California – Taxes and More

Seller’s Market

While you’ve been able to light up legally since November 2016 (not just anywhere, though; for more on that, keep reading), you haven’t been able to saunter into a shop and buy the stuff over the counter for expressly recreational (officially called “adult-use”) purposes. To sell pot and its products legally, retailers need to have a license issued by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (formerly known as the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation) as well as permission from local authorities to operate. Alex Traverso, the bureau’s chief of communications, says his department “won’t know until the time comes” how many applicants there’ll be by New Year’s Day (although a 2016 California Department of Food and Agriculture survey found 2,718 companies interested in seeking licenses in L.A. County). The state is also prepping temporary licenses, good for four months, to go to existing dispensaries that can prove they’re in compliance with local regulations. In the city of Los Angeles, applications from existing medical marijuana dispensaries will get priority, provided they’re submitted within 60 days of when licenses become available (the city hasn’t yet determined when it will start issuing them). And, under proposed guidelines released in September, cannabis delivery will be available.

Corner Shop

As for what types of stores you can expect to see, Josh Drayton, the communications and outreach director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, says to think more boutique and less neon-and-bong head shop. “The consumer has changed,” he notes, “and modern brick-and-mortar dispensaries are turning into well-organized showrooms and lounges. My marker has always been, ‘Would I bring my mother into this space?’ ”

Adult Use Vs. Medical

In June 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making regulations the same for recreational and medical marijuana. But distinctions between the two will remain. Beginning with cultivation, cannabis will be slapped with either an A for adult-use or an M for medical use, and all businesses involved in the cannabis industry will receive an A license or an M license; retailers have the option of being dual licensees. People with a medical card should hang onto it because medical marijuana will still be available to patients 18 and older. Plus, says Jolene Forman, a staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance , some strains and some shops will continue to cater specifically to patients’ needs. “That will ultimately be really good for medical patients because it preserves strains that are meant to alleviate symptoms,” she notes. “For instance, for the most part you’re probably not going to see a lot of topical remedies in the A category, but topical remedies for muscle spasms or chronic pain are common.”


Whether your purchases are to ease pain or boost pleasure, they’re likely to be in cash for the near term: Since the federal government deems pot illegal, banks have been loath to provide cannabis-related operations credit. Recreational users in L.A. will pay a 15 percent state excise tax as well as a 9.5 percent county sales tax. Some areas will charge an additional business tax, and there are taxes associated with growing, distributing, and selling, too. (Patients with a valid medical card will be exempt from sales tax. ) Economists estimate that those fees could bring $1 billion in revenue to the state, and according to City Controller Ron Galperin, L.A. could bring in at least $50 million in tax revenue next year.

After the government takes a piece of that cash to cover its costs, the money will be spread around, including:

• $2 million to the UC San Diego Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research

• $3 million a year for five years to the California Highway Patrol to establish DUI protocols

• $10 million every year until 2028 to a California public university for legalization-related research

• $10 million in 2018 to areas disproportionately affected by criminalization. The figure will grow by $10 million a year and remain at $50 million in 2022 and beyond

Of any remaining funds, 60 percent will go toward drug education, treatment, and prevention for youth; 20 percent will be distributed to state and local law enforcement; and 20 percent will be put toward cleaning up environmental damage caused by pre-regulation grow operations.

Fines and Penalties

As of November 9, 2016, the fine for driving with an open cannabis “container” (what defines a container is anybody’s guess) is up to $250. In September 2017, Governor Brown took it a step further by signing a bill that specifies a $70 fine for smoking or consuming marijuana while driving. And those people you see vaping on the sidewalk? They are indeed breaking the law. Smoking in public carries a $100 fine that jumps to $250 for smoking in places where tobacco is banned (think: restaurants and offices, in front of certain buildings). Selling weed without a license or having more than the allowable amount of cannabis carries a penalty of $500, six months in jail, or both. Finally anyone caught selling to a minor faces three to seven years.

Ohio – CBD oil legalization update

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation legalizing medication derived from a specific strain of marijuana that is used to treat seizures.

House Bill 33 would allow Ohio physicians to prescribe an oil infused with a marijuana strain rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis; and low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound that produces a high. One such strain, nicknamed Charlotte’s Web, has become sought-after by parents to reduce the frequency of intense seizures in their children.

Seizure patients would be able to legally possess and use an extract of the strain and to participate in clinical trials for cannabis.

The legislation makes the plant available to doctors at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Bill sponsor Rep. Wes Retherford, a Hamilton Republican, said the legislation is narrowly targeted to help families battling epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Retherford said his friend travels to another state to get the medication for his young daughter, who is now able to have a conversation, learn the alphabet and go about life without as much interruption from seizures.

“Everything I’ve seen and read about the use of cannabinoid oil for childhood epilepsy is it seems to have a positive effect on families that use it,” Retherford said. “That in and of itself is worthy of having the discussion in Ohio.”

Retherford said he does not favor legalizing marijuana for wider medical or recreational use, in part because the effects have not been widely studied. The bill would allow university and children’s hospitals to research marijuana for medical purposes, positioning Ohio to be a resource for other states weighing legalization.

Democratic Rep. John Rogers of Mentor-on-the-Lake signed on as a joint sponsor. The list of co-sponsors includes members from both sides of the aisle in the GOP-controlled House: Republican Reps. Andy Thompson of Marietta, Terry Boose of Norwalk, Kristina Roegner of Hudson, and Andrew Brenner of Powell; Democratic Reps. Michael Sheehy of Toledo, Heather Bishoff of Blacklick and Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown.

“This isn’t a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal issue,” Retherford said. “This is a issue of a naturally occurring, non-addictive, non-hallucinogenic medication that can possibly make the lives of thousands of children in the state of Ohio better.”

Florida passed similar legislation last year. Ohio would be the 12th state to legalize low THC, high CBD products for medical use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for wider medical use.

New York – MMJNEWS update

N.Y. lawmakers want faster medical-marijuana process

ALBANY Members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration met this week with about a dozen advocates for medical marijuana as some lawmakers call on him to speed up the state’s issuance of the plant*.

Deputy Secretary for Health Courtney Burke and Howard Zucker, acting commission of the state Department of Health, were among those who met Monday with the advocates, all of whom were active in convincing Cuomo and lawmakers to approve the state’s new medical-marijuana law in June.

Late last week, the sponsors of the bill wrote to Cuomo, urging him to consider different ways to get the drug to terminally ill patients more quickly. Under the new law, the Department of Health has 18 months to get the state’s medical-marijuana system up and running.

Kate Hintz, a resident of North Salem, Westchester County, said the purpose of the meeting was to keep lines of communication open with advocates as the state begins to implement its program.

“I’m pleased that they have opened a dialogue with advocates and parents, such as myself,” said Hintz, who was part of the meeting Monday. “I think that there are ways that we can safely and efficaciously provide medicine sooner than an 18 month time period.”

Hintz’ daughter Morgan, 3, suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. She suffers from multiple seizures a day while adhering to a strict diet, and her mother is hopeful an oil-based marijuana derivative could help calm the condition.

State lawmakers passed the medical-marijuana bill in June, and Cuomo signed it into law soon after. It allows the drug in non-smokeable form for patients who suffer from serious diseases or conditions — including HIV and epilepsy — and gives broad authority to the Department of Health to regulate it.

Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan—who were the prime sponsors of the medical-marijuana bill—sent a letter Saturday to Cuomo, pressuring him to take action to get the drug to epileptic children and the terminally ill sooner.

The letter was also signed by Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo. It came in response to the death earlier this month of Anna Conte, a 9-year-old girl from the Buffalo area who suffered from Dravet Syndrome and whose parents lobbied lawmakers to pass the law.

“We saw that during that time, some number of Dravet Syndrome babies will die,” the lawmakers wrote. “Other patients’ conditions will worsen and some will die. We must get relief to these children sooner than that. This is a public health emergency.”
The lawmakers urged Cuomo to push to allow the state to obtain marijuana from other states in order to get it to patients in dire need.

But, they acknowledge, there’s a potential problem: The federal government doesn’t allow the drug to be transported across state lines.
In Buffalo on Monday, Cuomo said his office is “looking at” the issue.
“We want to do it as quickly as possible, but we need to do it right,” Cuomo said. “We have an 18-month timeframe in the legislation that was passed. If it can be accelerated safely, then we will do that.”

*I changed word ‘drug’ to ‘plant’. RESPECT!

New Mexico – Hearing set for proposed medical marijuana changes

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposed revision of the state’s medical marijuana program is drawing opposition from advocates who say new fees and other changes would make it harder for New Mexicans to obtain the marijuana they need for conditions ranging from cancer to chronic pain.

The Health Department has scheduled a hearing Monday for public comments on changes it’s considering.

The Drug Policy Alliance objects to a proposal that individuals in the program pay a yearly $50 fee or $25 if they are eligible for Medicaid.

The state proposes to reduce the number of plants that individuals can have for growing marijuana, but triple the plants allowed for nonprofit producers that supply most of the 11,000 New Mexicans in the program.

The department has no deadline for a final decision on proposed changes.

North Carolina – Lawmaker files bill legalizing cannabis oil

There’s a movement led by mothers and fathers in North Carolina to get legislation passed that would legalize CBD oil — a strain of the marijuana plant believed to reduce seizures in epileptic children.

State Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret County) introduced legislation Tuesday afternoon hoping to do just that. The bill allows the use of hemp oil for patients who suffer from “intractable seizures.”

McElraft insists the “Hope 4 Haley and Friends” bill does not legalize medical marijuana, rather “this is only a medicine for these children so that they can develop motor skills.”

“I am adamantly opposed to marijuana, to the legalization of marijuana,” McElraft said. “This is a hemp oil bill that’s high in CBD, which is the healing part of the brain. But it’s very low on THC — less than 0.3 percent. You can drink a whole bottle of it and never get high.”

The bill will have to go through two committees before it goes up for a vote in the House. If it passes the Hours, it will go to the Senate and then Gov. Pat McCrory.

“I am so excited that hopefully we’re going to find something that will make their lives happy again and where these babies these children are able to get through a day without a seizure,” McElraft said.

Some families say they have been waiting years for this moment, and they are anxious, nervous and excited all at the same time. Moreover, because lawmakers weren’t moving fast enough, several of them have already moved out to Colorado where it’s legal.

The Carlins’ daughter has a severe form of epilepsy and none of her medications have been working, so they have been waiting and hoping for a lawmaker to take up their cause.

“The seizures are ripping apart her liver, her internals, and it’s just doing so much damage to her,” Steve Carlin said, adding that he is at his wits end.

Liz Gorman moved with her daughter to Colorado away from her husband in Raleigh after hearing about CBD oil through other families with epileptic children.

“It’s not fair to make her have to be separated from her father any more than we already do as part of his military career,” Gorman said.

Dylan Morley also moved out to Colorado Springs, but from Wilmington. He said, “I’d like to see the legislators really educated on the subject.”

The Gormans and the Morleys will also be paying close attention this week to McElraft’s bill. If passed, they said they might come back home.

For the Carlins, if the bill doesn’t pass, they plan on moving to Colorado.

“I can’t wait around any longer. Tomorrow can be her last, every day can be her last day. Every two weeks I’m reading about a kid with Dravet Syndrome, or LGS, dying,” Carlin said.

A family from Raleigh, is also in the process of moving to Colorado. George Dabaghi and his family are planning to leave July 1st, and said they can’t wait for lawmakers to decide. “Nothing’s worked on Michael. We’ve tried for six years. Today has been rough. He’s pretty much had five hundred seizures today alone.”

George Dabaghi said if the bill passes, his family will move back to North Carolina, because all of their friends, family, and support system is already here.

When we spoke to a few lawmakers about the bill, representatives like Jimmy Dixon from Duplin County said he would support it despite being against anything related to Marijuana, because he trusts Representative McElraft’s judgement. “I would give serious pause and consideration to those things she introduces” said Dixon.

Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg County) also introduced a broader medical marijuana bill last week that covers CBD oil as well.

IOWA – Governor promises to sign bill …

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Friday he will sign a bill legalizing the use of oil derived from marijuana to treat chronic epilepsy but hasn’t made a decision on legislation that could change the scope of greyhound racing in the state.

Speaking on the public television program “Iowa Press,” Branstad promised to sign the marijuana bill next week.

The legislation requires patients with chronic epilepsy and their caregivers to acquire a registration card through Iowa’s Department of Public Health, per a written recommendation from a neurologist. The oil would have to be obtained in another state that produces it. The bill limits the amount of oil that can be in a patient or caregiver’s possession at any given time.

Branstad said he supports the measure because of its narrow focus and applicability to a small number of people in need. He said families with children suffering from severe epileptic seizures convinced him of the bill’s importance and that he believes the oil can help them.

However, Branstad warned against “unintended consequences” that the bill’s passage might bring and said he intends to maintain only this limited use of medical marijuana use in the state.

“I think it would be a mistake to look at now expanding it to a whole bunch of other things,” Branstad said after the taping. “I think we need to look at this as a very careful experiment that we and other states like Utah and Alabama are doing and see if it really does have the efficacy that the families hope that it has.”

Branstad said he also intends to sign bills to regulate the use of unmanned aerial drones and ban the sale and use of e-cigarettes for minors. He said he’s still considering legislation to end greyhound racing at a track in Council Bluffs but allow it to continue in Dubuque. His concern there, he said, is that the legislation leaves out the horse industry.

Branstad plans to sign his Home Base Iowa initiative on Memorial Day. The measure offers tax and job incentives to make Iowa more attractive for veterans.

Illinois approves medical marijuana access for kids with epilepsy

Illinois has finally given the go signal for children with epilepsy to use medical marijuana for treating their condition following the approval of the House to expand the state’s medical pot law to include minors with epilepsy.

On Wednesday, the Illinois House approved Senate Bill 2636, which proposed to add epilepsy to the list of treatable diseases that are included in the state’s medical marijuana pilot program and which would allow epileptic patients below 18 years old to use the oil from the cannabis plant to treat their condition.

Prior to the decision of the house to give epileptic children access to medical marijuana, only residents of Illinois who are at least 18 years old can use marijuana for medical purposes. The bill was approved by the members of the House with a vote of 98-18. Several lawmakers who were initially against the marijuana law also supported the legislation.

Those opposed to the bill contend that this could expose children to marijuana. Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who sponsored the bill, however, said that the legislation would help many children who suffer from epilepsy.

“These people are not interested in getting high. These are folks that are interested in alleviating their seizures,” Lang said.

The state’s senate has already approved the bill earlier this year but due to amendments that would prevent children from smoking and buying medical marijuana, the bill will go back to the senate for review.

Although the potent use of cannabis as treatment for epilepsy remains a subject of debate, parents of epileptic children who push for the medical use of marijuana claim that the oil from the plant can help reduce seizures. Experts also find the effect of marijuana on epileptic children promising.

Edward Maa, from the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Denver Health in Colorado, cited one case of a child with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy whose seizures were reduced from 50 convulsion a day to as little as two per month after he was given a strain of cannabis that is high in Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to supplement his antiepileptic drugs.

Maria Roberta Cilio, from the Pediatric Epilepsy of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospital , however, said that although there is a critical need for new therapies for epilepsy, it is crucial that the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana be thoroughly investigated.