Music City hits a high note on decriminalization … Michigan’s medical marijuana industry finally gets regulated … And MMJ patients in Montana are up the creek without a doctor.
Read all about it in the HIGH TIMES weekly Legalization Roundup for September 26:
What: Nashville Eliminates Some Pot Penalties
Nashville will become the first city in Tennessee to eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession. Last week, the Metro Council gave final approval for a decriminalization ordinance. People busted with up to a half-ounce of weed will no longer be carted off to jail. The measure, which advanced in a vote of 35 to 3, will slap minor pot offenders with a $50 fine or 10 hours of community service. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry says she’ll sign the bill.
What: Defining Medical Marijuana
Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill package last week aimed at regulating Michigan’s medical marijuana industry – a move that makes edible marijuana legal once again. Snyder said the new law would provide a “solid framework” to ensure patients receive safe access to the herb. The bills (HB 4209, 4827 and 4210) give local governments the freedom to determine where medical marijuana operations can exist, as well as give patients access to edible cannabis products, like oils and tinctures, which have been illegal for the past couple of years. There will also be a new “seed-to-sale” tracking system put into place. Some patients are concerned the new rules will drive up prices, while others believe the changes will contribute to a better program.
What: Legal Weed is Coming Early 2017
Although Alaska legalized marijuana for recreational use nearly two years ago, residents have not yet been able to purchase weed from a retail facility. However, according to a report from Marijuana.com that is about to change early next year. Cynthia Franklin, Director of Alaska’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office told the news source that Alaska’s pot market should be finally be up and running by February of 2017.
“We will have stores that are operating; we will have product manufacturers that are making products, which have been individually approved by this board – which is a tremendous amount of work; we will have testing facilities that are testing; and we will have a lot of cultivation facilities growing a lot of legal marijuana in Alaska,” she said.
What: Cops Lighten Up on Medical Marijuana
Although the Florida Police Chiefs Association has come out against the state’s medical marijuana ballot measure, citing concerns that “this amendment may create more problems than it intends to alleviate,” not every police chief has taken this position. Reports indicate that some of the area’s top cops have not taken the FPCA’s stance opposing medical marijuana, but they have not stood up to defend United for Care’s Amendment 2 either. Orlando Police Chief John Mina, who supported the passing of the city’s decriminalization ordinance, is among the shortlist of the unspoken – simply offering no statement whatsoever with respect to the initiative. Meanwhile, opposing forces are pouring money into anti-marijuana campaigns in hopes of sabotaging the measure once again in 2016. Sheldon Adelson, the casono billionaire and perennial funder of GOP presidential candidates, recently dropped $1 million to stop legalization from happening later this fall. Still, the latest polls show 77 percent of the voters support Amendment 2.
What: Medical Marijuana Patients in Trouble
The majority of patients participating in the state’s medical marijuana program have been left without a way to get their hands on medicine. Reports shows that 93 percent of the 12,730 registered patients are ranked “patients with no provider,” thanks to a new law restricting caregivers from servicing any more than three patients at a time. However, a spokesperson for the Montana Department of Health and Human Services told the Independent Record that while these patients have technically been left without a provider, they can still engage in home cultivation. The problem is growing marijuana at home can be a time consuming, costly investment that a lot of patients cannot afford to put together – and reports show this is causing some of them to gravitate back to prescription drugs. But there is hope that the voters will approve a ballot measure (I-82) in the upcoming November election aimed at putting the state’s medical marijuana program back to its original form. Otherwise, the program appears to be doomed.
What: Changes to Medical Marijuana Regulations
Last week, the Department of Public Health offered some recommedations that it believes would help improve the medical marijuana program. Health officials say the state should allow nurse practitioners the freedom to certify medical marijuana patients and also give dispensaries permission to post prices online. However, before the health department moves forward with any of these new ideas, it plans to conduct a series of public hearings to gauge support.
What: Voters Happy About Legalization
The majority of Colorado residents believe the legal cannabis trade has been good for the state. A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling finds an impressive 61 percent of the voting public is currently happy with its decision to end prohibitionary times, with those folks saying that legal weed has had a positive impression on the economy. But there is some buyer’s remorse — 36 percent of the respondents said they would repeal Amendment 64 if given the opportunity. Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada — are getting ready to put ballot measures similar to Amendment 64 in front of the voters in the upcoming November election. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who once opposed legalization, recently said that he does not think he would change anything about Colorado’s taxed and regulated marijuana model because “it’s starting to look like it might work.”
What: PTSD Consideration
Colorado lawmakers voted last week on a proposal aimed at giving PTSD patients access to local dispensaries. Although the vote does not bring about any official change, the outcome of the vote (5-to-0 in favor) could likely influence the State Legislature to give serious consideration to the issue when it reconvenes at the beginning of 2017. At the core of the matter is the Board of Health’s unwillingness to add PTSD to the medical marijuana program’s list of qualified conditions because they say there is no federal data available to suggest cannabis is an effective treatment. Five PTSD patients filed a lawsuit against the board last year in hopes of getting the condition added, but the case is still wrapped up in appeals. There is hope that last week’s recommendation by a panel of lawmakers will lead to reforms on this matter in 2017.
Last week’s Legalization Roundup can be found here.
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