A recent survey from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that only 8 percent of the population believes marijuana is more dangerous than one of the most common sweeteners known to man -- sugar. Yet, so far, only two states -- Colorado and Washington – have been brave enough to legalize the leaf for recreational purposes, while others are frightened by the notion of simply legalizing medicinal cannabis oils, which do not produce high effects, and have been successful in treating epileptic seizures and ultimately, saving children’s lives.
The good news is: there are more legislators than ever, out there in the grey haired trenches, fighting to finally end prohibition altogether. For better or worse, here is what some of your pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:
Alabama: Senate Approves Carly’s Law
Carly’s law was approved unanimously last week by the Alabama Senate, which would permit the University of Alabama in Birmingham to conduct research on CBD cannabis oil used to treat seizures. In addition, the bill asks lawmakers to contribute $1 million from the Education Trust Fund to finance the research.
Senate Bill 174 now moves to the House.
Missouri: House Committee Hearing
A Missouri House Committee met last week to discuss the possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana. House Bill 1659 would establish a tax and regulatory system for a recreational marijuana trade similar to what has been implemented in Colorado and Washington.
After hearing testimony on both sides of the issue, the committee did not act on the measure or give any timetable for when it was expected to move to the full House.
In St. Louis, city council members plan to hear testimony later this month and debate the idea of decriminalizing marijuana. The meeting is slated for March 24 at the Harris-Stowe State University.
Georgia: Panel Approve Medical Marijuana Bill
On Wednesday, a Senate panel gave their seal of approval on a bill revision to legalize cannabis oils for patients suffering from epileptic seizures. House Bill 885 was amended to make it simpler for patients to receive cannabidiol or CBD, which is the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana.
The primary change prevents prosecution in the state of Georgia for any patient in possession of cannabis oil obtained in another medical marijuana state.
Michigan: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Added
The Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel is recommending that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder be added to list of qualified ailments under the state’s medical marijuana program.
“Seven other states already allow the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD. We hope Michigan will be next,” said Chris Lindsey with the Marijuana Policy Project. “The Marijuana Policy Project joins patient advocates in Michigan in urging the director to adopt this recommendation quickly to provide relief for this devastating condition.”
New York: Medical Marijuana Discussed in State Budget
Last week, Richard Gottfried, the Chairman of the New York Assembly Health Committee, announced that for the first time, proposed medical marijuana legislation will be included in the Assembly’s budget proposal -- allowing the bill to receive consideration by the Assembly, Senate and Governor, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
“It is clear that there are patients in New York who can benefit from the effects of medical marijuana,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “We have carefully considered this initiative. We have heard from patients, caregivers, providers and advocates. This is a well-thought out plan that, once implemented, will provide access to medicine that can alleviate pain and suffering from serious illness.”
California: Medical Marijuana Industry Bill
Recently, the California Police Chiefs Association got together with the League of California Cities on a bill to more clearly define the state’s medical marijuana program that has been in place since 1996.
Senate Bill 1262 is aimed at tightening up the state’s medical marijuana laws to increase overall public safety. "This legislation seems counterintuitive, but we polled our membership and over 90 percent of the chiefs felt that, regardless of how you felt about the marijuana issue itself, there needed to be a responsible public safety approach to this," said Kim Raney of the chiefs association.
As it stands, there are no clear definition of how many dispensaries are permitted to operate in California or what types of conditions can be treated.
New Jersey: No New Conditions Until 2015
According to a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Health, the state will not consider adding anymore qualified conditions to its medical marijuana program until 2015. That means patients currently ineligible for the program due to its restrictions will be forced to wait until next year before potentially gaining access to medicine.
Health Department spokesperson Dona Leusner says attaching additional conditions right now would create problems with the program. “With three alternative treatment centers in the pipeline, the program as envisioned by the legislature still needs to grow further to accommodate the demand that will accompany the addition of new medical conditions,” she said. “Before the next annual report, the program will continue to expand and give us more experience before we are required by the rules to consider adding new medical conditions.”
Kentucky: Senate Approves CBD Bill
On Wednesday, the Kentucky state Senate approved a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, specifically CBD oil, for children suffering from seizures. The bill now moves to the House.
Under this measure, researchers at the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville medical schools would be allowed to study pediatric patients suffering from seizures…providing them with medicinal oils.
The House is expected to approve the bill.
Maryland: Decriminalization Bill Gets Senate Vote
Marijuana may soon be decriminalized in Maryland. The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee recently voted 8-3 in favor of eliminating criminal penalties associated with marijuana and replacing them with civil fines.
Under this bill, anyone caught in possession of small amounts (10 grams) of marijuana would be subject to a fine of $100. Current law dictates the same offense carry a punishment of up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $500.
“Criminalizing adults for marijuana possession will not make Maryland safer, but this legislation will,” says Rachelle Yeung from the Marijuana Policy Project. “Law enforcement officials should spend their time addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using a less harmful substance than alcohol.”
New Hampshire: House Approved Medical Marijuana Cultivation
New Hampshire residents may soon have the legal right to grow up to two plants until the state establishes its own cultivation and distribution system. House Bill 1622, which would allow patients and caregivers to possess up to two fully mature pot plants and 12 seedlings until a time when an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles, was passed in a House vote of 215 to 92.
“We applaud House members for continuing to stand up for people with debilitating conditions who could benefit from medical marijuana,” said Matt Simon with Marijuana Policy Project. “Seriously ill patients in New Hampshire have waited long enough for legal access to medical marijuana, and some simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”
New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program was signed into law last July, but due to threats of a veto by Governor Maggie Hassan, the Senate omitted the cultivation provision.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Washington: Medical Marijuana Legislation Likely Dead
An attempt to amend the state’s medical marijuana program has stalled and will not likely to make it out alive -- at least not this year. Senator Ann Rivers, the sponsor of Senate Bill 5887, says due to “immovable positions,” the bill is destined to fail.
The legislation would have reduced the amount of plants a patient could possess, and served to phase out some medical marijuana dispensaries by fall of 2015.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.