4 States Move On Marijuana Legalization

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Florida, Idaho, Maine, and Oregon all put forward legislation in recent weeks relating to marijuana legalization. Although some states are closer to legalization than others, marijuana policy has emerged as a primary issue across the nation. Tweet it:

Florida

Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) introduced the most recent bill regarding medical Cannabis, SB 1250. Also known as the “Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act,” the bill would legalize marijuana for medicinal use as approved by a physician. Share the news:

Clemens’ bill was introduced in February, just a week after the Miami-Herald released a poll commissioned by People United for Medical Marijuana which tested respondents attitudes on medicinal use of the plant.

The Hamilton Campaign poll reported 70 percent of respondents were in favor of medical marijuana legalization through a state constitutional amendment. From the Miami-Herald: Share poll:

“Medical pot’s sky-high approval cuts across party and demographic lines, with Republican support the lowest at a still-strong 56 percent… The outsized support of Democrats and independents brings overall backing of the amendment to 70 percent; with only 24 percent opposed”

SB 1250 would allow qualified patients to posses up to four ounces of the substance and cultivate up to eight plants. The bill is likely to face some partisan opposition by Florida Republicans, but public opinion of medical marijuana has grown dramatically in the state.

The bill’s cosponsors include Democrats Rick Kriseman (District 53), Dwight Bullard (District 39), and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (District 9).

Idaho

Resolution 112 passed last Monday proclaiming opposition to legalization as well as cultural acceptance of marijuana. Representative Chuck Winder (R-Boise) also derided the recent move in neighboring states. From the resolution:

“[D]rug legalization laws in neighboring states have already adversely impacted Idaho through cultural acceptance of drug use that reduces the perception of harm among children and increases drug use.”

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Although legalization attempts from local groups like Compassionate Idaho seem to be thwarted, the Idaho Legislature voted against Winder’s other resolution, SJM 101. The measure called for federal intervention in states where marijuana is already legal.
The Spokesman-Review recounted fellow Senate Republican Monty Pearce’s (R-New Plymouth) defense of states rights.
“For us to ask the federal government to destroy someone else’s state’s rights, I’ll have to disagree with it,” Senator Pearce said, even though he is “absolutely opposed to marijuana use in every sense.”

Maine

Just last week, Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) introduced an “Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana.” The bill would legalize the possession of up to two and a half ounces of Cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six plants. Tweet it:

Representative Aaron Libby (R- Waterboro) was also present to announce the bipartisan bill. If Russell’s bill is passed, voters would need to approve the change with a statewide referendum.

At the conference, Russell pointed to the changing tide of public opinion on the subject as cause for her renewed efforts to legalize marijuana in the state:

“The question of whether to legalize or not was answered as far as history was concerned on November when voters in [Washington and Colorado] voted to allow marijuana to be taxed and regulated.”

Representative Russell also voiced concern for the possibility of young people gaining easier access to the substance due to more liberalized regulation.

Yet, she argues that 85 percent of high school seniors report easy access to marijuana already and legalization would, in fact, make it more difficult for persons under 21 to access. The bill requires ‘carding’ similar to alcohol.

The medicinal use of marijuana has been legal in Maine since 1999, but under federal law, the manufacture, sale, and possession of the drug is still illegal.

Oregon

Just south of Washington, Oregon’s recent move towards legalization came last Monday in the form of House Bill 3371. The “Control, Regulation and Taxation of Cannabis Act” would legalize the use of marijuana in a similar fashion to Measure 80, which was defeated in 2012.

Introduced by the Committee on Revenue, the act:

“Provides for regulation of production, processing and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products. Directs Oregon Health Authority to license marijuana producers, marijuana processors, marijuana wholesalers and marijuana retailers.”

It also prohibits the distribution or possession of  marijuana to only those above 21 years of age. If passed, the law would go into effect in July 2014.