Cannabis

Vermont: New Bill Proposed To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont saw a complicated bill to legalize recreational marijuana fail last year. A new, simpler bill is proposed that would allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and allow Vermonters to grow several plants at home.

“The more conservative it is, the more appealing it will be to people outside this room,” said Republican Rep. Tom Burditt, one of the bill’s sponsors at the House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday. Burditt voted against last year’s bill.

The former bill, which passed the Vermont Senate, but failed in the House, would have created a commercial market for marijuana in the state, much like the system established in Colorado.

The new bill is much shorter, and would be more like the system in Washington, DC, where there are no provisions for sales but people can possess and grow small amounts of marijuana.

Republican Governor Phil Scott will be the new bill's biggest obstacle. He opposed the bill last year when he was lieutenant governor, and has raised concerns against legalization.

Rebecca Kelley, Scott's spokeswoman, said the Governor wants any marijuana legalization law to address public safety concerns, including law enforcement’s ability to test for impairment and keep roads safe.

Wisconsin: Governor Walker Still Thinks Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told reporters Thursday that he would support a CBD oil bill, but he is opposed to any measure that would bring marijuana into his state. He still thinks marijuana is a gateway drug.

Walker was promoting his new budget package in a visit to Western Technical College in La Crosse when he went as far as to link marijuana use with harder drugs.

“I do not, however, support measures that would open the door with legalized use of marijuana in state,” Walker said, “because law enforcement, increasingly, from one end of the state to another, from democrats as well as republican sheriffs, have told me, ‘Do not legalize marijuana, it is a gateway drug to other drugs.'”

Clinton Gallagher wrote a letter to the editor of The Cap Times, a local media outlet for Madison, Wisconsin, upset with the Governor resurrecting the 'gateway theory', which has been debunked.

“We must stop allowing hypocritical vote-seeking politicians to refer to marijuana as the gateway drug when everybody that was once a teenager knows it’s alcoholic beverages that cause death and destruction, insidiously sanctioned by all who oppose legalization of marijuana,” he wrote.

Oklahoma: State May Legalize Medical Marijuana Soon

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oklahoma could legalize medical marijuana a year before voters get a chance to decide on State Question 788 if Representative Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa) gets his bill passed.

Critics of the new bill complain that it only covers a few ailments and is too narrow.

House Bill 1877 would allow medical marijuana for the following list of conditions: Glaucoma, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Proctor's bill is modeled on the medical marijuana measure passed in Arkansas in 2016.

“Arkansas is a state that is very similar to Oklahoma, and this will give us the opportunity to see what works there and also see what doesn’t work,” Rep. Proctor told NewsOK in an interview.

State Question 788 is pending, but House Bill 1877 would speed up access to medical marijuana by a year or more.

William Jones, a leader of Oklahomans for Health, does not support Proctor's bill, complaining that it limits medical marijuana use to patients with a handful of ailments.

New Jersey: Migraine, Chronic Pain Patients Seek Approval To Use Medical Marijuana

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by Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A health department panel in New Jersey will consider adding chronic pain and other ailments to the state's list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana.

The public is invited to attend and make comments at the hearing scheduled for February 22. The panel will consist of eight doctors, pharmacists, and nurses who were appointed by Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett nearly one year ago.

“I think cannabis can replace all three of the medications I take for anxiety, migraines, and chronic pain,” said Bob Kane, 56, a retired landscaper from Ocean View who had his family doctor write letters to the department supporting his request in three petitions he submitted.

68 people sent petitions to the panel. Migraines, autism, lupus, and opiate-addiction disorder were some of the 20 or so ailments mentioned in the petitions.

The medical marijuana program currently allows patients who have terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, glaucoma, and several other conditions to obtain cannabis if recommended by their doctor.

Virginia: Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam Publicly Announces Support For Marijuana Decriminalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam wrote on Medium and in a press release yesterday afternoon that he supports decriminalization of marijuana.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk and hopeful candidate for Governor wrote in Medium, "As a doctor, I’m becoming increasingly convinced by the data showing potential health benefits of marijuana, such as pain relief, drug-resistant epilepsy, and treatment for PTSD, By decriminalizing it, our researchers can better study the plant so doctors can more effectively prescribe drugs made from it.”

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana,” he wrote. “African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement—money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.”

Texas: Former NFL Players Advocate For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several former NFL players are hoping to change the league's ban on marijuana.

A cannabis convention was held at the Revention Music Center in Houston Wednesday night ahead of Super Bowl LI. Jim McMahon, former NFL quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion, was one of several former players in attendance.

“Marijuana is not a drug,” said McMahon. “It’s a medicinal herb. Drugs happen only when man puts their hands on it.”

McMahon and other former players shared stories of how marijuana saved their lives.

“I went through a real bad depression and laid down on the railroad tracks and tried to commit suicide myself so it was just by the grace of God that I found God and found cannabis as well,” said Boo Williams, former NFL tight end.

“[I had] constant thoughts of suicide and depression and rage and all these things that were neurologically disrupting my life and I can’t say enough about making that transition,” former NLF offensive lineman Kyle Turley said.

He continued, “I don’t take an aspirin to this day, an Aleve, an Advil, nothing. I have a strict cannabis regimen that I use.”

McMahon hopes to help remove the stigma related to marijuana and promote its benefits to the general public as well as former NFL players.

Utah: Committee Unanimously Passes Medical Marijuana Research Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Utah’s House Health and Human Services committee unanimously passed House Bill 130, allowing research on medical marijuana without federal approval.

State Representative Brad Daw (R), the bill’s sponsor in the House, said, “This is the first step in what I think is the right policy direction for this state.”

The proposal specifically:

allows a person to possess cannabis, a cannabinoid product, and an expanded cannabinoid product and to distribute the cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product to a patient pursuant to an institutional review board-approved study; and
allows a person conducting an institutional review board-approved study to import and distribute cannabis, a cannabinoid product, and an expanded cannabinoid product under certain circumstances.

Proponents of medical marijuana are frustrated with the decision, believing there is plenty of research to prove its medical use, and want the state to expand upon a law passed in 2014 that allows for the medical use of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil, but only for those with epilepsy to allow full-plant use (as well as THC), and to greatly expand the list of qualifying conditions.

Arkansas: Medical Marijuana Cultivation Licensing Fee Set At $100,000

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has decided on a fee of $100,000 for those wanting to obtain a license to legally grow medical cannabis. This is in addition to the $15,000 fee just to apply for the license.

Commissioner Dr. Carlos Roman argued for a much lower fee of $15,000, saying he didn't want to keep a large part of the population from being able to obtain a license because of the $100,000 fee.

On the other hand, Commissioner Travis Story pushed for an even higher fee to be set at $185,000. His argument was that he wanted to ensure that businesses wouldn’t quickly go under and shut down.

Arkansas passed a law legalizing medical marijuana in November. It allows patients with certain qualifying conditions to receive a recommendation for medical cannabis from a physician.

Medical cannabis dispensaries are expected to be open in the state sometime next year.

Missouri: New Medical Marijuana Law Submitted

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill has been filed in Missouri to allow access to medical marijuana throughout the state. House Bill 437 was introduced yesterday by Republican Jim Neely. The initiative would add marijuana to a list of experimental drugs, products and devices that can be prescribed to eligible terminally ill patients under the “Right to Try Act.”

Missourians fighting for their lives don’t have time to wait for the FDA to approve investigational treatments that contain cannabis,” said Neely, a Republican Representative and physician who lost his daughter to stage four cancer in 2015.

Missouri attempted to get medical marijuana on the ballot in November 2016 with an initiative backed by New Approach Missouri. The initiative fell short of making it on the ballot by 23 signatures.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Available Starting Today

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Today marks the first day that patients in Florida have access to medical marijuana, and doctors are experiencing an influx of patients the new law is bringing in.

Doctors will not be handing out marijuana immediately, however. Doctors and state health officials have up to six months to create a plan for distributing the drug, under the new law.

Qualified physicians who have completed an eight-hour training course regarding medical marijuana will be allowed to prescribe two types of marijuana. Patients with cancer or a condition that causes chronic seizures or muscle spasms may qualify to receive low-THC marijuana, which has very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC and does not usually produce the “high” commonly associated with marijuana.

If a patient has been determined to be terminally ill by two physicians, they may qualify for medical marijuana which contains significant levels of THC.

Some conditions that may qualify a patient for one of the treatments include cancer, seizures, muscle spasms, AIDS, glaucoma, and Parkinson's disease.

Massachusetts: Governor Signs Measure To Delay Opening Of Retail Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a measure Friday that delays the opening of marijuana retail outlets by six months in the state. Groups of protesters gathered outside the State House in protest of the move.

Retail dispensaries were supposed to be allowed to open in January 2018, but that won't happen.

The bill was proposed by lawmakers earlier this week. It will not affect the new laws on possession or growing at home, but the openings of retail pot shops will be delayed, as well as the deadline for regulations from the Cannabis Control Commission.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition reacted strongly to the governor's decision. In a statement, it said it was "appalled at this arrogant and cowardly move, whose effect will be to give the black market another six-month monopoly." It added that the delay would deprive Massachusetts "of the considerable revenue that it might generate in taxes from January to July."

Coalition members and supporters protested outside the State House Friday, urging Baker to not sign it.

"This bill, S2524, not only flies in the face of the will of the voters who voted for the January 2018 deadline, it shows contempt for the legislature itself," the coalition wrote online.

Oregon: Dispensaries, State Work To Continue Recreational Marijuana Sales

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New rules affecting recreational marijuana retailers in Oregon take effect January 1.

Saturday will be the end of limited retail sales from the Oregon Health Authority, which began in October 2015, following the passing of Measure 91. Recreational sales and licenses will be governed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission starting January 1. Medical dispensaries that wanted to continue selling recreational are working to beat a Sunday deadline to pay fees and file applications.

Mark Pettinger, spokesman for the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program, said the organization is processing hundreds of applications from around the state.

“It’s a challenging time right now,” Pettinger said. “There are a lot of moving parts to all of this.”

Kayla Dunham, owner of The Agrestic In Corvallis, is planning a grand opening of a second location Sunday under the new law. She just received approval from the OLCC on Tuesday.

“There is always worry when what you’re trying to do is in the hands of someone else,” she told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. “And especially with these bureaucratic agencies, but every experience I’ve had so far with the OLCC has shown us they are motivated.”

“They’ve been extremely fast with their processing,” Dunham said. “They seem to have a lot of devotion to making sure things happen in the right way.”

Florida: Senator Wants State To Pay For Marijuana Research

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana is still classified by the federal government as a dangerous drug with no medicinal benefit, making research on the drug difficult. But a powerful state senator in Florida wants to change that.

Senator Bill Galvano said we need to know more and wants the state of Florida to pay for research.

"We are relying on anecdotal evidence," Galvano said. "We have a dearth of research from the feds for a variety of reasons, and it's important for us to understand both the benefits and potential hazards of this plant and drug as we go forward."

Galvano said he would send money to Moffitt Cancer Center at USF. Other universities, such as Florida A&M, may get some as well.

Legislation was expanded earlier this year to include legal medical marijuana for terminally ill patients and that expansion specifically allowed research in Florida universities.

"We have a product that has some medical relief that comes with it, so we'll be looking at what are the actual features of the plant that may be more medicinally important for the pharmaceutical industry," said Tim Moore, FAMU VP for research.

U.S.: Marijuana Deliveries Expected To Spike New Year's Eve

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana deliveries are expected to spike New Year's Eve, repeating what occurred last year.

Deliveries on New Year's Eve last year increased 71 percent over the typical yearly average for Saturdays, and increased by 41 percent on New Year's Day, according to Forbes.

Weed deliveries jumped by 23 percent from the average on Fridays on December 23rd, and by 6 percent on Christmas Eve.

Experts attribute the increase to holiday stress possibly. Perhaps more people are giving pot as a gift this holiday season. Maybe it's distress over the recent election.

You might be advised to order early to beat the rush.

U.S.: Marijuana Deliveries Expected To Spike New Year's Eve

Happy New Year.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana deliveries are expected to spike New Year's Eve, repeating what occurred last year.

Deliveries on New Year's Eve last year increased 71 percent over the typical yearly average for Saturdays, and increased by 41 percent on New Year's Day, according to Forbes.

Weed deliveries jumped by 23 percent from the average on Fridays on December 23rd, and by 6 percent on Christmas Eve.

Experts attribute the increase to holiday stress possibly. Perhaps more people are giving pot as a gift this holiday season. Maybe it's distress over the recent election.

You might be advised to order early to beat the rush.

New Hampshire: Republican Lawmakers Pre-file Bill To Legalize Hemp

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Republican lawmakers have pre-filed a bill to legalize hemp for the 2017 legislative session in New Hampshire. The legislature will discuss the bill next month when it reconvenes.

The proposed law, House Bill 51, would remove hemp from the state's Controlled Drug Act, allowing it to be treated like any other agricultural commodity. The proposal was filed by State Representatives Daniel Itse, J.R. Hoell, and James Spillane; it also has the support of Senators Harold French and John Reagan.

The House Committee on Environment and Agriculture will need to pass the bill by March 3rd before it can move to a vote in the full House of Representatives. If passed by the committee and the House, the bill will then go to the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill it goes before Governor Maggie Hassan for final approval.

The United States currently imports about a half billion dollars annually from other countries, mainly Canada and China, while the plant remains illegal for its own farmers to cultivate.

According to a poll released earlier this year, 61% of voters in New Hampshire support legalizing marijuana for all purposes, not just hemp or medical; just 24% oppose the move.

Massachusetts: Legislature Delays New Legal Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several provisions of the new law that legalized recreational marijuana in Massachusetts were delayed for six months by the Legislature on Wednesday, angering backers of the measure approved by voters last month.

The bill was passed by both the House and Senate without a public hearing and without debate.

The ballot initiative making pot legal for adults over 21 took effect on December 15, and that does not change. The action taken by lawmakers yesterday will delay the opening of marijuana retail stores from the beginning of 2018 until the middle of that year.

For the moment, it's only legal to sell marijuana in Massachusetts to registered medical marijuana patients.

“The Legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg.

A joint statement from Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that delaying key deadlines for six months will give legislators more time to “improve” the current law by considering issues that were not included in the ballot question.

The group that sponsored the ballot measure, Yes On 4, said it was “very disappointed” in the Legislature’s vote, noting it came with little advance notice or public input.

Canada: Next Step Taken Towards Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Canadian leaders have started moving closer towards legalizing marijuana.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau created a committee in the summer of 2016 to look into the possibility of making recreational marijuana use legal for the entire country.

The panel, chaired by former Canadian Deputy Primate Minister Anne McLellan, recently submitted its findings. The panel calls for a tightly regulated recreational market for adults while cracking down on the black market.

The report said their recommendations will “strike a balance between implementing appropriate restrictions, in order to minimize the harms associated with cannabis use, and providing adults access to a regulated supply of cannabis while reducing the scope and scale of the illicit market and its social harms.”

Trudeau has said he expects to file legislation based on the recommendations of the panel in the spring of 2017.

The Canadian Liberal Party website states: “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”

“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work,” the site states. “It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

Recommendations of the report include:

Montreal: 'Prince Of Pot' Arrested When Police Raid Cannabis Culture Stores

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A day after opening, some Cannabis Culture stores selling recreational marijuana were raided last Friday, resulting in the arrest of owner Marc Emery. The British Columbia-based self-described 'Prince of Pot' was expanding his chain of of dispensaries, despite the fact that pot is still illegal.

The Mount-Royal store had sold out its stock, leaving only cash for the authorities to find.

“It’s despicable and it’s an injustice, but we will win,” Emery said while being escorted to a police cruiser. “This arrest is wrong and prohibition is wrong. The prime minister is a disgrace and so is the mayor,” he said.

Hundreds of clients had showed up at the Mount-Royal location to make their first weed purchases.

Police say that they have made 10 total arrests so far, none of which were clients. They also seized 40 pounds of cannabis at other Cannabis Culture locations.

Guam: Governor Wants Territory To Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Guam voters legalized medical marijuana in 2014. Governor Eddie Calvo (R) now wants the island territory to look at legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use.

“We’re talking about cutting what would be red tape and concerns about funding for required enforcement on the new marijuana legislation that became law” Governor Calvo said in a Faceook post made Monday. “I want us to look at how states navigated into recreational marijuana; let’s figure it out and then tax the heck out of it and use those taxes to help fund our hospital, public safety and education.”

A poll conducted earlier this year by Pacific Daily News found that 80 percent of Guam citizens support pot legalization, but the poll's validity can be questioned because it was conducted online with little safeguards in place to ensure accuracy.

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