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.

Washington state Medical marijuana headed for tighter restrictions 

The state Senate on Tuesday gave final legislative approval to a bill that sweeps medical marijuana into the state’s strictly regulated recreational system. Now, the bill heads to Gov. Jay Inslee. 

Sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, the measure would phase out collective marijuana gardens by July 2016, create a voluntary database of medical-marijuana patients and set standards for medical pot and how its use is authorized. 

It would also establish a merit system for dispensaries seeking to join the regulated industry.

Under the bill, patients in the state registry would be allowed to possess three times as much marijuana as users in the recreational system, and they could grow as many as six plants at home unless a doctor authorizes more. Patients could band together in cooperatives of up to four people to share expenses growing up to 60 plants. 

Inslee spokesman David Postman said reforming how medical marijuana is regulated is important to the governor. 

“We look favorably on what they’ve done,” said Postman, of the Legislature’s work. 

As the gears turn in Olympia on marijuana reform, Seattle’s leaders are preparing to expand upon the Legislature’s work and customize pot laws for the city. 

Unregulated medical-marijuana businesses have proliferated in Seattle since recreational pot was legalized in 2012. Some have paid no taxes, and some haven’t complied with city building codes. 

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray described the Legislature’s action as a “step forward.” 

In November, he announced plans to create the city’s own regulatory system for pot, but he chose to put those ideas on hold to see whether the Legislature would act. Viet Shelton, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office, said Murray will move quickly to propose additional local regulations once Inslee signs the medical-marijuana bill.

“As soon as the bill is signed by the governor, the clock’s on us as far as how we want to implement (a Seattle-specific policy),” he said.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said that under the bill, some medical-marijuana businesses won’t survive.

“It gives us the clarity we need to usher the 103 or so dispensaries we know of into legitimacy or into a new line of work,” Holmes said. 

He indicated that could mean more city enforcement against bad actors.

Liquor Control Board would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board, and it would determine which medical-marijuana dispensaries qualify to join the state system. 

Some medical-marijuana business owners are worried the new state law will shut them down. 

Killy Nichelin said he dropped his medical-marijuana business in 2013 to focus on applying for a license to sell pot in the recreational market. But his company, Iconic Cannabis, wasn’t selected in the Liquor Control Board’s pot-shop lottery. 

    Nevada regulators okay first marijuana cultivation site 

    CARSON CITY — Nevada regulators Monday gave final licensing approval for the state’s first medical marijuana cultivation facility north of Reno.

    Sierra Wellness Connection will grow medicinal pot at a facility in the north valleys area, and plans to open a dispensary this summer near downtown.

    “We’re certainly pleased that the state has acted judiciously to allow us to move forward and open our cultivation facility,” Joe Crowley, Sierra Wellness president and former University of Nevada, Reno president, said in a statement.

    “I’m at a point in my life where I often see friends and relatives in need of safe medications,” Crowley said.

    Morgan Carr, Sierra Wellness vice president of research and development, said the cannabis will be independently lab tested and cultivated in accordance with strict laws and regulations.

    The company said final licensing by the state of its dispensary facility is pending and subject to approval by Reno and Washoe County.

    The dispensary will be located at 1605 E. 2nd Street in an area zoned for medical and wellness businesses adjacent to Renown Regional Medical Center.

    The Reno City Council will consider the company’s special medical marijuana business license application at its March 25 meeting, the company said.

    Texas Update 

    AUSTIN — Patients with cancer, seizures and PTSD are fighting to legalize medical marijuana in Texas — despite Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s stance against it.  a news conference at the State Capitol Tuesday, Barbara Humphries was among those pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana. The 31-year-old has endured months of intense chemotherapy for stage three breast cancer. She says marijuana has helped her, and she buys it illegally. 

    “Before I started using it, I was extremely nauseated. I couldn’t eat,” said Humphries. “We should not be denied legal access when our doctors recommend it.” State Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-El Paso) filed legislation that gives patients access to the whole marijuana plant, to treat everything from seizures, cancer and PTSD. 

    “This piece of legislation is a comprehensive medical marijuana bill. Texans deserve a choice when it comes to their health care,” said Marquez. 

    If the legislation passes, Texas would join 23 states and the District of Columbia who already have legal plants. Marquez’s bill stipulates the Department of State Health Services would establish a regulated system of licensed marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries. The head of the House Public Health Committee, Rep. Myra Crownover, says the bill is likely dead in the House. The Texas Association of Sheriff’s says they oppose any substance with THC, citing concerns about its effect on children.


    Washington- Senate Bill 5379 passes and now heads to the House 

    OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Senate has unanimously passed a measure that adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

    Senate Bill 5379 passed the chamber Tuesday night and now heads to the House for consideration.

    Washington voters approved a medical marijuana law in 1998 that gives doctors the right to recommend — but not prescribe — marijuana for people suffering from cancer and other conditions that cause “intractable pain.”

    In 2012, voters passed a measure allowing the sale of marijuana to adults for recreational use at licensed stores, which started opening last summer.

    Several measures have been brought forth by lawmakers this year after to address the dual markets.

    One measure that has previously passed the Senate would exempt qualified patients from paying sales tax on medical products.

    State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the sponsor of the bill, said the Veteran’s Administration is on board with this legislation and retired veterans who treat PTSD symptoms with marijuana are not at risk of losing their benefits.

    The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

    Michigan Update

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) – The state Senate has approved a bill that would prohibit the smoking of medical marijuana on rental properties where a landlord has prohibited it. 

    The bill, approved 34-3 on Tuesday, would amend Michigan’s medical marijuana act, approved by voters in 2008. The bill passed with more than the three-fourths vote needed to amend a voter-approved initiative.

    Under the bill, landlords also would not be required to lease property to someone who smoked or grew marijuana on a property where those actions were prohibited according to a lease agreement.

    The bill will now to go the House for consideration.

    Salt Lake City, Utah- Senate Kills Bill 

    SALT LAKE CITY – Legislation that would have legalized medicinal marijuana in the state was killed in the state Senate by a single vote Monday night. Senate Bill 259, which passed a second substitute version of the bill in the Senate last week in a 16-13 vote, was defeated in its fourth substituted version’s third reading Monday night in a 15-14 vote. “Obviously I’m disappointed,” said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, following the Monday nights vote. 


    Madsen said he was disappointed in the Senate and some fellow senators who he thought supported the bill. As well, he said he felt disappointed in himself for letting down the people the bill is meant to aid. SB 259 would have allowed individuals with qualifying illnesses to be able to register with a state database in order to possess medical cannabis and related devices for ingestion. State-licensed individuals could also grow and sell medical cannabis.


    Among the qualifying illnesses the bill list includes: AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Chron’s Disease, glaucoma, post traumatic stress disorder, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other ailments.


    Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, a pharmacist by profession, said in an email Friday that he felt the bill didn’t give the state enough oversight in the matter.


    “It does not allow for the state to have any oversight for important things like money transactions, inspections of its manufacturing facilities, the testing and labeling of the product, patient counseling, verification that the prescription from the physician is valid, etc.,” Vickers wrote.


    Vickers voted against the second version of SB 259 last week, and did so again Monday night when a fourth version was put forward. However, he said he wasn’t completely against the idea of medicinal cannabis.


    A no vote doesn’t mean you aren’t intrigued with the idea, because many of us are, me included,” Vickers said.


    Some lawmakers, such as Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said they worried the bill could open the door to policy abuse. Gov. Gary Herbert has also said he worried that approving medicinal marijuana would open the door to recreational use.


    “If the Legislature won’t do it, let’s have the people do it themselves,” Madsen said, suggesting the possibility of the public seeking medical marijuana legalization through a public initiative if their elected officials keep refusing to advance it on their end.


    Michigan – Several proposals to clarify marijuana law

    LANSING, MI — The legal status of medical marijuana dispensaries and edible products could be clarified under re-introduced legislation that stalled out last year in the Michigan Legislature.

    The proposals would help local communities, patients and caregivers, according to state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, while allowing “law enforcement to responsibly regulate Michigan’s medical marijuana law in a common-sense fashion.”

    Callton, in a Thursday morning press conference, announced a new bill that would provide a regulatory framework for “provisioning centers,” which could sell extra medical marijuana grown by caregivers after the product was tested for quality and contaminants.

    Local governments could choose to ban provisioning centers or limit the number of storefronts that can operate under Callton’s proposal.

    Separate legislation sponsored by Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, would allow certified medical marijuana patients to use non-smokable forms for the drug, including liquids, edibles and topical creams.

    “The issue we’re talking about today isn’t whether you support medicinal marijuana or not. The fact is voters do, and they did so overwhelmingly,” said Lyons.

    “The question today is how do we make sure patients have safe access to medicinal marijuana and, very importantly, how can we ensure parents and patients have alternative measures to using marijuana besides smoking?”

    Ida Chinonis of Grand Blanc, whose 6-year-old daughter with a congenital genetic disorder, said she turned to medical marijuana after Bella suffered a seizure that lasted an entire weekend.

    She obtained marijuana oil from a dispensary in the Detroit area and provides it to her daughter via oral injection three times a day.

    “Our last resort was to try medical marijuana, and so far it’s working,” Chinonis said, noting she had previously given her daughter prescription pharmaceuticals.

    Michigan’s 2008 medical marijuana law does not directly address dispensaries or edible products, and a series of court cases have clouded the legal status of both.

    The Michigan Supreme Court, in an early 2013 ruling, empowered county prosecutors to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries as a “public nuisance” but similar businesses have continued to operate in many communities.

    Similarly, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that “pot brownies” are not a usable form of marijuana allowable under the medical law, raising questions about various “medible” products.

    Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski said that uncertainty over the status medical marijuana dispensaries makes enforcement and prosecution challenging. He welcomed legislation to clarify the legal status.

    “If I have a choice between a shooting and a medical marijuana dispensary, I’m going to investigate the shooting, because we’re clear on what the rules and regulation are,” Yankowski said.

    Detroit City Councilman James Tate also offered support for the legislation, as did Sens. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights and Coleman Young II, D-Detroit.

    Notably absent from the press conference was the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, which raised concerns about similar legislation late last year and effectively helped kill the bills in the Senate.

    The association has not yet responded to a request for comment on the reintroduced bills.

    “I don’t think we’ll be able to do this if they’re against us,” said Callton, saying he hoped to engage the sheriffs’ group in the process as the legislation moves forward. “But I do think everyone is starting to recognize we need a rational approach to medical marijuana.”

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