Betting on the Underdog: Legalizing Medical Marijuana in the South

Medical marijuana in the south mapUnless one has lived in the deep south it may be difficult to understand a culture where pastors and moral crusaders make up a large portion of state government. So when these same “very conservative” politicians in some states began talking about medical marijuana in mixed company very recently it took many activists by surprise.

In Georgia and Alabama Republicans have either introduced or promised  legislation related to the use of medical marijuana. In Tennessee and Kentucky Democrats are leading the charge. In Florida, a state that even most southerners don’t really understand (it’s a long story), medical marijuana legalization efforts achieved ludicrous speed with the help of prominent attorney John Morgan. And in Mississippi (where possession of marijuana is a civil offense) State Sen. Deborah Dawkins has introduced a medical marijuana bill during each session for the last five years.

A changing attitude toward marijuana

Even in southern states where activists do not yet have the attention of lawmakers, polls show overwhelming support for the legalization of marijuana in some form, and many believe the time is ripe for investors and “ganjapreneurs” to start taking a serious look at southern states.

Alabama

Alabama medical marijuanaOn January 14 Alabama Representative Mike Ball (R) introduced House Bill 104, also known as Carly’s Law, which seeks to provide an affirmative defense when someone possesses cannabidiol (CBD) under the direction of a physician. The bill would not make medical marijuana legal, rather it provides an exception from prosecution for patients and caregivers who possess CBD.
Download a copy of HB 104 (pdf)

 Florida

Florida medical marijuanaSince teaming up with the medical marijuana activist group United for Care last year Florida attorney John Morgan has spent over $2 million on a ballot initiative to get the medical marijuana question in front of voters. State Republicans have accused Morgan of playing politics and have sued to stop the initiative, which at last count had 1.1 million signatures. UFC is now waiting to hear from the Florida Supreme Court to see if they will allow the Governor and his supporters to countermand the will of the people or not.

Georgia

Georgia medical marijuanaA state that was, truthfully, on no one’s radar before this year, Georgia has seen it’s first medical marijuana bill introduced in the Senate. Senate Resolution 756 was introduced by Georgia Senator Josh McKoon (R-Augusta) last week. SR 756 would create a Medical Marijuana Study Committee in order to discuss the viability of medical marijuana in Georgia. Separate from McKoon’s bill, State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) has also promised to introduce legislation in the House that would legalize medical marijuana for the most seriously ill.

Download a copy of SB 756 (pdf)

Kentucky

kentucky-medical-marijuanaOn January 13 Senator Perry Clark (D) introduced a measure, designated Senate Bill 43, that would create a full-fledged medical marijuana law in Kentucky. The bill would allow for the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana by individuals and establishes a system for cultivating, transporting and selling medical marijuana in Kentucky. The bill goes on to severely restrict local and state law enforcement’s cooperation with federal agencies that are investigating medical marijuana providers, and restricts employer’s abilities to fire people simply for failing a marijuana drug test.

Download a copy of SB 43 (pdf)

Mississippi

Mississippi medical marijuanaHome of the frequently-forgotten Federal Medical Marijuana Program, the same federal government that wants to put you in jail for smoking marijuana grows and distributes it from the University of Mississippi, and has done so for the last 30+ years. For the last five years State Sen. Deborah Dawkins has doggedly pursued the legalization of marijuana for medical use. None of her medical marijuana bills have ever made it to the floor of the House for a vote so a repeat attempt is expected this year.

Tennessee

Tennessee medical marijuanaHouse Bill 1385, also known as the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, was introduced January 15 by Rep Sherry Jones (D). The proposed law would create a regulated medical marijuana system in Tennessee and issue medical marijuana cards to patients participating in the program. Patients would be allowed to posses a “reasonable amount of cannabis”, which is defined as the amount recommended by the patient’s doctor.

Download a copy of HB 1385 (pdf)

Southern Cannabusiness opportunities on the horizon

Opportunities for investors and cannabusiness owners are expected to begin growing quickly in the south. Home to some of the best underground growers in the country, the spread of medical marijuana to the deep south means that some top-notch growers will be able to begin plying their trade locally and without fear of arrest. If you have a unique cannbusiness idea or are looking for help building an existing brand click here to send us a message and tell us about your project.

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