Lawmakers in four states approved of marijuana legalization bills over the past week.
At the committee level, marijuana legalization passed in Hawaii, Minnesota, New Mexico and North Dakota. These legislations coincide with other drug reforms occurring in California, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington State and Wisconsin.
Marijuana Legalization in Hawaii
The Hawaii Senate Committee on Public Safety approved a legislation bill legalizing the possession and sale of cannabis for adults aged 21 and over, as well as allowing adults to grow three plants for personal use. The bill passed with 4 votes in favor and 1 vote against.
The Committee also passed legislation increasing the possession threshold from three grams to one ounce. Under the revised possession threshold, adults caught carrying an ounce or less now have to pay $130 in fines without facing time in jail. This bill passed with a unanimous vote.
These legislation bills are now heading to two different hearings. The legalization bill is heading to a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees before being proposed to the senate chamber floor, while the decriminalization legislation is going to the Judiciary Committee.
Marijuana Legalization in Minnesota
A marijuana legalization bill was approved by the Minnesota’s House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee, with 10 votes in favor and 7 against. The bill would legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over, possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and the cultivation of up to 8 marijuana plants, of which 4 can be mature.
The bill still needs the approval of 11 other state committees in Minnesota before moving to a floor vote.
Marijuana Legalization in New Mexico
In New Mexico, the House Health & Human Services Committee approved a marijuana legalization bill on Monday, with 7 votes in favor and 4 against. New Mexico’s bill would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis for adults aged 21 and over, allow the cultivation of up to 6 mature and 6 immature plants for personal use, as well as introduce regulations for the taxation and sale of marijuana.
The bill also includes a clause to automatically remove criminal charges for marijuana possession from prisoners currently incarcerated.
Marijuana Legalization in North Dakota
Sponsored by a Republican lawmaker, a measure to legalize recreational marijuana use in North Dakota narrowly passed, with 7 votes in favor, 6 votes against and 1 absent vote. The legislation would legalize the possession and sale of 1 ounce of cannabis for adults aged 21 and over.
While still opposed to marijuana legalization, sponsoring senator Jason Dockter (R) recognizes the direction the US is heading, and wanted to use this legislation to allow the state Senate to decide on marijuana laws rather than pro-legalization advocates doing so through ballot initiatives.
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