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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

National News for January 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Pismo Beach Cracking Down on Cannabis Meds and Synthetics
California: The City Council of Pismo Beach will consider two proposed ordinances this month, which come after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. According to the Tribune, the Act states that cities without specific ordinances regulating or prohibiting marijuana by Mar. 1st 2016, will lose their ability to regulate medical marijuana in their city and the state will become the sole licensing and regulating authority.

     The first ordinance proposed in Pismo Beach would either ban or regulate medical marijuana cultivation in the city. The other ordinance would ban the sales of synthetic drugs like spice and bath salts. While many cities are drafting ordinances to either regulate or ban marijuana cultivation, Pismo Beach city attorney Dave Fleishman prepared a report that says the Pismo staff encourage the city to consider banning, not regulating. The report also notes that the “city approved medical marijuana delivery services to operate within city limits” earlier this year, which gives residents “an effective and discreet method of obtaining medical marijuana within the City, and action taken by the Council relating to this [ordinance] request will not affect that.”

     The second proposal, which would ban the sale of synthetic drugs, will also be considered in January. Certain synthetic drugs are already prohibited by federal and state laws, however because the companies that make these products are constantly changing their chemical makeup to avoid the laws it becomes harder to keep them banned. While there is no evidence that synthetic substances are being sold in Pismo Beach, the staff and Police chief are encouraging the city to pass the ordinance to avoid having to deal with potential sales of the drugs in the future.

Could Kentucky be Next?
The “Cannabis Freedom Act” pre-filed by Sen. Perry Clark would legalize and regulate marijuana similar to that of alcohol. Newly elected Republican governor, Matt Bevins, is one of the biggest supporters for legalization in the state, one of the reasons he may have been elected over the competition who was strongly opposed to the drug. Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana (KY4MM) was one of the first groups in Northern Kentucky to begin advocating for the issue.

     Kentucky is noted as having a high rate of opiate-addiction, groups like KY4MM point out that legalizing marijuana could help address and alleviate this issue. A couple of bills have already been introduced in the state but have failed. Many remain hopeful that it will be passed especially now that Kentucky, and other states, can look at Colorado and Washington to observe the effects and financial benefits of legalization. Sen. Clark stated that funds generated from the Cannabis Freedom Act would be mostly directed at education and scholarships. The bill will be considered in January when the legislative session gathers again.

Is Rescheduling Coming?
Washington D.C.:
According to Forbes Magazine, 2016 will be a huge year for marijuana legalization. Many are hoping the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, will bend to public pressure and set up a hearing to discuss the CARERS Act. The CARERS Act is a bill which would allow states to legalize medical marijuana without having to worry about federal intrusion and would also make marijuana a schedule II drug as opposed to its current schedule I status. As a schedule I drug, federal government cannot acknowledge any medicinal benefits from marijuana, however if it were rescheduled the government would have a harder time prosecuting marijuana patients. The bill would create more room for research on the medication and allow banks to work with companies dealing with the product. This is only one of many bills hoping for a hearing in front of the committee in 2016. Other bills include veteran’s access to medical marijuana, property protection for patients, clean slate for marijuana offenses, and marijuana banking. Clearly Forbes has it right with the idea that 2015 was simply a lead up to an even more exciting 2016 for the medical marijuana community.

Utah Voters Want Legalilzed Marijuana
Utah: Utah Policy has released a new poll showing that a majority of Utah voters are in favor of legalizing the plant. The survey questioned 624 adults and was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates; it showed that 61 percent of Utahan’s believe medical marijuana should be legalized in the state while 36 percent opposed and 2 percent are unsure of how they would vote. Key findings in the poll show that 48 percent of self-described “very active” Mormons are in favor of medical marijuana while 50 percent of the same group are opposed. 82 percent of Catholics, 65 percent of Protestants, and 87 percent of nonreligious voters in the state agree with legalization.

     The study also found that older residents are in favor of medical legalization than younger residents. UtahPolicy thinks this could possibly be because older residents may have faced medical challenges or know people that have dealt with problems and could have benefitted from the medication. The legislature in Utah is going to consider two separate legalization measures when they reconvene next year. One of the bills would allow for only CBD treatments to people with serious medical conditions such as cancer or HIV/AIDS. The other bill would allow for a wider range of compounds and products to be used for those with serious conditions. 

Marijuana Nurseries Appeal Rejection
Three potential grow operations in Florida have filed challenges against the licenses permitted to the first “dispensing organizations” with a fourth expected to file before the deadline. Perkins, San Felasco Nurseries, and TropiFlora were the three companies to file complaints while Tornello Landscape put its department on notice that it intends to appeal, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

     Florida legalized medical marijuana with low THC and high CBD in 2014. The law allows for five companies in five regions to grow and distribute the product. The five applicants were supposed to be picked by Jan. 1st of this year, but the process was delayed because of legal issues. The appeals submitted this month may delay the process even longer. Perkins’ challenge questioned the rankings given to the company by the three panelists as the numbers vary so much the company believes they were not come to systematically as required. San Felasco was told their application was rejected because the director of research development failed the background screening. A lawyer for the company claims that while the director’s record was expunged and the misdemeanor he was charged with happened over 10 years ago in a different state it shouldn’t matter because state law only requires that owners or managers of cannabis companies not have a felony conviction, the director of research is not an owner or manager.

     TropiFlora was not even considered for ranking because Health officials “decided that the applicant did not provide the nursery’s financial documents required under the law”. TropiFlora and its parent company MariJ Agricultural argue that the nursery is a secondary company to MariJ and therefore MariJ’s financial documents should have been sufficient. Health officials will review the challenges and address them later this month.

Tainted Oil Recalled
A marijuana company in Denver, Advanced Medical Alternatives, is recalling 27 cartridges of vape-pen oil. The recall is due to potentially dangerous pesticides which may have been used when treating the cannabis the oil was extracted from. This is the 13th recall in 13 weeks according to Fox News. Earlier in December they recalled another concentrate with high levels of a banned pesticide. There are certain pesticides in Colorado that are not permitted to be used on marijuana plants. Two other companies in Colorado have also had to issue recalls on their edibles.

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