Medical Marijuana Initiatives Weighed by More States

As advocates in California are working tirelessly to get recreational marijuana ballot measure before voters by next year, our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know that several other states are fighting to lift up initiatives that will make the drug legal as medicine.
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So far, 20 states plus the District of Columbia have approved the drug for restricted use as prescribed by a doctor.

Support for decriminalization and legalization of the drug, according to a recent Gallup poll, is now at an all-time high, with 58 percent of Americans saying that pot should be legal for all purposes. That result marks the first time since Gallup began asking the public about the issue that the majority have voiced support for full legalization of the drug. Back in 1969, when the surveys first started, only 12 percent supported legalizing marijuana. In 2000, it was 31 percent. In 2012, it was 48 percent. We’ve jumped 10 percentage points in a year.

The majority of every age group except senior citizens support legalization. But even those over 65 voiced 45 percent support for such a measure.

That makes the efforts in states still struggling to have the drug approved for sick patients even that much more compelling.

In Wisconsin, lawmakers introduced a bill – with the aid of 18 co-sponsors – in late October that would allow registered medical marijuana patients to be in possession of up to three ounces of the drug. Additionally, patients and/or their caregivers would be permitted to grow up to a dozen plants, and caregivers would be granted permission to treat up to five patients at a time.

Marijuana dispensaries in Wisconsin would be dubbed “compassion centers,” and would have to stay at least 500 feet from schools. Cultivators of the drug would be required to have their product tested to ensure it is not contaminated with fungus, pesticides, mold or other substances. Also, delivery services would be authorized for approved patients. The law would additionally ban consumption of the drug on any form of public transportation, at any school or school bus, in correctional facilities, in parks, on beaches or at any recreational or youth centers.

The measure would also immediately provide protection for patients embroiled in criminal cases, as they would be allowed to argue a defense of medical necessity.

Meanwhile in Florida, the state attorney general is pleading with the state supreme court to deny approval of a marijuana state ballot initiative for which advocates are working to gain some 650,000 signatures by Feb. 1. So far, some 95,000 valid signatures have been collected. The signatures would allow the bill to go before Florida voters next November.

The state’s attorney general is required to ask for a state supreme court review of any measures that would amend the state’s constitution. The court wouldn’t endorse or oppose the measure, but rather decide on whether it deals with a single subject and whether the written summaries are clear enough so that people know what it is they are voting for. The state attorney general is arguing that as written, the ballot measure is “deceptive,” and that people may think the scope is limited, when in fact it’s quite broad.

As written, the measure would allow for the use of marijuana, prescribed by doctors, to patients with a list of specified conditions, as well as any other condition for which a doctor believes the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk. It would establish state-regulated marijuana growth and registration centers, but would not allow patients or caregivers to grow their own.

A recent poll revealed 70 percent of Floridians would back a medical marijuana initiative. Approval by 60 percent would be needed for the measure to pass.

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

Additional Resources:
Pam Bondi Files Challenge To Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative, Oct. 24, 2013, By Bill Cotterell, Reuters

More Blog Entries:
U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Marijuana Classification Challenge, Oct. 19, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog