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.
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.
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."
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.”
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.”
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.
Regulations are still being determined by Ohio lawmakers on who can qualify to grow and sell marijuana and what patients will be able to buy. A former Rabbi turned owner of the largest dispensary in Washington D.C. says Ohio's medical marijuana laws will change and change again. After seeing his father find relief in marijuana from multiple sclerosis, Kahn knew he could help many more patients like his father by opening a medical marijuana dispensary. It took persistence through the cliche marijuana stigmas and frequent changes in industry regulations, but Kahn's medical marijuana venture has become highly successful. Ohio lawmakers last year set up the framework for a strictly regulated medical marijuana program to serve patients with one of 20 medical conditions if recommended by a physician. Three state agencies are now determining the details, such as who will qualify to grow and sell marijuana and how much marijuana patients will be able to buy. We spent a lot of time trying to break down the stigma around cannabis. There's so much misconception, so many erroneous opinions, so many fears and concerns. We knew they were unfounded and now, looking back, we can prove it. Folks in our community are very happy and proud we're here, and they no longer have any concerns about increased crime or unsavory characters in the community.
After much deliberation, Arkansas lawmakers have sent several medical marijuana bills back for more consideration, but they also sent 4 bills detailing the medical marijuana industry to the Governor for final approval. One particularly unhelpful bill heading to the Governor's desk would prohibit members of the U.S. military and National Guard from participating in the state's medical marijuana program, patient or caregiver. Another bill would allow regulatory organizations to determine if certain felonies can be excluded when considering employees for marijuana businesses. An amendment also filed would require marijuana tax revenue to be reconsidered in 2019. House Bill 1451, which was sent to the governor’s desk earlier this month, was signed into law as Act 479 of the 91st General Assembly on Thursday. That bill prohibits members of the Arkansas National Guard or U.S. military from participating in the state’s medical marijuana program as either a patient or a registered caregiver. All four of the bills forward to the governor’s office originated in the House of the Representatives and received Senate approval last week.
Massachusetts voters said Yes on Question 4 last year and passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana and regulating it like alcohol. Regulation and sales will be coming by the summer of 2018 putting the pressure on lawmakers to finish regulating the entire industry properly before it can begin. Legal marijuana is a great source of tax revenue awaiting to benefit the state and local governments, but some are worried about people being allowed to grow too much at home. When passed, the recreational referendum had the support of 54% of the state, but any cities wishing to opt out of retail marijuana sales would be able to with a majority vote in a community. State officials say this new industry could yield up to $1.3 billion in revenue once legal pot gets up and running. That’s a big jackpot, but before they can cash in on it, they have to sort out a big regulatory mess. For the advocates, the intrusion of pols and bureaucrats is worrisome. “The citizens did pass a legalization of marijuana, and we’re just concerned that they don’t regulate it to death,” said Kathryn Rifkin, a legal-pot advocate.