Key Marijuana Policy Reform Bills, 2014

More than 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 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, 35 states and Washington, D.C. have had bills introduced to either create new medical marijuana laws, to impose only a fine for possession of marijuana, and/or to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. Already, some of these proposals are headed toward enactment. The Maryland General Assembly approved both an effective medical marijuana proposal and a decriminalization bill on April 7, and Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to sign both. Meanwhile, the D.C. Council and mayor approved imposing a $25 fine on simple marijuana possession, but the ordinance must survive a 60-working-day Congressional review period before it becomes law.

Some states' voters will also have a chance to vote on marijuana policy reforms. At least two statewide marijuana policy initiatives will be on the ballot in 2014. This August, Alaska voters will be deciding whether to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. Then, in Florida this November, voters will consider a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana. Another medical marijuana measure may be on the November ballot in the U.S. territory of Guam, and a statewide ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol is possible in Oregon in November 2014.

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
 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 has adjourned without passing these bills
 Massachusetts  House Bill 1632
 Missouri  HB 1659 — received a hearing on March 10; may be amended to become a medical marijuana bill
 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. SJR 10 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
 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. 

Fifteen States That Considered or Are Considering Bills to Create Effective New Medical Marijuana Laws

 State  Bill Number(s)
 Florida  SB 962, HB 859
 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 is expected to sign the twin bills, which would make Maryland the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana law
 Minnesota  HF 1818, SF 1641, HF 2099 — HF 1818 was approved by the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee on March 3; it has several additional committees to pass before receiving floor votes
 Mississippi  SB 2763 (this bill died in committee)
 Missouri  HB 1324, SB 951 — SB 951 would put the issue of medical marijuana before voters; SB 951 received a hearing in the Senate General Laws Committee on April 1 but has not yet gotten a vote
 New York  SB 4406, AB 6357; AB 6357 passed the Assembly in 2013, but SB 4406 did not advance. Both bills are being considered in 2014.
 Ohio  HB 153
 Pennsylvania  HB 1181, SB 770, SB 1182
 South Carolina  H 483, S 1035
 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.

Eleven States That Considered or Are Considering Bills to Create New Medical Marijuana Programs That Fall Short of Comprehensive, Effective Laws;¹ Two 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.
 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
 Kentucky  SB 124 — this bill has been approved by the legislature and is headed to Gov. Steve Beshear. The bill 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 create workable medical marijuana laws; they allow doctors to “prescribe” marijuana, which violates federal law
 Mississippi  SB 2745, HB 1231 — HB 1231 has been sent to Gov. Phil Bryant. The bill would exclude 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 could 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.
 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 941 — this bill carries over from 2013 and would simply study the issue of medical marijuana; another bill — H 84 — would have created a medical marijuana program, but was defeated in committee
 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
 Utah  HB 105 — 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 — was approved by the legislature ans is pending action by Gov. Scott Walker. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to do much good for patients. It only applies to “cannabidiol in a form without a psychoactive effect;" it only exempts patients who obtain their extracts from physicians or pharmacies or patients who have written documentation that they can possess “cannabidiol in a form without a psychoactive effect;” it does not provide a mechanism for in-state production of such cannabidiol.

Fourteen States and One District That Considered or Are Considering Bills to Reduce the Penalty for Marijuana Possession to a Fine

 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
 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 this year. It would replace criminal 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.
 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 reduce 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
 Maryland  HB 879, SB 364 — the General Assembly voted to enact SB 364 and Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he will sign it. The bill would 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 — except for people with certain prior convictions, this would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana to a fine of up to $250; however, the offense would still be a criminal offense – a misdemeanor
 New Hampshire  HB 1625 — passed the House of Representatives in a 215-92 vote on March 12; the bill, which now moves to the Senate, would reduce the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a violation carrying a $100 civil fine; would also reduce 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
 Washington, D.C.  B20 409 — would replace the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana with a $25 civil fine; Mayor Vincent Gray signed the ordinance, which had previously passed the D.C. Council, on March 31; now, Congress has a 60-working-day period to review it
 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 Considering Improving 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. Both bills can still be considered in 2014. The bills would remove 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 are considering very limited or ineffective medical marijuana bills that also have bills pending 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: April 10, 2014

 

 

 

 



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