Months after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the push to make toking up legal is gaining momentum. But it hasn’t been easy. Activists still face stiff opposition from politicians, as well as the White House and a number of former Drug Enforcement chiefs, among others. The fight will continue, however, especially with eight states considering legislation that would legalize marijuana this year.
Rhode Island’s marijuana laws are slowly changing, although it’s been a bumpy ride. Limited medicinal use and authorized ‘compassion centers’ were approved with legislation and amendments beginning in 2006. In 2011, however, the Governor halted further licensing of the dispensaries due to federal pressure, then reversed his position the next year. Rhode Island lowered the punishment for possession of the drug to a civil offense last year, which takes effect on April 1.
Three Vermont state representatives have introduced a bill that would allow adults 21 or older to have up to two ounces of marijuana, paraphernalia, and allow private growing of up to three plants. It is currently up for debate in the House Judiciary Committee.
Massachusetts already made it legal to use marijuana for medical purposes with a ballot initiative in 2012, but now there’s a push to extend that to all recreational uses for those over age 21. According to NORML, the bill would “regulate the commercial cultivation, processing, and retail of marijuana to adults over the age of 21.” The preamble of the bill also acknowledges that fighting pot has become a losing battle.
Support for decriminalization is gaining ground in the state, although it’s likely to be an uphill battle. The state Senate voted Tuesday to reduce the punishment for having a small amount of the drug, and now it heads to the House of Delegates.
Assemblyman Joe Hogan (D-Las Vegas) introduced a bill Monday, that would decriminalize marijuana in the state. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. “We’ve wasted a tremendous amount of money spoiling teenagers lives, chasing them around until we can arrest them for something,” Hogan told the Las Vegas Sun. “And marijuana is not just a harmless plant. The medical benefits are remarkable.”
Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) has filed legislation that would legalize and tax the sale of marijuana used for recreational use. If passed, the proposal would allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per week, according to NORML.
A bill that would legalize the production, possession, and the sale of marijuana, is scheduled for an April 2 hearing in the state House Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow individuals to possess 24 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants.
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Philadelphia) has introduced a bill that would legalize the possession and regulated sale of marijuana for adults. Sales would be allowed in state stores or beer distributors, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I acknowledge that it may take a while,” Leach told the Inquirer. “But like same-sex marriage, this will inevitably happen. Demographics and exposure will in time defeat irrational fears, old wives tales and bad science. This bill furthers the discussion, which hastens the day.”
Unlike Colorado and Washington, where legalization came from a public vote, Pennsylvania doesn’t allow for a similar process.
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