October 7, 2013

Marijuana Legislation Continues to Grow Among States according to WestlawNext

Legalization top issue; medicinal use still heavily debated

EAGAN, Minn. – Recent landmark legislation in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana use has heightened the growing debate around pot. Laws and public opinion are clearly moving on the issue; 40 states and the District of Columbia have proposed or enacted legislation surrounding marijuana use – recreational or medicinal – according to WestlawNext, the nation’s leading online legal research service.

The recreational use of marijuana has been the focus of proposed or enacted legislation in 13 states. In regards to using marijuana for medicinal purposes, 24 states plus the District of Columbia have made it legal, while 16 additional states have proposed legislation allowing medicinal use.

Ten states, including New York, currently do not have any proposed or enacted legislation regarding marijuana use – either recreational or medicinal – while Idaho passed legislation reaffirming their stand against the legalization of marijuana.

“As states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, there are still barriers that users may face in understanding the law,” said Michael Carlson, reference attorney at Thomson Reuters. “Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug in the eyes of the federal government and people can be prosecuted if they are caught with marijuana on federal grounds, such as national parks, even though it may be legal in that state.”

Here is a synopsis of proposed or enacted state legislation pertaining to legalizing recreational use of marijuana:

  • 13 states have proposed or enacted legalization, including Colorado and Washington
  • Three states have commissioned studies to analyze the impact of legalization: New Mexico, Rhode Island and West Virginia
  • 21 is the recommended age for legal use of marijuana across the board
  • The majority of proposed legislation recommends each state’s Department of Revenue, Department of Taxation or the Liquor Control Board serve as the regulating body
  • Two states propose creating a new regulatory body: Maine – Bureau of Marijuana Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement; Massachusetts – Cannabis Control Board
  • Taxation varies amongst proposed legislation ranging from 15 percent in New Hampshire, 25 percent in Nevada and $50 per ounce in Maine 
  • The State of Washington limits advertising signage of retail outlets selling marijuana to 1,600 square inches

"The legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington State bring us closer to a tipping point with regard to marijuana prohibition," said Sam Kamin, Thomson Reuters author and professor at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law. "The groups that have been working for years to legalize marijuana will be taking the issue to more and more states in 2014 and beyond."

Over the last four years, marijuana has been introduced, substituted or adopted across 4,847 pieces of state legislation. A sampling of legislation for other substances, including marijuana, in 2013 include: hemp (117); peyote (168); cocaine (723); and marijuana (1,730).

The data was researched and compiled through Sept. 22, 2013. All research was conducted via WestlawNext, the industry-leading legal research solution from Thomson Reuters. WestlawNext includes the most authoritative collection of primary law, as well as the largest library of analytical resources and current awareness content.

Editor’s Note: For a high-resolution infographic and additional data, please visit http://www.legalcurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Marijuana_HiRes.jpg, http://www.legalcurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/marijuana-mentions.jpg, or email Jeff McCoy at jeffrey.mccoy@thomsonreuters.com.

Thomson Reuters

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