Tag: Maine

Maine Lawmakers Leave Key Cannabis Questions Unanswered

Maine lawmakers adjourned Aug. 2, leaving important questions about the state’s new adult-use cannabis program unresolved. Whether the work continues later this year during a special session or ends up waiting until the legislative session begins in January, there are many key decisions to be made.

Some of the main things still left on the table, the Bangor Daily News reports, involve making rules for the state’s adult-use retail market, implementing laboratory testing procedures, hammering out tax rates, and establishing regulations for both commercial and home cultivation.

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In short, state lawmakers have yet to address numerous issues that are fundamental to the smooth operation of a legal cannabis market.

A special committee working on cannabis implementation has been meeting for months—one of the few committees still working after the Legislature was adjourned. Lawmakers have already pushed back implementation of the sales and regulatory system, delaying it until three months after the original date of February 2018.

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Maine Dispensary’s Offer: Clean Up Trash, Get Free Cannabis

The committee has made some progress, having reached a preliminary decision capping the number of mature plants that individuals can legally possess. No decisions have be made final.

Currently, there are still 31 cannabis-related bills awaiting consideration, according to the Bangor Daily News, many of which could end up in a single omnibus proposal. All told, lawmakers carried more than 340 bills into January.

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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 Cannabis Law Could Change Employers’ Drug-Testing Practices

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Department of Labor says the majority of businesses won’t be able to fire an employee for a marijuana-positive drug tests unless they can prove impairment on the job.

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Backers of the marijuana referendum said the law that goes into effect in February would leave employer protections in place and allow them to maintain drug-free workplace policies.

The Portland Press Herald reports reports that Julie Rabinowitz from the Maine Department of Labor painted a very different picture on Monday, when she urged state lawmakers to change the law to give employers more rights.

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Maine Dispensary’s Offer: Clean Up Trash, Get Free Cannabis

The Legislature’s labor committee is expected to take up the matter.

Voters in November legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana products but commercial sales are on hold as regulations are 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.

Maine Dispensary’s Offer: Clean Up Trash, Get Free Cannabis

A medical marijuana dispensary in Maine offered do-gooders a chance to trade community service for free cannabis over the weekend—and it’s thinking about expanding the initiative statewide.

Gardiner-based Summit Medical Marijuana on Saturday offered cannabis to volunteers who cleaned up the community. Pick up a bagful of trash, the offer went, and trade it for a free gram of flower.

“Bring us back the full trash bag, and we give them a gift of cannabis,” Owner Dennis Meehan told local news station WCSH-6, adding that he got the idea after hearing about a similar event in Colorado. “They had a great response to this, so I was hoping to do the same thing in Maine.”

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According to the company’s Facebook page, the event was a success. On Saturday afternoon, the dispensary posted an update showing a dumpster full of trash bags. “Mainers rock!!! You’re all amazing people!!!” the post said. “Anyone want to help do this statewide in 1 month or so?”

Giving out free bud may not be best for the company’s bottom line,  but Meehan says his number one goal is to make a better Maine.

“Something that caregivers do all across Maine that very few people know about is that they make huge sacrifices every week to help others live a better quality of life,” he told WCSH.

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Gifts of small amounts of cannabis between adults 21 and over are legal under state law.


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 Panel Mulls Doubling 10% Tax on Cannabis

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — As the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in Maine nears, a legislative panel has spent months pondering the best way to tax cannabis to bring in state revenue, fund regulatory enforcement and discourage the illicit market.

In November, legalization of recreational marijuana was approved. Possession of recreational marijuana became legal this year, while the Legislature pushed back the legalization until at least February.

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The referendum included licensing fees as well as a 10 percent tax on sales by retail marijuana stores and social clubs.

“I think we’ll definitely be increasing (the tax) to some level,” said Democratic Rep. Teresa Pierce, co-chair of the Legislature’s joint marijuana legalization implementation committee.

But nothing’s been decided yet, said Pierce, who added there may be a special session in October for a vote on a final bill. Committee co-chair Republican Sen. Roger Katz said the committee is meeting often and hopes to wrap up its work by September. The Legislature approved $200,000 for the committee and $1.4 million to the state for the costs of putting together marijuana regulations, including consultants.

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Meanwhile, medical marijuana dispensaries and advocacy groups so far this year have reported spending more than $265,000 on lobbyists to sway officials. Legalize Maine has reported spending $32,000, while Maine Professionals for Regulating Marijuana has reported spending nearly $85,000.

The regulations will govern issues from the use of pesticides to growing for personal consumption, and the Legislature faces further votes on a bill to set up a system of labs to test marijuana. Pierce said that overall, the idea is to learn from states like Colorado.

“We are really trying to make sure we give opportunity for small grows to happen, so people who don’t want to be big industrial marijuana producers can be in the market,” Pierce said.

That could look like a market “almost akin to the craft beer market,” she said.

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One of the biggest issues ahead of lawmakers is deciding what the tax is, how it’s structured and where the money will be directed.

Katz said the idea is for licensing fees to cover the state’s regulatory and enforcement costs, with tax revenues possibly going toward public health programs to discourage youth marijuana consumption or efforts against impaired driving.

He said lawmakers share the concern of finding “that sweet spot so we’re not driving people to the black market.”

But the head of a marijuana legalization campaign is pushing back against talk of a 20 percent tax.

“Twenty percent is too high,” said Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine and a board member of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine.

“The tax needs to be 10 percent to make sure we don’t encourage an illicit market. Maine already has an active cannabis economy.”

Maine is looking at examples from others states, some of which also allow local taxes. Colorado has a 15 percent excise tax and 15 percent sales tax on marijuana, while Oregon has a 17 percent sales tax and Washington has a 37 percent excise tax.

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Alaska, meanwhile, has a tax of $50 per ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. And in Massachusetts, where voters also legalized recreational marijuana last fall, the Legislature sent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker a bill for a 10.75 percent excise tax on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Taxes on medical marijuana, meanwhile, are generally lower. Medical marijuana in Maine is subject to a 5.5 percent sales tax.

How recreational marijuana “is going to relate to the existing medical marijuana program is a real issue for us,” Katz said.

But, he said of Maine’s medical marijuana program: “We’re not going to touch that, we don’t feel it’s within our purview at the moment.”


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 Wants Advice on How to Regulate Cannabis

Maine continues to take slow steps toward legalizing cannabis after voters in November passed an adult-use legalization. On Monday, members of the state’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee met with Colorado’s former marijuana czar to discuss how to craft Maine’s cannabis policies.

A key player in setting up Colorado’s billion-dollar cannabis industry, Andrew Freedman served as the state’s marijuana czar following voters’ approval adult-consumption in 2012. According to reports from local NBC affiliate WCSH6, he spent about an hour with the Maine committee, going over data he gathered since adult-consumption cannabis became legal in Colorado.

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Key findings included indications that legalization has not increased cannabis consumption by youth and adults, according to the local news report.

“Our expectations were, we worried we were going to see massive increases,” he said, according to WCSH6. “We’ve seen nothing of statistical significance yet.”

Freedman did tell the legalization committee that some of the biggest challenges in Colorado have been banking, identifying and combating dangerous pesticides, and setting up personal homegrow rules. Visits to hospital emergency rooms also increased, mainly due to people consuming too many edibles.

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The state committee hopes to wrap up its work by the end of July, then have rules ready for a public hearing by September.

To that end, Maine’s financial and agricultural departments are asking for the public’s thoughts on how to regulate the state’s retail cannabis marketplace, as well as on the public health, budgetary, and enforcement aspects of the new market.

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Comments are due July 31.

Currently, possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis is legal for all adults 21 and over in Maine, although there’s not yet a legal place to buy cannabis products. On the medical side, eight dispensaries and 3,000 caregivers serve roughly 37,000 patients.


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 Lawmakers Pass Bill to Implement Marijuana Legalization Initiative

AUGUSTA, ME — The Maine Legislature has passed a bill to fund the implementation of the successful 2016 marijuana legalization initiative and change the agency that will regulate marijuana for adult use.

The Senate on Thursday passed LD 243 unanimously “under the hammer,” without debate or a roll call vote, sending it to Gov. Paul LePage for final approval.

The House passed it “under the hammer” on Wednesday.

LD 243 would transfer the authority to oversee adult-use marijuana from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations within the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS).

The Bureau would be responsible for licensing adult-use marijuana businesses and creating and enforcing regulations.

LD 243 also allocates $200,000 to the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation and $1.4 million to DAFS to implement Question 1.

“We hope Gov. LePage will give swift approval to this bill so we can begin to see some meaningful progress on establishing Maine’s adult-use marijuana program,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project and campaign manager for the Yes on 1 campaign. “In the meantime, the Legislature should allow Maine’s existing medical marijuana businesses to begin serving adults 21 and older. This approach was successful in Oregon, and it is now being adopted in Nevada. It would work for Maine, as well.”

“Initiating adult sales in existing medical marijuana businesses would allow for a slower rollout and give regulators time to make adjustments. It would immediately generate much-needed tax revenue and provide adults with a safe way to purchase marijuana. Marijuana is a legal product now, and Mainers want it to be sold in licensed stores, not on Craigslist and Facebook,” Boyer added.

Parts of the new law too effect in January, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

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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.

State of the Leaf: Colorado Bans Co-ops, May Shelter Cannabis From Feds

US News

Colorado

Given the state’s early embrace of legalization, it makes sense that Colorado would eventually export its industry know-how to the rest of the nation. By offering financing and “mini-MBA” mentoring to cannabis startups, a Boulder firm called Canopy advertises the chance for ganjapreneurs learn from Colorado’s triumphs and miscues.

Meanwhile, a bill to prohibit cannabis co-ops in the state is on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk, awaiting his likely signature. This sucks. Co-ops are designed so small-scale cannabis growers can share operating costs for things like utilities and fertilizer. Regulators, however, worry co-ops make it too easy to divert legally grown cannabis to illegal or out-of-state markets.

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Colorado’s Republican-controlled House also passed a bill to allow cannabis growers and retailers to reclassify adult-use products as medical marijuana in the event of a federal crackdown. The bill is seen as the boldest bid yet by a legal-cannabis state to avoid federal intervention. It now heads to the Democrat-led House.

Florida

US Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have introduced a congressional bill, House Resolution 2020, which would reschedule cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act, moving the plant from Schedule I to Schedule III.

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While Soto and Gaetz occupy opposite wings of the political spectrum, they share one telling trait: youth. Gaetz is 34 and Soto just turned 40, suggesting the shift toward reform is more generational than political.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee are “bungling” the state’s medical cannabis program, critics say. Newspaper editorial boards have decried the Legislature’s inability to enact the will of 71% of Florida voters who legalized medical cannabis last November.

How bad is it?

“It’s been a train wreck so far,” writes the Miami News Times.

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Illinois 

The pro-legalization advocacy group Coalition for a Safer Illinios organization made its debut amid a flurry of editorial board praise for legalization.

The new coalition brings together clergy, unions, civil rights organizations, and law enforcement in support of cannabis legalization bills sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, both the Senate bill, SB 316, and House bill, HB 2353, will get their first hearing in Chicago next week.

Indiana

Lawmakers advanced a pair of bills to legalize cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a medicine of last resort for individuals with seizure disorders.

The Senate advanced its bill on a 35–13, while the House vote was unanimous in support of the reform. But don’t let the blowout score fool you; the bill is narrow, covering only patients with intractable seizure disorders.

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“I don’t like it and I think it’s a mess,” state Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) said during the Senate debate, adding, “I am going to vote yes anyway because it’s the only mess around.”

Polls suggest 3 in 4 Hoosiers support medical marijuana legalization.

If the bill succeeds, all but two US states will have legalized some form of medical cannabis.

“Only Idaho and Kansas will lack either a CBD- or a medical cannabis law,” MPP’s Maggie Ellinger-Locke told Leafly, “but these [Indiana] bills are incredibly limited. And it will be interesting to see how they are reconciled in conference committee.”

Maine

Selling cannabis remains a crime in Maine despite a successful legalization referendum last November. But as Maine regulators work to get the state’s adult cannabis program up and running, a legal and economic gray area is emerging. Gifting cannabis is permitted in the state, creating a kind of commercial loophole that incentivizes entrepreneurs to creatively push the current legal boundaries to meet demand.

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House OKs Maryland Bill to Boost Minority Cannabis Businesses

Maryland

As the clock wound down on this year’s legislative session, Maryland lawmakers failed to add additional grow licenses to the state’s medical cannabis program.

“The House had sought to increase the licenses by five, to boost minority-owned businesses after a disparity study,” the Associated Press reported. “The Senate had pushed for seven more licenses, to help settle lawsuits filed by two companies that were bumped out of the top 15 chosen by a state commission to be finalists.”

Members of the Black Legislative Caucus of Maryland are calling for a special session after the bill, designed to create diversity ownership in the state’s developing medical marijuana industry, failed to pass in the session’s closing minutes.

Despite the missed deadline, Maryland is making progress on other fronts. Now four years after the law passed, Maryland patients and caregivers can finally register for medical marijuana ID cards.

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“We have taken the next step in making Maryland’s long-awaited medical cannabis program a reality” Candace Junkin, longtime advocate from southern Maryland, told Leafly. “Dispensaries are expected to open this summer, so it’s important to get a doctor’s recommendation and register with the state now.”

Missouri

In a thrilling result out of the nation’s heartland, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly chose to relax cannabis penalties in Missouri’s largest city. Small amounts of cannabis will now fetch a $25 fine. No jail time. Roughly 75% of voters chose reform, an absolute blowout.

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NORML Executive Director Erik X. Altieri told Leafly that Tuesday’s astonishing win came “thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens actively engaging in the democratic process and pushing to change an unjust law.”

“Kansas City will no longer arrest otherwise law abiding citizens for the simple possession of marijuana,” he added, “and in the process the city will free up law enforcement resources to better focus on combatting violent crime.”

Nevada

Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, is home to nearly 80% of Nevada’s 2.7 million residents. With the county now back on track to allow dispensaries to open by July 1, pretty soon you can add adult-use cannabis to your Las Vegas adventure—sort of. Smoking at casinos (or anywhere with gambling) will initially be prohibited.

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Vermont

Top Senate lawmakers in Vermont say passing a marijuana legalization bill is becoming exceedingly unlikely, the Associated Press reports. The Vermont House is still debating its version of a legalization bill, which would legalize personal cannabis use, possession, and cultivation. Just over three weeks remain in the legislative session, and Senate lawmakers expected the bill to get to them weeks ago.

Senate leaders also say the House bill would continue to allow for a black market, and they favor a law that would tax and regulate sales of the plant. A 2016 Senate measure that proposed a legal marijuana market died in the House last year.

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Cannabis Legalization in Vermont is Dead

Vermont’s constitution disallows referendums, thwarting another avenue to legalize marijuana as other states have done.

Virginia

Virginia will soon begin studying the merits of cannabis decriminalization. Ten years ago, this would have been a big deal, especially down south. But in 2017, merely setting up a study feels a bit limp.

“One step at a time. We’ll chalk this one up for a win,” Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted after the news broke.

Maybe he’s right. A baby step forward is still progress. And this latest push in Richmond is a bipartisan one.

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According to many on the front lines of reform efforts, the small step was essential for the process to advance.

“The Virginia State Crime Commission Decriminalization Study is an important procedural step in Virginia politics,” VA NORML’s Daniel Rouleau told Leafly.  “The study can be used to provide political cover for lawmakers unwilling to personally endorse marijuana reform, and provide pro-reform politicians the facts needed to persuade unconvinced colleagues of the need for decriminalization.

“Support for marijuana-related criminal justice reform is building in the General Assembly,” Rouleau continued, “but official findings from this study will likely push the legislature to adopt decriminalization. This policy change would not only help adult who personally use marijuana, but Virginia patients seeking effective medical marijuana treatments.”

West Virginia

A bill to legalize medical cannabis is sitting on Democratic Gov. Jim Justice’s desk, and he’s widely expected to sign it.

While the bill boasts a generous list of qualifying conditions, it does not include a home-grow provision. Nor are smokable flowers permitted. Likewise, West Virginia will have no reciprocal arrangement with other medical marijuana states.

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International News

Canada

Legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Canada is set to land this week, giving shape to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to legalize the plant nationally. In an expedited schedule, Canada’s Liberal government has vowed to legalize cannabis “on or before July 1, 2018.”

Ireland  

Ireland wants to generate revenue without raising taxes, and some think legal cannabis could help. It’s promising news in a nation still clawing its way back from a devastating economic recession.

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Some, of course are still resistant to change—including one especially outspoken politician, Kate O’Connell from the ruling Fine Gael party. O’Connell, a pharmacist by trade, calls efforts to reform Ireland’s marijuana laws a “madness … verging on the immoral.”

Uruguay

The South American country of Uruguay made news when it legalized cannabis in December 2013—the first country ever to fully legalize the plant. After a drawn-out regulatory process, sales are finally set to begin in July. But not for tourists. This program is for Uruguayan citizens only—for now, at least.


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: 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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Facing Pressure From Patients, New Zealand Moves Ahead on Medical Cannabis

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.