Tag: Maine

State of the Leaf: House Republican Wants to Deschedule Cannabis

U.S. News Updates

National

A bipartisan bill has been introduced by freshman House Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.), that would remove marijuana completely from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively decriminalizing cannabis under federal law. Garrett, who replaced cannabis prohibitionist US Rep. Robert Hurt in Virginia’s fifth congressional district, campaigned on a promise to make cannabis reform a priority. House Resolution 1227, or the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017,” which Garrett introduced on Monday,  would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and treat it—under federal law, at least—similar to alcohol and tobacco. The bill is nearly identical to a measure of the same name introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in 2015. The bill currently has two co-sponsors, including US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) as lead co-sponsor. The bill is the latest in a series of efforts by federal lawmakers—mostly members of the newly formed Congressional Cannabis Caucus—to loosen federal restrictions on cannabis and protect state-legal cannabis programs.

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Arkansas

The final draft rules from the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission were published last week in state and local newspapers. For next month the commission will be accepting public comments as required by state law, and there will be a public hearing on the proposed rules on March 31. The draft rules are available on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission website. Three other government agencies are also drafting rules to deal with medical marijuana, including the Department of Finance and Administration, the Alcoholic Beverage Control, and the Arkansas Department of Health.

California

A new bill has been introduced in an effort to protect California cannabis from a federal crackdown Assembly Bill 1578, introduced just days before White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested the federal government could start enforcing federal cannabis laws, would prevent state and local authorities from aiding federal prosecution of businesses acting in compliance with California state law. The law was authored exclusively by Northern California Democrats, although Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) introduced the measure. It’s expected to be considered by an Assembly panel later this month.

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Georgia

A key House panel approved Georgia House Bill 65 this week, moving the medical marijuana expansion bill a step closer to a vote on the full House floor. The bill, which would add qualifying conditions and establish other rules for the state’s medical cannabis system, cleared the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on a 7-3 vote. That vote, however, also made alterations to the legislation. The committee removed PTSD from the list of new qualifying conditions and added a stipulation requiring doctors to provide annual reports on their medical marijuana patients. The bill must pass through the House this  week in order meet a legislative deadline and continue forward.

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Iowa

An Iowa Senate panel passed a bill that would lower the penalties for possessing of small amounts of cannabis. The same bill was introduced two years ago and passed through the Senate with bipartisan support, but it failed to win approval in the House. This is the first time Senate File 280 has been considered by the Republican-controlled Senate, and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) is hoping to see it embraced by Republican members of the House, as well. Zaun says he wants to make sure the bill is seen for what it is: a decriminalization measure, not a full legalization bill. “I don’t want to send the wrong signal that that we’re going down the road of legalizing recreational marijuana,” Zaun told Iowa Public Radio. “This just allows your first time you made a mistake not to ruin your life in regards to going down the road for employment.”

Maine

Maine began taking public comments on the topic of cannabis legalization this week at two major events. The Legislature’s Marijuana Implementation Committee took public comments during a town hall meeting in Augusta on Tuesday, focusing on how to tax and regulate cannabis. Another event that day, organized by the Maine Municipal Association, was titled “Lifting the Haze: Marijuana and Legal Considerations.” Some of the topics on the agenda included whether there should be a cap on the number of licenses for cannabis businesses and what requirements should be placed on licensees. Both events reportedly were booked to capacity.

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Maryland

A Goucher College poll released this week found that 58 percent of Marylanders support legalizing cannabis for adult use. That number has seen steady growth over the past three years, rising from 54 percent last year and 52 percent in 2015. Maryland already boasts major support for medical marijuana, but the state has lagged in implementing a working infrastructure for the state’s medical program. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission issued preliminary approval to 102 dispensary applicants last December, but the program has struggled to maintain ethnic diversity among the license recipients as required by the state’s cannabis law.

Massachusetts

State Rep. Mark Cusack (D-Braintree) made said in a radio interview that a legislative committee dedicated to regulating the state’s new adult-use cannabis law will be considering tax issues carefully in the coming months. Cusack told WBUR-FM that the goal is to find a “sweet spot” of taxation that will do  more than bring revenue to the state, Cusack said. “We also want to make sure we are not overtaxing and sending people back to the black market.” As the law stands, there is a 3.75 percent excise tax on retail cannabis sales, on top of a 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities and towns would have the option to add another 2 percent tax on top of state taxes.

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New Mexico

A measure to legalize cannabis in New Mexico died in committee this week. The House Business and Industry Committee voted 9-1 to block House Bill 89, the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, which  would have legalized and regulated adult-use cannabis. However there is still another measure, House Bill 102, the Marijuana Tax Act, that would tax and regulate the sales, possession, and use of cannabis by adults 21 and over. That bill is set for debatee in the House Business and Industry Committee. If the remaining bill makes it out of committee and through the House and Senate, however, it faces yet another challenge: Gov. Susana Martinez has repeatedly vowed to veto any legislation to legalize cannabis.

North Dakota

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill into law this week to delay the implementation of the state’s new medical marijuana law until the end of July. Supporters say the change will give lawmakers more time to draft rules and regulations for the program. Next up, the House will consider Senate Bill 2344, a hefty measure to make significant alterations to the voter-approved law. Among them, SB 2344 would lower allowed possession limits for patients, eliminate home cultivation, and cap the number of state-licensed dispensaries and growers.

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Oregon

Oregon will hold a hearing to discuss Senate Bill 1511, a measure that would allow adult-use licensees to also produce cannabis for medical use. The measure, passed as part of the 2016 session at the request of Joint Interim Committee on Marijuana Legalization, was initially intended to allow registered medical marijuana dispensaries to sell cannabis to adults as the state expanded its cannabis program to include nonmedical sales, but its implementation also involves rules for cultivators. The public hearing will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 20, at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in Portland. Comments may be emailed to Presiding Officer Bryant Haley

Tennessee

Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) introduced legislation to repeal and nullify any local laws that are inconsistent with state statues on drug control. The measure appears to be aimed squarely at a decriminalization policies passed last year in Nashville and Memphis. The ordinances allow local law enforcement the option of a issuing offenders a lower, civil fine as opposed to charging them with a Class A misdemeanor as specified by state law. House Bill 173 would repeal the local ordinances, although it’s expected to face opposition from supporters such as state Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville). The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee has already approved the measure, which is now headed to the full House Criminal Justice Committee.

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International News Updates

British Virgin Islands

Junior Minister of Trade Marlon Penn is urging the British Virgin Islands Parliament to decriminalize the use of cannabis. Penn says that while he doesn’t currently support legalization, he’s concerned the number of young people who, after being saddled with cannabis-related convictions, are unable to find employment. “We need to seriously, as legislators, look at the decriminalization of marijuana,” Penn said. “Too many of our young men are getting criminal records; they are getting lost in the system. It’s like a revolving door. We see a vicious cycle. … They get caught up with weed or something, they end up in the prison.” The current law British Virgin Islands law imposes stiff penalties for possessing even small amounts of cannabis, such as a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for locals or deportation for tourists.

Denmark

An Analyse Denmark survey found that more than 80 percent of Danes are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis. The poll, which surveyed 1,040 respondents, not only found a large majority of Danes in favor of medical cannabis, but also discovered that only five percent oppose medical legalization; the remaining participants had no opinion. The finding of broad support comes as the country prepares a four-year pilot program, expected to launch in January 2018, to allow certain patients to be treated with cannabis. Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, spinal cord injuries, and chemotherapy-induced nausea would qualify under the program. If all goes well, the Danish Medicine Authority (Lægemiddelstyrelsen) could extend the program beyond the four-year trial.

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New Zealand

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne recently released a list of medical cannabis products that have been approved for use by qualified patients. Labour MP Damien O’Connor, however, wants to see the government to go a step further. O’Connor wants to see medicinal cannabis produced domestically rather than have the country rely on imported cannabis products from overseas. “The opportunity to diversify our economy and the opportunity to grow high-quality products for health is something that should be considered,” he said, arguing that cannabis cultivation would create jobs and boost the local economy.


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.

What’s the Buzz? Cannabis Grow Lights Vex Ham Radio Operators

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Retired Coast Guard officer Roger Johnson sometimes notices a harsh buzz when he turns on his amateur radio, and he blames high-powered lighting used to grow cannabis.

Amateur radio operators say the legalization of marijuana is creating a chronic nuisance thanks to interference caused by electrical ballasts that regulate indoor lamps used to grow cannabis. The American Radio Relay League wants the Federal Communications Commission to take a stand against devices that give off much more interference than federal law allows in homes.

Ham radio operators generally say they don’t have a problem with marijuana but worry amateur growers may not be aware that cheap ballasts can have phony FCC-compliance stickers. The operators point out they serve as backup communication during emergencies — but concede it’s unlikely any lighting devices would still be on if the power goes out.

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Johnson, one of the radio league’s 166,000 members, said he worries interference will only become a bigger inconvenience in years to come in Maine, which recently legalized growing up to six flowering marijuana plants, 12 immature plants and unlimited seedlings.

“I go to their places and give them a filter and give them instructions how to install it.”

Tom Thompson, amateur radio operator

When he recently heard suspicious noisy static, Johnson said, he drove up and down side streets with a spectrum analyzer hooked up to his laptop to determine the source, which turned out to be a licensed grower a mile away who said he had no idea he was causing a disturbance.

“My prediction is that as more and more states legalize marijuana, the number of growers is going to increase exponentially and overwhelm the FCC’s ability to regulate it,” he said.

The American Radio Relay League has filed four complaints against the FCC and said it hasn’t heard back, and says complaints concerning alleged interference continue to trickle in, particularly in Colorado and California. Cultivation of recreational marijuana is also now legal in Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Alaska, Washington state and the District of Columbia.

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Will Wiquist, an FCC spokesman, said the agency takes all interference issues seriously and sends warning letters after receiving complaints about unlawful interference, including from lighting. He declined to comment further.

Grow lamps are distinctive because they power on and off for 12 hours at a time, and marijuana grow lighting can be powerful enough to produce the same amount of radio interference as a 1,000-watt AM radio station, said Bill Crowley, the Maine section manager of the Radio Relay League.

One inexpensive ballast sold by big-box retailers produced 640 times the level of interference of a legal unit, said Mike Gruber, the league’s resident radio interference expert, who did the test.

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The interference often sounds like the kind of harsh, grating static generated by a lightning strike — except it doesn’t stop, said Tom Thompson, an amateur radio operator in Boulder, Colorado.

Thompson said he has dealt with independent cannabis growers causing interference a half-dozen times. Given the weak federal enforcement and declining FCC manpower, he said, he has created his own solution: a filtering device that almost eliminates the static by suppressing interference from non-compliant ballasts.

“Some won’t cooperate, but most do,” he said. “I go to their places and give them a filter and give them instructions how to install it.”

Last year, Kalkaska, Michigan, began requiring medical marijuana growers to use FCC-compliant lighting equipment. Scott Yost, the village’s manager, is an amateur radio operator himself.

In Maine, Johnson wants legislators to get the state to step in and ban ballasts that produce radio frequency noise extending beyond the user’s property. Out-of-compliance ballasts could be refunded or replaced with a unit that doesn’t produce noise, he suggests.

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Several legislators said such a move would likely pre-empt federal law, and a committee recently voted to kill such a bill. Other ham radio operators say the federal government should do its job.

Crowley said he has experienced a disturbance himself, and hopes President Donald Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Varadaraj Pai — who has praised pending federal legislation aimed at helping amateur radio operators — will be more sympathetic.

Education might be the answer and could make growers more aware of the need to use ballasts approved by the FCC, said Erin Worthing, of Cape Elizabeth, a recreational marijuana caregiver.

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The FCC-approved grow lighting he uses for his crops lead to a higher-quality product, he said, as noncompliant ballasts also tend to be cheap and poorly designed.

The White House said last week that the Justice Department will begin stepping up enforcement of federal laws prohibiting recreational marijuana. Noting that marijuana remains federally illegal, Worthing said, “Under the current climate, we don’t want feds knocking on doors.”


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 Legalization Takes Hold in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) —€” It was a green Monday in Maine.

The first tangible results of state voters’ decision to legalize cannabis were felt as possession and home growth of marijuana became legal. Voters narrowly passed the ballot question in November, and the waiting period between the vote and legalization has expired.

Contentious aspects linger, including what rules should govern businesses that will sell marijuana, such as retail stores and social clubs. The Legislature has been hammering out those details, and they will take months to fully craft, meaning it will be months before cannabis businesses open in the state.

But it’s legal to smoke it as of Monday. It’s also legal to gift it, grow it and possess up to 2.5 ounces of it.

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Westbrook resident Steve Richard, a 40-year cannabis consumer, availed himself of the new law at the stroke of midnight.

“Burned my first legal ‘J’ on my front porch. I tried to get others to join me, but it was late,” Richard said.

The legalization vote was close, passing by only about 4,000 votes, and opponents of the spread of marijuana have vowed to continue to push for restrictions in the state.

Legalization also sparked a row between legislators and Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Lawmakers on Jan. 26 unanimously approved legislation delaying the retail sale of cannabis until February 2018.

But LePage at first declined to sign off on such a delay because of concerns he has about funding and oversight. He ended up signing it Jan. 27. On Monday, he issued an executive order to shift oversight of marijuana to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations.

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LePage also closed a loophole that could have allowed Mainers under 21 to possess cannabis.

Cities and towns have also considered moratoriums on the establishment of marijuana businesses, and some have already approved such temporary bans. Many local officials have said they don’t want to get into the business of issuing marijuana licenses until the state rules are firmly in place.

Scott Gagnon, chairman of Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, said communities are right to be cautious about whether they will allow sales within their borders. He said his group and other advocates will push for public safety as rulemaking goes forward.

“We’ve gone from a campaign to doing everything we can to mitigate the risk,” Gagnon said. “The statehouse will provide the voice for the half of Maine that said no to Question One.”

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Pro-marijuana campaigners said they will also have a place at the table when retail laws are crafted.

“It’s huge. No longer will we be punishing adults for using a safer substance than alcohol,” said David Boyer, campaign manager for the ballot question. “We’re not making criminals out of thousands of Mainers who choose to use marijuana.”

Massachusetts, California and Nevada also legalized recreational marijuana with a referendum last year.

Maine also has a long-standing medical marijuana program, and supporters of recreational cannabis have vowed that broader legalization will not interfere with it.


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.

Marijuana is Now Legal in Maine as Question 1 Takes Effect

PORTLAND, ME — A voter-approved initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine officially takes effect today, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

“Maine voters made it clear that it’s time to end the failed and costly policy of punishing adults for their choice to responsibly use marijuana,” said Alysia Melnick, an attorney with the Yes on 1 campaign. “This is a win for personal privacy, personal responsibility, and civil liberties. Now that the law has taken effect, our efforts must turn to the timely and effective implementation of the remaining parts of the law, to ensure that all Maine taxpayers benefit.”

Under Question 1, which voters approved in November and Gov. Paul LePage certified on December 31, adults 21 years of age and older can legally possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, grow up to six flowering marijuana plants and 12 non-flowering plants, and possess the marijuana harvested from those plants inside their residence. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public and to drive while impaired by marijuana. The law will not affect employers’ drug-testing policies or their rights to prohibit marijuana use by employees.

The Legislature is in the process of establishing a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales, which is currently scheduled to be up and running by February 1, 2018.

“Now that adults can legally possess and consume marijuana, they need places where they can legally purchase it,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who served as campaign manager for the Yes on 1 campaign. “The next step is to take the criminal element out of production and sales. We are hopeful that the legislature will respect the will of the voters and work quickly to establish a sensible regulatory system.”

Marijuana is now legal for adults in eight states, including Maine, as well as in the District of Columbia. The measures approved by voters last November in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada took effect on November 9, December 15, and January 1, respectively. The laws in Alaska, Oregon, and D.C. were adopted in November 2014, and the laws in Colorado and Washington were adopted in 2012.

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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.

Marijuana Possession Officially Becomes Legal in Maine on Monday

PORTLAND, ME — A voter-approved initiative to legalize marijuana in Maine will officially take effect on Monday, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

“The era of marijuana prohibition in Maine is finally coming to an end,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who served as campaign manager for the Yes on 1 campaign. “Responsible adult marijuana consumers will no longer be harassed and treated like criminals. Police will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes rather than punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

Under Question 1, which voters approved in November and Gov. Paul LePage certified on December 31, adults 21 years of age and older can legally possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, grow up to six flowering marijuana plants and 12 non-flowering plants, and possess the marijuana harvested from those plants inside their residence. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public and to drive while impaired by marijuana. The law will not affect employers’ drug-testing policies or their rights to prohibit marijuana use by employees.

The Legislature is in the process of establishing a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales, which is currently scheduled to be up and running by February 1, 2018.

“Now that adults can legally possess and consume marijuana, they need places where they can legally purchase it,” Boyer said. “The next step is to take the criminal element out of production and sales. We are hopeful that the Legislature will respect the will of the voters and work diligently to establish a sensible regulatory system.”

Marijuana is now legal for adults in eight states, including Maine, as well as in the District of Columbia. The measures approved by voters last November in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada took effect on November 9, December 15, and January 1, respectively. The laws in Alaska, Oregon, and D.C. were adopted in November 2014, and the laws in Colorado and Washington were adopted in 2012.

“Every time a state makes marijuana legal for adults, support for enacting similar laws grows in other states,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, which backed the Question 1 campaign in Maine, as well as the successful campaigns in Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Nevada. “Legislatures around the country are considering proposals to regulate marijuana like alcohol this year. Why cling to a policy as wasteful, problematic, and antiquated as marijuana prohibition while your neighbors are moving forward with more sensible policies?”

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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.

Maine Poised to Push Back Retail Cannabis Until 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — State lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved legislation delaying the retail sale of cannabis until at least February 2018.

A referendum approved by voters in November gave state regulators nine months to adopt rules for marijuana legalization. The legislation will extend that deadline.

The legislation also makes clear that individuals younger than 21 years old can’t possess or use cananbis. Growing and possessing recreational marijuana, however, is still legal starting Monday.

The bill is headed for the desk of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who’s called on lawmakers for money for the rule-making process.

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LePage also wants the liquor and lottery agency to head that process instead of the agricultural department, which he worries could lose federal funding under the new administration for licensing marijuana.

The House rejected an amendment to appropriate $1.6 million to the liquor bureau for rule-making.

Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon’s spokeswoman said funds should be available for regulating retail cannabis but that a joint legislative committee should decide which agency has oversight over rule making.


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.

State of the Leaf: As Opinions Shift, Unlikely States Weigh Legalization

U.S. News Updates

Arkansas

The Arkansas House has voted to delay the launch of a medical marijuana program approved by voters in November. The delay will push the start date from March to May of this year. The House also voted to delay the date the state will begin accepting dispensary applications, pushing it from June 1 to July 1, 2017. The delays are designed to give officials more time to draft rules and regulations for the program. While legislative delays have aroused suspicions in others states that officials could be trying to hobble the new legalization, the author of the Arkansas amendment, Little Rock attorney David Couch, says he doesn’t see the delay as an effort to sabotage the program. Creating infrastructure for the state’s medical marijuana program, he acknowledged, would likely take more time to implement.

Illinois

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs publicly urged President Donald Trump’s administration to give clear guidance to the banking industry regarding medical marijuana. Federal law prohibits banks from processing money from the cannabis industry, regardless of whether or not it’s legal at a state level. As a result, many businesses are unable to secure loans or other financial services. The restriction can also creates security risks by forcing businesses to deal exclusively in cash. The letter from Frerichs asks Trump to assure responsible financial institutions that the new administration will not penalize or prosecute the banks for doing business with state-licensed cannabis companies.

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Indiana

This could be the year for cannabis reform in Indiana, with state lawmakers considering multiple bills to allow cannabis for medical use. Senate Bill 255, introduced by Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage), would legalize cannabis for patients with a doctor’s recommendation, allowing them to possess up to eight ounces of dried flower or “an adequate supply for treatment as set forth in physician recommendation.” Home cultivation would also be allowed, with patients allowed to grow up to 12 plants. Senate Bill 15, introduced by Sens. James Tomes (R-Posey County) and Blake Doriot (R-Elkhart County), would legalize hemp oil for the treatment of children with intractable epilepsy and encourage research into the benefits of hemp oil. For Tallian, who introduced SB 225, this marks the seventh time the lawmaker has introduced a medical marijuana bill. But with the recent spate of legalization measures recently approved across the country, this may the first time such a bill has a fighting chance.

Maine

Maine residents voted in November to legalize cannabis for adult use, but the change is coming more slowly than expected. Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeu (R-Winterport) and Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) have introduced a bill, Legislative Document 88, that would add three months to the already-established nine-month timeline for implementing the state’s new adult-use law. Advocates have been waiting with bated breath to see whether Gov. Paul LePage, who has been vehemently against cannabis, would stand in the way of the measure. After a recount effort failed, the governor eventually signed off on the vote, paving the way for a legal retail market in the Pine Tree State—eventually. Despite the delay, home cultivation and private possession will become legal in Maine at the end of the month.

Massachusetts

Advocates are in an uproar after lawmakers quietly passed a bill to delay the opening of retail cannabis stores. Just two state senators were in attendance when the bill passed, and the vote—with zero public input—was over in less than a minute. The timeline for implementation of the state’s newly approved adult-use law was already fairly padded compared to other legal states, with stores planned to open no earlier than January 2018. The new delay means that stores will not be able to open until July 2018 or later.

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New Hampshire

Patients with chronic pain and PTSD are asking New Hampshire lawmakers to make it easier for them to obtain medical marijuana, the AP reports. A House committee is taking testimony on several bills to expand who is eligible for medical marijuana under a state law that passed in 2013. PTSD isn’t on the existing list of qualifying conditions. The law also says someone must have a symptom and a condition, such as cancer or glaucoma, to qualify. That means someone who experiences chronic pain but doesn’t have one of the illnesses listed can’t get medical marijuana. Supporters say expanding the use of medical cannabis could prevent pain patients from becoming addicted to opioids. But opponents say there is no concrete evidence to suggest marijuana is an appropriate treatment for opioid addiction.

North Dakota

North Dakota lawmakers are considering Senate Bill 2154, an emergency measure, to suspend the North Dakota Department of Health’s ability to register patients as well as issue dispensary applications. The   law, passed by voters in November, took effect on Dec. 8, 2016. The suspension, however, will pause the program until July 31, 2017 or until the Legislature passes a full set of medical marijuana regulations during the legislative session, whichever comes first. “This in no way is to try to stop the process,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner told the AP. Patient advocates have complained that the delay is unnecessary, noting that numerous other states have workable medical marijuana programs already in place. The legislation comes immediately after an announcement from major North Dakota that insurance will not cover the cost of medicinal cannabis for patients. This isn’t unusual, as not a single medical marijuana state so far has seen insurers cover cannabis treatment. Even if an insurer wanted to cover cannabis, the fact that the drug has not been evaluated by the federal Food and Drug Administration and remains federally illegal under the US Controlled Substances Act would create significant obstacles.

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South Dakota

The advocacy group New Approach South Dakota began circulating petitions in support of both a medical marijuana measure and an adult-use legalization initiative. The group is emphasizing the tax revenue and jobs created so far in legal cannabis states, with supporters noting that the state is currently missing out on a legal industry now estimated to be worth $6 billion nationally. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has said he would oppose even efforts to legalize cannabis for medical purposes, stating his  belief that medical legalization is simply “recreational marijuana dressed up as medicinal.”

Texas

Lawmakers this legislative session have already introduced three bills to reform cannabis policy in the Lone Star State:

  • Senate Bill 269 would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to receive medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.
  • House Bill 81 would reduce criminal penalties for individuals who possess an ounce or less of cannabis, replacing the punishment with a civil fine.
  • Senate Bill 170 would also decriminalize possession of a small amount of cannabis and replace criminal penalties with fines.

Decriminalization seems to be catching on in some parts of Texas. New Houston District Attorney Kim Ogg said this month that her office would no longer seek to put small-time cannabis offenders in jail. Houston is shaping up to be the center of cannabis policy reform in Texas and could influence the rest of the state with its actions. In the state capital of Austin, advocates will hold a Constituent Lobby Day for cannabis reform at the Capitol on Feb. 8.

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Vermont

After a failed effort last year to legalize adult-use cannabis through the Legislature, the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana has joined forces with Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, the ACLU of Vermont, and the Marijuana Policy Project to renew the effort and urge legislators to pursue legalization. Cannabis is currently decriminalized under Vermont law, with possession of up to an ounce of cannabis carrying a $200 fine for the first offense. However, after successful legalization pushes in Maine and Massachusetts, Vermont is looking to the future and seriously considering legalization (again).

Wisconsin

The possibility of legalizing CBD oil is causing a flap among Wisconsin lawmakers. Sen. Van Wangaard (R-Racine) is planning to introduce a bill that would legalize the possession of cannabidiol oil. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) told reporters that he would consider supporting the measure, although Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Gov. Scott Walker have said they would oppose it. Wangaard has said that he would consider introducing a broader medical marijuana bill under the right circumstances. A similar CBD-only bill passed the state’s Assembly last legislative session, but it died amid fears from Republican senators that it would lead to full legalization in the state.

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International News Updates

Brazil

Brazilian healthcare regulator Anvisa issued the first license in Brazil for the sales of a cannabis-derived drug approved to treat multiple sclerosis. The drug, Sativex, is an oral spray developed by Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals and will be sold under the brand name Mevatyl. The move to import the cannabis-based drug came after several patients went to court in an effort to gain access, despite the murky legality of cannabis in Brazil. Anvisa loosened restrictions within the past two years to allow patients with certain medical conditions to personally import drugs derived from cannabis. São Paulo-based Beaufour Ipsen Farmacêutica Ltda will hold the Brazilian distribution license for Sativex, which is already sold in 28 other countries, according to Anvisa.


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What’s Behind All the Delays in Newly Legal States?

Five of the eight states that voted to legalize cannabis for medical or adult use in the 2016 election are now facing months of new delays. Most of the slowdowns have been initiated by legislators and state officials, who claim it will take them more time to set up a regulatory system. But a number of legalization advocates have pushed back, claiming in a few cases that the delays are a thinly veiled attempt to sabotage, or at least slow-walk, the programs.

Jim Borghesani, Communications Director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, expressed his dismay at the quick decision to delay Massachusetts’ legalization law without input from the public. “We are very disappointed that the Legislature has decided to alter Question 4 in an informal session with very little notice regarding proposed changes.”

Ben Pollara, who led Florida’s campaign United for Care in both the 2014 and 2016 elections, railed against the rules proposed by Florida’s Department of Health, which would not allow more distributing organizations. “If DOH’s rule is implemented as written, it will be in clear violation of Florida law,” Pollara explained. “Why DOH would choose to engage in a policymaking exercise which ignores both the law and the role of the legislature in implementing the law is a mystery.”

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At issue, in part, is a question with no definitive answer: How long should it reasonably take for a state to get its regulatory system up and running?

Colorado and Washington state both passed legalization laws in November 2012. Colorado was the first to open the door to retail cannabis sales on January 1, 2014, about 14 months after passing Amendment 64. But Colorado already had a well-regulated medical cannabis system in place. Washington state, which did not, took 20 months between ballot passage and retail opening.

Those first adult-use legalization measures didn’t explicitly outline a time frame during which legalization would be implemented. Those states also had relatively friendly governors, who were willing to engage in a good-faith effort to implement the will of the voters. Other states, like Massachusetts and Arkansas, expected some sort of pushback from governors strongly against legalization. So many state included specific timelines in their ballot measures last fall.

The general election of 2016 was largely a victory for cannabis advocates, with eight states passing medical or retail cannabis laws, but, if officials don’t stick to the timeline, these states may fall the way of Alaska – a state that passed a legalization law in 2014 but took two years to open the doors of the first legal cannabis shop, and face delays due to lack of product (and ultimately, lack of preparation).

Here’s how the delays are shaking out in each of the eight new states.

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Arkansas

The Arkansas House voted to delay the launch of the state’s newly approved medical marijuana program from March 2017 until May, in order to finalize the rules. The House also voted to push the state’s deadline to begin accepting dispensary applications from June 1, 2017, to July 1. David Couch, who wrote Issue 6, the measure for medical marijuana, agreed that the delay was acceptable, and didn’t see the delay as an effort to sabotage the program.

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California

California seems to be on track, no delays so far.

Florida

Amendment 2 took effect this month, but the program is already in hot water. Under proposed rules issued by the Department of Health, the currently established (and stringently maintained) monopoly on cannabis cultivation would be restricted to those already operating in the CBD-only market. On top of this, the proposed rules would only allow the Florida Board of Medicine to determine which patients qualify for medical marijuana, rather than leaving it up to the patient’s individual physician. Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, criticized the rules, stating that they are “in clear violation of Florida law.” The Florida Department of Health will be holding public hearings on the new rules in five cities between Feb. 6 and Feb. 9.

Maine

It’s been tough sledding in Maine ever since election day. A recount found that Question 1 was approved by a hair, but state lawmakers are already fighting to delay the implementation of a legal market. Senate President Mike Thibodeu (R-Winterport) and Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) introduced Legislative Document 88, which would add an additional three months to the already-established nine-month timeline for implementation. The one upside so far is that Governor Paul LePage, who has been vehemently opposed to cannabis legalization, did sign off on the bill, confirming that legalization is coming to Maine – it’s just a matter of when.

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Massachusetts

Massachusetts advocates are in an uproar after a clandestine bill was passed through the House and Senate to delay the opening of retail cannabis stores by six months. Many state officials, including the governor, were actively opposed to Question 4. Many lawmakers pushed back against legalization even after the measure passed. The bill to delay implementation was approved by a nearly empty legislative session, and it took the only two senators on hand less than a minute to pass the substitute amendment. The timeline for Massachusetts was already well-padded, and with the newly passed delay, retail marijuana shops will not be able to legally open until July 2018 at the earliest, pushed back from January 2018.

Montana

Montana officially passed Initiative 182 to repeal restrictions on the state’s medical marijuana, but it’s taking longer than expected before the changes will be implemented. Due to a clerical error in the initiative text, the measure will not be going into effect until June 30, 2017, and legislators are taking advantage of the extra time to make revisions to the Montana Medical Marijuana Act. Some of the changes that regulators are looking at are product testing procedures, inspections, and revised licensing. In the meantime, medical marijuana patients and providers are anxious to see the program come back into action as soon as possible. Dispensary doors have been closed and thousands of patients have been without access to medicine since last August when the law upheld by Montana’s Supreme Court became effective.

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North Dakota

A new bill from North Dakota lawmakers would suspend the implementation of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. Senate Bill 2154 would halt the issuing of applications for medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as the eventual issues of licenses. The suspension would last through July 31, 2017, or until the state Legislature passes a more thorough medical marijuana regulations bill this session, whichever happens first. Sen. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) is the primary sponsor of the bill and insists that the delay is necessary to ensure a solid foundation for the program, but many would-be patients are frustrated and petitioning the Human Services Committee to implement the program sooner rather than later.

Nevada

No delays so far in Nevada.


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.

Lawmakers Try to Delay Enactment of Voter Approved Marijuana Laws

Lawmakers Try to Delay Enactment of Voter Approved Marijuana Laws | Paul Armentano

Legislators in a number of states are pushing forward measures to delay the enactment of several voter-initiated marijuana laws. In Arkansas, House lawmakers are moving forward with legislation, House Bill 1026, to postpone the deadline for establishing the state’s new medical marijuana program by 60 days. Fifty-three percent of voters approved Issue 6 on Election […]

Lawmakers Try to Delay Enactment of Voter Approved Marijuana Laws | The Daily Chronic


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.

Maine Legalization Faces Yet Another Challenge as Lawmakers Seek to Delay Cannabis Law

Maine voters may have approved Question 1 to legalize cannabis for adult use, but now lawmakers are pushing a bill that would delay the new law. It’s one of a handful of efforts by officials across the country to slow the implementation of cannabis laws in states that have legalized.

Question 1, which Maine voters approved by a razor-thin margin in November, includes a nine-month window during which the Legislature was expected to establish rules around how the legal market would be regulated. Senate President Mike Thibodeu (R-Winterport) and state Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth),  however, have introduced a bill, Legislative Document 88, that would give policymakers three additional months to develop and implement those rules.

“This gives us an opportunity to work through the summer on some of these tougher issues,” Thibodeau told the Portland Press Herald.

Thibodeau has said he wants more time to make sure law enforcement “has the tools they need to keep Maine’s highways safe,” a response to worries about driving under the influence. Officials have also expressed a need to ensure legal cannabis stays out of kids’ hands, although other legal states so haven’t seen increases in cannabis use by teens.

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The legislation would apply to sales, distribution, and commercial cultivation of cannabis. Personal possession and private consumption by adults 21 and over are set to become legal on Jan. 30.

Critics of the bill, however, say it would blur timeline for implementing the state’s new legalization law.

“For any potential change to the will of the voters, the legislature must do the necessary due diligence and that is not the case with LD 88, which creates ambiguity around the timeline for implementation,” said David Boyer, the Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has come out in opposition to the delay.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has criticized the measure, telling radio station WGAN, “If there ever was a bill that the Legislature should just kibosh, that’s it.” Although voters approved Question 1, he said last month, they “did not know what they were voting on.”

Maine isn’t the only state where newly passed legalization laws have been hit with delays. The Arkansas House on Tuesday OK’d delays to that state’s new medical cannabis law, giving state agencies until May rather than March to finalize rules and pushing a deadline for dispensary applications from June 1 to July 1.

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State Officials Could Slow Legalization in Maine and Massachusetts

North Dakota lawmakers are also asking for more time to implement that state’s new medical marijuana law, the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, which surprised even proponents when it passed with 65 percent of the vote. A rare joint legislative meeting of the House and Senate recently considered a proposal to delay the North Dakota law until the end of July. The so-called emergency measure is supported by both Republican and Democratic leaders, who have said that state health officials and law enforcement are scrambling to tie up a number of loose ends, including the allowed forms and potency of medical cannabis.

Maine’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee of the state Legislature held a public hearing for LD 88 on Tuesday afternoon, drawing dozens of attendees.


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.