Tag Archives: Legislature
After “only” 10 years of lobbying in Springfield, MPP has finally succeeded at persuading the Illinois Legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate approved the measure 35-21 Friday, and it received approval from the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-57 on April 17.
If Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th or 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. (New Hampshire is also on the verge of passing MPP’s medical marijuana legislation, so it’s a race to see which state will be first!)
If the Illinois bill becomes law, as many as 60 retail establishments will be licensed to sell medical marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses.
Gov. Quinn has made some positive comments about our bill, but we still don’t know whether he’ll sign it. Over the next few months, we must focus on ensuring that the governor sides with the forces of compassion and fiscal prudence, rather than the forces of fear and fiscal waste.
Vermont farmers will likely have one more option of what to cultivate this summer after the state legislature Monday gave final approval to Senate Bill 157 which lifts a state ban on hemp farming.
The bill still has to be signed by the governor, but so far he hasn’t made any indications that he will veto it.
Technically, Vermont has had legal hemp farming on the books since 2008, but a stipulation in the law requiring a federal permit has kept anyone from planting any seeds. SB 157 removes that requirement and allows the state Secretary of Agriculture to issue licenses.
Because the federal government still considers hemp the same thing as marijuana, hemp is a federally controlled substance. As such, the farmers would still risk federal prosecution as well as other penalties including, potentially, the loss of their lands.
Rep. Teo Zagar, who supported the bill, said he’s heard from many farmers and ranchers that they support the measure, including ones who want to use the seed for feed for chickens.
“It really is one of the most versatile plants there is,” Zegar told the VT Digger I can’t think of any more versatile that you can build with, eat and make clothes out of,” he said. “If Vermont takes the lead on this, and we have Vermont natural hemp products, it could be huge. We could have a huge export market opportunity.”
In addition to removing the federal permit requirement, the bill defines hemp as cannabis containing less than .3 percent THC by weight.
Vermont is now one of ten states that allow for hemp farming, including California, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Washington, West Virginia and Colorado.But up until this week, none of those states had openly challenged federal law.
On Monday, though, Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin planted what was considered the first real hemp crop in the U.S. in 60 years Monday. Loflin covered about 60 acres in hemp seed formerly used for alfalfa farming. He’s also planning a hemp seed business and has purchased a seed press to make oil.
More links from around the web!
State lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a measure that will decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana in Vermont. The bill will now be transmitted to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it into law in coming weeks, at which time Vermont will become the 17th state in the nation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.
H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, will remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.
The Vermont victory marks another big step toward ending marijuana prohibition in our country, but there’s still a lot more work to be done. Marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in 30 state legislatures this year, and even more are expected next year.
As you have probably heard, there was big news in Denver yesterday. The Colorado Legislature approved legislation to tax and regulate the distribution and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older! The measures now go to Gov. John Hickenlooper so that he can sign them into law. This marks the first time in history that a state legislative body has passed legislation to regulate marijuana for sale to all adults.
The legislation, in fact, was introduced and passed because voters directed their lawmakers to regulate the production and sale of marijuana in Colorado when they voted “yes” on Amendment 64 this past November. Since passage of that ballot measure, MPP has been carefully monitoring the implementation process and has worked with a team of lobbyists and advocates to make sure the legislature got it right. When it comes to most of the major issues, such as allowing adults from out-of-state to purchase marijuana legally, we are happy to report that they did.
Once Gov. Hickenlooper signs off on the legislation, the Department of Revenue will have until July 1 to promulgate rules and regulations that Colorado’s new retail marijuana businesses must follow. We will once again be monitoring this process and will work with our allies to help craft rules that provide adults safe and reliable access to marijuana, while preventing diversion to young people and the underground market.
“The adoption of these bills is a truly historic milestone and brings Colorado one step closer to establishing the world’s first legal, regulated, and taxed marijuana market for adults,” Mason Tvert, co-director of the Yes on Amendment 64 campaign and director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Huffington Post. “Facilitating the shift from failed policy of prohibition to a more sensible system of regulation has been a huge undertaking and we applaud the many task force members, legislators, and others who have helped effect this change. We are confident that this legislation will allow state and local officials to implement a comprehensive, robust, and sufficiently funded regulatory system that will effectively control marijuana in Colorado.”
Maryland caregivers may soon have the same protections as medical marijuana patients in that state after the general assembly yesterday passed laws allowing them to possess up to an ounce at a time.
Laws passed in 2003 and 2011 allow patients to use medical necessity as a defense in court if they are busted with pot and paraphernalia. Caregivers would now have the same protections, which won’t necessarily keep them from being arrested but will allow them a valid argument in court. Charges could either be dismissed or dropped to a $ 100 civil fine.
The senate has already passed their version of the bill, and Monday the state House passed theirs. The governor must now sign the bill, though his aid says the governor is still considering what to do.
He has, however, given his support to a House-sponsored bill that would create a medical marijuana distribution program in the state, run by academic hospitals. But the bill’s sponsors seem optimistic: “We are expressing our velief that people who are sick should be able to access the drug without civil or criminal penalties,” Sen. Jamie Raskin, the bill’s sponsor, said to the Baltimore Sun.
Maryland is also considering two other marijuana-related bills this session. The first, which has been approved by the Senate, is a bill that decriminalizes up to ten grams of cannabis, making it a ticketable infraction and not an arrestable offense. A second bill would decriminilize marijuana up to an ounce and regulates it like alcohol. The House has not yet voted on that bill, however.
The Maryland General Assembly adjourns next Monday, though. So any action on the remaining marijuana bills has to come quickly.