By Paul Armentano
Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in over twenty states, and liberalization measures have been pre-filed in many more. Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to the latest statewide votes and happenings relevant to marijuana law reform.
Connecticut: Lawmakers in the House and Senate heard testimony on Monday in favor of measures seeking to decriminalize and medicalize marijuana. A just-released statewide poll shows that voters overwhelmingly support both proposals, which have also been endorsed by the state’s leading newspaper. You can voice your support for these measures by clicking here and here.
Hawaii: Senate lawmakers last week approved a series of legislative proposals aimed at amending the state’s marijuana laws. Legislators unanimously approved SB 1460, which reduces the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a civil violation punishable by a fine of not more than $100. Regarding the medical use of marijuana, the Senate approved SB 1458, which allows for the state licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis and cannabis-infused therapeutic products. Senators also passed SB 58, which increases the quantity of marijuana that authorized patients may legally possess under state law. All three measures are now before House lawmakers for consideration. NORML has separate alerts for all three measures at our ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Montana: Members of the Senate Judicial Committee on Monday deadlocked 6 to 6 regarding House Bill 161, which sought to repeal that state’s six-year-old, voter-approved medical marijuana law. House representatives had previously voted, largely along party lines, 63 to 37 in favor of the repeal measure. Monday’s Senate vote does not kill the measure outright. Senators may still elect to reconsider the measure, or they may call for a ‘blast motion,’ which is a procedure that allows measures to bypass committee and be debated by the full chamber. NORML will keep you updated if there is an any future action taken regarding this draconian legislation.
New Hampshire: House lawmakers on Tuesday decided 221 to 96 in favor of legislation, HB 442, that seeks to allow for the state to license facilities to produce and distribute marijuana to qualified patients. The proposal now moves to the Senate. Lawmakers in House and Senate approved similar legislation in 2009, but it was vetoed by Democrat Gov. John Lynch. More information regarding this year’s effort is available from NORML here or from NHCompassion.org.
New Mexico: A New Mexico lawmaker has withdrawn legislation that sought to repeal the state’s four-year-old medical marijuana law. Newly elected Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said that she would have signed the measure, House Bill 593, had it reached her desk. The bill’s sponsor is now proposing a House Memorial bill that calls on lawmakers to study the state’s medical cannabis program.
Rhode Island: Lawmakers heard testimony today in favor of measures regarding the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis. You can learn more about both measures via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here and here. In related news from the Ocean State, state regulators on Tuesday approved applications for the establishment of the state’s first three medical marijuana dispensaries. You can learn more about this story here.