Marijuana legalization is on the legislative dockets in several states across the United States.
At the time of this column’s writing, several legislative proposals covering marijuana legalization are rapidly progressing through state legislatures in a manner that would suggest widespread adoption in coming fiscal years via the calendars of these states.
This is huge news as the U.S. inches ever closer to broader adoption of recreational marijuana policymaking. Vaping Post has reported extensively on marijuana legalization efforts since the 2022 midterm election. We reviewed several proposals in states across the union. We’ve highlighted a few bills sorted by state.
All of the bills discussed here focus on recreational marijuana.
One case is in Delaware. The state legislature is considering two bills, House Bill (HB) 1 and House Bill 2, that would establish all of the regulatory basics for an age-restricted use market. The House Health & Human Development Committee passed the simple legalization bill on a vote of 11-4. The companion bill establishing the regulatory basics also passed through the House Revenue & Finance Committee. Democratic state Rep. Ed Osienski is the prime sponsor of the two bills, Marijuana Moment reports.
Kyle Jaeger, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, calls Osienski’s approach “bifurcated.” Rep. Osienski said in a statement during a recent committee hearing at the state legislature. “This bill ends over 50 years of prohibition and criminalization in Delaware and allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess, consume and freely share under one ounce of marijuana for personal use.”
The bills now advance to the committee of the whole. For those who aren’t familiar with parliamentary rules in the United States, the committee of the whole is the entire body of the state House of Representatives. HB 1 and HB 2 face uphill battles, though. The current governor of Delaware, a Democrat named John Carney, is an extremely rare left-leaning opponent of recreational marijuana legalization. Carney has vetoed other bills that seek to legalize marijuana. In the House of Representatives itself, the Democratic Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf has also opposed weed legalization.
HB 1 would remove all penalties for possessing 1 ounce or less of marijuana for those who are 21 years of age or older. HB 2, as we stated, would establish a regulatory framework that permits sales and implements the proposed sales tax and licensing regimes.
Lawmakers in both chambers of the Minnesota state legislature are pushing companion bills to legalize recreational weed use and regulate and tax it for a statewide age-restricted marketplace.
The latest action comes from the state Senate, where the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee adopted a version of the bill and advanced through the next phase on the Senate side.
The House version of the bill is already advanced and expected to pass with very little opposition. On Tuesday, the House version of the bill advanced through its third committee and was scheduled for another committee hearing later in the week. For a measure this broad, there are several more stops in the legislative path to reach the committee of the whole, a floor vote, and consolidation.
The probability of marijuana legalization advancing in Minnesota is very high. For instance, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz released his anticipated funding request for the Minnesota executive branch two days ago, adding flavor to the weed legalization timeline.
The request includes funding for state agencies to implement regulated weed legalization and projects for revenues from marijuana taxation as lawmakers work to advance the reform efforts. Walz’s budget is to request the 2024-2025 biennium.
“Legalizing adult-use cannabis is about our economic future,” said Peggy Flanagan, lieutenant governor, told the press. “It’s about expanding our economy and creating jobs across the state. It’s about health, allowing us to regulate the industry and to ensure that products are safe and educating the public about the facts of cannabis use. It’s about public safety, allowing law enforcement to focus on violent crime and expunging the records of people who are convicted of non-violent offenses involving cannabis to give them a second chance. It’s about recognizing the way that we have been doing things isn’t working, and we can change.”
Lawmakers in the Hawaii legislature have also introduced some companion bills to push cannabis legalization through the state.
The investor wire Benzinga reports that the pair of bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, were introduced by state Rep. Jeanné Kapela and state Sen. Chris Lee. They are Democrats.
The language in the bill specifies the “legalization of cannabis for personal or recreational use is a natural, logical, and reasonable outgrowth of the current science of cannabis and attitude toward cannabis.” If passed, the pair of bills will introduce recreational marijuana retail and the subsequent requirements for regulation.
House Bill 237 and Senate Bill 375 have committee assignments. No other action has been taken. Luckily, the prospects of weed legalization in Hawaii are good. Democratic Gov. Josh Green, a medical doctor, is a proponent of the marijuana legalization policy.
New Hampshire is in the middle of another marijuana fight once again. This time, marijuana reform in New Hampshire features strong bipartisan support, plus the backing of several advocacy organizations and groups across the state’s political spectrum.
Republican Gov. Christopher Sununu was quoted by NH Public Radio, saying that he expects New Hampshire to join other states in adopting legalization. Still, Gov. Sununu remains hesitant to legalize marijuana amid the state’s ongoing opioid and fentanyl crisis. Otherwise, the state legislature is poised to advance bills that legalize personal possession and sales and regulate and tax retail marijuana. House Majority Leader Jason Osborne said in a press conference that he expects “the final product will look completely different from what you are seeing now,” simply referring to the anticipated scope of amendments on any reform bill that would potentially pass muster with Gov. Sununu’s office.
House Democratic leadership is also expected to side with the House Republicans, who hold a majority in the lower chamber.
Current action indications that the legalization bill will be heard in committee before any other significant action is taken on the bills.
Vaping Post is tracking marijuana reform across the U.S.