Medical Marijuana Across the U.S.: A Progress Report

The governor of Illinois has just approved legislation that grants legalized access to medical marijuana, making it the 20th state in the nation to do so. Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know this means almost 40 percent of Americans now live in a place where pot as medicine is legal. canabis.jpg

Although California was the first, its system hasn’t always proven the best in some regards. Many other states and municipalities have chosen to learn by the example set here, either for better or worse.

The movement shows no signs of stopping.

Here, we offer some insight into where things stand on the national medical marijuana front. It’s not unreasonable to believe that by 2016, more than half of all states could offer legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.

First, we’ll start with Illinois, which joined the medical marijuana circle on Aug. 1, with Gov. Pat Quinn signing House Bill 1 into law. Marijuana isn’t immediately available to patients in need, but the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act establishes the framework necessary to protect physicians and certain patients from arrest and prosecution for the approval, possession and use of the drug.

The bill was approved 35-21 by the state House in April and by a vote of 61-57 in the Senate the following month. The bill will sunset in four years, and is considered one of the most stringent marijuana laws on the books. Patients won’t be allowed to cultivate the drug themselves, but they will qualify to possess up to 2.5 ounces over the course of a two-week period. They will be allowed to access the drug by purchasing it from one of the 60 registered dispensing organizations.

And late last month in New England, New Hampshire became the sixth and final state in that region to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. The state follows Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2012, Rhode Island in 2006, Vermont in 2004 and Maine in 1999.

Looking ahead, pro-marijuana advocates in Florida are pushing for a 2014 ballot measure that would allow approval of the drug. There, as one attorney pointed out, people have been given more time for marijuana crimes than murder. Similar ballot initiatives have failed before in the sunshine state. However, this one has both the legal and political muscle of mega-law firm Morgan & Morgan, a huge Democratic political fundraiser, as well as the United for Care group. When asked how much he would be willing to spend on the effort, John Morgan replied, “As much as it takes.”

In Ohio, a ballot measure is currently underway to approve recreational use of marijuana. Advocates are hoping to get the measure before voters in the 2014 elections. Called the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment, it will be the third time such a measure has been voted upon. But as we’ve seen with so many other places, even historically conservative areas are seeing a change in attitude regarding the drug.

So far in that region of the Midwest, only Michigan (and now Illinois) permit the legal use of medical marijuana.

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

Additional Resources:
Governor Quinn Signs Bill Making Illinois the 20th Medical Marijuana Sate, Aug. 1, 2013, American for Safe Access

More Blog Entries:
Marijuana Schedule I Status Challenged by Request to Supreme Court, July 19, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog