Tax and Regulate

Colorado Legislature Approves On-Site Consumption Lounges

May 4th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

House Bill 1258 passed both houses of the Colorado General Assembly and is now heading to the governor’s desk. If signed, the bill would allow approved retail cannabis stores to open a tasting room where on-site cannabis consumption is allowed.

This is yet another big step forward in a state that has long been a leader in cannabis policy. If the bill becomes law, customers could purchase concentrates for vaping on site, along with edible marijuana products. Visitors to the shops would not be allowed to bring their own cannabis products, consume whole-plant cannabis, or smoke on site.

Although Colorado voters ended cannabis prohibition in 2012, restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed have been a burden, particularly for visitors to the state and people living in public housing. While purchases are allowed, there are few options for those who are unable to consume at a private residence. HB 1258 offers a solution by establishing regulated locations where adults can gather and consume without fear of breaking local or state law.

Many responsible marijuana consumers in Colorado believe they should be able to meet in a social setting, no different than those who enjoy a beer with friends at a public place.

If you are a Colorado resident, please ask Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign HB 1258 without delay.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research

May 3rd, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The University of Utah Health and the University of California San Diego recently announced separate plans to begin new phases of research on medical marijuana. In Utah, the study will focus on the individual effects of cannabinoids on brain processes, while UC San Diego researchers will probe possible treatments for autism with marijuana. Both projects have been made possible by grants from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The University of Utah Health received $740,000 to support innovative brain-imaging research, which will analyze how various cannabinoids affect cognition, stress, and pain. The study will involve 40 healthy young adults and seek to understand the causal mechanisms through which cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain.

“Deciphering the personalized effects of CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] will have a profound impact on how various cannabinoids may best be used for medical treatments,” said Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD, chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and the study’s co-principal investigator.

With the support of a $4.7 million gift — the largest amount ever donated for medical marijuana research in the United States — the University of California San Diego will study the effects of CBD on autism. This research, the first of its kind, will investigate how CBD might correct neurochemical imbalances in individuals with autism, a condition that impacts an estimated 1 in 68 children born today.

“There are unconfirmed reports that cannabidiol could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefits or its safety,” commented Igor Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if cannabidiol holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.”

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Legislature Overrides Marijuana Regulation Bill Veto

May 2nd, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Today, the Maine House and Senate overrode Gov. LePage’s veto of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee’s bill that establishes a regulatory framework for marijuana sales.

LD 1719 creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments and sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana. The bill does not implement the portion of the voter-approved initiative that calls for social consumption lounges.

While the bill was by no means perfect, we are glad that the state is moving forward with implementation, and soon there will be a legal way for adults to purchase marijuana.

Here is the link to LD 1719 if you are interested in reading the full text of the bill.

We are disappointed that social clubs were removed from the law and that adults may now only cultivate three plants at home instead of six. We will be working with the next legislature and governor to improve upon the work the legislature has accomplished. To that end, we have sent a survey to the candidates running for governor, asking if they will make implementation a priority once elected. Stay tuned for the results of the survey before the June primary election.

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Medical Marijuana

Zimbabwe to Allow Medical Marijuana

April 30th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

As public support for medical marijuana hovers over 90% in the United States while Congress continues to struggle to pass comprehensive legislation that would permanently protect state medical marijuana programs, Zimbabwe recently became the second African nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Marijuana Business Daily reports:

Details of the country’s cannabis regulations were announced in the government gazette on Friday, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper, The Herald. (The gazette prints official notices and laws from the government.)

Five-year renewable licenses would allow growers to possess, transport and sell cannabis oil and fresh and dried cannabis, according to Reuters, which reported to have viewed Zimbabwe’s regulations.

The regulatory change came via Statutory Instrument 62, which amended the Dangerous Drugs Act to include Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations, The Herald reported.

“In the case of a company, proof of citizenship or proof of being ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe of the majority of directors or proof of an exemption by the Minister and proof of incorporation in Zimbabwe of the company…” according to the regulations.

Production must be licensed by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

No details are available on whether imports or exports would be permitted or how local MMJ consumption would be regulated.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

Illinois Senate Approves a Safer Option for Opioid Patients

April 27th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

An important medical marijuana bill emerged from the Senate yesterday that could bring welcome relief to seriously ill patients around the state. Senate Bill 336 would allow patients who qualify for opioid prescriptions to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 336, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Harmon and Chris Nybo, emerged with a strong 44-6 vote in support. The bill is now in the House.

Seriously ill patients should not be pushed towards some of the most harmful drugs available, particularly when there is a safer alternative. Studies in recent years have supported what many medical marijuana patients already know: medical cannabis can be an effective alternative for patients who might otherwise rely on opioid drugs.

Sen. Harmon’s bill would not only provide that alternative, it would also make other critically important improvements to the state program, including removing the current fingerprint requirement for all patients. Rep. Kelly Cassidy has already stepped in as chief co-sponsor in the House, along with over two dozen other House members who have joined with her as co-sponsors. But it’s crunch time in Springfield, and lawmakers are now working through the busiest time of the year — it’s important the bill continue to advance without delay.

If you are an Illinois resident, please ask your representatives to support this bill and to consider co-sponsoring if they haven’t signed on already.

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Tax and Regulate

Michigan Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Ballot

April 26th, 2018 4 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has cleared a major hurdle towards making marijuana legal in Michigan. This morning, the Board of State Canvassers approved the petition signatures, and the initiative to regulate marijuana will be on the ballot in November. If approved by voters, Michigan would become the first state in the Midwest with an adult-use cannabis law.

In addition to allowing adults age 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana, the initiative would: regulate marijuana businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport, and sell marijuana; legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp (used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics, food, construction materials, and fuel); protect consumers with proper testing and safety regulations for retail marijuana; impose a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana sold at the retail level on top of the state’s six percent sales tax; and give local governments the option of whether they want to allow marijuana businesses in their communities.

Organizations supporting the coalition include the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML, and MILegalize.

The initiative is being certified at a time when national attention is focused on marijuana policy reform. Earlier this month, President Trump reiterated his position in favor of not interfering with state marijuana policies in a conversation with Sen. Cory Gardner and assured him that the Department of Justice would not target individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state marijuana laws.

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Medical Marijuana

N.H. Senate Committee Ignores Patients’ Testimony, Rejects Home Grow Bill

April 25th, 2018 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 to reject a bill that would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Instead of listening to the numerous patients who testified at the public hearing, the committee recommended that HB 1476 be sent to “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year. But there’s still hope. Next, the bill is expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks. Gov. Chris Sununu has not expressed a public position on the bill.

This bill is critically important because many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option. There is no need for further study before allowing limited home cultivation by registered patients and caregivers, especially now that it is becoming clear that access to cannabis is a key to addressing the opiate crisis.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please email your state senator’s office today and urge him or her to support HB 1476! Then, call Gov. Chris Sununu and urge him to do the same.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Health Dept. to Expand Medical Marijuana Program, Allow Flower Vaporization

April 23rd, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine announced the department will implement all of the advisory board’s recommended changes to the medical marijuana program. They include:

  • Allowing patients to use whole plant, flower cannabis via vaporization.
  • Rewording the qualifying condition “severe chronic or intractable pain” to delete the phrase “in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.”
  • Allowing patients to qualify if they are undergoing “addiction substitute therapy — opioid reduction.”
  • Adding the following conditions to the program: cancer while in remission therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and terminal illness.
  • Eventually requiring minor patients to have recommendations from a pediatrician or other pediatric or adolescent health specialist. (This could be problematic due to the very small number of pediatricians who are recommending cannabis.)

The department will promulgate regulations with these changes on May 12, and they will then undergo legislative review.

These changes would have a major impact for Pennsylvania patients. Allowing cannabis in its flower form is crucial to affordability. And with the revised wording for severe pain, Pennsylvania will no longer steer pain patients to more dangerous medications, such as opiates.

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Medical Marijuana

Battle Over Home Cultivation in New Hampshire Intensifies

April 20th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee is expected to vote on HB 1476 next Tuesday, April 24.

The bill, which has already passed the House in a voice vote, would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. Others have to drive long distances in order to reach a dispensary. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call or email your state senator’s office today and urge them to support allowing limited home cultivation.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Key House Committee Advances Medical Marijuana Bill in South Carolina

April 19th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The House version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, H 3521, emerged from committee today in a landslide 14-3 vote.

Unfortunately, a key deadline has passed, and it’s too late for the medical cannabis bill to become law this year. However, it’s important to remind lawmakers that patients and those who care for them are counting on their support.

There is much to be done before the bill becomes law, but today’s vote marks a big step forward for patients. Both the House and the Senate versions made it through their committees, and the bills were sent to the full bodies in both chambers.

Thank you to bill sponsors, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, and the many supporters who have been active behind the scenes and at the hearings, including those who attended an educational symposium for lawmakers yesterday evening.

If you are a South Carolina resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support the Compassionate Care Act in the next legislative session.

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