Tag: Massachusetts

State of the Leaf: Sacramento Sees 500% Drop in Cannabis Arrests

US News

Arkansas

It’s regulation by legislation in Arkansas as lawmakers cobble together the rules that will govern the state’s nascent medical cannabis program. There is a ton of new laws. Literally dozens of them.

“They did some crazy things, but it wasn’t anything that would affect the overall stability or the overall ability to get medicine, marijuana to the patients,” said David Couch, who led the campaign for the November ballot measure that legalized medical cannabis in the state.

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California Moves to Unite Conflicting Cannabis Laws

California

Cannabis arrests in the state capital of Sacramento are down a whopping 500% since state voters passed Proposition 64, to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state.

And just in time for Earth Day weekend, US Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) made an environmentally minded pitch for ending prohibition.

District of Columbia

On 4/20, several high-profile DC cannabis advocates were arrested while carrying out an act of civil disobedience on Capitol Hill. Their motive was to highlight a soon-to-expire recurring budget amendment that protects legal medical cannabis operations from unwanted federal intrusion. It was a gutsy gesture that attracted heaps of media attention but not universal praise.

“I don’t think it is the best way forward,” cannabis stalwart US Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told US News. “We’re going to have many advocates and business people on Capitol Hill making the case in a calm, thoughtful, rational basis.”

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Florida

In November, Sunshine State voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2 to legalize medical cannabis. Since then, Florida’s largest newspaper Tampa Bay Times has dropped a series of editorials skewering Tallahassee lawmakers for getting it all wrong—on, well, basically everything. The Times’ latest, a blistering admonition from Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Ruth, is the most derisive yet.

“Last year, Floridians approved by 71.3 percent an amendment that broadly legalizes the use of medical marijuana. That was huge. You’d have a hard time getting 71.3 percent of the state to agree on the color of an orange. Then it was left to the Legislature to craft the rules for implementing the amendment. That’s the way the system is supposed to work. It’s called democracy and it’s all the rage, except in Florida.”

You can almost hear the mic drop.

Massachusetts

Voters in Massachusetts ended prohibition last November after passing Question 4 at the polls. Since mid-December, it has been legal to grow and possess cannabis. Since then, we’ve watched a turf war play out over who has final regulatory authority over Massachusetts’s adult recreational market.

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Montana Medical Marijuana Regulations a Vote Away From Governor’s Desk

New Hampshire

Mixed results on a mostly GOP-led effort to expand New Hampshire’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis: Chronic pain legislation, HB 157, passed the Senate and is expected to become law. But a similar, separate measure that would have included PTSD as a qualifying condition, HB 160, failed to clear the Senate hurdle and was sent back to the drawing board on committee.

New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie is literally the most unpopular governor in America, and his notoriously anti-cannabis policies are partly to blame. But for cannabis advocates, there is light at the end of the tunnel: He’ll be gone in less than nine months, at which point NJ’s cannabis landscape should transform swiftly and dramatically.

Phil Murphy, a Democrat and former ambassador to Germany, is the odds-on favorite to replace Christie. His approach would be a dramatic departure from his predecessor’s.

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“By carefully watching what other states have already done, we can ensure a legalization and taxation program that learns from their experiences and which will work from the outset,” Murphy told Leafly. “This also is about social justice, and ending a failed prohibition that has served mainly to put countless people—predominantly young men of color—behind bars and behind a huge roadblock to their futures. New Jersey should choose to be a leader.”

Pennsylvania

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, the state’s chief fiscal officer, joined hundreds of cannabis advocates in Harrisburg to make the fiscal case for ending prohibition.

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“The state’s now looking for revenues and also looking to where they can save money,” DePasquale said, adding that “the most failed war in the history of the United States is the war of drugs, specifically when it comes to marijuana.”

Activists were thrilled to have backup.

“It was an unexpected surprise when Auditor General DePasquale added his voice to the call for legalization via a ‘tax and regulate’ model,” Pittsburg NORML’s Patrick Nightingale told Leafly. “PA is facing a huge budget deficit, projected by some to be as high as $3 billion. Mr. DePasquale knows we must find additional sources of funding, and he pointed out the most obvious source of potential revenue: cannabis. My only criticism is that I think he projected revenue is far too low, especially when the $200 million to $300 million PA spends annually on marijuana-related law enforcement, courts, and corrections is factored in.”

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Vermont Senate Approves Legal Cannabis Measure, House Unlikely

South Dakota

Legalization advocates in South Dakota hope the third time’s a charm as they again circulate petitions to put cannabis reform on next year’s ballot. One ballot measure would legalize medical cannabis, while another would OK adult use. Advocates have until November to gather the requisite signatures—17,000 each—to qualify for the November 2018 election.

” We’re embracing this showdown,” advocate Melissa Mentele told Leafly. “When we get these measures on the ballot, that sets up an intriguing showdown with our notoriously anti-cannabis Attorney General Marty Jackley, who already announced his campaign for governor in 2018.

“The prospect of a showdown with South Dakota’s most notorious anti-cannabis villain,” she added, “makes my heart go pitter pat.”

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Utah

A surgeon in Utah refused to perform a life-saving double-lung transplant on 20-year-old Ryan Hancey because he had THC metabolites in his blood.

“We do not transplant organs in patients with active alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use or dependencies until these issues are addressed,” Utah Health System explained in a written statement. Despite a frantic last-minute crowd-sourced effort to fly him to Philadelphia’s Penn Hospital for his transplant, Hancey died over the weekend.

West Virginia

Just in time for 4/20, West Virginia became the 29th state to adopt medical cannabis legislation. “This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said MPP’s Matt Simon.

That’s common refrain in WV, where advocates are upbeat after such a heady win. And it’s definitely a huge step forward. But this glass is also half-empty. No homegrown, no smokable flowers, no out-of-state reciprocity. Nothing before mid-2019 at the earliest. And with this flawed legislation now officially on the books, many activists fear politicians will think their work on the issue is done.

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West Virginia Gov’s Defense of Medical Marijuana Has Us All Verklempt

“This was done without much outside help,” Reverend John Wires told Leafly. He’s one of several unpaid lobbyists who, with nothing more than “gas money and shoe leather” helped make medical marijuana a reality in West Virginia.

“Imagine what we could have accomplished if we had the financial backing that has been thrown into other states,” he said. “It was the calls from the public that brought us over the top. All those in office know West Virginia citizens vote with their temper.”

International

Canada

Medical cannabis and job-related drug testing—it’s a common dilemma anywhere that medicinal cannabis is legal. Including Canada.

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“There’s nothing wrong in saying you can’t be stoned at work,” said Canadian employment lawyer Peter Straszynski.

But is there something wrong with discriminating against legal medical patients who medicate responsibly?

France

Four of the top-five finishers in the first round of France’s presidential election support decriminalizing cannabis, including Emmanuel Macron who finished first. The only opponent is Marine Le Pen, who finished second. Macron and Le Pen will face off May 8 to determine France’s next head of state.


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.

The Best Things to Do on the East Coast for 4/20

For the first time ever, the East Coast will be getting a piece of the 4/20 action, having legalized cannabis for adult use in Maine and Massachusetts during the last election. Between those two states, plus a few other states legalizing MMJ along the Eastern Seaboard, things are finally looking up for the East Coast!

April 21-22: World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo (Pittsburgh, PA)

The World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo is an exclusive event featuring the leading medical marijuana educators, businesses, and professionals from around the globe. This event will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from April 21 to April 22. For those who purchase VIP tickets, you will be privy to red carpet treatment, a meet-and-greet with former-NFL-player-turned-cannabis-activist Ricky Williams.

The convention will be filled with panels, seminars, discussions, networking events, and business opportunities for those who are curious about the medical cannabis market.

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April 21-23: Sweetwater 420 Festival (Atlanta, GA)

The Sweetwater 420 Festival might be one of the biggest 4/20 celebrations on the East Coast and it’s happening in the most unexpected place. In the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, over the course of three days, there will be over 40 bands performing on four different stages for live music. The festival will be held in Centennial Olympic Park with three days of environmental awareness, awesome bands from around the country, SweetWater brewing company providing their brews, tons of vendors and delicious food. Get your tickets ahead of time!

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April 22-23: 2017 New England Cannabis Convention (Boston, MA)

The New England Cannabis Convention is certain to be a game-changing event for the East Coast. With 200 local and national exhibitors, more than 100 industry expert speakers, advice on careers, investing, medical marijuana education, and live demos for those who have a vested interest in joining the newly legal cannabis market, this will be the must-attend event of the year.

Held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston from April 22 through April 23, you can go for one day, all days, or even just specific events. Buy your tickets now!


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: Texas Decriminalization Measure Moves Ahead, MMJ Stalls in SC

Florida

There’s a lot going on in Tallahassee as Sunshine State legislators forge the regulatory framework for Florida’s medical marijuana program.

Senators appear poised to advance legislation (SB 406) to welcome five new cannabis dispensaries to Florida by October. At least one would be minority-owned. Friday’s measure also requires four additional dispensaries within “six months after each instance of the registration of 75,000 qualifying patients with the compassionate use registry.”

That 75,000 figure is dramatically less than the previous threshold of 250,000.

The House is currently considering a slightly stricter measure.

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Maryland

Add Maryland to the growing list of states considering using cannabis as a tool to combat opioid addition. An amendment to add “opiate use disorder” to the list of qualifying conditions was introduced last week in Annapolis. It didn’t last long, though. By Monday, that measure had been stripped from the bill.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore), said that insisting on the opioid bit would have risked the whole package.

“Like they say, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze,” she told local media.

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“Reefer madness propaganda unfortunately lingers on,” MPP’s Kate Bell told Leafly. “It’s important to keep in mind that, unlike potentially deadly opiates, there are no recorded deaths due to overdose on cannabis.”

Massachusetts

Bay State lawmakers are poised to rework the state’s adult-use cannabis regulations. For starters, lawmakers would strip the state treasurer of regulatory authority in favor of an “independent oversight commission” in an effort to protect adult-use cannabis from the whims of a solitary elected official.

Reaction from advocates was mixed. Proponents argue the change is necessary to curb any undue influence the industry might have over regulators. Others fretted that switching gears now would cause delays.

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Meanwhile, medical cannabis delivery options became available to patients in Massachusetts this week. But the news comes with a caveat: Delivery costs extra, putting this new service out of reach for many who need it most, such as low-income, homebound patients.

“Massachusetts finally having a dispensary offering a delivery service to the entire state is absolutely a step in the right direction,” Bay State advocate Ellen Brown told Leafly. “But Massachusetts still has a very long way to go to provide all of our patients with safe and affordable access. Only one dispensary is offering a delivery service to the entire state, and it is nowhere near enough to fully take care of all the 34,392 active patients that we have.”

Minnesota

Could the sponsor of Minnesota’s adult-use cannabis referendum become the state’s next governor? Democratic Rep. Tina Liebling, a 12-year House veteran, is one of five Democrats seeking to replace Minnesota’s term-limited Gov. Mark Dayton, whose term ends in January 2019.

“The war on drugs has failed—costing Minnesota taxpayers too much and destroying too many lives,” Liebling’s campaign website says. “It’s time to remove the prohibition on personal use of cannabis. Minnesotans should have the opportunity to decide whether to legalize personal use of cannabis under a careful system of regulation and taxation. Law enforcement should have a voice on drug policy, but never a veto.”

Whether she wins or not, Liebling’s presence in this race ensures that cannabis reform will figure prominently in the campaign debate.

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North Dakota

In November, North Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure legalizing medical cannabis. Lawmakers have modified their original (awful) regulations but cannabis reformers are (still) unimpressed. According to local media “A big sticking point is restrictions on smoking marijuana as medicine.”

Advocates are threatening another citizen referendum if lawmakers don’t get their act together.

Ohio

Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is unconvinced that Ohio’s newly passed medical marijuana law would put a dent in his state’s appetite for opioids like heroin or Oxycontin.

“I know it’s not recreational marijuana, not recreational use, but I don’t see a role for it in this at all,” Kasich said.” That’s despite evidence showing opioid use drops 25% on average in states with medical cannabis programs.

Kasich signed medical marijuana legislation last June, making Ohio the 25th state to permit medical cannabis.

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South Carolina

The chances you’ll see medical cannabis made legal in South Carolina this legislative session? Slim to none. While both parties deserve blame for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the chief antagonist was Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas, whose personal lobbying efforts reportedly kept the bill bottled up in committee.

Thing were only slightly better in the upper house.

“The Senate hearing was a bit frustrating,” MPP’s Becky Dansky told Leafly. “The other side was allowed several more witnesses whose testimony was based on misinformation and at time flat out lies. They used dated quotes from medical organizations that have since changed their positions and other unscrupulous tactics.”

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Texas

A bill to decriminalize cannabis in the Lone Star State cleared an early hurdle in the Texas legislature on Monday. Still a long way to go, but early GOP support is a good sign.

Meanwhile in El Paso, democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke has made ending the war on drugs a central theme in his longshot bid to defeat US Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent.

Coincidently, both the state of Texas and the National Football League have notoriously strict marijuana policies which disproportionately affect black people.

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Enter Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a bona fide Texas icon. With three Super Bowl titles to his credit, Jones usually gets what he wants. That’s why mere reports he suggested that the NFL revisit its marijuana policy are such a big deal. Jones’ influence extends well beyond the NFL. His ability to bend Texas policymakers to his will is the stuff of legend.

“Just as changes in public policy lend to cultural changes, shifts in our culture can trigger shifts in public policy,” Marijuana Policy Project’s Mason Tvert told Leafly. “Hopefully this report about Jerry Johnson’s position on the NFL’s needlessly punitive marijuana policy will lead to some Cowboy fans in the Legislature rethinking their positions on Texas’s needlessly punitive marijuana laws.”

West Virginia

With editorial boards urging “a compassionate vote,” the West Virginia House of Delegates finally passed a long-languishing medical cannabis bill. A similar bill previously sailed through the Senate.

Medical cannabis legislation had flat-lined several times in Charleston this year, mostly on account of resistance from House Speaker Tim Armstead. In the end, legislators were unable to withstand the grassroots backlash to all that legislative foot-dragging.

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“My phone has been blowing up and I know that everybody else’s phones have been blowing up,” Del. Mike Caputo (D-Marion) told local media.

The legislation includes a fairly robust list of qualifying health conditions. Unsurprisingly, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Lou Gehrig’s disease were included alongside Parkinson’s disease and seizure disorders. Anemia and PTSD were also included, among others.

The current bill does not contain a home-grow provision. Medical cannabis would be permitted by pill, oil, tincture, liquid, or dermal patch—but no smokable flower.

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International News

Canada

Ending prohibition would diminish alcohol sales in Canada, according to a recent study by the accounting firm Deloitte.

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Israel

Israel pioneered medical cannabis research and that’s led to a “green rush.” How green? Try $100 million green—with boundless research opportunities to boot. And that’s just for starters.

Read all about it booming here.


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.

Who Is ‘Potsquatch’?

SPRINGFIELD, MA — Seconds after I met Dave Mech, creator of the notorious Potsquatch, video-bomber of Massachusetts weather reports and viral online persona, he presented me with an opportunity for a little participatory journalism.

“I want to get some video of you wearing the suit,” he told me, unfolding what looked like the shorn outer skin of some swamp creature.

“I’d like you to sorta stick your head out of the front door and look around while I film you. I’m making a music video with a band outta Cleveland and need some shots to edit in.”

Why not. I had made the trip to Potco, Mech’s CBD dispensary, café, retail store, infusion and extraction center, to spend an afternoon in the habitat of the Potsquatch. I didn’t count on getting literally under the creature’s skin—but as a reporter you often just roll with the scene.

It was a biting cold day in Springfield, and I can tell you this about the infamous suit. It is a tactical ghillie suit draped in plastic, handmade cannabis fan leaves, which cascade like a lion’s mane around a green hockey-mask face. It is not warm.

America, Meet the Potsquatch

Potsquatch became an instant hit after he was caught on a local news report tromping through the streets of Springfield, MA, during a blizzard. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)Potsquatch became an instant hit after he was caught on a local news report tromping through the streets of Springfield, MA, during a blizzard. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)

Mech and his alter-ego-slash-brand-mascot burst into global view on Feb. 9, 2017, during a nor’easter unleashing snowy hell all over Massachusetts. Jennifer Pagliei, a meteorologist from local news station 22 News, was doing a live report from Springfield, not far from Potco’s storefront. Mech, seeing an opportunity for a little free media, donned the suit and slogged his way through shin-deep snow toward Pagliei.

The rest is history.

It was a clip ripe for social media, and in a few hours it had gone viral.

In early March, a another live news crew got Potsquatch-ed while covering the raid and shutdown of nearby dispensary Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing. Word got out that the store allegedly was charging customers an entry fee, then gifting sample bags of marijuana. (In Massachusetts, where the state voted in November to legalize cannabis for adult use, emerging state regulations and local oversight have made for hazy operations as organizations keep up with what’s tolerable and what’s not.) Potsquatch soon won the support of many at the raid, and his leafy face again stole the show.

 

Squatch’s Alter Ego: Dave Mech

Potco, David Mech's grow-supply store, offers CBD-infused coffee, tea, and edibles. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)Potco, David Mech’s grow-supply store, offers CBD-infused coffee, tea, and edibles. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)

When the phone rings in Potco, Dave Mech is the guy who answers. “We sell CBD,” he told one caller, “but you can bring your bud down to be pressed for products and manufacturing.” At the end he closed the conversation with a cheery goodbye. “Yup. My name’s Dave. I’m the Potsquatch.”

The man behind the mask has always had a gift for promotion. Prior to opening Potco, Dave Mech made an living as an entertainment lawyer in the music business. He once spent three days snowed in with the Wu Tang Clan, which he describes as “a very fun three days.”

“Often it helps more than the prescribed pills and antipsychotics they are on.”

His interest in CBD and cannabis caregiving grew out of his earlier law practice, representing maritime workers and fishermen who suffered injuries while working off the coast of Gloucester, MA, in the 1980s. His father was a Gloucester fisherman, and Mech’s experience representing injured fisherman put him on the front lines of the heroin epidemic that devoured Gloucester, fed by opioid painkillers.

Some years later, Mech developed Clinic in the Clouds, a program he hoped would be a model to demonstrate how to get medical marijuana and CBD patients the care they need. Its function was to improve coordination across primary care doctors and psychiatrists, and even among opioid treatment clinics.

“It’s a big reason why I got into the medical end of cannabis and CBD,” he says. “There was no coordination of care, and anything with marijuana was considered taboo between physical and psychiatric doctors. There was a wall between them, and they needed to accept that it works, and often it helps more than the prescribed pills and antipsychotics they are on.”

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When Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in 2012, Mech began working with a flood of patients who said they were telling their psychiatrists they preferred CBD. The vast majority seemed to be coming in to treat anxiety or depression-related symptoms. “One in 10 had full-blown PTSD, and before coming in they weren’t even seeking treatment,” Mech said.

In 2013, as he was working toward opening a shop of his own, his back suddenly went out, the end result of decades of herniated-disc pain. “I was fighting to get a dispensary up and I couldn’t even get out of bed,” he recalled. He was forced to put the plan on ice. That’s when he met Bill Downing.

Bill and Dave’s Excellent Adventures

(Jamie Cotten for Leafly)(Jamie Cotten for Leafly)

Downing was already a fixture in the underground caregiver and cannabis activist communities in Massachusetts. The two quickly hit it off.

“He seemed like a pretty smart guy and, when I met him, I walked into his basement and he had a full dispensary going,” Mech laughed. “He was different. He was going to do this no matter what.”

Mech and Downing began working in tandem, with Mech establishing Caregivers Connection and Downing servicing patients through his Yankee Caregivers platform. Downing was drawn to Mech’s sincerity, as well as the benefit of having a lawyer as a partner.

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After a month of working as a collective, they were serving more than 1,200 patients. “Bill even had a secret hideout somewhere above the hills of Worcester where he kept his medicine,” Mech said with a giggle. Downing had been processing and distributing more than 20 pounds of cannabis per week, as well as hashish, topicals, bubble baths, lip balms, and other products. “I often had three full-time employees there, just packing up orders,” Downing told me over the phone.

Mech believed then that if done right, the caregiver model could replace the dispensary mess at the time, characterized in the current market by a slow slog of bureaucratic oversight. “That’s what people were doing, what people do in the community. It’s about caregiving first,” he said. Years later, patients around Massachusetts are still frustrated by obstacles to access, especially those far from the state’s few dozen dispensaries.

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Then Mech and Downing’s joint caregiving project began to crash. Massachusetts authorities cracked down on local caregivers, filing civil enforcement actions against various groups. Downing’s dispensary was raided. Frustrated, Downing responded in 2014 by suing the Department of Health on grounds that the agency was attempting to eliminate the caregiver provision of the state’s medical marijuana law.

Mech ultimately broke off from his conjoined business partnership with Downing—though he’s still on good terms with the longtime advocate.

“Dave gave me legal advice, and moral support too,” Downing laughed over the phone. “He’s a believer in the cause. When you’re taking a lot of chances, it’s hard to find people to stand up with you,” he said. “Many times I remember just calling up and asking for [legal] advice. I never had to pay him for it. He just kind of helps.”


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.

Statewide Delivery to Launch in Massachusetts Next Week

BOSTON—Beginning next month, a Brockton-based medical marijuana dispensary will become the first in Massachusetts to provide same-day home delivery to card-carrying patients across the state. The move, first reported by the Boston Globe, is expected to ease access for limited-mobility patients and those who live far from the state’s few dozen dispensaries.

Homebound patients have long struggled to get quality, affordable medicine in timely manner.

The statewide service, In Good Health, is set to kick off Monday, April 3, and will require minimum orders of $100. Delivery fees will range from $30 to $75, depending on location. And for now the dispensary won’t deliver to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

The company will join another dispensary, Patriot Care, which currently offers limited local delivery around Boston and Lowell.

“We have proudly and successfully served thousands of patients since our dispensary opened in September 2015, but it has become apparent that a segment of the population has been underserved, such as patients who are too ill to visit a dispensary or who live several towns away from the nearest dispensary,” In Good Health’s president, David Noble, said in a statement.

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But not everyone’s so optimistic. Mike Crawford, a medical marijuana patient and longtime Bay State cannabis activist, said he’s wary of the news. He’s specifically concerned about the pricing and delivery fees in legal cannabis industry that he sees as already focused more on money than patient care.

“Product from dispensaries like In Good Health are already at a premium price point, and will now add a delivery fee, all for an industrial grown product,” Crawford said. “I’m not anti-dispensary but I am anti-monopoly, and all patients should have access to medicine, be it from a dispensary, a home grow, or a gray-market caregiver.”

Homebound patients have long struggled to get quality, affordable medicine in timely manner, he said. They’re bound to have tough questions for the new service.

“Are they going to deliver from Brockton to Hyannis every day, in the summer, during peak times?” Crawford asked, referring to the notorious Cape Cod traffic bottleneck notorious for plaguing travelers during the summer.

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Many Massachusetts medical marijuana patients already rely on gray-market services—designated by patients as caregivers—in spite of concerns voiced by state health officials and patient advocates, who worry about the lack of background checks and untested medicine—not to mention questionable legality.

Noble of In Good Health acknowledged that his dispensary charges more than most gray-market services, but he told the Globe that “most patients would be willing to pay a premium for products whose quality has been verified.”

“When I first starting using caregivers in 2014, it was like Wild West.”

Grant Smith, housebound cannabis patient

Grant Smith, a 27-year-old housebound medical marijuana patient, fell ill overnight in 2014 with trigeminal neuralgia, which reduced vision in his right eye. The condition has prohibited him from driving or even being outside in general, so he has relied on the gray-zone caregiver model to procure his medicine.

“When I first starting using caregivers in 2014, it was like Wild West, dealing with people who wanted to meet at a Target parking lot,” he said. Eventually he began working with a local caregiver, whom he relied on for a year to consistently provide medicine. Not only did the effort keep him out of the hospital, but it “reduced my pharma-narcotic usage by about a third,” Smith said. Six months ago, his caregiver was arrested and shut down, causing a weeks long gap in service. The situation forced to Smith go through the laborious process of screening caregivers all over again.

“Caregivers have better operating procedures than dispensaries I’ve found, and higher quality products,” Smith said. “Every caregiver I’ve ever found running a legit, patient-centric operation would take the time to learn what’s wrong with me and know which strains and medicine would work best.”

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In an email to Leafly, Noble said the decision to roll out In Good Health’s delivery service next week stems from the dispensary having been open for 18 months. The business currently serves a patient population of roughly 10,000 in the region, he said, and saw a chance to expand while improving the situation for patients.

In Good Health, “saw an opportunity to improve access to safe, legal medical marijuana through this convenient delivery service,” Noble wrote. When asked about the mixed reviews of his products and services in online discussions and Yelp reviews, he told Leafly that “we are confident in the quality and medical benefits of all our products, and any critical feedback we received in the early days of our operation has been incorporated into our continuous quality assurance and customer satisfaction efforts.”

Smith remains skeptical of the dispensary-based delivery service, saying he’s noticed an uptick in dispensaries criticizing the caregiver model. A lobbyist for Patriot Care said in March that caregiver delivery services were selling “marijuana moonshine.”

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But ultimately, Smith and a growing chorus of patients simply want an even playing field for all who need and rely on medical marijuana for better quality of life.

“I’ll happily support those that encourage competition in the market,” he said. “That’ll be my final arbiter for using a dispensary delivery service over a caregiver who spends time with me to figure out what’s best for me personally. Dispensaries don’t do that in my experience.”


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

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

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

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

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

Paul Connors, Holbrook resident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Group Urges MA Lawmakers to Hold off on Cannabis Law Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Legalization Catches Eye of Connecticut Legislature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

MA Speaker: Use Cannabis Taxes to Help Fight Opioid Addiction

BOSTON (AP) — A top Democratic lawmaker says he wants to use tax revenue from legal marijuana sales to help fund the state’s battle against opioid addiction.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo unveiled the proposal on Tuesday during a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

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The Winthrop Democrat called for creation of a Substance Addiction Fund using proceeds from cannabis sales, which are not expected to begin in Massachusetts until mid-2018 at the earliest. He compared it to a trust fund that was created from casino revenues to prevent and treat gambling addiction.

During the campaign last year, DeLeo joined Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to oppose Question 4, which legalized cannabis for adult use. DeLeo said he felt he would have been a hypocrite to support cannabis legalization as he works to fight the opioid abuse epidemic. He depicted cannabis as a gateway drug despite a lack of scientific evidence to support that claim.

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In fact, states that have legalized cannabis have actually seen decreases in opioid use. And in September 2016, then-US Attorney General Loretta Lynch argued that it was prescription drugs, not cannabis, that fed the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“When talk about heroin addiction, we usually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem,” she said. “And then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin. It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids.”

A legislative committee was recently formed to consider changes to the voter-approved recreational marijuana law, including possible adjustments to the 3.75 percent excise tax on legal cannabis sales. Many lawmakers believe that tax rate is too low.

Also on Tuesday, Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to clarify how the Department of Justice plans to enforce federal marijuana laws. Goldberg is charged with overseeing a new, voter-approved state law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

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She pointed to comments by White House officials suggesting stepped-up enforcement. That marks a change from the Obama administration which opted against intervening in local marijuana laws provided states had systems to control the drug’s cultivation and sale.

Last week senators from eight states that have legalized the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana sent Sessions a letter asking the Department of Justice to continue existing enforcement efforts.

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey were among those who signed the letter.

This story was originally published by the Associated Press and contains additional reporting by Leafly News staff.


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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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.