The last battle for bills has begun as the legislative session turns to recess for the summer. Legislators are pushing to meet their deadlines and supporters are vocal for change. Speaking of change, you know the world is making changes when a presidential candidate is holding fundraisers at cannabis events in Denver! This week brings major positive reform to the recreational laws in Oregon and Washington, a push for medical cannabis in Pennsylvania, and a last chance for legalization in Rhode Island. Let’s see what’s new in the world of cannabis legalization:
A new bill has been introduced by the California Legislature that would prevent medical marijuana patients from being denied organ transplants based on their cannabis usage. Current California laws do not prohibit civil discrimination and many institutions will kick a recipient off the waiting list if the patient’s medical marijuana history is disclosed. An effort that is being promoted by Americans with Safe Access, Assembly Bill 258 (or the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant), was introduced by California Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and has already passed through the Senate.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate and co-sponsor of the CARERS Act, made Denver a big spot on his campaign trail last week. Sen. Paul attended the Cannabis Business Summit, an event hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association, in what will definitely go down as a history-making event. It’s a bold move to see a presidential candidate holding a campaign fundraiser in the cannabis industry!
Maryland’s medical marijuana program is slowly shaping up! The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission released the newly drafted rules and regulations last week for doctor registration, licensing, and fees, and will be accepting comments from the public until July 27th. These draft regulations only apply to flower and liquids forms of cannabis, as edibles are not permitted. The rules set fees for two-year licenses at $125,000 for growers and $25,000 for dispensaries. These fees are intended to make the program self-sufficient, as required by law.
A bill that would allow the medicinal use of edibles in schools just passed a legislative hurdle in record time. The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Assemblyman (D-Camden) and would require school districts to develop cannabis policies for students that are registered with the state’s program. According to the bill, a parent or another designated caregiver would be permitted to bring the oil to school and administer it to the child, which would also shield the district from legal liability.
Three major reform bills to shape the emerging retail market passed through the Oregon Senate just one day before legalization took effect on July 1st. House Bill 2041 would establish the largest sales tax in Oregon (a departure from Oregon’s lack of general statewide sales tax) at 17 percent on marijuana, with another 3 percent that could be added to certain jurisdictions by voter approval, and the bill repeals the previous harvest tax established.
Senate Bill 460 would allow sales to begin on October 1st (much sooner than the original estimation of January 4th, 2016). House Bill 3400 contains numerous policy provisions on growing caps, the banning of cannabis businesses in certain counties, standardized testing, labeling, and as a strict seed-to-sale tracking system for reporting and inventory.
Representatives Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin), Mike Regan (R-York), and Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) have introduced House Bill 1432 as a compromise to Senate Bill 3, the medical marijuana bill that passed through the Senate in May but stalled in committee. HB 1432 would allow medical cannabis to be administered through vaporization or oils/pills, but smoking and edibles would be banned. The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs would oversee up to five medical marijuana organizations for the growing, processing, and distribution of medical cannabis in a seed-to-sale tracking system.
The bill would allow doctors to recommend cannabis for the following qualifying conditions:
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
Rhode Island state lawmakers recessed from the current legislative session, leaving a widely-supported legalization bill awaiting further action. House Bill 5777, or the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would also create a tightly regulated system of licensed cannabis recreational shops, cultivation facilities, and testing labs, with oversight from the Department of Business Regulation to create and enforce regulations on labeling, security, and safety. A recent poll from Public Policy Polling found that 57 percent of Rhode Island state voters support the legalization of cannabis.
One year after the first retail sales of cannabis in the state of Washington, the industry has produced more than $70 million in state and local tax revenue, a far cry from the original estimation of $36 million predicted in revenue. The sales themselves topped $250 million, with the highest one-day sales record at $1.4 million per day. This revenue was produced with the three-tier 25 percent tax bracket, but the newly established excise tax will relieve many growers and retailers, with only one 37 percent excise tax at the point of sale.
With the addition of many growers and retailers, the originally prohibitive prices have steadily dropped from about $30 a gram during the first initial sales down to a much more reasonable $11.50 a gram in the year since.
Although the sale of hemp is banned in Poland, the newly dubbed Cannabis Pharmacy just opened in Poznan in central Poland. The shop only carries hemp products, which do not contain the psychoactive ingredient THC, and this was confirmed during recent checks with the police and sanitary authorities. The products offered include ointments, creams, and oils, which can help relieve migraines, rheumatism, psoriasis, and joint pain. The goods are considered diet supplements rather than actual pharmaceuticals, but the shop has seen an increasing number of patients being referred by physicians to be treated with cannabis-based products.
The United Kingdom has seen a sweeping drop in the number of cannabis users over the last 15 years, while the numbers from France, Denmark, Finland, Bulgaria, and Sweden have been steadily increasing. There may be a few reasons for this decline; there’s been a smoking ban in the country, which has dropped the use of tobacco. The most common form of cannabis consumption in Britain is a mix of tobacco and cannabis, which means that non-smokers are less likely to take up the habit. Another possible cause could be due to the rise of more expensive, high-strength, domestically grown “skunk” cannabis, as well as a decline in cannabis resin, which tends to be milder.