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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

National News for November 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

9 States Voting on MJ in November

North Dakota: The Compassionate Care Act will allow patients suffering from cancer, HIV, Hepatitis C, AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, or any other debilitating illness similar to those mentioned to receive their medical marijuana card. The measure would require the Department ofHealth to administer registry identification cards to qualifying patients, as well as licensing nonprofit compassion centers. The compassion centers will be able to cultivate a limited number of plants to distribute to registered patients. If a patient lives more than 40 miles from a center, they may grow up to eight plants in a locked area, so long as it is not within 1000 feet of a public school. Patients and caregivers are permitted to possess up to three ounces of marijuana during a 14-day period.  

Montana: Proposal I-182 came about because many residents in the state are unhappy with the 2011 medical marijuana law, which is failing to meet patient’s needs. The new initiative would require providers to obtain licenses as well as receiving unannounced yearly inspections of their crops. Providers would also be allowed to care for more than three patients. Product testing to ensure safe, consistent dosages would be permitted. Veterans and those suffering from PTSD would finally be able to be treated with the medication. Licensing fees would be applied to administer the program.

Florida: Amendment 2 on Florida’s ballot could lead to medical marijuana legalization in the state. The Health Department would be required to regulate the medial marijuana treatment centers. The treatment centers would be responsible for cultivating and dispensing cannabis to patients that have qualified patients. Individuals with debilitating illnesses such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV, glaucoma, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, MS, or any other ailment of the same class or comparable to those mentioned would qualify for the card.

Arkansas: Two ballot proposals to legalize medical marijuana will be on the Arkansas ballot this year. Both measures allow patients with specific medical conditions to buy marijuana from dispensaries, but have different ideas for regulation and restrictions. Issue 6 on the ballot would establish a system for growing, transporting, and distributing the medication. The Department of Health would create rules related to medical access of marijuana, while the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission would establish rules concerning growing and selling the marijuana. It creates a Medical Marijuana Commission, which would be in charge of administering and regulating the licensing of cultivation and dispensing centers. State and local taxes would be applied to the sale of medical marijuana and used to enforce the created law as well as being dispersed to state workforce and education programs. Much of Issue 7 is the same as Issue 6, it would create a system for growing, obtaining, and distributing marijuana. The main difference between Issue 6 and Issue 7 is allowing patients who live more than 20 miles from a dispensary the right to grow their own medication. Issue 7 would also imposed state and local taxes to the sale of cannabis and would go to the Department of Health, which would be required to set up a system for helping low-income people afford the drug.

UPDATE: Two weeks before the election is to take place the Arkansas Supreme Court has disqualified Issue 7 from the state ballot. The ruling came as the result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of proposal 6 supporters, who were attempting to push out a competing initiative. Justices voted 5-2 in favor of throwing out more than 12,000, signatures leaving the proposal nearly 2,500 signatures short. This comes after 142,000 Arkansas voters have entered a ballot through early voting. The two dissenting judges wrote that they believed there were more than enough signatures left to qualify for the ballot and to let the voters decide. Keith Stroup, member of NORML Legal Counsel, has stated he believes Kara and Patrick Benca, the lawyers that filed the suit, are “certainly are arrogant individuals, deciding for the rest of the state what is best for them.” They have caused the better of the two initiatives to be disqualified.

Arizona: Residents of Arizona will have the opportunity to vote on Prop 205 this fall, which will allow adults 21 and older the ability to possess, buy, and grow up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. It will also set up a system of retail shops, which will be monitored and licensed by the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control. The 15 percent tax imposed on the sale of marijuana will be deposited in a Marijuana Fund and will be distributed to the Department of Revenue, localities where marijuana businesses are present, and the Arizona Department of Health. A recent poll has shown 43 percent of voters approve of the initiative while 47 percent are opposed with 10 percent undecided.

California: Proposition 64 would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. Taxes would be levied on cultivation and retail. The revenue received will be spent on drug research, treatment, and enforcement, as well as health and safety grants. Possession of up to 28.5 grams of flower and 8 grams of concentrates would become legal in the state. The state and local governments will issue separate business licenses, which are both required to operate a legal facility. All aspects of the businesses will be regulated by the Bureau of Marijuana Control. 

Massachusetts: The 4th question on the November ballot for Massachusetts would legalize the use, cultivation, possession, and distribution of marijuana for individuals 21 or older. It would also permit marijuana concentrates and edibles. The government would control licensing and regulation as well as taxing commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products.

Nevada: Question 2 on the Nevada November ballot would allow adults 21 and older to carry, consume, and grow recreational marijuana. The 15 percent tax outlined in the question would be used to enforce the new laws and given to schools. Marijuana businesses would be authorized by the Nevada Department of Taxation, and the number of retail stores in each county would be determined by the population.

Maine: Legalization in Maine would come from votes supporting question 1 on the state’s November ballot. The initiative would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess, grow, and use marijuana in limited amounts. It would also create a tightly regulated system of licensed stores, cultivation areas, and testing facilities. The proposal will make rules dictating production, testing, transport, and sales of cultivated plants. Each town and city will have the right to ban marijuana businesses from their area. There will be a 10 percent tax on all non-medical marijuana sales, which will be used to implement and enforce the regulations. All unused funds will go to the legislature and used “to benefit the citizens of Maine”. 

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