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U.S. States Race to Put New Medical Marijuana Laws on the Books

Update Date: Mar 07, 2013 02:57 PM EST

In the wake of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, many states that had not considered legalizing medical marijuana are. In fact, Florida, Illinois and New Hampshire are allowing for similar allowances. Other states with medical marijuana programs are seeking to improve or expand their programs.

Medical marijuana has become increasingly popular. Though the federal government officially says that the medical benefits of marijuana are still relatively unproven, three dozen states either have laws allowing it or are considering it. More people believe that marijuana legalization should be legal in general. According to the Central Florida News, 51 percent of Americans believe favorably in legalization.

It seems that lawmakers are taking notice. In Illinois, the Huffington Post reports that the House of Illinois will be considering a bill to approve medical marijuana. Though this would not be the first time that such a bill was considered in the state of Illinois, legislators believe that they have tightened regulations to make the bill more appealing on both sides of the aisle. Medical marijuana would be accessible to people with a qualifying condition, like cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis, and who have a special identification card. The approved users would be able to purchase cannabis at any of the 66 state-approved dispensaries.

In the Northeast, New Hampshire lawmakers will be considering the legalization of medical marijuana. The Associated Press reports that the legislature has previously passed three similar bills, all of which have been vetoed by the state's governor. This bill, if signed into law, would forbid out-of-state consumers from purchasing cannabis in the state's dispensaries, which was allowed in previous versions.

In Florida, legislators filed a bill this week would allow medical marijuana in the state. Named the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, the bill is named after the President of the Florida Cannabis Action Network. Ms. Jordan suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and, earlier this week, police seized medical marijuana from her home.

However, in states that have legalized medical marijuana within their borders, public health concerns have arisen. According to the Rim Country Gazette, lawmakers in Arizona say that these products, like candy bars and lollipops, can be easily confused for regular candy. Legislators are considering bills that would label such items clearly, as well as other solutions.

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