It was a relatively big week in the fight to legalize marijuana across the United States. Some of the biggest news comes from Alaska, where regulators have approved rules that could make the state’s cannabis trade one of the most progressive in the country. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum, Pennsylvania lawmakers decided last week to ruin the potential of a statewide medical marijuana program, while in Florida, officials have ensured that cancer and epilepsy patients will have to wait for at least another year before cannabis access is available.
Read all about this and more in the High Times Legislative Roundup for November 30:
Alaska: Rules Would Allow Cannabis Cafes
Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board recently approved an amendment to its cannabis initiative that would allow on-site cannabis consumption at specific dispensaries. This move would put Alaska in the position of being the first state in the nation to allow cannabis cafes similar to those popularized by Amsterdam. Although the board feels there is great demand for on-site consumption, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallot must first approve the amendment before this concept can become a reality.
New Jersey: Lawmakers Discuss Recreational Marijuana
The New Jersey legislature recently gathered to discuss legalizing a full-scale recreational marijuana market. A Senate committee heard testimony from various supporters, including law enforcement and city prosecutors, and those who staunchly oppose the concept of allowing the state to grow and sell weed. At the head of the debate is a proposal introduced earlier this year by State Senator Nicholas Scutari, who spearheaded the hearing in hopes of moving the state forward on the issue in the near future.
“We have to take a more reasonable approach to the regulation of marijuana,” Scutari said. “Legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana will bring it out of the underground market, making the product and our communities safer.”
No word yet how state lawmakers plan to combat the pot-hating attitude of Governor Chris Christie. He has said more times than once that he will veto any bill that lands on his desk asking to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
Pennsylvania: House Sandbags the Medical Marijuana Bill
Although the House was scheduled to vote last Monday on a bill aimed at legalizing a statewide medical marijuana program, lawmakers pulled the proposal off the docket at the last minute in order to present a more “watered down” measure later down the line. Reports indicate that lawmakers are sorting through almost 100 proposed amendments in order to come up with a final version of the bill. This means an even more restrictive medical marijuana program is on the horizon.
Florida: Five Nurseries Finally Approved
It was revealed last Monday that the Florida Health Department finally selected the five nurseries to grow the marijuana for the state’s CBD-only program. Costa Nursery Farms, Knox Nursery, Hackney Nursery Company, Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, and Alpha Foliage are on their way to becoming the state’s official growers. Patients approved to participate in this restricted program were supposed to have access by January 1, 2016; however, it’s anyone’s guess on how long it will take to the program to become functional. Reports indicate that growers must start cultivating within 210 days. So, it is doubtful that Florida’s cancer and seizure patients will have access to the herb before 2017.
Florida: Supreme Court Cancels Hearing On Medical Marijuana
The Florida Supreme Court has canceled a hearing scheduled for next month intended to allow opposing forces to air their grievances against an initiative aimed at legalizing medical marijuana. That’s because there is no opposition this time around. In 2014, several groups along with Attorney General Pam Bondi begged the Supreme Court not to allow United For Care’s ballot measure to move forward, but they were unsuccessful. This year, all of these organizations, which include the Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Medical Association, have announced that they will not contest the issue. Therefore, if there is no battle, there is no need for a venue. United for Care must still collect around 346,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot in 2016.
Arkansas: Medical Marijuana Initiative Needs Help
Arkansas for Compassionate Care, the group working to legalize a statewide medical marijuana program in 2016, still needs about 88,000 signatures to get their initiative on the ballot in the November election. They are currently raising funds to afford professional canvassers to push them over the top and put the state one step closer to legalization.
“We’ve launched an event called Giving Tuesday (Dec 1st) and are calling on all our supporters and friends to donate on this one day event,” reads a press release. “We’re asking that you pledge to donate now, ask your friends to donate and share our event on Facebook.
“It’s critical that during the winter and holiday season, we hire professional canvassers to work full time collecting signatures. We’re confident we can make the ballot and win in 2016, but we’re going to need your help to make it happen.”