Disclosure: This article is packed with blunt puns.
Marijuana advocates lit up with glee last week as the U.S. House voted to step back and leave medical cannabis laws up to the states. After failing numerous times, getting the bill cleared through the House is like winning the jack pot for pro-marijuana legislators. The proposed bill would prohibit the federal government from interfering with state medical pot laws.
The legislation smoked through the Republican-dominated House with a 218-189 vote in favor of the bill Friday. The bill’s suprising majority vote represents increasingly joint views about federal oversight of state medical marijuana laws between Democrats and Republicans. The vote also reflects public opinion. The ratio of Americans in favor of medical marijuana is high at 73 percent, according to a Pew Research study.
But medical cannabis supporters aren’t exhaling quite yet—the bill has not hit the Senate floor, so things are still a little hazy until then.
Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. have already enacted laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. Florida, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania are in the process of rolling out legislation. The criterion for a person to be prescribed a medical marijuana card varies in strictness from state-to-state. Minnesota, for instance, as one of the most conservative medical cannabis states, limits marijuana perscriptions to pill, vapor, and oil forms (aka you can’t smoke it) and restricts prescriptions to patients suffering from severe illnesses. California, on the other hand, is more liberal, allowing patients to carry up to 8 ounces of leaf form and has a much broader definition of cannabis-qualifying illnesses.
The House proposed legislation would not apply to Colorado or Washington where recreational marijuana is legalized.
As the bill heads to Senate and the medical marijuana debate continues, here are some states to follow:
•Minnesota- Minnesota became the 22nd state to legalize medical marijuana just last week. The state has one of the strictest medical marijuana laws (ProCon’s super useful chart compares the laws, fees, and possession limits) and advocates are already pushing to expand the laws.
•New York- A proposal to approve medical marijuana cleared the Senate Health Committee in May. If it clears the Senate Budget Committee then it will head to a full Senate and could get passed in June.
•South Carolina - South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed in legislation on June 2 allowing children with severe epilepsy to be prescribed a non-psychoactive oil form of marijuana.
•Florida- Florida legislators approved the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” in early May, allowing for “non-euphoric” marijuana prescriptions for patients with severe epilepsy. Residents will cast votes on broader marijuana legislation in November.
Hope you didn’t get too burnt out from all those puns. I was on fire though, right?