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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

National News for October 2015 - by Rachel Bunting

“It’s like Putting Blood in the Water for Sharks”
MARYLAND: Medical marijuana has been made legal in Maryland, but the state has left it up to the counties to set their own regulations on growing and selling operations. According to ABC2 News, executive Steve Schuh of Anne Arundel County seems to have already made up his mind about what will be happening in his county stating: “I believe Maryland law is a Trojan horse that introduces the recreational use of marijuana on a wide scale basis to this county if we were to adopt a permissive approach to medical marijuana.”


     Schuh went on to say that he does not want to prevent any person from getting medical marijuana for an illness if they need it, but that they will not find it in his county if he gets his way. Schuh also has a problem with the dosage of medical marijuana allowed under the state’s law. With the new law patients are able to be prescribed between 8 to 10 joints a day, or 200 to 300 in a month. Schuh believes the amount allotted to patients is “an invitation to selling and also an invitation to crime.”
    
     County police Chief Timothy Altomare says the prescribed amount can be equal to about $2,000-$3,000. Altomare agrees with Schuh, and is also worried about possible increased criminal activity in the county, telling ABC2, “We have a fairly robust criminal element in this state that will kill somebody for $50, $100, or $500. So when you talk about the value of that product walking out, I think it’s like putting blood in the water for sharks.”


Slow Numbers for Minnesota
MINNESOTA: After two months of being up-and-running, Minnesota’s medical marijuana program only has 460 patients registered with the Health Department’s Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC), but those numbers have been steadily increasing according to the head of the OMC, Michelle Larson. Larson believes the numbers have been and will continue to increase as people become more educated and familiar with the program. She also tells the Star Tribune that it’s unfair to compare Minnesota’s numbers with those from the programs in other states as the rules for each medical program is different. Currently Minnesota does have one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the nation. Their law allows for only eight marijuana dispensaries statewide, and the medication can only be provided in pill or liquid form to patients suffering from at least one of the only nine qualifying conditions. Since the enrollment numbers are so low, one of the two companies authorized by the state to grow and sell the medication is going to delay the opening of two new stores until next year. The Health Department is considering adding intractable pain to the program, which would open the doors for thousands of new patients suffering from pain not already associated with cancer, terminal illness, or seizure disorders. The department is staging hearings around the state to hear public opinions on the addition.


No More Conditions Added for Illinois Medical Marijuana Program
ILLINOIS: Since medical marijuana was passed in Illinois in 2013 over 3,000 people have applied for, and received, permission from the state to use medical marijuana. Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to slightly close the gates for medical cards by vetoing Bill 39, which would have put post-traumatic stress disorder on the list of qualifying ailments, while the Illinois Department of Public Health also denied an additional 10 conditions proposed by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, including anorexia nervosa, chronic postoperative pain, migraine headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome. In his veto message the Governor stated he believes adding more conditions or diseases is premature and points out that no current patients will be served until late this year and as a result “the state has not had the opportunity to evaluate the benefits and costs of the pilot program or determine areas for improvement or even whether to extend the program beyond its pilot period” (Huffington Post). Currently the Rauner administration and the leader of the pilot program, Democratic Representative Lou Lang are discussing a possible middle ground. 


Good-bye Gas and Gulp, Hello Gas and Grass
COLORADO: As Colorado seems to be the leader of the marijuana industry, it is only fitting that they be the first to offer Gas and Grass. Two gas stations at which patients may buy medical marijuana will be opening in October. A spokesman for Native Roots, the company opening the stores, tells 10WAVY the plan “gave the opportunity to potentially take a stop off their trips and give them one more opportunity to shop with us.” While some shoppers are excited about the idea saying, “It continues the convenience store idea with one stop shopping.” There are others that feel the idea is condoning impaired driving but Native Roots insists public safety is its priority and a supporter of the idea points out it shouldn’t be “any more of a concern than going to a liquor store an buying a bottle of booze right there. You have just as much accessibility to drink it in your car than you do at home, so it just has to be the responsibility of the person to be honest and responsible and not do stuff like that.” 


Cat Caught in Cannabis Caper
OREGON: A literal cat-burglar, Tigger, belongs, ironically, to West Linn Police Sgt. Dave Kempas. Kampas first discovered his cat’s mischievous ways four years ago when toys and trash began showing up on his porch with the newspaper every morning. The Sgt. Was especially surprised one morning to find that Tigger, renamed the more appropriate Kleptokitty, had left a bag of marijuana next to his morning paper. Kampas told WISH-TV 8 he scolded his pet for bringing home illegal substances and threw it out, but donates all the toys with any value to charity. Coincidentally this isn’t the first Kleptokitty the Sgt. has owned, as his previous feline, Buddy, would often steal his neighbors gardening gloves and lawn items.


A Whole New Landscape for California Pot Businesses
CALIFORNIA: A new package of medical marijuana bills is currently sitting on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown which, if signed, would change the way marijuana businesses in the state operate. Senate Bill 643 and Assembly Bills 266 and 243 would add regulation to almost every aspect of the medical marijuana industry. SB 643 would crack down on clinics that specialize in issuing medical marijuana recommendations to residents without valid health needs and would create pesticide standards for pot plants and labeling requirements for edibles. AB 266 would establish a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to oversee licensing and operating rules for growers, product producers, and retail shops.  

     Finally AB 243 would authorize the state to use licensing fees to carry out the framework and a fund for helping local governments address environmental problems associated with growing marijuana. Under the proposed law, everyone from growers to distributors to those that simply store the plants would be required to have a separate license for each, in all there would be 17 different license categories. The current owner of Cannacare, Lanette Davies, explains how this would drastically change her business. Currently Davies picks up her plants from a local farmer, however if the new laws go into effect she will be required to have someone bring the plants to her as she wouldn’t have the license to store the plants, just to sell them. She also says that certain products, such as edibles, would be gone as the person that currently makes them for her would not be licensed. The Governor would appoint a medical marijuana regulation chief to oversee the industry and counties would be able to impose their own taxes on dispensaries. If signed the new provisions would not take place until 2018, while the state is expected to vote on recreational marijuana in 2016.



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