The Obama Administration got the stoner nation riled up again last week with hopes that the government was on the verge of legalizing weed in the United States. While the sentiment presented by Attorney General Eric Holder was a step in the right direction, it is apparent someone is going to have to step up and be the pivot man in order to overcome the circle jerk politics going on in Washington, DC.
This is what your pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:
Federal: Obama Administration Open to Reclassifying Marijuana?
Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama Administration is fully prepared to work with Congress to reclassify marijuana. "We'd be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled, as I said there is a great degree of expertise that exists in Congress," he said. "It is something that ultimately Congress would have to change, and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made."
Earlier this year, nearly 20 Congressmen signed a letter to President Obama asking him to reevalute the government’s standpoint against marijuana. As of last week, The Smarter Sentencing Act (HR3382/SB1410) had 26 cosponsors, 10 of which are republicans. The act now sits before the House Judiciary Committee.
California: No Chance of Legalization in 2014
Supporters of the Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act announced last week that they are giving up on legalizing marijuana in 2014. The organization says they will not likely make the April 18 deadline for signature gathering. "We're officially throwing in the towel,” said backer, Dave Hodges.
The initiative previously stated it needed between $2-3 million in order to collect the signatures on time, but not enough financial support was gained. The group is now expected to organize a huge push to legalize marijuana in California in 2016.
Tennessee: Clinical Trail for CBD Oil Pass
Last Wednesday, the Tennessee Senate passed a measure that would allow researchers to study cannabis oils. The bill would allow clinical trials to begin at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, to examine the effects of CBD oil when used as treatment for seizures.
The bill now advances to the House.
Maine: Vote on Marijuana Legalization Referral
In an attempt to get marijuana legalization on the ballot, Senator David Dutremble and Representative Corey Wilson have come up with a proposal that may serve as a compromise for a recent drug trafficking bill introduced by Governor LePage. In addition to increased enforcement for drug traffickers, the bill would also include additional funding for addiction treatment and a referendum to legalize marijuana put on the ballot in 2015.
The state Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to put the measure to a vote in the near future.
Colorado: Drug-Endangered Child
Recently, a set of bills was introduced to help Colorado officials clearly define the term “drug-endangered child.” Senate Bill 177 and 178 seeks to do just that, but marijuana supporters worry the verbiage of these proposals will work against them; targeting marijuana-using families and prosecuting them in the spirit of prohibition.
"We all want to keep children safe, but it’s hard to see how this bill would make them any safer," said Mason Tvert with the Marijuana Policy Project. "We already have child endangerment laws on the books, and this proposal raises more concerns than it alleviates. Adults in legal possession of marijuana should not be subjected to more intense scrutiny than adults in legal possession of alcohol, Drano, insect repellant, or other common household poisons."
Georgia: Medical Marijuana Alternative
Since a bill to legalize cannabis oil for children suffering for seizures died in the Georgia legislature last month, Governor Nathan Deal has been working on developing an alternative to legalize CBD medicine. He said he has been working with the US Food and Drug Administration in an attempt to launch clinical trials at Georgia Regents University where purified cannabis trials are already underway.
"The product contains no THC, which is the component in marijuana that intoxicates a user," said Deal. "The university would create a well-designed trial for children with epileptic disorders."
The governor says his second option is to obtain the marijuana derivative from the federal farm run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the University of Mississippi.
Washington, DC: Expanding Medical Marijuana Conditions
Last Tuesday, a bill was introduced that would remove restrictions on physicians that currently keeps them from recommending medical marijuana to their patients. The Medical Marijuana Expansion Act of 2014 would serve as an amendment to the current qualified medical conditions and replace them with broader language that would give doctors the right to determine if patients could benefit from the use of medicinal herb.
“The recommendation for medical marijuana is between a doctor and their patient, not government,” said Council member Yvette Alexander. “While we are able to legislate what conditions we think are best, it is clear that the medical opinion of a physician should take priority in determining who obtains access to medical marijuana.”
As it stands, the current law only allows medical marijuana for four qualifying conditions: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. The new bill would give doctors the ability to determine what qualifies as an ailment treatable with marijuana.
Missouri: Medical Marijuana Bill Considered
Medical marijuana is being considered in Missouri. Last week, the Senate General Laws Committee heard Senate Bill 951, which would give voters the ability to voice their opinion on medical marijuana in the November election. Many supporters testified in favor of the measure, while only one person testified against it. The bill will be advanced to the floor for consideration from the full chamber.
Also, Democratic Senator Jolie Justus introduced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana in Missouri, which would strip away criminal penalties for anyone caught in possession of less than two ounces of weed.
“It was a consensus document between public defenders and prosecutors who say that these are the appropriate penalties for the crimes we have on the books in the state of Missouri,” she says.
The measure still needs a second vote by the Senate before it can be advanced to the House.
Maryland: Medical Marijuana
Last Monday, the Maryland House of Delegates voted to adopt House Bill 881, which would protect qualified patients from being arrested and prosecuted.
“We’re excited to welcome Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state,” said Mike Liszewski with Americans for Safe Access. “This bill is a vast improvement over the current law in Maryland and will provide patients with needed protection from arrest and prosecution, and give them a means to safely and legally obtain medical marijuana.”
In addition, the proposal would improve distribution by defining “treatment centers” as any entity that “acquires, possesses, processes, transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses or administers marijuana, products containing food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments, or educational materials for use by a qualifying patient or a caregiver.”
Maryland lawmakers approved a measure to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Senate Bill 364, which was passed by a vote of 34-8, now advances to the desk of Governor Martin O’Malley to be signed into law. During a recent interview, the governor said that he fully intends to sign the bill.
“As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the public will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety,” said O’Malley’s. “I now think that is an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health.”
“The General Assembly has decided after much consideration -- and with clear majorities in both Chambers -- to send to my desk a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and I plan to sign it,” O’Malley said, adding that the bill’s passage “might even lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens.”
Wisconsin: CBD Bill Will Likely Pass
It seems Wisconsin could be one of the next states to legalize a limited medical marijuana program. Earlier this month, a bill to legalize CBD oil for children suffering from seizures was passed by the Wisconsin Senate. Last week, Governor Scott Walker indicated that he plans to sign the bill into law. If it is not signed by May 1, the bill will automatically become law.
Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Fails
A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota failed last week. There was hope that the Minnesota legislature would manage to address the bill before they broke for the Easter holiday, but it looks like it will be another couple of weeks before the issue is addressed. The bill, which was introduced by Senator Scott Dibble, would allow patients with qualified conditions to obtain two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana from state licensed dispensaries.
"We're asking to allow Minnesotans the freedom that citizens of 20 other states and the District of Columbia now have," said Dibble. "And we're asking in the name of compassion to have access to something that has made a real difference for the better in their lives. The alternative is that they go without, and continue to endure those treatments that are available to them through pharmaceuticals -- or operate outside of the law at great personal risk, and in so doing support (a) criminal system.”