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High Times Legislative Roundup: Sept 29

Mike Adams

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While Alaska and Oregon are the next two states gearing up to vote on whether or not to establish a recreational marijuana market, cannabis supporters have already started working on campaigns for 2016. The Marijuana Policy Project announced last week that it had filed the necessary paperwork to get started with initiatives in both Arizona and California, which are aimed at establishing retail pot markets similar to what has been done in Colorado and Washington. In addition, the group also plans to expand its efforts in the near future to the states of Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Here is what your pot-friendly legislators were up to last week:

Arizona: 2016 Initiative Underway

Marijuana supporters in Arizona are set to begin their campaign to legalize the leaf in 2016. The Marijuana Policy Project initiative seeks to allow adults 21 and over to possess and use up to an ounce of weed. The initiative will essentially establish a cannabis market similar to what is currently going on in Colorado.

And while the campaign is expected to feel some resistance from law enforcement agencies, supporters believe there will be enough support from the voters to see this effort to fruition.

New Jersey: PTSD Added to Medical Marijuana Program?

A bill was introduced last week in the New Jersey legislature that would add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the medical marijuana program’s list of qualified conditions. Assembly Bill 3726, which is sponsored by Vincent Mazzeo and Linda Stender, would allow patients suffering from PTSD to finally receive the medicine they need to combat this severe anxiety condition.

“[We] have long hoped that PTSD would be the first condition that would be added to qualify for marijuana therapy in New Jersey,” Ken Wolski, Executive Director for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, said in a statement. “PTSD is poorly managed by traditional pharmacologic intervention–22 veterans commit suicide every day here in the U.S.”

Assembly Bill 3726 is set to go before the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee for consideration.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Application Deadline

The deadline for submitting an application for a medical marijuana business in Illinois has come to a close. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation along with the Department of Agriculture accepted applications for dispensaries and cultivation centers until 3pm last Monday.

Although the state’s medical marijuana law went into effect at the beginning of the year, no cultivation has been allowed until after the state issues the first round of permits towards the end of the year. Illinois is expected to issue 21 cultivation permits and around 60 for dispensaries.

However, only those serious about working in the industry were able to apply — the state charged a non-refundable application fee of $25,000. Reports indicate the state collected in upwards of $5 million is non-refundable fees.

California: Legalization Efforts Start for 2016

The Marijuana Policy Project announced last week that it had officially launched its campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in California. That means the group can now begin accepting campaign contributions and collecting the signatures needed to get their initiative on the 2016 ballot.

“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible,” Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia said in a press release. “Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.”

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Likely in Ohio

Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced that he would support legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, but has some concerns about how it will be drafted. “I think we have to be very careful, I would want to see that constraints are put in place to do that,” DeWine told 10TV. “Ultimately, it’s going to come to a vote for the voters of the state of Ohio. We will follow whatever law that the voters approve.”

Marijuana supporters attempted to get a ballot initiative approved for this year’s November election, but failed to gather to required signatures. However, the group said over the summer that they would try again in 2015 with more financial support behind them.

Connecticut: Medical Marijuana Sales Set to Begin

Medical marijuana patients in Connecticut will soon have access to cannabis. It was reported last week that the state’s first pot crop was set for distribution. “We are on track to make a Monday delivery,” Daniel Emmans, chief operating officer at Theraplant LLC told CT Now. “Over the weekend, we will be arranging the deliveries at the dispensaries.”

Initial prices for Connecticut’s medical marijuana program will range somewhere between $17 and $20 per gram.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Approved

The Pennsylvania state senate has voted in support of legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Last week, in a vote of 43-7, the Senate approved a measure introduced earlier this year by senator Daylin Leach. However, there is a distinct possibility the bill will not have an opportunity to pass during the current legislative session, which could mean it might have to wait to be reintroduced next year.

Initially, there was some fear that the proposal would be reduced to a CBD-only bill, but it has survived the process and remained intact. “This is not a CBD only bill,” said Senator Mike Folmer, who co-sponsored the legislation. “The list of diseases can be expanded. This is a work in progress to help as many as we can. The concerns with the original bill kept us from moving forward and getting any vote.”

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