Rep. Mark Baker (R-Sweetwater) and a bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a new bill, HB 157, that would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. HB 157 would apply to up to three ounces of cannabis or marijuana products (such as edibles) containing 500 milligrams or less of THC. Under current Wyoming law, possession of even a tiny amount of marijuana carries a penalty of up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. Rep. Baker’s bill would reduce the penalty to a civil fine of up to $200.
Senator Perry Clark has introduced two bills that would overhaul marijuana policies. SB 57 would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill Kentuckians, and SB 72 would legalize marijuana for adult use and create a regulated and taxed system. SB 57 would protect qualifying patients from arrest and allow them to cultivate marijuana plants. It would also allow them to obtain medical marijuana from dispensaries, which would be regulated by the state. SB 72 would take Kentucky in the direction of the eight states that have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use.
Representative Joe Moody (D-El Paso), former prosecutor and the current Vice Chairman of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, has filed a marijuana-related bill for the upcoming legislative session. Rep. Moody introduced HB 81, which would replace possible arrests and jail time with a civil fine for low-level possession of marijuana. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), would make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of $250. Under current law, possession of two ounces or less is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail. Senator Jose Rodríguez, also of El Paso, introduced a Senate companion bill, SB 170.
A voter-approved initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine became official on January 30th, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Under Question 1, which voters approved in November, adults 21 years of age and older can legally possess up to two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana, grow up to six flowering marijuana plants and 12 non-flowering plants, and possess the marijuana harvested from those plants inside their residence. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public or to drive while impaired by marijuana. The law will not affect employers’ drug-testing policies or their rights to prohibit marijuana use by employees. The legislature is in the process of establishing a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales, which is currently scheduled to go into effect by February 1, 2018.
In early February, two companion bills that would legalize and regulate personal use amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up were introduced in the Maryland State Senate. SB 928 would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and to grow up to six plants, and would set up regulated businesses that would cultivate, process, and sell cannabis, including a “craft cultivator” category for small businesses. SB 927 sets a $30 per ounce excise tax and 9% sales tax (the same as alcohol). Half of the proceeds would go to high-poverty schools.