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.”
This week the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau proposed a bill that would legalize the recreational and medical use of marijuana for adults aged 18+. Language in the bill allows for provinces to raise the minimum legal age for purchasing marijuana, as well as limits the amount anyone can possess at one time to one ounce. Coming only a week before the popular cannabis holiday, 4/20, Canada is now in line to become the first developed nation to fully legalize the drug. Officials in Canada have recognized that prohibition simply does not at keeping the drug out of the hands of teenagers and that proper regulation and education are going to be the best way to control underage usage. Most regulations for how the plant's industry will be handled still awaits a decision. The Liberal Party's bill would allow households to grow up to four marijuana plants. Commercial growers would have to comply with the federal government and individual laws designated by the province, and obtain a license of some kind before selling marijuana. The finer points of marijuana regulation, such as the cost, how heavily the products will be taxed and how much marijuana can be distributed and sold within each province, have not been decided. In order to enact the legislation, the Canadian government must also contend with international drug treaties that explicitly ban marijuana, Vox reports. And on the national level, Canada will have to come up with a marijuana equivalent of breathalyzers so people can be tested for safety while working or driving in public places.
Rhode Island legislators say they not only have support to pass a recreational marijuana bill this year, but that they could also get the program up and running before their neighboring state of Massachusetts beings their program. With Rhode Island already having set boundaries and regulations for it's medical marijuana program, proponents are sure it won't take near as much effort to translate much of the system to a new recreational program. Last year, Massachusetts voters said YES on Question 4, which will legalize marijuana similar to alcohol, but it seems lawmakers have experienced numerous setbacks, pushing the current open date to mid-2018. Lawmakers in Rhode Island have discussed possible recreational marijuana laws for years, but this week they are holding the first legislative hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Scott Slater, a Providence Democrat and legalization proponent, said taking action this year would allow Rhode Island to have regulations and a new source of tax revenue in place before retail marijuana stores open over the border in Massachusetts. He said Rhode Island has already strengthened the way it regulates and taxes medical marijuana plants, so “flipping the switch” to allow recreational use wouldn’t be hard. “We’ll definitely be able to beat Massachusetts to the punch,” Slater said. “They seem to keep delaying it.” Voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada last year approved recreational use of marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. But Massachusetts lawmakers have delayed the opening of marijuana shops until mid-2018 at the soonest.
With most of the United States currently having some sort of legal marijuana program, Montana legislators are giving the subject a fair chance by creating a committee to study many aspects of recreational marijuana legalization and how it could be done in the state. Montana's next legislative session will hear comments on the pros and cons of legalizing as well as how it is done in other states. If Montana lawmakers go as far as legalizing through legislation, it would make history as the first state to do so due to every other legal state being passed by a popular vote through it's citizens. 19 other states are currently considering recreational marijuana, but several have already failed to pass such legislation this year. Legislators in Montana are recognizing that prohibition not only doesnt work, but it is funneling potential tax revenue to the black market instead of worthy state programs like substance abuse programs and child protective services. House Joint Resolution 35, heard Monday, would create a committee that would study how recreational legalization would be carried out in Montana. The panel would look at things like if liquor control should be a guide for marijuana control, how legalization has affected other states, and the pros and cons of it all. The findings would be reported to the next Montana Legislature. “Why should all of this money be going to the black market, when it could be going to Montana’s budget?” Dunwell said. “Funding substance abuse programs, funding other human services programs, funding child protective services, funding developmental disabilities, senior long-term care, I could go on and on and on.”
With the growing confusion about legal marijuana coming from the Trump administration, Oregon lawmakers have taken it into their own hands to protect the rights and identities of their state's legal consumers. When an adult walks into a recreational marijuana shop in Oregon, their ID is checked to verify the customer is at least 21. What most consumers aren't aware of is that dispensaries have been saving information from your ID, names, birthdates, addresses, and other information, which is saved digitally and used mainly for marketing and customer services. But with the continued uncertainty of state marijuana crackdowns, databases of marijuana customers raise potential problems for the consumer. Oregona lawmakers decided to protect consumers by passing a law that would ban any record-keeping of customers in that manner, and once signed by the governor, marijuana businesses will have 30 days to destroy such data. The bipartisan proposal would protect pot consumers by abolishing a common business practice in this Pacific Northwest state where marijuana shops often keep a digital paper trail of their recreational pot customers' names, birthdates, addresses and other personal information. The data is gleaned from their driver's licenses, passports or whatever other form of ID they present at the door to prove they're at least 21 as required by law. The data is often collected without customers' consent or knowledge. It is stored away as proprietary information the businesses use mostly for marketing and customer service purposes, such as linking their driver's license number with every pot product they buy so dispensary employees are better able to help out during their next visit. Upon the bill's signing into law, Oregon pot retailers would have 30 days to destroy their customers' data from their databases and would be banned from such record-keeping in the future. Recreational pot buyers could still choose, however, to sign up for dispensary email lists to get promotional coupons or birthday discounts. The bill's provisions do not apply to medical marijuana patients.
This week a House bill was passed by the Senate in Colorado to ban anyone from growing marijuana for anyone else, more commonly known as a 'co-op grow'. After passing the Senate 35-0 it is now on the way to the governor's desk, who supports the bill, though a date to be signed is unknown. Officials are worried that a black market is persisting in the state due to relaxed laws about growing marijuana at home. If the governor signs the bill, it would also allocate $6 million a year from marijuana tax revenue to help law enforcement investigate illegal marijuana operations. Another bill will see the governor's desk this week that would limit the amount of cannabis plants to be grown in a home to 12, meaning anyone authorized to grow more will be forced to move the plants to an agricultural or commercial location. There are no state estimates on how many collective recreational marijuana growing operations exist in Colorado, though they are popular among users who share the cost of electricity, water and fertilizer to grow their pot. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but it has a nagging black-market problem. Law enforcement and state lawmakers attribute the black-market problem in part to weak restrictions on who can grow pot. The Colorado state constitution authorizes people over 21 to grow their own pot, or to assist someone else in growing pot. That language allows groups to designate a single “farmer” to care for their marijuana plants, allowing them to avoid pot taxes that approach 30 percent, depending on the jurisdiction.
This week marks the beginning of Maryland's medical marijuana program with license registration beginning at 9am for those with last names beginning with the letters A through L. Those seeking a license with last names beginning with M through Z will be able to register on April 17 at 9am, with open registration after April 24. Patients with seizures, severe pain, and PTSD must be recommended medical marijuana by a doctor and be registered with the state to purchase the drug from a licensed dispensary. Maryland's first medical marijuana bill was passed in 2013, and after many delays officials expect the drug to be available by this summer. Many patients and caregivers in Maryland can now sign up for medical marijuana licenses. Monday marks the first day that people in the state can apply for licenses through the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). Registration is open starting at 9 a.m. to people whose last names start with the letters A through L. No final licenses have been issued yet. Once a patient is registered with the state, they must see a doctor also registered with the state who can provide written certification for the patient to buy medical marijuana from a state-license dispensary. Qualifying medical conditions include severe pain, seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the MMCC website.
A bill in the Nevada legislature that would ban many forms of logos, colors, and candies in marijuana edibles has been delayed until next week. The goal is to prohibit certain qualities in marijuana edibles that could appeal to children, but many advocates of the industry say this bill takes restrictions too far. More specifically, the bill would make any marijuana product containing sugar illegal, with the exceptoin of baked goods. The bill also bans images of cartoon characters, mascots, balloons, fruit, toys, and even using the primary colors. Some lawmakers want to see all edibiles sold in opaque packaging, but only cookies and brownies are required at the moment. Wendy Stolyarov, legislative director for the Libertarian Party in Nevada, said that it was too broad and that the government should not be restricting companies from using characters, colors and the like. Cindy Brown, a medical marijuana advocate, said that many alcohol and gambling establishments use cartoons and mascots, so why can't marijuana manufacturers? "Let us have the mascots. What happened to personal responsibility of parents? We keep trying to over-regulate people," she said. "What about children with cancer? We shouldn’t have to give them something yucky looking. Give them something pretty that they like. Really, really you guys."
Research on marijuana is hard to comeby, but with growing support for the drug there have been great strides in understanding the chemical nature of the plant and how it can effect us. Recently a research team in Buffalo, NY has made a breakthrough in manipulating the cannabinoid biosynthetic pathway of marijuana, meaning they are now able to completely remove THC from the plant at will. Dr. Paul Rushton hopes this new method will help separate the plant from it's Schedule 1 classification, which is primarily due to the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. Once THC is no longer the legal issue, the industrial hemp industry has a strong chance of growing quickly as the legal barriers currently make the business tedious and difficult. Reserachers will also have much easier access to the drug once THC is no longer a concern, paving the way for greater marijuana breakthroughs in the future. “We’ve learned a lot of really important things, the main one is that the cannabinoid biosynthetic pathway is something that we can manipulate,” he explained. That means Dr. Rushton can get rid of THC; the psychoactive component of marijuana. This is a big discovery, because physicians and health policy experts say THC is one of the reasons marijuana remains a schedule one drug according to the DEA. The schedule one list is reserved for the most addictive and dangerous substances, like heroin. As long as marijuana is still on that list, obtaining federal funding to study it is nearly impossible. “I’m convinced that industrial hemp is going to be the next big crop in this country, something to rival soybean. But the problem is, you can only grow it and harvest it if the level of THC is below .3 percent. Otherwise you have to throw away your crop,” Dr. Rushton told News 4.
Only 14 of 28 medical marijuana states allow patients with PTSD access to cannabis, and while the last few years have seen great progress in marijuana law reform, too many veterans are being left without the proper medication due to outdated laws. Even Governor Chris Christie, who is notoriously against marijuana, added PTSD to New Jersey's qualifying conditions for medical marijuana after he found out that 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is currently prohibited from prescribing marijuana of any sort to patients due to the federal ban on the drug, but many vets have little options for medication, especially after the VA began limiting opioid prescriptions last year due to too many overdoses. New Jersey is on it's way to allowing PTSD patients access to medical marijuana by next month. More veteran groups are openly supporting PTSD access to the drug in hopes of bringing relief to their wounded brothers and sisters in arms. “Medical marijuana can be very helpful, especially when treating chronic pain and anxiety,” Chistov told TheDCNF. “It saddens me to hear that of all people, Veterans are not allowed to receive marijuana treatment — even if it might help them more than conventional treatment options. In the long term, I believe that the trend towards state legalization and the strong voice of our nation will eventually impact federal regulations.” It is currently a violation of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy to prescribe or even recommend marijuana to a patient, due to its status as a Schedule I drug alongside deadly narcotics. VA hospitals began weaning veterans off painkillers and limiting the number of prescriptions written for opioids last fall in the wake of spiking overdoses, but without access to medical marijuana many veterans will have limited options. “The most evil thing in the world is a person who would knowingly allow their brother, sister, or neighbor to suffer,” Tom Lee, a veteran and marijuana activists in Arkansas, told THV 11 in March. “I’ve tried not to do that and I’ve tried to let everyone know the truth about this plant.”