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Freedom Leaf: An In-Depth Guide On Marijuana Laws In America

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FreedomLeaf.com took a closer look at 10 states that are set to make moves on marijuana legalization and attempt to explain why 2015 and 2016 will be “pivotal years for legalization.

The article explains that as of now, only ballot measures in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado and Washington DC have led to a complete end to prohibition, but not all states have that option.

Here is Freedom Leaf’s list of states where “full regulation” is being focused on, either in State Houses or at the voting booths.

1. Nevada – A ballot initiative will go before voters in the 2016 general election. The Nevada legislature had the option to pass the bill, but declined. Under the proposal, the Division of Taxation will oversee the cannabis industry with a flat 15 percent excise tax on wholesale supply. All of the tax revenue would go directly into K-12 education. Nevada voters approved their medical marijuana law by 65 percent.

2. California – The first state to approve medical marijuana will try again for full legalization in 2016. The Golden State may already have the nation’s largest cannabis economy. Recent polling suggests that voters are ready to make the move with 55 percent saying they would support regulated cannabis in the voting booth.

3. Massachusetts – Bay State voters have shown their solid support for reform by decriminalizing marijuana possession in 2008 and approving medical marijuana in 2012. Advocates are promising to put full legalization on the ballot in 2016, but state lawmakers are trying to beat them to the punch. House Bill 1561 would allow for home cultivation and create a retail industry, similar to Colorado. Rather than a percentage, MA will impose a flat excise tax on each once: $10 per ounce in the first year rising to $50 ounce in the fourth year the law is in place. In addition there will be specific taxes on edibles and oil products starting at $2.50 for every 10 milligrams of THC rising to $10 for every 10 milligrams of THC. But Governor Charlie Baker opposes legalization, so the citizens of Massachusetts may need to ultimately decide.

4. Texas – Bills for decriminalization, medical marijuana, industrial hemp and full legalization have gained support among lawmakers. There is no ballot initiative process in Texas so any change must be made by legislators.

5. Mississippi – A major effort is underway in the deep south to get full legalization on the ballot in 2016. Organizers in the Magnolia State need to collect 110,000 valid signatures by December to qualify. In Mississippi, possession of 30 grams or more can result in up to three year sin state prison. The irony: the federal government recently gave the University of Mississippi more than $68 million to grow marijuana.

6. Pennsylvania – Senate Bill 3 has been significantly watered down since last year and has turned into a limited cannabis products bill that excludes smoking. Legislators are putting together amendments that would give the bill more leverage. Governor Tom Wolf has come out in support of both medical marijuana and decriminalization. The full legalization bill (SB 528) would put cannabis in the state-operated wine and spirits stores.

7. Ohio – Two separate groups are offering different plans for a legalization ballot initiative. Ohioans To End Prohibition are offering a retail structure and home cultivation while allowing larger limits for medical patients. Responsible Ohio is proposing a more limited plan with just 10 retail producers and stricter limits on home cultivation. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 84 percent of Ohio voters support medical marijuana and 52{f1d755e3d686d84b3fba3fb9da3bc25d6eb08724c18385fd50146d58c836a6dd} support full legalization.

8. Rhode Island – Bills are now active in both houses of the General Assembly for full legalization. The plan would allow home cultivation of just two plants but create a statewide system of retail stores. Decriminalization went into effect in 2013 and a medical marijuana program was approved in 2006. Federal data claims that Rhode Island has the highest per-capita rate of marijuana consumers in the country.

9. Vermont – A landmark study on legalizing marijuana in the state showed that, “during 2014, Vermont residents likely consumed between 15 metric tons and 25 metric tons of marijuana, and spent between $125 million and $225 million on marijuana.” Legislators have promised serious discussions on the issue in 2015. Many are hinting that Vermont could be the first state in the country to fully legalize through legislative action rather than through ballot proposal.

10. Maine – The state with one of the most robust medical marijuana programs in the country could get another chance at fully legal cannabis. Rep. Diane Russell’s bills have gained more support over the last 5 years.

Full legalization bills have also been introduced in Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New York and New Jersey. Decriminalization bills are active in Delaware, New Hampshire, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

Full list of active legislation

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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