Plan to legalize marijuana in Michigan pushes ahead

Lansing — A ballot proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Michigan is gaining steam as the group raises more money and boasts it has gathered half of the signatures needed to put the issue before voters in 2018.

A national marijuana advocacy group that helped legalize marijuana in other states is leading the charge for a Michigan plan to let people smoke without fear of legal repercussion. So far, the “coalition to regulate marijuana like alcohol” has raised more than $818,000 in combined direct and indirect contributions, according to the latest campaign filing with the Secretary of State.

The ballot committee, led by the Marijuana Policy Project, reported $518,288 in direct contributions and more than $300,000 in-kind contributions — goods and services bought for the initiative rather than directly donated.

“We continue to be ahead of schedule on our signature efforts; our fundraising is going strong and keeping up with the pace needed to maintain our paid signature collection,” said Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the committee and a senior vice president of public relations firm Truscott Rossman.

“We’re roughly halfway there,” Hovey said.

The petition drive is opposed by a group called Keep Pot out of Neighborhoods and Schools. Attorney Gary Gordon, representing the opposition group, has argued the proposal would not actually regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Dr. Michael Mullins, a panelist on an opioid epidemic forum in Lansing last month, said marijuana can be a gateway drug to heroin.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Hines has criticized the use of marijuana.

“I find the easy access to marijuana in our society alarming,” Hines said in a statement this week. “As a medical doctor specializing in obstetrics, I’ve treated women who have decided to use marijuana to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. This concerns me greatly because little is known about the effects of marijuana on the development of the baby.”

The group is paying for a massive network of signature gathers across the state and others to check the signatures and verify their legitimacy.

“We’re really encouraged by the outpouring of support that we’ve received,” Hovey said. “The campaign continues to get emails and phone calls every day from people around the state who realize that marijuana prohibition has failed.”

Jeff Irwin, the committee’s political director and a former Ann Arbor state representative, said the goal is to redirect money that Michigan spends on the criminal justice system related to marijuana and use extra tax revenues the state would earn to boost funding for schools and fixing state roads.

He said he also sees it as a way to fight back against a disproportionate number of young black men going to prison.

“Prohibition has been a massive, costly failure,” Irwin said.

Irwin said a preliminary economic analysis for the campaign committee by the Marijuana Policy Group argues that the state’s marijuana market could be a booming $2 billion a year based on data from Washington and Colorado, which both legalized marijuana for recreational use.

That could mean more than $200 million in extra state revenue for Michigan lawmakers to use mostly for schools and roads, Irwin said. The group is planning a more detailed economic analysis later.

The plan would offer an avenue for marijuana growers, processors, testing facilities, transporters and retail stores to be licensed to sell marijuana for recreational use. It would also allow small boutique businesses similar to microbreweries that could grow up to 150 plants and process, package and sell in-house.

Irwin said the plan offers “complete control” to local governments to allow or stop marijuana shops from doing business.

New last minute regulations for Nevada !!


By Jenny Kane

Nevada marijuana dispensaries will have to get rid of certain edible products before this weekend due to new, last-minute regulations. On Monday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed a Department of Taxation statement of emergency that will allow the department to more strictly regulate marijuana edible products starting the same day as the state’s first recreational marijuana sales. “The Governor wants to see the state realize the revenues from its sales, and most importantly, wants a regulatory structure that is restricted, responsible and respected,” said Mari St. Martin, spokeswoman for the governor’s office.

The new regulations, approved by the Nevada Tax Commission on Monday, prohibit marijuana dispensaries from selling the following for recreational use in Nevada:
* Any products that contain any more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose or more than 100 milligrams of THC per package.
* Any products that appear to be lollipops, ice cream or are modeled after a brand of products marketed to children.
* Any products that look like real or fictional characters or cartoons.
* Any products that apply THC to candy or snack foods other dried fruit, nuts or granola.
* Any cookie or brownie products that are not in a sealed, opaque bag.
* Any products that have images of cartoon characters, action figures, toys, balloons or mascots on the labeling.
Existing packaging that has such images must be covered by a sticker, label, or permanent marker so the image is completely obscured, according to a Department of Taxation email sent out to dispensaries on Wednesday.

Products being stored outside of consumer view do not need to have the images covered until they are placed on display or immediately prior to sale.
“From day one, we want to make sure that potency, packaging and labeling are strict from the start,” said Stephanie Klapstein, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Taxation. The last-minute regulations also require packaging to have “THIS IS A MARIJUANA PRODUCT” in bold type, as well as the words “Keep out of reach of children” and a list of all ingredients.  The restrictions overlap with many of those detailed in legislation sponsored by Sen. Patricia Farley, Nonpartisan-Las Vegas, and passed by lawmakers earlier this month, but only some sections of the law go into effect July 1. Other portions go into effect on Oct. 1 and others go into effect in 2020.

Edibles, which come in the form of everything from gummy snacks to chocolate bars, often have potent doses of THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Consumers usually have significantly delayed reactions. While the emergency regulations are a costly inconvenience for many dispensaries, they are aimed at keeping pot out of the hands of Nevada’s youth. Though the law is written so that only adults 21 and over are allowed to purchase recreational marijuana, states such as Colorado have reported a post-legalization increase in minors’ visits to the emergency room as a result of edibles intake.  The Department of Taxation is hiring four compliance and audit officers, as well as four inspectors, to uphold regulations. The department has not yet disclosed which dispensaries will receive recreational marijuana dispensary licenses, which allow them to begin sales as early as July 1. Sales through December will qualify as part of the state’s six-month early start program, which ends in December. Permanent regulations will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Florida expands medical marijuana program

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month. Lawmakers passed the measure (Sb8A) in a special session after failing in their regular session that ended in May to implement a constitutional amendment legalizing the drug, which was supported by 71 percent of voters last year. Under the constitutional amendment, patients with a host of conditions can buy and use medical marijuana. Among the conditions that qualify for the drug: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and epilepsy. The new law also sets in motion a plan to license 10 new companies as growers by October, bringing the statewide total to 17.
It allows patients to use cannabis pills, oils, edibles and “vape” pens with a doctor’s approval, but bans smoking.

“The constitutional amendment was passed overwhelmingly, and I’m glad the House and Senate were able to come together for a bill that makes sense for our state,” Scott said earlier this month. Lawsuits are likely to follow. John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who bankrolled the constitutional amendment’s campaign, has promised to sue over the smoking ban, and Tampa strip club magnate Joe Redner said he will file a suit because people cannot grow their own plants. “Great Scott,” Morgan said Friday after hearing that Scott signed the bill. “It’s a no-brainer. Gov. Scott wants to run for U.S. Senate. If he didn’t sign this bill, he couldn’t run for dog catcher.

“It’s not perfect. I’m going to sue for the smoking but I know there are sick people who will see relief starting in July.’’ The marijuana law was among 38 bills Scott signed Friday afternoon.

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.

Volunteers needed to smoke pot for science

By Taylor Nadauld
Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Researchers at Washington State University need volunteers for a study to develop a breathalyzer for pot.

The breathalyzer would need to accurately detect “acute exposure” to tetrahydrocannabinol, WSU Professor Emeritus Nicholas Lovrich, doctoral candidate Peyton Nosbusch and City Councilor and research assistant Nathan Weller told the Pullman League of Women Voters on Thursday afternoon.

As part of the study, volunteers will be asked to answer questions regarding food, drink and other edibles they have recently consumed before being asked to give preliminary blood, breath and oral fluid samples at Pullman Regional Hospital, Lovrich told the League during a Brown Bag meeting at the Community Congregational United Church of Christ.

Participants will then be asked to purchase marijuana from a state-licensed retail store and smoke it in a private residence until a personal self-assessed high is reached. They will then return to the hospital by taxi to give additional bodily samples.

As an optional step, participants will also be asked to interact with law enforcement volunteers and allow them to conduct the standard field sobriety test.

If successful, the study could aid in the development of a field procedure for the detection of the presence of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, and eventually help prevent vehicle accidents or deaths due to drug-impaired driving.

Lovrich discussed a THC detection device with the League back in December 2015 with then-doctoral candidate Jessica Tufariello.

He and Herbert H. Hill, a WSU professor and longtime ion researcher, have been researching development of a detector since 2010, Lovrich said.

At the time, he said, the number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol in Washington had been decreasing steadily, though cases of driving under the influence of illicit drugs had increased.

If the breathalyzer – ion mobility spectrometer – used to collect breath samples is proven to be reliable in detecting THC during the experiment, Lovrich said that information could then be passed on either to the company that makes the breathalyzer or to another company to re-engineer the device to become smaller and more durable. Lovrich said WSU would benefit financially by patent rights and associated royalties and use fees.

If the research is positive, and police worldwide start using the WSU patented device, Lovrich said, then the WSU administration will say, “Wow, that’s a pretty good investment. Maybe we should keep investing in medicines and then tools that people need for workplace and school and roadside safety.”

The study is sponsored by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and will be conducted in conjunction with the Pullman Police Department.

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.