New Jersey wins the honors for the most bills introduced by the legislature mentioning the word “marijuana” so far this calendar year — 48 — and a dozen states have been considering ten or more such bills, according to an analysis of data available through OpenStates.org.
The New Jersey legislature approved a medical marijuana program in 2010. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has made it clear that he has no intention of New Jersey following the example of Colorado, which recently legalized recreational marijuana. In January, he pocket vetoed legislation that would have ensured that patients who used medical marijuana would be eligible for organ transplants. The bills introduced this year range from revivals of the vetoed bill to proposed legalization for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to hemp farming.
Hawaii legislators are also spent a lot of time discussing marijuana — some 42 bills were introduced this calendar year. Also home to a medical marijuana program, the Aloha state has seen proposals to legalize the drug die in committee. In early may, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, approved a bill allowing the University of Hawaii to run a two-year hemp research program. The Huffington Post put the state on a list of those most likely to legalize marijuana soon, although perhaps not too soon: The legislature adjourned in early May, with no date scheduled for their return.
Washington and Colorado, the two states where recreational marijuana already exists, also log many bills introduced relating to marijuana. In both cases, states are considering fixes and tweaks. In Washington, the legislature is considering proposals to bring the state’s medical marijuana program in line with the recreational system. In Colorado, the legislature passed several bills before adjourning, including proposals to regulate marijuana edibles. These came after recent tragedies where overdose on edibles may have contributed to the death of a young mother, who was shot by her husband, and that of a student, who jumped off a balcony. The legislature also approved a bill meant to help the marijuana industry obtain banking services — a problem area for the industry, because the drug is still illegal under federal law. Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D., has introduced legislation that would prohibit bankers from being punished if they work with the marijuana industry, and is pushing for a hearing.
In other news from Sunlight’s influence trackers:
- The tobacco industry is asking the Food and Drug Administration to extend the comment period on regulating electronic cigarettes — a tried and true way that industry groups use to slow down the federal regulatory process. Among those asking for the extension: the Pipe Tobacco Council, the Altria Group, NicVape and the Lorrillard Tobacco Company. (Credit: Docket Wrench.)
- Over time, Members of Congress talk about “tobacco” a lot more than they do “marijuana,” but in May there have been 96 mentions of marijuana so far and just 10 of tobacco. (Credit: Capitol Words.)
- Congress is considering 16 bills that mention “marijuana” this session versus 22 that mention “tobacco.” (Credit: Open Congress.)
- Plenty of political fundraisers feature cigars, but not even the Colorado and Washington representatives have tried a gathering featuring marijuana (that we know about). (Credit: Party Time.)
- The Marijuana Policy Project is the source of more than $12 million in campaign contributions. (Credit: Influence Explorer.)