The United States have been engaged in a constant battle with proper marijuana regulation for decades. According to NORML.org Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington are currently protecting their patients to some extent. Maryland in particular passed Senate Bill 308 in 2003 raising an “affirmative defense,” but that does not prohibit arrests from being made and patients are forced to undergo criminal prosecution.
In the coming year two states have complete legalization for adults 21 years of age or older open to the sway of voters. Washington state is working with Initiative 502, and Colorado has very recently achieved a spot on the ballot with Amendment 64. Californian voters had an opportunity to legalize cannabis for adults with Proposition 19 in 2010, and supporters were defeated.
A majority of states however are still battling for legal protection for patients who find relief with cannabis. I was surprised to find that according to ProCon.org 17 states have pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana in some way. Maryland was among the 17, with House Bill 15, specifically “authorizing the medical use of marijuana under specified circumstances.”
Allow me to very briefly introduce the other 16 states vying for medical marijuana at the moment:
Alabama legislators have House Bills 0025 and 0066 to consider.
Idaho is looking at the distinction between medical and non-medical users with House Bill 370.
Illinois has House Bill 0030 and Senate Bill 1548 with some driving restrictions proposed for patients.
Indiana legislators would force the executive board of the State Department of Health to adopt rules to regulate dispensaries, identification cards, and cannabis industry employees with House Bill 1370.
Iowa has Senate File 266 indicating nonprofit dispensaries and a 2.5 ounce limit for patients.
Kansas House Bill 2330 would establish compassion centers and require identification cards.
Massachusetts has 3 pieces of legislation currently pending, House Bill 625, Senate Bill 1161, and Senate Bill 818.
Seriously ill patients in Mississippi may find relief with Senate Bill 2252.
Missouri would like to reclassify cannabis with House Bill 1421.
New Hampshire has House Bill 442 pending.
New York legislators have Assembly Bill 7347 and Senate Bill 2774 to consider.
Ohio would allow out of state patients with House Bill 214.
Oklahoma has pending legislation to remove criminal penalties under Senate Bill 573.
Pennsylvania legislation may repeal provision that prohibit or penalize use under House Bill 1653 and Senate Bill 1003.
Compassion center and registry identification cards are consider in West Virginia with House Bill 3251 and House Bill 4493.
Wisconsin’s House Bill 371 seeks to protect patients and doctors, also setting a three ounce limit.
Tennessee and Kentucky have pending legislation as well, but because of the use of the term “prescribe” in the texts, they are considered “largely symbolic” according to ProCon.org, as Federal Law prohibits marijuana prescriptions.
Pending legislation gives each state’s citizens another small opportunity to make their voice heard. Contact your states Representatives or Senators and briefly tell them how cannabis has helped you or a patient you know. Many of the people voting on the issues may not have had a personal connection with marijuana in the past, and they are voting blindly on what they may think is best. Be the voice in their mind sharing the benefits of cannabis’s healing properties when your Legislators go to vote. Share your enthusiasm for the new jobs that would be created in dispensaries and testing centers. Even when we don’t have a direct vote in our reach we are not held silent. Read the proposed legislation carefully, consider what you would change and what you know to be essential. Support activism in your friends by asking them if they would contact your states legislation as well.
Tides are turning in our country, but only with the our continued diligence do we stand a chance to see legalization reach all of the United States.
I used these websites when compiling this information:
Reuters.com - Washington State Marijuana Legalization Headed for Ballot
NORML.org – Medical Marijuana by State
NYTimes.com - Colorado: Legalization of Marijuana Makes the Ballot
ProCon.org - 17 States with Pending Legislation to Legalize Medical Marijuana