debates over minimum wage and election laws kept the committee from debating a constitutional amendment that would all possession of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino said he hopes the committee will debate the issue before the session ends on February 20. “We have a chance to get it passed,” he said. “But it’s going to take a lot of work.”
If the amendment is passed, voters would get to decide on the question in the general election.
Florida: Twin Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced
State lawmakers introduced identical bills last week in an attempt to legalize medical marijuana during the current legislative session. The bills are an effort to pass the issue of medical marijuana before it is put to a public vote in November.
Senate Bill 962 and House Bill 859 were introduced last Monday by Senators Jeff Clemens and Joe Saunders, both of which serve to tightly regulate doctors recommending medical marijuana to patients suffering from debilitating conditions like cancer and HIV/AIDS.
The Florida Supreme Court recently approved the language of the constitutional amendment, which is set to become law if approved by 60% of the voters in November’s election.
Kentucky: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced
Last week, Representative Mary Lou Marzian introduced a bill aimed at legalizing medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky. House Bill 350, also known as the Cannabis Compassion Act, is the first medical marijuana bill to be proposed in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
The measure, not unlike other medical marijuana bills across the country, would allow patients suffering from illnesses like cancer and multiple sclerosis to be prescribed marijuana by a doctor.
If passed, both patients and caregivers could possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants.
Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill Requires Revisions
A bill that would legalize medical marijuana for children suffering from seizures must be revised before it can advance.
Early last week, state Representative Allen Peake said that while he was uncertain what types of changes were required of House Bill 885, it has stalled in the Georgia General Assembly until after they are made.
This legislation is a limited medical marijuana bill that would allow children to be prescribed cannabidiol to be used in the treatment of seizures.
Rhode Island: Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced
Last week, state lawmakers took steps towards legalizing marijuana in Rhode Island. State Senator Josh Miller and state Representative Edith H. Ajello proposed legislation last Wednesday at the State House that would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and over, as well as establish a taxation and regulatory system.
“Marijuana prohibition has been a long-term failure,” said Senator Miller. “Forcing marijuana into the underground market ensures authorities have no control of the product. Regulating marijuana would allow the product to be sold safely and responsibly by legitimate businesses in appropriate locations.”
A recent poll indicates that 53% of Rhode Island voters support marijuana legalization.
Washington: Bill Introduced to Ban Bans
Washington State lawmakers have introduced a piece of legislation that would prohibit cities from opting out of legal marijuana sales. A new house bill will essentially ban bans of state-licensed pot shops and prohibit individual municipalities from implementing measures that would keep marijuana businesses out of their community.
”It will increase participation, it’ll widen the geographic area we’re working with and make a more seamless system,” said the bill’s sponsor, Representative Cary Condotta.
However, opposing forces argue that the state should not be able to dictate whether pot shops are allowed in their city or not.
Mike Adams writes for Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, BroBible and Hustler Magazine. Follow him: @adamssoup; facebook.com/mikeadams73.