Daniel Fung of Watertown, CT runs the Daniel Fung Arrest blog covering decriminalization efforts and legislation for the marijuana industry. In this article Daniel Fung discusses the major news related to medical and recreational marijuana use in Connecticut and beyond.
About 75% of states have legalized marijuana use in some form.
The federal government may soon join that list according to Daniel Fung of Watertown CT.
The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would not only make marijuana legal nationwide but would also end criminal penalties for those who make, possess, or distributes marijuana.
Daniel Fung CT reports that the measure was approved 220-204, reflecting tight party-line support. Just two Republicans voted for the measure and two Democrats voted against it.
Lawmakers who support the bill cite widespread voter support of the measure as well as the potential for it to lead to far fewer marijuana arrests and fewer taxpayer-funded jail sentences. Opponents believe that marijuana has largely harmful effects on its own and as a gateway drug to more serious substance abuse.
The law, known as the MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) was passed last year in the House, but it did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
Daniel Fung says Arrests are Reporting Lower this Year
Since 1937, marijuana has been illegal in the United States.
Daniel Fung of Watertown CT reports that the landmark bill would make sweeping changes, completely decriminalizing marijuana position at the federal level, but also expunge previous marijuana-related convictions from records and set a tax on the sale of marijuana products.
The measure outlines that the tax, which starts at 5% but will go up to 8%, will go toward substance treatment, mentoring, job training, and recreation programs for children.
Cannabis tax money will also fund small business loans to support the burgeoning marijuana industry. According to Statista, the recreational marijuana industry was worth $15 billion in 2021 and is expected to be over $25 billion by 2025.
Thirty-seven states have legalized medical marijuana use in some form, while 18 states have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults. A combined 91% of Americans either support legalizing recreational or medical cannabis use, according to a press release from Rep. Dave Joyce, an Ohio Republican.
Daniel Fung of Watertown CT reports that Lawmakers are already hoping the bill can gather bipartisan momentum, and a group has created a separate bill that would allow the U.S. attorney general to lead a commission that would make recommendations on marijuana regulation similar to alcohol regulation standards in the United States.
Voters in Louisiana, North Carolina Support Marijuana Legalization
About six out of 10 voters in Louisiana and seven in 10 in North Carolina support legalizing marijuana, according to two new polls.
The University of New Orleans survey found that 58% of Louisiana registered voters favor ending marijuana prohibition, while 30% are against it and 12% say they are not sure.
Democratic voters in Louisiana support the legalization by a 56%-32% margin, while Republicans are split; 42% are for it while 40% are against it. Voters who don’t identify with a party support legalization by a 79%-15% margin.
Daniel Fung of CT explains that Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards, a Democrat, signed a bill in 2021 that decriminalized marijuana possession of up to 14 grams.
In North Carolina, 68% of voters say they believe that medical marijuana should be legal, according to a survey from Emerson College, WNCT, and the Hill. Just 19% were against it.
The survey comes after a bill in the North Carolina Senate to legalize medical marijuana has come to a halt despite clearing three congressional committees. Voters in North Carolina were more divided when it comes to broader legalization, with 48% in favor of wider reform and 43% against it.
Marijuana Legalization on Next Maryland Ballot
Voters in Maryland will decide whether the state should legalize marijuana via a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment in November.
The amendment would make marijuana legal for those 21 and older starting in July 2023. It’s the first measure related to marijuana to make it to the 2022 ballot.
A 60% vote was required in both Maryland congressional chambers to put it to a vote. The Maryland House passed the bill 96-34 in February, with the Senate approving an amended version by a vote of 29-17 in April, the House then approved the amended version 94-39.
In Maryland, bills do not need the signature of the governor to appear on a ballot. If Marylanders pass that bill, another measure, HB 837, would also go into effect. HB 837 would legalize personal marijuana use and marijuana possession of up to 1.5 oz. of concentrated cannabis for ages 21 and older.
Daniel Fung of Watertown CT reports that it would also legalize possessing two cannabis plants, adjust criminal penalties for those under 21 in possession of marijuana and expunge convictions for actions that would have been legal under the new law.
Voters in New Jersey, South Dakota, Arizona, and Montana approved ballot measures in 2020 that legalized recreational marijuana.