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Legalization Models


Here are all legalization bills or initiatives known to have been proposed in the U.S., beginning with the most recent, and with the text of nearly all. Please let me know of any that are missing.


Michigan 2012, The 2012 Michigan Ballot Initiative to End Marijuana Prohibition, sponsored by Repeal Today For A Safer Michigan 2012. This is a ballot initiative for an amendment to the Michigan Constitution, remarkable in several aspects. First, it is not a “tax and regulate” measure like nearly all the others on this page.  Its technique of reform might best be described as “limited cession.” Like the bill that Al Smith, the governor of New York, signed in 1923, like initiatives in Massachusetts in 1930 and eleven more states in 1932, and more recently like the 2010 initiative sponsored by Sensible Washington (below), the measure repeals the state prohibition laws and replaces them with nothing, thus ceding to the federal government the full burden and responsibility of prohibition enforcement. This is accomplished by inserting into the state constitution the declaration that marijuana use and commerce shall not be prohibited or penalized (under state law), except as to minors and prisoners.


What else makes this measure remarkable is the political context in which it arises. Unlike the many attempts (see below) to craft better marijuana policies than prohibition provides, this ballot question is a direct response to the interference by state officials to implementation to the Michigan’s medical marijuana law passed by the voters in 2008. Patients, researchers, doctors and providers have been brutally stymied by police, judges and most especially the current Attorney General, Bill Schuette, who cannot accept the law and allow its implementation. Hence this effort.


State of Washington, 2010, I-1068, An Initiative to the People of the State of Washington, sponsored by Sensible Washington. Like last year’s predecessor, this is a well-crafted cession law, not a tax/regulate measure, in that it neatly cedes the burden and responsibility solely to federal authorities for prohibition enforcement, and gets the  state out of that business. Whether the cannabis industry is to be taxed and regulated is left up to the legislature.


California 2012, the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012. sponsored by The Committee to Repeal Cannabis Prohibition. This initiative is remarkably brief.  It  repeals existing cannabis prohibition laws and declares flatly:  “It shall not be a crime or public offense for an adult to use, possess, share, cultivate, transport, process, distribute, sell or otherwise engage in cannabis related activities.” It then authorizes the California Department of Public Health to promulgate regulations to “control, license, permit, or otherwise authorize the commercial cultivation, manufacturing, processing, testing, transportation, distribution and sales of cannabis,” but such regulations may not include “bans of the conduct permitted by this Act.”  Simple.


Colorado, 2012, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, sponsored by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, amends the state constitution. It declares legal personal possession, transportation, etc., and commercial activity with a license. Mandates enactment of excise tax of 15% on transfers by cultivators to processors or retailers; the first $40 million in revenue goes to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund. Municipalities may regulate commercial marijuana operations within their borders; prohibiting them requires voter approval.


In anticipation that the measure is approved by the voters, responsibility then shifts to the legislature to enact


Missouri, 2012, initiative for statutory amendment, proposed by Show-Me Cannabis. This measure is novel in several respects. It expands the conventional definition of cannabis, giving due and formal recognition to the varieties cannabis americana, cannabis chinensis, and cannabis ruderalis, in addition to the familiar cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. It generously sets industrial hemp at no more than 1% THC, which is much higher than most measures, which typically draw the line at .3%. It provides a clear definition of impairment, viz., “the inability of a person to safely perform functional tasks associated with his or her job or with driving due to the influence of alcohol or other drugs.”  Consumers are protected from personal data-collection by retailers. Local authorities do not have the right to veto licenses approved by the state agency. It orders the immediate release of all persons incarcerated for “non-violent, cannabis-only offenses which are no longer illegal in the State of Missouri,” expungement of the records of other offenders, and authorizes destruction of “cannabis-related civil and criminal records” on application. Finally, it contains a noble (if inartful) repudiation of federal prohibition. Section 13 declares: “Pursuant to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the people of Missouri hereby repudiate and challenge federal cannabis prohibitions that conflict with this Act.” (The disparity between federal and state law on marijuana is not a “conflict” in the technical sense. I would have deleted the the last five words of that sentence.)


Missouri, 2012, initiative for a constitutional amendment, also proposed by Show-Me Cannabis. The text is identical to the statutory amendment, described above.


Colorado, 2011, initiative for a constitutional amendment proposed by Sensible Colorado. This measure declares certain marijuana rights (without using that term), legalizes personal possession and gratuitous transfers, and maintains a prohibition on public use of marijuana.  It authorizes licenses for retail, cultivation and “product manufacturing facilities,” and invites the legislature to impose a 15% sales tax on transfers by cultivators. The first $40 million in revenue goes to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund. Localities can control time, place, manner and number of marijuana establishments, and receive a portion of license fees. It authorizes the Department of Revenue to develop further regulations, but none that are “unreasonably impracticable,” meaning “that the measures necessary to comply with the regulations require such a high investment of risk, money, time, or any other resource or asset that the operation of a marijuana establishment is not worthy of being carried out in practice by a reasonably prudent businessperson.”


Federal, HR 2306, Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011. This bill does for marijuana what the 21st Amendment did for alcohol. It removes marijuana from  the federal prohibition laws, and recognizes the right of states to prohibit or control commerce in marijuana. Enactment of such a measure will be necessary if states are to tax and regulate without fear of federal interference. Technically, it is a “cession” law, because it cedes, or yields, to states the right to control the cannabis industry within their borders as they see fit. States can retain prohibition, or they can tax and regulate, or do something in between, just as they did with alcohol after repeal in 1933.  It may also fairly be characterized as “right to tax” legislation, as it offers new revenue opportunities to states and municipalities.


Washington, 2011, New Approach Initiative to Legalize, Tax, Regulate. This comprehensive initiative, sponsored by New Approach Washington, amends the controlled substances act and other laws by inserting marijuana as a commodity subject to regulation and taxation similar to alcoholic beverages.  It authorizes licenses for production, processing and retail sale of marijuana to adults, and imposes a tax of 25% whenever it passes from the producer to the processor, thence to the shopkeeper. Retail outlets are limited to the sale of marijuana, and advertising is prohibited. An implied consent rule subjects drivers to the loss of their license if the THC concentration in their blood exceeds 5%. In many respects this bill is very similar to the Massachusetts bill first introduced in 1981, and now pending as H1371 (see below). Their summary. Here’s a recent article on the issue of prospective federal interference.


Maine, 2011, HP1067, LD1453, An Act to Legalize and Tax Marijuana. As summarized within:  “This bill reforms state marijuana laws by establishing a special tax rate for marijuana, legalizing the personal use and cultivation of marijuana, legalizing and licensing certain commercial marijuana-related activities, while providing provisions to protect minors, employers and schools, and removing the registry system from the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.”


California, The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012, proposed text for 2012 initiative.  In plain and simple language, authorizes the regulation and taxation of the cannabis industry, leaving the details for later determination by lawmakers, presumably at the state level. More here. Those details are addressed in the draft Cannabis Regulation Act of 2012.


California, Legalization of Marijuana Act of 2012, proposed text for 2012 Initiative. It declares lawful possession, consumption, and commerce in cannabis and derivatives, allows home cultivation up to 12 plants, adds a new licensing/regulatory section to the Business and Professions Code to be administered by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and authorizes local governments to enact sales taxes up to 6% on non-medical marijuana. More here.


California, The Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act of 2012 (Initiative). Notes.


Oregon, 2012. Three  legalization measures are aimed for the November, 2012, ballot in Oregon, of which Philip Smith, writing for the Drug War Journal, has provided an excellent  overview.  They are:


(a)  The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 2012 (Initiative petition #9), sponsored by the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp.


(b) The Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative is promoting two measures, both remarkable in their brevity. One is a proposed constitutional amendment that would decriminalize marijuana cultivation and use by adults.  (The other is a medical marijuana statutory  initiative called the Medical Marijuana Supply and Regulation Act. )


(c) Sensible Oregon is promoting a statutory initiative they describe as follows:  “By removing all civil and criminal penalties for cannabis for adults, this innovative proposal will allow the legislature to enact the industrial hemp bill that passed the Oregon legislature in 2009.”  Text.


Nevada, An Initiative to Establish a Regulated Market for Marijuana, proposed for 2012 ballot. This measure legalizes marijuana for adults, and authorizes municipalities and counties to license and regulate its sale at retail, no more restrictively than package stores are regulated.


Rhode Island, 2011, The Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana Act, H5591


Washington, 2011 Initiative, The Marijuana Reform and Legislation Act


Washington, HB 1550, 2011, authorizing sale of cannabis in liquor stores


Massachusetts, H01371, 2011, The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act. Similar to H2929/S1801 in the 2009-10 session.


Montana, SB154 (2011). This bill represents the first “medical excise” bill introduced in any state, i.e., a reg/tax bill but for medical patients only and imposing a 10% tax, payable by growers


California ABX69, introduced September 21, 2010. This is a regulation and taxation measure conditional on passage of Proposition 19, the legalization initiative, in November 2010. Also here.


California AB2254, the Ammiano bill re-filed in 2010.


Rhode Island, Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana Act, H7838 (2010)


State of Washington, 2010, I-1068, An Initiative to the People of the State of Washington, sponsored by Sensible Washington.


New Hampshire, for the 2010 legislative session, an Act allowing purchase and use of marijuana by adults, regulating the purchase and use of marijuana, and imposing taxes on the wholesale and retail sale of marijuana


Washington, HB 2401_2010


California, Common Sense Act of 2010


California, The Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010, (The Rogoway Initiative, also called the California Cannabis Initiative)


California, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 (The Lee Initiative) on November 2010 ballot. Legislative Analysis here (.pdf).


California Cannabis Hemp & Health Initiative (2010) (The Jack Herer Initiative)


Maine, 2010: An Act to Repeal the Prohibition on Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana


Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (2010)


The Oregon Cannabis Tolerance Act (2010)


Northern Marianas Commonwealth, Legalization of Marijuana Act of 2010, H.B. 17-47


California, The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, Assembly Bill 390, 2009.


This is not a legalization proposal, but a Resolution adopted by the Rhode Island Senate appointing a commission to evaluate marijuana prohibition. 2009-S 1032, Senate Resolution Creating a Special Senate Committee to Study the Prohibition of Marijuana, adopted July 2009. News. Final Report.


Massachusetts, 2009, An Act to Regulate and Tax the Cannabis Industry, Senate Bill 1801.  (Also filed as House Bill 2929)


The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, Initiative Petition No 136 (2008)


California, The Inalienable Rights Enforcement Initiative, 2008


California Cannabis Hemp & Health Initiative (The Herer Initiative), 2008


Nevada, Regulation of Marijuana Initiative, 2006.. Question 7, the “Regulation of Marijuana Initiative,” would remove all criminal and civil penalties for the private possession and use of small quantities of cannabis by those age 21 or older. The measure would also seek to create a statewide system for the taxation, legal cultivation, distribution, and sale of cannabis to adults by licensed vendors. (Source:


Nevada, Initiative Petition No. 3, March 2, 2005


California, Oakland Cannabis Regulation and Revenue Ordinance, Initiative ballot measure, 2004


Nevada, Initiative Petition No. 9, 2002


Michigan, 2000, 2001, The Personal Responsibility Amendment. A precursor to the 2012 Michigan initiative, this measures inserts into the state constitution the affirmative right to medical marijuana, agricultural  hemp, and non-medical use by adults.

Oregon, The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 1997, 1997


Colorado Hemp Initiative, 1994


Texas, The Cannabis Control Act, 1993


Washington, Initiative Measure 595, Regulated Tolerance & Taxation of Marijuana, 1993


New York, An Act to establish a controlled substance law … in relation to the sale, distribution and cultivation of marijuana…, Senate Bill 4094-A, 1991


The Pennsylvania Marijuana Cultivation Control Act of 1983, Pennsylvania, 1983


The Oregon Marijuana Control Act of 1983, Senate Bill 497, Oregon, 1983


Federal, The Cannabis Revenue Act. 1982


Massachusetts, The Cannabis Revenue and Education Act, 1981. Original here.


Florida, 1979, An act relating to a reduction of ad valorem tax millage; providing for a county option on the cultivation, possession, and sale of cannabis; authorizing such cultivation, possession, and sale in approving counties; providing certain conditions relating to the sale and taxation of cannabis; providing for the distribution of proceeds of such taxation and requiring a reduction of ad valorem tax millage; authorizing the board of county commissioners in approving counties to adopt certain ordinances; providing an effective date.


New York, 1971,  An Act to amend the executive law, the penal law and the public health law, in relation to creating the state marjuana control authority and prescribing its powers and duties, and repealing certain provisions relating thereto, Assembly 4944

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