Tag: laws

California Bill Would Ban Cannabis-Branded Hats, T-Shirts, Other Merchandise

Go to a California cannabis event and you’re likely to walk away with a free hat—or a bumper sticker, or a t-shirt, or tote bag emblazoned with a cannabis company’s logo. But under a bill being considered in the state Legislature, all that branded merchandise would go up in smoke.

Senate Bill 162, by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), would prohibit state-licensed cannabis businesses from advertising “through the use of branded merchandise, including, but not limited to, clothing, hats, or other merchandise with the name or logo of the product.” It’s a measure aimed at reducing children’s exposure to cannabis ads, but some in the industry say it amounts to legislative overreach and could end up doing more harm than good.

Last month the Senate passed the measure unanimously, 40–0, and it’s now parked in an Assembly committee.

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Advertising has been a thorny issue as the Golden State works to bring its multibillion-dollar cannabis industry out of the shadows and into a legal, regulated marketplace. Concerns over advertisements that might appeal to minors have already led to restrictions on the use of certain music, language, shapes, cartoon characters, and other content known to capture kids’ attention. In addition to staying away from schools, daycares, and youth centers, advertisements can be served only to audiences that are at least 71.6% composed of adults 21 and over.

“SB 162’s restriction on ‘advertising’ generally would give enforcement authorities the ability to shut down all cannabis merchandising.”

Rebecca Stamey-White, attorney

Branded merchandise is also currently restricted, with distribution allowed only at “an industry trade show or other similar venue where the attendees are required to be 21 years of age or older.” SB 162 would remove that allowance, barring branded merchandise completely.

As written, the law would apply only to commercial speech by state-licensed cannabis companies. Nonprofits and noncommercial speech would be exempt.

The proposal, as LA Weekly’s Dennis Romero reports, has some cannabis businesses up in arms:

The Southern California Coalition, the largest trade group of marijuana businesses in Los Angeles, is … opposed to the proposal. “To ban small businesses from advertising, marketing and branding is ridiculous,” the organization’s executive director, Adam Spiker, said via email.

“The bill would materially hamstring small business owners’ ability to grow in the land of opportunity,” Spiker said. “We are firmly against it, and will work to ensure lawmakers are aware of the harmful ramifications it would have.”

A letter sent to Sen. Allen by the California arm of the American Academy of Pediatrics says the bill “would ensure that children and youth are exposed to a minimal amount of marijuana advertising,” according to the LA Weekly report. “This would help protect children from the dangerous health effects of marijuana use in a manner consistent with tobacco regulations.”

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The limits of the bill’s restrictions on merchandise aren’t immediately clear. In other legal states, employees of cannabis businesses regularly wear branded apparel and other merchandise. But because the law is phrased so broadly—”advertise through the use of”—it’s conceivable that even branded bags or employee t-shirts could run afoul of the proposed law.

“SB 162 is broad enough in its language that it could cover branded merchandise worn by employees or even merchandise produced by an unlicensed third party if it was done so for the licensee,” Rebecca Stamey-White, a San Francisco-based lawyer who works with the cannabis and alcohol industries.

Other states, such as Washington, have similar restrictions on branded merchandise, although the details are more clearly defined. According to a Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board FAQ page, licensees may create branded merchandise such as apparel for internal or employee use. Those items can’t be sold or given away directly to consumers, but they can be sold by the licensee’s parent company or a separate-but-related business. Strangely enough, branded paraphernalia—such as pipes, bongs, and storage containers—is not considered “branded merchandise” in Washington and may be sold by licensees.

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“The [California] bill does not have the appropriate limitations that Washington has on their restrictions, which only prevent licensees from selling or giving away branded products from their licensed premises or on their website, but makes no attempt to regulate non-licensees producing or selling these products,” Stamey-White said. “SB 162’s restriction on ‘advertising’ generally would give enforcement authorities the ability to shut down all cannabis merchandising, including all kinds of branded products that do not contain cannabis, so this is a bill the industry should be actively opposing or working toward more precise language here.

In Colorado, cannabis laws don’t discuss branded products specifically. Instead, restrictions on advertising focus on “mass market campaigns that have a high likelihood of reaching” minors, including internet and in-app advertising.

Restrictions on alcohol, which is directly or indirectly responsible for thousands of youth deaths every year, are allowed considerably more leeway. “Restrictions on consumer alcohol merchandising are limited to what products may be given away to consumers, but there are not blanket prohibitions on the sale of branded products or restrictions on where these products can be sold as advertising,” Stamey-White said.

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“This bill is an attempt to restrict commercial free speech without a substantial state interest in doing so,” she added. “I believe in restrictions on overly aggressive marketing (which is the constraint on giveaways) and marketing that is appealing to minors, but I think this goes too far.”

The full text of SB 162 is available on the California Legislature’s website.


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.

Utah Group Files 2018 Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Activists who say they are tired of waiting for Utah’s conservative Legislature to pass a broad medical marijuana law launched an effort Monday to ask voters next year to pass the law, a move that would bypass state lawmakers.

People with chronic, painful conditions who want to use cannabis legally in the state plus other members of a group called the Utah Patients Coalition said lawmakers’ rejection of broad medical marijuana laws for three years in a row prompted their ballot initiative drive.

“The time has come to help alleviate the pain and suffering of the most vulnerable in our society, with the help of a medicine that works for them,” said Utah Patients Coalition director DJ Schanz.

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Utah passed an extremely limited medical marijuana law several years ago that allows those with severe epilepsy to use a cannabis extract called cannabidiol if they obtain it from other states. Lawmakers and Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have said they worry a broader medical marijuana law could lead to prescriptions filled for people who feign illness so they can get the drug and use it recreationally.

“We took him to every doctor. We were given every pharmaceutical and nothing helped.”

Desiree Hennessy, parent

The Utah Patients Coalition wants Utah to join 29 other states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico in allowing broader medical use of marijuana with dispensaries, different plant strains and methods of consuming it.

Schanz spoke with reporters at the state Capitol as about 40 people held signs that read “Cancer” and “Epilepsy.” Among the group were parents with children in wheelchairs and therapy dogs. Another attendee was former state Sen. Mark Madsen, a Republican who unsuccessfully tried to get a medical cannabis bill passed before he retired from the Legislature last year.

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Madsen, who has spoken in the past of his back pain, opiate overdose and use of marijuana, stood nearby holding a sign that read “chronic pain.”

Desiree Hennessy, a backer of the initiative from the small northern Utah town of Avon, wants to try to use cannabis to alleviate the suffering of her 23-year-old son Hestevan Hennessy, who has cerebral palsy, nerve pain and other conditions that leave him screaming in agonizing pain.

Desiree Hennessy cries during the Utah Patients Coalition news conference at the Utah State Capitol Monday, June 26, 2017, in Salt Lake City. A group of activists and Utah residents with chronic conditions has launched a ballot initiative to ask voters next year to pass a broad medical marijuana law. Her adopted son Hestevan has cerebral palsy and suffers from chronic nerve pain, seizure disorder, and life-threatening complications from his medication. (Rick Bowmer/AP)Desiree Hennessy cries during the Utah Patients Coalition news conference at the Utah State Capitol Monday, June 26, 2017, in Salt Lake City. A group of activists and Utah residents with chronic conditions has launched a ballot initiative to ask voters next year to pass a broad medical marijuana law. Her adopted son Hestevan has cerebral palsy and suffers from chronic nerve pain, seizure disorder, and life-threatening complications from his medication. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

“We took him to every doctor. We were given every pharmaceutical and nothing helped,” said Hennessy, who stopped to cry as she spoke about her son, who sat nearby in a wheelchair softly moaning.

Candi Huff of the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper spoke about her 18-year-old daughter Madison Huff, whose epilepsy has not responded to medications. Huff said her daughter began using cannabidiol several years ago under Utah’s limited law and her seizures eased, but she wants her daughter to be able to try other versions of cannabis to determine whether it will help reduce the seizures more.

Huff, who is also the president of the Epilepsy Association of Utah, said other Utah residents with epilepsy who have not found cannabidiol effective and go to other states to get marijuana where it is legal for medicinal purposes.

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Utah only allows patients to use cannabidiol if they receive approval from the state health department after demonstrating that at least three other methods of treatment have not helped.

The medical marijuana law proposed by the ballot initiative would set up state-regulated cannabis growing and dispensing operations. It would allow the drug to be consumed in edible forms like candy, in topical forms like lotions or balms, as an oil or in electronic cigarettes.

Smoking cannabis would not be allowed in a tactical political move that the organizers said represented a compromise to try to make the initiative more palatable for voters.

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Utah Medical Association CEO Michelle McOmber said her organization has concerns about the initiative and plants to speak out against it as the effort moves forward.

“That’s not that way that you determine what is medicine,” McOmber said.

Utah Patients Coalition filed the ballot initiative with the state elections office and hopes to start gathering 115,000 voter signatures this summer needed to qualify the issue to be put before voters on ballots.


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.

Massachusetts Update: Sorting out the Cannabis Conundrum

BOSTON (AP) — After a week of sharp divisions and heated rhetoric over the future of the state’s recreational marijuana law, it’s now up to a conference committee of six legislators to try and sort everything out.

On one hand, there’s a House bill that infuriated pro-legalization activists by proposing a major overhaul of the voter-approved law. On the other, a more restrained Senate bill won praise from the groups behind the November ballot question.

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Democratic Rep. Mark Cusack, the House bill’s lead author, suggested before the votes that the two chambers were in about 80 percent agreement on their respective approaches.

There is, in fact, more common ground than readily apparent given the dialogue of the past week.

The House repealed the ballot question and wrote an entirely new law; the Senate keeps the existing law while offering changes.

Neither the House nor Senate changed the current legal possession limit of up to 1 ounce of cannabis or home growing provisions that permit up to a dozen plants per household.

Each place state oversight of recreational and medical marijuana under the Cannabis Control Commission, which would become larger and ostensibly more independent than under the ballot initiative that puts it under control of the state treasurer.

Both bills allow medical marijuana dispensaries to transition into for-profit companies, but eliminate the head start those companies had been given over other applicants for recreational licenses. Both set guidelines for the testing of all marijuana products by independent labs, and standards for packaging, labeling and marketing.

Both adopt diversity measures designed to level the playing field for minority and women cannabis entrepreneurs, and address the historically disproportionate impact the “war on drugs” had on minority neighborhoods. And with no currently reliable test for marijuana impairment, both ask a task force to study issues around driving under the influence.

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Similarities aside, barriers to reaching a deal by the Legislature’s self-imposed July 1 deadline are many.

A few:

“Repeal and Replace” or “Amend and Improve”

Perhaps the most fundamental difference between the competing bills: The House repealed the ballot question and wrote an entirely new law; the Senate keeps the existing law while offering changes.

More than just legislative sausage-making, it’s a central question conference committee members must resolve before doing much else. Do they start from scratch as the House did or keep on the books — with modest revisions — the law 1.8 million Massachusetts voters approved? The answer may well dictate the parameters of the final bill.

High on Taxes?

The sizeable gulf between marijuana tax rates — 28 percent in the House, 12 percent in the Senate — garnered the most public attention during the past week’s debates.

It may also be the easiest issue to resolve should lawmakers simply agree to split the difference. But the underlying issues are more complicated.

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Senators insisted on a tax low enough to encourage consumers to buy from licensed marijuana stores, thereby crushing the underground market for the drug. House lawmakers sought a tax high enough to pay for what the bill described as a “rigorous regulatory scheme” for the cannabis industry. The House also set an ambitious goal of directing $50 million in marijuana revenues to substance abuse treatment programs.

It’s unclear if a compromise tax of about 20 percent satisfies either or both sets of objectives.

Power to the People?

The House grants local governing bodies — city councils and town meetings for example — power to ban or limit retail shops from opening in their communities. The Senate bill leaves unchanged the current law that requires a voter referendum to shut the door on marijuana establishments.

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There is no readily apparent compromise, so barring a creative solution one side must give on this issue.

If No Agreement, What Then?

Failure by legislators to reach a deal by next Saturday would simply leave the voter-approved law intact, and allow Treasurer Deb Goldberg to begin appointing the Cannabis Control Commission. But a possible scenario in the event of deadlock would be to have conferees separate out and approve items they have consensus on, while resolving to address thornier issues further down the road.


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.

Koch Network Warns Trump Against ‘Failed’ Cannabis Fight

The conservative Koch political network is coming out hard against the Trump administration’s plan to step up enforcement of the nation’s cannabis laws, joining a growing group on the political right who are urging the president to push back against drug war hardliners like Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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“You are never going to win the war on drugs. Drugs won,” Mark Holden, one of the influential network’s top leaders, told reporters in Colorado Springs, according to the Denver Post. His statements  came as the network opened a three-day retreat at The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs.

Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries—the second-largest privately owned company in the  US—said the network has disagreed with Sessions’s decision to re-evaluate a federal policy not to interfere in state medical marijuana systems and taken issue with the attorney general’s request that Congress lift restrictions to allow the justice department to crack down on state-legal medical programs.

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“I’m not here to say our position is legalize drugs or anything else,” Holden said. “But I don’t think that we should criminalize those types of things, and we should let the states decide.”

In a letter sent in May and made public earlier this month, Sessions urged Congress to roll back a protection known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states “from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” The rule has stymied at least one high-profile case against a California cannabis business.

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While he cautioned against reading too much into the network’s stance, Holden, according to the Post, told reporters that medical marijuana should be “off-limits” to federal law enforcement.

Charles and David Koch have spent millions to further their conservative political goals. Holden, who is currently in charge of a network-backed effort to address overcriminalization and criminal justice reform, said federal cannabis enforcement is another example of a “failed big government top-down approach.”


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.

Can You Legally Transport Cannabis Across State Lines?

The short answer, of course, is no.

Federal law prohibits transporting any federally restricted substance across state lines, and cannabis clocks in at Schedule I on the Controlled Substances Act, alongside the likes of heroin and LSD.

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What happens, however, when you’re transporting cannabis across state lines between two legal states, like Oregon and Washington, or California and Nevada?

“You’re still, by crossing the state lines, falling within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Even if cannabis is legal in both states, it’s that crossing of the border that puts you at risk.”

Alison Malsbury, Canna Law Group attorney

“From a legal perspective, it’s very cut and dried,” Alison Malsbury, a Canna Law Group attorney explains. “In practice, however, it’s very ambiguous.”

“The risks you’re running in theory are much bigger than in practice. You’re still, by crossing the state lines, falling within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Even if cannabis is legal in both states, it’s that crossing of the border that puts you at risk,” Malsbury says.

Despite federal risks, however, the reality may be a bit more reassuring. “In practice, the chances of feds or the DEA sitting at the border waiting to catch someone–that’s just not happening,” she points out. “It’s not practical or worth their time.”

“What’s more likely,” she contends, “is that you’ll find yourself in another state where cannabis is not legal and, if you end up facing charges, taking cannabis across the border is considered an aggravating factor.”

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Another area to watch out for, even within a legal state, is nearing any border crossing between countries. We’re not even talking about crossing the border–simply entering the border crossing zone is enough to land you in hot water.

“We had a client transporting cannabis within the state that got to the border crossing in Canada,” Malsbury elaborates. “You fall within the federal jurisdiction without even crossing the border, and they had everything seized. Once you fall within the gambit of Customs, a whole other set of rules apply. It was one producer-processor to another, but they had everything seized. This is just one example of how the federal government is going to continue functioning.”

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Section 812 of Title 21 of the U.S. Code, the Schedule of Controlled Substances makes no distinction between a legal state, a medical state, or an illegal state. Violating this section is a federal crime and could earn you a drug trafficking charge, even for the lowest tier of cannabis.

For the possession of:

  • 1 kilogram or less of hash oil
  • 10 kilograms or less of hashish
  • 1 to 49 cannabis plants
  • Less than 50 kilograms of cannabis flower

The penalties are:

  • 1st offense: up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 to $1 million
  • 2nd offense: up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000 to $2 million

Basically, it doesn’t matter if it’s a gram or 50 kilograms of cannabis–the penalty remains the same.

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Indeed, even some legalized states are starting to carry penalties for transporting cannabis across state lines. 

“In practice, the chances of feds or the DEA sitting at the border waiting to catch someone–that’s just not happening. It’s not practical or worth their time.”

Alison Malsbury

Oregon passed House Bill 4014 expressly forbidding the import of cannabis from another state, as well as exporting cannabis across state lines. Violating this law by importing or exporting:

  • Up to an ounce of cannabis is punishable by a Class B violation: $260 fine
  • Over an ounce of cannabis is punishable by a Class A misdemeanor:  $6,250 fine
  • Over 16 ounces of cannabis is punishable by a Class C felony: $125,000 fine and up to 5 years imprisonment

In Nevada, NRS 453.321 states that it is unlawful for a person to“import, transport, sell, exchange, barter, supply, prescribe, dispense, give away or administer a controlled or counterfeit substance”:

If the substance is considered Schedule I, you could face a Category B felony, punishable by $10,000 fine and 2 to 10 years in prison.

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California’s new legalization law, Proposition 64, makes it clear:

26080. (a) This division shall not be construed to authorize or permit a licensee to transport or distribute, or cause to be transported or distributed, marijuana or marijuana products outside the state, unless authorized by federal law.

What would it take for interstate cannabis commerce to become a reality? “In order for that to be possible, we would have to see federal legalization,” Malsbury informs Leafly.

Are we likely to see that in the near future?

“Under the current administration? Probably not.”


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.

Toronto Police Raid Seven City Dispensaries

Exactly one week after Toronto Mayor John Tory announced impending crackdowns on the city’s illegal-yet-plentiful cannabis dispensaries, Toronto police made good on the promise, executing a series of dispensary raids across the city yesterday morning.

The targets: all seven Toronto storefronts of the BC-based Canna Clinic, along with five Toronto residences and three Vancouver residences.

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Details on the dispensary raids come from the Toronto Star, which reports “[o]fficers at the scene said they were going to arrest the staff members and seize all illegal drugs.” (Also seized: dispensary workers’ cell phones and all money connected to sales.) Staff members exiting one of the raided storefronts told the Star they expected the clinic to reopen within the next few days.

Ultimately, six people were charged in yesterday’s raids, and are due in court today. “Toronto police did not provide information about the charges those individuals will face,” reports the Georgia Straight.

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Stay tuned for more on the raids and the fallout. For now, please enjoy this million-dollar quote obtained by the Star, from a Toronto cop involved in the raids: “It’s not like we want to be doing this, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.”


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.

Massachusetts House Passes Controversial Cannabis Bill, Setting up Showdown

BOSTON—Late Wednesday night, members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 126–28 to pass a bill that would essentially repeal and replace key provisions of Question 4, the ballot initiative that 1.8 million voters passed in November to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Not only have the changes in the House bill angered legalization advocates and Question 4’s authors, they’ve also set up a showdown in the state Legislature. The Senate’s draft bill, which adheres more closely to the ballot measure and aims to limit changes to the voter-approved language, was being debated on Thursday.

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Lawmakers now face a looming deadline if retail operations are to roll out on time for the proposed July 2018 launch date. And if the glacial pace of Massachusetts lawmaking is any teacher, more delays are likely. Even the special session seemed to move at a snail’s pace.

“At 5 p.m., more than 5 hours after start of session, the House just began working through the 118 amendments to pot bill,” reporter Colin A. Young tweeted Wednesday evening.

Both the House and the Senate must debate proposed changes before presenting a final version to Gov. Charlie Baker to sign by a self-imposed deadline of June 30.

Supporters of the voter-approved law favor the Senate’s draft bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville). Jehlen has urged lawmakers to yield to what the electorate voted to enact. “We are not starting from scratch,” she said at a press conference last week. “We are starting from a law that was passed by the voters. It is law, it was passed in a high turnout election, and we need to justify the amendments we make to it.”

“Since when do we tax medicine in the Commonwealth?”

Peter Bernard, Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council

Among other amendments, the House-passed bill would more than double the retail marijuana tax from 12% to 28%, establish a tax on medical marijuana, take full oversight of the industry away from the state treasurer, and create a five-member Cannabis Control Commission to regulate medical and recreational cannabis, with another member within the state attorney general’s office.

The House bill would also shift power to ban cannabis shops and grow operations away from voters. While Question 4 outlines a public voter referendum system to enact bans, the House bill instead grants that power to politicians and municipal officials, such as boards of selectmen, aldermen, and city councilors.

In a statement about the House bill, Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said it “reflects a commitment to legalizing adult-use marijuana while upholding our duty to ensure safety and effective management.”

“In addition to the rigorous product testing and security measures, I believe that the independence of the Cannabis Control Commission will allow this new industry to be implemented in a safe and efficient manner,” he said.

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In many sections, the House bill includes either deviations or completely new language from the original ballot measure. Most was written behind closed doors. The process has enraged legalization advocates, who blasted the new bill.

“The House tonight repealed and replaced the historic measure enacted by Massachusetts residents last November,” Jim Borghesani, of the Yes on 4 Coalition, said ina statement. “They did it with virtually no public discussion or debate. Their bill is wrong on taxes, wrong on local control, weak on social justice and irresponsible on regulatory efficiency.”

He called the measure “a far cry from what voters overwhelmingly approved last year.”

Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Middlesex), a vocal legalization supporter, said in a statement after the vote: “I just voted ‘No’ on the House marijuana bill. Overall, it strays too far from the provisions of last year’s ballot question. My expectation is that the Senate will soon adopt a better version of this legislation, and I hope the final law will be more reflective of the Senate version.”

At a “Kill The Bill” rally Wednesday on the steps of the State House, longtime activist and Question 4 co-author Bill Downing echoed that statement. The Senate bill isn’t perfect, he said, but it’s by far closer to the ballot measure than the House version.

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“We’re told by our legislators almost universally that ‘Question 4 was poorly written,’” he said, addressing the crowd. “They said ‘Question 4 was written by the cannabis industry.’ It was not. It was written by me … and a bunch of other people who all worked really hard to make a very fine piece of legislation, and it would have worked beautifully if it hadn’t been messed with.”

“After their claims of having written legislation so poorly,” he added, “to see this House bill come out the way it is written is truly shocking. I doubt that the leaders of the House even understand the language in this bill.”

The House bill is actually a revised version of a previous House draft that, when introduced, drew so much blowback from advocates and officials it was eventually pulled by Speaker DeLeo. In spite of the revisions, the version the House passed last night stirred up rancor and disappointment among critics.

Peter Bernard, of the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council, voiced outrage at the proposed changes during the morning rally. Beyond railing against the “incredibly ridiculous 28% tax they want to levy” on adult-use cannabis, he blasted the bill’s proposed 6.25% tax on medical marijuana.

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“Since when do we tax medicine in the Commonwealth?” he asked, predicting that the proposed tax rates on medical and adult-use cannabis would drive both patients and consumers back to the illegal market.

But the most important element of Question 4 to protect, Bernard said, is homegrow. “Both the Senate and the House bills look like they don’t mess with it, but the House bill that we have to kill does,” he explained. “Keeping them from messing with this is something we worked on pretty hard this year.” Bernard said he even took several lawmakers to different home-grow locations to educate them on the matter.

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, a legal cannabis supporter and current candidate for mayor, was also at Wednesday’s rally, where he was particularly concerned with language asserting the state could deny business licenses to applicants who have “affiliates or close associates that would not qualify for a license.”

Jackson likened the language to McCarthyism.

“That provision is not even in the language in the state of Massachusetts for alcohol,” he said. “So for them to actually add that over and above is again going to put us in a position where we will not have diversity.”

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Jackson pointed to state statistics as proof that the state’s cannabis laws historically have led to racist outcomes. “We’re a state where, from 2006 to 2016, if you were a black guy, you had a 330% increased chance of getting arrested for possession of cannabis—which was legal at the time—and a 500% increased chance of arrest for distribution.”

The voter-approved ballot question was written to help address that and other social justice issues, such as the expungement of cannabis convictions. “We now,” said Jackson, “have a Legislature who is trying to undercut that.”

Indeed, lawmakers sought to remove a so-called equity provision designed to address racial injustice, but later Wednesdday dropped the effort in the face of pushback from minority caucuses and speakers such as Jackson.

The full text of the bill, H 3768, is available online. At the time of publication, the Senate was still debating proposed amendments to its version of the bill.

Here is the outcome of Wednesday night’s vote:

Unknown


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.

Should Alcohol and Cannabis Have Separate DUI Laws?

When it comes to the perils of cannabis and driving, there’s a lot to take into consideration. In an illegal state, getting caught with cannabis in the car can easily earn you a possession charge. Consumers in legal states face risks as well; charges of driving under the influence of cannabis can occur regardless of whether or not the driver is impaired. Many tests to detect THC levels in one’s system don’t account for the length of time cannabis metabolites remain in human cells, which means a driver may not have consumed cannabis in weeks but can still retain enough THC in their body to be found guilty of a DUI.

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How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?

To further discuss the idiosyncrasies of driving and cannabis, we reached out to Scott Leist, a former Seattle police officer and criminal prosecutor who is now a defense attorney with Washington Traffic Defense, to get his perspective on the complexities of driving with cannabis in the car and driving under the influence of cannabis.

Leafly: How would you interpret cannabis DUI laws, compared to other current alcohol or substance-related regulations?

Scott Leist: In Washington, the DUI (driving under the influence) laws related to marijuana are problematic. The legislature tried to create a per se legal limit, like the .08 limit for alcohol, without accounting for the fact that THC is nothing like alcohol.

“Some studies suggest that driving with moderate levels of THC in one’s system can actually improve driving performance.”

Scott Leist, Washington state defense attorney

First, THC obviously affects the body differently in terms of “intoxication.” In fact, some studies suggest that driving with moderate levels of THC in one’s system can actually improve driving performance (less risk taking, slower speeds, less aggression). No scientific study suggests that is true with alcohol.

Unlike alcohol, where the .08 limit was based on years of experience, medical data and some marginally “scientific” studies, the THC blood limit of 5ng/mL is completely arbitrary. There is simply no good science suggesting that 5 ng/mL is “impairing” or what amount would be “impairing.”

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Can you explain why a lack of distinction between alcohol and THC is problematic?

Unlike alcohol, THC doesn’t quickly and completely metabolize.

For example, if I go out and have three beers of a known alcohol concentration, it’s pretty easy math to figure out my blood/alcohol level and how long it will take before it is all metabolized. THC, on the other hand, can be present, at somewhat low levels, long after one is completely sober.

How fast and how completely THC metabolizes depends on:

  • How it was ingested,
  • The time since ingestion,
  • Whether the person is a regular (frequent) or heavy (dosage) user of marijuana; and
  • The concentration of THC.

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Small levels of THC can be present days or even weeks after ingestion, sometimes bringing someone who is completely sober close to or even over the 5 ng/mL limit long after they are sober.

“Keep it closed, put it in the trunk or other inaccessible part of the car and don’t imbibe while driving.”

Scott Leist’s advice on transporting cannabis when driving.

Unlike alcohol, there isn’t a way to calculate how a certain item will affect an individual person. I know you can buy marijuana and the vendor will tell you the THC percentage, but there is no way to accurately predict, with any certainty, what that person’s blood THC level will be over time.

What is a “serving” of a marijuana brownie? What is the marijuana equivalent to “two beers?” How much THC for me, at my weight and age, will get me to a 5 ng/mL, level and how fast and how long will it take to wear off? Nobody knows. Alcohol allows for much more exact predictions.

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Are there accurate field tests for THC intoxication?

Police officers don’t have a lot of experience or training for marijuana DUI detection. They don’t have a battery of field tests that they can go through to confirm or dispel their suspicions. They generally decide whether someone is DUI for THC based on:

  • The driving,
  • Observations (smell of marijuana, presence of marijuana/smell in the car),
  • Physical signs, (which can be as simple as red eyes); and
  • Any admissions to recent use.

So you can end up with VERY thin arrests. Then the only step they can take is a blood test, which generally requires a search warrant.

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Finally, unlike alcohol, there is no way to personally check yourself to see if you have had too much THC. There are no breath tests for THC impairment. You generally can’t give yourself the field sobriety tests (walk & turn, etc.) like you can with alcohol to see how affected you are. Nobody falls down or throws up from THC (at least to my knowledge), making it harder for others to take your keys away.

Are there any best practices that you would recommend for those traveling with cannabis in the car?

Transporting THC in one’s car should look a lot like transporting alcohol. Keep it closed, put it in the trunk or other inaccessible part of the car, and don’t imbibe while driving.

People should also remember that while marijuana might be legal in your state, it is still illegal federally and in many other states, so don’t “forget” that you have marijuana in your glove box or a pipe if you are heading over a border.


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.

Canadian Finance Ministers Hash Out Cannabis Taxes

For a second day in Ottawa, Canadian finance ministers from the federal, provincial, and territorial levels are gathering to strategize a coordinated approach to cannabis legalization.

At the top of two-day summit’s agenda: cannabis sales tax, which the federal government is urging provinces and territories to keep low, in an effort to hobble the black market. “The Liberals have repeatedly said the purpose of making marijuana legal is to keep it out of the hands of children and criminals,” writes CBC News. “Setting a low [tax] rate… will help drive drug dealers out of the market.”

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But while a low tax rate might ding dealers, it also restricts revenue that could help provinces adapt to the legal marketplace, with some officials worrying that recreational cannabis revenues won’t cover the costs of regulation, which range from education and addiction-treatment programs to enhanced policing. “There’s going to be a lot of requirements on behalf of the provinces,” said Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa to the Canadian Press. “We want to make sure that the proper sharing is there and enough is supported for the implementation of cannabis and the protection (of) our society as we proceed.”

Addressing these concerns, Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has promised enhanced support to provinces dealing with such cannabis-related needs as public security and educational campaigns. Philpott’s office also noted the vast expense of prohibition, and suggested legalization might substantially cut provinces’ existing expenses. As the Canadian Press writes, “The trick for Canada’s lawmakers will be finding the pricing sweet spot—high enough to cover costs, but cheap enough to squeeze out the illegal market.”

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(Meanwhile, 503 kilometers southeast of Ottawa in Boston, Massachusetts, lawmakers are embroiled in their own cannabis-tax brouhaha, wrangling over a House bill that would hike taxes on recreational marijuana from 12 percent to 28 percent—a move that’s inspired passionate op-eds and a late-breaking counter-plan to keep taxes where they are.)

Back to Ottawa: In addition to taxes, the gathered finance ministers are discussing an array of other cannabis-related topics, including improved information-sharing between jurisdictions and the cost of training police to detect THC-impaired drivers (who should pay—provinces or the feds?). “We remain committed to developing a balanced framework that is focussed on protecting youth, maximizing public health and road safety, and reducing harm,” said Ontario’s finance minister Charles Souza in a statement. “It is important to hear from all provinces as we move forward with ground-breaking legislation for all of Canada.”


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.

Ontario Dogs to Remain CBD-Free

The life of a dog can be an enviable thing, filled with sleeping, eating, and sniffing the butts of peers with impunity. But sometimes things go wrong, with the unluckiest dogs experiencing ailments like anxiety, chronic pain, persistent seizures, and osteoporosis. One potential remedy for these canine ills: CBD oil, which progressive pet owners have successfully used to treat their dogs’ serious medical conditions.

Unfortunately, officially sanctioned medical marijuana for dogs is a way off, as recent discussions between the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and the Office of Medical Cannabis at Health Canada confirmed that Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations do not apply to veterinarians or their animal patients.

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“Both cannabis (marijuana) and cannabidiol are Schedule II drugs under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,” notes the College of Veterinarians of Ontario. “As veterinarians are included in the definition of practitioner in this Act, veterinarians would be permitted to prescribe either substance if there was a legal pathway to do so. The Office of Controlled Substances at Health Canada has confirmed that there are currently no approved CBD products for animals, meaning there is no legal pathway to obtain these products for animals in Canada.”

A ray of hope: Colorado State University is currently conducting clinical trials for CBD as a possible treatment for epilepsy and osteoporosis in dogs. If successful, these trials could lead to FDA-approved cannabidiol treatments in the U.S., which might inspire Health Canada to follow suit.

In the meantime, please enjoy this photograph of a dog dressed as a pickle.

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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.