2014 has been a year for the record books when it comes to changes to cannabis laws. Obviously the most noted news is the voter initiatives that legalized recreational pot in Alaska and Oregon, and also the voter approved measure to remove penalties for pot in Washington D.C. Despite those monumental moves, there were a few other legal wins that should be celebrated as we ring into 2015.

Feds to Ease Up on Medical Marijuana

In a history move recently, Congress set forth policy changes that will protect the rights of those states with legal medical cannabis programs. The President and Congress both signed off on the provision in December. The provision makes it illegal for the Justice Department to spend any taxpayer monies on activities that interfere in the implementation of “state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Congressional sponsors of the bill California Democrat Sam Farr and Republican Dana Rohrabacher said: “The federal government will finally respect the decisions made by the majority of states that passed medical marijuana laws. This is great day for common sense because now our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on prosecuting criminals and not sick patients.”

State Sponsored Legal Hemp Cultivation

In early 2014 President Obama and Congress approved provisions in the federal farm bill that will allow individual states to conduct hemp cultivation research The provision in the bill states, “The amendment authorizes an institution of higher education or State department of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes if the laws of the State permit its growth and cultivation.” There have been a number of states who have authorized pilot programs for US farmers to now start cultivating legal hemp for the first time in decades.

Decriminalization for Two of the Largest Cities

2014 saw the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana and reduction of penalties to civil violations in both Washington D.C. and Philadelphia this year.

Colorado Medical Marijuana Clinical Research

Health officials in the rocky mountain state approved the spending of $8 million in grand funds which will pay for a series of clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabis as a medical therapy. State lawmakers also approved $10 million earlier in the year for research as well.

Benefits of CBD Recognized

In 2014 eleven states approved various legislation with the goal of permitting cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD) for use by qualified patients. The use of CBD has been found to be especially helpful in children with epilepsy. So far only two states, Florida and Missouri provide an in-state source for CBD. The other states must rely on CBD from the government (as part of an FDA approved trial) or the patients must get it (and most likely bring it through states where it’s illegal) from other states where medical marijuana is legal.

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