Well, I can tell you where this week’s legislative roundup isn’t being written from, and that is Amsterdam. Unfortunately, while my editors are all busy this week getting stoned with the Dutch, I am still stuck here, in Southern Indiana, where my Thanksgiving festivities are off to an early start, forcing me to type out this godforsaken report while wrestling with a vicious carbohydrate hangover and a strict deadline.
What’s worse is that this week’s roundup is full of some disappointing news, like lawmakers in Maine sandbagging legalization efforts until at least 2015; an overzealous Pennsylvania governor hell bent on holding back legalization efforts as long as he is in office; and the American Medical Association’s announcement that marijuana still does not have their seal of approval.
Yet, public opinion of marijuana continues to skyrocket, even in my home state of Indiana where a recent study found that 52% of the population supports the idea of weed being taxed and regulated in a fashion similar to alcohol and tobacco.
Unfortunately, Hoosier lawmakers are not having any luck getting proposed marijuana legislation - a recent medical marijuana/ decriminalization bill was recently stopped dead in its tracks because Senator Mike Young, chairman of the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law, refused to hold a hearing on the issue.
Here is what our pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:
Maine: Legalization Efforts Fail By One Vote
Regardless of the substantial progress made earlier this month in Portland, the Maine State Legislature just couldn’t seem to gain enough momentum to conquer the majority of the votes needed to pass a bill aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana.
Last Thursday, the Legislative Council, comprised of 10-members responsible for reviewing the state’s proposals, voted right down the middle at five to five, which ultimately, left the bill for dead.
Now, legislators must wait until 2015 before reconsidering the bill.
Last week’s vote was state Representative Diane Russell’s third failed attempt to legalize marijuana in the state of Maine.
Supporters of the proposal said that the legislature missed a very important opportunity this time around, but as disappointing as they are to have missed legalization by one vote, they say they refuse to throw in the towel.
Those that opposed the bill said that pot transactions will remain illegal in Maine, including in Portland where voters recently passed a measure making it legal to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
West Virginia: Medical Marijuana Legislation Being Drafted
Lawmakers in West Virginia say they are currently working on a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.
Charles Roskovensky, chief counsel for the House Committee on Health and Human Resources, said last Wednesday that he is currently drafting a piece of legislation that would allow registered patients to posses up to six ounces of marijuana and up to 12 plants.
Roskovensky announced during last week’s meeting that he is currently seeking suggestions from members of the Joint Health Committee before finalizing the wording of the proposal.
There is no word when Roskovensky plans to officially introduce his proposal.
Pennsylvania: Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana Introduced
Democratic state Senator Daylin Leach and Republican Senator Mike Folmer got together in Harrisburg last week to present a piece of legislation that could serve to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
The proposed legislation is specific to the legalization of cannabidiol (CBD), which is a powerful medicinal compound in marijuana that can be used to treat children without getting them high.
This bill marks the first time in Senate history that a bill aimed at legalizing medical marijuana has been drafted with bipartisan support.
However, regardless of their efforts, a spokesperson for Governor Tom Corbett says the bill will undoubtedly get vetoed if it finds it ways through the legislature.
Alabama: Lawmakers Support Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana
In an attempt to provide children with the treatment they need to combat seizures, state Representative Patricia Todd of Birmingham announced last week that she is sponsoring a bill geared towards the legalization of medical marijuana.
Todd says that it is time to set aside the “drug dealer” stereotypes surrounding marijuana and begin to do what is right to help those children suffering from debilitating seizures.
"A lot of these kids die from these seizures. This is a drug that we know works. Why not allow these parents access to something we know will help their child? That's all we're doing," said Todd. “It's going to be one of my top priorities in this session and we hope to get it passed."
Florida: Overwhelming Support for Legalization of Medical Marijuana
Florida may have a fighting chance at legalizing medical marijuana if the issue can somehow find its way to the ballot in 2014.
A new poll conducted by Quinnipiac University shows an overwhelming 82% of registered Florida voters support the legalization of medical marijuana.
The poll marks the largest margin recorded to date.
“This poll shows yet again that Floridians overwhelmingly support a compassionate medical marijuana policy in Florida, despite the continued opposition of out-of-touch, Tallahassee politicians like Pam Bondi,” said Ben Pollara, treasurer for People United.
People United needs to obtain 683,149 verified voter signatures by February in order to make it on the ballot. So far, the initiative has garnered 200,000 – 110,000 of which were officially verified last month.
Illinois: American Medical Association Remains Enemy of Legal Marijuana
The American Medical Association’s House of Delegates made the decision last week to maintain their opposing attitude towards legalizing marijuana. However, they also labeled the War on Drugs a failure, which was at least a small victory for marijuana supporters.
“Federal drug polices over the last 40 years have not accomplished their objectives. Policies should move away from arrest and incarceration of drug users by addressing drug misuse, addiction, and overdose through a public health framework, expanding access to treatment and redirecting law enforcement resources to prevent serious and violent crime.”
Unfortunately, delegates say they will not likely change their position on marijuana until there is more data available to suggest they should. In their report, the association said they encourage researchers to study legalization efforts in states like Colorado and Washington, because until they have more evidence to warrant a change to their current policy, it will unanimously remain against marijuana.
Mike Adams writes for Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, BroBible and Hustler Magazine. Follow him: @adamssoup; facebook.com/mikeadams73.