Politics 

The latest in cannabis legalization including laws and policies, legislators’ views, election coverage, and more.

State of the Leaf: Colorado Lawmakers Warm to Cannabis for PTSD

U.S. News Updates

Arkansas

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to cannabis legalization initiatives headed for the November ballot, the Associated Press reports. The suit, filed by legalization opposition group Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, contested that the wording of the initiative ballot language was misleading and failed to inform voters of the consequences of legalization. But as Justice Josephine Linked Hart ruled, “The ballot title is an impartial summary of the proposed measure that will give voters a fair understanding of the issues presented and of the scope and significance of the proposed challenges to the law.” Time to start gearing up for November.

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Colorado

Colorado could soon join the 18 other states that post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. A panel of state lawmakers voted unanimously to add PTSD to the list, but the vote is only a recommendation to the full Legislature, which will not reconvene until January. The state Department of Health has resisted the addition of PTSD, citing a lack of research. The Board of Health has rejected four separate petitions to add PTSD in the past. Colorado, however, has approved one of the first medical studies of the effects of medicinal cannabis as treatment for PTSD. The $2 million study has been approved by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and includes 76 military veterans.

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Maryland

A Bethesda-based company that initially qualified for a medical marijuana growing license is suing the state commission after being knocked out of the running. GTI Maryland argues that the state Medical Cannabis Commission did not follow its own guidelines because it granted licenses to two companies that earned lower rankings. GTI was ranked higher but wasn’t selected due to a need for geographic diversity, the company argues. It’s asking the court to reverse this decision. Both GTI and Maryland Cultivation were highly ranked in the state, but they had lower rankings than other applicants in their respective counties. GTI is asking for the opportunity to change locations rather than be rejected outright, claiming the commission “effectively removed merit” as a basis for awarding licenses.

Michigan

The Michigan House gave final approval to a slew of bills that would regulate the state’s medical marijuana system for the first time since the law was passed in 2008. The changes would establish a 3-percent tax on dispensaries, create a new licensing scheme for dispensaries, and allot tax revenue to municipalities and local law enforcement. The changes are set to take place 90 days after the legislation is signed, but the licensing process will be more complicated. Would-be operators seeking to open a licensed cannabis business will not be able to apply until 360 days after the legislation is signed, which means the licenses are unlikely to be available before 2018. License costs would be capped at $5,000.

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Ohio

Lawyers now have official permission to advise medical marijuana clients, thanks to an Ohio Supreme Court amendment this week to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Before the change, a professional body that regulates lawyers in the state had opined that lawyers were prevented from weighing in — or from using medical marijuana as treatment — because cannabis remains federally illegal.

Tennessee

The Nashville Metropolitan Council voted this week to decriminalize possession of up to a half ounce of cannabis, at least locally. The measure reduces penalties to a $50 civil fine or 10 hours of community service. One of the major arguments against this measure came from state Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottonwood), who argued that the ordinance violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by allowing law enforcement to choose which law to enforce: Statewide penalties, which are much more severe than the new local law, would still apply. As such, if authorities catch someone with cannabis, they issue a $50 ticket under the Nashville rules—or they could arrest the individual under state law and send them to jail for up to a year. Lamberth was so adamantly against the measure, he told Leafly he may sponsor legislation to restrict highway funding to the city.

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International News Updates

Australia

All of Australia’s cannabis grown under a new national licensing scheme for clinical trials will be grown will be grown on just two hectares, or about five acres, according to the Australian Office of Drug Control. By comparison, an individual state-licensed grower in Colorado can operate a farm of up to 16 hectares. The Australian crop’s tiny size is the result of strict criteria that patients must meet in order to qualify for medical cannabis.

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Spain

An initiative in the Catalan Parliament would allow cannabis social clubs to legally cultivate and share their cannabis openly. The clubs currently exist in a legal gray area, in which members pay a small fee to join the club and offer financial “contributions” for cannabis. The consumption is technically considered private, as the club is exclusively for members, but social clubs are under a near-constant threat of raids. The new initiative, called La Rosa Verda, or The Green Rose, would regulate clubs and allow them to grow, process, transport, and distribute cannabis under a not-for-profit model.

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