There were some major statewide victories last week for those fighting for the reform of cannabis laws — including West Virginia becoming the 29th state to pass a medical marijuana program. Find out in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
Early Saturday morning, Iowa legislators passed a last-minute bill loosening the state’s restrictive medical marijuana law. Currently, epilepsy patients are permitted to possess and consume cannabis oil. However, growing the plant and selling the oil remain illegal, leaving patients with no lawful means of obtaining it. The new legislation would allow the plant to be grown, processed, and distributed in oil form by a limited number of state-licensed businesses. If signed by the governor, House File 524 would also expand the list of approved diagnoses to include cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and other severe or terminal conditions.
By a 21-9 vote, the Vermont Senate on Saturday passed a measure to legalize marijuana in the state. Under the legislation, adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, as well as grow two plants and four seedlings for personal use. The state would also license marijuana growers, distributors, and research laboratories. To become law, the bill would have to be passed by the House and signed by the governor before the 2017 legislative session ends in early May. A similar bill died in the House last year following Senate passage.
On Tuesday, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 5-2 to clear legislation designed to protect its future recreational marijuana industry from federal law enforcement. AB 1578 would prohibit the use of state resources by state and local police to “investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for marijuana activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement, unless directed to do so by a court order.” The law faces several more procedural hurdles before an Assembly vote can be called.
Related Story: West Virginia Becomes 29th State To Allow Medical Marijuana
On Wednesday, Governor Jim Justice signed legislation making West Virginia the 29th state to allow patients with certain, serious health conditions to acquire and consume medical cannabis. The final bill is far more restrictive than its original Senate version, which offered doctors some freedom to recommend marijuana for patients with conditions other than those specifically enumerated in the legislation, and also allowed patients to consume cannabis in flower form. Under the new law, patients will be able to purchase marijuana in the form of tinctures, extracts, and other products from state-licensed dispensaries.