The fight to legalize marijuana in the United States made some significant strides last week. Ballot measures in Illinois introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, while Connecticut had its first hearing on the subject.
Read all about these developments and more in The Fresh Toast’s Legislative Roundup for March 27:
Illinois legislators introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legalize possession and use of small amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and older. Under the law, possession of up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana would be legal. In addition, individuals would be permitted to grow no more than five plants.Illinois has a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, while Connecticut had its first hearing on the subject. The Fresh Toast’s Legislative Roundup.
The bill, which lawmakers say will likely not come up for a vote until next year, also proposes taxing marijuana at $50 per ounce on the wholesale level. The state’s 6.25 percent sales tax would also apply to marijuana sales at the retail level.
Under the proposed legislation, the state would license and regulate the production, distribution, and sale of the plant. Safety regulations such as testing and labeling requirements would also be established by the state.
Connecticut lawmakers opened their first hearing on legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The hearing was conducted by the Judiciary Committee and featured testimony that sharply diverged on the safety and impact of marijuana use. Supporters emphasized the much-needed revenue that taxes on cannabis sales would provide.
Under the proposed law, persons 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to one ounce and grow five plants. A 23.65 percent tax would be added onto the state’s existing 6.35 percent sales tax for retail marijuana sales, bringing the total tax to 30 percent. The state would license five types of facilities: growers, lounges, retailers, product manufacturers, and laboratories. Cities and towns would be given authority to prohibit cannabis within their respective jurisdictions.
Two leading proponents of marijuana legalization in the Rhode Island legislature announced that they have sufficient votes to pass proposed legislation legalizing recreational marijuana. 25 out of 75 members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives are listed as sponsors of H 5555, while 15 of 38 state Senators have signed on as sponsors of companion bill S 0420. The measures would allow municipalities to enact local prohibitions on cannabis possession. Legalization bills have been introduced in Rhode Island every year since 2011, but none have thus far made it out of committee.
Six Democratic lawmakers in California have introduced a measure that would prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal authorities in investigating state-licensed marijuana dealers. The law would apply to local police departments as well as sheriff’s departments statewide. The measure comes in response to numerous threats by federal authorities to crack down on state-legal marijuana businesses, which remain illegal under U.S. law. Proponents argue that such a measure is necessary to ensure that prospective growers and sellers of cannabis will not be pursued for having applied for licenses under state law. In November, California voters approved Proposition 64 to legalize and regulate the production and sale of cannabis in the state.
By a 65-28 vote, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed a measure intended to nullify recent ordinances enacted in Nashville and Memphis decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis. Under the ordinances, marijuana possession is treated as a civil offense and violators receive a citation requiring them to pay a small fine, rather than face criminal prosecution. House Bill 173 would repeal any local law that is inconsistent with state law regarding control of narcotics and would prohibit localities from enacting their own sanctions for such offenses.
State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry has announced that she will soon introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. A recent poll found that 61 percent of Delawareans support the legalization and regulation of cannabis. However, Delaware state law does not permit ballot referenda of the sort that have legalized marijuana in eight states and the District of Columbia.