Who’s Next? State Advocates Push For Medical Marijuana Across The Country
July 14, 2015 | Christopher Brown
Currently 40 states have at least some type of legal protection for medical use of marijuana. 23 States, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive medical marijuana legislation. 17 more states have passed restrictive cannabidiol (CBD) focused legislation.
While the progress has been impressive activists in several states that don’t have medical marijuana (or have only highly restrictive access) have continued to push at the state level. These activists are showing they’re in it for the long haul, fighting for medical marijuana no matter how long it takes.
By far the closest state to joining the list of medical marijuana states is Pennsylvania. Under the leadership of Sen. Mike Folmer the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a comprehensive medical marijuana bill last May with the strong support of both Republicans and Democrats. Governor Tom Wolf supports medical marijuana, so passage in the House of Representatives is the big question mark. Initially things looked bleak with the relevant bill being assigned to committee headed by an opponent of medical marijuana that didn’t even want to allow a vote. Luckily after some legislative maneuvering a new panel of representatives is working on crafting legislation and proponents will likely get a vote in the full House of Representatives.
Florida has seen several strong but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to pass a comprehensive medical marijuana law including a ballot initiative that received 58% (2% short of the needed 60%) of the vote. This summer activists have been gearing up to push for medical marijuana again via a ballot initiative. It should be clear by now that activists in Florida aren’t going to quit until Floria has a full medical marijuana program.
Although it’s received far less attention than Florida and Pennsylvania's efforts South Dakota activists are showing they’re also committed for the long haul. Currently activists are collecting signatures for an expected 2016 ballot initiative. Although efforts to bring medical marijuana to South Dakota have come up short in the past, let’s hope the strong national momentum we’ve seen in the medical marijuana movement translates into the final bit of support needed in South Dakota.
On July 10th activists in Wyoming were given the OK from Secretary of State’s office to begin the ballot initiative process. Activists now have until until February 8th to collect 25,673 signatures for the initiative to move on to the ballot. 25,673 is a daunting number, representing 15% of the votes cast in the last general election in Wyoming. Although it will be tough to gather that many signatures, if they are able to do it Wyoming will be well positioned to be a surprise addition to the list of medical marijuana programs.
Arkansas advocates suffered a recent setback, when their joint industrial hemp and medical marijuana ballot initiative was rejected by the state’s Attorney General. While activists will need to make adjustments to get on the ballot, how Arkansas responds to more farmers in the greater region profiting from growing either industrial hemp or high-CBD marijuana will be worth monitoring.