Tag: Legalization

Utah Group Begins Push to Legalize Medical Cannabis

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Medical marijuana advocates in Utah are planning to try to get an initiative on the November 2018 ballot that would allow the drug to be used for treatment.

Advocates say they’re done waiting for state lawmakers, who have rejected passing a broad medical cannabis law during the last three consecutive sessions. Medical marijuana advocate Christine Stenquist says the legislature’s decisions over the last few years have made it clear that lawmakers have no desire to move forward with legalizing the drug, so they’re going to do it themselves.

Here are things to know about the ballot initiative and the work over the last few years in Utah to get medical cannabis legalized:

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What Is the Ballot Initiative Process?

Medical marijuana advocates have already taken preliminary steps to get an initiative on next year’s ballot. Stenquist, who also leads a cannabis legalization group called Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, says she and other Utah residents have started meeting with donors and talking with signature gatherers. A ballot initiative requires thousands of signatures, a legal review and seven town hall meetings around the state. Stenquist says the entire process could cost as much as $800,000. The advocates want to legalize whole plant medical cannabis, but are still sorting out what the specific language of the initiative should look like.

What Did Lawmakers Pass in 2017?

Utah lawmakers have scaled back their push to expand the state’s very limited medical cannabis law during the recently completed legislative session. Republican Rep. Brad Daw introduced a bill that calls for additional research on the drug’s effects. It easily passed through the legislature and is now awaiting Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature. The other marijuana-related proposal would have outlined what rules the state would put in place to regulate the legalization of the drug if that ever happens in the future, but it never made it past the Senate.

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What Has the State Tried in the Past?

Utah already allows a marijuana extract, called cannabidiol, to be used by those with severe epilepsy, as long as they obtain it from other states. It has low levels of THC, the hallucinogenic chemical in marijuana. In 2015, lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would have allowed those with chronic and debilitating diseases to consume marijuana-infused products such as brownies, candy and lozenges. Last year, lawmakers tried again, attempting to pass two competing proposals, but both died amid regulatory and budgetary concerns. One would have allowed those with certain debilitating conditions to use a cannabis extract with very low levels of the plant’s psychoactive components, while the more comprehensive bill would have made edibles and other marijuana products legal in Utah for those with chronic pain.

What Have Other States Done?

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but some states have started to allow its use, starting with California 20 years ago. Eight states and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational cannabis and 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota were among some of the states that approved legislation legalizing medical 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.

Vermont Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances; New Poll Shows Strong Public Support

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont House Judiciary Committee approved a bill 8-3 Wednesday that would make personal possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older.

“Today’s vote shows just how far this issue has advanced in just this past year,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters agree it makes no sense to continue punishing adults for consuming a less harmful substance than alcohol — especially now that it is legal for adults in Massachusetts and Maine. Vermonters are ready to close the book on marijuana prohibition.”

H. 170, sponsored by Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Vice Chair Charles Conquest (D-Wells River), and ranking Republican Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland), would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and it would eliminate penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. Penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana would also be reduced.

The bill is expected to receive a full vote in the House of Representatives soon. If it passes, it will be considered by the Senate, which approved a measure to regulate marijuana for adult use in 2016.

A new statewide poll released this week finds a substantial majority of Vermont voters are in favor of the policy change proposed in H. 170. Fifty-seven percent said they support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Only 39% are opposed. The Public Policy Polling survey of 755 Vermont voters was conducted March 20-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%.

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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.

Illinois General Assembly to Consider Ending Marijuana Prohibition, Regulating and Taxing Marijuana for Adult Use

SPRINGFIELD, IL — State lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would end marijuana prohibition in Illinois and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed for adult use.

The Senate bill, SB 316, is sponsored by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans (D-Chicago), while the House version, HB 2353, was presented by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago). Each would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow, and purchase limited amounts of marijuana. The state would license and regulate businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults, and it would create and enforce strict health and safety regulations, such as testing and labeling requirements and restrictions on marketing.

“Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents,” Cassidy said. “Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for Illinois to develop its own exit strategy. Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer.”

The bills propose taxing marijuana at a rate of $50 per ounce at the wholesale level, and retail sales would be subject to the state’s standard 6.25% sales tax. Based on current usage rates and the market price of marijuana being sold for adults’ use in Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project estimates regulated marijuana sales could generate between $349 million and $699 million per year in new revenue for Illinois.

“Right now, all the money being spent on marijuana is going into the pockets of criminals and cartels,” Steans said. “In a regulated system, the money would go into the cash registers of licensed, taxpaying businesses. It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue for our state. Prohibition is a financial hole in the ground, and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into it.”

Eight states have enacted laws regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. A February Quinnipiac University poll found 59% of U.S. voters think marijuana should be made legal. Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and Gallup last October found support at 57% and 60%, respectively.

“People are fed up with laws that punish adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The time is right for the Illinois General Assembly to re-examine marijuana prohibition and consider the potential benefits of a thoughtfully crafted regulatory system. The sky has not fallen in the eight states that have made marijuana legal for adults. It’s time for Illinois to move past prohibition and stop missing out on the jobs and revenue other states are already getting.”

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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.

Australian Lawmaker Rips Medical Cannabis Law: ‘Reality Doesn’t Match the Rhetoric’

More than a year after the Australian government legalized medical cannabis, patients in South Australia are still waiting for a scheme to effectively access medicine.

One lawmaker, Greens MP Tammy Franks, has criticized the government’s handling of the access issue as “offensive” and “a joke”—and she’s now leading the charge for reform.

Franks, one of two Greens members in South Australia’s Legislative Council, has been involved in the campaign for access to medical cannabis for the past three years. For the past two, she’s been conducting forums for other members of Parliament and their staff in order to educate them about medical cannabis. Earlier this month, she held a special forum on the extreme difficulties South Australian patients face trying to access medical cannabis.

“One patient gaining access isn’t a success story.”

Greens MP Tammy Franks

“The problem is that the reality doesn’t match the rhetoric, and the federal piece of legislation is not progressing the way it should,” Franks said. “Well over a year since that bill passed, we still don’t actually have people able to go to their doctor and get a prescription for medical cannabis in South Australia.”

To some, it almost feels like they’re losing ground. Earlier this year, a police raid and the arrest of a medical cannabis oil producer in South Australia were met with a public outcry.

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There are complex reasons why the obstacles to access remain, Franks said. “The areas we’ve identified as barriers are things like lack of training for the medical profession, lack of knowledge, lack of a streamlined system that a medical professional can take to get approvals, [and] the fact that we don’t have a single authorized prescriber in South Australia under that federal system,” she explained.

Of the 24 authorized prescribers in the country, Franks pointed out, 22 are in the state of New South Wales.

“My focus at the moment is getting some pressure on the state Department of Health to act,” she said, “and to create a simple scheme that is accessible to those who need it.” She’s also calling on the government to follow Queensland’s example by giving doctors a simple, streamlined, legally protected way to ensure patient access—while at the same time offering educational material medical professionals. “We need to be joining those dots, because people in this situation needing medical cannabis are sick, suffering, stressed, and need all the support they can get,” she said.

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The South Australian government, whose leader, Jay Weatherill, has recently made headlines for ripping into the federal energy minister, put up a limp defense of the existing scheme. The Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation noted that a only single patient has been able to access medical cannabis.

“The idea that one person has been able to access it,” Franks said, “that is a joke if the government thinks that that is somehow something to crow about it.”

“One patient gaining access isn’t a success story,” she added. “I think it actually highlighted that we were right to draw attention to the issue.”

Franks warned that when patients can’t secure access to medicine through a government-sacntioned scheme, the alternative involves turning to the black market. “What worries me is that there are people of different motivations involved in that part of the industry. Some are incredibly well meaning and thorough and careful, but some are in it for a quick buck, and there is a quick buck to be made from sick and suffering people in Australia right now because the laws are failing us.”


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.

SC Prosecutor Contender at Odds With Feds on Medical Cannabis

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The man widely regarded as the front-runner for South Carolina’s top federal prosecutor job is a Republican state representative who gave early support to Donald Trump’s campaign in this early voting state.

But Rep. Peter McCoy — whose name frequently circulates in legal circles as a likely top contender for the job, in part because of his Trump support — has introduced comprehensive medicinal cannabis legislation here, which appears to contradict his would-be boss’ statements on drug policy. U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions has made no secret of his plans to take a hard line on drugs, reminding reporters just weeks after being sworn in that marijuana distribution remains a federal crime, regardless of what states may do to legalize it.

In the weeks since, Sessions has said he’s reviewing Obama-era policies giving states flexibility in passing marijuana laws.

That stance, in contrast with Trump’s campaign trail comments that were softer on marijuana in particular, is going to be tested as the new administration begins to place federal prosecutors throughout the country, including some in states that have taken various steps toward legalizing the drug, either for medicinal purposes or recreational use.

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It’s ultimately up to Trump to nominate U.S. attorneys, with input from the state’s U.S. senators. South Carolina’s top job has been filled by Beth Drake, a career federal prosecutor, since Obama appointee Bill Nettles left the post last summer to return to private practice.

Here’s a look at McCoy, as well as some of the others whose names have been mentioned as possible contenders for the top job in South Carolina:

Peter McCoy

(Twitter: @petermccoyforsc)(Twitter: @petermccoyforsc)

McCoy, 38, has both prosecutorial and political credentials for the appointed position. As a Charleston-area prosecutor, McCoy says he took on hundreds of drug cases, ultimately leaving that post to pursue private practice – and elected office. He also backed Trump in his bid for South Carolina’s primary election, appearing at campaign events in the state’s coastal Lowcountry.

But McCoy, in his fourth term representing Charleston, is also a sponsor of a bill to legalize marijuana in South Carolina for medical use. When his infant daughter began suffering seizures known as infantile spasms, McCoy researched possible ways to relieve her discomfort and was led to research on medical cannabis.

That pursuit led to McCoy’s support of a 2014 bill to legalize cannabis oil, which can be used to treat severe epilepsy and other ailments.

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None of that personal or policy relationship, McCoy says, would tint his service if tapped as South Carolina’s top federal prosecutor, particularly working under a boss who has been vocal in his doubts about any marijuana legalization.

“I have been consistent as a lawmaker and prosecutor being against the recreational use and/or abuse of any illegal substance,” McCoy told the AP, when asked both about the possibility of his nomination and his stance toward marijuana.

“I believe my position has been consistent with the president and his administration in regards to allowing states to decide treatment for medicinal purposes. If I am fortunate enough to be nominated and appointed United States Attorney, I will continue to uphold, follow, and enforce all state and federal laws.”

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use.

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Bryan Stirling

Stirling, 47, is a longtime public servant, an attorney who now serves as director of South Carolina’s Department of Corrections. He previously worked in former Gov. Nikki Haley’s office and was a top deputy when Gov. Henry McMaster was the state’s attorney general.

Asked about the prosecutor position, Stirling told the AP he was focused on running the prisons agency.

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Robert Bolchoz

Bolchoz, 53, is currently chief deputy under state Attorney General Alan Wilson and previously worked as a prosecutor in Charleston County. He vied with Wilson for the 2010 GOP nomination for the top prosecutor job and also previously sought a position on Columbia’s City Council.

“I really enjoy public service and am flattered to be under consideration for such an opportunity,” Bolchoz told the AP.

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Sherri Lydon

Lydon, 55, is a former prosecutor at the state and federal levels now private practice. As an assistant U.S. attorney, Lydon was among the lead prosecutors in Operation Lost Trust, a corruption probe that resulted in numerous convictions against South Carolina lawmakers and lobbyists. As an assistant attorney general, Lydon was chief of the State Grand Jury and also led the prosecution of executives from Carolina Investors and Home Gold, South Carolina’s largest securities fraud case.

If appointed, Lydon would be South Carolina’s first woman to serve as permanent U.S. attorney. She told the AP she was honored to be considered.


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.

Australian Regulator Grants First Commercial Cannabis License

Cannoperations, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cann Group Ltd., has become the first company to be granted a license to produce and cultivate medical cannabis for manufacture in Australia.

The Office of Drug Control, the country’s medical cannabis regulator, made the announcement on March 8, just weeks after the office granted Cann Group a license to grow cannabis for medical research purposes.

While licenses have been issued to state governments, these are the first granted to a commercial entity. Cann Group has not announced whether it has also applied for a manufacturing license or whether the company will provide cannabis to other manufacturers.

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Last month, the Victorian state government announced that it had harvested the first crop of medical cannabis grown under the new Australian scheme. That crop was reserved to treat cases of severe childhood epilepsy. Cann Group is expected to roll out privately produced crops later this year.

Cann Group

Victoria-based Cann Group opened its doors in 2014. It’s currently headed by CEO Peter Crock, who joined the company from Nufarm, an agricultural chemical company. Executive Chairman Allan McCallum also hails from agriculture, having chaired several biotechnology companies.

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The company has moved into the Australian marketplace rapidly. Being the first company to receive both research and commercial licenses is widely seen a coup, and according to its financial reports, the business has already acquired half a million dollars’ worth of plants and equipment.

In addition to growing cannabis for research purposes, Cann Group has also indicated it will supply other researchers with its cannabis crop. It has already executed agreements in plant genetics, breeding, cultivation, extraction, analysis, and production techniques.

No Export

The Office of Drug Control has made clear that licensed medical cannabis production is intended solely to supply Australia’s domestic market. “To ensure that sufficient product is available to address the needs of Australian patients, export of domestically grown cannabis or medicinal cannabis products will not be permitted at this time,” the agency said in a recent update.

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For now, growers and producers will have to find markets at home for their legal medical cannabis. They’ll also need to prove to the Office of Drug Control that they have a contract with a manufacturer to buy the cannabis they plan to grow, and only grow as much as the terms of their permit allows.

The country previously eased restrictions on cannabis imports in order to increase supply, which had been far outpaced by patient demand.

The ODC claims its scheme is already giving doctors “greater treatment choices.” But for patients waiting for access to safe, affordable products, incremental advancements like these can seem frustratingly slow.


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.

Feds Still Jail More People for Cannabis Than Heroin

According to data released this week by the US Sentencing Commission, the number of people sentenced for federal cannabis-related crimes has dropped for the fifth year in a row. Federal prosecutors are still jailing more people for cannabis-related crimes than heroin-related ones, however, despite radical disparities in harm caused by the two substances.

Heroin-related overdose deaths in the United States have more than quadrupled since 2010. 2014 was especially deadly: The number of heroin-related deaths was the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record, climbing to nearly 50,000 in just a single year.

The number of deaths directly attributed to cannabis remains at zero.

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According to the sentencing report, 3,534 people were sentenced in federal courts for cannabis crimes. That fell behind sentencing numbers for only two other substances: methamphetamine, with more than 6,000 people sentenced, and powder cocaine, with 3,891.

The report included five specifically identified substances and one “other” category.

On the upside, the data show a sharp decline in federal cannabis crimes, which set in shortly after Colorado and Washington voted to end prohibition, in 2012. In 2011, there were around 7,000 federal arrests related to cannabis. After legalization went through in those two states, the annual number fell to 4,942. It now sits at 3,534.

Over at the Washington Post, they’ve captured the federal data in this at-a-glance graph:

drugsimage


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.


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