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.

Rules approved for cannabis oil, will start Jan. 30

DES MOINES — A legislative panel on Tuesday cleared state rules on registration cards that will allow possession of marijuana-derived cannabis oil for medical treatment of intractable epilepsy.

The new rules take effect Jan. 30.

However, Deborah Thompson, policy adviser for the Iowa Department of Public Health, said her agency and the state Department of Transportation may not be in a position to actually issue the photo ID registration cards until a later “launch” date once the rules have taken effect.

The cards are part of a new state law that allows very limited access to medical cannabidiol. State officials are treating the cards as a “priority project” as they push for a launch date to physically issue the cards.

“We just want to make sure that all of the pieces are there,” Thompson said. “I would like to think we’ll know closer to the date what everything looks like.”

It is likely that the health agency will post an application form online in advance of the card issuance, so patients and parents of minor patients can submit the pertinent information needed from a licensed neurologist to qualify. The state-issued registration card would provide an affirmative defense against prosecution to Iowans possessing no more than 32 ounces of the cannabidiol.

“It’s been a collaborative effort based on wanting to do right by these families,” Thompson said of the process, which is new to many states that are adopting medical marijuana laws. “All of the states are learning together. We all have different laws, even if we have the same goal.”

However, the bigger issue for families of epileptic patients in Iowa is getting access to a product that is expensive and only available in a limited number of places due to a host of legal hurdles.

Last May Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law Senate File 236, which granted special provisions for permanent Iowa residents 18 years of age or older, with a written recommendation from a neurologist, to possess and/or use cannabidiol as a medical treatment to alleviate symptoms of intractable epilepsy, if there are no other satisfactory treatment options.

Last month members of a legislative study panel recommended Iowa lawmakers next session develop a program to produce, process and dispense medical marijuana to address shortcomings in a new state law regarding access and standards to cannabis oil.

House and Senate committee members also called for the federal government and Iowa’s Board of Pharmacy to consider reclassifying marijuana as a scheduled II controlled substance that would lessen criminal penalties and allow doctors to prescribe marijuana-derived medications.

Pot smokers sue San Diego, say long drives to dispensaries pollute air

Medical marijuana smokers in San Diego say the city has forced their pot shops to locate in remote areas and that means the drives to and from will increase air pollution — and ultimately, harm their lungs.

The Union of Medical Marijuana Patients has filed a lawsuit, saying the city is violating the California Environmental Quality Act, United Press International reported.

The suit names as defendants the Coastal Commission and the city of San Diego and claims the zoning laws put in place for marijuana dispensaries means patients have to actually get in their cars to drive to the remote locations — and the additional drive times will only increase the city’s air pollution levels.

On top of that, some patients, perhaps those without cars, will now have to grow their own marijuana plants, an activity that further contributes to global warming, the suit says, UPI reported.

“The ordinance caps the total numbers of cooperatives at 36 and places a limit of four per Council District,” UMMP claims in the lawsuit. This “extremely restrictive approach” will require “thousands of patients to drive across the City of San Diego to obtain their medicine because cooperatives are only allowed in certain limited places in the city, which will create traffic and air pollution.”

The suit seeks to remove the zoning ordinance until the defendants can devise a new approach that meets the CEQA, UPI reported.