With a legalization bill on it's way to the governor's desk, Vermont has a chance to be the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana through the legislative process. Over half of the U.S. currently has some form of legal marijuana, but were instead approved through voter referendums. If passed, the bill would allow adults over 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow two mature plants at home. Lawmakers want to give enough time to finish regulating the new industry, so the current start date of the program is set for July 1, 2018. Smoking in public will be prohibited as well as driving while intoxicated. Even if the bill is passed by the governor of Vermont, employers, landlords, schools and prisons will still be allowed to continue banning and testing for cannabis. “We need to make a move to be treating this as a public health issue for those for whom it is a health issue, and letting other people use this substance responsibly,” Buckholz said. "I don't believe this is a priority for Vermont," Scott said. "I believe that what we should be doing is trying to find ways to protect those on our highways, deliver a level of impairment that is consistent throughout the Northeast, as well as to address the edibles for our kids, before we move forward with legalization. Having said that, I'm going to review the bill as it's passed."
Montana residents have had access to a very limited medical marijuana program for several years now but this week legislators in the House approved Senate Bill 333 which will properly regulate the drug similar to other states' comprehensive programs. If passed, a seed-to-sale tracking system will be put in place, as well as require licenses for any business that sells marijuana products. The bill would also add a tax on marijuana business gross sales instead of consumer sales to help pay for the regulatory structuring of the program. SB 333 now heads to the Montana governor's desk for approval. The bill pays for the state regulation with a tax charged on medical marijuana providers. SB333 requires state licensing of providers of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products, dispensaries where products are sold and testing laboratories. Providers would be charged a 4 percent tax the first year to pay for the cost of setting up the regulatory structure. It would drop to 2 percent in later years to cover ongoing regulatory costs. “The voters have spoken again,” Essmann said. “They said they wanted a regulated program. It’s time for a choice. You cannot stay in the shadows forever…. We cannot afford to go back to the Wild, Wild West of 2010.” “I really appreciate the work all the people have put in on it, not just legislators but the grass-roots,” she said. “I think we have a great product here.”
Last year Pennsylvania voters passed a medical marijuana bill under the impression that only certain non-smokable cannabis products would be available, but due to specific language in the bill dispensaries may also be able to sell whole plant marijuana. Dispensaries are expected to open around the state by next year, and in that time the advisory board in charge of regulating the industry must make a recommendation regarding if new forms of smokable will be permitted. While the bill is not guaranteed to change, some lawmakers are convinced after hearing that the advisory board will likely have people who would prefer smokable forms of marijuana be included. One of the board’s duties is to produce a report by April 2018 that makes recommendations on how best to move forward with implementing the state’s medical marijuana program and whether or not the state should make changes to the forms of marijuana allowed. Under the law itself, the board must make a recommendation on: “Whether to permit medical marijuana to be dispensed in dry leaf or plant form, for administration by vaporization.” If the advisory board does recommend the state permit dispensation of medical marijuana in dry leaf or plant form, then it’s up to the state secretary of the Department of Health to make the final call, and according to the law, he or she has a year to do so. Leach seemed convinced that the board will recommend the state do so, saying at the expo earlier this week: “[T]hey will, because we’re appointing people to do that.”
Cannabis clubs are highly sought after in the marijuana industry because residents and tourists need places to consume away from home and not in public. But many lawmakers are wary of passing bills allowing the clubs due to unwanted attention from possible crackdowns by the Trump Administration. While states like Colorado and Alaska have backed off such legislation, Nevada lawmakers are persisting in hopes of creating a safer experience for both Las Vegas tourists and businesses alike. This week Senate Bill 236 was passed by a committee and moves onto another vote by the Assembly soon. If passed, SB236 would allow local government to permit cannabis clubs and other forms of public use. Adults 21 and older can possess (and later this year buy) up to an ounce of marijuana, but the law that took effect Jan. 1 makes it so they can only consume that in a private residence. That leaves tourists who stay on the Strip or other resort properties in a conundrum: They will be able to buy pot legally, but will have no place to use it because casinos have been told to keep it off their properties or risk losing their licenses.
Many who've invested in the marijuana industry are worried about the uncertainty of a potential crackdown from President Trump's Administration, who hasn't decided yet if they're for or against state's rights. Others are less concerned as Colorado state legislators are taking it upon themselves to try and protect innocent citizens who choose to participate in the state legal program. Proposed legislation would prohibit any state law enforcement from helping federal entities in “arresting a Colorado citizen for committing an act that is a Colorado constitutional right.” The bill easily passed through the Colorado House this week and is now headed to the Senate. California is filing similar legislation to ban local police from getting involved in federal marijuana arrests, and more states are expected to follow suite. A proposal passed through the state House with overwhelming support Wednesday aimed at protecting smokers who legally use marijuana under Colorado law. It comes amid national uncertainty regarding marijuana policy sparked by negative rhetoric from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recently ordered an internal review of the Department of Justice’s stance on recreational state pot laws, reports the Associated Press. It is unclear how aggressive the administration will ultimately be on the issue, but officials in states with legal weed want to ensure their voter-approved laws are protected.
What is microdosing? With cannabis, microdosing is the act of ingesting the minimum effective dose bringing therapeutic treatment, but that exact dose will not be the same for everyone. Some may find a microdose of THC more effective than CBD, or perhaps a combination of the two, but the goal is to get the most from each dose without going too far. Taking too much often results in unwanted side-effects for the user. Once a consumer understands their minimal effective dose, they can take cannabis alongside their daily activities without worry. Often the biggest problem is finding products that are properly and accurately labelled to inform the user of exactly how much THC and CBD they're consuming. With the marijuana industry growing at the rate it has, surely microdosing will become more popular and specific cannabis labeling will become a standard around the country. Welcome to marijuana 2.0. With microdosing, people are getting the maximum benefit from the minimum amount, without becoming stoned, paranoid or lethargic. Some are microdsoing to regulate their moods, boost their creativity, or enhance their workouts and yoga sessions. Susannah Grossman, 29, founder of Verdant Communications in Denver, takes several small doses through the day. "It lifts my spirits, relieves the stress and tension that build up, and allows me to approach my work with more keen interest." Grossman moved to Colorado in 2015, where she found that with recreational use being legal in the state, "You have the luxury of trying an infinite variety of strains until you find what rings your bell. You can't do that in a non-legal state." Wherever she went, she bought grams of new strains, tested them, and tried different combinations and doses. "It took quite a while to find what works," she says. "I'm currently taking a tincture that's 5 mg of both THC and CBD. Then I'll take a puff of a certain strain three or four times a day, if I'm feeling at the end of my runway, or if I'm about to go into a meeting where I need a fresh perspective."
A study last year determined that Medicare prescriptions for painkillers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications all significantly fell in states that adopted medical marijuana programs, showing that many older patients preferred to self medicate with medical marijuana over their given prescriptions. This year a similar study was conducted but with Medicaid, which includes people of all ages, and just as predicted the same result was recorded. The same can be predicted for those on private insurances, but the significance of the data we do have cannot be ignored. While anti-nausea, anti-depressants, seizure, and psychosis drugs fell the most, prescription pain killers like opiates, which are currently responsible for an epidemic of addiciton and overdoses, dropped 11%. Ontop of the population successfully self-medicating certain ailments, if the Medicaid data is applied to a national medical marijuana program, it would save taxpayers around $1.1 billion every year. Perhaps most significantly from a public health standpoint, prescriptions for painkillers fell by 11 percent. Opiate painkillers are behind much of the current drug overdose epidemic. Numerous studies have found that opiate abuse and overdose rates fell in states with medical marijuana laws. The Bradfords' research describes the mechanism by which that could happen: the introduction of medical marijuana laws coincides with a drop in painkiller prescriptions. The Bradfords' data only include prescriptions made under Medicare and Medicaid, but given the totality of their evidence it seems reasonable to assume that similar patterns hold true for patients on private insurance plans. In the current budgetary environment, no analysis of health care is complete without a discussion of costs. The Bradfords estimate that because of the drops in prescribing rates, a nationwide medical marijuana program would save taxpayers about $1.1 billion on Medicaid prescriptions annually. That's on top of the half a billion in Medicare savings the Bradfords estimated last year.
In 2012 Massachusetts voters said YES to legalizing medical marijuana in their state, and only a few months ago voters came through once more for recreational marijuana. With interest growing even more after the recreational law passed, it's no surprise that the New England Cannabis Convention will be returning to Boston once more this weekend, April 22-23. While no consuming of the drug will be permitted on the premises, there will be a plethora of marijuana based presentations around for all visitors to learn from. Open from 10-6 both days, visitors will have a chance to see dozens of public speakers, over 175 marijuana exhibits and even demonstrations performed live including cannabis-infused home cooked meals. What the future holds for medical marijuana is also on the convention agenda. Massachusetts voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 2012. In-door homegrowing of marijuana is another topic. A 45-minute demonstration promises to answer beginner questions about how much space is needed, what kind of equipment and fertilizer works best and how to stay in compliance with Massachusetts laws. Set to take place at the Hynes Convention Center on Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23. Smoking, dabbing or vaping is not allowed anywhere inside the convention center, organizers say.
Though proper marijuana research is hard to comeby, there is still plenty of evidence to reinforce the many benefits of cannabis. Recreational and medical marijuana markets are growing at a tremendous rate around the US and even other major countries like Canada could fully legalize the drug soon. Despite only 6% of cannabis research focusing on the benefits of the drug, it's still quite clear that patients with a wide variety of ailments can find relief in using it. For chemo patients, not only can marijuana battle the intense nausea that comes with chemotherapy, but it's the only anti-nausea that actually increases the user's appetite. Cannabis can also be extremely helpful in patients' focus with Alzheimer's and dementia, more effective healing in stroke victims, and even slow the incoming of Parkinson's disease. For lucid Alzheimer and dementia patients, marijuana can reduce feelings of confusion and agitation. For stroke victims, marijuana can, quite literally, shrink the damage away. Marijuana can reduce tremors and slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. That's why many researchers, patients and families are advocating for future legislation of the drug. Legalization will not only offer patients increased access to the drug, but it will allow researchers to conduct more research. According to Business Insider, only 6% of studies on marijuana are focused on the drug's benefits. And since there are so many benefits, the backing of the drug on a federal level is necessary -- whether it's funding for clinical trials, drug development or patient care. "We've conducted the studies, but I think an ordinary researcher without the support of the state would be hard pressed to do it. It's just a difficult and cumbersome process," said Igor Grant, the director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research
In Las Vegas recreational marijuana sales began at the beginning of this year. Medical marijuana remains strong in Nevada, but officials in the city are hoping to make some changes to the program that will benefit the city. Some of the current limitations include MMJ sales being prohibited between 12am-6am, and medical marijuana products being prohibited from transport by licensed medical marijuana business. Changes to be discussed on May 17 include shrinking the time of prohibited sales to 3am-6am, allowing licensed MMJ businesses to transport marijuana products, removing the annual $75,000 dispensary fee, and allowing expired marijuana products to be returned within 30 days of expiration. The proposed changes will go to the May 17 council meeting for a possible vote. Medical marijuana, edibles and marijuana-infused products may be transported by a licensed medical marijuana establishment or a medical marijuana support business. Expired medical marijuana may be returned to a cultivation or production facility for disposal within 30 days of its expiration. Adds definition of “medical marijuana support business” to be a business providing goods or services to a medical marijuana establishment that receives at least 50 percent of its annual revenue from licenses medical marijuana establishments. Adds language that says support businesses that have obtained a business license in another Nevada jurisdiction must apply for a license to be able to transport marijuana or other related support services within the city.
This week the Iowa Senate overwhelmingly passed a limited medical marijuana bill that would allow patients with a large range of ailments to access non-smokable forms of medical marijuana, but somehow that's not restrictive enough for members of the House. Currently, Iowa is operating on a 2014 medical marijuana law that allowed patients to possess medical marijuana, but did not put in place a system for anyone to purchase or manufacture the drug. With that bill expiring this summer, it's important for lawmakers to bring positive change to Iowans in need. Many are concerned about the lengthy process it takes for legislators to bring about positive change, but some say the issue is those opposing these laws are simply not educated on the subject. "A lot of people say, 'Why is this taking so long?' Well, the reason why is education. A lot of us have learned about the benefits of cannabis. I beg our House colleagues to do the right thing," Zaun said. Iowans are now allowed to possess cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy. But it's illegal to manufacture or distribute that oil in the state, and federal law prohibits its transportation across state lines. In practice, that makes it illegal for Iowans to obtain the product. The state law allowing cannabis oil was enacted in 2014 but is scheduled to expire in July, leaving no state law in its place.
The marijuana industry seems nearly unstoppable as it continues to grow around the United States, but some are concerned it's growth could be a threat to other competing industries. With wine and beer companies running the intoxicating substance industry, should alcohol companies be worried about the up and coming products? Some winemakers see the marijuana industry as less of a competitor and more of a companion. The unique qualities sought after by wine enthusiasts are similar to the unique characteristics possessed by different strains of cannabis, and therefore have attracted many of the same consumers. The high end marijuana industry is already budding and some are even trying to highlight certain climates and locations as preferred growing spots for marijuana just like wine. “There are different flavors and bouquets to good weed, and different strains that elicit different effects,” he added. “There are real body highs, and real stony highs, and there are highs that are cerebral and ethereal. There are levels of socializing that can be enhanced or inhibited, depending on the strength and the amount you smoke.” “Our world revolves around intoxicants, but it also revolves around flavor,” he said. “Just as we look at wine, we might look at a bud and dissect its aroma and characteristics.” Like wine, marijuana is an agricultural product, and where it is grown can determine its character. “How you grow it really affects the flavor and the high of the pot,” Mr. Coturri said. “If it’s grown in a greenhouse, it’ll be a lot different than if it’s grown in the hills. It thrives in certain soils and with a long growing season.”