Months after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalise recreational marijuana, the push to make toking up legal is gaining momentum.
The fight will continue, however, especially with eight states considering legislation that would legalise marijuana this year.
Rhode Island's marijuana laws are slowly changing, although it's been a bumpy ride. Limited medicinal use and authorised 'compassion centres' were approved with legislation and amendments beginning in 2006.
In 2011, however, the Governor halted further licensing of the dispensaries due to federal pressure, then reversed his position the next year. Rhode Island lowered the punishment for possession of the drug to a civil offence last year, which takes effect on April 1.
Now, new bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate that remove state-level criminal penalties altogether, for growing and using a small amount of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
Three Vermont state representatives have introduced a bill that would allow adults 21 or older to have up to two ounces of marijuana, paraphernalia, and allow private growing of up to three plants. It is currently up for debate in the House Judiciary Committee.
The Vermont state Senate is also considering a separate bill that would create a study committee to look at the issue of legalization and regulation of retail sales of cannabis. The report would need to be completed by Nov. 1, 2013.
'I do think this is a policy whose day will come,' State Sen. David Zuckerman stated, according to NORML. 'Whether it's one year from now or four years from now, I don't know. But I don't think it's something that's 10 years out. I think the tide is shifting.'
Massachusetts already made it legal to use marijuana for medical purposes with a ballot initiative in 2012, but now there's a push to extend that to all recreational uses for those over age 21.
According to NORML, the bill would 'regulate the commercial cultivation, processing, and retail of marijuana to adults over the age of 21.' The preamble of the bill also acknowledges that fighting pot has become a losing battle:
... 100 years of criminalization in the Commonwealth has failed to stop the production, distribution and use of marijuana, and that sustained enforcement efforts cannot reasonably be expected to accomplish that goal.
Support for decriminalization is gaining ground in the state, although it's likely to be an uphill battle.
The state Senate voted Tuesday to reduce the punishment for having a small amount of the drug, and now it heads to the House of Delegates.
From the Huffington Post:
This year Gov. Martin O'Malley reversed his stance on medical marijuana and, through his health secretary, endorsed a limited plan for academic centres to make it available. Under the bill the Senate passed 30-16 Tuesday, possessing a few marijuana joints would still break the law, but it wouldn't carry a jail term.
Democrats now see an opening for the state to legalise marijuana. Delegate Curt Anderson has introduced a bill that would allow the state to licence marijuana retail stores and wholesale facilities, and apply an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales.
But Anderson told The Baltimore Sun that he didn't expect the legislation to pass this year.
Assemblyman Joe Hogan (D-Las Vegas) introduced a bill Monday, that would decriminalize marijuana in the state. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.
'We've wasted a tremendous amount of money spoiling teenagers lives, chasing them around until we can arrest them for something,' Hogan told the Las Vegas Sun. 'And marijuana is not just a harmless plant. The medical benefits are remarkable.'
The state already allows medical marijuana usage, although there's still no way for patients to legally obtain it. That may change with separate legislation from Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), which would create a dispensary system.
Segerblom is sticking with only medicinal cannabis, and is not supporting Hogan's measure.
Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) has filed legislation that would legalise and tax the sale of marijuana used for recreational use.
If passed, the proposal would allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per week, according to NORML.
From the Press Herald:
Russell said her proposal would generate new sales tax revenue for higher education, law enforcement and other needs. She also said she believes regulating the sale of marijuana at licensed locations would make it easier for law enforcement to hold suppliers accountable and keep the drug out of the hands of children.
A bill that would legalise the production, possession, and the sale of marijuana, is scheduled for an April 2 hearing in the state House Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow individuals to possess 24 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants.
From The Oregonian:
Under the bill, the Oregon Health Authority would be charged with licensing marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would oversee taxation of marijuana, according to the bill. Marijuana producers would be taxed $35 per ounce. The money would go to a 'Cannabis Tax Account,' with 40 per cent of proceeds going to schools and 20 per cent each to Oregon State Police, the general fund, and services for mental health, alcoholism and drugs.
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