WEED IN NYC 2019!?!?!

By Dennis Romero

Cannabis legalization advocates expect New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call on the legislature to legalize recreational marijuana during his first budget address in 2019.

“We’re drafting legislation,” Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, told NBC News on Tuesday, when asked about decriminalizing weed.

The New York Post first reported earlier Tuesday that the governor’s next budget address would include the introduction of a pot-legalization plan — but Azzopardi downplayed that news by noting that “in August we appointed a 16 member working group to draft legislation and hold public hearings.”

Cuomo got the ball rolling for legalization earlier this year by launching a working group to make legislative recommendations based on a multi-agency study on “regulated marijuana” unveiled in July.

The multi-agency study that was released in summer concluded, “The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in New York State outweigh the potential negative impacts,” according to a summary.

Kassandra Frederique, New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), said the group is urging the governor and lawmakers to make a lot of things right with recreational legalization.

The DPA would like to see minor marijuana convictions expunged and cannabis business opportunities made abundant in minority communities disproportionately targeted by drug enforcement.

“There’s a lot to hope for in the legislative session,” she said. “I think it puts the governor’s office in the hot seat. What they put forward is supposed to be reflective of what they heard” from the working group.

“We’re ready with a checklist to hold them accountable,” Frederique said.

She was at a two-day DPA conference in Albany where experts from around the nation were discussing the best pathways to recreational legalization in New York.

Critics of legalization say proponents’ enthusiasm should be curbed. “Legalization is never a done deal, and it’s very hard to get through at the end of the day,” Kevin Sabet, president of the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said via email.

The group, which has opposed legalization in states like Colorado, opened an office in New York City four years ago.

“We have already assembled multiple opposition groups and individuals,” he said. “I think the marijuana industry greatly underestimates what we can do and, frankly, that works to our advantage.”

New York’s own Democratic governor wasn’t always on board: In 2017 Cuomo called marijuana a “gateway drug” that can lead people to use harder narcotics. But a lot has changed since then, and so has his attitude.

“We must thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and State revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it,” Cuomo said in a statement in August.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have approved some form of legalization, and in November, Michigan became the 10th state to go recreational.

In Albany, New York’s capital, Democrats won control of the upper house in November, and the Assembly remains in the hands of that party, where drug reform has seen some momentum.

“We need to move beyond our completely broken prohibition model on marijuana to a sensible tax-and-regulate model,” Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, D-Manhattan, said via email.

“Continued criminalization does not prevent marijuana use but destroys the lives of thousands of people a year and creates an illegal drug market that costs millions of dollars in law enforcement and other resources while disproportionately affecting minority communities,” he said. “I look forward to working with the Governor and the new Senate leadership on legislation to correct this historic abuse of the drug war.”

Medical marijuana became legally available to a very limited category of New York patients in 2016. The DPA wants recreational pot to be available to all state residents 21 and older.

“We’re in that moment where we can’t afford incrementalism,” Frederique said. “I’m look forward to this being a priority issue for the governor’s office.”

Massachusetts marijuana: What’s legal?What’s not?

Marijuana in Massachusetts is legal for people that are 21 years old and older, but it’s not that simple. There are laws and regulations limiting where you can smoke it and how much you can have or grow. For the basics, we pulled information from Mass.gov’s site, and listed them here:

“You can’t use marijuana in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.) in public or on federal land.”

For more on this law, here’s an excerpt from The Cannabis Control Commission:

“No, you cannot smoke adult use marijuana in a place where you are prohibited from smoking tobacco and you cannot consume adult use marijuana in a public place. The civil penalty is up to $100. See Penalties for Violations. Cities and towns may pass bylaws or ordinances authorizing exceptions in certain areas for social consumption.”

“You can have up to 1 oz on you and up to 10 oz in your home.”

For more on this law, here’s an excerpt from The Cannabis Control Commission:

“In your home, you may possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana and any marijuana produced by plants cultivated on the premises. Any amount of marijuana or marijuana products over one ounce kept within your place of residence must be secured by a lock.  Failure to keep marijuana and marijuana products in excess of one ounce locked up within the home may be punished by a civil penalty of up to $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana.”

“You can grow up to 6 plants in your home, and up to 12 plants for 2 or more adults.”

For more on this law, here’s an excerpt from The Cannabis Control Commission:

“Yes. The law allows an individual over 21 years of age to grow up to six plants in their home. If there are other individuals over 21 years of age living in the residence who wish to grow, the maximum number of plants that may be grown in a residence is 12 plants. The plants must be grown in an area that is equipped with a lock or security device. The plants cannot be visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids. An individual cannot produce cannabis-based extracts or concentrates at home by means of any liquid or gas, other than alcohol, that has a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. See Home Cultivation and Manufacturing.”

“If you have more than 1 oz of marijuana in your home, it has to be locked up. But it’s best to keep any amount locked away to keep kids and pets safe.”

“Like alcohol, you can’t have an open container of any form of marijuana in the passenger area of your car while on the road or at a place where the public has access. It must be stored in a closed container in your trunk or a locked glove compartment.”

“It’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. If you use, don’t get behind the wheel. Instead, use public transportation, ride-shares, or catch a ride with a sober friend.”

For more on this law, here’s an excerpt from The Cannabis Control Commission:

“Like alcohol, you may not have an open container of adult-use marijuana/marijuana products in the passenger area of your car while on the road or at a place where the public has access. An “open container” includes a package with its seal broken or a package from which the contents have been partially removed. The “passenger area” does not include a trunk or a locked glove compartment. The 2017 Act does not change the existing penalties for operating a car if you are impaired by the use of marijuana or marijuana products. You are strictly prohibited from consuming marijuana while operating a car. For specific information, see MGL c.90 § 24.”

“Employers, landlords, cities, and towns may have their own policies about the use of marijuana. Check with them to see what is legal.”

 

Michigan Senate votes to ban marijuana beer

Lansing — The Michigan Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to ban marijuana-infused beer and wine, a pre-emptive strike ahead of possible legalization of the drug. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, would prohibit the possession or sale of marijuana beer, wine, spirits or mixed drinks — regardless of whether they contain alcohol.

The former Eaton County Sheriff said he was inspired to draft the legislation after hearing about similar products in places like Colorado, where Blue Moon’s brewer recently announced it would launch a non-alcoholic beer infused with marijuana.

“If we don’t ban it, we’re going to have it, and it is a recipe for disaster,” Jones said. “If you want it, go to Colorado or Canada. We don’t need it here.” Marijuana advocates say the proposal is a solution in search of a problem, but approval comes as Senate Republicans consider whether to take up a pot legalization proposal by early June or let the citizen initiative advance to the November ballot.

Jones opposes legalization but believes voters would approve the proposal, so he supports a push to adopt the legislation and then amend it later this year. The Senate is unlikely to vote without a clear sign House Republicans would follow suit, a scenario Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, has called unlikely. Jones warned that marijuana beer could be sold at bars, creating liability for owners who sell an “edible” product that may take longer to intoxicate a user than alcohol and have a stronger effect. Bars are not supposed to allow patrons to leave and drive if they appear inebriated. But the legalization proposal would not allow bars to sell marijuana products, said Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Alcohol Like Marijuana. The drug could only be sold through state-licensed dispensaries, which would need to be stand-alone entities. “So once it passes, people won’t be seeing bars or liquor stores, or even convenience stores for that matter, selling cannabis products — just dispensaries,” Hovey said.

Communities would also need to opt in and could set their own zoning and local licensing regulations, he added.

Still, Jones predicted recreational marijuana could open the door to unexpected products the state has never before considered regulating.

“When the November ballot passes … bar the door, it’s going to be the wild, wild West,” Jones told reporters after Thursday’s state Senate vote on marijuana beer. Hovey disputed that characterization, saying the legalization proposal would create a “highly regulated licensing structure just like the medical marijuana system the Legislature passed in the fall of 2016.”

That law, passed with bipartisan support in the Republican-led Legislature, created new regulations separate from the medical pot law approved by voters in 2008.

“We followed the licensing structure almost to the letter,” Hovey said.

The only difference, he said, is licensing would be processed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs rather than the “politically appointed” Medical Marihuana Licensing Board.

Kevin Sabet, president of the Smart Approaches to Marijuana advocacy group, praised the Senate legislation. Marijuana beer presents a “double whammy” because it’s appealing to kids and is dangerous, he said.

“It should not be legal for medical use or recreational use,” Sabet said.

If Michigan voters see a legalization proposal on the ballot in November, they won’t just be voting on marijuana, Sabet said. “They’re voting on things like (marijuana-infused) candies, ice cream and cookies. Those are very attractive to kids.” Michigan’s 2008 medical marijuana law does not allow bars or liquor stores to sell marijuana products, and dispensaries are not allowed to sell liquor, said Rick Thompson of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“This seems a lot like a rhetorical legislative exercise because this bill would effect zero people in Michigan,” Thompson said last week in committee testimony. “There’s zero market for this.”

Thompson argued the proposal could also limit entrepreneurs who want to brew beer with Cannabidiol and other parts of the marijuana plant used by medical patients that do not have the same psychoactive effects like Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical commonly associated with a “high.”

Ontario, Canada, recently awarded a $300,000 grant to help a firm develop marijuana-brewed beer, and California wine makers are experimenting with marijuana-infused wine, according to media reports.

“I’m so happy that instead of becoming stoners in Michigan, they’ll go to Canada or they’ll go to California,” Jones said at the hearing. “Thank goodness.”

Lansing, Michigan

LANSING – The battle to free the weed officially started Thursday when the State Board of Canvassers ruled that a group pushing a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use got enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

The 4-0 decision by the board was met with cheers by advocates for the proposal.

“The people of Michigan deserve this. They earned it,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML. “We’ve faced many trials and tribulations. We’ve had so many stop and go signs from the federal government. That’s why states have to take the reins on the issue and really be the crucibles of democracy that they’ve always been intended to be.”

It was the second time that the coalition had turned in enough signatures to get on the ballot. The last time, however, it didn’t get the signatures in a state-mandated 180-day window and the petition was thrown out. But the coalition didn’t have the same problem this time around. “We expected this,” said John Truscott, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Now, we’ll be out and about talking to people and educating them about the issues.”

Scott Greenlee, executive director of the Healthy and Productive Michigan political action committee, which opposes the ballot proposal, urged the Board of Canvassers to keep the issue off the ballot because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government.

“By putting this on the ballot, you’re disregarding federal law,” he said. “I recognize that other states have done it, but like my mom always told me, ‘Just because your friends jump off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing.’

“We’re picking and choosing which laws to follow and that’s no way to live,” he said, adding he’s not sure whether his group will continue to fight the Board of Canvassers’ decision in court.

The Michigan marijuana ballot proposal would:

Legalize the possession and sale of up to 2½ ounces of marijuana for personal, recreational use.
Impose a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales at the retail level as well as a 6% sales tax. The estimated revenues from the taxes are at least $100 million.
Split those revenues with 35% going to K-12 education, 35% to roads, 15% to the communities that allow marijuana businesses in their borders and 15% to counties where marijuana business are located.
Allow communities to decide whether they’ll permit marijuana businesses.
Restrict purchases of marijuana for recreational purposes to 2½ ounces but an individual could keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home.
Allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and not the politically appointed licensing board that will regulate the medical marijuana side of the market, to regulate and license marijuana businesses, ranging from growers, transporters, testers and dispensaries.
Set up three classes of marijuana growers: up to 100, 500 and 2,000 plants.
Michigan voters have already weighed in on marijuana once, approving cannabis for medical use in 2008 by a 63%-37% margin. As of March, 1, 277,752 people are medical marijuana cardholders and 43,131 people are caregivers who can grow up to 72 plants for up to five cardholders. The state is in the process of vetting applications of people who want to get into the medial marijuana business, which is expected to generate at least $700 million in sales.

That financial prediction is estimated to grow to more than $1 billion a year if voters pass the ballot proposal and Michigan becomes the ninth state to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use.

In Colorado, the oldest recreational marijuana market in the nation, sales in 2017 were $1.5 billion.

But getting the ballot proposal passed is not a foregone conclusion, despite recent polls showing more than 60% support for legalizing marijuana.

Healthy and Productive Michigan has $215,286 for the battle ahead, primarily from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a Virginia-based organization that supports cannabis for medical, but not recreational, uses.

“We’ll continue to press forward with education and explain to the public the problems that recreational marijuana will cause in our state,” Greenlee said. “And once it’s certified for the ballot, we’ll have a number of people from Michigan who will come in and support us.”

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol has raised more than $1 million, but spent the vast majority on paying the firm that collected petition signatures. According to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Secretary of State, the coalition has only $17,326 in available cash for the upcoming campaign.

The action taken by the Board on Thursday will trigger a large fund-raising effort, Truscott said.

“We expect to have quite a bit coming in now that it’s all approved,” he said. “There have been a number of meetings in the last few weeks about that.”

With the Board of Canvassers’ approval, the state Legislature has several options: it could consider the measure and pass it, in which case it would automatically become law; it could offer a competing proposal for the ballot or it could do nothing and let the issue go to the Nov. 6 ballot.

While Republicans might want to keep the issue off the ballot in November — because it’s expected to increase voter turnout that could be more beneficial for Democrats — it would also be a very difficult vote for Republican lawmakers to take as many of them face elections in the fall.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt, seemed to take the legislative vote option off the table on Thursday.

“I don’t anticipate it happening. There’s not much support in the caucus for it and I personally do not support it,” he said. “I think it’s something that the voters are going to have to ultimately decide.”

Perú – Legalizes marijuana in move spurred by mother’s home lab

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s conservative Congress passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana late on Thursday with a 68-5 vote in favor of allowing cannabis oil to be produced, imported and commercialized.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had proposed the measure after police cracked down on a group of mothers making cannabis oil in a makeshift laboratory to treat their epileptic children.

Regulations for producing and commercializing cannabis oil will be written in 60 days, ruling party lawmaker Alberto Belaunde said.

“Thousands of patients and their family members will have hope and a better quality of life,” said Belaunde.

Peru’s neighbors Chile and Colombia have already legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Uruguay has fully legalized growing and selling marijuana for any use.

Indiana – Medical marijuana bill on its way to Indiana legislature

A  Republican lawmaker plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming legislative session that would legalize medical marijuana.  “I can’t comprehend how we can deny people something that provides them with relief that’s not addictive and is not killing anyone when we know for a fact that prescription opioids are killing people,” he said. Lucas has been soliciting feedback on the topic on Facebook and said he has discussed the topic with doctors, veterans organizations and advocacy groups such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
“I still have a lot to learn on this,” he said. “Right now, I’m drinking from a fire hose, reaching out to credible groups and individuals.”  Lucas would be the first Republican lawmaker to formally propose such legislation in at least five years. Democrats routinely file such bills, but they have consistently failed to receive even a hearing in the GOP-dominated General Assembly.Lucas, a self-described libertarian who is best known for his efforts to roll back gun restrictions, said he recognizes medical marijuana is a long shot in Indiana. Opposition remains strong among his fellow Republicans. Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, for example, have traditionally opposed any efforts to legalize marijuana, even for medical purposes.

In the face of such opposition, Lucas said he plans to pitch medical marijuana as a safer pain management tool that could help combat the scourge of overdose deaths from addictive prescription pain killers that have rocked the state in recent years.
“The gateway drug thing, we have to get past that,” Lucas said. “I would point out we have a gateway drug that is punching us in the face right now and it is prescription opioids.”
Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, who has pushed for years to decriminalize marijuana, welcomed Lucas’s interest in the topic.
“Sometimes it just has to be somebody else’s idea,” she said. “I’ve always said the left meets the right if you keep going far enough.”

Ban on recreational marijuana businesses heads to Huntington Beach council

Huntington Beach zoning amendment that would prohibit the sale and distribution of non-medical marijuana by businesses will be considered by the City Council on Monday. The amendment also would regulate the cultivation of recreational marijuana. The Planning Commission voted 6-1 in late July to recommend approval, with Commissioner Dan Kalmick dissenting on grounds that he believes the city is devoting a large amount of resources to regulating a “boogeyman.” According to the Huntington Beach Police Department, non-medical marijuana businesses and deliveries could have negative effects such as an increase in robberies, thefts and burglaries, a city staff report states. The department says cities that have non-medical marijuana businesses have seen increases in arrests related to driving under the influence, according to the report. Proposition 64, which voters statewide passed in November, allows people 21 and older to use and cultivate non-medical marijuana, with stipulations granting local governments the ability to ban recreational marijuana businesses and regulate cultivation. Under the Huntington Beach amendment, outdoor cultivation of recreational marijuana would be illegal. Indoor cultivation would be restricted to private residences in an enclosed area, according to city documents.

 

Arkansas Update! Get ready residents !

 

By TAFI MUKUNYADZI, Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ medical marijuana industry will ramp up in the next week, with the state poised to accept applications from potential patients, growers and distributors.

Beginning Friday, the state Medical Marijuana Commission will accept applications from those hoping to grow or supply marijuana, while the Health Department will take applications from those hoping to benefit from the first marijuana-as-medicine program in the Bible Belt. The application periods will run until Sept. 18.

State officials expect anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people to seek permission to use the drug for a number of health problems. It will cost $50 to apply and permits must be renewed yearly.

Potential patients must submit written certification from a physician to obtain a registration card, demonstrating that the doctor has fully assessed the patient’s medical history. The application must show that there’s an established physician-patient relationship and that the patient has a certain qualifying medical condition.

All applicants must have a driver’s license or state-issued ID card, and those under age 18 need the consent of a parent or guardian to apply.

Family Council president Jerry Cox, who opposed the medical marijuana plan, fears that some may try to “game” the system and obtain marijuana even if they don’t have one of the 18 medical conditions listed in the law. The health issues include intractable pain, cancer, glaucoma, a positive HIV/AIDS status, hepatitis C, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe nausea.

Cox said intractable pain and severe nausea are conditions that are difficult to medically prove and that doctors have to take patients at their word when recommending them for medical marijuana. He said that state lawmakers could’ve placed more restrictions on medical marijuana, like blanket bans on edibles and smoking.

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