Marijuana Legislation in the States: An Update, Part 3

In this third installment of our state-by-state marijuana legislation breakdown series, our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers hope you will be encouraged by the fact that even more conservative states in the South and Midwest are at least discussing this as a serious issue.
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No longer do the vast majority of Americans view medical marijuana patients as “stoners,” and it’s important to note this evolution and how far we have come just in a matter of a few years.

We may have made a large leap with recreational legalization in Washington State and Colorado, but the legislative battles are far from over.

Illinois. Support for a measure that would approve medical marijuana grew rapidly with House Bill 1, which would have allowed a four-year pilot program to permit those suffering from conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis to obtain marijuana prescribed by a doctor. It was approved in the House committee, and is slated for a larger vote later this spring. By some estimates, it’s only one or two votes shy of passing. Considering the shifting tide of public opinion, that shouldn’t be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Another measure, House Bill 2332, would give local governments the power to decriminalize small amounts of personal-use marijuana within their own jurisdictions. That measure passed 9-5 in committee, and is awaiting action from the state House.

Indiana. Senate Bill 580 was killed in committee earlier this year, and it’s a shame because it would have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession. The Republican Chair of the state’s Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law quashed it after saying he refused to give the bill a public hearing. It would have lowered the punishment for marijuana possession from a Class A misdemeanor to a civil infraction, with no jail time and a fine of up to $500. Meanwhile, a second bill introduced in the state House would actually increase the penalties for low-level marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to a felony. Last month, the House voted 80-13 in favor of it. Right now, the measure is being weighed in the Senate’s Criminal Law Committee.

Iowa. A pair of bills in both the state House and Senate would, if passed, result in the creation of a statewide medical marijuana program that would allow access for patients with a prescription. However, few expect either measure to gain much traction. Another bill that would have decriminalized small amounts of the drug was recently killed after a series of hearings last month. The governor has announced he will quickly veto any measure that would legalize cannabis in any capacity. Through the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy, the governor actually pushed the introduction of a measure that would strip the state’s pharmacy board of EVER allowing the use of medical marijuana.

Kansas. Senate Bill 9 was introduced in January and would allow for prescription-authorized medical marijuana. Patients with certain ailments could privately possess and/or grow the drug in their home in small quantities. The measure calls for the state’s health department to oversee the program, which would be limited to a certain number of dispensaries per jurisdiction.

Kentucky. This is a state where medical marijuana legislation was shot down year after year. Fortunately, it appears to have only strengthened supporters’ resolve, as SB 11 has been introduced this session and once again proposes to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. It’s been assigned to the Joint Committee on Judiciary, but is still awaiting a date for a hearing. The last round never got to the hearing stage. Another measure, SB 50, would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp actually passed both the House and Senate and is now awaiting the governor’s approval. It’s not clear how the governor will oppose the bill, which would allow farmers to grow the plant – but only if the federal government ever lifts its own ban.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Your State by State Update to Marijuana Decriminalization, Legalization and Reform, April 3, 2013, By Thomas H. Clarke, The Daily Chronic
Additional Resources:
Irvine Medical Marijuana Purchase May Cost Couple $1.5M Building, March 14, 2013, Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Lawyer Blog