Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state.
Minnesota: Minnesota’s House Ways and Means Committee may soon be voting on a medical cannabis bill, Senate File 345, along with its companion bill, House File 655. From Ways and Means, it would go to the House floor, and if passed there, the Governor’s desk. If passed, this legislation will help to ensure that medical marijuana patients in Minnesota will no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from state law enforcement. However, Governor Pawlenty has indicated that he is inclined to veto this bill if it gets to his desk. Minnesotans can urge their Representatives and the Governor to support these bills via NORML’s online advocacy system.
California: In another victory for cannabis law reformers, Assembly Bill 2389 – which sought to require drug testing for recipients of state benefits and welfare – was defeated in the Assembly Committee on Human Services with six members voting no, and only one yes. AB 2389 drew opposition from a wide range of groups, including the ACLU, NOW, the California Nurses’ Association, the California State Association of Counties, and the County Alcohol and Drug Program Administrators Association. It was supported by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office. California NORML Director Dale Gieringer submitted testimony against the measure, available here.
Hawaii: House Bill 2675, which would set up a medical marijuana task force to examine and make recommendations to correct the problems facing medical cannabis patients in Hawaii, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously unamended. If passed, this task force would examine issues regarding adequate supplies of medical marijuana for qualified patients, distinguishing between mature and immature plants under current law, the feasibility of constructing secure growing facilities for medical marijuana patients to use to produce their medicine, and study inter-island travel issues related to medical marijuana. Hawaiian supporters can email their state senators via NORML’s online advocacy system.
Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Senate Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 2693 on Thursday, April 3. SB 2693 would set up a dispensary system for Rhode Island’s state-qualified medical cannabis patients. The committee heard testimony in favor of the bill from Buddy Coolen of Warwick, who was recently robbed at gunpoint while attempting to obtain the cannabis he is permitted under state law. Rhode Islanders can write their Senate and House members in support of this bill and its companion, House Bill 7888, through NORML’s online advocacy system.