Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state.
Missouri: Joplin NORML and Sensible Joplin turned in over 6,000 signatures this week in favor of a municipal ballot initiative to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties to a fine-only offense. (Under Missouri law, marijuana possession is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.) The bill’s proponents were required to collect approximately 4,600 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the November 2008 ballot. The city has 20 days to verify the signatures. To learn more about the initiative, click here.
Rhode Island: Legislators are contemplating whether to override Gov. Don Carcieri’s (R) recent veto of legislation that sought to study whether the state should establish state-licensed ‘Compassion Clubs’ to provide medicinal cannabis to authorized patients. In 2005 and 2007, Gov. Carcieri vetoed legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis by state-authorized patients. Both vetoes were eventually overridden by the legislature. For more information, please visit the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition here here. To hear comments from RIPAC Executive Director Jesse Stout on NORML’s Daily Audio Stash, please click here.
Hawaii: Republican Governor Linda Lingle vetoed legislation (House Bill 2675) this week that sought to establish a legislative commission to study ways to better provide medical cannabis to state-qualified patients. In her veto message, Gov. Lingle said she opposed the bill because “the use of marijuana, even medical marijuana, is illegal under federal law,” and because she believes that there are alternative prescription drugs available besides cannabis. Although the Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto, the House chose not to. To hear comments from Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii Executive Director Pam Lichty on NORML’s Daily Audio Stash, please click here.
Oregon: Oregon NORML held a press conference this week to announce the launch of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), which seeks to regulate the sale of cannabis in state liquor stores. Proponents of the measure must collect 83,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2010 ballot. To view the press conference, click here. To read media coverage of the campaign launch, please visit here.
California: Via CBS News — “The Berkeley City Council has placed on the Nov. 4 ballot [a measure that] would eliminate limits on the amount of medical marijuana that could be legally processed by patients or caregivers, establish peer review for medical marijuana collectives to police themselves and allow medical marijuana dispensaries to locate where permitted without a public hearing. The initiative failed by only 191 votes in 2004 but a judge nullified the results, ruling that Alameda County election officials mishandled a recount and ordering that the measure be placed back on the ballot in November.”