Politics 

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

State of the Leaf: Minnesota OKs Cannabis to Treat PTSD

US News Updates

Arkansas

The Department of Health released proposed rules for the state’s new medical marijuana program, which outlines some of the potential requirements for medical cannabis products. Among other mandates, product labels would be required to include laboratory analysis, dosage, and source information along with applicable warnings. The proposed rules also outline the process for adding new qualifying conditions. The department aims to present the rules to the Board of Health in January before collecting comments from the public. State lawmakers must also appoint five members to run the commission for licensing dispensaries by December 9. Rules regarding applications and regulations for both dispensaries and cultivation facilities have not yet been released.

California

Los Angeles-area medical dispensaries, which were reportedly selling cannabis to adult customers even without a doctor’s recommendation, appear to have slowed the practice. A flurry of news reports following the passage of Proposition 64 uncovered dispensaries advertising themselves as “Prop 64 friendly” despite adult-use sales not being legal until sometime in 2018. The threat of legal sanctions notwithstanding, some dispensaries continue to advertise that they’ll sell to anyone 21 and over with a valid state ID.

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New lab-testing requirements for cannabis products under Proposition 64 could bring an entirely new level of transparency to California cannabis, which until now has been largely unregulated in the medical market. The new regulations will require testing for THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA, CBG, CBN, terpenes, solvents, chemicals, and microbiological impurities, which means the state could have some of the most sophisticated testing regulations of any legal state yet on the market. It will be up to the Department of Health to regulate and enforce such stringent testing measures

Colorado

Hoping to preserve its marijuana law under the next president, Colorado is planning a slate of legislation designed to crack down on cannabis that is grown legally but then sold on the black market. The goal is to cut down on complaints that Colorado’s liberal allowances for growing cannabis without a license has created a thriving network of illegal growers. Colorado allows medical marijuana patients to grow up to 99 plants, far beyond other marijuana states, and it also allows recreational users to group their allotted six plants into massive co-ops, entire greenhouses of cannabis that aren’t tracked or taxed.

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Delaware

The Cannabis Bureau of Delaware, an advocacy group, held a rally calling for cannabis legalization on the 83rd anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition. This is the third consecutive year the Repeal Day Rally has been held, and it continues to grow steadily. Delaware is in a good position for legalization, with 61 percent of surveyed residents saying they favor legalization. The state has already decriminalized cannabis and has a fairly robust medical marijuana program that has been in place since the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law in 2012.

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Florida

Knox Medical received the fourth license from Florida’s Department of Health to distribute low-THC cannabis oil to qualified patients, the Associated Press reports. The company expects to begin making deliveries to patients as soon as next week. The Winter Garden-based organization is the first company to be authorized for medical cannabis since the passage of Amendment 2, which will significantly expand the state’s low-THC law into a more robust medical marijuana program.

Maine

Maine’s ballot recount of adult-use legalization measure, Question 1, use began this week. The statewide vote could take more than a month to complete and is expected to cost the state $500,000. According to the election’s initial results, Question 1 passedjust barely, by just 4,073 votes (381,692 in favor, 377,619 opposed). That spurred legalization opponents to call for a recount, which will begin in Portland before moving onto smaller counties and towns. The Portland Press Herald reports that opponents have not provided a complete list of volunteers for the recount, so legalization supporters have volunteered to help.

Massachusetts

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg and Revenue Commissioner Michael Heffernan told lawmakers that they expect delays to the state’s recently passed cannabis law, with zero revenue anticipated from the program or licensing fees during the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The announcement came during a budget hearing at which Goldberg also indicated that her office will need state funds to help implement the law. The law technically becomes effective Dec. 15, but the first legal sales aren’t expected until 2018, after the state has established a Cannabis Control Commission to license and regulate retailers.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan, Just Raided Every Dispensary in Town

Michigan

Grand Rapids patients and dispensary owners got a rude awakening as the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team raided every dispensary in the city. Plainfield Township does not allow dispensaries, a fact local leaders say owners have consistently been made aware of. Nevertheless, operators say the the raids were a complete surprise. One of the dispensaries raided, Michigan Relief Hub, formerly known as the Provision Center, was shut down permanently. The owner, paralegal Sue Bond, is now facing felony charges for the improper handling of finances, including counts for money laundering and racketeering.

Minnesota

State Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced this week that post-traumatic stress disorder will be added to the state’s qualifying medical marijuana conditions. Petitioners asked to add arthritis, depression, autism, and several other disorders, but Ehlinger found that “PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits.” Additionally, PTSD is among the requested qualifying conditions that has few viable alternative treatments. Last year, intractable pain was added as a qualifying condition, which resulted in a surge of new patients entering the state’s struggling medical cannabis program. Minnesota’s medical cannabis program is unique in that cannabis flower and smoking as a means of consumption are not permitted; rather, oils, pills, tinctures, and most recently, topicals, such as patches and creams, are allowed for use by qualified patients.

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Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Montana

A judge on Wednesday cleared the way for Montana’s medical marijuana dispensaries to re-open after a three-month hiatus by ruling that a drafting error in a voter-approved ballot initiative should not delay the measure’s implementation. District Judge James Reynolds of Helena ruled the error that pushed back the effective date of a key portion of the initiative until July 1 should not keep very ill patients from accessing the drug immediately. “The folks that are maybe the most in need are the least able to provide, to grow their own,” Reynolds said in making his ruling. “I think speed is more important than niceties.”

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New York

State Health Department officials announced they will add chronic pain as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. “It became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said of the addition. Advocates across the state applauded the expansion, as New York’s medical marijuana program has long been considered highly restrictive, bordering on the point of inaccessibility, among those who need it most. There are currently more than 10,500 patients registered in the program.

Washington

Spokane County, in Eastern Washington, has adopted a six-month moratorium on outdoor cannabis cultivation after receiving upward of a hundred complaints about the plant’s pungent odor. Any new growing operations established between now and June must be in a fully enclosed, indoor space. The good news is that existing outdoor cultivations will not affect existing farms or those with pending permits. 18 farms were the subject of complaints in Spokane County, although there were also complaints about unlicensed growing operations, as well. Under state law, the county must hold a public hearing within 60 days of its vote to impose the temporary ban.

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International News Updates

Ireland

A proposed medical cannabis bill has earned the support of Irish lawmakers, including members of the Dáil and top government officials. Minister for Health Simon Harris has his reservations but has allowed the legislation to continue to the committee stage. Without serious opposition, the bill is likely to become law in a matter of months. The bill would make cannabis legal for people suffering from chronic pain, cancer, epilepsy, fibromyalgia and MS.