With every state in America having its own laws regarding cannabis, it could be quite frustrating to keep up with the different developments in various states. In this short series Cannabisradar.info will try to shed some light on the matter, focusing on the political debate and the possibilities for the near future.
The movement for freeing cannabis in Alabama started back in 2012 by a republican representative. All the dialog is centered around the medical benefits of the drug and allowing physicians to prescribe it for specific conditions. In the past years the resistance in the state’s Senate has been strong, with statements such as “We don’t need that in Alabama”. This year is starting to be a turning point in the state’s legislation. First, a bill for reducing the punishment for possession is currently under consideration for the Senate. This will replace the current 1-to-20 years imprisonment plus thousands of dollars fine for first and second degree possession with fines between $250-500 and only a third degree possession will be considered a felony. Meanwhile, a law was signed this summer for forming a commission that will look into the medical benefits of cannabis for potential major change in legislation next year. The bill also extends a statute that allows some patients to access CBD oil through a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
An attempt for reform was initiated in 2012 through a public petition, but it failed due to insufficient number of signatures. The story repeated itself two years later. Between these two attempts the Idaho Legislature approved a statement of their opposition to ever legalize cannabis in the state. And that is despite the citizen’s approval of around 75% supporting medical cannabis, as different polls have shown. Debate about recreational use is practically non-existent, as 57% of people polled were strongly against allowance. An important event regarding CBD oil legalization for patients with epilepsy dates back to a bill from 2015, which despite receiving approval from the Idaho Legislature, was later vetoed by Governor Butch Otter. Under current Idaho law, an individual charged with possession of up to an ounce of marijuana faces a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Last year saw an attempt for diminishment of the penalties, but it never reached a hearing at the Idaho Senate.
First attempts for legalization of medical cannabis date back to 2013. On May 14, 2018, Governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill which exempted CBD oil from the definition of cannabis. This essentially legalized the possession and retail sale of CBD oils, but only as long as they contain zero percent THC. Purchase is allowed to every adult without the need of justifiable medical reason. It is from July of this year that CBD oil with small amounts of THC is allowed for patients with qualifying conditions. Every other possession of cannabis products is deemed illegal, with penalties ranging from one to three and half years in prison, fines up to half a million dollars and an incarceration sentence for distribution/sale depending on the quantity and severity of the offense.
The story of Nebraska is a bit more complicated. Between 1969-1979 the punishment for first possession was among the lightest in the US with no more than 7 days in jail. Cannabis was decriminalized to a civil infraction for first-time offenders around 1979. In more recent history, since 2010, legislators in the state have rejected medical cannabis bills three times, even though some of the measures would have banned cannabis smoking and imposed tight controls on how much one person can possess. As in other “anti-cannabis” states, some senators rejected the bills with the explanation, that they do not want to legalize a drug that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved. On the other side, advocates for legalization point out all the other states that have approved cannabis, including their neighboring states. The issue is still very hot in Nebraska and it seems that more and more people are in support, with a petition campaign for legislative change regarding medical marijuana started recently. This will put the choice for the legalization in the hands of the voters in the 2020 general election.
The Cannabisradar-Team wishes you an nice day!