Tag: Massachusetts

State of the Leaf: South Africa Approves MMJ Production

US News Updates

National

US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a longtime champion of cannabis reform, introduced a House resolution that would amend the Controlled Substances Act to protect state cannabis programs and businesses that comply with state and local laws. House Resolution 975 has already gained 14 co-sponsors so far and has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Rohrabacher’s name is already attached to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a Congressional spending measure that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana. That measure is set to expire in April, although US Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) recently stepped forward as lead co-sponsor to renew the amendment. Both represantatives are founding members of the newly established Congressional Cannabis Caucus, a group of federal lawmakers dedicated to promoting sensible cannabis policy at the federal level.

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Colorado

Access to Colorado cannabis is poised to expand further thanks to a handful of developments:

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Georgia

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee will be meeting this week to discuss House Bill 65, which would expand the number of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program. The bill has already been discussed by the Medical Marijuana Working Group, where representatives heard testimony from advocates as well pediatricians both in favor and against the bill. Another medical marijuana measure, however, Senate Bill 16, would reduce the amount of THC allowed from five percent to three percent. SB 16 has already passed through the Senate and now heads to the House floor.

Iowa

An Iowa House subcommittee has approved a bill to legalize the use of cannabis-derived oil for medicinal purposes and create a state-run program for the cultivation and distribution of the oil to patients who would qualify. Those who suffer from epileptic seizures, multiple sclerosis, and cancer would likely benefit from the program, expanding the conditions from the previously medical marijuana oil program, which was aimed solely at those who suffer from epilepsy. The Iowa Department of Public Health would be tasked with running and overseeing the program, as well as issuing registration cards for qualifying patients.

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Kentucky

A new bill from the Kentucky House of Representatives would allow medical cannabis use with a doctor’s recommendation. House Bill 411, introduced by Rep. John Sims Jr. (D-Frankfort), would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis without facing prosecution. Sims indicated that he introduced the bill after seeing studies that show cannabis can help patients in certain situations.

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Legislature created the Committee on Marijuana Policy to help oversee and implement the state’s adult-use legalization law passed by voters last November. Two lawmakers have been tasked with rewriting the law to make “significant changes” before retail shops are scheduled to open in 2018. Rep. Mark Cusack (D-Braintree) and Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) were appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to complete a revised version of the law by June 2017, although the lawmakers have so far been mum on what changes might be in the works.

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Minnesota

A new bill in the Minnesota Legislature would legalize cannabis for personal use by adults 21 and older. Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-St. Paul) introduced S.F. 1392 a companion to H.F. 927, already introduced in the House. Both bills are aimed at legalizing and regulating the sales, possession, and use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21, but passage could be a long shot. Minnesota has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country, and so far not a single state Legislature across the country has legalized cannabis for adult use.

New Hampshire

A bill to legalize cannabis for adult use has been introduced for the first time in the New Hampshire Senate. Senate Bill 233, introduced by Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), would legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis sales, as well as establish a committee to study cannabis legalization. Woodburn, also the state Senate minority leader, said New Hampshire needs to be more progressive and open as the rest of New England moves toward legalization. “We do not want to become the Mississippi of the Northeast, where people have to worry about driving through the state.” Woodburn testified before the Judiciary Committee.

North Dakota

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to approve just over $1 million in funding to oversee the state’s new medical marijuana program over the next two years. Deputy State Officer Arvy Smith said North Dakota is not anticipating earning any revenue from the program during its first year, as the system gets off the ground. After that, user fees are expected to help fund the program. During the course of the coming two-year budget cycle between 2017 and 2019, the program is expected to cost a total of $2.9 million and raise about $1.3 million. The 81-page emergency measure to amend the bill will be considered this week by the Senate.

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Wyoming

An initiative to legalize medical marijuana won’t be on the 2018 ballot after failing to meet a key deadline. The petition was organized by NORML’s Wyoming chapter and had originally aimed to put a question on the 2016 ballot, but organizers failed to gather the 25,600 required signatures in time. Setting its sights on 2018, the group continued gathering signatures. Once again, however, it has failed to submit enough signatures to the Secretary of State’s office before a last week’s Feb. 14 deadline. A poll conducted in October 2016 found that support for the legalizing medical cannabis is at an all-time high, with 81 percent of Wyoming respondents in favor.

Texas

Houston is getting a newly revamped cannabis decriminalization policy. The city has suffered from a high crime rate for years, and state Attorney General Kim Ogg campaigned on a platform that promised to deprioritize low-level cannabis offenses in order to divert funds to fight violent crime in Harris County. The Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program, designed to spare offenders from criminal penalties, would allow those who are caught with two ounces of cannabis or less to take a four-hour educational class rather than face a misdemeanor charge. Ogg’s office believes such diversion programs could spare up to 12,000 people from jail time and save Harris County around $26 million per year in enforcement costs.

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Virginia

During the first gubernatorial primary debate, two of the four Republican candidates indicated support for relaxing criminal penalties around cannabis. Denver Riggleman, a populist candidate, described his brother’s struggle to reintegrate into normal life after spending nine months in jail on cannabis-related charges. Another candidate, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart joined Riggleman in calling for decriminalization, saying “It’s absolutely atrocious that we are jailing people simply because they are in possession of marijuana.” Front-runner Ed Gillespie has said he does not support decriminalization but instead wants a state commission to review whether the penalties for marijuana offenses are in line with the severity of the crime. Rounding out the GOP field, state Sen. Frank Wagner supports diverting drug offenders to therapy programs rather than jailing them. The two Democratic Party candidates, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former US Rep. Tom Perriello, have both come forward in favor of decriminalization.

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International News Updates

Australia

Health Minister Greg Hunt has officially given the go-ahead for the legal sales of medical cannabis products to begin. Companies will now be permitted to distribute cannabis oils and medications locally, establishing a legal cannabis trade within the country. Parliament passed laws last year allowing patients with chronic illnesses to qualify medicinal cannabis, but without a legal market, products were only available only via import or through the black market. The move is meant to ensure Australia is able to maintain a safe, secure, and reputable source of cannabis-based medicines. Domestic production will continue until the supply is enough to meet patient demand.

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South Africa

The Medical Control Council, in a long-awaited decision, announced it will for the first time publish guidelines on medical cannabis production. Member of Parliament Narend Singh, of the South African Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), hailed the announcement as the result of tireless work from former IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who fought for cannabis legalization and made a direct plea to South African President Jacob Zuma to decriminalize cannabis. Oriani-Ambrosini died of lung cancer in 2014, before the government made any policy changes, but the IFP has since called its approval of medicinal cannabis production a tribute to the late MP.


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

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

U.S. News Updates

Arkansas

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

Illinois

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

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Indiana

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

Maine

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

Massachusetts

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

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New Hampshire

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

North Dakota

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

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South Dakota

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

Texas

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

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

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

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Vermont

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

Wisconsin

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

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International News Updates

Brazil

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


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.

Patriot Care Panned for Felony Stand

When news broke yesterday that Patriot Care, a leading Massachusetts dispensary, was lobbying to exclude anyone with a prior felony drug conviction from the industry, it sparked outrage from legalization advocates around the nation. 

The company’s move came in a letter sent by Patriot Care CEO Robert Mayerson to the Massachusetts Health Council, a government agency tasked with regulating the cannabis industry. The Council is currently considering a number of rule changes, including the elimination of the existing felony drug prohibition. Currently, state regulations prevent anyone with a felony drug conviction from serving in any capacity with a Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD).

A proposed rule change would eliminate the ban. Patriot Care came out strongly against the change.

“Permitting those who have demonstrated the interest and willingness to ignore state and federal drug laws sends the wrong signals to those who would participate in the legal, regulated industry,” CEO Robert Mayerson wrote. 

The reaction from the cannabis community came swiftly. Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell, who broke the news, led things off. Other bold-face names–including Drug Policy Alliance’s Bill Piper, Oregon cannabis leader Kaliko Castille, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition advocate Diane Goldstein–quickly followed. 

It was a mix of bewilderment and outrage. 

Bewilderment because: Here’s a cannabis industry CEO actively lobbying to bar anyone convicted of breaking the same unjust federal drug laws that Mayerson and his company have ignored since the day they opened.

“It’s incredibly hypocritical of them to cite federal laws while breaking the same federal laws every day,” Shanel Lindsay told Leafly. Lindsay, an attorney and founder of Ardent Cannabis, helped write Massachusetts’ medical cannabis law, “This reveals a tension between the goals of activists and the goals of this industry.”

For many legalization advocates, their work is fueled by social justice concerns. It’s no secret that our nation’s drug laws disproportionally target black people. It’s also widely known and recognized that the emerging cannabis industry has a diversity problem. The two issues go hand in hand. Patriot Care’s seeming ignorance, or simple willingness to accept these disparities and actively perpetuate inequality, blew up into a public relations fiasco. 

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“This decision is unfortunate,” Ardent CEO Lindsay told Leafly.  “And it’s tone deaf to the equity issues in this industry. We know a bias exists when you exclude those with prior drug convictions. The social justice piece, that was a driving force behind why Question 4 passed.”

Leafly reached out to Patriot Care—via phone, email, and social media—for an explanation. The company chose not to respond.

Shaleen Title, co-founder of the THC Staffing Group and a longtime cannabis advocate, echoed Shanel Lindsay’s concerns. Title helped draft Question 4, the Massachusetts adult use legalization measure. 

“Excluding people for marijuana convictions isn’t a fair practice,” Title told Leafly. “If you look at the well-documented racial disparities in drug law enforcement, you’ll understand that judging people based on involvement in the legal system for marijuana is essentially judging them based on where they came from. If you have black or brown skin, you are far more likely to have a marijuana conviction than someone else who used or sold marijuana.” 

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This isn’t the first time Patriot Care has drawn fire from others in the legalization movement.

In February 2016, the opening of the company’s dispensary in Lowell, Mass., was marred by a protest organized by legalization advocates. The protesters were upset because Daniel Delaney, a registered lobbyist for Patriot Care, had formed a committee to defeat Question 4, the state’s adult use legalization measure. It was never clear whether Patriot Care was behind Delaney’s committee. Delaney himself told Leafly the company had nothing to do with it. But the prior relationship between Delaney and Patriot Care led many in the advocacy community to draw their own conclusions.

Question 4 ultimately passed by a 7-point margin that November.

Patriot Care’s controversial letter also led some to reflect on the progress made since the first adult use laws were passed in Colorado and Washington state four years ago.

“When marijuana businesses were a completely new idea, these exclusions were brought up out of an abundance of caution, as a controversial way to minimize risk,” Shaleen Title pointed out. “But now we are in a different place, where the majority of Americans live in a state where cannabis is legal in some form. The trend is for marijuana laws to move away from this shameful practice.”

That’s particularly true in Boston, Title added, “which is leading the nation in its efforts for racial equity in cannabis.” The Boston City Council Committee on Jobs, Wages & Workforce Development recently released a report recommending further action to address the racial impact caused by the war on drugs. Those actions include expunging records for marijuana convictions and developing and funding re-entry programs for people transitioning out of prison.

“People who are still supporting discriminating against people with convictions,” Title said, “are stuck in the past.”

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arkansas

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

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California

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

Florida

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

Maine

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

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Massachusetts

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

Montana

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

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North Dakota

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

Nevada

No delays so far in Nevada.


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

Lawmakers Try to Delay Enactment of Voter Approved Marijuana Laws

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

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

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


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

Rhode Island Cannabis Proponents Kick Off Legalization Campaign

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts is causing some Rhode Island lawmakers to try to catch up to their neighbor and possibly race ahead.

Rhode Island’s legal cannabis proponents kicked off their campaign Wednesday to pass state legislation they hope can take effect before marijuana shops open across the border.

Massachusetts voters approved a November ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for adults, but a new law delays the opening of retail cannabis stores until mid-2018. Nothing will stop Rhode Island residents from buying the drug in Massachusetts once those stores open.

The same Rhode Island lawmakers who sponsored marijuana legalization bills in previous legislative sessions, Providence Rep. Scott Slater and Cranston Sen. Josh Miller, both Democrats, are drafting new bills and plan to introduce them soon.

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The bills are significantly different from previous efforts, in part because they reflect concerns raised as the state’s legalization debate grew more serious last year, said Jared Moffat, director of legalization advocacy group Regulate Rhode Island.

“We got a lot of feedback from the governor’s office and other lawmakers,” Moffat said.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has expressed willingness to sign a legalization measure if it’s approved by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly but she and top legislative leaders have said they’d rather get the regulations right than race to get ahead of Massachusetts. Among Raimondo’s concerns are that children could get access to marijuana edibles.

The state recently implemented reforms to its decade-old medical marijuana industry that are also meant to be a framework for regulating recreational cannabis growers and sellers.

Moffat said the Rhode Island legislation proposes stricter rules on edibles than what Massachusetts voters approved, as well as stricter limits on how much marijuana a person can grow. The Rhode Island lawmakers are also proposing higher taxes on marijuana sales, in line with Western states that have legalized cannabis. A 23 percent excise tax on marijuana sales would be levied on top of the state’s 7 percent sales tax.

That’s far higher than the Massachusetts proposal, which called for a 3.75 percent surcharge on retail sales of marijuana, on top of the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax. Local jurisdictions could also add up a 2 percent tax, creating a combined maximum tax of 12 percent on cannabis products.


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.

Criticism of Massachusetts Lawmakers Meddling with Marijuana Legalization Initiative

A supporter holds up a “Yes on 4” sign at the 2016 Boston Freedom Rally (Scott Gacek/The Daily Chronic)

There has been much talk in the Massachusetts Legislature about making changes to the Question 4 marijuana legalization initiative, which was passed by Bay State voters Nov. 8.

The new law is already filled with restrictions designed to boost profits for the marijuana industry. Further restrictions will benefit the industry even more.

Examples can best be shown by making parallels to less restrictive laws on wine. One is allowed to buy a case of wine, not merely one bottle at a time. With marijuana there is a purchase limit of one ounce.

A person can have an entire wine cellar at home. With marijuana there is a possession limit of 10 ounces at home.

There is effectively no restriction on how much wine one can brew at home, as the actual federal limit is absurdly high. With marijuana, a person can grow only six plants.

These rules guarantee higher profits than would occur in an free market. It is also useful to remind ourselves that the tax man is no less greedy than the business crony.

The state tax on a $15 bottle of wine is 1 percent. Adding together the various taxes on marijuana gives a total of 12 percent. Legislators are pushing to raise that even higher.

Higher taxes make it more difficult to undermine and sweep away the black market.

Treasurer Goldberg says high taxes are a must, to pay the millions of dollars needed for lawyers and administrators.

In an editorial last year, the Boston Globe described Question 4 as having a “cumbersome regulatory framework.” Perhaps the best change legislators could make would be to trim back the necessity of having such an expensive and complex new bureaucracy.


This column first appeared in the Daily Hampshire Gazette

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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.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Want to Reduce Plant Limit, Raise Marijuana Taxes

BOSTON, MA — Lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering big changes for a voter-approved law that legalizes marijuana in the Bay State, including an increase in tax on retail marijuana sales and a reduction in plant limits on personal home grows.

Following decades of inaction on similar bills in the state legislature, voters in Massachusetts approved Question 4 in November, legalizing marijuana for adults.

Some provisions in the new law took effect in December, including personal possession and cultivation of up to six plants per adult, with a limit of 12 plants per household.  Soon after, however, lawmakers began tinkering with the new law, using a sparsely attended informal legislative session to pass a bill delaying other aspects of Question 4 by six months.  That bill was signed into law by anti-pot Republican Governor Charlie Baker just days later.

Now, the reason for the six month delay is clear: Lawmakers want to use the time to gut key provisions in the legalization law that could impact the effectiveness of the law.  Marijuana reform advocates worry this could lead to a continued thriving black market.

Under the measure, which was approved by 54 percent of voters on election day, home cultivation is allowed by adults, but is limited to six plants per adult or a total of 12 plants per household.

But according to Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, the legislature is considering reducing those plant limits.

“It’s legal now to have 12 plants in your home, but the advocates understand that this is likely to be debated in the process,” Rosenberg said Tuesday, speaking on WCAP radio.

Rosenberg claims that 12 plants could yield enough pot to roll 30 joints per day.

“According to the people who know a lot more about this than I do, they say that for someone who knows how to truly grow these plants and once you master it — which is not all that hard — 12 plants would produce about 30 marijuana cigarettes a day,” Rosenberg said.  “I mean it’s just it’s a very large quantity to have in your home at any given time.”

Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for the Yes on 4 campaign, disagrees, saying that reducing the number of plants adults are allowed to grow at home “would be a huge mistake.”

“I think it would clearly disrespect the will of the voters,” Borghesani says. “The voters were well aware of the at-home grow limit that was in the initiative and they voted for it by a very solid margin. Our home-grow limit is more restrictive than Colorado’s and the Legislature should not take any action based on no data that I can see, whatsoever, to justify such a move.”

While an experienced, talented grower could see yields of four ounces or more per plant every few months, most home grows produce much more modest yields as home cultivation is more of a hobby than a career.  And that’s if they’re lucky, says Peter Bernard, president of the Massachusetts Growers Advocacy Council.

“Most of the people who are going to try this are going to try and fail. Those who do succeed will average about two ounces a plant, and it takes about six months to grow beginning to end,” Bernard says. “If people think 12 plants will fuel a criminal enterprise — sure, they maybe could make a few bucks off friends and family — but it’s just not realistic. Twelve per household is not unreasonable.”

Lawmakers are also reportedly considering a significant increase in taxes imposed on retail sales, potentially doubling the tax approved by voters.

The language of Question 4 imposes an excise tax of 3.75% in addition to the state sales tax of 6.25%, adding a total 10% sales tax at the point of sale. Local communities have the option to add an additional 2% sales tax, making the total possible tax 12%.

Lawmakers have suggested increasing more than doubling marijuana taxes in an effort to boost revenue generated by marijuana sales. A Senate committee has suggested a marijuana sales tax that could range from 10 to 20%, an excise tax on growers of 5 to 15 percent, and allowing communities to optionally add on a 5 percent tax.

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Lenny Mirra (R-West Newbury), has cautioned against such a drastic tax increase.

“If we set the price too high above the black market, then people will revert to getting it on the street,” Mirra says. “Getting rid of illegal sales is one of the reasons people voted to approve it.”

That’s the intent behind the taxes outlined in the ballot measure, which represent the lowest retail marijuana taxes in the country.

“We wanted the tax to be low enough to fund the regulation and administration of the initiative, but also to undercut the illicit market,” Borghesani said, noting that the measure allows for an annual review on sales taxes.

Under Question 4, the Cannabis Control Commission, which will oversee the cannabis industry, has the authority to review marijuana taxes annually and suggest that lawmakers raise or lower them.

“They should allow the system to get up and running and then decide if they need to adjust the tax rate,” Borghesani says.

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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.

Massachusetts Governor Signs Law Delaying Retail Marijuana Sales

BOSTON, MA — Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation into law Friday amending the state’s voter-initiated marijuana law.

The legislation, which was passed unopposed by fewer than a dozen lawmakers during an informal legislative session, delays the timeline for the establishment of licensed marijuana sales from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018.

Separate provisions in the law that eliminate penalties for adults who privately possess or grow personal use quantities of cannabis took effect in mid-December.

Governor Baker and other political leaders were outspoken in their opposition to the law’s passage, and have also suggested further amending the measure in a manner that would increase sales tax rates and potentially infringe upon adults’ right to cultivate the plant at home.

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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.

Elizabeth Warren Wants to Get the Cannabis Industry out of Banking Limbo

BOSTON (AP) — As marijuana shops sprout in states that have legalized the drug, they face a critical stumbling block — lack of access to the kind of routine banking services other businesses take for granted.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading an effort to make sure vendors working with legal marijuana businesses, from chemists who test marijuana for harmful substances to firms that provide security, don’t have their banking services taken away.

“It’s just a plain old safety issue. You don’t want people walking in with guns and masks and saying, ‘Give me all your cash.’”

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

It’s part of a wider effort by Warren and others to bring the burgeoning $7 billion marijuana industry in from a fiscal limbo she said forces many shops to rely solely on cash, making them tempting targets for criminals.

After voters in Warren’s home state approved a November ballot question to legalize the adult use of cannabis, she joined nine other senators in sending a letter to a key federal regulator, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, calling on it to issue additional guidance to help banks provide services to marijuana shop vendors.

Twenty-eight states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.

Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said there are benefits to letting marijuana-based businesses move away from a cash-only model.

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“You make sure that people are really paying their taxes. You know that the money is not being diverted to some kind of criminal enterprise,” Warren said recently. “And it’s just a plain old safety issue. You don’t want people walking in with guns and masks and saying, ‘Give me all your cash.’”

A spokesman for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said the agency is reviewing the letter.

There has been some movement to accommodate the banking needs of marijuana businesses.

Two years ago, the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave banks permission to do business with legal marijuana entities under some conditions. Since then, the number of banks and credit unions willing to handle marijuana money rose from 51 in 2014 to 301 in 2016.

Warren, however, said fewer than 3 percent of the nation’s 11,954 federally regulated banks and credit unions are serving the cannabis industry.

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Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a trade organization for 1,100 marijuana businesses nationwide, said access to banking remains a top concern.

“What the industry needs is a sustainable solution that services the entire industry instead of tinkering around the edges,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to be fully in favor of legalized marijuana to know that it helps no one to force these businesses outside the banking system.”

Sam Kamin, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law who studies marijuana regulation, said there’s only so much states can do on their own.

“The stumbling block over and over again is the federal illegality,” he said.

The federal government lumps marijuana into the same class of drugs as heroin, LSD and peyote. Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration has essentially turned a blind eye to state laws legalizing the drug, and supporters of legalizing marijuana hope Republican President-elect Donald Trump will follow suit.

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Trump officials did not respond to a request for comment. During the presidential campaign, Trump said states should be allowed to legalize marijuana and has expressed support for medicinal use. But he also has sounded more skeptical about recreational use, and his pick for attorney general, Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a stern critic.

Some people in the marijuana industry say the banking challenges are merely growing pains for an industry evolving from mom-and-pop outlets.

Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care, one of the nation’s largest providers of medical marijuana products, said it’s up to marijuana businesses to make sure their financial house is in order.

“It’s not just as simple as asking the banks to open their doors,” Vita said. “The industry also needs to develop a set of standards that are acceptable to the banks.”


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.