A bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of a personal amount of marijuana has passed both the House and Senate of the Illinois Legislature and will now be sent to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signature. SB 2228 would lower penalties by removing the possibility of arrest and a jail sentence for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. It would also remove the possibility of a criminal record for cannabis possession, which can last a lifetime, and instead, the bill would replace criminal penalties with a fine of between $100 and $200. Once the governor officially receives the bill, he will have up to 60 days to sign it into law.
The Golden State’s initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana is headed for the November ballot. In early May, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, leading a coalition of supporters that included physicians, law enforcement and civil rights leaders, said the campaign had gathered approximately 600,000 petition signatures of registered voters, well above the 365,880 minimum required to qualify the initiative for the November 8th ballot. California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act calls for a 15% tax on retail sales of cannabis.
During the final week of the 2016 Tennessee legislative session in April, Governor Bill Haslam signed HB 1478 into law, which eliminates the provision that makes a third conviction for possession of marijuana a felony. The law will take effect on July 1, 2016. This change reduces the penalty for third-time possession from between one and six years of incarceration to less than one year in jail. In addition, having a misdemeanor rather than a felony record will reduce the collateral consequences associated with the conviction. The bill also increases penalties for repeat DUI offenders and makes third-time possession of all drugs, with the exception of heroin, no longer a felony.
In late April, state officials announced that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine officially qualified for the November ballot. After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures necessary to qualify. According to a new poll released this week by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54% of likely voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Approximately 42% said they would oppose it.
In 2012, Connecticut enacted a medical marijuana program that allows seriously ill patients access to medical marijuana. However, the law does not allow access for minor patients. Of the 24 states that have medical marijuana programs, Connecticut is the only state that does not allow access for younger patients. A bill currently being considered, HB 5450, would allow minors to be qualifying patients. It would also allow dispensaries to distribute marijuana to hospices and other inpatient facilities and would allow nurses to administer marijuana in licensed healthcare facilities.