Nearly half of all Americans live in states that have reformed their marijuana laws by allowing medical marijuana, imposing a fine — not possible jail time — on marijuana possession, or making marijuana legally available and regulated for adults’ use. With polls showing a majority of Americans support making marijuana use legal, and with 83% support for allowing medical marijuana, state legislators are increasingly realizing the public supports marijuana policy reforms. Lawmakers have filed bills in 30 states and two U.S. territories to either enact a medical marijuana law, “decriminalize” simple possession of marijuana, or to tax and regulate marijuana for adults’ use, and additional bills are expected.
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Medical Marijuana Bills (to create new laws, not to revise existing laws)
Alabama — Rep. Patricia Todd introduced HB 2, which would have allowed patients with qualifying conditions and physicians’ certifications to cultivate medical marijuana or designate a caregiver to do so. They would have also been allowed to purchase it from a dispensing center or delivery service. On February 6, the House Health Committee voted against advancing the bill to the floor. On February 21, Rep. Todd introduced a second medical marijuana bill, HB 315, which was also referred to the House Health Committee.
Florida — SB 1250 and HB 1139 sponsored by Sen. Jeff Clemons and Rep. Katie Edwards, would have created the "Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act." The bills would have allowed qualifying patients with physicians’ certifications to cultivate medical marijuana or designate a caregiver to do so. They would also have allowed for regulated dispensaries and growers. The legislature has adjourned, and both bills are dead.
Illinois — Illinois' medical marijuana legislation, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang and Sen. Bill Haine, has passed both the Senate and the House and will be sent to Gov. Quinn's desk. Quinn has until mid-July or mid-August to act on the bill, depending on when the bill transmits to him. HB 1 would allow patients with qualifying conditions and physicians’ certifications to obtain marijuana from medical marijuana dispensaries. It would also allow up to 22 cultivators, who could sell marijuana to the dispensaries. The Illinois House of Representatives approved HB 1 on April 17 in a 61-57 vote, and the Senate approved it in a 35-21 vote on May 17. More information about the bill is available here.
Iowa — Rep. Bruce Hunter and Sen. Joe Bolkcom introduced HF 22 and SF 79. The bills would allow patients with qualifying conditions and physicians’ certifications to cultivate medical marijuana or designate a caregiver to do so. Patients would also be allowed to purchase their medicine from nonprofit dispensaries. SF 79 was approved by a subcommittee on March 4 and sent to the full Senate Human Resources Committee, where it is not expected to advance. HF 22 was voted down in a subcommittee.
Kansas — On January 14, Sen. David Haley introduced SB 9, which would have allowed patients with serious medical conditions and their physicians to obtain, use, and cultivate marijuana with their doctors’ approval. Patients would also have been allowed to purchase it from a dispensary, called a “compassion center.” His bill was referred to the Committee of Public Health and Welfare, where Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook said she would not grant it a hearing. Sen. Haley announced plans to introduce a medical marijuana amendment to another bill, SB 39, which will go to Judiciary Committee instead. The House Standing Committee on Vision 2020 also introduced medical marijuana legislation, HB 2198, which was referred to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs. Neither bill advanced before the deadline for the bills to pass the legislative chamber they were introduced in.
Kentucky — Sen. Perry Clark sponsored SB 11, which would have created a comprehensive medical marijuana law, allowing qualifying patients with their doctors’ recommendations to cultivate medical marijuana or designate a caregiver to do so. Patients could also have obtained marijuana from a registered dispensary. SB 11 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but did not receive a hearing or vote before the legislature adjourned its regular session.
Maryland — This Spring, Gov. O'Malley signed three bills to improve medical marijuana policies. Two of the measures — HB 180/SB 580 — were same-as bills that allow patients' designated caregivers to raise an affirmative defense for possession of marijuana. The defense was already available to qualifying patients. The third measure — HB 1101 — allows teaching hospitals to apply to an independent commission to run medical marijuana programs. Two other proposals that would have set up broader medical marijuana programs with patient access and protections from arrest were withdrawn. Del. Glenn’s HB 302 would have allowed home cultivation and dispensary-access by patients. Del. Morhaim’s HB 1100 would have allowed patient access through dispensaries.
— Twin bills have been introduced to allow seriously ill patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes and to purchase medical marijuana from dispensaries. Patients who live more than 15 miles away from a dispensary could also cultivate their own supply under the bills, HF 1818 (sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin) and SF 1641 (sponsored by Sen. Scott Dibble). In addition, a bill to allow a medical necessity defense, HF 508
, was introduced and referred to Public Safety Finance and Policy. HF 1818 was referred to the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee, and SF 1641 was assigned to the Senate Health, Human Services, and Housing Committee. A legislative deadline has passed that would prevent the bills from being enacted in 2013, but Minnesota has a two-year legislative session, and they can be taken up next year.
Mississippi — SB 2369, sponsored by Sen. Deborah Dawkins, would have allowed patients to use, possess, and grow medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. The bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Missouri — Rep. Mike Colona sponsors HB 688, which would allow qualified patients and their caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for patients’ medical use. It would also allow registered organizations to dispense marijuana.
New Hampshire — Rep. Donna Schlachman filed HB 573, which would allow qualified patients and their caregivers to possess, grow, and purchase marijuana for patients’ therapeutic use. The House approved HB 573 in a 286-64 vote on March 20. It was referred to the Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee, which amended the bill — including by deleting home cultivation — and approved it in a 5-0 vote on May 8.
New York — Sen. Diane Savino and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried have introduced twin bills to allow qualified patients to possess and purchase marijuana for their medical use — S4406 and A6357. Patients could also designate caregivers to assist them and could purchase marijuana from registered organizations. S4406 was referred to the Senate Health Committee. A6357 was approved by the Assembly Health and Codes Committee and is now in the Ways and Means Committee. In addition, Sen. Velmanette Montgomery sponsors a similar bill, S1682, which is pending in the Senate Health Committee.
North Carolina — H84, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Alexander, would have allowed qualified patients and their caregivers to possess, cultivate, and purchase marijuana for patients' medical use. The House Rules Committee gave the bill an unfavorable report, killing the bill. On April 11, Rep. Alexander introduced another bill – H941 – that would have required the legislative research commission to study medical marijuana related issues.
Ohio — On May 2, Rep. Robert Hagan introduced HB 153, which would allow qualifying patients and their caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for the patients’ medical use. HB 153 was referred to the House Health and Aging Committee.
Oklahoma — Sen. Constance Johnson sponsored SB 710, which would have allowed patients whose doctors recommend medical marijuana to use, cultivate, and purchase it. Sen. Johnson also filed SB 902, legislation that called upon the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision to establish a medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, that bill referred to the “prescription” of marijuana, making it ineffective. SB 710 was referred to the Health Committee, which voted 6-2 to kill the bill. SB 902 did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline and is also dead.
Pennsylvania — Sen. Daylin Leach’s SB 770 and Rep. Mark Cohen's HB 1181would create the Governor Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which would allow qualifying patients and their caregivers to cultivate and possess marijuana. Patients could also purchase it from regulated compassion centers. SB 770 was referred to the Public Health and Welfare Committee on April 7. HB 1181 was referred to the House Health Committee on April 15.
South Dakota — HB 1227, sponsored by Rep. Dan Kaiser, would have provided patients an affirmative defense they could raise in court to avoid a conviction for medical marijuana possession and use. While this would have been a dramatic improvement for patients, it was not considered a comprehensive medical marijuana bill since it would not have provided a means of access. On February 5, the House Health and Services Committee voted 7-6 to kill the bill. None of the bills advanced out of committee before the legislature adjourned.
Texas — Rep. Elliott Naishtat introduced HB 594, which would have given patients whose doctors recommend medical marijuana a defense in court. The bill did not advance before a crossover deadline and is dead.
West Virginia — HB 2230 and HB 2961, sponsored by Del. Mike Manypenny, would have allowed qualifying patients to possess and cultivate marijuana for their medical use. They could also have obtained marijuana from a compassion center (dispensary) or a caregiver. Both bills were referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee. Del. Manypenny also sponsored a medical necessity bill, HB 2063.
In addition to the states where such legislation has already been filed, comprehensive medical marijuana legislation is anticipated in Wisconsin.
Bills to Fine, Not Jail, Simple Possession of Marijuana
Indiana — SB 580, sponsored by Sen. Karen Tallian, would have made possession of less than two ounces of marijuana a class C infraction punishable by a fine only with no possibility of jail time. The bill, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law, would also have made other reforms to Indiana’s marijuana laws, including allowing hemp. The bill did not advance before the crossover deadline.
Hawaii — Sen. Kalani English sponsors SB 472, which would punish possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a civil fine. In addition, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz sponsors SB 739, which would impose a civil fine of up to $100 for no more than an ounce of marijuana. The Senate unanimously approved SB 472 on March 5. Both bills are dead for the year, but they will carry over to the second year of the state's two-year session.
Maryland — SB 297, sponsored by Sen. Robert Zirkin, would have reduced the maximum penalty for possession up to 10 grams of marijuana to a $100 civil fine. The Senate approved the bill in a 30-16 vote on March 19, but it did not get a vote in the House Judiciary Committee before the legislature adjourned on April 8. Another bill sponsored by Sen. Zirkin — SB 394 — would have made the maximum fine for marijuana possession a $100 civil fine. That bill was withdrawn.
Michigan — HB 4623, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Irwin, would replace possible jail time and criminal penalties with civil fines of $25, $50, or $100, depending on the number of prior convictions the person has for marijuana possession. The bill was introduced on April 24 and was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
Missouri — Rep. Rory Ellinger has introduced HB 512, which would reduce the penalty for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana from up to a year in prison to a fine of no more than $250 and a suspended sentence.
New Mexico — HB 465, sponsored by Rep. Emily Kane, would have reduced the penalty for first offense possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a $50 civil fine. A second offense would have been a petty misdemeanor carrying a $100 fine. It would have also imposed fines for up to eight ounces of marijuana. On March 11, the House approved the bill in a 37-33 vote. The legislative session ended before the Senate was able to vote on the bill.
New Hampshire — Rep. Kyle Tasker proposed HB 621, which would impose a fine on simple possession of marijuana. On March 21, the House of Representatives amended the bill to apply only to a quarter of an ounce of marijuana and to impose a fine of up to $200. It then approved the bill in a 214-115 vote, sending it to the Senate. On April 16, the bill received a negative recommendation in the Senate Judiciary Committee. On May 5, the full Senate approved the recommendation, killing the bill.
New Jersey — S. 1977, sponsored by Sen. Nicholas Scutari, would impose a $50 fine on up to 50 grams of marijuana (about 1.5 ounces). A. 1465, sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, was introduced in 2012 and passed the Assembly. The bill would impose civil fines starting at $150 on possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana. Both bills are pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Northern Mariana Islands — House Bill 18-42, sponsored by Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero, would impose a $50 fine on marijuana possession in the U.S. territory.
Texas — Rep. Harold Dutton, Jr. proposed HB 184, which would have made possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine. It was referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, which approved an amended version of the bill on April 23. As amended, HB 184 would have applied only to persons under 21. The bill did not get a full House vote before the crossover deadline and is dead for the year.
Vermont — Both the Vermont House and Senate have approved the state's decriminalization bill, H. 200, which is sponsored by Rep. Chris Pearson and 38 co-sponsors. Gov. Peter Shumlin is expected to sign the bill sometime in May or June. H. 200 passed the House April 16 in a 92-49 vote and was approved 24-6 by the Senate May 7. It will impose a civil fine on adults who possess up to an ounce of marijuana or up to five grams of hash. The maximum fines are $200 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for a third offense. For those who don’t contest the charge, the fine will probably be half those amounts. Minors under 21 will usually be sent to diversion for substance abuse screening and possible education or counseling. In the Senate, Sen. Joe Benning sponsored another decriminalization bill — S. 48.
Meanwhile, in New York, SB 3315 would eliminate the “public use” exception to the state’s decriminalization law, a reform supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In North Carolina, Rep. Kelly Alexander sponsors H637, which would downgrade the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana from a misdemeanor that does not carry jail time to a civil infraction. Finally, HB 2332 was introduced in Illinois to impose a civil fine on possession of a tiny amount of marijuana — 0.1 gram. It did not advance before the deadline.
Bills to Regulate and Tax Marijuana for Adults’ Use
Alabama — HB 550, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd, would allow adults 21 and older to possess or grow limited amounts of marijuana. It would also allow a regulated and taxed marijuana industry, in addition to setting up a medical marijuana program. The bill was referred to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
Hawaii — Speaker Joe Souki has introduced HB 150 and HB 699, which would allow the taxed and regulated sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Both bills would also allow adults to cultivate marijuana in a locked, secure facility. Two similar bills have also been introduced. Sen. Kalani English sponsors SB 467, and Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz sponsors SB 738. All of the bills are similar to Colorado’s Amendment 64. On February 12, the House Judiciary Committee deferred action on HB 699, killing the bill for the year. Because of legislative deadlines, the other tax-and-regulate bills also will not be able to advance in 2013, which is the first year of Hawaii’s biennial legislative session.
Maine — Rep. Diane Russell’s LD 1229 would allow adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It would also set up a system to license and regulate growers, infused product makers, retail stores, and labs. LD 1229 would impose a $50 per ounce tax on marijuana at the wholesale level. On May 14, the majority of the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted against the bill, but the full legislature could still approve sending the issue to voters.
Maryland — HB 1453, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson, would have provided for a taxed and regulated marijuana industry. It would have also allowed adults 21 years of age and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. HB 1453 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which heard testimony on the bill on March 19. The bill did not advance out of committee before the deadline to pass the House.
Massachusetts — Rep. Ellen Story sponsors HB 1632, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana. It would allow a regulated, taxed marijuana industry once it is legal under federal law. HB 1632 was referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary.
Nevada — AB 402, sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Hogan, would allow adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It would also create a taxed and regulated legal marijuana industry. AB 402 was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, but it did not advance before the deadline.
New Hampshire — Rep. Steve Vaillancourt proposed HB 492, which would tax and regulate marijuana for adults’ use. It would also allow adults 21 and older to cultivate up to six plants. The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee retained HB 492, meaning it will study the issue this fall. In addition, Rep. Mark Warden introduced HB 337, which would have made marijuana legal without imposing regulations. HB 337 received 112 votes on March 13, including from 52 Republicans. 239 representatives voted against the bill, so it is dead for the year.
Ohio — Rep. Robert Hagan’s HJR 6 would allow voters to decide whether to allow adults 21 years of age and older to purchase, grow, and possess limited amounts of marijuana. The proposed constitutional amendment is based on the amendment approved by Colorado voters in November 2012. It was referred to the House State and Local Government Committee.
Oregon — The House Committee on Revenue introduced HB 3371, which would allow persons 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana. It would also set up a system of taxation and regulation for the commercial production and sale of marijuana, similar to alcohol. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary, which approved the bill on April 2. The bill is now pending in the House Committee on Revenue.
Pennsylvania — SB 528, sponsored by Sen. Daylin Leach, would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. It would allow adults 21 years of age or older to purchase, cultivate, and possess limited amounts of marijuana. On April 3, the bill was referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
Puerto Rico — Sen. Miguel Pereira has introduced a bill, SB 517, which would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess marijuana but would not provide for regulated distribution or cultivation.
Rhode Island — On February 6, Rep. Edith Ajello introduced H 5274, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, which was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would tax and regulate marijuana sales for adults' use and would allow adults to cultivate up to three mature marijuana plants. Sen. Donna Nesselbush sponsors the Senate companion bill, S 334. The bills are pending in the House and Senate judiciary committees.
Vermont — Rep. Susan Davis’ H. 499 would have allowed adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and to grow up to three plants. It would have required the Department of Liquor Control to regulate marijuana wholesalers, retailers, and labs and impose a $50 per ounce tax at the wholesale level. The bill did not advance before the crossover deadline. In addition, Sen. Jeanette White’s S. 160 would create a Study Committee on the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana, which would be a legislative committee that would study a process for licensing marijuana businesses along with a taxation and regulatory structure.
In New York, Sen. Liz Kruger announced her plans to introduce a bill to tax and regulate marijuana and to allow the cultivation of up to six plants. In addition to the states and U.S. territory that have considered or are considering bills to allow adults to use marijuana, one additional state considered a study bill. In New Mexico, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino introduced Senate Joint Memorial 31, which would have directed the state's Economic Development Department to study the budgetary implications of a legal marijuana industry. The legislative session ended without SJM 31 receving a floor vote.
Last updated: May 20, 2013