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Why is Washington, D.C. Passing Out Cannabis Seeds? The Leafly Cannabis Legalization Update

Published on March 30, 2015 · Last updated August 3, 2022

What a week it’s been! The legalization train is a roller coaster on a fast-track towards the end of prohibition, and we’re on board for the ride! D.C. groups have been handing out cannabis seeds, the Irish are growing some funny “tomatoes,” and Guam wants in on the CARERS Act. Here’s what’s happening on the road to legalization – all aboard!

U.S. Updates


A Senate committee voted to advance Senate Bill 30, which is aimed at outlining regulations and penalties for enforcing the new recreational cannabis law. The bill has undergone a number of revisions, including the striking of a measure that would have banned cannabis extracts and concentrates, which had been vocally objected to by many in the community. The recreational laws went into effect February 24th, but Alaskans are still waiting to see the implementation of sales, shops, and regulations – the pressure is on!


In order to help facilitate the district’s newfound legalization, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign has been holding seed sharing events. The first took place at the Libertine in Adams Morgan and offered a new, innovative way to spread cannabis to the community while still remaining in full compliance with the law. According to the new law, anyone over the age of 21 may transfer up to one ounce of cannabis to another adult without payment, and adults may grow up to six plants, of which three can be mature. If you’d like to attend the next seed share and start a garden of your own, contact the D.C. Cannabis Campaign for more information.


The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will be moving forward with SPB 7066, a new proposal to establish a structure for nurseries to grow, process, and distribute cannabis oil to qualifying patients according to the cannabis extract law that was signed by Governor Rick Scott last year. The Department of Health has made attempts at regulation since the law was passed but faced legal roadblocks and challenges, particularly in funding the efforts to get patients their medicine. Glad to see some progress! Now how about expanding that medical marijuana program to include more conditions, eh?


Georgia’s medical marijuana proposal, House Bill 1, sponsored by Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon), took a giant leap forward when it was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services committee after a long and emotional hearing that included families with children suffering from seizure disorders and other debilitating conditions. The most pivotal testimony came from Dr. James Smith, a Georgia physician whose seizure-suffering daughter took a remarkable turn for the better after specialized cannabis oil treatments in Colorado. Smith and his daughter are another example of a family who had to leave their home state simply so they could access legal cannabis treatment, and once they did, the patient recovered. Looks like Georgia’s case for medical cannabis is getting stronger by the minute!


Hawaii state senators have taken up a proposal to enact state-run medical marijuana dispensaries. Hawaii adopted medical marijuana in the year 2000, but the law only allows for home cultivation and dispensaries have never existed. One of the chief concerns about expanding the law to include dispensaries has been taking the medical marijuana from island to island. This bill would allow dispensary employees to transfer cannabis on inter-island flights, essentially mandating that the state agency permit a violation of state law. The law would also take steps to avoid moratoriums or banning of dispensaries by jurisdiction to protect patient rights. Mahalo, Hawaii Senate!

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The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program was intended to be a four year program but has faced numerous delays in getting started. Now, a year and a half in, the program still hasn’t started so lawmakers are seeking to extend the deadline of program’s end date, which is currently scheduled for 2018. In the same attempt to update the law, they are seeking a decriminalization measure to address unfair and outdated criminal penalties for possession of cannabis. It’s been a bumpy start, but the Illinois cannabis scene is slowly coming into focus!


Representative Dalton Honore has submitted a new medical marijuana law for consideration. Technically, doctors have legally been able to prescribe medicinal marijuana since 1991, but it was not legal for pharmacists to sell cannabis. This law would replace the previous one and put in place a framework for distribution and procurement for patients without requiring medical insurance to pay for it. Rep. Honore also submitted House Bill 117, to legalize the use, possession, sale, and taxation of recreational cannabis. If approved, all cannabis distribution and possession charges would be removed from the state criminal code. Could the trending change in attitude in the South extend all the way to the bayou?


In another case of “Can’t we all just get along?”, competing groups are trying to bring cannabis legalization to the table. The Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization, played a key role in Colorado’s legalization and wants to introduce a bill for Maine voters next year. However, Legalize Maine would rather make it a domestic effort and place emphasis on allowing growers to sell directly to consumers as well as creating cannabis social clubs. With these divided efforts, we’re wondering if either group (or both!) will be able to obtain the more than 61,000 signatures necessary to secure a place on the 2016 General Election ballot. Come on, Maine, we can work it out!


The National Institute for Health has awarded the University of Mississippi $68.8 million to continue growing cannabis for research purposes. Ole Miss has had an exclusive deal with the government since 1968, although the number of plants has increased exponentially over the decades, with 30,000 plants in a secure facility as part of the federal government’s only legal marijuana grow operation. They’ve been researching for decades, now let’s see some results!


We recently reported on some progress in Ohio towards the legalization of recreational cannabis, which is a huge step forward, as we all know. However, the news for Ohio isn’t all good. If Responsible Ohio, the group behind the legalization efforts, has their way, this law will ensure that only a very select few “investors” will have the right to grow the plant for profit – essentially hand-picking 10 specific growing sites already owned by the same group and creating a monopoly for themselves in the industry they claim to be helping. We urge all Ohioans to take a close look at this amendment before offering your support!

International Updates


A man who rented a property in South Kerry found himself in hot water over some “tomato plants” he’d taken it upon himself to tend to. The seedlings began to sprout under his care and, rather than producing fruit, emanated a strong odor and sprouted strange new leaves. The “tomato plants” turned out to be 19 cannabis plants that had, in his words, “miraculously converted themselves.” After testing the plants, the genus was determined to be cannabis (for which a license is required). The owner admitted that the plants were cannabis, but as he had no previous convictions, he agreed to a suspended sentence on the condition that he doesn’t grow any more “tomatoes.”


A local group in Guam called Women Grow Guam is working with Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo’s office to ensure that Guam will be included as part of the CARERS Act that has been gaining momentum in the United States. Guam legalized medical marijuana during the 2014 mid-term election, and the CARERS Act would ensure that the federal U.S. government (who has authority in Guam as a U.S. territory) does not interfere with or prosecute patients or doctors involved in the medical marijuana system.

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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