California has had one of the most successful medical marijuana programs in the country and voters think that recreational legalization sits just around the corner. Many expect California's recreational marijuana proposal to pass in 2016 and state authorities are doing their best to prepare for it. 14 seats on the Cannabis State Legalization Task Force are being selected to help decide regulations for the upcoming pot industry. San Francisco currently has limited areas for dispensaries to legally set up shop, which some are hoping to change to better suit expansion. Kevin Reed, founder of dispensary Green Cross, said legalization will “severely” impact neighborhoods with existing pot dispensaries. “We do need more dispensaries in The City to handle legalization,” Reed told the committee. Reed said The City should open up areas for pot dispensaries that are currently off-limits, like the Bayview. He also suggested eliminating the restriction that requires dispensaries to locate only on the ground floor of buildings. “You have an entire Financial District of tall buildings that you can open up,” Reed said.
With the small amount of proper research provided online about marijuana, many are left in confusion about the highly debated plant. For many years, cannabis was taboo in most settings, but now a medical school in Vermont is taking the reigns on researching the drug, and simply showing the science. The class filled up quickly, and the professors even had to expand the classroom size after many students showed interest. The class will cover things like cannabinoid chemistry, chemicals in marijuana, physiological effects of the drug, and even the historical and political side of cannabis. “What we’re trying to do with this course is to sort of demystify this whole subject matter, to try to treat this like any other drug, like alcohol or amphetamines or opioids,” said Vermont pharmacology professor Wolfgang Dostmann. “Just demystify the whole thing and say what it is, what is going on with it, how does it work.”
Last week, authorities in Mexico granted four citizens working towards fair drug policy the right to grow, harvest, possess, and consume their very own cannabis. Even as the only four citizens who are legally allowed to use marijuana, they choose not to, as they want to promote policy change, rather than drug use. Since this first permit has been granted last week, over 150 more requests for permits have been submitted, giving the desired effect that all should be allowed to control what goes in their own bodies. "We didn't do this to get the right (to consume) for ourselves but to change a public policy that has been extremely costly for the country," said Armando Santacruz, an accountant and one of the four who won the case.
Chicago's first marijuana dispensary began selling cannabis on Wednesday, December 9th in Andersonville. This is the first dispensary open in the area but a store in Logan Square is not far behind. Dispensary 33 is currently selling medical marrijuana to patients with registered medical marijuana cards. While the store is currently only selling marijuana, it is said that they will have edibles and concentrates for sale in the upcoming months. Zises said the store is sleek and kind of looks like an Apple store. “It’s a sort of a wide-open retail [store] with a lot of non-cannabis products under glass and really beautiful displays,” he said. “We worked really hard to make it as user-friendly as possible. We want people to spend as little time as they possibly can.”
Pro-marijuana group, Campaing To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol handed in more than enough signatures this week in Massachusetts to get their bill on the 2016 November ballot. The medical society has long believed marijuana should be legal, but with certain precautions which were added to the bill. Addiction education and possible pregnancy risks must be brought up to anyone who qualifies. The physicians’ group also approved a resolution calling on doctors to advise women of child-bearing age that use of medical marijuana could pose risks for pregnancy, the fetus and breastfeeding.
Before Colorado legalized marijuana, there were many opponents making various claims of the damage it would cause, and the lives it would end, but after only a few years researchers are showing some highly unexpected statistics. The study comes from the journal, Health Economics, and it shows that states passing Medical Marijuana Laws (MML) developed a 2-6% decline in obesity. For a drug that is known for it's munchy symptoms, a decline in obesity was not on anyones mind, but after some analysis it's not improbable. Researchers are finding that marijuana's pain-relief it brings to many adults and elderly can account for increased physical activity and calorie burning. In younger tokers, it is shown to reduce the intake of alcohol, giving young people less calories and less hangovers. This so-called substitution effect is often cited in arguments for legalizing marijuana: If you legalize weed, some people will opt for pot over alcohol. Alcohol consumption will fall as a result. And since researchers agree that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, the net effect of such a change for individuals and society would be positive.
The President of Chile signed an executive order this week removing marijuana from the list of hard illegal drugs. For years, cancer patients have been able to get marijuana prescribed by a doctor, but even some patients are running into legal issues with the previously banned drug. US legislators have been debating a bill that would have similar effects, mainly lowering the penalty for the drug, and lowering restrictions to allow medical research. While pot consumption has been decriminalized in Chile for some time, users including pain patients have stilled faced negative repercussions. As recently as November, a mother was separated from her newborn child due to smoking pot, according to the BBC.
With the recent election of Canada's new Prime Minister and the New Democratic Party, legalizing marijuana federally is closer than ever. The new Prime Minister wants to seperate the drug from the dealers, regulate it safely, and he wants to do it quickly. Full legalization from Canada would make them the first G7 country to permit the use of pot. Before the election, Canadian polls showed a 59% approval for legalizing marijuana. Over 600,000 canadians have criminal records due to marijuana and legalization can start the process to reversing that. With new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and its new Liberal government, the New Democratic Party, Canada underscored its pledge to become the first G7 country (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the United States) to legalize recreational marijuana nationally in a meeting and hearing last Friday, according to the Guardian. Canada has eyed legalization efforts in the United States, specifically Colorado and Washington, as an example of how legal weed could play out, the Governor General of Canada said in the speech.
In places where marijuana is still illegal, personal possession will most likely land you a misdemeanor, which can cost non-violent citizens jobs, homes, and label them as criminals. Many cities have taken it upon themselves to decriminalize the drug, saving countless tokers from humiliating and life-ruining consequences, and saving the police force time, money, and allow attention towards more serious crimes. Pittsburgh's city council is introducing a decriminalization bill this week that they hope will reap similar results as Philadelphia's. The bill would allow police to give a max of $100 fine and confiscate product when cought with pot, but reserves the right for officers to make an arrest if necessary. “This bill helps to decrease the many lives destroyed by the unnecessarily harsh consequences that come with the most minor marijuana offenses,” he said. “The bill will help break the damning life-long consequences of unemployment, lack of education, and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ran an election like many have, promising change and progress on many issues dear to voters'. Once elected, like many elections in the past, voters are left to wonder what issues he will keep his word on and what he fibbed about to get votes. Shortly after his election, the Prime Minister sent a letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada mandating a federal process be started to legalize and regulate marijuana in Canada. Unlike US plans to allow states to legalize at their will like Bernie Sanders' bill, Trudeau's mandate would legalize and regulate through the entire coutnry. Justin Trudeau recently issued a letter giving mandates to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Among many mandates was the following in regards to marijuana: Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
Despite his recent signing of a bill allowing child medical marijuana patients to have access at public schools, Chris Christie stands very firm on his stance that all drugs should be illegal. The state's governor may not want legal marijuana, but his fellow legislators do. A new bill introduced in New Jersey would legalize recreationally, give the state a new source of tax revenue, and bring the drug out of the black market. A hearing this week to discuss the bill was heavilly attended by advocates who want the state to see progress. Currently to participate in New Jersey's medical marijuan program you must have one of the few diseases that qualify, drive to one of the only 5 dispensaries in the state, and pay $200 to gain access to one of the dispensaries. As reported by Philly.com, the Democratic-controlled New Jersey Legislature is taking steps towards introducing a law that would allow those over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana, whether or not they have a medical marijuana license. Like the laws passed in other states, the consumption of marijuana in public would still be illegal.
As marijuana policy is slowly changing, medical marijuana is still sometimes not treated as medicine at all. One family in New Jersey was experiencing trouble within their local high school for not allowing their child with epilepsy and autism to possess her medical marijuana treatment on school grounds. Without the proper dose of cannabis, 16 year old Genny can become easily upset and possibly hurt herself. Due to the school's restrictions, Genny was forced to take half days so she could go home and take her medicine. After lobbying and pushing the issue, Governor Christie signed a new bill allowing minors to bring their medical marijuana to school, but at the moment the school nurse is not allowed to administer the medicine, only the parents. Until medical marijuana is treated fairly like other legal drugs, Genny's mother is forced to bring her medicine to school each and everyday to give Genny her dose personally. Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill – inspired by Genny – that authorizes parents or primary caregivers to administer edible medical marijuana to sick or disabled children at school, while protecting school districts from liability. This means Genny, 16, will be able to go back to school full-time – she's been going for half-days so that she can get the dosage she needs.