HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup: July 4

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The fight to legalize marijuana in the United States made some significant strides last week. Ballot measures in California and Maine were certified for the November ballot, while another in Arizona is expected to be given the green light in the next month. Other highlights include the signing of a law in Illinois that will give patients suffering from PTSD the ability to enroll in the state’s medical marijuana program.

Read all about these developments and more in the HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup for July 4:

Montana: Justices Reject Medical Marijuana Appeal
It looks like Montana’s medical marijuana program could suffer the loss of a number of dispensaries in the next couple of months. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear an appeal filed by the Montana Cannabis Industry Association over a 2011 bill that imposed crippling regulations. This means starting in August, medical marijuana providers will only be permitted to service no more than three patients. It will also penalize those physicians who write more than 25 recommendations. The MCIA was hoping to get a stay on the enforcement of the updated regulations until either after the appeal or until the outcome of ballot measure (I-182) is realized this November. If the MCIA can get its initiative approved by voters, the medical marijuana program would return back to normal.

Illinois: Governor Adds PTSD to Medical Marijuana Qualified Conditions
Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law last Thursday that adds PTSD and terminal illnesses to the state’s list of qualified conditions. The new law will also expand the medical marijuana program 2.5 years beyond its original end date. The news comes just days after a Cook County judge ordered the state to include PTSD as part of its medical marijuana program. The judge gave health officials 30 days to makes the change.

Louisiana: Two Universities Agree to Cultivate Marijuana
The two universities given first right of refusal on the cultivation of medical marijuana in Louisiana have agreed to take the job. Last week, it was announced that Louisiana State University and Southern University have officially accepted the state’s offer to grow all of the medical marijuana for the state’s qualified patients. Unfortunately, this means the private sector will not be permitted to set up shop. The universities had until September to make a decision on whether to participate, in which a refusal would have forced officials to open the market up to outside applicants.

Virgin Islands: Medical Marijuana Stalled
A proposal aimed at legalizing medical marijuana in the Virgin Islands has stalled in committee without a vote. Health, Hospitals and Human Services Committee chair Senator Kurt Vialet said amendments needed to be made to the proposal before the committee could give it further consideration. There were concerns that the measure did not go into enough detail on specific elements of the program, including how cannabis would be recommended, licenses and regulations, and the monitoring of production. Many supporters of the bill agreed that the bill needed to be overhauled before moving forward, while others, like the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, were eager to hit the ground running in an effort to make the progression to recreational sales. The bill is expected to be return to the table at a later date.

Maine: Recreational Marijuana Initiative on November Ballot
The question of whether Maine should legalize marijuana for recreational use will be on the November ballot. Last week, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap announced that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had been cleared for the ballot under the title “Question 1.” The final wording for the proposal reads, “Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?” If voters approve, the state would launch a retail cannabis market similar to what is currently underway in Colorado—legal sales to adults 21 and over.

“Several states have repealed marijuana prohibition over the past few years, and they are experiencing very positive results,” said CRMLA campaign manager David Boyer. “Hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales that used to take place in the underground market are now being conducted in tightly regulated businesses that are generating significant tax revenue and creating good jobs. We are confident that Question 1 will be just as successful, and we are looking forward to talking with voters about its many benefits.”

California: Recreational Marijuana Cleared for November Ballot
California voters will get to decide this fall whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Last Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office announced that Sean Parker’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA),” which aims to create a taxed and regulated cannabis trade, was cleared for the November ballot. The group was required to submit over 402,000 verified signatures. Now the initiative must contend with a sliding scale of public opinion over the issue. After all, voters rejected a similar proposal in 2010. There is also some opposition to contend with from other cannabis advocates who are concerned that the initiative does not represent true legalization.

“Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” AUMA spokesman Jason Kinney said in a statement.

Arizona: Recreational Marijuana Initiative Headed for November Ballot
Arizona voters will likely get to decide whether the state should legalize a recreational cannabis market this November. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted over 200,000 signatures last week in hopes of qualifying over 150,000 of them. If voters approve the amendment, cannabis would be legal for adults 21 and older to purchase at retail outlets across the state. These products would be taxed to the tune of 15 percent, which would be allotted for education programs in Arizona. The state is expected to officially certify the proposal for the ballot sometime before the end of August.

Oklahoma: Organization Attempts to Put Medical Marijuana on Ballot
An organization is working to put the question of medical marijuana on the upcoming November ballot. Oklahomans for Health recently announced that it has started collecting signatures for a proposed ballot measure (State Question 788) that seeks to legalize cannabis for any condition, as long as a physician approves it. The initiative would allow patients to legally possess up to three ounces of weed and cultivate up to six full-grown plants at home. Around 86,000 valid signatures must be collected within the 90-day deadline in order to qualify for the ballot. Also, a separate proposal (State Question 787) is on the table that would give organizations like Oklahomans for Health up to a year to collect the necessary signatures for ballot measures instead of the current 90 days.

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