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.

Update – California – Part 2

On Friday, the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation released the first draft of its proposed rules for the state’s medical marijuana industry.

The over 54 pages of guidelines, sets standards for how the commercial-grade side of medical marijuana will be regulated. It goes as far as detailing how it must be stored, transported, tested, tracked and sold.

Don’t get too heated- the next 45 days is known as “the comment period” of these proposed rules where concerned parties; like industry leaders, law enforcement, marijuana entrepreneurs, politicians and most importantly, YOU- patients and the general public. Keep in mind these rules only apply to medical cannabis… they could however be replaced or applied to rules for the adult-use marijuana rules released last month by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Although only looked at as a draft… It is likely that this will be what we will get on Jan. 1, 2018, when the rules go into effect.

 

Highlights:

“*Marijuana businesses in operation on Jan. 2, 2018 have until July 2018 to apply for a permit and can stay open until their permit is processed.

*Permits can’t be bought or sold. If a marijuana business is sold, the new owner needs to apply for a new permit.

*Marijuana sold in the state—won’t be subject to mandatory lab testing until six months after a seller receives a permit, or by the end of the year, whichever is sooner.

*No cannabis can be sold on consignment—good news for marijuana producers, in theory.

*Marijuana businesses must have a “labor-peace agreement,” allowing union organizers to try to sign up marijuana workers.

*You’ll be able to patronize your local cop-owned cannabis dispensary. Cops can operate a marijuana business, as long as it’s located in a different county from where they patrol the streets.

*No free samples. There’s a strict prohibition on handing out weed for free, meaning the free pre-roll for first-time customers may be a thing of the past. This would apply to free dabs as well. There’s a similar ban on other license-holders giving away product, spelling bad news for the demo days (and free dabs!) that many marijuana brands use to build their customer base.

*The rules also seem to spell bad news for businesses like the self-styled “Uber of marijuana,” delivery startup Eaze. No deliveries can come via a third-party, all deliveries must be performed by an employee of the dispensary.” – Cannahoo.Com

All drafted regulations can be read in full here

California update

 

 

The Brown administration on Friday released draft regulations for the sale and use of medical marijuana in California, beginning a process that is likely to see changes sought by some in the industry, law enforcement and state legislators.

For instance, the Legislature has to determine how to merge the rules for medical pot with regulations approved by the voters in November legalizing the sale of recreational cannabis.

“The broad objectives of these proposed regulations are to create a state licensed and regulated commercial cannabis market,” the rules said. “The specific benefits anticipated are increased protection of the public and the environment from the harms associated with an unregulated commercial cannabis market.”

The rules require applicants for licenses to grow, transport and sell marijuana for medical use to get a license from the state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation and undergo a background check.

People who transport marijuana between farms and dispensaries would be prohibited from owning that pot, according to the rules, and they must be 21 or older.

Dispensaries would have to use a track-and-trace system to monitor activity involving the cannabis they sell.

The new rules say cannabis edibles must be sold in child-resistant, opaque packaging and have no more than 10 milligrams of THC per serving. Dispensaries will be restricted to operating from 6 am to 9 pm

Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) objected Friday that proposed changes to the law approved in 2015 by the Legislature “are not just a problem for lawmakers, but actually are in violation of how Proposition 64 described how the two systems of law would operate side-by-side.”

The state has scheduled four hearings on the proposed rules, including one for 10 a.m. June 8 at the Junipero Serra Building in Los Angeles.

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.