This week brings exciting news for cannabis: for Illinois patients, the wait is finally over! Pennsylvania’s support for medical marijuana is through the roof despite state government opposition, and Wyoming is throwing the entire spaghetti pot at the wall to see what sticks for lessening cannabis penalties.
On the international horizon, Canadian medical experts are criticizing Health Canada’s restrictions, and Italy’s recent court rulings on what is or is not okay on your lunch break at work will have you scratching your head. Here are the happenings for the hottest news in cannabis legalization – watch closely because change is coming up fast!
U.S. Cannabis Updates
The Hawaii State Department of Health have revised the rules for the personal cultivation of medical marijuana. If you’re a certified medical patient or caregiver, here’s how to stay in compliance:
- The allowable limit is seven plants per registered patient, but each plant must be tagged and labeled with a legible identification tag showing the patient’s registration number and expiration date of the card.
- While in possession of marijuana, be sure to keep a valid ID and medical marijuana registration card on your person. A patient may renew his or her card up to 60 days before its expiration date.
- There is a new qualifying condition: post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD (check with your doctor to see if you qualify).
- The Hawaii State Department of Health previously only accepted Hawaii State identification, but now accepts valid identification from any U.S. state or a U.S. passport to apply for the medical marijuana program.
Medical dispensaries are not available yet, but Hawaii is gearing up for a big medical marijuana overhaul and it appears that it’s already coming along swimmingly.
The wait is over! The very first medical marijuana dispensary, Harbory, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week in Marion, Illinois. Although the dispensary is ready to open, they still have to wait until their local cultivation centers are prepared with a ready supply of medical marijuana for the masses. As of early October, more than 4,000 Illinois residents have applied for a medical marijuana card, and 3,100 have been approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which means there are quite a few Illinoisians waiting with bated breath for a chance to access legal medical marijuana.
Three other locations, The Clinic Mundelein, Salveo Health & Wellness, and Herbal Remedies Dispensary, have also been licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – who will be the next to open their doors?
During a public hearing last week, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission listened to the concerns and questions of the public, along with suggestions from pediatricians, public health experts, and child welfare experts. The final recommendations of experts were to ban home delivery services, limit cannabis-infused edibles, and impose strict regulations on packaging and labeling. The agency is expected to release the new regulations on October 22nd and will continue to accept written comments from the public until October 21st. If you’ve got comments or concerns, get them in quick by submitting them to email@example.com by 5:00 p.m. this Wednesday, and you can access the current draft rules here.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University found that a whopping 90 percent of the state supports legalizing medical marijuana, up from 88 percent in April during the last poll. Interestingly, the same population was split on recreational legalization – 47 percent in support with 49 percent opposed. The Pennsylvania Medical Society recently said that they will reconsider their opposition on cannabis for medical purposes, although they are most firmly in support of more research. Senate Bill 3 was introduced as a compromise bill to legalize medical marijuana, and while it has been widely debated, amended, and had its language changed to appease many members of Pennsylvania Congress, it is currently at a standstill in legislature, yet to see a hearing by the House of Representatives.
In the meantime, a bipartisan task force has been sifting through documented research in other states to see the potential uses of medical marijuana, eventually summing up their conclusions into eight recommendations which were sent to the House Majority leader Dave Reed, who has yet to take any action with the information. The majority of Pennsylvania has spoken and the time is now!
The Cowboy State is making a major push for cannabis in 2016, with several bills on the docket planned for easing restrictions on cannabis. A 2014 poll from the University of Wyoming found that 72 percent of Wyoming residents support medical marijuana, although, according to the same poll, 60 percent of respondents said they opposed legalization for recreational use. Representative Jim Byrd (D-Cheyenne) has said he is planning to sponsor a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, similar to a bill proposed during the last legislative session which failed during a House floor vote.
Another bill that Rep. Byrd is planning to sponsor is a reciprocity bill, meaning that medical marijuana patients from out of state would not be arrested for possession if they had a valid medical marijuana recommendation from their state of residence. Additionally, two bills are planned to be introduced by Representative Gerald Gay (R-Casper) that would allow cannabidiol, or CBD: one would allow the oil to be used in medicine, and a back-up bill would redefine the definition of cannabis to exclude CBD so it could be used legally without repercussions.
International Cannabis Updates
Experts from the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS recently criticized Health Canada’s strict federal guidelines on medical marijuana, saying that these rigid rules have had a serious negative impact on patients. Dr. Julio Montaner, one of the authors of a commentary published in the Journal of the Canadian Public Health Association, repeated his professional opinion in a news release:
“When it comes to prescription marijuana, patients' needs should be considered above political considerations. There could be great harm in ignoring the medical uses of marijuana."
The statement says that medical marijuana is held to a stricter standard than other, even more potentially fatal drugs, and the Canadian Medical Association has ignored multiple research studies that have shown the various therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana. The doctors from the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Montaner, Thomas Kerr, and Stephanie Lake, all recently urged for the use of medicinal marijuana over the use of opioids to treat symptoms of neuropathic pain, in addition to a myriad of other conditions. With the upcoming elections, big change could be coming sooner rather than later.
In a rather bizarre twist of fate, two separate rulings made us give Italian courts, as well as an Italian car manufacturer, the side-eye. The Court of Cassian ruled on the legal case of Giuseppe Z., a worker who was terminated from his position at Fiat, the automotive manufacturer, after the worker was found to viewing adult pornographic videos on his lunch break. The court ruled that his viewing habits were limited to his lunch hour and therefore did not affect his work performance. In a separate ruling, the court decreed that Fiat was within their rights to fire an employee who was found to be using cannabis on their lunch break. This ruling was five years in the making, as the lower court’s initial decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal in Palermo, taking this (rather ridiculous) case to the highest level of Italian courts.
A leaked government study from the United Kingdom treasury found that legalizing cannabis would not only save courts and law enforcement upwards of £200 million a year (roughly $309.5 million USD), but it would also raise hundreds of millions of pounds in taxes each year as well. The study was commissioned by the Liberal Democrats in coalition earlier this year, but was never published. The study was set up to examine potential fiscal impacts of a regulated cannabis market in the U.K. and the Institute for Social and Economic Research found that licensing cannabis establishments alone could raise up to £1.25 billion, which may be an overestimate, but still makes a powerful point.
The U.K. petition to legalize the production, sale, and use of cannabis has now received more than 220,000 signatures, but the government continues to dig in their heels at the prospect of considering a bid for legalization.