Is New England The New Hotbed For Marijuana Law Reform?

The northeast has historically been a hotbed for marijuana use — with five of the six New England states self-reporting some of the highest percentages of marijuana consumption in the nation. But recently New England has also become a regional leader in marijuana law reform.
Lawmakers in every New England state are now debating marijuana law reform legislation. Here’s a closer look at what’s happening.
Connecticut: The nutmeg state is the only northeast state besides New Hampshire that has yet to enact some form of marijuana decriminalization or medicalization. But that drought may end this year. Weeks ago, newly elected Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy publicly affirmed his support for legislation that seeks to reduce minor marijuana possession to a noncriminal offense. Malloy endorsed reducing adult marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction, punishable by a nominal fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. Gov. Malloy has also spoken out in favor of legalizing the physician-authorized use of medical marijuana. (Similar legislation was passed by the legislature in 2007, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Jodi Rell.) You can contact your state elected officials in favor of both of these proposals here and here. You can also get involved with Connecticut NORML here.
Maine: Maine voters have twice approved ballot initiatives in recent years addressing the medical use and distribution of medical cannabis. And in 2009, Maine lawmakers increased the amount of marijuana that may be classified as a civil offense from 1.25 ounces to 2.5 ounces (the second highest threshold in the nation). This year state lawmakers have introduced a pair of bills, LD 754 and LD 750, to expand the state’s existing marijuana decriminalization law. LD 754 would amend existing law so that the adult possession of over 2.5 ounces but less than 5 ounces is classified as a civil violation. LD 750 would amend existing law so that the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants by an adult is also classified as a civil violation. Both measures have been referred to the Joint Committee Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. You can contact your lawmakers in support of these measures here. NORML is also working with state lawmakers regarding the introduction of separate legislation to legalize adult marijuana possession, production, and distribution. You can learn more about this pending legislation here.
Massachusetts: In 2008, a whopping 65 percent of voters in endorsed Question 2 decriminalizing the adult possession of an ounce or less of cannabis to a fine-only civil offense. Now a coalition of state lawmakers are backing House Bill 1371 to legalize and regulate adult marijuana production and sales in Massachusetts. You can watch a 60-minute discussion with the bill’s lead sponsor and supporter here. You can contact your state elected officials in support of HB 1371 here, or by visiting the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition/NORML here. You can learn about a separate state legislative effort to regulate the use of medical marijuana here.
New Hampshire: Lawmakers this week heard testimony in favor of House Bill 442, which legalizes the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. (Similar legislation passed both the House and the Senate in 2009, but was vetoed by Governor John Lynch.) You can write your lawmakers in favor of HB 442 via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here, or by contacting
Rhode Island: In coming days, Rhode Island state regulators will become only the third in the nation to begin licensing medical marijuana dispensaries. A coalition of lawmakers is also debating the amending the state’s penalties for non-patients. House Bill 5031 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. You can voice your support for HB 5031 by clicking here.
Vermont: Two separate marijuana law reform measures are pending before Vermont lawmakers. Senate Bill 17 proposes expanding the state’s medical marijuana law to permit the establishment of two nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. You can learn more about this measure here. House Bill 427 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by six months in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. Passage of the measure, which has been endorsed by Democrat Governor Peter Shumlin, will allow state law enforcement to reallocate an estimated $700,000 annually in criminal justice resources. You can contact your House member in support of HB 427 here.
For up-to-date information on marijuana law reform measures pending in other states, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

60 thoughts

  1. Are you listening Hillary, can you hear Joseph Biden? Do you really want to see The People.
    So many people will come for you.
    Change The Law Free Cannabis

  2. 52 Better start moving
    I Pray for the angry ‘citizens, who have that mark on the record, a felony drug conviction, has destroyed my life, we are the world I choose Freedom, Eternity is Our Destiny.
    Do you have a choice, Do you wonder, I wonder about my only soul who looked up at the stars and cried.

  3. P.S. to 50
    Genesis is a Faith, a worldwide congregation of those individuals who believe in God and God’s Sacrament – and – has no ambition to be in politics – unless – politics [prohibs] have a propensity to interfere with the Faith. When intrusion by prohibs occurs – it becomes our “Constitutional duty” to oppose any legislation and its actions which support that prohibition. It is our “absolute duty” to defend our Constitution [the supreme law of the land] against all enemies, “most especially domestic enemies.” It is our responsibility to correct our “errors in judgment [that being the installation of prohibitionists in public office].” If we know – before hand – the position of our elected representatives – and – vote them into office anyway – “It’s our own fault [our error] – and – ‘we must’ take responsibility for the results of our actions” If we have been told one thing – and – subsequently been deceived – it’s the perpetrator’s fault. We are human and can be easily duped by silver tongued devils who talk out the side of their mouths with grand superlatives – but – once we realize that we have been played by their ruse – it’s our immediate responsibility to rectify our mistake and their mistaken identity. So then! the bottom line is this – “A person who lies is recognized as a lying person – not to be trusted” – and – they should be recalled from the office that we entrusted to them in good faith. That’s right – send them packin’!

  4. It has evolved to the point of “action” rather than words – but – hear me now – violence is contagious – and – can spread like wild fire. Thank God we are a civilized, humane, and merciful people – otherwise – we would tar and feather these prohibs, parade them through the public streets in disgrace, before we ran them out of town on a rail.
    We have a Criminal Justice System, and we uphold it – but – it’s just as criminal, even more so, for the Justice Dept. to abuse the system. The question remains – “Has the Justice Dept. abused the system?” Is the Justice Dept. the bully on the block? Should we allow them to get off Scott free? We should, keep clearly in mind, that – “We don’t have to draw blood to be effective.” They [prohibs] drew “First Blood!” So! I say to all prohibs, wherever they may be, “Go buy a rope and hang yourself with it.” They [creators and enforcers of unjust laws] better get it into their heads [as puny as that may be] that Genesists are bound by, and have fidelity to, God , our country, its Constitution, and its “just laws.” I say also – “So shall you do unto others – so shall it be done unto you.”

  5. Re David #8
    Why do I get the feeling EVERYTHING is “unconstitutional” to you–except making money any and every way you can. You don’t like taxes, move to Somalia. We have the lowest taxes in this country that we’ve had in decades. Apparently you prefer to live in a society with no streets, no schools, no libraries, etc etc etc. As long as your bud is untaxed, you’re happy and free–you can fly like a little dove in the the wind! ROFLMAO

  6. New England is moving in the right direction. It is nice to see that they see the many benefits of legalizing marijuana. Hopefully more dispensaries will be opened throughout New England in the coming years. By taxing and regulating cannabis the New England economy would see vast improvements.

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