Unfortunately, marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the United States government, even though a Gallup Poll released earlier last week provides pot advocates with some optimistic news: 58% of the American population say they think the government should legalize weed.
Some proponents believe that marijuana will be legal throughout most of the nation by 2020, as public opinion on the issue will likely continue to rise in wake of aggressive legislative efforts to legalize cannabis on both a medicinal and recreational level.
Here is what our pot-friendly, American lawmakers were working on last week:
Washington DC -- Decriminalization Gets Mayor’s Support
District of Columbia mayor Vincent C. Gray says he supports a bill aimed at decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana; but he wants some changes made to the contents of the bill that will prohibit citizens from getting high in the streets.
The bill, which has already gained majority support from DC council members, would serve to abolish criminal prosecution for individuals busted with less than an ounce of marijuana.
Instead, offenders caught with pot in places other than parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and other public areas, would receive a fine somewhere between $25 to $100 and be required to surrender possession of the substance.
Other aspects of the bill are also being considered, including whether residents would be allowed to grow their own personal crop.
Florida -- Medical Marijuana Could Be On the 2014 Ballot
Florida could be one of the next states to legalize medical marijuana, as supporters have come together to create a petition to get the issue on the ballot in 2014.
United for Care, an advocacy campaign run by People United for Medical Marijuana, was launched over the summer and already has about 180,000 signatures. Yet, the petition requires the signatures of an additional 503,149 registered Florida voters by February 1, 2014 in order to be approved for a spot on the ballot.
Recent polls conducted by the United for Care campaign indicate that 70% of Floridians support the issue of legal medical marijuana.
In 2012, two pieces of legislation aimed at legalizing medical marijuana made it to the state legislature, but did not receive enough consideration.
Wisconsin – Medical Marijuana Program Could Happen Within Six Months
Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill last week to legalize medical marijuana across the state, an effort that has already sustained an enormous amount of support.
Senate Bill 363 would permit registered patients to possess up to three ounces of medical marijuana that could be obtained from either growing their own, an allotted twelve plants, or through a state regulated facility.
The proposal requires medical marijuana dispensaries operate 500 feet or more away from schools, and bans the use of pot on school busses, public transportation, in the workplace, prisons, public parks, beaches and recreation centers.
If the measure is passed, patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, nail patella syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder could be certified for treatment with medicinal cannabis within the next six months.
Illinois -- Veterans Could Get Okay for Medical Marijuana
Military veterans across Illnois may soon be approved for medical marijuana.
Historically, veterans treated in VA clinics have not been allowed medical marijuana use because their doctors are federal employees, and not allowed to prescribe it due to federal law.
However, a recent amendment to House Bill 1, filed by Representative Lou Lang, serves to provide veterans being treated at a VA clinic for conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS with the ability to receive medical marijuana.
Under the bill, these patients suffering from debilitating illnesses would not be required to have their doctor’s permission to in order to receive medicinal cannabis from the state.
Veterans with approved illnesses would be eligible to receive a certification from the Department of Public Health, which would show the patient is a veteran being treated for one of the 33 debilitating medical conditions currently outlined in Illinois four-year pilot medical marijuana program.
Illinois’ medical marijuana laws go into effect on January 1, 2014.
Oregon -- Recreational Marijuana Could be Legal in 2014
A pro-marijuana initiative was filed late last week with the secretary of state in hopes of making Oregon one of the next states to follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington.
New Approach Oregon says it will attempt to twist the arm of legislators in order to get the measure on the November 2014 ballot, but if that does not work, they will move to collect the required 87,213 signatures and let the public sort it out.
The measure is geared towards having marijuana sales regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, allowing adults over the age of 21 to possess up eight ounces of marijuana and grow up to four plants for personal use -- an aspect of the law that Washington failed to consider.
Already, New Approach has gained national support from large donors responsible for funding the legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington: The Drug Policy Alliance and the Progressive Insurance Company have kicked in a combined contribution of about $82,000 over the past two months to help bring this initiative to fruition.
Representatives of the New Approach campaign say that the contents of their plan are not set in stone and they are open to negotiating with the Legislature.