After over 70% of Florida voters approved the latest medical marijuana amendment expanding the list of qualifying conditions and including higher strength medicine, the state legislature has suggested changes to the amendment, heavily restricting the program's qualifying patients, where to buy it, and how long it takes. The proposed changes sparked outrage allover the state leading to overflowing public hearings where patients and advocates pleaded with lawmakers about high prices, limited availability, and doctor's prescription requirements. After reviewing the public's concerns, officials will propose follow up changes which will also be subject to public comment. The Florida House and Senate are also planning on releasing medical marijuana proposals before next month's session begins. State officials have recommended restrictions on what type of patients can qualify for medical marijuana, and where they can obtain it. Their suggestions, however, have prompted a wave of opposition across the state, with nearly 1,300 residents attending what are normally low-key bureaucratic hearings to press for less restricted access to marijuana. Amendment 2, which was approved by 71 percent of voters last November, was enacted on Jan. 3. It allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments than what was currently allowed in state law. The rules have become a flashpoint because the amendment requires the state to adopt them by July 3 and have them in place by September
Colorado lawmakers can all agree on one thing, since the legalization of marijuana there has been an increase in people smoking in public, but legislators are still working on a proper solution. Some are hoping to license and open "cannabis clubs" which would allow adults to smoke recreational marijuana in a private club with proper ventilation. Even those opposing marijuana legalization can see that having private clubs would be much better than the illegal smoking on city sidewalks. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is not sure if he will approve a bill allowing cannabis clubs due to the uncertainty of the new presidential administration, an administration with people historically against legal marijuana. Other marijuana industry leaders are so confident in legal marijuana that they plan to begin clubs as soon as next week. "It's a problem we've got to address," said state Sen. Chris Holbert, a suburban Denver Republican who opposed marijuana legalization but doesn't like seeing its use on the sidewalk, either. "No voter in Colorado voted to allow the use of marijuana on their sidewalk, in their parks, in their public view," said state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. "But that's essentially what we've done by not allowing private club space for marijuana uses." "I don't know whether we'd be inviting federal intervention, but certainly that's one argument I've heard used persuasively," Hickenlooper said Thursday.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) begins their push this week with the Workplace Drug Testing Coalition against the outdated policy that allows businesses to fire employees or not hire them based on a marijuana-positive drug test. Similar to other legal drugs, marijuana can be both abused during work hours and safely consumed while not at work, meaning the drug itself should not be condemned. Working adults who enjoy cannabis should be given the same standards that trusts them not to consume alcohol during work hours. Instead of drug testing for marijuana which can give positive test results for days or weeks after use, the Denver NORML chapter hopes businesses will adopt a more fair method, like performance impairment testing which can be given to an employee suspected of impairment and does not include bodily fluids that might include some THC. “Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, national outreach coordinator for NORML, in a statement. “Random, suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” Golden said in a statement. It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have options, said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML, in a statement.
The legal marijuana industry is one of the fastest growing markets on the planet, but the education sector remains weak in comparison. A new college in Cleveland, Ohio hopes to break the stigma surrounding newly legalized medical marijuana in the state by both creating the next generation of medical marijuana industry workers as well as educating the ill-informed on the topic. Offering courses in horticulture, law, history, and more, Cleveland Cannabis College will open it's doors to it's first group of eager students this fall. Tuition ranges from $1,000 for a 6 week class, or $5,200 for the entire 135 hour class, followed by guaranteed job placement within 6 months. As marijuana remains illegal under federal law, there will be no help from financial aid resources. The Cleveland Cannabis College will offer courses in horticulture, law, history and other areas this fall, after the state has finalized details about Ohio's medical marijuana program. Founder Richard Pine said the school is geared toward people who want to work as medical marijuana growers or in dispensaries, but courses are offered to anyone who wants to learn more about the plant and its applications. "Ohio's really setting the bar for the laws in medical marijuana -- they're treating it like a medicine unlike some states out west," Pine said. "What we aim to do is share the scientific facts about cannabis with as many people as possible."
Up until recently cannabis edible manufacturers in Washington state had to submit their product packaging for inspection before being approved for sale, however a new regulation in the state now requires all edible products to adhere to a new standard. As of this week, all cannabis edibles in Washington state must have a warning label saying "Not For Kids," right next to a red hand indicating "stop". The move comes after the confusion of some edible products that looked like candy, which can mislead people, especially children, to think the medicated product is just ordinary candy. While the rate of children being exposed to marijuana edibles has not created serious problems, the new label will help both adults and children to know the difference. “A lot of them look like a regular package. We want it to be easily identified as a product containing marijuana,” Brian Smith, spokesperson for the LCB, told The News Tribune. Though the rates of children exposed to marijuana are far from epidemic levels, recent studies have supported regulators who are concerned with proper labeling. A JAMA Pediatrics study published last summer found that rates of cannabis exposure in young children have increased 150 percent in Colorado since 2014. The LCB believes these labels will help keep parents aware and kids out of the edible stash. Manufacturers will have to start incorporating the label into their packaging or putting a sticker on the product package.
This week Pueblo County, Colorado officials created the “world’s first cannabis-funded scholarship" which is made up of $425,000 directly from the state's cannabis excise tax revenue. $1,000 of aid will be available to all qualifying graduating students with more available for those in need. This scholarship fund is expected to grow dramatically over the next several years as the tax rate on marijuana is set to grow 1 percent each year until it reaches 5%. The current tax rate is 2%. County commisioners are happy to see this money being used to educate youth in need rather than be funneled through black market marijuana. The scholarship fund is expected to grow in the next several years, as both marijuana cultivation and the taxation rate increase. “It will grow annually because the excise tax increases annually,” Pace told The Huffington Post. “We also expect many new farms to come online this year. Only roughly half of the licensed farms were operational in 2016.” “It is so critically important to make college affordable for our youth if we want to provide long-term economic opportunity to our community,” she said. “Too many kids can’t afford to go to college, with this program we are taking cannabis-tax revenue and using it to provide for a brighter future in Pueblo.”
This week the state of Hawaii granted a notice to proceed growing and cultivating marijuana for the dispensary Pono Life Sciences Maiui, making them the fourth grow-ready dispensary in the state and the second in Maui. Pono Life Sciences will soon begin planting cannabis seeds and clones to be used in the treatment of patients registered with the Medical Marijuana Registry Program. Patients can be recommended marijuana by their doctor if they have conditions like cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, seizures and other debilitating medical conditions. One marijuana dispensary license allows the owner two production facilities, limited to 3,000 plants each, and two retail stores making for a total of 16 each in Hawaii. The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health today issued a Notice to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC for their production center on Maui. Pono Life Sciences Maui is the fourth licensee to receive notice from the state and the second Maui licensee to meet all requirements to begin growing marijuana. Pono Life Sciences Maui is now authorized to acquire and grow marijuana seeds, clones and plants, for the purpose of providing marijuana and marijuana products to qualified patients registered with the department’s Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Program.
One dedicated Tennessee lawmaker, Jeremy Faison, has worked hard to bring a thorough medical marijuana proposal to the legislature this year. After visiting succesful marijuana grows in Colorado, his 52-page bill covers all the regulations needed for the program from seed to sale. Patients with conditions like PTSD, cancer, and depression, would be able to get a prescription from their doctor, followed by receiving a medical marijuana card the department of health. The bill would allow for 50 growers total in the state, with the first 15 to be focused in rural areas. The bill will be put to a vote at the end of this month. A Tennessee lawmaker has been hoping to change some minds about the use of medical marijuana in the state. Representative Jeremy Faison has been working for three years gathering information and even visiting grow operations in Colorado. He has now drafted an extensive 52-page bill that covers everything from seed to delivery.
Last week the first participant used cannabis during a new study on how different strains of marijuana work in treatment of veterans with PTSD. Half of the participants will be studied at the University of Arizona while the other half with be at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Researchers say it's taken nearly 7 years to get to this point in the research process with the study being approved by the DEA in April of last year. 20% of Vietnam veterans and 15% of Iraq war veterans are effected by PTSD according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, whom coincidentally will not allow the new PTSD and marijuana study to be advertised within their government owned buildings. Advocates of the research believe it can lead to the FDA approval of whole-plant marijuana for use with PTSD. Over the next two years, the study will "evaluate the safety and efficacy of four different potencies of marijuana to manage symptoms of PTSD in 76 U.S. veterans," a MAPS news release states. The study requires 17 clinic visits over 12 weeks and a six-month follow-up visit, plus drug screenings to determine the THC levels in the vets' bloodstreams. "We're just so grateful to finally enroll patients," Sisley told New Times on Friday. "This has been our dream that started seven years ago, to study whole-plant cannabis in this most-deserving population of veterans ... The government thought they could stonewall us until we got tired or walked away. But we're committed to doing this."
In an industry first, Oregon's licensed recreational dispensaries are now able to take orders and make home deliveries to customers within city limits. 117 permits were granted to retailers for home delivery, but not without some heavy regulation by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Marijuana product must be transported in a locked and secured box limited to a value of $3,000 with deliveries prohibited in places like motels, campgrounds and dorms. Advocates say the delivery service will be valuable to those who aren't able to get around as others. Home deliveries must be made between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. by an adult 21 years or older and the package must be signed for. Dispensary owners liken the experience to something everyone is familiar with, a pizza delivery. For example, marijuana retailers can only deliver within the city they're licensed in. The marijuana must be transported in a locked box and secured to the delivery vehicle, which can carry no more than $3,000 worth of product at a time. Retailers can't deliver product to places like motels, campgrounds or dorms, just residential homes. “There are people who need it and are not able to get around quite as well as I am,” said customer James Earl. “It is a very useful thing for them to have access to.” “This is like, you're going to call the pizza guy, then you're going to call us,” said Krutzler. “We're going to have a good time.
This past election Florida voters passed the state's proposed medical marijuana initiative with 71% of the vote, yet lawmakers are trying to cripple the initiative's language by restricting access to the drug. A public hearing about the bill brought in hundreds of concerned citizens hoping to make positive change to the state's medical program. A proposed limit on cannabis distributors would also limit product and number of strains for patients as well as inflate the price on the limited products. These restrictions cause patients in need to spend thousands of dollars on their medicine, forcing many to either not get treatment or resort to using the black market. Doctors are also concerned about a political body trying to limit the qualifying conditions for the drug rather than allowing medicine to dictate medical value. A first draft issued last month by the health department would largely squeeze the broad program contemplated by Amendment 2, which passed in November with 71 percent support, into an existing system created in 2014 to legalize cannabis use for a small number of patients. ▪ Rules limiting the cultivation and distribution of cannabis to the current seven licensed companies would restrict the number of strains and products available to patients, and inflate the price of products that remain illegal under federal law and therefore aren’t covered by insurance. Heidi Handford, a local consultant in the industry, said some patients have told her they’re paying up to $5,000 a year for legal medicine, making it much cheaper to simply buy pot illegally.
Minnesota legalized medical marijuana in 2015 and like many other states have since expanded the program by adding qualifying conditions such as PTSD and intractable pain. Even in a partialy-legal marijuana state, Minnesota still spends $137 million in tax dollars a year to arrest and charge it's citizens for pot possession. Two Democratic lawmakers in the state hope to make petty marijuana-arrests a thing of the past by introducing a bill that would allow voters to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota, though the bill will have an uphill battle through the Republican controlled legislature. If passed, the recreational marijuana program would create a billion dollar industry by creating jobs for Minnesota farmers, local distributors, and small businesses, as well as bringing in massive amounts of new taxes to be used for public schools, substance dependency, and mental health education. Minnesotans already spend $700 million on illegal marijuana, so why not defund the black market and put money back into the pockets of taxpayers. “Minnesotans know that the prohibition on cannabis is costly, harmful and antiquated,” Liebling said in a statement. “Estimates of the cost of cannabis enforcement in Minnesota range from $42 million a year for possession offenses alone to $137 million a year for all cannabis arrests. Yet Minnesotans spend perhaps $700 million a year on cannabis, indirectly helping fund crime through an enormous black market. All this for a substance that -- while not harmless -- is far safer than alcohol. My bill would let citizens decide whether it is time to try a different path—one already successfully paved by many other states.” Rep. Applebaum’s bill would allow Minnesotans aged 21 and over to use, possess or purchase up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. The bill also proposes a framework for the licensing and regulation of marijuana cultivation, harvesting, processing and retail sale, which would begin in 2019. Minnesotans would also be permitted to grow up to 6 marijuana plants at a time, with 3 or fewer being mature.