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.

Delaware House panel approves marijuana legalization bill

DOVER, Del. – (AP) – A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Delaware has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The legislation, which was released Wednesday by a House committee and now goes to the full House for a vote, regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.

The bill doesn’t allow people to grow their own marijuana but allows adults over age 21 to legally possess less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use.

The legislation would create a commission to regulate, license and tax the marijuana industry, allowing licenses for up to 40 retail stores.

Consumers would pay an excise tax of $50 an ounce, while businesses would pay an application fee of $5,000 and a $10,000 licensing fee every two years.

Vermont legislature approves recreational marijuana use

A measure legalizing marijuana use in Vermont cleared the state’s legislature on Wednesday.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has said the legislation is not “a priority for Vermont” and has not made a final decision as to whether he will sign it. The measure makes Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use among adults and the first to legalize through a legislative process. Other states have approved recreational marijuana use through ballot initiatives.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana policy group. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.” Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession and use of marijuana, though each state has its own rules and regulations. For example, in Washington — one of the first states to legalize pot — only individuals using the drug for medical purposes can grow it, though any adult is allowed to possess and use it.

In Washington, D.C., marijuana can be used and “gifted,” but not bought, sold or exchanged for other goods or services.

Marijuana use is illegal according to federal policy, and President Trump’s opposition to legalization has created uncertainty for some states seeking to regulate the industry.

If signed by the governor, the Vermont measure would remove civil penalties for possessing one ounce of marijuana or less and would allow adults to keep up to two mature pot plants. It would also create a commission to develop a plan for taxing and regulating the drug.

Australia announces plans to legalize medical marijuana !

(CNN)The Australian government has announced plans to allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes.
Under current laws, marijuana is classified as an illegal drug, and while penalties vary from state to state, people who grow, use, possess or sell it can be fined or sent to prison. In a statement Saturday, the government said the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967 would be amended to allow the drug to be grown locally, without breaching the country’s international obligations as a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

“This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available,” Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement. Thousands called for change

Campaigners had been pushing for a change, arguing that it was unfair to criminalize patients who relied on the drug to ease their pain.
More than 246,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to decriminalize the drug for medical use since it was launched two years ago.
It was initiated by retired nurse Lucy Haslam, whose late son Daniel used medical cannabis to ease the pain of terminal bowel cancer before his death in February at age 25.
In a blog post published this week, she wrote, “It wasn’t until a fellow cancer sufferer suggested he try cannabis that his life with cancer became a little more tolerable. A sick young man reluctantly tried a joint and just like that, he felt so much better.
“He gained an appetite, had his nausea and vomiting addressed and was able to maintain his weight through his ongoing treatment.”
A ‘big win’

After her son’s diagnosis, Haslam founded the group United in Compassion to campaign for legalized medical cannabis.
She described Saturday’s announcement as a “big win,” but she said she hoped it would be “meaningful in terms of getting medicine into the hands of patients in a timely fashion.”
“I’m hoping that it will involve some sort of medical amnesty which could happen immediately but I guess I’m waiting to see the finer detail,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The government said it was important to emphasize that the announcement was not a debate about legalizing of marijuana for recreational use.
“Cannabis is classified as an illegal drug in Australia for recreational use and we have no plans to change that,” Ley said.

California Update! FINALLY!!!!

Nearly 20 years after voters made California the first state in the nation to legalize the medical use of marijuana, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a package of bills to regulate the multibillion-dollar medicinal-cannabis industry.

The stringent and comprehensive regulations create an enforceable framework for governing virtually every aspect of the business in California — from licensing and taxation to quality control, shipping, packaging and pesticide standards.

The lack of regulations for the booming medical pot business has been frustrating to growers, dispensary operators, local governments, law enforcement and patient groups since 1996 when California voters approved Proposition 215, the law that made it legal for doctors to recommend pot to their patients.

In the void, what has emerged is a hazy, semi-legitimate industry with no uniformity between jurisdictions. The regulations seek to change that.

“This new structure will make sure patients have access to medical marijuana, while ensuring a robust tracking system,” the governor said in his signing message. “This sends a clear and certain signal to our federal counterparts that California is implementing robust controls not only on paper, but in practice.”

He was referring to federal laws that don’t recognize the legitimacy of state medicinal marijuana laws. While some aspects of the legislation have been criticized, most involved in the industry say the benefits of having regulations more than outweigh any of the downsides.

“This is going to allow the industry to come out of the shadows and into the light,” said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, a trade group that pushed for amendments on the bills.

3 Bills Signed
The package of laws signed by Brown consists of three bills — Assembly Bill 266, Assembly Bill 243 and Senate Bill 643 — which together create the structure to licens, tax and regulate the industry as well as the funding mechanisms for the agencies that oversee the operations. The laws are scheduled to go into effect in 2018, although some provisions may be phased in earlier. Known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, the bills were passed by the Legislature in September in a down-to-the-wire push before the end of the regular session. Lawmakers considered the action crucial, considering that one or more measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana will likely be on the 2016 ballot. AB266 establishes a new agency, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, to oversee the licensing rules for medical pot growers, the makers of the products and retailers. The agency will be assisted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Public Health and other state agencies. SB643, authored by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, clamps down on clinics that capitalized on the lack of regulation by issuing medical marijuana prescriptions to patients who lacked valid health needs. It also creates licensing and other regulations to oversee the industry. AB243, authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, establishes guidelines and regulations for medical pot cultivators, but takes an environmental approach. It gives the nine regional water quality boards in the state the authority to regulate the discharge of water, chemicals and sediment into the environment.

Oklahoma update !

OKLAHOMA CITY 

 Supporters of an initiative petition seeking to legalize medical marijuana will begin gathering signatures Thursday.
Secretary of State Chris Benge has notified supporters that no protests had been filed and the protest period had expired, giving them the green light to begin circulating the petition.

Green the Vote, which filed the documents seeking to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot, will have until 5 p.m. Dec. 29 to file the signatures, according to Benge’s office.

The organization needs 123,724 signatures to get it on the ballot in the form of State Question 778.

Green the Vote president Isaac Caviness said the group believes it can obtain well over 200,000 signatures.

Caviness said those seeking to sign the petition can find circulators at the Tulsa State Fair, which begins Thursday and ends Oct. 11.

In addition, locations to sign the petition will be posted on the group’s website, greenthevoteok.com.

Through its website, the organization has signed up more than 300 volunteers who have pledged to work at least three days a week, Caviness said.

“Our belief is that getting stoned smoking weed is not medicine,” said Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Control. “We do support research into to the chemicals within cannabis, such as THC and CBD oil, to see if they would benefit patients when placed in a legitimate medical form, such as tincture drops, pills, liquids and patches.”

Oklahomans for Health circulated a petition last year to legalize medical marijuana. The effort fell significantly short of the number of signatures required.

Chip Paul, Oklahomans for Health chairman, said his organization will submit documents this spring to circulate a petition. The group wants to start gathering signatures March 1.

Oklahomans for Health plans to circulate its petition even if Green the Vote is successful in attaining the required signatures, Paul said.

The petitions differ on how much of the medicine a person can possess and in licensing fees, Paul said.

LANSING – MICHIGAN 

Lansing — The House Judiciary Committee touched off a new effort to legalize dispensaries and edible forms of cannabis for medical marijuana patients Tuesday, sending three new bills to the House floor for consideration. 

The bills, containing tighter rules than in failed 2014 proposals and an 8-percent excise tax on gross retail income of provisioning centers, is a compromise plan designed to overcome law enforcement opposition.

A voter-approved medical marijuana law that took effect in 2008 doesn’t specifically mention dispensaries or edible marijuana products, whose legality has been clouded by Michigan Supreme Court and appeals court rulings in recent years. Lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that clarifies the law. Rep. Mike Callton, who negotiated the compromises, called his main legislation “a bill we all can live with.” Callton, R-Nashville, told the committee the 8 percent tax and a mandatory system for tracking all forms of pot — from production to consumption — are key new provisions. Those proposals drew objections from advocates for less-onerous regulations as well as from Democratic Rep. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor, a committee member who tried unsuccessfully to have them removed from the bills.

Irwin argued making medical marijuana purchases too burdensome or costly would increase the chances some would be diverted illegally to non-medical users.

“It will drive people to the black market,” added Frank James, who runs a Gaylord nutrition supplement and natural health store that also offers marijuana flowers. “People who come into our dispensary need a place to go other than the streets,” James told the committee.

Ken and Alice Szymoniak, of the tiny Presque Isle County town of Millersburg, told the committee that technically illegal cannabis oil has given Alice back a normal life. Ken Syzmoniak, a car dealer, said they tried marijuana after years of desperation.

Alice, who contracted fibromyalgia while recovering from a severe 1998 vehicle crash they were in, had such intense pain that for years they were lucky to be able to even spend an hour having a meal at a restaurant, Ken Szymoniak said.

She’s now pain-free, off prescription opiates and can engage in normal activities, including jet skiing with their grandchildren, the couple said.

“It was our only way of surviving,” Ken Szymoniak said. “It absolutely changed our life. We’re starting to travel again.” He said he became a state-licensed caregiver for four medical marijuana patients to offset the cost of growing the plants he needs for his wife. “I don’t understand everything that’s in the bills,” he said, “but I support making (cannabis) oils legal.”

The proposed 8 percent excise tax would be in addition to Michigan’s 6 percent sales tax, also collected on cannabis items. Its revenues would offset regulatory and law enforcement costs involved with dispensaries and new medical marijuana products.

Provisions of the bill package also call for a state Medical Marijuana Licensing Board to oversee the new rules. There would be five kinds of state licensees — grower, processor, provisioning center, secure transporter and safety compliance facility.

Chances the bills will pass are uncertain, but more promising than a year ago.

“Too soon to say at this point, as not everyone has had a chance to review them yet,” said Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant. “But I think most people realize there are problems with the recent law that need to be fixed.”

Amber McCann, press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said the GOP majority will decide its fate in caucus discussions. “At this point there is not a push within the caucus for this issue,” she added.

Callton said the bills would need a simple majority vote to pass in each chamber because they aren’t amending the 2008 medical marijuana act.

Meanwhile, two groups are circulating petitions to initiate a new state law that would legalize marijuana for nonmedical, personal use. The measures would go on the November 2016 ballot if enough signatures are gathered and the Legislature doesn’t act on the proposals.