2017

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.

Massachusetts: Million-square-foot Marijuana Growing Facility To Open This Fall

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A million-square-foot facility for growing marijuana is scheduled to open this fall in a small town in Bristol County, Massachusetts.

The Freetown, MA property will feature a state-of-the-art medical cannabis cultivation facility known as the Massachusetts Medical Cannabis Center.

The center will be one of the largest marijuana cultivation facilities in the United States.

The first phase of construction will begin in March and will include a 130,000 square-foot facility for the cultivation and processing of marijuana plants and a 30,000 suare-foot space for the research and development of marijuana goods.

AmeriCann, a publicly traded company based in Denver, purchased the land this fall for $4,475,000 from Boston Beer Company, the makers of Samuel Adams.

"This is a project that has been in the works for quite a while," said AmeriCann CEO Tim Keogh.

All marijuana cultivated in the Freetown facility will be available for sale only in Massachusetts, as required by state law.

Vermont: Governor Pardons 192 Marijuana Offenders

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont governor Peter Schumlin (D) announced pardons Tuesday for 192 people with former convictions for marijuana possession. All but 15 of those pardoned were residents of Vermont.

The state decriminalized pot in 2013, but has not yet legalized and regulated the plant as eight other states have, including Vermont's neighbors Massachusetts and Maine.

Although laws and attitudes toward marijuana have changed a lot in the past several years, few governors have issued pardons to marijuana offenders.

“What he’s [Governor Shumlin] doing is, it’s almost unimaginably safe [from criticism] if you think in terms of 40 years ago,” P.S. Ruckman, Jr., a professor of political science at Rock Valley College in Illinois, told The Christian Science Monitor in an interview. “It’s highly significant. I think it’s likely we'll see more of it.”

Gov. Shumlin’s pardon applied only to people convicted of possessing less than an ounce of pot who had no violent criminal histories, felony convictions, or record of driving under the influence or reckless driving.

“When you look at the Vermonters who are sitting out there with criminal records because they had an ounce or less of marijuana — could have happened in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s – there’s thousands of them,” he said in early December.

Washington, D.C.: Marijuana Legalizations Supporters To Hand Out 4,200 Joint At Trump Inauguration

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization activists plan to hand out thousands of joints during President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration to raise awareness about the fragility of legal marijuana under his administration.

The advocacy group behind the ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington, DC in 2014 plans to take to the streets to hand out 4,200 joints on January 20, or roughly 40 ounces of weed.

“We are forced to do this type of publicity stunt because the Trump administration hasn’t mentioned marijuana once since he was elected,” said DCMJ founder Adam Eidinger. “It reminds people that the public wants change, and the politicians aren’t doing it.”

Despite the fact that voters legalized marijuana in D.C. in 2014, it remains illegal to buy or sell the drug in the nation’s capital because of action taken by Congress that bans local lawmakers from passing new marijuana laws. Activists hope to align with Trump supporters who also support marijuana legalization in their home states so they can work together to push the Republican administration to expand legalization.

Eidinger said the marijuana protests are not meant to shut down the celebration or to alienate Trump supporters.

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.

U.S.: Sen. Elizabeth Warren Works To End Banking Limbo For Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As more marijuana shops open in states that have legalized the drug, they struggle with no access to the banking services that other businesses routinely enjoy.

Democratic Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is leading an effort to make sure legal marijuana businesses don't have their banking services taken away.

Warren and other leaders are working to bring the growing $7 billion marijuana industry in from a fiscal limbo in which they deal solely in cash, making them easy targets for criminals.

After voters in Warren's home state of Massachusetts approved a measure to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over, she and nine other senators sent a letter to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, asking it to issue additional guidance to help banks provide services to marijuana shop vendors.

Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said there are benefits to letting marijuana-based businesses move away from a cash-only model.

"You make sure that people are really paying their taxes. You know that the money is not being diverted to some kind of criminal enterprise," Warren said recently. "And it's just a plain old safety issue. You don't want people walking in with guns and masks and saying, 'Give me all your cash.'"

California: Lawmakers Push To Outlaw Driving While Impaired By Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two lawmakers from the San Francisco Bay area are proposing a new law that would make it illegal to use marijuana and drive.

California voters passed Proposition 64 in November, making recreational marijuana use legal for adults 21and over. The new law only makes it illegal to have an open container of marijuana in a car, however.

Sen. Jerry Hill says the new law doesn't go far enough.

"It didn't say anything about if you were driving and smoking a marijuana cigarette or joint while driving or ingesting a brownie at the same time," Hill said in an interview with KGO-TV.

Hill and state representative Evan Low have proposed Senate Bill 65, which would close what they call a loophole.

"This legislation now makes it consistent with alcohol use in a vehicle," Hill said. . "Consistent in the sense now when you drive a vehicle and you have a marijuana cigarette that will be either an infraction or a misdemeanor."

Rhode Island: Growing Hemp Becomes Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new law takes effect Sunday that will allow people in Rhode Island to obtain a license to grow hemp for oil, clothing, fiber, food, and other commercial products.

Lawmakers proposed the bill initially to allow members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe to cultivate hemp, but the language was expanded to include any licensed grower.

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the legislation into law in July. It also allows universities to grow hemp for research and educational purposes.

Industrial hemp is a cousin of marijuana that contains a lower concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Although the United States imports about half a billion dollars of hemp annually from other countries, mainly Canada and China, the plant remains illegal for most of its own farmers to grow.

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.

Nevada: Recreational Marijuana Legal Sunday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Nevada on Sunday, January 1, following the passage of Question 2 in the last election.

Adults 21 and over will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or up to one-eighth ounce of cannabis concentrate as of Sunday, but it will be a while before individuals can buy pot without a medical marijuana prescription card, due to Nevada's need to establish a licensing and taxation infrastructure.

“A lot of them seem to think that when Jan. 1 hits, everything’s going to be legal and open. … But it’s going to take a while to set a template,” said Jim Bergen, a dispensary manager at Mesquite’s Deep Roots Harvest medical marijuana outlet.

The Department of Taxation is responsible for developing licensing qualifications and procedures, as well as the regulation of businesses that deal in the drug’s cultivation, distribution and retail sales in Nevada.

“The Department is already working to develop temporary regulations,” Deonne Contine, the agency’s executive director, stated in a news release following last month’s elections. “We intend to hold a public workshop very early in 2017 and then have our temporary regulations adopted so we can begin issuing licenses.”

The law allows the agency until January 2018 to finalize the rules for legal sales.

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.”

In your opinion, what is the best benefit from the hemp and cannabis plant?

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