Medical Marijuana: Bills Active in Several States 12/16/05

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Medical marijuana continues to be a hot issue in statehouses around the country. While 10 states have legalized the medicinal use of the herb, only two – Hawaii and Vermont -- have done so through the legislative process, while in eight states voters approved medical marijuana by direct popular votes through the initiative process.

Here's a brief round-up of current activity in the states:

In Massachusetts, H. 2742, sponsored by Rep. Frank Smizik, was the subject of a hearing in the Joint Committee on Public Health Wednesday. The bill would allow patients suffering from a specified list of medical conditions and ailments to obtain a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana for relief. The bill also allows patients to grow their own or designate a caregiver to grow or obtain it for them and creates an ID card system through the state Department of Public Health. Groups including the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition are lobbying to pass the bill.

In Rhode Island, legislators last year passed a medical marijuana bill, but it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri. While the state Senate voted to override the veto in June, the House has yet to vote on an override. This week, the Marijuana Policy Project moved to step up the pressure, unveiling a billboard in downtown Providence urging the lower chamber to act. "Protect medical marijuana patients... Don't leave us out in the cold... Override the governor's veto," the billboard pleads. While the bill's sponsor, Rep. Thomas Slater (D-Providence), told the Providence Journal he was confident the override would occur before the session starts, House Speaker William Murphy (D-West Warwick) was not quite so definite, with a spokesman telling the Journal only that "the leadership is committed to making all efforts to pass Rep. Slater's legislation."

In Wisconsin, a measure sponsored by Rep. Greg Underheim is pending after hearings last month at the capitol in Madison. According to Gary Storck of the medical marijuana advocacy group Is My Medicine Legal Yet?, Underheim is currently polling Health Committee members in preparation for a possible committee vote. For updates on the bill, visit the Madison NORML blog.

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Issue #415 -- 12/16/05

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Appeal: David Borden Makes a Case to Support DRCNet for 2006 | Feature: DEA, Local Police Join Forces to Raid 13 San Diego Medical Marijuana Dispensaries | Feature: Jurors Acquit California Narc Who Killed Rudy Cardenas in Mistaken Chase | Feature: Coca Leader Evo Morales Poised to Win Bolivia Presidential Vote Sunday | DRCNet Book Review: "Bud, Inc.: Inside Canada's Marijuana Industry," by Ian Mulgrew (2005, Random House Canada, 287 pp., approx. $US 29.00, HB) | Alert: Protest DEA's December Outrage | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Sentencing: Report on 2004 New York Drug Law Reform Finds Less than Meets the Eye, Much More to Do | Industrial Hemp: South Dakota Indians Go to Federal Court in Effort to Grow Crop | Medical Marijuana: Sheriff Can't Revoke Pistol Permit Just Because of Medical Use, Oregon Court Rules | Marijuana: Governor to Try Again to End Legal Marijuana in Alaska | Medical Marijuana: Bills Active in Several States | Latin America: GAO Report Challenges US Statistics on Cocaine Seizures | Web Scan: Seattle Times, Village Voice, San Diego Raids and LEAP in Princeton | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Openings: Listings at the Marijuana Policy Project | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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