The Brookings Institution has released a list of eight critical marijuana legalization items to monitor during 2015.
The list, from Brookings Fellow John Hudak, follows:
1) Oregon, Alaska Plan & Prepare for Legal Marijuana: How well each of these state legislatures and alcohol regulatory bodies work together will determine the success or failure of marijuana policy in these states. As it borders Washington, Oregon’s commercial and regulatory choices will be particularly crucial in understanding to what extent states may strive for market advantages vis-à-vis bordering states.
2) Identifying the Next States to Legalize: 2015 will show which states are serious about ballot initiatives in 2016. It’s widely expected that California will advance an initiative and Florida might take another swing at approving medical marijuana, after falling just short of approval in 2014.
3) Cannabis Policy & State Legislative Action: In some states, the battleground for enacting items like the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana is not the ballot box, but the state legislature.
4) Cannabis & the Courts: Multiple high-profile lawsuits surrounding marijuana policy may play out in 2015. For instance, Coats v. Dish Network may settle the issue of employer-sponsored marijuana testing and a Supreme Court case involving Nebraska and Oklahoma’s suing of Colorado over legalizing marijuana will indicate the willingness of federal courts to engage in this policy area.
By Steve Elliott
One Washington state Republican lawmaker is proposing that medical marijuana dispensaries in the state stop selling marijuana. Wait, what?
Yes, state Sen. Ann Rivers -- who really should talk to some actual medical marijuana patients about their needs -- is proposing that dispensaries stop selling smokable dried cannabis flowers, reports Sarah Aitchison at the Puget Sound Business Journal. Her bill would limit medical dispensaries to cannabis-infused edibles and concentrates.
Rivers seems to be trying to find a middle ground between the complete elimination of patient collective gardens and dispensaries proposed by her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle, and continuing business as usual for the dispensaries, which are seen as competition by the recreational marijuana stores which have opened as I-502 is implemented.
"Recognizing the health concerns relating to smoking marijuana, the legislature intends to prohibit the sale of products that must be smoked at medical marijuana retail outlets," says a draft of the measure reports The Associated Press.
The Medical Cannabis Institute on Wednesday announced what it called " the first online, medical cannabis curriculum." The curriculum presents, in sequential order, a series of 12 courses designed to take a practicing clinician from the basics of the plant, its history and the underlying physiologic (endocannabinoid) system to the pharmacology and clinical practice of medical cannabis.
The curriculum is provided by the Society of Cannabis Clinicians (SCC), an educational and scientific society of qualified physicians dedicated to the expansion of knowledge on the medical use of cannabis.
Healthcare professionals can claim up to 12 CME credits (AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™), receiving a certificate of competency in clinical cannabinoid medicine upon curriculum completion.
"To date, there have been workshops or seminars on a variety of medical cannabis topics, but this is the first time that clinicians can find a pre-packaged set of courses that takes the clinician from the fundamentals all the way through clinical case study reviews," said Deborah Malka, MD, PhD, course director at SCC.
This all-in-one, eLearning curriculum can also help clinical staff within a hospital or health system attain a consistent, baseline understanding of the science behind medical cannabis – closing an education gap in today's standard medical training.
Ganjapreneur, a website dedicated to cannabis business news and culture, has recently announced the launch of their Cannabis Domain Name Market.
“Ganjapreneur is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs in legal cannabis space optimize and grow their business, and ultimately, a great domain name goes a long way to helping them achieve that through a highly visible online presence and strong brand,” said Andrew Rosener, founder and CEO of Ganjapreneur.com.
"With our background in the domain space and understanding of the importance and value of a great domain name for any entrepreneur, a domain market was a clear next step and perfect fit for Ganjapreneur.com," Rosener said. "We plan to launch many more business services in the near future for our audience as well."
The market consists of hundreds of marijuana keyword and brandable domain names available for immediate purchase, sorted by category, type, and price. The market is designed to be a resource for venture capital firms and start-ups looking to get involved in the cannabis industry, and it is launched in partnership with Escrow.com, the leading escrow service for domain name transactions in order to make transactions safe and easy.
Adherence Colorado, a regulatory compliance and inventory management company for the marijuana industry, has announced its formal launch of operations and proprietary software that allows auditors to ensure that licensed marijuana businesses are in compliance with state and local laws.
"We're thrilled to be open in Colorado," said Steve Owens, founder and CEO of Adherence Colorado. "By delivering compliance audit results in hours, compared to days or often weeks, we provide our clients with unprecedented value at an industry leading price.
"If a license is not within compliance limits, the underlying business's value can be reduced significantly," Owens said. "For license owners, investors, and financial services and banking experts, it's imperative to know where the business stands in terms of risk and value. Our state-of-the-art process does this and more."
According to Adherence Colorado, this is the first enterprise risk management (ERM) platform designed specifically for licensed medical and retail (recreational) marijuana businesses, providing license owners, banks and investors with valuable information about where the business is most at risk. Adherence Colorado says its software is scalable and can be customized to any state's regulatory compliance and inventory tracking system.
By Steve Elliott
A group which is gathering signatures to legalize marijuana in Mississippi has scheduled a town hall meeting for 2-3 p.m. on Friday, January 9, at the Eudora Welty Library in Jackson. At the meeting, representatives of Mississippi For Cannabis will answer questions about the group's ballot initiative, and the petition will be available for signatures.
The ballot initiative would allow the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana and industrial hemp for adults 21 years or older, reports Jimmie E. Gates at The Clarion-Ledger.
The group needs more than 107,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot. The deadline for the 2016 ballot is October 2, 2015, according to sponsor Kelly Jacobs. If they miss that deadline the group plans to shoot for the November 2017 ballot, for which the deadline is December 29, 2015.
"If the ballot initiative gets the necessary signatures and is approved by voters in a referendum, it would make it legal for adults to possess cannabis in unlimited quantities, to use as they wish, just like alcohol or cigarettes," Jacobs said. "However, it would have to be kept from minors.
"We want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize it," she said. "It's an adult discussion we should be having."
By Steve Elliott
Colorado is launching a major, $5.7 million campaign to educate both residents and tourists on how to responsibly use marijuana.
The "Good To Know" campaign will begin hitting the airwaves, newspapers and the Net this month, one year after recreational marijuana sales began in the Rocky Mountain State, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today.
The "bright, neighborly" approach is designed to educate without alienating, and is not an aversion campaign, according to Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado's chief medical officer and director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
The friendly tone of the ad campaign is illustrated by the spot that points out you can't legally drive a car after smoking pot -- it adds what "walking, hopping and skipping are allowed," reports the Associated Press.
The campaign appears to be the first comprehensive effort by any state to educate consumers and marijuana use and regulations after legalization. "This is still uncharted territory for us, and really for everyone in the United States," Wolk said on Monday.
By Steve Elliott
The author of Washington state's anemic marijuana legalization law I-502 is defending and even urging prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle.
Criminal defense attorney Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington, who wrote Initiative 502, wrote a December 11 email to Seattle officials about their plans to create new rules for medical marijuana in the city, reports Heidi Groover at The Stranger.
“If escalation of sanctions were deemed appropriate, the city has authority to prosecute repeat license offenses as gross misdemeanors, initiate civil asset seizure and forfeiture, or even refer cases for felony prosecution,” Holcomb wrote in the email.
Seattle is looking for ways to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries; Holcomb's words were part of a chain of emails exchanged among city council members, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's staff, and others, including Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who seems just as weirdly intent on eliminating dispensaries as is Holcomb.
Holcomb, like Holmes, purportedly opposes the dispensaries because they aren't regulated -- but she also opposes regulating them. She argued against a new licensing plan the mayor's office has floated for dispensaries, hoping to leave the coup de grace -- complete elimination of the shops -- to the Legislature in the upcoming session.
By Steve Elliott
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes was a big supporter of Washington state's marijuana legalization measure, Initiative 502, all along. Now it seems Holmes is so gung-ho on 502, he wants to extinguish current medical marijuana dispensaries, which existed for years before recreational legalization was approved in 2012, and force medicinal cannabis patients through the state's expensive recreational pot stores.
Holmes in a policy memo on Monday urged the Washington Legislature to fold medical marijuana into the state's recreational system, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times. He also pushed Seattle city officials to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries which he claims aren't following state law or city regulations.
"If you're a commercial (medical marijuana) operation lacking a 502 license, it's a felony operation. Period," Holmes said.
Holmes claimed some of the business aren't operating with proper permits, and that others have neglected to pay local business and occupation taxes. He said some of them opened after the Seattle City Council passed an intended moratorium on new dispensaries in the city.
The city attorney said he published the wide-ranging memo to clarify any confusion about medical marijuana laws. Holmes said he hopes his memo "reframes" the debate about medical marijuana.
Approximately three out of four voters think seriously ill people should have legal access to medical marijuana; more voters support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol than oppose it
A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday.
Three out of five (60 percent) of respondents support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and designating it a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. Under current Virginia law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
The Virginia Senate is expected to consider a proposal this year that would replace criminal penalties for personal possession of marijuana with a civil fine of $100.
“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”
By Steve Elliott
Rhode Islanders use marijuana at the highest rates in the United States, according to a recently released annual survey.
The report originates from a national survey on drug use and health sponsored each year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reports Alison Bologna at NBC 10.
In Rhode Island, 14 percent of those 12 and older -- up from 13 percent the previous year -- report having used marijuana in the past month, the highest rate in the nation, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health, reports Richard Salit at the Providence Journal. Rhode Island also led the nation in those who reported having used marijuana in the past year, at 20 percent, up from 19 percent.
Rhode Island is one of 23 states and the District of Columbia that now allow medical marijuana for authorized patients, and a coalition is forming in the state to make it the fifth to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes.
The survey "is probably an accurate portrayal, and one we've seen trending for a long time," said Rebecca Boss, deputy director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. "The why is really hard to answer. I don't necessarily have the answers to why."
Weed Depot has launched its new marijuana industry app that it says allows users to access its huge database of marijuana strains, dispensaries, doctors, head shops, and more.
Weed Depot said its app "makes it possible for users to easily find all sorts of marijuana-related information from any mobile device." The app also consists of listings for national and international businesses that operate in the legal (medical and recreational) marijuana industry.
A Weed Depot spokesperson said that they are “working to develop even more functionality and information into the app in the future” so that it becomes the “go-to app for anything marijuana-related.” They want the app to become “the world’s destination for marijuana information.”
The company plans to incorporate a marijuana jobs section, marijuana press releases section, marijuana-infused recipes section, and more into the app.
Businesses can get listed on the Weed Depot app and website for under $200 per month, according to the company. Weed Depot and its sister businesses, listed on The Marijuana Companies’ website (www.TheMarijuanaCompanies.com), in the marijuana industry help to make it one of the largest marijuana industry advertising network platforms currently available.
The Weed Depot app can be downloaded for free on Google Play and on the iTunes App Store.
Weed Depot is owned and operated by Northsight Capital, Inc. (OTCBB: NCAP).
By Steve Elliott
The rules of Washington state's recreational marijuana legalization law, I-502, require a sample tested from every lot of marijuana. But how useful is that testing?
The program is having some success detecting substances like yeast, mold and bacteria, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times. About one out of every 10 batches of marijuana fails and can't be sold in recreational pot shops, according to Washington State Liquor Control Board data.
Potency testing, meanwhile -- which measures levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component, shows Washington weed is widely variable. Recreational marijuana averages about 16 percent THC in the state, but about 2.5 percent of samples test above 28 percent.
Laboratory directors from the state's 12 licensed pot-testing facilities said they are forming working groups to lobby the Liquor Control Board for more oversight of lab methods.
"Part of it is to invite more regulation," said Brad Douglass, scientific director at the Werc Shop, one of the 12 labs licensd by the state.
Randy Simmons, with the Liquor Control Board, claimed that the system is off to a good start. "The majority of what's out there on packages is correct," he said.
"The lab side is emerging," Simmons said. "As it matures, I think all those things that have been missed ... or things we find out we should be looking for, will all be changed."
By Steve Elliott
A Montana judge on Friday permanently banned enforcement of key provisions of the state's restrictive medical marijuana law.
District Judge James Reynolds blocked several provisions, including a ban on advertising medical marijuana and the prohibition of commercial sales for profit to authorized patients, reports Charles S. Johnson at the Billings Gazette.
The prohibition on for-profit marijuana sales, passed by a Republican-controlled Legislature after Montana voters legalized medicinal cannabis, essentially meant that medical marijuana patients in Montana had to grow their own supply.
Judge Reynolds also struck down provisions that restrict medical marijuana providers from helping more than three authorized patients obtain marijuana -- again, remember, without them being able to be paid, under the old rules struck down by the judge on Friday.
The judge also struck down a part of the law that required the state to provide the Board of Medical Examiners with the names of any doctors who, within a one-year period, authorized more than 25 patients for medical marijuana. The law would have required the physician in question to pay for an automatic review of his practices by the Board of Medical Examiners.
By Steve Elliott
Could change be coming to the Lone Star State? A new bill which would decriminalize marijuana has just been introduced in the Texas Legislature, but the Texas Sheriff's Association has already publicly opposed the measure.
"The Sheriff's Association position is that we are going to oppose any effort to decriminalize marijuana, or legalize medical marijuana or any of the components of marijuana," Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk flatly stated, reports News Radio WOAI.
The proposed legislation, House Bill 507, would reduce impose civil fines rather than criminal penalties for marijuana possession. Texas law currently punishes possession with fines of up to $2,000 and jail terms of up to six months.
If passed, the new bill would fine users up to $100 for possession of amounts smaller than an ounce. It will be considered by the lawmakers when the holiday period ends on January 13.
"It's a good government measure that will save taxpayers lots of money and free up law enforcement resources for more serious offenses," said state Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), reports Haley Jennings at KBTX.