Beard Bros. Pharms Cannabis Laws Road Trip - Part 3: The Central States

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Fresh off of our 11-stop tour of the Midwest states and their wildly varying cannabis laws the journey continues on the Beard Bros. Pharms 50 State Cannabis Laws Road Trip as we explore the Central region of the U.S. to see where weed reform stands from Minnesota to West Virginia. So get on board, let’s hit the road!

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Minnesota
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

Though the state did implement a regulated medical marijuana program in 2014, it remains one of the most restrictive and cost-prohibitive in the nation and is in dire need of real reform.

In its first year, 92% of patients reported some benefit from cannabis use, and 67% reported seeing major benefits from it. However, just one year later more than half of those surveyed said they had stopped going to legal MMJ dispensaries for their cannabis. 86% reported that dispensary weed was at least somewhat unaffordable and 29% said it was prohibitive.

Also, the state does not allow its medical marijuana patients to use, or purchase, cannabis flowers at all. Everything from the dispensaries is in extract form which is not ideal for all patients and is a key part of the reason why the people of Minnesota find the prices to be too high.

Possession of less than 42.5 grams is treated as a misdemeanor and is not punishable by incarceration but by a $200 fine.

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Iowa
Medical Use – Yes (barely)
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

With all of those fertile fields at their disposal, you’d think that Iowa would be harvesting some bountiful bushels of cannabis but instead they’ve got a crop of some of the wackiest Republican politicians in the nation and as a result some of the worst cannabis laws.

Their medical cannabis program is pathetic with only 400 registered patients due to the highly restrictive list of allowable ailments and the state’s insistence that those patients only use cannabis oils, creams, capsules, and suppositories that contain 3% of THC or less.

Getting caught with ANY amount of weed in Iowa is a potential serious misdemeanor, even as a 1st offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Your 2nd offense will get you a year. Getting caught growing any amount of weed will most likely result in a felony charge and a 5-year prison sentence.

Even just trying to promote or organize a sesh – literally – can land you in jail for a year.

Just keep driving, buds.
Iowans, you need to contact your lawmakers and express your demands for sensible cannabis law reform in your state and for fuck’s sake quit voting for the Chuck Grassleys and Steve Kings of the world.

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Missouri
Medical Use – Yes (CBD-only)
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

Cannabis advocates like New Approach Missouri continue to fight to get a more comprehensive MMJ reform bill on the voter’s ballots but in the meantime, the program allows for CBD-only oils and only for patients who suffer from specific types of seizures.

Home grows are strictly prohibited and getting caught cultivating 35 grams or less is a Class E Felony in the state and can earn you a 5-year prison bid. 35 grams ain’t that much. Anything over that doubles that prison sentence.

In 2017 the entire state decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis so that as a 1st offense it would no longer impose the threat of jail time but would carry a $250 fine and If you are under the age of 21 and are caught with any amount of cannabis, even as a 1st offense, your driving privilege can be revoked for 90 days even if you aren’t driving at the time.

$250 is a pretty sizable chunk of money for anyone, but especially for the average cannabis user in Missouri. Unpaid fines can compound into jail time so the system is still imbalanced and the answer is legalization.

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Wisconsin
Medical Use – Limited (CBD-only)
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

Another state lagging way too far behind the rest of the country when it comes to cannabis reform, Wisconsin is still far too harsh on simple possession treating it as a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Your second such offense will be a felony and will get you 3.5 years in jail – the same punishment you’ll receive if you are caught selling any or growing any for yourself.

Wisconsin’s medical marijuana law was put in place in 2014 and was slightly expanded in 2017, but remains far too exclusive to have a truly beneficial impact on the state.

59% of residents say they would like to see cannabis legalized on the recreational level in the state.

Voters in Milwaukee County will be asked on the November 6th ballot if Wisconsin should legalize recreational cannabis use. The results of that vote will, unfortunately, not be binding but will instead be advisory in nature with hopes that they will pressure the state’s lawmakers to embrace true cannabis reform.

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Illinois
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

Illinois has a regulated medical cannabis program in place with dispensaries in operation but many critics argue that the list of qualifying conditions to get into one of those dispensaries is too prohibitive.

For example, severe or persistent pain does not make the list which leaves those who suffer from such an ailment to turn either to dangerously addictive prescription painkillers or to the black market for the cannabis that will give them the relief they need.

Getting popped growing or selling any amount will likely lead to 6-12 months in jail.

The state has decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams of weed, and the Chicago PD recently relaxed its hiring standards by removing past cannabis use as a disqualifier.

Any new cannabis-related laws are only able to be passed through the state legislature, not by direct vote from the citizenry even though 66% of Illinois residents favor the legalization and regulation of adult-use cannabis. But this November corrupt Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is being challenged by a Democrat named J.B. Pritzker, a loud advocate for cannabis reform. That is how the citizens can speak.

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Michigan
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – Yes

Even though the state does not currently have a law in place to allow for the adult recreational use of cannabis, experts predict that will soon change and that by 2021 the market for legal rec weed in Michigan will approach or even exceed a BILLION dollars. The first step on that road to riches is the November ballot where the polling sees support for the initiative in a neck-and-neck battle with pot prohibitionists. Get out and VOTE!

In 2008 the state’s MMJ program was put in place, and much like the one in California, it operated with loads of protection for patients, but not a whole lot for the businesses that provided all of the products for those patients.

That began to change in 2016 with the slow roll-out of a new set of rules aimed at regulating and hopefully protecting the business side of the Michigan medical marijuana market.

This essentially dismantled the dispensary system and is now rebuilding it based on a trio of new laws signed by the governor later in 2016.

Despite the disarray that the shakeup has caused the new laws finally allow for concentrates and infused topicals in the medical marijuana system.

For now, however, do not get caught with pot if you are not in the medical cannabis program. Any illegal possession, regardless of how small of an amount or if it is your 1st offense, can put you behind bars for a full year. Illegally growing anything less than 20 plants is a felony that can get you four years.

The new recreational use law, if passed, would follow the guides set by the medical use program, allowing adults to possess up to 2.5ounces of weed and the right to grow up to 12 plants of their own.

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Indiana
Medical Use – Limited (CBD-only)
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

Just this year, Indiana joined the vast majority of the United States by implementing a “medical cannabis” program, as limited as it may be.

We have to use those quotes because it really has nothing to do with cannabis. The law allows for hemp-derived zero-THC/high-CBD oils that were manufactured, packaged, and distributed according to Indiana state standards.

This type of medication may have a role in some patients’ wellness, but it does not even come close to constituting a medical marijuana program that would give patients safe access to a wide variety of healing options to match to their needs.

Instead, the state employs some of the most evil cannabis laws in the country threatening to jail you for up to a year for holding any amount of weed. They can even jail you for being in the presence of somewhere "where knowledge of drug activity occurs".

In 2012, law enforcement spent its time, efforts, and resources arresting over 9,000 Indiana residents for cannabis-related crimes while 90% of burglaries and 85% of auto thefts went unsolved.

Republican Congressman Jim Lucas has stated that he will introduce a medical marijuana bill in January 2019. How much support he receives from his colleagues remains to be seen.

Keep the pressure on them, Indiana!

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Ohio
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

LeBron may be gone but Ohio is still pretty dope. The state passed a comprehensive medical marijuana law in the fall of 2016 and has since issued an exclusive set of licenses to qualified growers, processors, and retailers but a slew of lawsuits from those left out has delayed the full-scale rollout of the program.

Once in place, patients will have access to – and be able to stash a 90 day supply of - almost all forms of cannabis including “whole plant, extracts, and infused products such as food items”.

We say almost though because the law specifically prohibits one form of cannabis use – smoking it. That’s right, you can vape it, you can eat it, you can boof it, but just don’t get caught using it the same way we have been for 5000 years. We gotta work on that, Ohio.

Right now, even if you are not an MMJ patient, getting caught with up to 100 grams of weed (roughly 3.5 zips) or up to 5 grams of hash, or growing less than 100 grams of weed, or giving up to 20 grams of weed to someone else without getting money for it are all minor misdemeanors that carry no potential jail time, just a $150 fine. Told you Ohio is dope.

Get that medical program straightened out and adult recreational use cannot be too far behind.

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Kentucky
Medical Use – Limited (CBD-only)
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

With leaders like Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul it should come as no surprise that the weak excuse for a medical cannabis program in Kentucky is really a poorly veiled handout to their moneyed support from the state’s government-fueled hemp industry.

In 2014 the state legislature exempted hemp from the legal definition of cannabis.
In 2017 it essentially legalized CBD products, you guessed it, as long as they are derived from industrial hemp.

In 2015 Kentucky voters elected Governor Matt Bevin who campaigned on his support for MMJ stating, “there is unequivocal medical evidence” regarding the benefits of cannabis.

In 2017 Bevin was quoted saying that marijuana legalization and regulation “is not going to happen while I’m governor.”

Any form of actual cannabis legislation would have to be enacted through the state’s legislative body – not directly by the voters – and a recent attempt to do so was voted “pass over” killing any hope of reform in 2018.

Meanwhile, any possession, cultivation, or sale of cannabis in the state will almost certainly land you in jail with a hefty fine on top of it. Leave your tokes in the trunk when passing through.

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West Virginia
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – No

West Virginia easily passed a fairly robust medical marijuana bill in 2017 but the language in the bill was heavily altered prior to it being signed into law by the governor.

The bill allows for the use of pills, oils, topical forms including gels, creams or ointments, tinctures, liquids, or dermal patches – but the amended language specifically excluded “raw” smokeable cannabis flowers.

In February of this year, the state Senate made further improvements to the bill, including allowing cannabis in its whole plant, flower form, and sent the bill back to the House where they refused to even hold a vote on it.

The main opposition is the House Speaker Tim Armstead, a pink-faced white-haired rich white Republican who, like so many Trump-era Republicans, is not seeking reelection in 2018.

Good riddance.

Dispensaries are expected to open in 2019.

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy recently concluded that if the state would legalize the recreational use of cannabis it would generate $45,000,000 in annual tax revenue while simultaneously saving the state as much as $17,000,000 per year on enforcing stupid ass weed laws.

Also from their report: “Marijuana may potentially have a positive impact on West Virginia’s opioid-based painkiller and heroin epidemic by offering another, less-addictive alternative to individuals who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions.”

Imagine that.

In the meantime, they don’t look too favorably upon the plant. Illegal possession of ANY amount even for a 1st-time offender carries a potential incarceration of 90 days up to 6 months AND a $1000 fine.

Getting busted selling any amount or trafficking any amount into West Virginia are felonies with mandatory minimum sentencing requirements of 1-5 years.

Growing is treated just like possession or sales, but with weight and associated penalties adding up faster.

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Yo! That was one long drive through some pretty hostile territory!

It is inspiring to see the grassroots movements still thriving and the advocates and activists still fighting for the plant in states where the penalties are so harsh.

Hemp-only is not true reform.
CBD-only is not true reform.

The fight wages on and so does our virtual road trip.
Join us next Monday as we cover the dirty South to see what’s crackin’ with their cannabis laws.

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
-Jack Kerouac, On the Road

We routinely reference these websites to stay a step ahead and recommend that you do too:

www.mpp.org
https://norml.org
https://thecannabisindustry.org

*this information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice