A House of Representatives panel in South Carolina has passed a bill with bipartisan support that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. After hearing patients and family members plead that marijuana is able to relieve those suffering from chronic pain, severe epilepsy, PTSD, and more, the panel voted 3-0 in favor of the bill. Law enforcement agencies have voiced their opposition to the bill calling marijuana a 'street drug', but they seem to forget that drugs on the street are purely a symptom of prohibition. It was less than 100 years ago that alcohol was considered a street drug after legislators signed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, establishing the prohibition of alcohol. It wasn't long before the underground market was born inciting violence alongside illegal alcohol. After signing the 21st Amendment once again legalizing the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of alcohol, it was easy to see that regulating the drug, despite it's health concerns, was a far better solution. The patients that would benefit from medical marijuana are not gangsters, they are not associated with street drugs, they need medical treatment and marijuana has the ability to give them that relief. A House panel voted 3-0 on Tuesday to after listening to dozens of patients and their family members tell how marijuana can relieve their suffering from chronic pain, severe epilepsy, PTSD and other ailments. Supporters argue the government shouldn’t prevent people from getting relief from a plant, while the synthetic opioids they’re otherwise prescribed are killing people. The bill’s opponents include law enforcement agencies. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says the proposal essentially asks the state to endorse a street drug to treat nearly everything. He asked legislators not to “be swayed by those who play upon your sympathies.”
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission approved it's final rules this week for the state's new marijuana business licenses. 32 dispensaries around the state will be awarded licenses as well as 5 cultivation facilities. Applications for a dispensary license will cost $7,500, and the culivation licenses will cost $15,000, with both offering a 50% refund to applicants not chosen. A hearing will be held March 31 at the University of Arkansas where public feedback will be heard. Legislators have until May 8 to approve the rules. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday approved its final draft rules for awarding licenses to operate dispensaries and cultivation facilities. The commission will initially award 32 dispensary licenses to be divided evenly across eight geographic regions. It will also award five cultivation facility licenses, which do not have any geographic restrictions. Cultivation facility licensees will be selected based on the merits of their application. An application costs would-be growers $15,000, with half that amount being refunded if the applicant is not awarded a license. Successful applicants will pay a $100,000 yearly licensing fee.
Oregon is one of several states currently trying to legalize marijuana clubs similar to hookah bars and cigar lounges. Oregon Senate Bill 307, if passed, would legalize marijuana use at temporary events, but advocates compare the program to the coffee shops in Amsterdam. Some residents are concerned, but others say that the cannabis clubs are inevitable with the growing pot culture and could be properly managed similar to other countries. Oregon's marijuana tax brought in $5.3 million to the Department of Revenue last month alone. If SB307 is passed, marijuana clubs would become legal next year. Oregon Senate Bill 307 would make it legal to smoke marijuana at temporary events. That's the language used in the bill, but it boils down to this -- the pot lounges that you hear about in places like Amsterdam would be legal here, too. But a Bend woman said, "Sooner or later, I think that we'll have pot lounges.I know in other countries it works out okay. I think we'll manage, I think we'll be fine. I'm not too worried about it." A student under 21, so not yet legally allowed to smoke marijuana, said, "I think personally, it's good to get people used to it, because it's going to happen.It's growing so fast."
After hearing from desperate parents of sick children, Kansas lawmakers are considering adopting a medical marijuana program, joining 28 other states with some type of legal marijuana. The medical marijuana program would benefit patients with many different illnesses including epileptic seizures, who may not find relief in available treatments.The program would also provide more options for treatment outside of prescription narcotics that can be dangerous and addictive. Some are worried about regulating the program and believe marijuana should undergo the same vetting process as prescription drugs. Supporters say medical marijuana could help patients who have exhausted available medicine options. Melissa Ragsdale, whose 7-year-old son suffers from seizures, told the committee industrial hemp cannabidiol helped her son but it only stops certain seizures and that broader access could help. Supporters also say marijuana would be better than potentially harmful prescription narcotics.
Georgia lawmakers passed a plan last week making some changes to the state's current medical marijuana law, but while some of these changes are helpful, advocates are saying other changes will negatively impact patients in need. Ontop of adding autism to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, the state also lowered the legal limit of THC allowed in cannabis oill from 5% down to 3%. This change seems unwarranted considering the lack of complaints within the medical marijuana program, but some lawmakers are concerned about the THC levels, despite some patients responding better to the higher THC dose. The Georgia Senate also has several other bills in the works that would expand the medical marijuana program. The Georgia Senate passed a plan Thursday to downsize a key part of Georgia’s medical marijuana law, despite warnings from advocates that it will alienate dozens of families and children who use cannabis oil to help treat debilitating conditions. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, would add one additional condition — autism — to the state’s list of those eligible for use of the oil. However, it would also reduce the maximum THC level in the cannabis oil now allowed here from 5 percent to 3 percent, which backers of the plan said would bring the state more in line with others that also allow limited forms of the oil.
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.