Shortly after a bill was introduced to legalize cannabis and remove it from the list of banned substances, another federal marijuana bill has been proposed by lawmakers that would instead lower the status of the drug from a Schedule 1 narcotic down to Schedule 3. While not full legalization, this move would drastically the change marijuana industry by removing federal threats and streamlining the process for both patients and researchers to access marijuana. The bill would also remove unneccessary banking restrictions for legal marijuana businesses. Over half of the United States have already adopted some type of legal medical or recreational marijuana program, it's time that the federal government represents what it's people want and modern medicine reflects. “This drug should not be in the same category as heroin and LSD, and we do not need to continue with a policy that turns thousands of young people into felons every year. Nor do we need to punish the millions of people who are sick and seeking medical help — from pain, from muscle wasting, from chemotherapy-induced nausea” Mr. Gaetz said in a statement. Nine-in-ten Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, according to the bill’s authors. In their home state, meanwhile, 71 percent of voters approved a measure last year that makes it legal for Florida doctors to prescribe weed to patients with certain conditions.
This week the first medical marijuana dispensary in Pensacola, Florida opened it's doors and met a few dozen patients eager to learn about how marijuana can help them. Trulieve owns and operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Tallahassee, Tampa, and Clearwater, and hopes the new Pensacola store will continue their professional reputation within the community. Patients with cancer, AIDS, Parkinson's disease and several other conditions will be able to purchase medical marijuana at one of the state's few dispensaries once recommended by a doctor and added to the state's registry. Some patients are finally able to find relief after waiting years for politics to make medicine safe and legal. Mark Patten, who traveled from Milton for the dispensary's opening, said the Legislature had done too much already to slow down the process. When Patten was diagnosed with cancer, doctors told him he had three to five years to live. Now, he said, it's been seven years since he got the news. "We wanted to get involved (with medical marijuana treatment options) immediately, because it's a lot safer than opiates," Patten said of himself and his caregiver, Jane Cockerham. "It's something that relieves pain without being habit forming ... . I've been on opiates so long, they weren't working. I knew it was time for a change."
Missouri state law remains harsh on marijuana penalties but a growing number of residents are supporting city-wide measures to greatly reduce penalties for being caught with cannabis. Currently, 10 grams is a misdemeanor with up to $500 in fines and jail time, and 35 grams is a felony. With the passing of Question 5 this week, anyone caught with 35 grams or less in Kansas City can only be fined up to $25 with no possibility of jail time. While bureaucracy is slow, more and more residents are taking it upon themselves to lower penalties for such harmless possession within their own cities. "Question 5 reduces the fine for being caught with 35 grams or less of marijuana to $25 and eliminates the possibility [of] jail time. Current Missouri penalties for the same amount of marijuana include possible incarceration and fines up to $500. "Columbia ... and St. Louis have passed similar ordinances." Under Missouri law, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor, and possession of more than 35 grams — nearly 1.25 ounces — is a felony. Kansas City's new maximum punishments will apply to its municipal court system.
Who would've thought that after 46 consecutive years of the University of Michigan's Hash Bash, that marijuana would finally be so close to legalization. In fact, Michigan has had a limited medical marijuana program for several years now, but with the help of local marijuana advocates and politicians, a full marijuana legalization measure could be on the 2018 ballot. While awaiting the incoming legalization, many cities in Michigan have gone out of their way to decriminalize the drug and lessen penalties for those caught with the drug. State representatives spoke at the rally about the need for social and racial justice in the legal marijuana movement. More than 10,000 people showed up in support of legalizing marijuana in Michigan, a cause growing closer by the day. Thousands of people assembled at the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor on Saturday to promote the legalization of marijuana, according to local reports. The event, known as the Hash Bash, is in its 46th consecutive year as local politicians work to put marijuana legalization on the 2018 ballot in the Great Lake State, MLive reported. According to CBS Detroit, multiple Michigan communities in 2014 passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana use.
For the past three years the Las Vegas Hemp Festival has been hosted at the Craig Ranch Regional Park, but this year's fest was quite different. Last November, Nevada voters passed a measure legalizing the possession and use of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, opening up the doors for a lot more fun during this year's festivities. The all-day event welcomed close to 15,000 guests, live performances, and 100 generous vendors who were able to offer adults over 21 many samples of the dabs and prerolls available. As usual, uniformed officers were present during the festival, but this year they were more focused on those trespassing than the plethora of tokers openly consuming legal weed. Nevadans voted last November to legalize possession and use of up to 1 ounce of recreational marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana concentrates, such as shatter, oil and wax. Ballot Question 2 became law on Jan. 1. At the festival, vendors offered free dabs of marijuana concentrate products, serving thousands of gratuitous sample-seeking attendees, while others handed out small flower-packed joints and THC-laced edible spin-offs of popular candies. ”At first I wasn’t sure if it was allowed, but they seemed more bothered with a couple vehicles driving up on the rocks here than us smoking,” Inano said. “This is the first year people have really felt confident enough to medicate openly.”
The science concerning marijuana is greatly expanding as the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Oxford begin research into the molecular components of cannabis. Close to 30 different molecules called terpene synthases genes believed to be responsible for marijuana's taste and aroma were recently discovered by scientists at UBC. One of the studies was published this week in the journal PLOS One, where the author explains the difference between the three groups of terpenes that give marijuana strains their specific flavors. Similar to the molecules that give different wines their unique characteristics, researchers believe focusing on these terpenes will allow growers in the cannabis industry to better control desired flavor qualities. “The limonene compound produces a lemon-like flavor and myrcene produces the dank, earthy flavor characteristic of purple kush,” Judith Booth, one of the study’s authors and a graduate student at UBC said in a statement. The study was released in the journal PLOS One Wednesday. Jörg Bohlmann, a professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and faculty of forestry at UBC who also worked on the study, said the research could help cultivators determine which genes to “pay attention to for specific flavor qualities.” “The goal is to develop well-defined and highly-reproducible cannabis varieties. This is similar to the wine industry, which depends on defined varieties such as chardonnay or merlot for high-value products,” Bohlmann said.
Senate Bill 16 was passed by lawmakers this week in Georgia in an attempt to add 6 new qualifying conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome, to be treated with cannabis oil. The bill is now on it's way to the governor's desk, if signed, Georgia patients will be allowed to possess and use cannabis oil, as well as allow a 45 day window for medical marijuana patients visiting from another state. The current medical marijuana law active in Georgia allows patients up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil to treat seeral debilitating conditions. An expansion of Georgia’s medical marijuana law won final passage Thursday from the state Senate, sending the measure to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. “Today we’re going to provide more access to Georgians with very specific illnesses,” said state Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan. “And we’ll provide doctors more treatment options for patients.”
This week the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act was passed by the state Senate, opening the door for the state's first limited medical marijuana program. If the bill is approved by the House and the governor, Patients with debilitating conditions like chronic pain, seizures, and PTSD could be recommended medical marijuana by a doctor. The National Academies of Sciences has concluded after reviewing 10,000 scientific abstracts that marijuana can be an effective replacement for opioids in treating chronic pain. Lawmakers are concerned about the rampant opioid abuse within West Virginia, and medical marijuana gives patients a safer and less addictive alternative to opioids as well. As one of only 6 states left without any medical marijuana law, West Virginia and it's patients have a lot to gain if the bill can earn the governor's siganture. A review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts released in January by the National Academies of Sciences found “conclusive or substantial evidence” that cannabis is effective in the treatment of chronic pain. A study published this year in International Journal of Drug Policy found marijuana is an effective replacement for opioids to treat severe pain. “Thousands of seriously ill West Virginians are anxiously waiting for their lawmakers to do the right thing and pass this bill,” Simon said. “They shouldn’t have to suffer or be treated like criminals while patients in 28 other states can legally access medical marijuana.”
This week is a great week for legal marijuana as several bills are introduced to the U.S. House and Senate that would legalize marijuana similar to alcohol. The biggest issue for current legal marijuana businesses is the constant fear of a federal crackdown. Though over half of the U.S. has already legalized marijuana in some form, the federal government has held tight onto it's prohibitionist values, but the new marijuana bills introduced this week could make history by enacting long awaited marijuana law reform. If passed, these bills would remove the federal threat on legal marijuana states, veterans, and Native American tribes, allow marijuana businesses to access banking and small business tax deductions, and it would also remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. Advocates are hoping to gain support of republican lawmakers by supporting states' rights and expecting hefty tax revenue from marijuana sales. “The flurry of bills on the Hill today are a reflection of the growing support for cannabis policy reform nationally,” said National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith. “State-legal cannabis businesses have added tens of thousands of jobs, supplanted criminal markets and generated tens of millions in new tax revenue. States are clearly realizing the benefits of regulating marijuana and we are glad to see a growing number of federal policy makers are taking notice.” “There will surely be some members on the fence about this legislation, but consider it unthinkable that we would return to alcohol prohibition,” he said. “They need to ask themselves why they are still clinging to the prohibition of a less harmful substance.
A kidney patient in Maine was taken off the transplant list he'd been waiting on since 2003 because he uses medical marijuana. The kidney patient, Garry Godfrey, has a painful debilitating condition called Alport Syndrome, which can cause renal failure ontop of nausea and anxiety. A spokesperson for the Maine Medical Center claims that marijuana use is being blacklisted from transplantees due to the risk of a fungal infection. If all marijuana was tested for such fungi, like a properly regulated substance, then would marijuana be in question for transplantees in the first place? Once again, the prohibition of marijuana seems to cause everyone more trouble than the drug itself does. Garry Godfrey has Alport Syndrome, a hereditary disease which causes renal failure at a young age. He says it also causes debilitating pain, nausea and anxiety. "I've tried so many pharmaceuticals and none of them worked, but the medical cannabis does,” Godfrey said. “It helps me function. It helps me take care of my kids." Godfrey says he needs a new kidney and was put on Maine Medical Center's transplant list in 2003. In 2010, Maine Med adopted a new policy.
Despite overwhelming support in recent years for marijuana legalization, republican lawmakers are still ignoring the people and pushing the war on drugs. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found that 93% of Americans are in favor of marijuana legalization. The legal marijuana opposition is not only ignoring the people, but also ignoring undeniable facts. Key legislators like Attorney General Sessions and his administration have shown their disregard for scientific research by continuing to call marijuana a "gateway drug" that leads to opioid abuse, but the truth is quite the opposite. The use of medical marijuana is actually associated with a decrease in opioid use in chronic pain patients. In Washington state, high schoolers showed virtually no change in marijuana usage rates over the last 10 years, including timeperiods where marijuana was both legal and illegal. It's clear that legal marijuana does not have nearly the negative impact proposed by most republican legislators. A recent nationwide poll from Quinnipiac University found 71 percent of Americans would oppose a federal crackdown on legal marijuana, and 93 percent are in favor of marijuana legalization. Marijuana isn’t a “gateway” to harder drugs, just like ordering a milkshake at Cougar Country isn’t a “gateway” to buying a Super Basket. The pain-relieving effects of marijuana are actually associated with a significant decrease in medication side effects and frequency of use of opioids for chronic pain patients. Additionally, data from the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey affirms that marijuana usage rates for eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in Washington have remained essentially unchanged for the past decade.
Illinois could be the next state to legalize marijuana like alcohol after Democratic State Representative Kelly Cassidy introduces a recreational marijuana bill. If passed, adults over 21 would be able to purchase up to 28 grams of cannabis as an Illinois resident, with non-residents allowed 14 grams. The Chicago lawmakers believes that properly regulating marijuana frees up important police efforts to be used towards fighting violent crimes instead. Tax revenue gained from the medical system would benefit local education, government and communities. Cassidy’s proposal would make marijuana legal for anyone age 21 or older. It would be regulated just as alcohol. According to information about the proposed bill on the Illinois Policy website,it would be legal for any Illinois resident to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis, non-residents would be allowed to possess 14 grams and driving while smoking would remain illegal.