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.”

Taxes

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.

Idaho Senate Revises Cannabis Oil Bill 

    A bill fronted by Boise Republican Sen. Chuck Winder, which would legalize the use of medication derived from cannabis in the treatment of some forms of epilepsy, is advancing to the full Senate. 

    Other versions of the measure had stalled at the Idaho Statehouse, but the latest rewrite passed through the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday by a unanimous vote. 

    Winder’s bill would require the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to issue registration cards for users, and joins another bill from Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie that would also open the way for use of cannabis-derived medicine to treat seizure disorders.

    McKenzie’s bill, which would provide patients and caregivers with a legal defense if prosecuted for using or possessing cannabidiol, narrowly passed the State Affairs Committee on March 13. 

    Iowa – Medical marijuana at the forefront of legislative sessions

    MASON CITY, Iowa – The discussion of medical marijuana was at the forefront of legislative sessions last year in Iowa. Within the state they have approved the usage of medical marijuana, but not a way to obtain the medicine.

    On Saturday, State Rep. Sharon Steckman, (D) Mason City, and State Sen. Amanda Ragan (D) Mason City, hosted a legislative forum at the Mason City Public Library. One of the main topics covered during the morning was the discussion of making amendments to the medical marijuana bill that passed in 2014.

    Three north Iowa women used the forum as a platform to educate the public about the need to amend and recreate a cannabis oil law in the Hawkeye state. “The laws we have now aren’t sufficient,” says Mason City resident Amber Lenius.

    Amber tells us she suffers from a condition that causes her chronic and excruciating pain throughout her body. Claudia Tillman of Forest City was also present at the forum talking about her daughter who deals with symptoms and side effects from Ulcerative Colitis on a daily basis. Finally, Mason City resident Cassie Helland spoke about her young son who suffers from regular seizures because of his epilepsy.

    “The law that passed last year said that we could legally have it,” explains Helland, “but there’s no way that we could legally get it.” She says this is just one of the many roadblocks for the bill, and that another issue is not including other types of conditions that could benefit from the plant.

    Sen. Ragan says that because the legislation was so new for the state, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aired on the side of caution and wrote the law in a very conservative manner. “When you make a first step you have to do it with a lot of restrictions on and you need to make sure that you’re not making bad choices,” she explains, “but, we heard from a lot of folks today that [the law] really didn’t make much of a difference to them, and they gave us some suggestions and encouraged us to more research.”

    However, more research means more time that the bill won’t be ironed out in a way these women would like to see. Now, they’re left to think outside of the box, and even the state. “At this point, I mean, if something doesn’t happen, we may have to move,” says Helland.

    “It would mean uprooting myself, my husband, and my six-year-old daughter, and my two-year-old daughter, from our entire family, to a place that we don’t know, just so that I could have a chance to try something that might help my quality-of-life,” explains Lenius.

    Session reconvenes on Monday in Des Moines and as of right now, no changes have been made to the law.

    1 Charge Dropped against Minnesota Mom Who Gave Son Cannabis Oil

    A judge has dismissed one of two charges against a Minnesota woman who gave her son cannabis oil for chronic pain.

    Judge Thomas Van Hon tossed out a charge of child endangerment against Angela Brown of Madison.

    Brown still faces a charge of contributing to the need for child protection or services.

    Brown has said her 15-year-old son improved dramatically after being given the cannabis oil for pain that stems from a brain injury three years ago.

    The family bought the oil legally in Colorado, but medical marijuana doesn’t become legal in Minnesota until this July.

    Van Hon filed his omnibus order Thursday. Neither prosecutors nor Brown’s attorney immediately returned phone calls Friday.

    Atlanta – Georgia Lawmaker OFFICIALLY introduces a Bill Legalizing Cannabis Oil

    ATLANTA | A Georgia lawmaker will officially introduce a bill legalizing cannabis oil for people with cancer, seizure disorders and other chronic diseases on Monday as the General Assembly returns to action.

    Rep. Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon, had discussed a broader bill allowing in-state growth of marijuana to manufacture the oil with low levels of THC, the chemical that can cause a high feeling for marijuana users. But Peake described his official proposal as a compromise with Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who was unwilling to sign off on an in-state program.

    In his state of the state address this month, Deal said he hopes to sign a bill legalizing the oil by the end of the year. Peake wants to begin committee hearings this week.

    The compromise disappointed some Georgia parents of children with seizure disorders who moved to Colorado, where the oil is legal. They worry people will be unable to afford the travel or risk arrest when traveling through states where the product is not legal.

    Blaine Cloud, whose daughter Alaina has a seizure condition, told reporters they were “disheartened and frustrated” but said families owed Peake some support.

    “We need to get this bill passed so we can move on to the next fight,” he said.

    Peake said he’s working on several options to help people avoid arrest while traveling to buy the oil or those who can’t afford the trip. He said those include shipping low-THC products classified as hemp to Georgia or asking Deal to get a federal exemption allowing a state agency to obtain cannabis oil for ‘compassionate-need’ distribution.

    If all else fails, Peake volunteered himself for trips to Colorado and “a little civil disobedience.”

    “It may just be that it takes someone like me being arrested to show the lunacy of having a product sold legally in one state … but get arrested driving through Kansas,” he said. “You would not believe the number of volunteers who have said ‘I’ll go with you.’”

    The proposal also creates a commission to make recommendations by the end of the year about an in-state program to make and sell the product.

    House Speaker David Ralston has said he supports the proposal. An attempt to pass a similar bill last year failed when some lawmakers attached an unrelated bill requiring insurance coverage of children with autism.

    Missouri Bill Would Legalize Hemp Farming, Nullify Federal Ban

    A bill introduced in the Missouri State Senate would authorize the farming, production, and sale of industrial hemp in the state, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same once put into effect.

    Senate Bill 255 (SB255), introduced by State Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, would open up the industrial hemp market in Missouri if successfully passed. It would make it “legal for any person who maintains a permanent home in Missouri, has not been convicted of a felony or drug-related misdemeanor offense, and has received a three-year industrial hemp license from the Missouri Department of Agriculture to grow and cultivate industrial hemp.

    A person wishing to do so would also have to receive an agricultural hemp seed production permit from the department of agriculture.

    Missouri has the opportunity to join several other states – such as Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont – that have already passed similar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities.

    Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

    During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”.

    But, since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.

    Earlier in 2014, , President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”

    …allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

    SB255 goes a step further than what is currently ‘allowed’ by the feds by authorizing industrial development of the hemp plant. This is an essential first step forward. Similar to the way marijuana prohibition has been nullified because of massive state action, states defying the federal industrial hemp ban can unleash a tidal wave of resistance that forces the feds to get their priorities in order.

    MMJmothers – FL mom to treat child with medical cannabis

    Tampa, Florida – A Bay area mother will start treating her cancer-ravaged daughter with whole plant medical marijuana even though we are two months away from the amendment two vote.

    10news shared with residents earlier this year how Moriah Barnhart sought legal counsel to somehow get her daughter access to use medical cannabis under Florida’s medical necessity doctrine based on a 1991 ruling.

    Barnhart said she had success while treating her daughter with cannabis in Colorado, but decided to move back to Florida to be closer to family and her support system.

    In Jenks v. The State of Florida, the court ruled that patients suffering debilitating diseases have the right to consume, possess and cultivate marijuana, provided they can establish they have a legal medical necessity.

    Recently, Barnhart and Christopher Ralph from Health Law Services in Jacksonville shows us the paperwork issued by a physician who evaluated Dahlia Barnhart and deemed medical marijuana a necessity.

    “I’m not in any way shape or form uneasy about the law,” said Barnhart. “The process for me is easy with regards to the paperwork.”

    According to Ralph, she will have to carry the paperwork with her at all times.

    It includes information from the doctor, details on the Jenks v. State of Florida ruling and an identification number for law enforcement to verify its authenticity via a website.

    “Our statutes allow for a physician to order the use of a schedule one controlled substance,” said Ralph.

    Earlier this year, state lawmakers legalized a non-euphoric strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web.

    Ralph says for that reason, he is not in full support of amendment two.

    “Once amendment 2 passes, all we’re going to have is low-THC cannabis run by 5 organizations throughout the state,” he said. “Which was preempted by our current legislature… that’s what they did because they didn’t want amendment 2 to pass.”