Happy 420 to one and all! This year’s celebration brings big news and plenty of evidence of how far we’ve come on the road to legalization.
Canada’s Health Minister just announced the official date that Canada will begin the legalization process, and Italy’s anti-terrorism chief proclaimed that decriminalization could actually help fight extremist groups. Stateside, D.C.’s chances for legal cannabis clubs went up in smoke once again; Maine could be the first to recommend medicinal cannabis for addiction; Michigan, Missouri, Montana and Iowa are taking steps forward; and one tiny Texas town is preparing for the possibility of a cannabis manufacturing facility. Celebrate responsibly, friends, and remember: #JustSayKnow
U.S. Cannabis News Updates
The District of Columbia can’t catch a cannabis break. The D.C. Council has flip-flopped on the issue of allowing cannabis social clubs so many times we can hardly keep track. A bill prohibiting the creation of private clubs for the consumption of cannabis was approved by the Council and will now go on to Mayor Muriel Bowser. Bowser has already spoken out against cannabis clubs; the latest language in the bill undercuts a task force studying the issue of cannabis social clubs, which was scheduled to begin work this week.
Republican state leaders spent hours discussing the possibility of expanding the state’s limited medical cannabis law. The discussion proved insightful, but it’s unclear whether the proposal will move forward. The proposal would allow the legal production and distribution of cannabis oil for patients who qualify. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) was uncertain whether the proposal would receive another hearing this legislative session. Iowa advocates say the law as currently written is essentially useless, as even patients who qualify have no legal way to obtain medicine. The conversation is starting, but it’s moving as slow as molasses in December.
During a public hearing, a group of medical cannabis caregivers and patients told state regulators that cannabis is effective at easing the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and that presents a healthier alternative to many addictive prescription painkillers. Although cannabis has been offered as an alternative for opiate addiction in states like California, with more lenient medical cannabis laws, Maine would be the first state in the country to add addiction specifically as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.
Michigan’s efforts to legalize cannabis are shifting into high gear. The deadline to turn in the necessary 252,523 signatures is June 1. The petition has been circulating since June 2015, but a new bill, SB 776, could change the requirements to force all signature-gathering to take place during a 180-day period. The latest Survey USA poll, commissioned by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Report, Cannabis Stakeholders Group, and Abrogate Prohibition Michigan, found that 54 percent of Michigan voters support the legalization of cannabis for use by adults 21 and older, which bodes well for the initiative — but only if the group can gather enough signatures.
The Missouri Compassionate Care Act was passed by the House this week after being heavily amended. The legislation now allows the medicinal use of cannabis only for those suffering from cancer and are in hospice care. The amendments were added to make the bill easier to pass. It worked. The bill moved forward. Though advocates are disappointed with the bill’s limitations, many are hoping it will provide the fuel to move the cannabis conversation forward in the Show-Me State.
The recent state Supreme Court ruling left the once-thriving medical marijuana program essentially gutted. Now Montana cannabis advocates are coming back with a vengeance, introducing a statewide initiative to remove the restrictions imposed by the recent ruling. The biggest challenge now will be gathering the necessary 24,175 valid signatures for Initiative 182 before the June 17 deadline. If you would like to see I-182 on the November ballot, you can find more information on how to support this initiative by checking out the Vote Yes on I-182 campaign.
The tiny town of Gunter, Texas is hoping to be the new home to one of just two Texas cannabis oil production plants. The old Gunter Cotton Gin might be the site of the new greenhouse facility licensed to grow, process, and distribute cannabis oil to patients that qualify for the program. AcquiFlow, a McKinney-based cannabis company, will run the establishment, and there are plans for a subsidiary called Texas Cannabis to oversee the process. AcquiFlow CEO Patrick Moran says they’re anticipating a launch in June 2017, when the state will be handing out the first licenses for manufacturing.
International Cannabis News Updates
Canada’s health minister waited for an opportune time to make a very important announcement. As part of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS), Health Minister Jane Philpott said on 4/20 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration plans to introduce comprehensive legislation during the spring of 2017 to legalize cannabis federally, answering the question that has been on the minds of cannabis-friendly Canadians since Trudeau was sworn in.
Want to fight terrorism? Legalize cannabis. That’s the takeaway from a recent report that shows a troubling trend emerging from Italy. It appears the Italian Mafia is working with the Islamic State to smuggle drugs into Europe via a known North African smuggling route. Hashish has been emerging from Morocco through Algeria and Libya, whereupon the Mafia struck a deal in the city of Sirte, which is under the control of ISIL. Franco Roberti, the Italian anti-terror and anti-Mafia chief, called for the decriminalization of cannabis in an effort to strike back at both dangerous groups. It would significantly affect their revenue, he said, making reform a viable “weapon against traffickers."
Have a happy, hilarious, fun and safe holiday! Happy 420!