Just as marijuana reform advocates predicted, marijuana in a legal market will be safer for users. In response to Colorado and Washington’s legalization laws, laboratories are springing up that test marijuana for its safety, purity, potency, and active ingredients.
Like alcohol, the regulatory boards in Colorado and Washington will require marijuana products to carry health warnings, ratings for potency, and certification that the product meets safety standards. The regulations are designed to control for adverse health effects that could result from a consumer’s lack of knowledge or from a producer’s poor growing techniques.
Labs are also moving into Oregon, following the state legislature’s recent approval of a bill to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries. Medical experts, politicians, and marijuana research groups have chimed in to support the proposed state requirements for testing.
From the Washington Post:
“This does demonstrate a shift in how we are beginning to treat marijuana in this country,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for MPP. “Legal products are regulated and sold in a controlled marketplace. And that’s what we are going to see – are already beginning to see – with marijuana, be it for medical purposes or simply for adult use.”
Since August 2012, Arizona has seen 98 registration certificates awarded for those wanting to open medical marijuana dispensaries. Last December saw the opening of the first dispensary, Arizona Organix, and 16 were reportedly open in late April 2013. However, Arizona state government has not been the industry’s biggest supporter.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, Rep. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills, and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery have all done their part to derail progress for medical marijuana, and you can find those details here. Luckily, the courts have supported the will of the voters against challenges to the program. The Arizona Department of Health Services is still issuing ID cards for medical marijuana patients, and the list of approved dispensaries continues to grow.
New dispensaries are still burdened by heavy restrictions and regulations, but access to medical marijuana for patients has never been better. In fact, the Arizona Health Department reports that “47 dispensaries have been inspected and approved to operate, and 35 of those are open and operating throughout the state. Approximately 90% of all Arizonans now live within 25 miles of an operating dispensary.” Arizona’s medical marijuana industry, despite troubles from the government, continues to prosper and works to improve access to all patients in need.
While many spent the past few days celebrating with friends and family, the Oregon Legislature was still hard at work in Salem. Last Wednesday the state Senate passed an amended version of HB 3460 – a bill to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. On Saturday the House agreed with the Senate version, meaning the bill is one signature away from bringing safe and consistent access to the nearly 55,000 medical marijuana patients in Oregon. The bill is now awaiting Gov. Kitzhaber’s signature.
HB 3460 – a summary can be found here (PDF) – would create medical marijuana facilities that will be allowed to transfer usable marijuana and immature marijuana plants to medical marijuana patients and their designated primary caregivers. If signed, Oregon will become the 13th state with legal medical marijuana dispensaries. If you are Oregon resident, please ask the governor to sign HB 3460.
Big thanks are in order to Sam Chapman and Oregonians for Medical Rights who orchestrated the lobbying effort to see this bill through.
Champlain Valley Dispensary
Vermont’s medical marijuana patients have finally been afforded a safe, legal option that doesn’t require the hassle of cultivating marijuana plants! As reported by The Burlington Free Press, two dispensaries have now opened their doors to patients: Vermont Patients Alliance held a “soft opening” late last week in Montpelier and Champlain Valley Dispensary opened Monday in Burlington.
The Free Press reported that both dispensaries are now open three days a week. A third dispensary has been approved and plans to locate in Brandon. A total of four dispensaries are allowed under the law MPP and our allies worked hard to pass in 2011.
These dispensaries will expand access and make life much easier for many patients. However, there is still room for improvement in Vermont’s medical marijuana law. For example, it only allows a maximum of 1,000 patients to be served by dispensaries. Additionally, patients who designate a dispensary are no longer permitted to cultivate their own plants.
State-regulated dispensaries are now open in the following seven states: NM, ME, CO, AZ, NJ, RI, and VT. State-regulated dispensaries are allowed, but have not yet been selected, in four additional states: MA, CT, NV, and DE. In the District of Columbia, dispensaries should be serving patients soon.
Sen. Tick Segerblom
Yesterday, the Nevada Senate passed SB 374, which would allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and growers in the state. Sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, the bill received a 17-4 vote — well above the 2/3 votes needed to advance the bill to the Assembly. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn by early Tuesday morning, so time is running short.
Despite the constitutional rights established in Article IV, Section 38 of the Nevada Constitution, the legislature failed to provide seriously ill patients with a way to obtain medical marijuana — other than growing it themselves or finding a volunteer to do so. SB 374 aims to fix that shortfall by authorizing and regulating producers and providers.
There are still several critical steps ahead for this bill. If you are a Nevada resident, please ask your assembly member to support SB 374.