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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by bro, Sep 16, 2015.
Drop the ball how?
CO had 37 dispensaries fully licensed when rec sales began in 2014. MA has two. It's obviously a way underdeveloped system here
I love how smug you are about a place you moved to yesterday
Just rolling with the status quo, pretending this isn't an important issue that could also drive people to vote and refusing to embrace legalization as a major campaign component
A) it was a joke
B) Democrats have obviously treated it as an important issue.
I’d rather forget about dipshits making arguments like Mr. Dunne anyway. Win win.
let's go NJ!! teel
TRENTON — New Jersey is officially one step closer to legal weed after a rare joint panel of lawmakers from the Senate and Assembly approved a bill on Monday to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana.
Legislative committees also approved measures to expand the state's medical marijuana program and overhaul the rules for expunging drug-related and other crimes.
The legalization bill was approved 7-4 with two abstentions by members of the Senate budget committee and 7-2 with one abstention by those on the Assembly appropriations committee. All three measures can now head to votes in the full Senate and Assembly, where their chances of success are less clear.
Many lawmakers remain hesitant to end a long-standing prohibition on marijuana, while Gov. Phil Murphy, who supports legalization but can veto legislation he doesn't like, has yet to endorse the proposal put forth by Democratic leaders in the Legislature
When asked about the legalization bill at an unrelated event Monday, the governor declined to comment on specifics, offering only that he was “encouraged that it’s moving in the right direction.”
“It’s too early to tell as it relates to exactly the elements that ultimately are in there,” said Murphy, who has been at odds with lawmakers over how to regulate the new industry and how much to tax it. “We’ll see, but I'm happy to see the progress.”
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said in an interview Monday that he wouldn't post the bill for a vote in the full Senate until it has Murphy's support. The next possible votes by the full Senate and Assembly are in mid-December.
"Until we can come to an agreement, we can't send a bill to him," Sweeney said.
But it is not clear if the bill has enough votes to get through the Senate or Assembly. While support has split largely along party lines, with more Democrats in favor, a number of notable Democrats have taken a stand against legalization.
The Statehouse on Monday was packed with lobbyists and activists who testified for more than four hours. One committee room became so crowded that state troopers had to stand in front of the doors to prevent more people from entering.
Most people were there for the marijuana legalization bill, S-2703, which would make it legal to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and consume it at home or in specifically designated areas. The bill establishes a 12 percent state tax rate on marijuana purchases, while municipalities could impose an additional 2 percent tax.
The bill also calls for the expungement of marijuana crimes that would now be considered legal.
Other measures approved Monday received less attention but would also have far-reaching effects on the state.
One measure, S-10, would expand the state’s medical marijuana program by increasing the monthly medical marijuana cap from 2 ounces to 3 ounces per patient, legalizing edible forms of medical marijuana for adults and jump-starting the permitting process for new medical marijuana dispensaries, manufacturers and cultivators.
Another, S-3205, would make major changes to how New Jersey handles expungements. It would make more crimes eligible for expungement — including offenses involving controlled dangerous substances — and cut down the wait time to five years. It also includes a "clean slate" process that would wipe away all offenses at once for anyone who has a clean record for 10 years after their last offense. Many more serious crimes would not be eligible expungement.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the fate of their effort, lawmakers who have been crafting the legalization bill spoke in grand terms about the significance of Monday's votes. If the measure becomes law, New Jersey would become the 11th state to allow adults to possess and use small amounts of marijuana.
"This will stimulate the economy of New Jersey like nothing ever has before," said Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, a sponsor of the legislation. "We’re on the precipice of a historic event here, starting something and creating jobs like no other Legislature has done before. We have that opportunity."
"We stand on the verge a major change here in New Jersey," added Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester. "It’s been a long road, but today we’re on the verge of something very significant, and it’s not something that’s been done haplessly or recklessly. As we go through this bill, there's a great deal of thought reflected."
But opponents were also out in force Monday.
Sen. Ronald Rice, D-Essex, an adversary of legal weed since lawmakers first started considering the issue, called the bill a “slap in the face to people of color” that failed to take into account any regular person living in an urban area.
“No one is actually going out to talk to the day-care and preschool parents," Rice said. “The endgame of the legalization of recreational marijuana is making more money for white investors.”
U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy III, D-Rhode Island, testified on behalf of New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy, a state chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national advocacy group that opposes marijuana legalization.
“How can it help us to have another drug on the market that’s going to be commercially promoted to get more people to use it?” Kennedy said in an interview. “I just think it’s bad public policy. I’m a father of five children, and I don’t want this stuff actively promoted. It’s the new Big Tobacco.”
And Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said there would be unforeseen costs, as local municipalities would have to hire more Drug Recognition Experts — specially trained police officers dispatched to identify whether a driver is under the influence of drugs — and assign officers to search through records by hand as part of the legislation’s overhaul of the expungement process.
“Money has to be addressed down at the law enforcement level, to allow us to train and hire staff,” Golden said. “All of your local municipalities will have to cover some of that cost. … It’s the closest thing we have to detection. This will incur costs for the local municipalities that we have to cover while officers are being trained.”
If the marijuana legalization bill is signed into law as written, the Garden State would have one of the lowest effective tax rates in the country. Oregon, California, Michigan and Massachusetts all impose excise, sales or other taxes that add up to more than 15 percent. Other states, such as Washington, Nevada and Colorado, have effective tax rates of at least 25 percent.
Other aspects of the legislation would also make New Jersey different from other states. Dispensaries would be allowed to open separate "consumption areas," where marijuana customers could consume the product as long as the local government approves them. In most other states where the recreational use of marijuana is legal, users are allowed to consume the drug only at home.
And New Jersey would be just the fourth state with legal weed delivery services, allowing dispensaries to invest in secure fleets of delivery vehicles or hire independent vendors.
TRENTON — New Jersey is officially one step closer to legal weed after a rare joint panel of lawmakers...
New Zealand Says Voters Will Decide Whether Cannabis Is Legalized
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is known for its tourism campaigns emphasizing what a clean, green country it is, and after 2020 it might be even greener: A referendum will be held that year on whether recreational cannabis use should be legal, the justice minister said on Wednesday.
It appears that New Zealand would be the first country to put the issue to a nationwide vote.
Andrew Little, the justice minister, said the referendum would be on the ballot during the next national election, due to be held in 2020. He told reporters that the results would be binding, though he said there was still “a bit of detail still to work through,” particularly regarding how the question would be worded.
The announcement came a week after New Zealand’s Parliament passed a law that will ease restrictions on medicinal marijuana.
Public opinion in New Zealand has become more supportive of recreational cannabis use in recent years; an October poll by 1 Newsfound that 46 percent of those questioned favored legalizing the drug, while 41 percent were against. The poll questioned 1,006 eligible voters and had a margin-of-sampling error of 3.1 percent.
Audrey Young, a veteran political commentator for the New Zealand Herald, said public opinion was moving “toward liberalization.”
“That’s because of two things — the advancement in the medicinal cannabis regime and the law just being passed, and also just that gathering sense of global opinion that the war on drugs is lost and that the health approach is the one to take,” she said.
If more than half of voters taking part in the referendum support legalization, New Zealand will join a handful of countries that have legalized marijuana use outright, including Canada and Uruguay; in the United States, several states have also legalized it. Dozens of other countries and states have decriminalized recreational use, legalized medicinal cannabis or eased enforcement of possession laws.
Figures from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said that in 2015, about 8 percent of the people acknowledged having used cannabis in the previous year. Small-scale, personal use is largely ignored by the police, although as in the United States, studies have shown that minorities are more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for it.
New Zealand is known as being socially liberal, with previous governments having decriminalized prostitution and legalized same-sex marriage. But neither of the two major parties, center-left Labour — which leads the current government — or center-right National, had previously been willing to touch the issue of recreational marijuana.
But Labour’s hand was forced in negotiations after the September 2017 election, during which neither major party won enough seats to govern outright. To win the support of the left-leaning Green Party — one of two parties that have given Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the majority she needs to govern — Labour agreed to put cannabis legalization to a public vote.
“Politicians are the most risk-averse group of people that I have ever met,” said Chlöe Swarbrick, a Green Party lawmaker who has advocated legalizing cannabis.
There had not previously been “the will to invest in evidence-based policies” on controversial issues like marijuana, she said.
Ms. Swarbrick said the Green Party hoped the government would pass a law before the referendum that spelled out how legalization would work, giving “clarity and certainty about what New Zealanders are actually voting for.”
“It means we don’t end up with a Brexit-type situation when we’re trying to figure out what a ‘yes’ vote actually means,” she said.
Mr. Little, the justice minister, told Radio New Zealand in May that while holding the referendum during the 2020 election would be convenient, since voters would already be heading to the polls, some of his colleagues would not want the issue dominating an election campaign.
But voters’ attention could be split even further, with cannabis unlikely to be the only issue up for a public vote. Mr. Little has indicated that a referendum question about euthanasia might also be on the 2020 ballot, along with a third on a possible change to New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional electoral system.
Commentators said it was unusual to have so many social issues up for debate at once. The government is also considering easing laws on abortion, which is criminalized in New Zealand but is generally allowed if a woman has the approval of two doctors.
“In an ideal world, the two largest parties probably wouldn’t want a cannabis referendum associated with the general election,” said Ms. Young, the political analyst.
She said the Labour and Green parties would hope for a strong turnout among young voters who favor legalizing marijuana, while a vote on the euthanasia issue would be likelier to mobilize older voters.
Cuomo Moves to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New York Within Months
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would push to legalize recreational marijuana next year, a move that could generate more than $1.7 billion in sales annually and put New York in line with several neighboring states.
The highly anticipated proposal came in a speech in Manhattan on Monday, in which the governor outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term. Mr. Cuomo framed the speech as a reflection on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt — the former president who was once a New York governor himself — would do today, mixing sweeping rhetoric about American ideals with grim warnings about the Trump administration.
The speech, which seemed delivered with a national audience in mind, could prolong slow-burning speculation about Mr. Cuomo’s presidential ambitions. It also showed, in striking detail, the governor’s leftward evolution in his eight years in office, from a business-friendly centrist who considered marijuana a “gateway drug,” to a self-described progressive championing recreational marijuana, taxes on the rich and a ban on corporate political donations.
“The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else,” Mr. Cuomo said before introducing the cannabis proposal, describing the injustice that had “for too long targeted the African-American and minority communities.
“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” he added.
Ten other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, spending the new tax revenue on a range of initiatives, including schools and transportation.
The idea is expected to win support in Albany, where Democrats captured the State Senate in November. Members of the Assembly, which is dominated by New York City Democrats, have supported such a measure as well.
Traditionally, governors outline their priorities for the year in a State of the State address in January. But Mr. Cuomo said he wanted to lay out his plans early, in anticipation of the first legislative session in a decade in which Democrats have controlled both houses of the Legislature.
Those plans ranged from combating climate change to protecting undocumented immigrants. Other measures included creating longer waiting periods for buying guns; implementing congestion pricing to fund the city’s crumbling subway system; and ending vacancy decontrol, which allows landlords to remove certain apartments from rent-regulation protections when they become empty.
Mr. Cuomo also pledged to invest an additional $150 billion in infrastructure and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, regardless of what happens at the federal level. He stopped short, though, of endorsing the New York Health Act, which would create a single-payer health care system.
One of Mr. Cuomo’s most striking proposals would overhaul the state’s election laws. In addition to reiterating his criticism of the L.L.C. loophole, a provision of state law that has allowed corporations to skirt the limit on political giving, the governor also said for the first time that New York should outright prohibit corporations from giving to those seeking elected office.
“Ban any corporate contributions to any political candidate, period,” he said.
It was a striking proclamation from a governor who is known (and feared) for his fund-raising prowess, which has been fueled in large part by generous corporate donors. That fact was not lost upon some in attendance on Monday: Mr. Cuomo was interrupted by hecklers twice, including one who shouted, “Cuomo only cares about corporations!”
Twenty-two states do not allow campaign contributions from corporations.
Mr. Cuomo also repeated his calls for the introduction of automatic voter registration, voting by mail and early voting, and he suggested that Election Day become a state holiday. New York is one of only 12 states that does not allow early voting.
In a nod to a potential audience beyond New York, Mr. Cuomo rebuked his fellow Democrats for what he called their reliance on rhetoric over action. Mr. Cuomo, who advertises himself as a pragmatist with a knack for getting things done, seemed to suggest that the Democratic Party could use his brand of leadership.
“Today while Democrats bemoan our current federal government, let us remember F.D.R.’s example: that it is not enough for Democrats to criticize,” he said, after a recitation of his own accomplishments.
“The Democratic leadership has to prove that it has the knowledge to govern, the skill to accomplish and the understanding to unite.”
It remains to be seen how many of Mr. Cuomo’s own promises become reality. The governor has made similar vows, such as ending cash bail, only for them to languish. Mr. Cuomo has blamed their demise on the Republican-controlled Senate, but some progressives have accused the governor of failing to exert his full political weight.
eased some of those restrictions in 2016. But Mr. Cuomo remained wary, telling reporters as recently as last year that he considered marijuana a “gateway drug.”
It was not until this year that Mr. Cuomo warmed to the idea, saying that the “facts have changed” around the drug and acknowledging its legalization in nearby states: Massachusetts in 2016 and New Jersey now moving to do the same. The governor’s primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon, made legalization a central plank of her campaign.
The clearest indication of what legalization might look like in New York may be found in a report issued in July by the state Department of Health, which Mr. Cuomo had empowered to study the issue. The commission, which the governor convened in January, concluded that the benefits of taxing and regulating the drug outweighed any negative effects.
Legalization could bring in between $248 million and $677 million in new tax revenue in its first year, the report said. In addition, it could also ease the opioid crisis and mitigate racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
funnel the money into New York City’s crumbling subway system. Others have said the funds should be invested in the black and Latino communities that have been disproportionately affected by prosecution.
Some have suggested that they would not support legalization without a promise to return the profits to those communities. Assemblyman Walter Mosley, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said in a statement that the Legislature “cannot move forward with an adult-use program until we know that these injustices of the past are made right.”
But others, especially those in the recreational marijuana industry, rejoiced. Cannabis companies had given generously to Mr. Cuomo and other officials before this year’s election, with one company, MedMen, giving the governor the limit of $65,000 this year.
A Quinnipiac University poll in May showed that 63 percent of New Yorkers favored legalizing marijuana.
Marijuana Bill Preview: Cannabis Legalization Proposal Estimates A $33 Million Windfall For N.H.
A bill to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire in 2019 would raise $33 million a year and regulate cannabis in a way similar to alcohol in New Hampshire.
In a first preview of his bipartisan bill, State Representative Renny Cushing says it builds upon the work of a recent marijuana study commission. He provided NHPR a draft copy of the legislation, which has yet to be made public, for review.
“We’ve done our best to address every concern that was raised, certainly every concern that was raised in the year and a half study that the Abrami committee undertook,” Cushing tells NHPR.
“You know, quite frankly, I think we’re in a situation where we’re on the right side of history, so to speak.”
Gov. Chris Sununu remains opposed to marijuana legalization, as do some public health advocacy groups, including New Futures.
While Cushing says the bill builds upon the work of a recent marijuana study commission, Kate Frey, Vice President of Advocacy at New Futures, said in Novemberthat the commission’s report outlined the risks to young people in New Hampshire. "At a time when we are battling the worst public health crisis in New Hampshire’s history, we cannot sacrifice the future of our young people by commercializing this harmful substance," she said in a statement today.
The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police also opposes legalization.
Cushing says lawmakers should follow the will of the people and join neighboring states that have already legalized recreational cannabis.
What's in the bill?
If passed, the bill would legalize up to an ounce of recreational pot and 5 grams of concentrated cannabis for those 21 and older. Adults would be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants, three of them mature.
The bill would establish a cannabis control commission to license and regulate cannabis businesses. It bans public consumption of cannabis, and give towns and cities a say - a municipality would be able to enact an ordinance prohibiting or limiting the number or type of cannabis establishments.
Cannabis locations would be banned from being within 1,000 feet of a school, and would be prohibited from selling alcohol.
A drug monitoring initiative would produce a report on cannabis, including youth and adult rates alcohol, cannabis, and illegal drug use.
The bill proposes a tax of $30 an ounce at the wholesale level. It also includes language on manufacturing and testing, including restrictions on advertising, safe packaging, and warnings on labeling.
It would appropriate $2 million to create the Cannabis Control Commission. And $100,000 would be appropriated upfront to establish the drug monitoring effort and collection of baseline data.
Cannabis revenues, including fees, taxes and civil penalties, would go to a new cannabis control fund to implement the proposed new law, with 33 percent going to the state's general fund. Funding from this fund would include:
Money to the Department of Health and Human Services for public education and for voluntary programs for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
Funding to towns and cities where cannabis establishments are located
Support for public safety agencies, police and fire, for hiring and training drug experts, and for impaired roadside driving enforcement training
Proposed penalties in the bill include violations for public smoking and consuming cannabis in a moving vehicle, as well as offenses for cultivation in restricted areas or property visible to the public.
The $33 million revenue marker is a conservative estimate, and the pricepoint is tailor to stamp down on the illegal, black market, according to Cushing.(The study commission's final report indicated a range, with up to $58 million revenue possible, depending on the taxing structure.)
The legislation also sets up an avenue for people to petition the court to annul an arrest or court records for conviction of marijuana possession of three-quarters of an ounce. That provision is tied to Sept. 16, 2017, the effective date for New Hampshire’s marijuana decriminalization.
The bill also legalizes and regulates hemp as an agricultural product.
A bipartisan effort
The bill's sponsors include John Reagan, R-Deerfield, and Martha Hennessy, D-Hanover, in the Senate. House sponsors include three former Republican committee chairs: Carol McGuire, John O’Connor, and Jim Webb. O’Connor was a sponor of the bill that created the marijuana study commission.
Reagan is a legislative leader on the state’s medical marijuana law. He has a couple of proposed bills concerning updates to the state law governing therapeutic use of cannabis, including expanding access, allowing qualified patients and their caregivers to grow cannabis, and adding opioid addiction as a qualifying use under the law.
The legalization bill also features a proposed path for current medical marijuana dispensaries in New Hampshire to engage in commercial sales, something that came up during the study commission’s work on the pros and cons of potential legalization.
What happens next?
After being introduced next month, the bill will likely head to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Cushing is the incoming chairman of that committee.
Because of taxing and appropriation implications, the bill will at some point be sent to the House Ways & Means and Finance committees.
Israel to allow medical marijuana exports
JERUSALEM — Israel’s Parliament has unanimously approved a law to permit exports of medical marijuana, allowing Israel to tap the lucrative global market.
Israel will become the third country, after the Netherlands and Canada, to take its medical cannabis global.
The Israeli medical cannabis company iCAN predicts the global industry will reach $33 billion in the next five years, as stigma fades and demand grows for the few countries certified to export.
The law was approved late Tuesday, sending cannabis company shares rising by about 10 percent.
The law was stalled for years over fears from security officials that medical marijuana would leak into the black market. To assuage concerns, the law empowers police to supervise licensing.
The Israeli Cabinet must give final approval — a step seen as a formality.
Thailand to Allow Medical Marijuana, a First in Southeast Asia
BANGKOK — In a region known for its harsh penalties for illegal drugs, Thailand is set to become the first nation in Southeast Asia to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Thailand’s military government, which has called elections for the end of February, has backed medical usage, which must be approved by the nation’s monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
By a vote of 166 to 0, the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly approved legislation this week that would allow the use of cannabis under medical supervision. Thirteen members abstained.
The measure is expected to take effect next year.
“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” the lawmaker who headed the drafting committee, Somchai Sawangkarn, said during a televised session on Tuesday.
began allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for patients with “exceptional need” after two children with epilepsy were denied the use of cannabis, which they relied on in their treatment.
Some jurisdictions are stricter than others in defining which medical conditions can be treated with cannabis. In Canada, as well as several American states including California, the legalization for medical use paved the way for lifting restrictions on recreational use.
But in Southeast Asia, there has been little tolerance for medical marijuana until now. In Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, marijuana traffickers who are caught face capital punishment.
In Malaysia, a man who sold cannabis oil to patients was sentenced in August to death by hanging. The Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, said in September that the sentence should be reviewed.
In Indonesia, a British man told the BBC this month that he faced up to 15 years in prison after he was arrested with cannabis oil that he used to treat chronic pain from arthritis.
Details of how medical marijuana will be administered in Thailand remained unclear.
Only people authorized by the government will be allowed to plant or possess marijuana. Medical users will be required to have a prescription or medical marijuana identification card.
Thailand is headed by the king, but the government is run on a day-to-day basis by the military regime, which seized power in 2014 after months of strife between rival factions.
Parliamentary elections, based on a Constitution drafted by the military, are scheduled for early next year. Allowing the use of medical marijuana could win support from some Thais for military-backed parties.
Oklahoma quickly becoming medical marijuana hotbed
OKLAHOMA CITY — The rollout of statewide medical and recreational marijuana programs typically is a grindingly slow process that can take years. Not so in Oklahoma, which moved with lightning speed once voters approved medical cannabis in June.
The ballot question received 57 percent support and established one of the nation’s most liberal medical pot laws in one of the most conservative states. Six months later, the cannabis industry is booming.
Farmers and entrepreneurs are racing to start commercial grow operations, and the state is issuing licenses to new patients, growers and dispensary operators at a frantic pace. Retail outlets opened just four months after legalization.
By contrast, voters in North Dakota, Ohio and neighboring Arkansas approved medical pot in 2016 but have yet to see sales begin amid legal wrangling and legislative meddling.
“I think we really are the wild, wild West in many respects,” said attorney Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, whose firm in Norman represents several cannabis businesses. “Here in Oklahoma, we’re a pretty independent constituency. We are primarily a red state, but we don’t like a lot of government controls.”
Indeed, unlike virtually every other state, Oklahoma officials created no list of qualifying medical conditions for people to get medicinal marijuana. That has prompted a flood of applications for personal licenses to purchase pot.
Since August more than 22,000 have been approved and thousands more are in the pipeline. There are now 785 licensed dispensaries. Some small Oklahoma towns have as many as a half-dozen. Norman and Stillwater, the state’s two largest college towns, have 45 combined.
Sage Farms is among more than 1,200 licensed commercial growers. Owner Ben Neal has been using high-tech growing techniques for years to produce tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and other vegetables at his six greenhouses in rural Tulsa County. He’s now converted a third of his operation to growing marijuana, hired three new workers and just harvested 200 pounds of various strains that will be auctioned next month.
Neal said he has been offered $2,800 per pound for the entire crop, a total of $560,000. He’s shocked at how quickly Oklahoma has embraced the industry.
“Nine months ago, I was saying that Oklahoma would be the last state that ever does it, and then all of a sudden this happened,” Neal said.
In the bedroom community of Shawnee, east of Oklahoma City, business is steady at the Oklahoma Roots dispensary. Chance Gilbert grows, processes and sells marijuana inside what once was a metal fabrication shop.
“It’s kind of radical how fast it’s gotten going,” said Gilbert, who expects to produce about 50 pounds of marijuana a month once at full capacity. “We assumed it would be an Arkansas model, that it would be years before it was implemented and rolled out.”
The primary driver behind Oklahoma’s quick rollout was a broadly written, citizen-led ballot question that included quick deadlines and required regulators to grant a license to every qualified applicant. But several political ingredients combined to push the effort along.
First, instead of the general election in November, Gov. Mary Fallin placed the question on the June primary ballot, where it passed overwhelmingly despite opposition from law enforcement, doctors and clergy. That allowed more time for the program to ramp up before the Legislature returns in February.
Then, when the Oklahoma State Board of Health tried to impose heavy-handed restrictions, such as banning smoke-able pot and requiring a pharmacist at every dispensary, the public was outraged. Every segment of the pro-marijuana movement mobilized and even the state’s Republican attorney general weighed in with a legal opinion that the board had gone too far.
“I think every Oklahoman who has a soul was appalled that they tried to change a political decision that the people of Oklahoma had just made,” said Chip Paul, who helped write and push for State Question 788. “After that board meeting and after the attorney general’s letter, the third rail of politics would be to mess with SQ 788.”
Oklahoma’s conservative Legislature took notice. While GOP leaders still plan to implement some general standards for lab testing, packaging and measures to prevent pot from ending up on the black market, they appear in no rush to make wholesale changes.
“I do not see an appetite at all to go in and try to undo the will of the people and get rid of medical marijuana,” said state Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, who served on a medical pot task force.
The state’s new Medical Marijuana Authority already has raked in more than $7.5 million from registration fees from patients, growers and dispensaries. The first revenue from the new 7 percent sales tax on pot sales began dribbling into state coffers last month.
Even members of law enforcement, who were among the most vocal opponents, appear to accept that the public’s attitudes about marijuana have shifted.
“There are many, many people out there who like to go on their back porch in the evening in the privacy of their own homes and they like to smoke marijuana,” said Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott, who worked for 27 years as a Tulsa police officer before being elected sheriff. “These are not what you would consider druggies or seedy people. These are people who work, they pay taxes and they go to church. And they’ve had to sneak around because they’ve lived in fear of me, law enforcement.”
Legal marijuana industry toasts banner year
PORTLAND, Ore. — The last year was a 12-month champagne toast for the legal marijuana industry as the global market exploded and cannabis pushed its way further into the financial and cultural mainstream.
Liberal California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, conservative Utah and Oklahoma embraced medical marijuana, and the U.S. East Coast got its first commercial pot shops. Canada ushered in broad legalization, and Mexico’s Supreme Court set the stage for that country to follow.
U.S. drug regulators approved the first marijuana-based pharmaceutical to treat kids with a form of epilepsy, and billions of investment dollars poured into cannabis companies. Even main street brands like Coca-Cola said they are considering joining the party.
“I have been working on this for decades, and this was the year that the movement crested ,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat working to overturn the federal ban on pot. “It’s clear that this is all coming to a head.”
With buzz building across the globe, the momentum will continue into 2019.
Luxembourg is poised to become the first European country to legalize recreational marijuana, and South Africa is moving in that direction. Israel’s Parliament approved a law allowing exports of medical marijuana. Thailand legalized medicinal use of marijuana, and other Southeastern Asian countries may follow South Korea’s lead in legalizing cannabidiol, or CBD. It’s a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana and hemp plants and used for treatment of certain medical problems.
“It’s not just the U.S. now. It’s spreading,” said Ben Curren, CEO of Green Bits, a San Jose, California, company that develops software for marijuana retailers and businesses.
Curren’s firm is one of many that blossomed as the industry grew. He started the company in 2014 with two friends. Now, he has 85 employees, and the company’s software processes $2.5 billion in sales transactions a year for more than 1,000 U.S. retail stores and dispensaries.
Green Bits raised $17 million in April, pulling in money from investment firms including Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital. Curren hopes to expand internationally by 2020.
“A lot of the problem is keeping up with growth,” he said.
Legal marijuana was a $10.4 billion industry in the U.S. in 2018 with a quarter-million jobs devoted just to the handling of marijuana plants, said Beau Whitney, vice president and senior economist at New Frontier Data, a leading cannabis market research and data analysis firm. There are many other jobs that don’t involve direct work with the plants, but they are harder to quantify, Whitney said.
Investors poured $10 billion into cannabis in North America in 2018, twice what was invested in the last three years combined, he said, and the combined North American market is expected to reach more than $16 billion in 2019.
“Investors are getting much savvier when it comes to this space because even just a couple of years ago, you’d throw money at it and hope that something would stick,” he said. “But now investors are much more discerning.”
Increasingly, U.S. lawmakers see that success and want it for their states.
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. states now have legalized some form of medical marijuana.
Voters in November made Michigan the 10th state — and first in the Midwest — to legalize recreational marijuana. Governors in New York and New Jersey are pushing for a similar law in their states next year, and momentum for broad legalization is building in Pennsylvania and Illinois.
“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week.
The East Coast’s first recreational pot shops opened in November in Massachusetts.
State lawmakers in Nebraska just formed a campaign committee to put a medical cannabis initiative to voters in 2020. Nebraska shares a border with Colorado, one of the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana, and Iowa, which recently started a limited medical marijuana program.
“Attitudes have been rapidly evolving and changing. I know that my attitude toward it has also changed,” said Nebraska state Sen. Adam Morfeld, a Democrat. “Seeing the medical benefits and seeing other states implement it ... has convinced me that it’s not the dangerous drug it’s made out to be.”
With all its success, the U.S. marijuana industry continues to be undercut by a robust black market and federal law that treats marijuana as a controlled substance like heroin. Financial institutions are skittish about cannabis businesses, even in U.S. states where they are legal, and investors until recently have been reluctant to put their money behind pot.
Marijuana businesses can’t deduct their business expenses on their federal taxes and face huge challenges getting insurance and finding real estate for their brick-and-mortar operations.
“Until you have complete federal legalization, you’re going to be living with that structure,” said Marc Press, a New Jersey attorney who advises cannabis businesses.
At the start of the year, the industry was chilled when then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy shielding state-licensed medical marijuana operators from federal drug prosecutions. Ultimately the move had minimal impact because federal prosecutors showed little interest in going after legal operators.
Sessions, a staunch marijuana opponent, later lost his job while President Donald Trump said he was inclined to support an effort by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, to relax the federal prohibition.
In November, Democrats won control of the U.S. House and want to use it next year to pass legislation that eases federal restrictions on the legal marijuana industry without removing it from the controlled substances list.
Gardner and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren have proposed legislation allowing state-approved commercial cannabis activity under federal law. The bill also would let states and Indian tribes determine how best to regulate marijuana commerce within their boundaries without fear of federal intervention.
If those provisions become law, they could open up banking for the marijuana industry nationwide and make it easier for cannabis companies to secure capital.
Blumenauer’s “blueprint” to legalize marijuana also calls for the federal government to provide medical marijuana for veterans, more equitable taxation for marijuana businesses and rolling back federal prohibitions on marijuana research, among other things.
“We have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in history and more important, some of the people who were roadblocks to our work ... are gone,” Blumenauer said. “If we’re able to jump-start it in the House, I think there will be support in the Senate, particularly if we deal with things that are important, like veterans’ access and banking.”
CCC Chair Could See Eight New Marijuana Retail Stores A Month
About five weeks since the first non-medical marijuana stores opened in Massachusetts, the chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission said it is still too early to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to the law or regulations.
During a Monday appearance on Boston Herald Radio, CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman said the five retail marijuana stores now open are doing "blockbuster business", but the only thing that can be determined for sure about the fledgling industry is that the drug is in high demand.
"The daily and weekly [sales] totals haven't trickled down, they're pretty much constant at a high level and the lines at places like NETA in Northampton really haven't diminished much as far as we've been able to tell," he said. "It's strong demand but with five stores open it's just too early to form any judgments other than there's a lot of demand out there."
Hoffman said the CCC is in a "rhythm" now that could result in four to eight new retail stores coming online each month. He said the industry will look "more mature" in a few months and said the CCC will discuss at its Jan. 10 meeting a timeline to review and possibly revise the regulations that govern the adult-use and medical marijuana programs in 2019.
"To the extent that we make any changes to our adult-use regs they will be tweaks, things that we just didn't quite get right," he told Herald Radio host Hillary Chabot. "I don't foresee major changes to those regulations."
As part of that review, the CCC plans to revisit the question of whether it should allow home delivery of marijuana and how such a program could be structured. The CCC included home delivery in its initial draft regulations but decided to delay consideration of it until 2019 amid pushback from the governor and others.
The CCC plans to also revisit its past debate around allowing people to consume marijuana in designated establishments similar to cigar bars, but Hoffman said that conversation is "going to be a little more complicated" than the discussion about delivery. Like delivery, the CCC initially drafted regulations to allow so-called social consumption but put the issue on the back burner after gubernatorial pushback.
Hoffman also said the CCC might seek changes to the state's marijuana laws next session, specifically around host community agreements (HCAs).
The CCC wrestled with HCAs last summer as entrepreneurs and marijuana advocates pointed to the contracts as a reason for the slower-than-anticipated rollout of the retail marijuana market and lodged allegations that municipalities use the agreements to extract more from marijuana businesses than is allowed under the law.
Hoffman said on Boston Herald Radio that it is "not clear who has the enforcement authority" when it comes to HCAs and said most cities and towns are "playing the game the right way." He said he is not yet ready to say that the issue requires a legislative change.
"The door is open but we want to see how the industry evolves before we go back and ask for any legislative changes although the host community agreement is one specific area that we might ask them for help more quickly," he said. "We still haven't made that determination though."
Sen. Patricia Jehlen and Rep. Mark Cusack, co-chairs of the Marijuana Policy Committee, have said that no such legislative fix is required and in August urged the CCC to review HCAs and ensure they comply with the law before issuing a license to a marijuana business.
Cusack said the Legislature's intent was to have the CCC ensure that host community agreements comport with the requirements of the law, including limiting what the municipality can demand from the business to 3 percent of gross sales.
"I think this has less to do with ambiguity than it does reading comprehension," he said in August. "Simply put, it is part of the licensing requirements. So it would be our understanding that they would be making sure the host agreements are compliant with the law they're in charge of overseeing and implementing, and not just check a box that they have an agreement."
The New York one is interesting. Makes total sense and would be great for NYC.
They’d have enough in Tax revenue to fix the subways in a year probably.
no list of qualifying conditions in Oklahoma and more than 22,000 medical licenses have been approved since August. 785 licensed dispensaries
Washington Gov. Inslee to Pardon Marijuana Convictions
SEATAC, Wash. — Seven years after Washington legalized the adult use of marijuana, Gov. Jay Inslee says he plans to pardon thousands of convictions for misdemeanor pot possession.
The Democrat, who is mulling a 2020 presidential run, made the announcement Friday at a cannabis industry summit. Inslee said he was creating an expedited process that would allow about 3,500 people to apply for and receive a pardon without having to hire a lawyer or go to court.
Several states allow for expunging or sealing marijuana convictions, and several cities have taken steps to clear marijuana possession convictions en masse. One new law in California automatically erases or reduces marijuana-related convictions.
Inslee called it an injustice that small-time convictions have hampered people's ability to buy a house, get a job or chaperone field trips.
St Louis County no longer going to be prosecuting marijuana possession cases
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis County’s new prosecuting attorney is shaking up his staff and instituting new policies just two days into the job, his spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday, and a veteran assistant prosecutor who presented evidence to the grand jury after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson is reportedly among those let go.
Former Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell defeated 28-year incumbent Bob McCulloch in the August Democratic primary and ran unopposed in November. He was sworn in Tuesday, becoming the first-ever African-American to hold the office.
He wasted no time implementing some of his reformist agenda. Bell’s office said Wednesday that they will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases, among other changes.
McCulloch had a reputation as a hardline law-and-order prosecutor. Bell, 44, wants to change the cash bail system, opposes the death penalty and pledged to hold police officers accountable if they step out of line.
Bell’s election victory was seen by many as a referendum on McCulloch’s handling of the investigation of Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson officer who killed Brown, a black and unarmed 18-year-old, after they got into a scuffle on Aug. 9, 2014, setting off months of sometimes-violent protests.
McCulloch turned the case over to a grand jury, which decided in November 2014 not to indict Wilson. Wilson resigned from the police force that same month.
Assistant prosecutor Kathi Alizadeh was largely responsible for presenting evidence to the grand jury. Critics accused prosecutors of swaying the jurors’ decision. Ferguson erupted in renewed protests once the decision was announced.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Alizadeh was among those fired on Wednesday after 30 years working in the office, and that two other veteran prosecutors were suspended pending termination hearings. Alizadeh said Bell gave her a two-page letter describing grounds for termination, but she declined to elaborate. She does not have listed phone numbers.
Bell’s spokeswoman Josi Nielsen would say only that, “There have been some changes this morning and Mr. Bell wishes them all the best.” She declined to say how many people were being let go or to confirm which prosecutors were among those leaving.
Last month, St. Louis County’s assistant prosecutors and investigators voted to join the St. Louis Police Officers Association, a union known for its fierce and unyielding loyalty to officers. No reason for the vote was given, but some saw it as push-back against the incoming prosecutor.
Business manager Jeff Roorda said Wednesday that the union was “dismayed by the abrupt dismissal of these three veteran prosecutors without warning or apparent justification.”
Nielsen said Bell has named Sam Alton, a former St. Louis city prosecutor, as chief of staff. Tim Swope, a former police chief for a cooperative of St. Louis County towns, was named director of operations.
sucks an awesome city like Montreal has a shit system
Canada legalized pot in October. But its black market is still going strong
MONTREAL — The legal cannabis stores that opened here last fall still look pristine. Curious customers file in, but the shelves they peruse are often bare. Supplies are so short the stores are shuttered three days a week.
A few blocks from one outlet, though, a longtime pot dealer was receiving a stream of text alerts one afternoon this winter, a sign of booming business.
When the government launched Canada’s official recreational-pot market on Oct. 17, it was banking on the idea that many users would prefer to buy legally and that the black market would quickly begin to fade. It says things seem on track, with “early reports of a 65 percent reduction for illegally sourced products,” according to a spokeswoman for the minister in charge of the cannabis file.
But there are also signs things aren’t going as expected.
In a national poll Ipsos conducted for Global News a month after legalization, more than a third of Canadian cannabis users said they were still buying from their regular dealers and hadn’t even tried the legal system. Five illegal sellers in Quebec told The Washington Post their sales are slightly up.
To the black marketeers, the bare-bones legal supplies are “pretty much a running joke,” said David, the busy Montreal dealer, who spoke on the condition that his last name not be used to avoid police attention.
He finally saw one of the colorful boxes used as packaging in Quebec’s government-run cannabis stores when a customer showed it to him during a purchase.
“People are buying the containers so they can put their black-market weed in it,” David said.
Many researchers, politicians and investors see the state of the black market as an important gauge of the new policy’s success. But if it doesn’t shrink naturally, Canadian authorities face some tricky questions: Can they force it to shrink? And if their approach proves to have been flawed, is it too late to change course?
“You’ve got to get the timing right,” said Mark Kleiman, a New York University professor and expert on cannabis legalization.
Illegal cannabis sales are notoriously hard to measure. In Washington state, for example, experts’ best estimate six years after legalization is that there’s still “a non-trivial black market,” Kleiman said. Still, he noted, “it’s clearly less than half the total market.”
Canada, however, is taking a different approach than Washington or states such as Colorado, which also legalized recreational pot in 2012 and has made similar progress in reducing illicit sales.
The government’s most jolting decision, illegal dealers here said, was to structure the new industry in a way that tended to bar them from it. In 2015, when the government first committed to legalization, many of them planned to apply to open private shops.
“All of us thought, ‘Okay . . . I’m going to be able to come out of the shadows and I’m going to be able to pay taxes,’ ” David said. “As time went on, it became clear that’s not what they were after.”
In Quebec and several other Canadian provinces, all cannabis stores are government-run, leaving no path to legality for people like David, who has worked in the underground industry for more than a decade, operating his business full time for several years.
Colorado and other U.S. jurisdictions, by contrast, gave many small-scale dealers a chance at a legal job.
“That’s a huge difference,” said Lewis Koski, former director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division and now a consultant on legalization. “I can’t think of a state here in the U.S. that has a government-control model similar to . . . Canada’s.”
Even in provinces that do allow private shops or dispensaries, including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, small businesses face high barriers. It costs almost $5,000 just to apply for a license, and if approved, $23,000 each year thereafter in regulatory fees, with provinces often adding their own charges.
There’s also a strict security-clearance requirement that looks at applicants’ job history and associations. Even if David were willing to move to another province, and despite having no criminal record, he said, he would probably be disqualified.
Small-scale growers hoping to join the legal system complain of similar hurdles.
To some observers, these early decisions foreshadow long-term problems.
Shutting out many in the black market has already triggered a vicious cycle, said Dan Malleck, an expert in drug and alcohol regulation from Brock University in Ontario. It helped ensure the initial undersupply of legal pot by preventing a huge volume of illicit pot from being folded in. The shortage is now driving customers back to the black market, further reinforcing it.
“They should have not just stockpiled,” Malleck said of authorities. “They should have created a mechanism that allowed illegal producers to move quickly into the legal producing system.”
Canadian provincial governments have also emphasized another strategy that wasn’t popular south of the border: police crackdowns.
Cracking down when legal supplies are still low and demand is therefore high for black-market pot hasn’t generally been seen as useful, according to Kleiman. “There’s no point,” he said. Only after the first year or two, when legal supplies match market demand, should officials try “to vigorously drive the illicit guys out.”
In Quebec, police announced the creation of a 54-person anti-cannabis unit even before legalization.
Unlike U.S. states that have legalized cannabis, Canadian authorities have also framed the crackdown in moral terms, arguing that even as the drug is declared a legal substance, fighting it on the black market is a matter of public safety.
“Organized crime controls an important part of it,” said Dany Dufour, the captain of Quebec’s new cannabis unit.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have found that nearly half of national “high-threat” organized crime groups are still tied to black-market pot and that the revenue can fund other crime such as fraud and gun trafficking, a spokeswoman said. The force sees smaller dealers like David as part of the problem.
“We also know that individuals can’t sell without sanction from organized crime groups,” she said.
But David said he isn’t connected to these groups. While bikers and other groups with ties to organized crime may be a problem in rural Quebec, another Montreal pot dealer said that those who grow and sell in the cities are mostly independent. “They’re kind of, like, weed nerds,” he said, “creative types, musicians, artists, people like that.”
On Canada’s west coast, too, the crime-linked groups “pretty much pulled out a long time ago,” after nearby Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California legalized cannabis, said Rob Gordon, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
The government spokeswoman said that many of the key decisions affecting options for people like David are made at the provincial level, not the federal one. But in interviews in December, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau minimized the problems, saying that the supply shortage would be resolved within months.
David said he’s skeptical about that. He also said he’s not spooked by the police crackdown and predicts his black-market business will continue to thrive.
“I didn’t intend to end up in this industry, but I did, and I’m making the best of it,” he said. “And I’m really good at it.”
So who wants to mail me some oil or wax? TN will be on the legal train for along time.
been saying this for years...
Baltimore prosecutor files petition to erase pot convictions
BALTIMORE — Baltimore’s top prosecutor has filed a rarely used legal petition intended to vacate 3,778 convictions for possession of marijuana.
In an unusual “Maryland v Maryland” filing in state court, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby says the legal effort is necessary to “right an extraordinary wrong.” The petition, if granted, would acknowledge an error of fact in the cases and wipe out the pot possession convictions.
Mosby says in the Tuesday filing that the “sordid history of marijuana prohibition lies in ethnic and racial bigotry.”
She also notes that racial disparities in pot possession arrests continue to exist in majority-black Baltimore after Maryland’s 2014 decriminalization of small amounts.
Mosby this week has announced she will no longer prosecute any cannabis possession cases, regardless of the quantity or an individual’s criminal record.
After marijuana’s legalization elsewhere, why not Minnesota?
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Several Minnesota lawmakers launched an effort Monday to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, hoping to capitalize on recent successes the pro-cannabis movement has enjoyed elsewhere in the country.
Sen. Melisa Franzen and Rep. Mike Freiberg, both Democrats, anticipate major resistance to their push to set up a regulatory framework for legal sales of the drug starting in 2022, but they see an opening. Voters last November made Michigan the first Midwestern state — and 10th overall — to legalize recreational marijuana.
“The issue of cannabis legalization is one that’s moving incredibly fast around the country,” said Freiberg, of Golden Valley, who expressed hope that at least this would be the year for legislative hearings. “At a certain point it will become inevitable here in Minnesota.”
Historically liberal Minnesota authorized medical marijuana under strict regulation after a contentious debate five years ago, but the push to allow recreational use didn’t gain much steam until the midterm elections. That’s when two pro-marijuana parties in a pair of statewide races met the state’s 5 percent threshold to quality for major-party status, which carries automatic ballot access, and Democrats took control of the state House for the first time in four years.
Last year was a banner year for cannabis as it made new inroads into the mainstream. California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, Massachusetts opened the first recreational shops on the East Coast, Canada legalized it in most provinces, and Mexico’s Supreme Court recognized the rights of individuals to use marijuana, moving the country closer to broad legalization.
Conservative Utah and Oklahoma last year joined the nearly two-thirds of U.S. states that have allow medical cannabis in some form. The governors of New York and New Jersey are pushing to legalize recreational marijuana this year, and pressure is growing in Pennsylvania and Illinois.
Former Gov. Mark Dayton opposed legalizing recreational marijuana. But new Gov. Tim Walz, a fellow Democrat, has said he’d sign it if it reaches his desk. While there’s now a solid Democratic majority in the House, Republicans still hold a slim majority in the state Senate, where Majority Leader Paul Gazelka issued a statement showing that the proposal still faces high political hurdles.
“Legalizing recreational marijuana is a controversial issue, to say the least, and not something I would consider a priority issue.” The Nisswa Republican said. “Considering that it’s linked to mental health problems, driving accidents, and impaired teen brain development, I don’t think it has a chance to pass the Senate this year.”
Under Frazen’s and Freiberg’s proposal, it would remain illegal for marijuana to be sold to — or used by — people younger than 21. Existing laws against driving while impaired would not change, nor would prohibitions against smoking in public buildings and workplaces. Communities could regulate production and sales, and residents could grow limited amounts for personal use.
People previously convicted of marijuana crimes could get their records expunged. Tax rates are among the details to be determined later.
Sen. Scott Jensen, a Chaska Republican who called his district “pretty conservative,” said he held a town hall meeting attended by about 150 people Saturday at which more than 90 percent raised their hands in agreement with his view that it’s time to begin the discussion, even if the bill doesn’t pass this year.
“This is not something that can be blocked by committee chairs saying, ‘We’re not going to hear it,’” Jensen said.
Their bill would go slower than a measure introduced last week by Rep. Raymond Dehn, a Minneapolis Democrat, who wants to place a state constitutional amendment mandating legalization on the 2020 ballot.
“It’s going to be a long discussion. It will not be an easy one. But we are all up for the challenge,” Freiberg said.
Does marijuana get removed from the Schedule 1 list in our lifetimes (next 50 years)?
Over/Under how many years, iyo
10. There are some quite red states either adopting or considering med/rec at this point and I think public opinion has changed to such an extent that it'll be done in 10 years. But maybe I'm optimistic.
There's some actual optimism that texas could roll out a real medical program this year. I think a state like that would speed the declassification timeline up considerably
Someone proposed a med bill in Nebraska this year and polling is apparently favorable that if it doesn't pass this year there could be a ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment in 2020. When we're thinking about it, you're on the downhill slope.
Chronic pain given as top reason for using medical marijuana
Chronic pain is the most common reason people give when they enroll in state-approved medical marijuana programs.
That’s followed by stiffness from multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-related nausea, according to an analysis of 15 states published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.
The study didn’t measure whether marijuana actually helped anyone with their problems, but the patients’ reasons match up with what’s known about the science of marijuana and its chemical components.
“The majority of patients for whom we have data are using cannabis for reasons where the science is the strongest,” said lead author Kevin Boehnke of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
California became the first state to allow medical use of marijuana in 1996. More than 30 states now allow marijuana for dozens of health problems. Lists of allowable conditions vary by state, but in general, a doctor must certify a patient has an approved diagnosis.
While the U.S. government has approved medicines based on compounds found in the plant, it considers marijuana illegal and imposes limits on research. That’s led to states allowing some diseases and symptoms where rigorous science is lacking. Most of the evidence comes from studying pharmaceuticals based on marijuana ingredients, not from studies of smoked marijuana or edible forms.
Dementia and glaucoma, for example, are conditions where marijuana hasn’t proved valuable, but some states include them. Many states allow Parkinson’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder where evidence is limited.
The analysis is based on 2016 data from the 15 states that reported the reasons given for using marijuana. Researchers compared the symptoms and conditions with a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence: a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
About 85 percent of patients’ reasons were supported by substantial or conclusive evidence in the National Academies report.
The study shows people are learning about the evidence for cannabis and its chemical components, said Ziva Cooper of University of California Los Angeles’ Cannabis Research Initiative. Cooper served on the National Academies report committee, but wasn’t involved in the new study.
About two-thirds of the about 730,000 reasons were related to chronic pain, the study found. Patients could report more than one pain condition, so the figure may overestimate patient numbers.
Patients include 37-year-old Brandian Smith of Pana, Illinois, who qualifies because she has fibromyalgia. On bad days, her muscles feel like they’re being squeezed in a vise. She said she has stopped taking opioid painkillers because marijuana works better for her. She spends about $300 a month at her marijuana dispensary.
“Cannabis is the first thing I’ve found that actually makes the pain go away and not leave me so high that I can’t enjoy my day,” Smith said.
The study also found:
—Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon saw a decline in medical marijuana patients after legalization of recreational marijuana in those states.
—More than 800,000 patients were enrolled in medical marijuana programs in 2017 in 19 states. That doesn’t count California and Maine, which don’t require patients to register. Other estimates have put the number at more than 2 million .
would love to see this here
Denver to Vote on Whether to Decriminalize 'Magic Mushrooms'
DENVER — Denver voters will decide in May whether to decriminalize possession of small amounts of the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin, which would make it the first U.S. city to halt prosecution of people caught with psychedelic mushrooms.
The citizen-driven proposal, which election officials said this week reached the required number of signatures to be on the city's municipal ballot, would not legalize so-called "magic mushrooms," but rather make them a low priority for law enforcement, according to its language.
Decriminalize Denver, the group behind the ballot question, said the drug has medical benefits that could reduce psychological stress and opioid dependence.
"Nationally, Denver and the state of Colorado have represented the first movers in a revised understanding of the potential benefits of naturally-occurring psychoactive medicines," the group said on its website.
Some opponents worry that if passed the ordinance would further tarnish the city's image, given that recreational marijuana is already allowed under Colorado law, and another proposal by the city to create the country's first safe injection site for intravenous drug users was approved by the city council in November.
"Denver is quickly becoming the illicit drug capitol of the world," Jeff Hunt, director of the Colorado-based Centennial Institute, a conservative think tank, said in a statement. "High potency pot, proposed needle injection sites, and now an effort to decriminalize mushrooms."
The safe injection site pilot program would need the approval of the state legislature, which has not yet taken up the issue. Federal authorities have warned that such a facility would be illegal.
Kevin Matthews, 33, campaign director for Decriminalize Denver, said worries about expanded drug use under the measure are unwarranted.
"Nothing on our ballot question would do anything to increase access – it does not allow for distribution and sale," Matthews told Reuters in a phone interview, adding that mushrooms have helped treat his depression.
Mayor Michael Hancock told the Denver Post that he opposes the mushroom question.
Psilocybin is illegal under both Colorado and federal law. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies the drug as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning the agency has deemed that it has a high potential for abuse and currently has no accepted medical use.
In 2004, Denver voters voted to decriminalize marijuana possession, years before Colorado voters voted to approve its legalization for recreational use and establish a full regulatory framework.
New Hampshire Marijuana Bill Gets Public Hearing
CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire lawmakers considering whether to legalize recreational marijuana heard Tuesday from supporters arguing such a move is long overdue and opponents urging them to resist pressure from surrounding states.
Ten states have legalized recreational marijuana — including the three bordering New Hampshire — while New York, New Jersey and others are considering it this year. Past efforts have failed in New Hampshire, but Democrats, who added legalization to their party platform last year, now control both the House and Senate. And the bill's sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing, pointed to movement in other states as a reason his bill should pass.
"I think we're in an entirely different political climate right now than we have been in the past," Cushing, D-Hampton, said at a news conference ahead of a public hearing on his bill. "There's a reality we can't ignore. I think you're going to see people who will be interested in this new emerging market, this new emerging product, that ultimately is going to be beneficial for the state's coffers and for the business climate in New Hampshire."
The bill before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday would legalize up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of recreational marijuana and 5 grams of concentrated cannabis. Adults would be allowed to grow up to six plants, and a commission would be set up to license and regulate an industry supporters said could produce $33 million per year in revenue.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, however, opposes legalization and has said he would veto the bill if it passes. While supporters say marijuana could help people recover from opioid addiction, opponents argue legalization would only make things worse in a state with one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths.
"I think the statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the dangers of marijuana, especially given the severity of the opioid crisis," he told reporters before Tuesday's hearing, which was held in the 400-seat Representative's Hall to accommodate the large crowd of speakers.
Kate Frey, of the health advocacy group New Futures, said she agreed that New Hampshire stands out because it is surrounded by recreational marijuana states, but that's not the only reason. She said the state is an island because of its high rate of substance misuse and history of underfunding prevention and treatment.
"Think about what's best for New Hampshire, and don't just do it because other states are doing it."
The bill was opposed by medical and law enforcement groups, including the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. Bedford Chief John Bryfonski cited numerous concerns, including the possibility of impaired drivers causing more crashes after a year in which the state recorded a high number of traffic fatalities.
"New Hampshire has a rich heritage of going its own way and not following others because it's fashionable," he said. "New Hampshire should not become another experiment and suffer the consequences of a rush to judgment."
Last year also saw cannabis make significant inroads elsewhere. California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, Massachusetts opened the first recreational shops on the East Coast, Canada legalized it in most provinces, and Mexico's Supreme Court recognized the rights of individuals to use marijuana, moving the country closer to broad legalization.
"We should keep the momentum on track by joining the states in favor of saner policies for the use of the harmless high, cannabis," said Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield. "The production of locally grown, tested, regulated and safe cannabis to adults is more benefit than danger."
2020 elections gonna be here before you know it and this still won't be on the radar in any significant manner
Sheriffs across New York state speak out against legalizing recreational marijuana
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Sheriffs from across the state, including Central New York law enforcement leaders, are speaking out today against legalizing recreational marijuana.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it a top priority to get quick passage of a law to make recreational marijuana legal in New York. Cuomo recently changed his stance on recreational marijuana. He previously said he believed it was a “gateway drug.”
Recreational marijuana has been legalized in 10 other states and Washington, D.C.
Several sheriffs across the state attended news conferences this morning to spread a unified message that they are against the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“I strongly oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana use in New York State because I know that the public health and safety of our community would suffer as a result,” said Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck in a news release.
Schenck joined Oneida County Sheriff Robert Marciol, the president of the New York State Sheriff’s Association, in Albany. Other CNY leaders gathered in Utica. There were also news conferences held in Watertown and Rochester.
Onondaga County Sheriff Eugene Conway did not respond immediately to inquiries as to where he stands on the issue.
Schenck said he believes that legal recreational marijuana use will result in “an increase in drugged driving, traffic deaths, crime rates and use by our children.”
Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood said the state Sheriff’s Association voted on this issue last month.
“It was unanimous,” Hood said of those in attendance at the meeting, which was about 40 sheriffs. “We are all opposed to the recreational marijuana use.”
The sheriffs cited stats from the study, “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area to show the impact that legalization has on a community. The HIDTA program was established by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1996.
The Colorado study finds that marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver was positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 125 deaths in 2016.
Also, past month marijuana use for youths increased 12 percent in the three-year average (2013-2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010-2012), the study found.
“In recent years I have personally investigated deaths on our local highways caused by drunk and impaired drivers and I have witnessed the impact on the victim’s families,” Schenck said.
“Legalizing marijuana will certainly result in an increase in these incidents<" he said. "The social cost of legalization is too high and the strain on our resources too great as we continue to fight the worst drug epidemic in our local history. We cannot make it easier for our children and youth to obtain and smoke marijuana and we cannot support policies that will undoubtedly result in an increase in crime rates.”
Uruguay Is Betting on Exports of Medical Marijuana
NUEVA HELVECIA, Uruguay — When he was younger, the only thing that Enrique Morales knew about marijuana was that you smoked it to get high.
Today, the former driver for a dairy company is a horticulturist on a cannabis plantation about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo and he says drops of marijuana oil have been key to treating his mother's osteoarthritis.
"My perception has now changed. It is a plant that has a lot of properties!" he said.
The company that owns the plantation, Fotmer SA, is now part of a flourishing and growing medical cannabis industry in Uruguay.
The country got a head start on competitors in December 2013 when it became the first in the world to regulate the cannabis market from growing to purchase, a move that has brought a wave of investment.
For Uruguayan citizens or legal residents over 18 years old, the law allows the recreational use, personal cultivation and sale in pharmacies of marijuana through a government-run permit system, and officials later legalized the use and export of medical marijuana to countries where it is legal.
No company has yet begun large-scale export operations, but many say selling medical cannabis oil beyond the local market of 3.3 million inhabitants is key to staying ahead of the tide and transforming Uruguay into a medical cannabis leader along with the Netherlands, Canada and Israel.
"The Latin American market is poorly supplied and is growing," said Chuck Smith, chief operating officer of Denver, Colorado-based Dixie Brands, which recently formed a partnership with Khiron Life Sciences, a Toronto company that has agreed to acquire Dormul SA, which has a Uruguayan license to produce medical cannabis.
"Uruguay is taking a leadership position in growing high CBD, high value hemp products. So we see that as a great opportunity from a supply chain perspective," he said, referring to the non-psychoactive cannabidiols that are used in medical products.
Khiron has said it should be able to export medical marijuana from Uruguay to southern Brazil under regulations of the Mercosur trade bloc, marking a milestone for Uruguayan marijuana companies focused on exports.
Fotmer, based in the small town of Nueva Helvecia, also currently employs 80 people and is investing $7 million in laboratories and 10 tons of crops that it hopes to ship to countries including Germany and Canada, which is struggling to overcome supply shortages in its cannabis market.
Fotmer*s 35,000 marijuana plants are sheltered in 18 large greenhouses measuring 12.5 meters by 100 meters (41 feet by 328 feet), where workers such as Morales change into special clothing, wash their hands with alcohol and wear gloves and surgical masks to avoid any contamination.
Helena Gonzalez, head of quality control, research and development for Fotmer, said the precautions are important in producing a quality product that can be used in medical research into the effects of cannabis products.
"Aiding that research is another of our objectives," she said.
The first crop of prized flowers will be harvested for their cannabis oil in March.
The oil containing THC and CBD will be extracted in its labs to eventually manufacture pills, creams, ointments, patches and other treatments for cases of epilepsy and chronic pain, among other ills.
Competition is arriving as well. In December, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez inaugurated a $12 million laboratory owned by Canada*s International Cannabis Corp., which aims to produce and export medicine from hemp, a variety of cannabis that contains CBDs but has no psychoactive effects.
Despite the momentum, experts say there is one key problem: Countries including Ecuador, Cuba, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala continue to prohibit both the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana and exports of cannabis products are subject to a complex web of international regulations that is still being developed.
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Marcos Baudean, a member of Monitor Cannabis at the University of the Republic of Uruguay, says another difficulty is that the South American country is competing for market share. He said cannabis exports give the country a chance to expand beyond its traditional exports of raw materials into more sophisticated products involving science and biology.
Diego Olivera, head of Uruguay*s National Drug Secretariat, said Uruguay*s comprehensive cannabis law, along with its strong rule of law and transparent institutions, gives it a head start.
"Uruguay today has a dynamism in the cannabis industry that is very difficult to find in other sectors," he said.
I was just watching a Parts Unknown episode in Uruguay and it seems like an amazing place.
Kamala Harris opposed legalization in 2016 when CA voters elected to allow recreational sales ()
But now she is publicly supporting legalization. Better late than never. Glad she is joining Booker on that front. More Democrats need to step up
this is amazing
Technology helps San Francisco erase 8,000 pot convictions
SAN FRANCISCO — Over 8,000 marijuana-related convictions were erased or reduced using a technological approach that prosecutors nationwide should adopt to address a growing backlog of criminal cases eligible for modification, San Francisco’s district attorney announced Monday.
San Francisco is the first California county to announce full compliance with the state’s broad legalization of marijuana that also made an estimated 200,000 past pot convictions eligible for erasure or reduction.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon credited the nonprofit technology organization Code for America for solving the biggest hurdle to identifying eligible cases dating back decades.
When voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016 to allow adult use of marijuana, they also eliminated several pot-related crimes. The proposition also applied retroactively, but provided no mechanism or guidance on how those eligible could erase their convictions or have felonies reduced to misdemeanors.
A few hundred people hired attorneys, paid court fees and filed petitions to modify their records since November 2016, but the vast majority of convictions still remain untouched. Many district attorneys throughout the state said they lack the resources to sift through and review decades’ worth of criminal cases to identify eligible convictions.
In January 2018, Gascon announced his office would take on the time-consuming task of sifting through many thousands of criminal cases to identify eligible marijuana convictions. Until then, only 23 people who hired lawyers and paid court fees took advantage of the new law in San Francisco.
In May, when Gascon announced a partnership with Code for America, his office managed to identify and dismiss a little more 1,000 eligible misdemeanor cases. Since then, an additional 8,132 cases have been identified. Gascon said a total of 9,300 cases dating back to 1975 will be dropped or reduced without cost, active participation and, in many cases, the knowledge of the defendants.
“We don’t have to do it,” Gascon said Monday. “It was just a matter of dignity.”
Code for America is a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that seeks to use technology to make government more efficient. Director Jennifer Pahlka said coders developed a “light weight” and simple computer-based algorithm dubbed “Clear My Record” to quickly identify eligible cases. The program automatically fills out forms to be filed with the courts.
Pahlka said Monday that Code for America was working with several other California district attorneys to identify eligible marijuana cases in their counties.
In December, Michigan became the latest state to broadly legalize marijuana, eliminate pot crimes and allow past convictions to be erased or reduced. Meanwhile, prosecutors in Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago and multiple others across the country followed Gascon’s lead and announced their intentions to clear eligible marijuana convictions in their jurisdictions.
Gascon and Pahlka called on prosecutors across the country to adopt Code for America’s technology.
“I want to continue to evangelize, if you will, to get others around the country and the state to do the same things and push the envelope to continue to reduce the impacts of criminal convictions when we can,” he said.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Medical cannabis is a high priority in Maryland legislature
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Creating and selling edible medical cannabis products; allowing inmates to receive medical cannabis treatment; and prohibiting employers from asking about marijuana use could become law in Maryland under bills being pushed in this year’s General Assembly.
The Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee is expected to hear 18 bills regarding medical cannabis and marijuana use in the state on Tuesday.
While medical cannabis is legal at the state level for patients given approval by the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, which develops policies and regulations on the drug and qualifies patients to receive it as treatment, recreational marijuana is not yet legalized.
Committee Chair Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, is the lead sponsor on 11 of the 18 bills and told Capital News Service that the objective of pushing so many pieces of legislation is to normalize medical marijuana as medication, as it’s still treated as an illicit drug under federal law.
Over his years serving in the Maryland legislature, Zirkin told Capital News Service, he’s seen medical cannabis help people and wants to take away as many roadblocks to it as he can.
Senate bill 857, sponsored by Zirkin, will allow certain dispensaries to acquire, possess and sell food containing medical cannabis to qualifying patients, along with allowing certain processors to distribute and sell to specified dispensaries.
However, the development of edible products containing cannabis is very different from dealing with flower, or the smokable part of the cannabis plant, or processed cannabis products, as all food produced or sold in the state is regulated by the Maryland Office of Food Safety, said Joy Strand, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
“We’re very excited to be able to bring an edibles program to Maryland, but our top focus on any of the products we’re doing or regulating is that they’re high-quality and safe for patients as a medicinal product,” Strand said in a briefing to lawmakers on Jan. 17.
The Senate bill was cross-filed with House bill 17, sponsored by Delegate Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore. Glenn, whose mother is the namesake of the commission, is a leading sponsor of medical marijuana legislation. A hearing for that bill was cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled.
Zirkin, with Sen. Michael Hough, R-Frederick and Carroll, is working to advance legislation — Senate bill 97 — that states that a person can’t be denied the right to purchase, possess or carry a firearm solely based on their authorized status as a medical cannabis patient.
Current federal laws bar medical cannabis patients from purchasing or possessing firearms under the Federal Gun Control Act, and marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug and is illegal on the federal level.
Maryland State Police can ask individuals looking to purchase a gun about their status as medical cannabis patients and can bar patients from completing the transaction, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission website.
Zirkin is also sponsoring Senate bill 855, which would allow certain qualified inmates to receive medical cannabis as treatment in state and local correctional facilities.
While inmates are eligible for medical care and treatment while incarcerated, medications prescribed to them prior to being placed in detention are not always given to them once locked up.
However, Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, is presenting an opposing bill — Senate bill 86 — which would bar possession of marijuana or cannabis on the grounds of a local or state correctional facility, or while a criminal offender is in a home detention program.
Serafini’s bill clarifies current legislation by stating that civil and criminal penalties can be imposed if an individual violates the law and possesses or uses marijuana or cannabis in any correctional setting.
Another bill from Zirkin is Senate bill 863, which would prohibit certain employers from requiring employees or applicants to disclose their use of marijuana and cannabis.
However, the bill doesn’t prohibit employers from making inquiries or taking other actions otherwise mandated to them by local, state or federal laws, or if applicants or employees were using, possessing or under the influence of marijuana at their place of employment.
While medical cannabis is legal for qualified patients and many individuals are aware of its availability, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is prohibited from publishing ads for medical cannabis or associated products on radio, television or billboards.
Senate bill 859, also sponsored by Zirkin, aims to change advertising laws for medical cannabis to be consistent with federal regulations on prescription drug advertising.
The bill will prohibit such advertising from being false or misleading and will be required to state that the product being advertised is only for use by qualifying patients.
“If this helps them, why would we hide it from them?” Zirkin asked during a legislative briefing on medical cannabis on Jan. 17.
Zirkin’s other bills to be heard in the Judicial Proceedings Committee include:
— Senate bill 854, which says that a covered employee or dependent isn’t entitled to workers’ compensation or associated benefits if certain accidental personal injury or disease was caused solely by medical cannabis, and includes medical cannabis under the medicines that an employer or insurer must provide to a covered employee in certain situations.
— Senate bill 858, which would allow higher education institutions to purchase medical cannabis for research projects.
— Senate bill 860, which prohibits certain individuals from being subject to revocation of mandatory supervision, parole or probation for the use or possession of medical cannabis.
— Senate bill 861, which repeals several registration requirements for certifying providers and applications for them with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
— Senate bill 862, which prohibits a landlord from denying patients or caregivers a lease solely based on the possession of medical cannabis.
— Senate bill 864, which prohibits a party from rescinding a contract with a qualified patient or caregiver based on their medical cannabis status and prohibits discrimination by an employer against a qualified patient or caregiver.
Other bills scheduled to be heard in the Judicial Proceedings Committee include:
— Senate bill 383, sponsored by Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, which would authorize law enforcement to obtain medical cannabis at no cost for use during training, and requiring that all products containing medical cannabis include a warning against operating a car or other machinery under the influence.
— Senate bill 418, sponsored by Sen. Robert Cassilly, R-Harford, which would prohibit drivers and occupants of motor vehicles from smoking or consuming marijuana in the passenger area of the vehicle on the highway.
— Senate bill 426, sponsored by Sen. Chris West, R-Baltimore County, which would require the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to allow an individual to have an ownership interest in up to six licensed dispensaries.
— Senate bill 552, sponsored by Sen. Susan Lee, D-Montgomery, would prohibit former employees and commissioners of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from being an owner, employee, or otherwise related to businesses with licenses given under the approval of the commission.
— Senate bill 749, sponsored by Sen. Clarence Lam, D-Baltimore and Howard counties, requires dispensaries and agents to label medical cannabis and associated products if they were grown using pesticides, along with requiring the Department of Agriculture to study health impacts of smoked medical cannabis that was grown using pesticides.
— Senate bill 771, sponsored by Sen. William Smith, D-Montgomery, which substitutes the word “cannabis” for “marijuana” in certain parts of the law, along with altering punishable quantities and establishing age limits and civil offenses involving the use and possession of cannabis.
2020 Democratic Hopeful Klobuchar Backs Legalizing Marijuana
MINNEAPOLIS — Add Amy Klobuchar to the list of 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls who support legalizing marijuana.
Klobuchar said in a statement Friday that she supports legalization and that states should have the right to determine how to handle marijuana in their territory.
The Minnesota senator is carving out a moderate image in a field that includes more liberal candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. But she joins them and others, including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Kamala Harris of California, in backing legalization.
Minnesota allows medicinal marijuana, but not recreational, although Democrats in the state have introduced legislation this year to legalize it.
She is also a huge bitch though. Perhaps the biggest in all of politics outside of Trump and McConnell
Cornelius really loves him some weed.
Like she is demanding or she fails to treat people with respect? She supports legalization so I don't really care if she is mean
Went there in December. Gotta be a local to purchase
Yup from a personal perspective legalization across the nation would mean I could entertain the notion of living in places that are currently no-go zones
But it's also such a big opportunity for democrats to get young people on board at a time when it's absolutely crucial that we regain control of our country
And then there are the social justice and economic implications
It's just a no-brainer
She treats people like garbage
Then I'm guessing she won't advance very far as a Democratic candidate. That's too bad because she seems quite sharp
Cornelius Suttree I'm going to San Francisco & LA later this year. Do I need to worry at all about TSA? Would like to bring 5-10 vape cartridges and some CBD oil back both times. Did this no problem last year out of Denver but it still makes me nervous. Will be flying from Dallas both times if that matters