Eleven States Considering Pot Laws In 2017
Kate McKee Simmons
After four states legalized recreational marijuana last year and twice that many approved new medical marijuana laws, at least eleven more are considering changing their laws in 2017. Here are the states and the legislation they're proposing:
Not only are lawmakers hoping to expand Connecticut's five-year-old medical marijuana legislation, but Martin Looney, the state's Democratic Senate President pro tem, introduced a bill earlier this month that would legalize recreational marijuana.
The Missouri Recreational Marijuana Legalization Initiative didn't make the ballot in 2016, but the state did pass medical use. Now Jason Kander, Missouri's secretary of state, has approved a petition behind the initiative pushing to legalize recreational use.
3. New Hampshire
Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn said he would introduce recreational legislation this year — but first, a group of lawmakers introduced House Bill 215 on January 4, commissioning a study of the current marijuana laws in other states. Findings of that study will be released on December 1, 2017; Woodburn hasn't said if he'll await the results before he introduces his own proposal.
4. New York
Inspired by the "dramatic shift in public opinion" as multiple states have changed their pot laws, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a measure that would decriminalize marijuana earlier this month, according to the Washington Times. In his 2017 legislative agenda, he wrote: "Data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety."
5. Rhode Island
Seventh time's the charm? For seven consecutive years, lawmakers in Rhode Island have introduced legislation that would allow the recreational use of marijuana. A unique aspect of their proposed law? It would impose a 23 percent tax. To put that in perspective, Colorado marijuana is subject to a 10 percent state marijuana tax on top of the 2.9 percent state sales tax, as well as any local sales taxes. (Governor John Hickenlooper has floated the idea of raising the state's sales tax on marijuana.)
6. South Carolina
South Carolina passed a bill in 2014 allowing cannabis oil for medical use, but this month lawmakers introduced the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize cannabis for terminally ill patients as well as "debilitating medical conditions."
Two cities in Tennessee have already decriminalized marijuana; recently, Representative Jeremy Faison told The Marijuana Times that he wants full medical use across the state and plans to introduce a bill in the 2017 legislative session to legalize medicinal use.
On the first day of the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers in the Lone Star State filed multiple requests to decriminalize marijuana. Instead of being thrown in jail, anyone caught with minor amounts of pot would be charged with a civil infraction and a $250 fine.
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House Speaker Greg Hughes told the Deseret News that medical marijuana could be the biggest issue of the session. However, word on the street is that most lawmakers in Utah think it's smart to wait for the federal government to act.
Governor Terry McAuliffe said he hopes to legalize medical marijuana this year, and lawmakers in Virginia are following through. They filed a bill this month to decriminalize marijuana and only fine for possession.
Medical marijuana is only legal for people suffering from seizures in Wisconsin, but legislators hope to expand the current law to make medicinal cannabis legal for everyone.
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