More and more advocates are looking towards 2016 to be a huge year for cannabis, and if you want to make a difference, the time is now. There are petitions to sign and politicians to nudge – Arizona, Arkansas, and Wyoming are already collecting signatures for big ballot pushes in the coming year, and South Africa is taking a serious look at medical cannabis, or “dagga,” as it’s known among Afrikaners. The world is changing and we’re right there with it — catch up on the latest in cannabis legislation:
U.S. Cannabis Updates
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol just held a conference on the lawn of the state’s Capitol and handed over a symbolic $40 million check to two Arizona State Representatives. $40 million is the projected amount that the initiative would reap in taxes if voters approve the 2016 legalization measure on the ballot. The group has already begun to gather signatures and has already collected 50,000, but they’re required to gather an impressively lofty 230,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.
This campaign comes from the same group that has held successful legalization campaigns in both Alaska and Colorado. If you’d like to sign the petition, you can find the petition locations here.
Arkansas has been notoriously known as a state with some of the harshest penalties for marijuana – the first offense for possession of four ounces of less of cannabis can result in up to a year in jail. Well, Arkansas, there’s hope for you yet! A group known as Arcompassion has been approved to collect signatures for a 2016 medical marijuana bid. The group will need to gather 65,000 signatures from valid, registered Arkansas voters in order to qualify for the 2016 general election ballot.
The initiative would create 38 non-profit compassion centers across the state. Patients would be allowed to purchase cannabis with a written recommendation from a physician, although the bill creates a sliding scale for low-income patients and a home-growing clause for patients that are more than 20 miles from a care center. Here’s how you can take action for compassion in Arkansas.
Florida’s new medical CBD law is currently in the process of being enacted, and state officials are warily wading into the regulations and locations for growing operations and new distribution sites. “Regardless of who receives the permission to cultivate and dispense it[,] I assume they’ll dispense it through the entire region,” said Scott Wilson, chair of Land Use and Zoning Board. Although the growers have not been selected yet, the eventual dispensary sites will likely be prohibited from setting up shop in residential areas and the board hopes to ensure that the growers fit into the community.
Rillie Ray Morgan, a Fargo man, has formed a committee in preparation to submit a new medical marijuana initiative after the last measure, House Bill 1430, died in the Senate about six months ago. He acknowledged that the Republican-led North Dakota Congress presents a challenge, but believes that not only is marijuana a safer alternative to opiates (based on his own personal experience with a serious back injury), but also that many residents of North Dakota actually support medical marijuana, contrary to the beliefs and opinions held in Congress.
A 2014 poll found that 47 percent of North Dakota respondents support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes – will public opinion support this initiative?
The Oregon Health Authority just released draft regulations for the upcoming recreational sales to begin October 1 at Oregon’s plentiful medical marijuana dispensaries. In case you missed it, rather than prolong the lengthy waiting period for retail regulations, while newly established businesses try to obtain product, Oregon is going a different route. They’ll be starting retail marijuana sales through already operational medical marijuana dispensaries to any consumer over the age of 21. There are still restrictions on allowable products – flower will be acceptable, but not edibles. You can find the full draft of the new rules here.
Wyoming’s medical marijuana initiative has just been given the all-clear to begin collecting signatures for a 2016 ballot push. The Secretary of State’s office contacted the group organizing the efforts, the Wyoming National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, that they are approved to launch a medical marijuana initiative. The group must gather 25,673 signatures, or 15% of the Wyoming county population (at least 16 of the 23 counties), before February 10, 2016, in order to qualify – a tough requirement, but not attainable. You can find more information on how to sign the petition here.
International Cannabis Updates
Chile’s Chamber of Deputies passed an initiative on July 7 that would decriminalize cannabis. The initiative would grant Chileans the right to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants at a single time. Although it was passed with a vote of 68-39, it still faces adjustment by a health commission before it goes before the Senate. If the Senate passes the initiative, it will officially become law. Decriminalization is just around the corner for this Latin American country!
South African Parliament member Mario Oriani-Ambrosini proposed the Medical Innovation Bill, which may have portions removed that refer to industrialization and commercialization of “dagga,” the local term for cannabis, instead focusing on medical marijuana only. Mr. Oriani-Ambrosini has since died of cancer since the bill was proposed, but maintained that a cannabis regimen prolonged his final months. The Parliament’s Health Committee is still considering the bill, in part spurred on by the INKATHA Party, a small subset of Parliament containing just 10 members out of 400 members of Parliament.
The Democratic Alliance, a leading political party, has also called for a medical marijuana bill, but its health minister, Wilmot James, called the current incarnation of the bill “over-reaching.” If the bill is amended, however, it may have a good chance of passing.