According to Talking Points Memo, Sen. John McCain made some comments Thursday that some may find surprising:
McCain’s comments could not have been better timed. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Justice Department’s new policy allowing states to move forward with taxing and regulating marijuana. Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, is a member of that committee. Sen. Flake will have the opportunity to question Justice Department officials and help shape the future of federal policy on marijuana.
Yesterday, the House and Senate granted final approval to the compromise version of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill. HB 573 will soon be printed and transmitted to the governor’s desk, and Gov. Maggie Hassan has already promised to sign it into law. The Senate approved the bill in a voice vote, with no discussion, and the House voted 284-66 in favor, also with no discussion.
Many of us have mixed feelings about the details of HB 573 (summary is available here), but we should all agree that its passage represents a major step forward for marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire. It’s unfortunate that patients will have to wait up to a year until ID cards are issued before they can receive legal protection, and it’s unfortunate that patients will not have legal access to medical marijuana until alternative treatment centers are open. However, we will strongly encourage the state health department to begin issuing ID cards and registering alternative treatment centers as soon as possible.
With Gov. Hassan’s signature, New Hampshire will become either the 19th or 20th state to pass an effective medical marijuana law. (A similar bill is awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois.) MPP will continue working on this policy until New Hampshire patients have safe, legal access to medical marijuana!
The New York Legislature adjourned its regular session early Saturday morning without passing two important marijuana policy reform bills. Both bills passed the Assembly, but ultimately stalled in the Senate: a bill legalizing medical marijuana for seriously ill patients and a bill that would have fixed the “public view” loophole in New York’s decriminalization law.
Although the Senate failed to take up the medical marijuana bill once again, there is still reason for hope. Over 600 New York physicians recently came out in support of medical marijuana, the Assembly passed medical marijuana legislation for the fourth time, and a recent statewide poll found 82% support for medical marijuana.
If you are a New York resident, please email leadership, including Gov. Cuomo, Sen. Skelos, and Sen. Klein, and ask them to support medical marijuana patients.
The Senate also failed to vote on legislation to fix the public view exception to New York’s decriminalization law. A6716 would have eliminated the false justification police are using to make tens of thousands of marijuana arrests each year.
A proposal to let Maine voters decide if marijuana should be regulated like alcohol received near majority support Friday in a vote of the Maine House of Representatives.
Rep. Diane Russell
The proposed amendment to LD 1229, a bill introduced by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) with a bipartisan group of 35 co-sponsors, was defeated 71-67. It would have placed a measure on the ballot calling on the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages, and Lottery Operations to develop rules and legislation for a legal marijuana market for adults 21 years of age or older. The proposal will now be considered in the Senate where it must receive a simple majority to be sent back to the House for reconsideration. A two-thirds majority will then be required to refer the measure to the ballot.
This is some of the highest level of support seen for such a bill in a state legislature. Recently, the Colorado legislature approved bills to establish regulations for the legal marijuana market. HB 1318 received votes of 37-27 in the House and 25-10 in the Senate. HB 1317 got 35-29 votes in the House and 32-3 in the Senate, and SB 283 was 62-3 in the House and 32-2 in the Senate.
As more and more states consider reforming their marijuana laws, we can hopefully expect the level of support to rise as more of their constituents come to see the failure of marijuana prohibition.
Sen. Tick Segerblom
Yesterday, the Nevada Senate passed SB 374, which would allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and growers in the state. Sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, the bill received a 17-4 vote — well above the 2/3 votes needed to advance the bill to the Assembly. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn by early Tuesday morning, so time is running short.
Despite the constitutional rights established in Article IV, Section 38 of the Nevada Constitution, the legislature failed to provide seriously ill patients with a way to obtain medical marijuana — other than growing it themselves or finding a volunteer to do so. SB 374 aims to fix that shortfall by authorizing and regulating producers and providers.
There are still several critical steps ahead for this bill. If you are a Nevada resident, please ask your assembly member to support SB 374.