Plenty of marijuana law reform legislation was introduced in state legislatures across the country this week! We have news out of Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, Utah and Washington. Plus some news from abroad! Keep reading below to get the latest news in marijuana law reform from this week.
Chile: A medical marijuana farm in the country was officially “inaugurated” this week, signifying a growing approval of medical marijuana use in the region. The farm is the largest medical marijuana plantation in Latin America and will provide medicine to about 4,000 patients in the country.
Israel: The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee held a joint session with the Anti-Drug and Alcohol Committee to discuss reform of the country’s medical marijuana regulations. Currently only a small number of doctors can prescribe the medicine and there is a shortage of supply so officials are looking to expand physician privileges to prescribe cannabis.
“People are dying and suffering [from lack of the drug],” they said. “We have heard grandiose promises, but so far there are no answers. There is plenty of bureaucracy that doesn’t know how to deal with individual cases.
Mexico: After a series of public debates and bipartisan support, a bill to allow the importation of medical marijuana products is expected to pass by May.
“The bill, proposed by Institutional Revolutionary Party Senator Cristina Diaz, aims to change Mexican laws to allow the import of medical marijuana products to help the roughly 5,000 medical patients currently without access to such drugs.”
Georgia: A newly introduced Senate Resolution seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot to regulate adult marijuana use.
SR6 would allow voters to decide if they wish to regulate the commercial cultivation, processing, and retail of marijuana to adults over the age of 21. You can read the full text of this proposal here. To contact your lawmakers and urge their support for the measure, click here.
Kansas: Senate lawmakers are considering legislation, HB 2049, to amend various penalties and regulations specific to marijuana possession and use.
House Bill 2049 seeks to a) establish a statewide research program to oversee the production of industrial hemp, b) authorize the limited use of cannabidiol for therapeutic purposes, and c) reduce criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses from a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year incarceration and a $2,500 fine) to a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by no more than six months in jail and a $1,000 fine).
Click here to learn more and urge your lawmakers to support this legislation.
Maryland: January 21, members of the Maryland House and Senate voted to override a 2015 veto and to decriminalize the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
Senate Bill 517 amends existing criminal penalties regarding the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia from a misdemeanor, punishable by possible jail time, to a civil violation. However, amended language also includes a provision establishing a civil fine of up to $500 for offenses involving the use of marijuana in public. NORML and our affiliates will be working in the future to amend this penalty.
On January 27th, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will be voting on the three separate bills that would legalize various amounts of marijuana.
For more information or to urge your lawmakers to support legalization in New Hampshire, click here.
House bill 1631, legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, is also pending in the House of Representatives.
Utah: SB 73, the Medical Cannabis Act, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, was introduced this week and seeks to amend state law to permit for the state-licensed cultivation of cannabis, including strains with higher THC content, for the manufacturing of medicinal products and/or herbal preparations.
Under a 2014 law, qualifying patients are permitted to possess cannabis extracts that contain more than 15 percent CBD and no more than 0.3 percent THC. However, the law provides no legal supply source for these products and, as a result, it has largely failed to meet the needs of patients.
Competing legislation seeks to only permit the use of CBD in pill or oil form and prohibits any form of THC.
Click here to contact your lawmakers and urge them to support SB 73!
Washington: Newly introduced legislation, HB 2629, The Adult Home Grow & Criminal Reduction Bill would permit adults to grow a limited number of marijuana plants for personal use.
Click here to urge your lawmakers in Washington to support these measures.
Additional information for these and other pending legislative measures may be found at our #TakeAction Center!
** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!