Where The State Laws Are Now

On January 1st 2014 Colorado became the first, and thus far only state to begin allowing the sale of recreational marijuana. While Washington state had indeed voted and passed their recreational cannabis bill, their I-502 measure is facing delays on the actual rules and regulations to govern the sale of recreational weed under the new law. On March 31, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed into legislation the bill that will eliminate possession arrest for small amounts recreational marijuana.

Many states have various forms of legalization already established, ranging from legalization of medical marijuana to decriminalization. States like Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New England, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Minnesota, along with Washington, D.C., have allowed access to the use of medical marijuana. These states have removed state-level criminalization for medical use and cultivation of cannabis. Minnesota, legislature and government recently agreed to extended patients access to medical marijuana by summer 2015. The approval now puts Minnesota on track to become the 22nd nationwide state— and third in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for medical use. Minnesota would be among the few that do not allow cultivation of marijuana for medical patient use.

Following the trend is Illinois, which has recently joined in the attempt to allow patients access to medical marijuana by introducing the medical marijuana pilot program The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. As recent as April 25, 2014, Illinois Department of Public Health held two public hearings regarding the administrative rules for the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Patient Registry.

Alaska looks to be the next state in line to legalize sales of recreational marijuana after marijuana activists delivered a petition containing 45,000 signatures to Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. If the petition is validated to have a minimum of 30,169 legitimate signatures, the state will vote in the August primary elections on legalizing recreational sales. According to an April report by the Anchorage Daily news, 54 percent of Alaskans are in favor of legalization. Alaska’s amended ballot will allow the state to be the 3rd state allowing recreational marijuana usage to those 21 years of age or older in addition to regulating guidelines private recreational grow usage, similar to alcohol. The ballot initiative was scheduled in August and has recently been re-scheduled for Novembers 2014 ballot.

Next in line for legalization of marijuana recreational sales is New York, though the state has yet to even legalize medical marijuana. In December, state Sen. Liz Krueger made public a proposal to fully legalize and tax marijuana in the state. Though an astounding 82 percent of New Yorkers support the legalization of medical marijuana, the overall feeling is that Krueger’s proposal will not make it too far. Some confidence in the proposal was restored, however, by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s endorsement of loosening views on medical cannabis laws.

Recently as of May 20, 2014, New York State Senate Health Committee passed a bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, which grants patients who suffer from serious illnesses the right to use medical marijuana for their debilitating, life-threatening illnesses under a doctor’s supervision. However, patients in New York are still at risk for being arrested for use of marijuana to help ease their pain and suffering.

The pattern being seen with nearly every other state is the lack of distance proposed legalization bills are making their way through legislature. These states are exercising a leery approach to going the way of Colorado, Washington, and Alaska, while marijuana activist’s attempts are not yet garnering the attention needed to gain footing. At one time the legalization bill in Vermont had passed legislation but did not receive even one vote. Recently, Washington Times reported that Vermont’s legislature approved a bill in April 2014, which allows more patients to obtain medical marijuana as well as amend the initiated study to legalize, tax and regulate the production, sale and recreational use marijuana for adults in Vermont.

Nevada has had a medical marijuana program since 2001 and currently criminalizes with a potential jail sentence of up to a year for possession of marijuana regardless the amount and classifies possession as a misdemeanor charge. Lawmakers have recently created a new initiative that would allow an ounce of marijuana to be possessed by individuals 21 and older. Nevada authorized medical marijuana dispensaries to be established with help under a law passed by the 2013 Legislature. Huffing Post reports that by 2015, Nevada could have advanced toward legalizing recreational marijuana an attempt to tax recreational marijuana sales, to help raise funds for educational system.

While America is seeing a slow and cautious approach to national legalization, Uruguay has become the first country in the world to legalize the growing, sale, and use of marijuana on Dec. 10, 2013. Its neighbor Argentina is looking to do the same in 2014. No states are required to enforce federal drug law or prosecute anyone who engages in prohibited activities by federal law. State law should make a distinction between the medical and non-medical uses of cannabis.

Spain, Iran, and Switzerland are the only other countries to legalize marijuana solely for cultivation.


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