Jonathan Ogden, retired Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle, has applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. There are a limited number of licenses available in Nevada, so it is still unclear whether or not Ogden will own a dispensary.
One hundred and nine other companies have filed applications, and only 66 will be licensed this year, 40 of which will reside in Las Vegas (Clark county) where Ogden has applied. Applicants must also show they have $250,000 in liquid assets and have a licensed physician as the medical director to apply.
Hopefully, the NFL will feel the pressure of having Hall of Fame leaders like Ogden publicly support medical marijuana. The NFL’s stance on medical marijuana hasn’t evolved to the same extent as that of the nation at large, and the organization still imposes strict laws on players via steep fines and suspensions. However, with the NBA and NCAA rethinking their marijuana-use policies, perhaps, the NFL will move in the direction of acceptance.
Yesterday morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law both the medical marijuana bill and the decriminalization bill, making Maryland the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana program, and the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The medical marijuana bill expands a program that, while established last year, was unable to get off the ground. The previous law relied on the participation of teaching hospitals, which understandably did not want to be involved with a substance that is still federally illegal. The law signed today will allow registered cultivators to grow medical marijuana and up to 15 licensed cultivators to provide the medicine to patients and dispensaries. This new law will finally provide real access to seriously ill Marylanders.
The decriminalization law removes the criminal penalties for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, and replaces them with a civil fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program. The measurewill officially go into effect on October 1.
This is incredible progress, but our work is not done yet. A September 2013 poll found that 53% of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and up, and taxing and regulating it like alcohol.
This is great progress, but we can’t stop here. The addition of four dispensaries has dramatically improved access for patients, and over 1,000 patients have now registered for Vermont’s program. But there are still a number of issues with Vermont’s medical marijuana law that need to be addressed, including an absurd restriction that only 1,000 Vermont patients may be served by dispensaries.
We are currently urging Vermont legislators to pass S. 247, which would eliminate the 1,000-patient cap and make other positive changes to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Sponsored by Senator Jeanette White (D), S. 247would authorize the Department of Public Safety to license two additional dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and it would allow naturopaths to certify patients for the program.
S. 247has already been approved by two Senate committees, and a vote is expected soon by the full Senate.
The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services has finalized regulations for a single medical marijuana compassion center. Unfortunately, the pilot center will be limited to cultivating 150 plants — far too few to meet patients’ needs. MPP has submitted comments urging the department to revise the regulations to ensure a workable program. While the governor and DHHS refused to lift the cap now, there is a possibility of doing so later if and when the current regulations prove too limited.
DHHS has also issued a compassion center request for proposal (RFP) for a single compassion center. It plans to license one center to begin growing medical marijuana by July of this year. Meanwhile, the department continues to accept applications for medical marijuana ID cards, which will be required for patients seeking to obtain their medicine from a compassion center. If you are interested in reading the RFP or applying for a medical marijuana ID card, please visit the medical marijuana program’s website to access the relevant application forms.
Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law was implemented over a year ago, and now the state has granted its first 20 dispensary licenses. The Department of Public Heath received 100 applications and judged them based on proposed location and the ability of the dispensary to ensure public safety while simultaneously meeting the needs of its patients.
The law allows for 35 dispensary licenses; however, only 20 have been granted so far. More competition will mean lower prices for patients, so, the sooner the last 15 licenses are granted, the better.
The Michigan House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed two important bills today. HB 4271, sponsored by Rep. Mike Callton, would allow local governments to license and regulate dispensaries. HB 5104, sponsored by Rep. Eileen Kowall, would extend the protections currently in place for smoked forms of marijuana to marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in topical emollients, edibles, and tinctures.
The dispensary bill received a landslide vote of 94-14, while the vote for the extracts bill was an even more lopsided 100-9 in favor. We wish to thank both Rep. Callton and Rep. Kowall for sponsoring these important pieces of legislation, and thanks to the many groups, lobbyists, and patients who supported this effort. Great work!
The bills will now be transmitted to the Senate. Stay tuned for more alerts as progress on these bills continues.
At a Denver City Council hearing held on Monday to discuss implementing a 5% marijuana sales tax, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey held the floor to claim that medical marijuana dispensaries are a haven for assaults, robberies, and murder.
“We have had 12 homicides related directly to medical marijuana,” Morrissey told the council. “We have had over 100 aggravated robberies and home invasions. Many of you probably didn’t read about the double-execution-style homicide that we had here in Denver… This is an ugly secret.”
Several council members expressed their shock and concern over the DA’s previously unheard-of claims. When questioned about the validity of his statistics on Tuesday, though, Morrissey clarified that he’d cited “loose figures” and that none of the homicides actually occurred at a medical marijuana facility. In reality, most of the homicides happened during home invasions, and in some cases, it is uncertain whether marijuana played a role.
“Morrissey’s suggestion that the state- and locally-regulated medical marijuana industry is somehow at fault for crimes that occurred entirely outside of its scope is ludicrous and irresponsible. I cannot imagine any other instance in which he would place blame for violent crimes on law-abiding businesses and citizens who have fallen victim to them.”
Tvert’s claim that dispensaries are not causing violent crime is backed by police statistics. In 2009, the Denver Police Department found that robbery and burglary rates at dispensaries were lower than area banks and liquor stores and on par with those of pharmacies. In 2010, police in Colorado Springs found that robbery and burglary rates at area dispensaries were no higher than at non-marijuana-related businesses. Discussing the findings, Sgt. Darrin Abbink said, “I don’t think the data really supports [dispensaries] are more likely to be targeted at this point.”
Of the robberies and assaults that have occurred, industry representatives say that medical marijuana dispensaries may only be targeted because current banking laws force them to deal in cash rather than credit.
Tvert continued, “If Morrissey is truly concerned about enhancing public safety, he should be testifying in support of policies that will eliminate the underground marijuana market and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated like alcohol. He should not be resorting to scare tactics and reefer madness.”
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.
“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.
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"The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense - the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy."
"The sole tangible way in which pot is a gateway to other illegal drugs is that it is illegal. The best way to end this easy path to worse narcotics is to legalize it and take it out of the hands of criminals and gangs."
"Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use."