Key Marijuana Policy Reform Bills, 2014

Fifty-seven percent of 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 that a majority of Americans support making marijuana use legal, and with 86% support for allowing medical marijuana, lawmakers are increasingly realizing the public supports marijuana policy reforms.

In 2014, 36 states and Washington, D.C. have had bills under consideration bills to create new medical marijuana laws, to impose only a fine for possession of marijuana, and/or to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. Several of those proposals were enacted. Three states — Maryland, Minnesota, and New York — passed effective medical marijuana laws this year, while Maryland, Missouri, and the District of Columbia replaced possible jail time with fines for simple possession of marijuana. Eleven additional states approved bills to allow high-CBD strains of marijuana, though unfortunately, most of those laws are very unlikely to actually provide access even to the limited group of patients they are intended to protect.

Voters themselves will get to decide marijuana policy issues this November in three states. Alaska and Oregon’s voters will be deciding whether to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. In Florida, voters will consider a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana. Meanwhile, in the District of Columbia, signatures have been submitted to allow adults to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana.

Click on the state name to take action and contact your state legislators. For the text of each bill, its sponsors, and its status, visit the “legislation” page after clicking on the state name. In most cases, if the bill status is not mentioned, it is pending in the first committee it has been assigned to or it has not yet been assigned to committee.


Eighteen States and One District That Considered or Are Considering Bills to Regulate Marijuana Similarly to Alcohol in 2014

 State  Bill Number(s)
 Alabama  HB 485 — this bill did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline and is dead.
 Arizona  HB 2558 — this bill did not advance before a deadline for consideration and is dead.
 Florida  HB 1039, SB 1562 — these bills did not advance before a deadline for consideration and died in committee.
 Hawaii  H.B. 150, H.B. 699, H.B. 1708, S.B. 467, S.B. 738, S.B. 2733 — these bills did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline and are dead.
 Maryland  SB 658, HB 880 — the legislature adjourned without passing these bills.
 Massachusetts  House Bill 1632
 Missouri  HB 1659 — received a hearing on March 10, but did not advance out of committee before the legislative session adjourned.
 New Hampshire  HB 492 was approved by the state House of Representatives on January 15, 2014 in a 170-162 vote; in a second House vote, the House voted 192-140 against advancing the bill to the Senate.
 New Jersey  S 1896; in addition, A 2842 would place a question on the ballot asking whether to make simple possession of marijuana legal (it would not allow for regulated sales of marijuana).
 New Mexico  SJR 10 — this proposal would have put the issue of whether to regulate marijuana before voters in the form of a constitutional amendment, but died in the Senate Rules Committee on February 11 in a 5-5 vote; however, the House approved HM 38, a resolution directing the Legislative Finance Committee to study regulating marijuana in a 31-28 vote.
 New York  SB 6005, AB 8341
 Ohio  HJR 6 — this proposal would put the issue of whether to regulate marijuana before voters in the form of a constitutional amendment.
 Oklahoma  SB 2116 — this bill did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline and is dead.
 Oregon  SB 1556 — this proposal would put the issue of whether to regulate marijuana before the voters. SB 1556 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 13, but it did not receive a floor vote before the legislature adjourned.
 Pennsylvania  SB 528; also, HB 2137 proposes placing a non-binding referendum question on the 2014 ballot asking if the Pennsylvania General Assembly should legalize marijuana.
 Rhode Island  H 7506, S 2379 — both bills received hearings, but did not receive a vote before the legislature adjourned.
 Vermont  S. 306, H. 499; in addition, S. 160 would study taxing and regulating marijuana — these bills did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline.
 Washington, D.C.  B20 466
 Wisconsin  AB 810 — the legislature has adjourned without acting on this bill.

Meanwhile, a bill to study issues related to marijuana legalization and regulation was introduced in Illinois — HB 5411. 

Sixteen States That Considered or Are Considering Bills to Create Effective New Medical Marijuana Laws; Three Have Been Enacted

 State  Bill Number(s)
 Florida  SB 962, HB 859 — both bills died in committee.
 Iowa  SF 2214, HF 22 — these bills died in committee.
 Kansas  HB 2198, SB 9 — these bills did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline.
 Kentucky  SB 43, HB 350 — these bills did not advance to the floor before the crossover deadline.
 Maryland  HB 881, HB 1321, SB 923 — HB 881 and SB 923 were approved by the General Assembly; Gov. O'Malley signed the twin bills on April 14, making Maryland the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana law.
 Minnesota  HF 1818, SF 1641, HF 2099; SF 2470 — on May 6, the Senate passed SF 1641 by a veto-proof margin — 48-14; three days later, the House overwhelmingly passed a much more restrictive bill, SF 2470. The Senate then refused to concur in the amendments and made some improvements to the bill in a conference committee. On May 29, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the revised bill, which was approved by the legislature on May 16.
 Mississippi  SB 2763 — died in committee.
 Missouri  HB 1324, SB 951 — SB 951 would have put the issue of medical marijuana before voters; neither bill received a floor vote before the legislature adjourned.
 New York  SB 4406, AB 6357; SB 7509 — AB 6357-E and SB 4406-E were overwhelmingly approved by the Assembly and Senate on June 20 after being amended to include restrictions Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted upon; the governor signed the twin bills on July 5.
 North Carolina  HB 1161 — would put a constitutional amendment legalizing medical cannabis on November's ballot.
 Ohio  HB 153
 Pennsylvania  HB 1181, SB 770, SB 1182
 South Carolina  H 4879, H 4872 — these bills did not advance before the crossover deadline and are dead.
 Tennessee  HB 1385 — died in committee in a 6-2 vote.
 West Virginia  HB 4264 — failed to advance before a deadline and is dead for the year.
 Wisconsin  AB 480, SB 363 — the legislature adjourned without acting on these bills.

In addition, a medical marijuana bill — HB 1362 — was introduced in Puerto Rico.

Sixteen States That Considered or Are Considering Bills to Create New Medical Marijuana Programs That Fall Short of Comprehensive, Effective Laws;¹ Eleven Have Been Enacted

 State  Bill Number(s)
 Alabama  HB 104, HB 207, SB 174 — SB 174 was approved by both the legislature and Gov. Robert Bentley; unfortunately, it is not a workable bill. Among other shortcomings, it requires a prescription, which is not allowed under federal law; it also only applies to patients with seizure disorders who use a compound of marijuana — cannabidiol (CBD). It would merely afford patients a defense that could be raised in court, not protection from arrest.
 Florida  SB 1030 was signed by Gov. Rick Scott on June 16. The new lawl allows patients with cancer or conditions causing seizures or muscle spams to use marijuana with under 0.8% THC and over 10% CBD and allows five licensed businesses to dispense the medicine. Unfortunately, there is very little chance of it helping patients because it relies on doctors violating federal law by issuing an “order” for the patients to obtain marijuana; physicians would also have to take an eight-hour class to recommend cannabis and to pass a special exam.
 Georgia  HB 885, SR 756; HB 885, as passed by the House, would have allowed teaching hospitals to create medical marijuana programs using federal marijuana, which almost surely will not be forthcoming. The Senate passed an amended bill on March 20 that included an unrelated autism provision. The House did not pass the amended bill before it adjourned, so the bill died.
 Indiana  HB 1185 — among other shortcomings, this bill referenced doctors "prescribing" marijuana, which they cannot do because of federal law; the legislature adjourned without voting on the bill.
 Iowa  SSB 3222, SF 2360 — On May 30, Gov. Terry Branstand signed SF 2360 into law. The bill allows epileptic patients and their caregivers to get a state ID card to possess oral or transdermal high-CBD marijuana preparations with no more than 3% THC if they have a neurologist's recommendation; however, the law only allows the marijuana to be obtained from out-of-state.
 Kentucky  SB 124 — this bill was signed by Gov. Steve Beshear. The new law defines CBD as not being marijuana, if it is dispensed pursuant to a doctor's written order; however, issuing a written order to dispense CBD would violate federal law.
 Louisiana  HB720, SB541 — these bills would not have created workable medical marijuana laws; they would have allowed doctors to “prescribe” marijuana, which violates federal law. The bills did not receive a vote before the legislature adjourned.
 Mississippi  SB 2745, HB 1231 — Gov. Phil Bryant signed HB 1231, which excludes oils and resins with 15% or more cannabidiol and no more than 0.5% THC from the state’s definition of marijuana; however, CBD oil may only be obtained by order of a physician, and it must be obtained from or tested by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi. This would not be workable due to federal law.
 Missouri  HB 2238 was approved by both the House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Jay Nixon. The new law will allow patients with a doctor’s certification and intractable epilepsy to obtain a state ID card authorizing the use of “hemp extract,” cannabis oil containing at least 5% CBD and less than 0.3% THC. It would allow dispensaries to distribute the extracts. This law appears to create a workable means of access for this limited population.
 Nebraska  LB 1102 — this bill would have only applied to marijuana with no more than 0.3% THC and to patients with seizures or spasms; however, the bill was withdrawn.
 North Carolina  H 1220 was approved by both chambers and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley. The new law will allow physicians to approve the dispensing of "hemp oil extract" to patients, which would have to be acquired from another jurisdiction.
 Oklahoma  HB 902 — this bill would have allowed for rules to be developed regarding the "prescription" of marijuana, which is not allowed due to federal law; the bill did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline.
 South Carolina  H 4803 and S 1035 — Gov. Nikki Haley signed S. 1035 into law. This new law allows high-CBD, low-THC marijuana preparations for patients with severe epilepsy. It is unclear if patients and caregivers will be allowed to grow and produce extracts. In addition, the bills allow FDA-approved trials, which are unlikely to become operational in the near future.
 Tennessee  SB 2531 — this bill was approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. It seeks to create a four-year study on the benefits of high-CBD marijuana and to have the marijuana be grown at Tennessee Tech; unfortunately, federal law will almost surely prevent this from being effective.
 Utah  HB 105 — this bill was approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Gary Herbert on March 20; unfortunately, it is unlikely to do much good for patients. It only applies to extracts with less than 0.3% THC and at least 15% CBD, and it also requires patients to obtain their extracts from out-of-state or from research institutions that are unlikely to actually produce the extracts.
 Wisconsin  AB 726 — this bill was signed Gov. Scott Walker. It only applies to “cannabidiol in a form without a psychoactive effect," and it does not provide a mechanism for in-state production of such cannabidiol.

Sixteen States and One District That Considered or Are Considering Bills to Stop Jailing People for Simple Marijuana Possession to a Fine; Three Have Been Enacted

 State  Bill Number(s)
 Alabama  HB 76 — would have made first offense possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a violation, punishable by a fine only; this bill did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline and is dead.
 Arizona  HB 2474 — would have reduced the penalty for possession of under an ounce of marijuana to a civil fine of up to $100; the bill was not considered before the leadership-imposed deadline for consideration.
 Delaware  HB 371 — would have decriminalized up to an ounce of marijuana; this bill was advanced out of committee, but did not receive a floor vote before the session adjourned.
 Hawaii  H.B. 455, H.B. 1709, S.B. 472, S.B. 2358, and S.B. 2735; S.B. 472 passed out of the Senate unanimously in 2013 and carried over to 2014, but all bills died when the legislature adjourned. S.B. 472 would have replaced criminial penalties for up to 20 grams of marijuana with a civil fine.
 Illinois  HB 4299, HB 4091, HB 5708; HB 4299 would reduce several marijuana penalties, including reducing the penalty for possession of up to 30 grams to a criminal fine of up to $100; HB 4091 would reduce several marijuana penalties, including reducing the penalty for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana; however, the fine range is higher and is based on prior similar offenses. The classification is also a petty offense; HB 5708 would reduce the penalty for possessing under 30 grams to a new category of offense called a regulatory offense which avoids a criminal record and is punishable by a $100 fine. HB 5708 and HB 4299 were approved by the House Restorative Justice Committee on March 25; the House Judiciary Committee passed HB 5708 on March 26. All three bills were given extensions and may be considered when the House returns in the fall for a veto session.
 Indiana  SB 314 — among other reforms, this would have made possession of less than two ounces of marijuana a Class C infraction; this bill did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline and is dead.
 Iowa  HF 2313 — would have reduced some marijuana penalties; the penalty for possession of up to 40 grams of marijuana would be a fine of up to $300 and other penalties would be reduced; however, possession would still be a criminal offense; jail would still be possible for possession within 1,000 feet of a school; this bill did not advance out of committee before the crossover deadline and is dead.
 Louisiana  HB 906 — would have reduced the penalty for possessing under 28 grams to a fine for a first or second offense; a third offense could carry probation for up to six months, in addition to a possible fine. The bill did not receive a vote before the legislature adjourned.
 Maryland  HB 879, SB 364 — the General Assembly voted to enact SB 364 and Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill on April 14. The new law will reduce the penalty for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana to a civil fine punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for a subsequent offense. Those under 21 must be referred to assessment and education.
 Michigan  HB 4623, SB 626 — would reduce the penalty for up to an ounce of marijuana to a civil fine; depending on the number of prior convictions, the fine would range from up to $25 to up to $100.
 Missouri  HB 1325, SB 491 — SB 491, which Gov. Jay Nixon signed, was a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill. Among other things, beginning in 2017, it will reduce the penalty for first offense possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana to a new class of marijuana, which is punishable by a fine.
 New Hampshire  HB 1625 — passed the House of Representatives in a 215-92 vote on March 12; on April 17, the Senate decided not to consider the measure. The bill would have reduced the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a violation carrying a $100 civil fine; it would have also reduced some other marijuana penalties.
 New Jersey  A218 — would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana with a civil fine ranging from $150 to $500, depending on the number of prior offenses.
 Pennsylvania  SB 1307 — would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a summary offense, without any possibility of jail time; the fine would remain up to $500; a third or subsequent offense may be considered a misdemeanor based on prosecutorial discretion.
 Washington, D.C.  B20 409 replaced the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana with a $25 civil fine. It was approved by the D.C. Council on March 4, signed by Mayor Vincent Gray on March 31, and became law on July 17 after surviving a Congressional review period.
 Wisconsin  AB 891 — would have replaced the criminal penalty for first offense marijuana possession with a civil fine of $150 to $300; second and third offenses would have been reduced to a misdemeanor from a felony; the legislature adjourned without acting on the bill.
 Wyoming  HB49 — would have reduced the penalty for possessing under an ounce of marijuana to a civil fine of $50 or $100, depending on the amount; it failed to advance.

In addition, in Puerto Rico, SB 517 would decriminalize up to 14 grams of marijuana. It passed the Senate 14-12 and is now in the House.

Two States With Measures To Improve Existing "Decriminalization" Laws

 State  Bill Number(s)
 New York  A6716 passed the Assembly in 2013, but the Senate companion bill — S3105 — remained in the Senate Codes Committee. The Senate did not consider the measure before adjourning in 2014. The bills would have removed an exception to New York’s decriminalization law for when marijuana is possessed somewhere that is open to public view.
 North Carolina  H 637 — would change the penalty for possession of a modest amount of marijuana to an infraction instead of a criminal misdemeanor that carries a suspended sentence.

¹ States that considered very limited or ineffective medical marijuana bills that also had bills introduced that would create comprehensive, effective laws, are typically not listed here. Also, this document does not include bills to modify existing medical marijuana laws.


Last updated: July 24, 2014

 

 

 

 



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