Politics 

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

State of the Leaf: UK Says Goodbye to CBD—for Now

US News Updates

Alaska

The Anchorage Assembly voted unanimously to approve the city’s first adult-use cannabis retail license. The license will go to Arctic Herbery, which will be located in an industrial area south of Midtown. Owner Bryant Thorp, who received a cultivation license from the city in July, has been active in the implementation of the regulated marketplace, attending committee meetings and providing comments. The retail license comes with certain conditions, including the restricted hours of operation. The shop must remain closed between midnight and 8 a.m., and it must install a ventilation system capable of eliminating the smell of cannabis past the property line. Arctic Herbery hopes to open as soon as Nov. 1. Another adult use store, The Remedy Shoppe, received a license in the municipality of Skagway. The shop has passed its final inspection and could technically open at any time were it not for one problem: The store has no supply of cannabis that’s been tested by an independent laboratory, as so far no labs are operational.

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Idaho

Legalization won’t be on Idaho’s ballot this November, but advocates want to be sure voters have their say next season. The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office approved the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association’s medical cannabis petition for signature collection, and the campaign now has 18 months to gather signatures from six percent of registered voters. The initiative would specify a number of qualifying medical conditions to be treated with medical marijuana and would allow qualified patients to possess up to 24 oz. of usable cannabis as well as grow up to 12 plants for personal use. Take a look at the petition here.

Illinois

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program released its latest monthly sales figures this week. Sales of about $3.8 million during September brought total retail sales to $23.5 million since the program launched in November 2015. Nearly a year in, the program now includes 11,100 registered patients who and 44 licensed medical dispensaries. Patients are still trying to expand the state’s list of qualifying conditions, with at least seven lawsuits having been filed by Illinois patients attempting to add their condition. A judge has already ordered that the program add post-traumatic stress disorder and post-operative chronic pain to the list.

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Massachusetts

The state’s eighth dispensary opened for business in Quincy this week. The shop, called Ermont, will accept new patients by appointment only during its first two weeks of operation. A spokesperson for the dispensary said new patients must call the shop ahead of time to plan a visit in the coming weeks, but she stressed that Ermont will eventually act as a walk-in dispensary for registered patients and caregivers. Of the eight dispensaries operating in Massachusetts, Ermont is one of only four that both cultivate and sell cannabis at the same location.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster is investigating five lawmakers who allegedly bought and used cannabis at the New Hampshire statehouse. Rep. Joe Lachance (R-Manchester), who is a registered cannabis patient in the state registry, has been one of New Hampshire’s most vocal proponents for expanding the state’s medical marijuana program. He’s acknowledged using cannabis to treat a spinal injury, gastrointestinal illness, and post-traumatic stress disorder linked to his time in the military. He also came forward to say that cannabis helped him overcome an opioid addiction. If the state had been on schedule with implementing its Therapeutic Cannabis Program, Lachance has argued, he wouldn’t have had to obtain cannabis through illegal means.

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A report from the attorney general claims to have discovered that former state Rep. Kyle Tasker sold cannabis to a handful of lawmakers. Tasker was hit with felony charges after allegedly attempting to lure a 14-year-old girl into a sexual encounter. In an ensuing raid on his home, authorities uncovered a stockpile of illicit drugs and weapons. He resigned in March. None of the officials who allegedly purchased cannabis from Tasker are facing criminal charges.

Tennessee

The Memphis Metropolitan Council voted narrowly to approve an ordinance to reduce penalties for possessing of small amounts of cannabis within city limits. The council voted 7-6 in favor of the measure, which reduces criminal charges for possession of up to half an ounce of cannabis down to a civil fine of $50 or ten hours of community service. The measure leaves it to the discretion of an officer whether to enforce the state law—under which a half-ounce of cannabis carries jail time of up to one year and a $2,500 fine—or to simply fine the detainee under the new citywide ordinance.

International News Updates

Denmark

A Danish couple is facing up to ten years behind bars for providing cannabis to cancer patients. Claus “Moffe” Nielsen and his wife were arrested and charged under Denmark’s narcotics law. Nielsen admitted guilt, saying he was aware his actions were illegal and that he knew he might be arrested. His wife, however, denies wrongdoing as well as any involvement in the operation. Nielsen reportedly used edible cannabis products to treat his own osteoarthritis, then began selling cannabis to help other ill Danes. His clients included patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. If convicted, the pair face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Germany

The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) announced that, for the first time ever, it will allow a medical patient to grow his own cannabis. The BfArM has previously rejected all requests to cultivate cannabis for personal use, despite there being more than 900 German patients who are otherwise permitted to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. The patient filed filed multiple lawsuits, arguing in part that he couldn’t afford to buy medicine at market price. Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruled that BfArM must “allow the claimant to grow cannabis, harvest the drug, and use it for the medical purpose of his treatment.”

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UK Halts CBD Sales

UK

Regulators in the UK this week advised CBD producers and distributors to halt sales, promotions, advertising, and the processing of orders of products containing cannabidiol. The letters stated that CBD now satisfies the definition of a medical product. The step is significant in that it acknowledges the medical potential of cannabis, but advocates warn that removing CBD from store shelves, even temporarily, could push current patients into the black market. “We agree that there is a need for more control in the CBD market to protect people from unscrupulous suppliers and to make sure that people understand what they are taking,” said Peter Carroll of the End Our Pain campaign. But, he added, “we fear that today’s sudden move will cause huge distress to people who rely on these products. It will drive many people to look for CBD on the black market. It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”