Tag: adult use

Oregon Senate Approves Plan to Shield Cannabis Consumer Info From Feds

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A proposal to shield the names, birthdates, driver’s license numbers or any other identifying information of potentially thousands of recreational cannabis customers cleared its first major hurdle at the Oregon Legislature this week amid worries over a federal marijuana crackdown.

Senate Bill 863 — a proposal from the 10-member bipartisan committee that crafts Oregon’s marijuana policies— cleared the Senate on Tuesday and heads to the House for consideration.

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The bill’s bipartisan sponsors want to put a stop to what’s become a common practice within Oregon’s budding cannabis industry, where legal retailers often stockpile the names, birthdates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and other private information of each recreational customer that walks through their doors. Such activity is either prohibited or discouraged in Alaska, Colorado and Washington state.

“The loss of this information could be damaging for many different reasons.”

Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), Senate minority leader

Should the proposal become law, cannabis retailers would have 30 days to destroy their recreational customers’ data— derived from the driver’s licenses, passports or military IDs that are used to verify patrons are at least 21— and would be banned from such record-keeping moving forward. Medical marijuana cardholders’ data would be excluded from the provisions.

Cannabis businesses say the data is used mostly for marketing purposes, such as email lists for promoting products with special deals and birthday discounts, which the bill would still allow in some instances if the customer voluntarily shares their name and email.

Sen. Ted Ferrioli, Republican minority leader and one of the bill’s sponsors, says it’s a major privacy concern for not only Oregon residents, but potentially federal employees, concealed-weapon permit holders and out-of-state visitors.

“I don’t have to tell you of the frequency of hacking incidents or inadvertent releases of data … the loss of this information could be damaging for many different reasons,” Ferrioli said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “We’ve heard a lot of conflicting information about the (White House) administration’s approach to cannabis.”

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The mixed signals from Washington D.C. began late last month with White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who suggested a boost in enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws could be on the horizon, but only for recreational.

But last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cast doubt on the medical market by commenting that “medical marijuana has been hyped, perhaps too much.” Sessions also has said that his agency is reviewing an Obama-era memo giving states flexibility in passing marijuana laws.

Either way, any heightened enforcement of the federal marijuana prohibition would be complicated in Oregon, where most cannabis shops are licensed to serve both recreational and medical customers under one roof.

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The proposal underway in Salem was amended last week to exclude medical cannabis customers, whose buying activities are closely monitored for tax purposes, product quality and consistency of the state’s tracking program, said Jonathan Lockwood, spokesman for the Senate GOP caucus.

“When you’re a medical cardholder, you opt-in to your records being kept because you have a qualifying condition that requires higher limits and potencies and certain products … So, the bill went as far as it reasonably could to protect privacy,” Lockwood said.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis Club Showdown Looms Between Colorado Governor, Lawmakers

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers moved closer Monday to a showdown with the governor over cannabis clubs.

A House committee voted 8-3 to approve a bill giving local governments a roadmap to allowing private marijuana clubs. The clubs could allow indoor smoking, if they have fewer than three employees.

“The goal here is to give folks a space where they can consume” marijuana, said Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat and sponsor of the bill.

The bill also has Republican supporters who say clubs would keep cannabis smoking out of parks and other public areas. It has already passed the GOP Senate.

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But Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters recently that he opposes the cannabis club bill if it allows indoor smoking.

He said it’s a bad idea to invite attention to Colorado as a new president takes office and sends mixed messages about whether state marijuana experiments will be allowed to continue.

Anti-smoking activists say the bill could send the signal that smoking inside is OK, even under limited circumstances.

“Smoking is bad for you — very bad for you,” Hickenlooper said earlier this month.

Sponsors counter that the clubs would still be subject to the Clean Indoor Air Act, which bans indoor smoking unless the establishment has no more than three employees. The bill bars the clubs from serving food beyond pre-packages snacks or coffee; state liquor code bars any club from selling alcohol.

Pabon and other supporters repeatedly mentioned indoor smoking during testimony Monday. Colorado already has a patchwork of private cannabis clubs, but the law is unclear about whether cannabis clubs are OK and many existing clubs are word-of-mouth “smokeasies.”

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“We have at best a piecemeal approach to public consumption,” Pabon argued.

But anti-smoking activists oppose the bill, saying it could send the signal that smoking inside is OK, even under limited circumstances.

Bob Doyle of the American Lung Association warned that Colorado is “opening a Pandora’s Box” if it opens the door to statewide cannabis clubs.

No other marijuana state has regulated cannabis clubs, though underground cannabis-sharing clubs exist even in states where the plant remains illegal. Voters in California and Maine last year approved legalization measures that allow for social consumption but regulations in those states are still being worked out.

Colorado’s cannabis club bill awaits a vote by the full House, though sponsors hint that amendments are likely, meaning the bill would have to return to the Senate before hitting the governor’s desk.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Advocates to MA Lawmakers: Don’t Amend Cannabis Law Just Yet

BOSTON (AP) — Backers of legalized recreational marijuana urged Massachusetts legislators Monday to hold off, at least for now, on making any significant changes to a law voters approved in November.

The appeal came during the first public hearing held by a special legislative committee formed to review the law, which passed by a 240,000 vote margin and made Massachusetts one of eight states that allow adults to use recreational cannabis.

“They’re trying to change everything. It’s not right.”

Paul Connors, Holbrook resident

House and Senate leaders have promised to respect the will of the electorate. Yet lawmakers also have angered many legalization advocates by making clear their willingness to consider a higher tax rate on legal marijuana sales and address other issues, including the ability of local officials to keep retail shops out of their communities; limits on the potency of cannabis-infused edibles; and further restrictions on homegrown cannabis, now capped at a dozen cannabis plants per household.

The group that led the ballot initiative, Yes on 4, said the Legislature should take a hands-off approach until a state regulatory board is in place and has a chance to formulate recommendations for lawmakers.

That board, known as the Cannabis Control Commission, has yet to be appointed.

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“In no way are we trying to curtail any of your legislative duties,” insisted Jim Borghesani, spokesman for Yes on 4, when asked pointedly by the committee’s House chairman, Democratic Rep. Mark Cusack, why the panel should defer to regulators.

The Legislature already has moved to delay the opening of retail marijuana stores until mid-2018 at the soonest. Among dozens of other cannabis-related bills filed are proposals ranging from minor tweaks to the law to its outright repeal — the latter an extremely unlikely scenario.

The law imposes a 3.75 percent excise tax on top of Massachusetts’ normal 6.25 sales tax and an optional 2 percent local tax, adding up to a 12 percent maximum tax.

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, whose office is overseeing implementation of the law, called the relatively low excise tax “an area of immediate concern.”

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“It stands in stark contrast to the excise rates applied in other states, such as Washington at 37 percent tax rate, Colorado at 29 percent and Oregon and Alaska at 25 percent,” Goldberg said.

The treasurer and other state officials have questioned whether the current tax would generate enough revenue to cover the costs of regulating recreational marijuana.

Backers of the law counter that keeping the tax rate relative low — at least initially — would encourage consumers to visit legal cannabis establishments and help put illegal dealers out of business.

State revenue officials estimated the current tax would generate $64 million in the first year and $132 million in the second year, adding that it’s difficult to accurately project marijuana sales.

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In a letter to the committee on Monday, the Massachusetts Municipal Association complained that local elected officials are being shut out of the cannabis licensing process. Under the law, cannabis shops can only be barred from a community through a voter referendum. The association urged a change that would allow local governing bodies, such as city councils or boards of selectmen, to decide those questions without a referendum.

Among those attending the standing-room only hearing were Paul and Dorothy Connors, a Holbrook couple who said they support recreational marijuana law and believe lawmakers should respect voters by leaving the law alone.

“Now they’re trying to change everything,” said Paul Connors. “It’s not right.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

California’s Great Cannabis Unbanning

By every estimate, California produces and consumes significantly more marijuana than any other state in America. But in much of the state, the multibillion-dollar industry still behaves as an underground enterprise, operating as if it were still illegal—because, for now at least, it still is.

While the right of medical cannabis patients and adults 21 and over to possess and grow cannabis is now enshrined in state law, cities and counties wield retain significant close power control to regulate over how marijuana businesses are regulated locally. It’s authority they haven’t been shy to use: So far, 17 counties—about a third of the state—have banned or severely restricted either commercial cannabis cultivation, retail sales, or both, according to data recently compiled by the California Cannabis Industry Association.

Bans are also in effect in 204 cities, or 42 percent of California’s incorporated communities. In a very few extreme cases, some cities have gone as far as to outlaw or otherwise curtail all marijuana growing, including the six plants all adults are supposed to be allowed to grow at home for personal use under Proposition 64, the state’s successful legalization initiative.

But with commercial adult-use sales set to begin as early as Jan. 1, this trend toward outlawing cannabis is now reversing itself—quickly.

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Bans are steadily giving way to regulations. In areas where marijuana businesses are already permitted and licensed, local governments are beginning to relax strict rules, trim permit fees, and lower taxes in an effort to be more competitive than their neighbors.

“In the last six weeks, we’ve seen movement in areas we wouldn’t have expected.”

Hezekiah Allen, executive director, California Growers Association

As for home cultivation, cities are reconsidering all-out bans. The threat of a lawsuit compelled one Northern California town to relent on a proposed ban and allow residents to grow for personal use—just as Prop 64 has always said they could. (Other cities are mulling “inspection” and “permit fees” for home grows, though have yet to collect a dime.)

A look at local cannabis policies reveals the state’s “well-known cultural divide” between progressive coastal cities, conservative inland valleys, and libertarian-leaning foothills, said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, a state-level cultivators’ lobby.

Coastal regions tend to be most permissive, with the flatlands and foothills most restrictive. “But in the last six weeks,” Allen told Leafly News, “we’ve seen movement in areas we wouldn’t have expected.”

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Rural, agricultural counties—where (unfounded) fears of organized crime and (more reasonable) worries of environmental degradation once fueled blanket bans—are now moving quickly to assist commercial cannabis businesses, outpacing even some traditionally marijuana-producing counties. In other conservative areas, of the type that used to default to bans, lawmakers are holding off on such severe restrictions and exploring ways to make marijuana work.

In perhaps the biggest victory for regulated marijuana to date, voters in Los Angeles, where, four years ago, medical marijuana dispensaries were essentially outlawed by popular vote, the electorate this month voted nearly 3-to-1 to license and regulate marijuana businesses of all kinds.

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Why the mass shift? For one thing, most small communities in California don’t write their own laws. That job is passed on to private law firms contracted by cities and counties to act as outside government counsel. Until recently, when the question of marijuana arose, the law firms would reply by sending back a “boilerplate ban” for part-time city councilmembers and rural county supervisors to vote into law. Early last year, the League of California Cities, a local government association, encouraged its members to ban cultivation outright. Many small communities, unsure of what to do, took what seemed like sage advice and banned.

The league has since updated its views, acknowledging a range of workable approaches.

“It’s not bans anymore,” said Nate Bradley, policy director for the California Cannabis Industry Association.  “Now they’re saying, ‘How can we make this work? Write us an ordinance that works.’”

The best explanation for this phenomenon is the simplest and most predictable: money.

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California may have an economy larger than France, India, and Brazil (and nearly twice that of Russia), but most of the wealth is concentrated in a few select areas, like Silicon Valley and Hollywood. The state, by some estimates, also boasts the nation’s highest poverty rate. In those flatlands and foothills, jobs can be hard to come by.

“We always knew that revenue and job creation would be the carrot on the stick that brought hesitant municipalities to the table.”

Mickey Martin, legalization advocate

After watching cities and counties in Washington and Colorado balance their budgets, repave their streets, and construct enviable civic works projects with marijuana tax revenue, knee-jerk bans are giving way to new efforts to welcome weed. Dreams of cannabis riches are compelling cities to turn abandoned prisons and tire plants into marijuana factories. In one case, a since-abandoned plan to convert a shuttered factory into a cannabis operation would have created a rural California county’s biggest employer.

“We always knew that revenue and job creation would be the carrot on the stick that brought hesitant municipalities to the table,” said marijuana business consultant and longtime legalization activist Mickey Martin, who’s seen clients win licenses in heretofore hostile areas. “While the entire process can often make hardworking and righteous cannabis businesses feel like a cheap whore, at the end of the day, if it results in cannabis becoming more widely accepted, and less people going to jail for producing and selling weed, I will consider it a win.”

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The trend began in earnest last year, when desolate desert towns such as Desert Hot Springs turned to marijuana as a source of income.

“I can only imagine what we can do with the tax revenue,” Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re in need of parks, our roads are dilapidated. All around — our sidewalks, curbs, gutters.”

Even with sky-high taxes and fees—$25 a square foot for grow houses, for example—cannabis companies jumped on board.

Desert Hot Springs was able to propose such high tax rates because few other cities were so welcoming. Now, unless it adjusts, it may find itself moribund again, as marijuana companies flee to friendlier climes.

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Just like with any other business, “cities will have to compete,” said Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, an industry advocacy group.

How far things have come and—how much is still at stake—is evident in Calaveras County, a rural, sparsely populated stretch of foothills and giant Sequoias in Gold Country best known (if at all) for being the setting of a famous Mark Twain short story.

The foothills are Donald Trump territory; Calaveras, where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, is one link in a north-south chain of seven counties where conservative views rule. Voters here rejected Proposition 64, which legalized adult-use cannabis, while also rejecting a gun control measure and a proposed ban on the death penalty.

At the same time, Calaveras voters approved slapping a tax on marijuana cultivation. That tax could raise $10 million a year, a princely sum in a county where the median income is one-third below the state average. Given the chance to ban commercial marijuana cultivation marijuana in January, county supervisors balked at the very last second. The question will now be decided by voters in a special election in May.

“All we are asking for is good government,” said former Calaveras County Supervisor Thomas Tryon.

Tryon is a Libertarian who believes former President Barack Obama is a Marxist. Tryon also has designs on becoming a commercial cannabis farmer.

“Frankly,” he said, “a ban is not good governance at all.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Group Urges MA Lawmakers to Hold off on Cannabis Law Changes

BOSTON (AP) — The group behind a ballot initiative that legalized recreational cannabis in Massachusetts is now urging state legislators to keep the new law intact.

The appeal from Yes on 4 came one week before the Legislature’s marijuana policy committee was scheduled to open public hearings on possible revisions to the law, which allows adults to possess an ounce or less of marijuana and grow up to a dozen cannabis plants in their homes.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the group, accused policymakers of creating a “false narrative” around the notion that the voter-approved measure, as currently written, is flawed.

“The new law requires no legislative fixes,” he said.

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Before considering changes, Borghesani said, lawmakers should defer to the yet-to-be-appointed Cannabis Control Commission, a three-member panel that will serve as the regulatory body for recreational marijuana in the state. If necessary, the commission could later make recommendations to the Legislature for any changes, he added.

The Legislature has already voted to delay for six months several key deadlines contained in the law, including the original March 1 deadline for appointing the commission. The delay is likely to push the opening of the first retail shops in Massachusetts back to mid-2018 at the earliest.

Borghesani said Massachusetts is the only one of the eight states where recreational marijuana was approved by voters to delay the timetable for implementation or consider a significant overhaul.

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Legislative leaders on Monday appeared unmoved by the group’s plea to leave the law alone.

“It’s not our intention to undermine the will of the voters, it’s our intention to get it right,” said Democratic Senate President Stan Rosenberg. His comments were echoed by Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who shared advice offered by officials in states that previously legalized recreational marijuana.

“Almost to a person they said you should make sure you have enough time to set this thing up in such a way that you’re not constantly chasing it,” Baker said.

The legislative committee, chaired by Rep. Mark Cusack, of Braintree, and Sen. Patricia Jehlen, of Somerville, could explore a number of changes including an increase in taxes. The law currently calls for a 3.75 percent excise on marijuana sales, applied on top of the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax and a 2 percent local-option tax.

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Critics have questioned whether the tax would generate enough revenue to cover the cost of regulating the drug.

Since the Massachusetts vote, lawmakers in neighboring states including Rhode Island and Connecticut have been considering the possibility of legalization more seriously. A public hearing was held at the Connecticut Statehouse last week on several bills that would allow for the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Colorado House Approves 16-Plant Homegrow Limit, End to Co-Ops

DENVER (AP) — The nation’s most generous grow-your-own laws are closer to being curbed in Colorado, where the state House advanced a pair of bills Monday aimed at cracking down on people who grow cannabis outside the commercial, taxed system.

One bill would set a statewide limit of 16 marijuana plants per house, down from a current limit of 99 plants before registering.

The bill passed 65-10 after sponsors argued that Colorado’s generous home-grown cannabis laws make it impossible to tell whether someone is growing plants legally, or whether the plants are destined for the black market.

The other bill makes is a crime to grow recreational cannabis for someone else, an end to Colorado’s marijuana co-ops.

That bill cleared the House on an unrecorded voice vote, with one more vote required.

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Colorado regulators have tried for years to stop people from growing large amounts of cannabis without state taxation or oversight. But because Colorado’s constitution gives people the right to grow as much as their doctors recommend, the state has had a hard time making that happen.

“We need to close this loophole,” said Rep. KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat and sponsor of the bill.

This year’s effort would say that marijuana patients can’t have more than 16 plants in a residential property. The change would force those patients to either move to an industrial or agricultural area, or shop at a dispensary.

Of the 28 states with legal medical marijuana, none but Colorado currently allows more than 16 plants per home.

Many Colorado jurisdictions including Denver already have per-home plant limits, usually at 12. But the lack of a statewide limit makes it difficult for police to distinguish between legitimate patients and fronts for black-market marijuana, bill supporters argued Friday.

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“The time has come for us … to give law enforcement the guidance they need,” said Rep. Cole Wist, a Centennial Republican and another bill sponsor.

Marijuana patients have been flooding lawmakers with complaints about the bill, which was introduced just last week. The first hearing on the measure lasted until near midnight.

Lawmakers softened the bill by raising its original limit from 12 plants to 16 plants, and by saying that patients caught with too much cannabis in the house would face a petty offense, and felony charges only later.

But those changes weren’t enough for some Democrats, who argued in vain that it shouldn’t be a felony until the third offense to have too much cannabis in the home. They argued that the limits won’t hurt criminal drug operations, which could simply grow their plants in areas that aren’t zoned residential.

“A lot of patients are on fixed incomes. They’re ill,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City. “Cartels have the money to go rent warehouses.”

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The resistance effort even brought one lawmaker to tears. Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, held a stack of patient letters and said the change would hurt people who can’t afford to shop in dispensaries.

“We’re throwing patients in jail!” Lebsock cried.

But Republicans sided with other Democrats to prevail on an unrecorded voice vote. The bill faces one more formal vote next week before heading to the Senate, where its prospects are strong.

A companion bill — to give law enforcement more money to sniff out illegal growers — is awaiting a House vote Monday.

Gov. John Hickenlooper backs the plant crackdown and has called on lawmakers to send him a statewide limit.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Legalization Catches Eye of Connecticut Legislature

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s continuing fiscal woes, coupled with a new law that fully takes effect next year in neighboring Massachusetts, have prompted state lawmakers to take their most serious look yet at possibly legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

Despite the growing enthusiasm, it’s questionable whether any of the bills will survive this session.

Several bills with bipartisan support that sanction the retail sale and cultivation of cannabis are currently progressing through the General Assembly. The first bill drew dozens of supporters last week at a Public Health Committee hearing, many lauding the legislation as a way to regulate an illegal industry and potentially deliver millions of dollars for the state’s coffers.

“Why should we continue to give business opportunities to violent criminals who don’t pay taxes and follow no regulations,” asked Democratic Rep. Robyn Porter at the hearing.

Yet, despite the apparent growing enthusiasm and the fact Connecticut already legalized the medical use of marijuana, it’s questionable whether any of the recreational-use bills will ultimately survive this session. Some politicians, including Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, contend Connecticut should first wait and see what happens to its neighbors to the north.

In Massachusetts, it’s now legal to possess, use and grow small amounts of cannabis. However, the drug can’t be purchased legally yet because retail shops aren’t expected to open until mid-2018.

“We have Massachusetts. Let them go through the growing pains,” said Rep. Joe de la Cruz, a Democrat. “We walk into this thing. We take our time. Why do we need to make it legal this year?”

Malloy agrees. The Democratic governor has said he doesn’t think the state should play a role in “promoting” cannabis use, even though he pushed for Connecticut’s law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

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“I think we should hit the pause button and watch how it works in the region,” Malloy said in December, adding how “all the news is not good” in states that have fully legalized recreational usage. Seven states and the District of Columbia have adopted recreational cannabis laws.

Meg Green, a spokeswoman for the governor, said last week that Malloy’s “personal position has not changed,” but “he is following the debate as this proposal works through the legislative process.”

Connecticut’s debate over recreational marijuana comes as lawmakers grapple with a budget deficit estimated to be as much as $1.7 billion next fiscal year, which begins July 1. A report released Feb. 1 from the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis determined the state could generate millions of dollars in new revenue, but not enough to cover that red ink.

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If the state adopts the Massachusetts framework, tax revenue from retail cannabis sales is estimated to generate $8.9 million in the first year, assuming it was implemented Jan. 1, 2018. The Massachusetts model is projected to generate $30.1 million in state taxes and fees in the first full year of implementation. Meanwhile, if Connecticut adopts the Colorado taxing model, the Office estimates the state could generate about $13.6 million in the first year and $63.9 million in state taxes and fees in the first full year.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis also estimates it could cost Connecticut 14 percent of the total tax revenues to regulate recreational marijuana.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, who doesn’t foresee the legislation passing this year, takes issue with the financial argument being made by some proponents.

“What I see is people saying that, ‘Economically, this is what we have to do.’ That argument proves too much,” he said. “If everything is rooted on economics and we should allow it to happen because we can get money, then we should allow bookies to book, right?”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Trump FDA, US Attorney Moves Could Shift Cannabis Landscape

President Donald Trump sent rumbles across the federal cannabis landscape with a pair of moves made late Friday, picking pharmaceutical industry insider Scott Gottlieb to lead the Food and Drug Administration and ordering the 46 remaining Obama-era US attorneys to leave their posts immediately.

Both acts have the potential to shape the national cannabis industry, both for medical patients and adult-use consumers. The appointment of Gottlieb, an FDA official under President George W. Bush, could ensure that any moves on medical cannabis continue along a traditional, pharmaceutical-minded trajectory—which to most patients has felt like stagnation. The replacement of 46 US attorneys, on the other hand, could reshuffle federal law enforcement priorities in states across the country.

Let’s start with Gottlieb. He’s one guy, so it’s easier.

In terms of cannabis, he sounds a lot like the status quo.

According to the New York Times, Gottlieb’s nomination to lead the FDA cheered the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, members of whom had expressed concern that Trump’s other rumored picks held radical views. Perhaps no surprise: Gottlieb is an industry insider himself, having served as a consultant or board member for several companies, including GlaxoSmithKline. Between 2013 and 2015 he raked in $400,000 in payments from pharmaceutical companies alone. He’s a partner at a venture capital fund that focuses on health care investments, and he holds a fellowship at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

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In terms of cannabis, he sounds a lot like the status quo—especially when you consider that a little more than a year ago, President Barack Obama nominated for the job Robert Califf, who inspired headlines like “Anti-Cannabis, Big Pharma Companies Tied to FDA Nominee.”

There’s not much out there on what Gottlieb himself thinks of cannabis. Over the years he’s tweeted links to links studies or news items, but none appears to include any personal reaction. The tweets paint a picture of someone who has been aware—albeit skeptical—of the rise of cannabis as medicine.

Gottlieb’s control over cannabis would primarily be confined to a regulatory role. To the degree that cannabis-derived products exist as federally approved medicines, dealing with it is the FDA’s job. The group also sometimes provides medical briefings to other agencies that deal with cannabis, like the DEA.

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So far the agency hasn’t approved cannabis as a medicine—“untested drugs,” it explains, “can have unknown consequences”—although it has approved two similar drugs that have been synthesized in labs. It’s likely we’ll see more of the FDA’s slow, molecule-by-molecule approach under Gottlieb, even though Trump has promised to slash many agency regulations, which he’s criticized as overly burdensome.

US Attorneys Set Prosecution Priorities

Trump’s intended replacement of 46 US attorneys poses a bigger existential threat to cannabis in legal states. While individual US attorneys set law enforcement priorities within their respective districts, they take direction from top Department of Justice brass. When US Attorney Jeff Sessions—or Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer—talks about the administration stepping up enforcement against state-legal cannabis markets, the prosecutors who would file those cases take orders from US attorneys in 93 jurisdictions around the country.

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While replacing US attorneys, even on such a massive scale, is a fairly common move for an incoming president—Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush dismissed nearly all US attorneys upon taking office—it nevertheless represents a significant shift in the cast of characters setting prosecutorial goals across the US. For cannabis, that can be cause for concern. State-legal systems are quickly becoming multibillion-dollar industries. And one thing that can put any industry on edge is uncertainty.

Leafly will continue to track these issues as they develop.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Yes, Jeff Sessions Could Use RICO. No, It Wouldn’t End Legal Cannabis

Jeff Sessions is at it again.

President Trump’s US attorney general, continuing a pattern of threatening remarks toward state-legal cannabis markets, said Thusday on Hugh Hewitt’s conservative talk radio program that “we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide,” acknowledging the Justice Department could even bring federal charges under a law intended to combat organized crime.

“If you want to send that message, you can send it. Do you think you’re going to send it?”

Hugh Hewitt, talk radio host

Sessions’ statements came in response to prodding by Hewitt. “One RICO prosecution against one marijuana retailer in one state that has so-called legalization ends this façade and this flaunting of the Supremacy Clause,” Hewitt said, referring to charges brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, which Congress enacted in 1970 to target the Mafia and other criminal organizations.

“Will you be bringing such a case?” Hewitt asked the attorney general.

“We will,” Sessions responded, then continued:

Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide. It’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it. And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize. I don’t think we’re going to be a better community if marijuana is sold in every corner grocery store.

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Hewitt pushed back:

No, but it would literally take one racketeering influence corrupt organization prosecution to take all the money from one retailer, and the message would be sent. I mean, if you want to send that message, you can send it. Do you think you’re going to send it?

Let’s pause here and unpack that.

What Hewitt’s arguing here—literally—is that a high-profile case against a single cannabis business would serve to deter other state-legal actors and put an end to adult-use cannabis. It’s an intuitive argument: Take down one major actor, put its head on a pike, and instill such fear into other potential targets that they voluntarily shut down.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it tends to work in real life.

To his credit, Sessions told Hewitt that “it’s a little more complicated than one RICO case.”

For one thing, the RICO approach has been tried already. In 2015, a Washington, DC-based anti-drug group, the Safe Streets Alliance, filed a flurry of RICO lawsuits against Colorado cannabis businesses. At least one shop shuttered almost immediately. In the aftermath, a Denver Post op-ed called RICO suits “a particularly dangerous development for Colorado’s still-nascent marijuana industry.

That’s accurate—RICO actions do pose a real threat to cannabis businesses. But if literally a single case could take down the industry, as Hewitt argued to Sessions this morning, that would’ve happened already.

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To his credit, Sessions told Hewitt that “it’s a little more complicated than one RICO case.”

We’ll be evaluating how we want to handle that. I think it’s a little more complicated than one RICO case, I’ve got to tell you. This, places like Colorado, it’s just sprung up a lot of different independent entities that are moving marijuana. And it’s also being moved interstate, not just in the home state.

Conceivably the DOJ or others could file RICO cases against many, many businesses. While that would pose a more existential threat to the industry as a whole, it would also be incredibly expensive and would mean pulling federal prosecutors away from other issues, like immigration. And, say, actual violent crime. This what has led some industry representatives to express skepticism that Justice Department has the resources to go after state-legal cannabis

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Of course, there are other ways to, as Hewitt put it, “take all the money from one retailer.” Civil asset forfeiture was touted by prohibitionists as the next hot cannabis-control tactic when it was popularized several years ago. It was a popular tactic in 2011, when federal authorities cracked down on California medical cannabis dispensaries. I covered those federal actions six years ago as a reporter in California, and I was impressed by federal prosecutors’ tactics. Hundreds of dispensaries were shut down for essentially the price of a postage stamp.

Here’s how it worked: Prosecutors mailed letters to cannabis dispensaries threatening to seize their assets if they didn’t voluntarily shut down. Expecting many to ignore the warning, the feds went one further, sending similar letters to hundreds of landlords who rented property to the cannabis businesses. The message: Kick out those businesses or we’ll come after your property, too.

In the short term, it was a marked success. Hundreds and hundreds of dispensaries, growers, and other businesses closed voluntarily. Those who fought back in court almost always lost, because prosecutors in federal court could effectively silence the defense that the targeted businesses’ actions were legal under state law.

These “crackdowns” destroy individual lives and businesses while the industry stubbornly carries on.

US attorneys in San Diego and Sacramento counties were especially vehement about shutting down dispensaries. In those areas, medical cannabis outlets were almost entirely eradicated. For a while, at least.

Just a few years later, though, they were back. California’s medical cannabis industry has continued to grow, and the state is on pace to open adult-use shops sometime next year. While some victims of the 2011 California crackdown are still in jail, many longtime operators never stopped doing business. One common strategy was for a dispensary to close down its storefront, then simply reopen as a delivery service. That’s partly why there are so many delivery services flourishing in California today.

The point isn’t that RICO actions or asset forfeiture pose no threat to state-legal cannabis businesses. They most certainly do. But past crackdowns have taught us that it’s wildly naïve to think that “it would literally take one” case to take down the industry. That fantasy tends to take flight in the heads of people who have zero information on the actual history of medical cannabis. Through hard experience, this is what we know happens: These “crackdowns” destroy individual lives and businesses while the industry stubbornly carries on.

In other words, it’s a lot like the rest of the failed war on drugs.

The bottom line? These new statements by Sessions are further indications that the Trump administration is serious about cracking down on adult-use cannabis in legal states. But it will probably take a lot more than some silver-bullet legal maneuver to do it effectively.

The other bottom line? A federal crackdown is only possible because Congress has failed to acknowledge the overwhelming, bipartisan support for federal authorities to respect state cannabis laws. Call your elected officials.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Los Angeles Sheriff Thinks Feds May Target Legal Cannabis

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The leader of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department expects federal drug agents will attempt to step up marijuana enforcement as California moves forward with legalization. But he believes there isn’t the manpower to conduct widespread raids on growers and businesses selling cannabis.

McDonnell said it’s likely there will be federal raids targeting the cannabis industry in California.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell also decried California legislation that would make the state a sanctuary for immigrants in the country illegally by limiting how much local law enforcement agencies can work with federal immigration authorities. McDonnell said doesn’t want his deputies acting as de facto immigration agents, but he believes the bill goes too far and would hamper cooperation on counterterrorism and gang initiatives.

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McDonnell said he expects legalization of recreational cannabis to bring additional challenges for his deputies, who patrol nearly 4,000 square miles in Southern California, from an increase in fatal traffic collisions to a rise in overdoses caused by brownies, gummies and other edibles that deliver uneven dosages of THC, the chemical compound that provides the high.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that federal officials would try to adopt “reasonable policies” for enforcement of federal anti-cannabis laws. Sessions has said he is “definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana” and believes violence surrounds sales and use of the drug in the U.S. The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

McDonnell said it’s likely there will be federal raids targeting the cannabis industry in California.

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“To be able to set the tone, they may do that,” he said. “They have the right. It is against federal law.”

Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies have been preparing for the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, by studying crime rates in Colorado and Washington after cannabis was legalized there.

McDonnell said officials need to prepare for a potential “health crisis.”

“We’ve seen an increase of the number of kids, in particular, admitted to emergency rooms for ingestion of edibles that in a young kid could be fatal,” McDonnell said. “Somebody cuts a corner of a brownie, do they get the full ingestion of THC that was supposed to go into that whole plate of brownies or do they get nothing? There’s no control. There’s no quality control.”

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McDonnell said anticipates that legalization will also drive up crime and says there will be a heavy cost to just train more officers to be able to identify drugged drivers.

“We don’t have anything where it’s similar to getting a blood-alcohol content level, as we would do in the field now,” he said. “Without a definitive metric to be able to go to court with that — an index if you will — it’s going to be difficult to go to court and get the prosecutions the way we know get for alcohol.”

McDonnell, who has led the sheriff’s department since 2014, also criticized proposed sanctuary state legislation, known as Senate Bill 54, that he said will have unintended consequences. Still, he said, the department must maintain a strict policy over what information it shares with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

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“Our currency is public trust, and if we’re out there doing the job of immigration then we lose that,” McDonnell said. “It prohibits communications between local and federal law enforcement on a number of fronts, particularly focused on immigration issues.”

If immigration agents can’t access the county jail to arrest immigrants living in the country illegally who have committed serious crimes, they will instead be forced to make arrests at their homes or in public places, McDonnell said.

“They will not only take him, but potentially his family and anyone around who is potentially undocumented,” he said. “So we’re going to be pushing them into a position we’re all trying to avoid and again, eroding the trust of many of our communities.”

McDonnell also condemned a series of criminal justice reform measures aimed at ease overcrowding in state prisons that he attributed to a rise in violent crime in the county.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.