Over the past 24 hours, several state legislatures have taken steps to enact medical marijuana legislation or improve upon existing law. Here is a summary of this latest progress.
New Hampshire: The Senate voted 14 to 10 today in favor of HB 648, which would allow qualified patients to possess up to two ounces of cannabis and/or six plants for medical purposes. Because the Senate made minor amendments to the proposal, it must be re-approved by the House before going to Gov. John Lynch – who has expressed reservations about the measure. Starting tomorrow, our allies NH Compassion will begin airing television ads asking for the Governor to support HB 648. If you live in New Hampshire, you can write or call Gov. Lynch here.
Minnesota: Also today, members of the State Senate gave preliminary approval to Senate File 97, an act to exempt qualified medical cannabis patients from state arrest and prosecution. The Senate is expected to give final passage to the bill imminently. A companion bill, House File 292, is also expected to be before the House floor shortly. If you live in Minnesota, please support this campaign by contacting your state representative and especially Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Additional information is available from Minnesota Cares here.
Rhode Island: Members of the Rhode Island Senate voted 35 to 2 today in favor of SB 185, an act to allow for the distribution of medical cannabis by state-licensed compassion centers. A companion bill, HB 5359, is pending in the House and is expected to be voted on shortly. UPDATE! Today the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee voted 8-0 in favor of HB 5359. The bill now goes to the House floor. If you live in Rhode Island, please contact your House member and urge him or her to follow the Senate’s lead and support HB 5359. Even if the both chambers ultimately approve this effort, it is likely that the legislature will need to override the Governor’s veto before this measure can become state law. That means that every vote counts. For more information about this campaign, please visit the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition here.
Pennsylvania: Finally, NORML is thrilled to announce that Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Philadelphia), along with six co-sponsors, introduced legislation today to make Pennsylvania the fourteenth state to legalize the physician-supervised use of cannabis. As introduced — House Bill 1393, The Barry Busch Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act of 2009 — would allow state-authorized patients to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The measure also seeks to allow for the state-licensed distribution and sale of medical marijuana by authorized ‘compassion centers. For several months, Philly NORML has worked behind the scenes with Rep. Cohen’s staff to draft this important legislation, which you can read about here. If you live in Pennsylvania, you can support this effort by going here.
To learn about additional medical marijuana law reform legislation in Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Texas, please visit NORML’s Legislative Action Alerts page here.