Measure M – Los Angeles

 

Marijuana advocates rejoiced this week with the passage of Measure M, a Los Angeles city ordinance that takes shop pot shops out of legal limbo with the state and opens the door for greater industry regulation and growth.
“This is huge for the country,” said Virgil Grant, the president of the LA-based marijuana advocacy group the Southern California Coalition, according to KPCC. “Everybody is sitting back, looking at what move the number one cannabis producing state and city is going to do. And we’re gonna deliver.”

But the budding battle is not over yet: a ruling from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors next week could decide the fate of marijuana stores across Southern California.

A showdown between marijuana trade groups and the City Council seemed imminent on the March 7 ballot. Mayor Eric Garcetti and council members had proposed Measure M which affirmed the powers of the city government to oversee, permit, and tax the Los Angeles marijuana market. Officials say this was intended to bring about 135 LA shops into compliance after the state launched the dispensary licensing process but the city had no system in place.

The United Cannabis Business Alliance, a collection of marijuana dispensaries, had organized an alternative called Measure N on the same ballot. It gave preference to the existing 135 stores in the licensing process. The group ultimately threw their support behind Measure M, though their proposal still appeared on the ballot and was rejected by voters.

With the industry and the government officials reaching an agreement — and now approved by almost 80 percent of voters — the regulations could be put in place as soon as this fall. Measure M established tax rates and criminal penalties for unauthorized cannabis activities, but the city still has to decide on the qualifications for cannabis business owners, locations of the storefronts, industry advertising, and more.

Pot advocates still have to sort through regulation on the county level. Marijuana stores in unincorporated LA County are at risk of a unilateral shutdown by the sheriff’s office while the government figures out its licensing plan.
“Our biggest thing right now is showing them that it’s a bad policy to go closing the dispensaries,” said Jonatan Cvetko, who co-founded a group of marijuana industry stakeholders in unincorporated LA County called Angeles Emeralds. “To do that several months prior to having the regulations rolling out doesn’t make any sense.”

Cvetko, who works with marijuana providers, said that cultivators, dispensaries, and other members of the industry are working together to prove their potential to the county. “All the different operators have realized we do need each other and we need to stick together to make this work,” he said.
Representatives of the District Attorney and the sheriff were scheduled to report to the LA County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, but Cvetko said that the presentation had been postponed until March 14.

Editorial/Opinion Artic-Florida MMJ

Editorial: Regulations on medical marijuana must make access easy

 

 

Medical marijuana is now legal in Florida for a number of debilitating ailments such as HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder and Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s in the state Constitution, thanks to Amendment 2, swept in by 71 percent of voters in November.

But the law, enacted on Jan. 3, has barely gone into effect. Under the amendment’s terms, the Florida Legislature is supposed to draw up regulations by July 3 which are to go into effect by Sept. 3. Meantime, the state Department of Health (DOH) is drafting interim rules while the Legislature crafts a more lasting law — and so far the proposals fall far short of what the Florida public is looking for.

The shortcomings became clear earlier this month when Department of Health officials held hearings in Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee. Almost 1,300 people turned out to press for far less restrictive access to a medical form of marijuana. And they let their displeasure fly.

“You are the Office of Compassionate Use,” said a Tallahassee participant named Josephine Canella-Krehl, according to WFSU News. “We are the 71.3 percent. Hear. Us. Roar.”

Why the outcry? Let’s start with how the marijuana is to be grown, processed and sold as oil and pills to patients. The department’s idea is to leave that solely in the hands of seven licensed grower/distributors – those already chosen under the narrower medical marijuana law passed by the Legislature in 2014.

A bill proposed by state Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, (SB 406) would keep that framework, though five more licenses would be issued within six months of there being 250,000 patients in the state.

Whether seven or a dozen, limiting the entire medical marijuana industry to that small universe of companies is bound to be inadequate for the huge number of potential patients in this state. The lid is likely to keep prices artificially high. And it’s surely contrary to the usual conservative demand that government stay out of the free market.

A better idea comes from Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who has filed a bill (SB 614) that would break up the monopoly system that now requires a single company to grow, process, transport and dispense medical marijuana. The bill would eliminate a cap on the number of medical marijuana treatment centers in the state, but limit licenses to one for every 25,000 people in a county.

Another doozy of a proposal from DOH officials would require doctors to wait 90 days after first seeing a patient before they can write a medical marijuana prescription. This is taking bureaucracy to the point of cruelty. Yes, the state has an interest in ensuring that prescriptions be written for the genuinely ill. But why force someone with a painful cancer to wait three months for relief?

Perversely, that doctor could, in the meantime, legally prescribe an addictive opioid. We know from our current heroin crisis how well that can work out.

Yet another DOH regulation would limit the ailments covered by medical marijuana to the 10 “debilitating medical conditions” listed in the amendment. The state Board of Medicine would have to approve any changes — even though Amendment 2 says doctors can prescribe the drug whenever they think it’s appropriate.

Whatever happened to the insistence that government never get between doctors and patients? Or does that apply only when criticizing Obamacare?

So far, we’re seeing too many regulatory proposals that seem designed to offer medical marijuana in the most begrudging way: limit this, prolong that.

What we need are rules that reflect the spirit of the amendment: to make medical marijuana as easily and widely available as possible for the hundreds of thousands of sick Floridians who are impatient for it.

Vermont lawmakers consider marijuana legalization …again

Legal pot is back on the table in Vermont.

After a legalization bill that would have created a structure similar to Colorado’s system failed last year, a new bill would legalize up to 1 ounce of marijuana and allow Vermonters to grow several plants for personal use.

The new bill is simpler, by design.

Republican Rep. Tom Burditt, one of the bill’s sponsors, says the more conservative the proposal is, the more it will be appealing to other lawmakers.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has raised concerns about legalization.

Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley says any marijuana legalization bill would have to address public safety concerns, including law enforcement’s ability to test for impairment and to keep roads safe.


Last year, the legislative push to legalize marijuana suffered a rather quick demise in the Vermont House. But this year’s body appears more receptive to the proposal, and a bill introduced this week would legalize possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis. Rather than create a legal commercial market for the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana, the House bill simply legalizes possession of up to 2 ounces or less. It would also allow for the cultivation of up to two mature marijuana plants, and seven immature plants.

“The majority of Vermonters do want to see legalization, but really on what some have described as a Vermont scale, to begin with anyway,” says Rep. Chip Conquest, a Democrat from Wells River, another of the bill’s three co-sponsors.

Conquest says the decriminalization bill passed by lawmakers in 2013 has created some shaky legal ground. That law made possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by a fine.

“And I think the next logical step is to simple acknowledge that there’s some irrationality in that system, right? We’re still asking people to break the law, in a way, in order to do what they’ve been doing,” Conquest says.

Rep. Maxine Grad is the Democratic chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the third lead sponsor of the legalization bill. Grad says the proposal is a part of a broader criminal-justice reform effort.

“And it fits into our work of … looking at the criminal justice system and where are we spending our resources, how are we spending them, and what results we’re getting,” Grad says.

The bill would also lessen criminal penalties for possession of quantities in excess of 2 ounces. And separate legislation would make possession of small amounts of heroin or cocaine a misdemeanor, instead of a felony.

Grad says the decriminalization policy still invites conflict between the public and the police, since law enforcement is supposed to issue tickets for possession.

“It perpetuates that relationship, that tension, in terms of traffic stops, in terms of arrests, other things,” Grad says. “And we really need to enhance our community policing.”

Laura Subin, the director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, calls the House bill an “exciting step forward for Vermont.”

She says she hopes lawmakers will follow it up with a tax-and-regulate model that allows for commercial cultivation and retail sales.

“Because with regulation comes the opportunities for people to know the potency in the product they’re getting, for us to raise revenues for law enforcement, for drug treatment, for education for our young people,” Subin says.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott says he’s not opposed to legalization, but that he has concerns about highway safety and edibles. He said Thursday he’d be willing to consider the House plan.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he’s glad to see the House embracing the legalization concept. And he says the Senate will be eager to take up whatever the House ultimately passes.

California ….Legalization Delayed?

Everybody knows that Cali legalized last year so why aren’t there any shops licensed under Prop64 yet? Seems there is a bit of a mess, and we are hoping it doesn’t take too much longer to get the ball rolling. So many people have plans to celebrate 420 in CALIFORNIA this year, let’s make sure they have an enjoyable experience!!!!!

 

Below is an excerpt from the LATIMES…

LATIMES.COM

 

Amid concerns that California may not be ready to issue licenses for the sale of marijuana by next year, one state lawmaker raised the possibility Thursday of the Legislature stepping in to delay taxes and permits.

At a hearing Thursday, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee heard testimony from Legislative Analyst’s Office representatives who said it is unclear whether the Trump administration will enforce federal laws that designate pot as an illegal drug, complicating California’s rollout of Proposition 64, which legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), chairwoman of the committee, said she was concerned about banks being unwilling to handle marijuana sales revenue because the drug is still illegal under federal law, which could require license holders to transport large amounts of cash to pay state taxes and fees.

“Does the Legislature have the authority to delay implementation of either the tax collection or the Jan. 1 due date with regard to licensing?” Mitchell asked attorneys at the hearing. “Do we have the authority to pause this process given its complexity, given the lack of clear sense of direction from the federal government at this point?”

Proposition 64 sets an excise tax at 15% for the sale of marijuana, but the state can delay collection of the tax while it puts in place a secure system for handling large amounts of revenue, according to Richard Miadich, an attorney who helped write the initiative.

The initiative requires the state to issue licenses for the sale of marijuana for recreational use by Jan. 1, 2018. But the state could decide to issue provisional licenses until it is ready to implement the detailed process for background checks and issuing more permanent licenses, Miadich said.

The panel took no action Thursday.

State finance officials estimate 4.8 million Californians will buy pot at the start of the new legalization system, with taxes to the state growing from $600 million in two years to nearly $1 billion by fiscal year 2021-22.

Arizona – Prop 205

What the Initiative Does:

  • It allows adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and consume marijuana in private.
  • It allows adults to grow up to six marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space within their residences and possess the marijuana produced by those plants in the location where it was grown. No more than 12 total marijuana plants can be grown in a single residence. Property owners and landlords will have the right to prohibit marijuana from being grown on their property.
  • It establishes the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to oversee a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana retail stores, licensed cultivation facilities, licensed product manufacturing facilities, and licensed testing facilities. The department will include a law enforcement unit that will be responsible for enforcing regulations, conducting compliance checks, and investigating violations.
  • It allows a limited number of licensed marijuana retail stores to sell marijuana to adults 21 years of age and older. The number of retail stores will be capped at 10 percent of the number of liquor store licenses, which is currently fewer than 180.
  • It allows localities to impose limits on where and when marijuana businesses are allowed to operate.
  • It requires businesses to test marijuana products and adhere to strict packaging and labeling guidelines.
  • It enacts a 15% excise tax on retail marijuana sales, which will be used to fund the implementation and enforcement of regulations. Any additional marijuana tax revenue will be allocated as follows: 40% to the Department of Education for school construction, maintenance, and operating costs; 40% to the Department of Education for full-day kindergarten programs; and 20% to the Department of Health Services for public education regarding the relative harms of alcohol, marijuana, and other substances.

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What the Initiative Does NOT Do:

  • It does NOT allow marijuana to be used in public. Public use will remain illegal.
  • It does NOT change existing penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana or cultivation of more than six marijuana plants. It will also remain entirely illegal to sell any amount of marijuana without the proper business license.
  • It does NOT allow unlicensed individuals to produce marijuana extracts using butane or other potentially hazardous products.
  • It does NOT affect employers’ current marijuana policies or their ability to establish workplace restrictions on marijuana consumption by employees.
  • It does NOT change existing laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana. Driving while impaired by marijuana will remain illegal.
  • It does NOT enact a tax on the sale of medical marijuana or affect the rights of medical marijuana patients that were established by Proposition 203.

California – updated/edited with full text of #Prop64

FULL TEXT OF PROP 64 HERE

California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, will be on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as an initiated state statute. Supporters refer to the initiative as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act”.

A “yes” vote supports legalizing recreational marijuana and hemp under state law and establishing certain sales and cultivation taxes.
A “no” vote opposes this proposal legalizing recreational marijuana and hemp under state law and establishing certain sales and cultivation taxes. (Ballotpedia.org)

 

Ballot summary
The long-form ballot summary is as follows:
Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older.
Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry.
Imposes state excise tax of 15% on retail sales of marijuana, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.
Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation.
Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products.
Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana directly to minors.
Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana.
Authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

The shorter ballot label summary is as follows:
Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older. Imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation. Fiscal Impact: Additional tax revenues ranging from high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually, mostly dedicated to specific purposes. Reduced criminal justice costs of tens of millions of dollars annually.
The long-form, official ballot summary for Proposition 64 was changed from the initial summary provided to initiative proponents for the purpose of circulating the initiative for signature collection. The original summary provided for inclusion on signature petition sheets was:

Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry. Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

 

CON’T

SOURCE: BALLOTPEDIA.ORG

Initiative design

Who could use marijuana?

Proposition 64 would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 years or older. Smoking would be permitted in a private home or at a business licensed for on-site marijuana consumption. Smoking would remain illegal while driving a vehicle, anywhere smoking tobacco is, and in all public places. Up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana would be legal to possess. However, possession on the grounds of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present would remain illegal. An individual would be permitted to grow up to six plants within a private home, as long as the area is locked and not visible from a public place.[5]

Who could sell marijuana?

To sell marijuana for recreational use, businesses would need to acquire a state license. Local governments could also require them to obtain a local license. Businesses would not be authorized to sell within 600 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center.[5]

The initiative was also designed to prevent licenses for large-scale marijuana businesses for five years in order to prevent “unlawful monopoly power.”[6]

Who would regulate marijuana?

The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation would be renamed the Bureau of Marijuana Control. It would be responsible for regulating and licensing marijuana businesses.[5]

Counties and municipalities would be empowered to restrict where marijuana businesses could be located. Local governments could also completely ban the sale of marijuana from their jurisdictions.

How would marijuana be taxed?

Proposition 64 would create two new excise taxes on marijuana. One would be a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for certain medical marijuana sales and cultivation. The second would be a 15 percent tax on the retail price of marijuana. Taxes would be adjusted for inflation starting in 2020.[1]

Local governments would be authorized to levy taxes on marijuana as well.

Where would revenue be spent?

Revenue from the two taxes would be deposited in a new California Marijuana Tax Fund. First, the revenue would be used to cover costs of administrating and enforcing the measure. Next, it would be distributed to drug research, treatment, and enforcement, including:[1]

  • $2 million per year to the UC San Diego Center for Medical Cannabis Research to study medical marijuana.
  • $10 million per year for 11 years for public California universities to research and evaluate the implementation and impact of Proposition 64. Researchers would make policy-change recommendations to the California Legislature and California Governor.
  • $3 million annually for five years to the Department of the California Highway Patrol for developing protocols to determine whether a vehicle driver is impaired due to marijuana consumption.
  • $10 million, increasing each year by $10 million until settling at $50 million in 2022, for grants to local health departments and community-based nonprofits supporting “job placement, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, system navigation services, legal services to address barriers to reentry, and linkages to medical care for communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies.”

The remaining revenue would be distributed as follows:[1]

  • 60 percent for youth programs, including drug education, prevention, and treatment.
  • 20 percent to prevent and alleviate environmental damage from illegal marijuana producers.
  • 20 percent for programs designed to reduce driving under the influence of marijuana and a grant program designed to reduce negative impacts on health or safety resulting from the proposition.

What would penalties be?

Individuals under age 18 convicted of marijuana use or possession would be required to attend drug education or a counseling program and complete community service. Selling marijuana without a license would be punishable by up to six months in a county jail, a fine up to $500, or both.[5]

If Proposition 64 is approved, individuals serving sentences for activities made legal under the measure would be eligible for resentencing.

Augusta , Georgia 

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Since 2012, Georgia’s court system has dealt with more than 30,000 marijuana charges. State Senator Harold Jones says about 90 percent of those was for possession only.

“So we’re actually not catching the persons who are really doing the selling. Most of the persons who are being incarcerated, even if it’s for a short time, is just simply for possession,” says State Senator Jones.

For that reason, Jones, is pre-filing a bill that would reduce the possession charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, regardless of the amount of marijuana found on a person. Currently in Georgia, it is a felony if you’re charged with possession of an ounce or more of marijuana.

“What if you had a whole lot of marijuana on you? You still could be charged with possession with intent. This is only when you think a person is only possessing it for personal use,” says Jones.

Jones says his bill will not affect an already existing law, which makes it a felony to sell.

“Remember, it’s not selling it, that’s still illegal, that’s still a felony. It’s just having possession of it,” says Jones.

The Augusta area lawmaker says by reducing the charge to a misdemeanor, the state could save millions of dollars in court costs and incarceration expenses.

“Look at the type of resources that go into all of that. And what we’re saying is, maybe those resources can be used for other things, such as cyber-crimes, identity theft, things that are kinda blossoming,” says Jones.

Jones also believes the system should have a more rehabilitative approach, instead of punishing approach.

“If you’re charged with a felony and convicted, it can change your right to vote. It takes that away from you. It can take the possibility of getting scholarships. It can take the possibility of getting federal housing, so there are a lot of things that happen by getting that felony.”

Unlike most states, Georgia does not differentiate, for sentencing purposes, between possession for personal use and manufacture or sale. Jones believes this bill falls into Governor Nathan Deal’s initiative for criminal justice reform.