April 6, 2012 04:41

The Greening of America



House Bills 0025 and 0066 would remove criminal penalties for possession by pre-qualified patients of up to 2 1/2 ounces of “usable” marijuana and up to 12 plants, only six of which can be mature at any time. The proposed program is particularly significant as Alabama has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the nation.



The Arkansans for Compassionate Care is currently collecting signatures to place the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act on the November ballot. If the act passes, Arkansas will join the list of compassionate states in America allowing doctors to write prescriptions for marijuana. Modeled after the Maine Medical Marijuana Act of 2009, the act outlines 15 specific conditions for which physicians could prescribe marijuana and also holds a clause that prevents employers from firing patients for holding medical marijuana cards. The proposal goes on to provide provisions for caregivers allowing them to grow up to 30 plants for five patients. ACC will need more than 65,000 signatures by July for the initiative to appear on the ballot.



As of press time, five cannabis-related ballot measures have been filed with the state by activists, but only one—Amendment 64, or the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol initiative—has thus far qualified for the ballot. If approved, Amendment 64 would legalize possession of no more than 1 ounce of pot or six plants for cultivation, and establish a regulatory network for the sale and taxation of cannabis and hemp. In an indication of the popularity of the measure, 56 percent of the delegates of the Denver County Republican Assembly voted in March to endorse the measure.


The Golden State presently has three cannabis legalization voter initiative drives underway. Two others—including the Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act—were withdrawn by supporters for lack of funding. The remaining three are all hurting for cash, according to numerous news reports. The Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act, which would allow California adults 19 and older to possess up to 3 pounds of marijuana and keep a cannabis garden of up to 100 square feet, prohibit anyone from driving under the influence of cannabis and give the state health department 180 days upon passage to set up a regulatory framework for production and sales. The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Initiative would repeal cannabis prohibition for adults 21 and older; allow cultivation by individuals of up to 6 mature plants or 12 immature plants, or by household of up to 12 mature plants outdoors or 24 indoors; and set up a strict regulatory system for the taxation and control of marijuana sales, similar to that of alcohol. While enjoying popular support among likely voters, the initiative, according to media reports, is on the brink of failure due to lack of funding. The California Hemp and Health Initiative 2012 would lift state legal barriers to adults 21 and older growing and/or possessing cannabis, cannabis hemp and cannabis edibles, medicinals and concentrates. It would also place an excise tax of $10 per ounce of dried cannabis or $2 per gram of cannabis extracts. Promoted by the Reefer Raiders, a group sprung up around the advocacy of the late Jack Herer, the initiative is also “in desperate need of cash,” writes SF Weekly.


Introduced in February, House Bill 5389--which is currently awaiting Gov. Daniel Mallow's signature--would allow qualified patients to possess medicinal cannabis, but requires patients and caregivers to register. Also, a doctor must certify patients' conditions for which marijuana is needed, such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.



House Bill 370 was introduced in the Gem State’s legislature in January. It would create a legal distinction between marijuana and medical marijuana use, and allow patients with debilitating illnesses or their caregivers to posses up to an ounce of cannabis. Up to six nonprofit or for-profit “alternative treatment centers” would be permitted to operate in the state.



The Land of Lincoln remains poised to legalize the medical use of marijuana, despite the recent failure of HB 30—The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act—in the state’s House of Representatives. The vote was so close that it was placed on “postponed consideration” status, meaning it can be called up for a revote in 2012. Also pending is Senate Bill 1548, which would establish a pilot program for qualified patients to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and up to six plants.



Legislators in the Hoosier State are considering House Bill 1370, which, if passed would require the state health department to establish rules and regulations for a yet-to-be-created medical marijuana program. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Public Policy.



Introduced in last year’s legislative session, Senate File 266 would allow pre-qualified patients to possess no more than 2-and-a-half ounces of dried marijuana and six marijuana plants. Criminal penalties for nonprofit dispensaries would be removed. The bill remains under consideration in the 2012 legislature.



House Bill 2330 and Senate Bill 354, introduced by a Democrat and a Republican, respectively, would both allow patients with serious illnesses to possess up to 6 ounces of dried marijuana and up to 12 plants. State ID cards would be issued and a registration system for cannabis “compassion centers’ would be established.



Senate Bill 129, or the Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act (named for a well-known legalization advocate and five-time gubernatorial candidate), was recently introduced. The bill would restrict patients to no more than five ounces per month and five plants at any one time. Patients could get their cannabis from a board-certified pharmacy or grow their own.



House Bill 15 would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis and smoking paraphernalia by a qualified patient. The bill includes among a long list of qualifying illnesses “any condition that is severe and resistant to conventional medicine.”



House Bill 625 and Senate Bill 1165, introduced days apart in January 2011, would both provide legal cover for patients and their caregivers engaging in the medical use of marijuana. A third bill, SB 818, would provide an affirmative defense for qualified patients charged with violating marijuana law. All the bills remain under consideration in the state legislature.



Senate Bill 2252 would allow patients with debilitating illnesses to possess an “adequate supply” of cannabis, defined as no more than 30 grams of dried marijuana, three mature plants and four immature plants. Qualified patients and their caregivers would be afforded the right to an affirmative medical-cannabis defense in court.



House Minority Whip Mike Colona introduced House Bill 1421 in January. It would reform Missouri draw laws to allow qualified patients to use and possess an “adequate supply” of cannabis, defined as up to three mature marijuana plants, four immature plants, and 1 ounce of “usable marijuana” per mature plant (3 ounces of dried marijuana). Neither patients nor their caregivers pulled over on a routine traffic stop would be arrested for having an adequate supply of cannabis in their possession.


New Hampshire

House Bill 442 would set up a full-fledged medical marijuana program for patients with serious illnesses or “severe pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication.” An earlier version of the bill was vetoed by Gov. John Lynch. Supporters vow to keep the pressure on the Senate to allow the current bill to come to a vote.


New York

Empire State patients will have to wait a while longer for a compassionate-use program, after legislators last year failed to vote on SB 2774 and its Assembly counterpart, A. 7347, before recessing for the summer. But hope is not lost: Both bills carried over to 2012 and remain under consideration. If signed into law, they both would set up a system for the legal use, manufacture, transport and administration of medical marijuana to qualified patients.



House Bill 214 would legalize doctor-prescribed cannabis up to 200 grams, and would set up a system of registration and ID cards. Similar bills have died in the state without being heard on the house floor. Two ballot initiatives—the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment (OATA) and the Ohio Cannabis Act of 2012 (OMCA)—are underway in the Buckeye State, both of which would create a system allowing for the distribution and regulation of medical cannabis in the state.



Introduced last April, Senate Bill 573—the Compassionate Use Act of 2011 – would remove criminal penalties for qualified patients who possess or cultivate marijuana and for physicians who recommend medical marijuana for patients. The bill has been assigned to Oklahoma Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.



Virtually identical to House Bill 1393, which died a lonely death in the legislature in 2010, Senate Bill 1003 would permit, tax and regulate cannabis for medicinal use. Patients with serious health conditions would be allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of dried pot and no more than six marijuana plants. An interesting note about SB 1003: It’s called “The Gov. Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” after a Republican who refused to rubberstamp President Nixon’s claim of cannabis being a dangerous drug.


Rhode Island

Lawmakers are debating the merits behind The Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana Act. Recently, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that he bill be held for further study. House Bill 7582 seeks to regulate the production, distribution and personal use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The bill would exempt adults from any statewide criminal or civil penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, the not-for-profit transfer of small amounts of cannabis and/or cultivation of up to three plants. HB 7582 also states that at least one marijuana retailer shall exist per county in the Ocean State within one year following its passage.



The 17th most populous state in the U.S. is pushing to become the 17th compassionate state as the Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act—which seeks to allow physician-supervised use of medical marijuana—advances in the state House. The measure, recently approved by the House Health Subcommittee, would create the toughest access standards among the states that have enacted similar laws, according to the bill’s main sponsor Rep. Jeanne Richardson of Memphis. Along with allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients, the bill also creates a licensure and enrollment program for production, distribution and dispensing. It also authorizes patients to enroll in a “safe access” program in which the patient can receive prescriptions from a licensed practitioner and receive their medicine from a licensed pharmacist at participating pharmacies. Its companion bill—Senate Bill 251—is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Government Operations Committee.



Voters endorsed Initiative I-692 in 1998, removing state marijuana “use, possession and cultivation” penalties for qualified patients. Severely ill patients or their primary caregivers may possess up to 24 ounces of cannabis and 15 plants—the state’s official “60-day supply.” More recently, cannabis activists gathered enough signatures to qualify Initiative 502 for consideration by the state legislature, which in turn agreed to put the question before voters in the November ballot. The measure would legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older; lift state legal sanctions on the production, processing and sales; and, according to the Yes on I-502 website, “earmark revenue for purposes that include substance abuse prevention, research, education and healthcare.” Growers would be prohibited from having a financial stake in marijuana retail operations (a rule similar to that applied to Washington alcohol manufacturers), and anyone found driving with a THC level of 5 nanograms per milliliter or higher in their system would face penalties equivalent to being found driving while drunk. All transfers of cannabis from grower to retailer would be accessed an excise tax of 25 percent.


West Virginia

House Bill 3251, introduced by Rep. Mike Manypenny (whose name you one can never tire of writing) would let qualified patients possess up to an ounce of marijuana and six plants. It would also establish a state registry system, provide for the taxation of cannabis sales and allow patients and their caregivers an affirmative defense in the event they’re prosecuted on marijuana charges.



Considered unlikely to pass given Wisconsin’s Republican legislature and governor, House Bill 371 would nonetheless set up one of the most liberal medical marijuana programs in the country. Qualified patients and their caregivers would be allowed to possess up to 3 ounces of dried marijuana and cultivate up to 12 plants. Qualifying medical conditions include such serious illnesses as cancer and HIV/AIDS, but also “any other medical condition or treatment for a medical condition designated as debilitating. Patients would be protected from arrest for transporting or delivering pot for medicinal use, and further allowed to raise an affirmative defense.


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