State of the Leaf: Maine Legalization Not Dead Yet. Quite Alive, in Fact.Lisa RoughApril 28, 2016
Big news explodes out of Maine, with a 180-degree flip from imminent legalization to not a chance thanks to the Secretary of State to officially landing a spot on the November ballot! Alaska’s looking at the logistics of allowing cannabis consumption in retail shops, Colorado refuses to allow cannabis-infused gummy bears and raspberries and Iowa’s chances for a medical expansion are dwindling. Internationally, Canada made the official announcement as to when the legalization process will occur, and the Netherlands examines official policies for canna-cafés. Here’s the state of legalization:
U.S. Cannabis News Updates
The state Senate on Wednesday voted 29–3 in favor of a bill that would legalize the possession of CBD oils. “Leni’s Law,” named after a young girl with severe epilepsy who moved to Oregon in order to legally obtain cannabis oil, will now return to the House for a vote. A previous version of the bill won House support earlier this month. Bill sponsor Rep. Paul Sanford says access to cannabidiol will provide a little “sunlight” to families struggling with medical conditions, but opponents say there’s not enough evidence to support using cannabis as a medical treatment.
The state’s rules around consuming cannabis in authorized retail shops are slowly coming into focus, moving Alaska toward becoming the first state to legalize public consumption of any kind. State regulators will meet in Anchorage to discuss how to best implement plans for on-site consumption. They’re considering how to separate the consumption area from the retail side, and whether cannabis must be consumed within the premises or be allowed out the door. The Alaska Marijuana Board began accepting applications for cannabis retailers in February and expects to begin issuing licenses for cultivation and testing facilities in June, with retail licenses coming later in the year.
After month upon month of rejection, the Arkansas Cannabis Amendment got the OK from state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The amendment would allow adults 21 and older to cultivate limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, so long as it’s out of public view. The ballot measure would permit licensed individuals to cultivate up to 36 plants and would enact a 5-percent excise tax, on top of the standard state sales tax, on retail cannabis sales. It will need 84,859 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
A House committee voted to advance a bill that would prohibit all cannabis-infused edibles in the shape of fruit, animals, or people. House Bill 1436 is aimed at reducing the likelihood that children and adolescents will accidentally ingest edibles. There are already new regulations for edibles in the pipeline that will require each edible to carry a clearly marked symbol to indicate the presence of cannabis. The bill to limit edibles quickly won initial approval by the full House of Representatives, 50–14, without so much as a debate. It now awaits a final vote in the House before moving on to the Senate for consideration.
Time is running out for a push to expand Iowa’s limited medical cannabis program. The Iowa House of Representatives voted to reject a bill that would have allowed qualified patients to access cannabis oils and products from other states such as Minnesota and bring it back to Iowa for legal use. After the rejection, Iowans 4 Medical Cannabis held a news conference at the Capitol, during which supporters issued an emotional plea for access to medical marijuana. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) said the door will remain open for medical cannabis legislation, adding that “hope springs eternal” for future proposals.
After much turmoil and nail-biting, Maine’s cannabis legalization is on the November ballot. “An Act to Legalize Marijuana” has the potential to be enacted even before the 2016 general election. Last month, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap deemed 21,797 signatures invalid based on inconsistencies in the signature of the notary who verified them, Stavros Mendos. Mendos subsequently submitted a sworn affidavit testifying that the signatures were, indeed, his own. That led to a legal challenge from the petitioners, which led a judge to order the secretary of state to go back and take another look at the signatures. Dunlap ultimately issued an amended determination that 11,305 of the signatures may be considered valid, putting the total number of signatures at 62,848 — just barely over the 61,123 signatures required to make it on the ballot. Congrats, Maine! Onward to November.
International Cannabis News Updates
Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the country will introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize cannabis in spring of 2017, answering the question that’s been on everyone’s mind since Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister: When will Canada legalize cannabis as promised? Philpott introduced the plans on April 20 at the United Nations General Assembly’s special session on international drug policy. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” said Philpott. Next spring can’t come soon enough!
The Dutch Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for the owner of what was once the biggest cannabis café in the Netherlands. The Checkpoint Café in Terneuzen served up to 3,000 clients and processed 10 kilograms of cannabis per day at its height, before the city shut it down in 2007 for keeping too much product on hand. Coffeeshops in the Netherlands with more than 500 grams of cannabis on the premises aren’t protected by the government’s unofficial policy of ignoring so-called soft drugs.