In the final days of the spring legislative session, lawmakers approved controversial legislation legalizing adult use of recreational marijuana, and expanding the state’s medical marijuana program.
House Bill 1438 allows for the adult use of recreational marijuana. The bill makes it legal to possess up to 30 gram of cannabis; however, possession above that limit remains a class 4 felony.
Proponents of legalizing the adult use of recreational marijuana argue that House Bill 1438 provides a framework to tax and regulate the emerging industry, providing for public safety, taxpayer protections, workplace protections, and local control. House Bill 1438 contains similar provisions to laws regulating the consumption of alcohol. It incorporates laws that will deter and punish use by minors. Strong limitations and protections will be put in place regarding product marketing, packaging and labeling. Employers are given the strongest policy protections in the nation, allowing for a “drug free” workplace.
Opponents note that marijuana remains illegal at the Federal level, even though House Bill 1438 legalizes the adult recreational use of cannabis at the state level, which sends the wrong message to young people. Opponents say lawmakers are rushing to legalize recreational use, when more time is needed to analyze the social impacts of legalized marijuana, as seen in other states. They question whether tax revenues from the program will offset higher costs of resulting social problems that will place additional burdens on taxpayer dollars.
Another measure, Senate Bill 2023, expands the list of qualifying medical conditions in the medical cannabis program to include ulcerative colitis, autism, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, osteoarthritis, anorexia nervosa, Ehlers-Danios Syndrome, Neuro-Bechet’s Autoimmune Disease, neuropathy, polycystic kidney disease, and superior canal dehiscence syndrome.