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Monday, December 5, 2016

National News for December 2016 - by Rachel Bunting



The election last month brought out different views among the people. While voters were being torn apart over the presidential choices, others were coming together to bring recreational or medical marijuana to their state. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts legalized recreational use, each with their own provisions, while Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Montana voted to allow medical marijuana. While they all have some type of legalization law on the books, all of their proposals have different rules and regulations. These four states join Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington State, and the District of Columbia in allowing adults to make their own decisions when it comes to using marijuana recreationally. Many believe these victories point to the continually changing views on marijuana and marijuana use.

California: Proposition 64 passed with 56% of the vote according to the DailyDot. This proposition will legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. Possession of up to 28.5 grams of flower and 8 grams of concentrates are now legal in the state. Taxes will 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. The state and local governments will issue separate business licenses, which are both required to operate a legal facility, but have until January 1st, 2018 to begin handing out licenses and allowing retail sales. All aspects of the businesses will be regulated by the Bureau of Marijuana Control.

Nevada: Question 2 on the Nevada ballot was passed by 54% of voters. Adults 21 and older are permitted to carry and consume up to an eighth or less of recreational marijuana. A 15 percent tax will be imposed on marijuana sales to enforce the new laws with surplus 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. Residents are not allowed to grow their own marijuana unless they live outside a 25-mile radius of a marijuana retail store. 

Massachusetts: The 4th question on the November ballot for Massachusetts was passed by a
54% vote. The approval has legalized the use, cultivation, possession, and distribution of marijuana for individuals 21 or older. Adults are able to have one ounce in their possession in public, and 10 ounces in their home. Marijuana concentrates and edibles are also permitted with the new law. The government will control licensing and regulation as well as imposing a 3.75% excise tax on marijuana and marijuana products which will go to regulations and the state’s general fund.

Maine: There were 378,288 voters in Maine who decided to legalize recreational marijuana. Question 1 on the state’s ballot allows adults over the age of 21 to possess, grow, and use marijuana. Adults may have up to 2.5 ounces in their possession with 6 flowering and 12 non-flowering plants in their home. It creates a tightly regulated system of licensed stores, cultivation areas, and testing facilities. There are now 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. A 10 percent tax on all non-medical marijuana sales 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”.

Adding to the growing list of states that allow medical marijuana use are Arkansas, Montana, Florida, and North Dakota:

Arkansas: After the Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified Issue 7 from appearing on the ballot, residents of the state approved the only marijuana issue left on the ballot. Issue 6 was approved by 53% of voters. The measure allows patients with specific medical conditions to buy marijuana from dispensaries. It establishes a system for growing, transporting, and distributing the medication. The Department of Health will create rules related to medical access of marijuana, while the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission will establish rules concerning growing and selling the marijuana. A Medical Marijuana Commission will be created and will be in charge of administering and regulating the licensing of cultivation and dispensing centers. State and local taxes that are applied to the sale of medical marijuana will be used to enforce the created law as well as being dispersed to state workforce and education programs.

Montana: Proposal I-182 succeeded in replacing the state’s 2011 medical marijuana law last month when 58% of voters approved the initiative. The newly passed law requires providers to obtain licenses and notes that they will be receiving unannounced yearly inspections of their crops. Providers will be allowed to care for more than three patients. Product testing to ensure safe, consistent dosages is now required. Veterans and those suffering from PTSD are finally able to be treated with the medication. Licensing fees will be applied to administer the program.

North Dakota: The Compassionate Care Act, measure 5 on the ballot, was passed by a 64% vote. The state will now 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 requires the Department of Health 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 are permitted to 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.

Florida: Amendment 2 on Florida’s ballot was passed by 71% of the state voters. The vote has created medical marijuana legalization in the state. The Health Department will be required to regulate the medial marijuana treatment centers. The treatment centers are now responsible for cultivating and dispensing cannabis to patients that have qualified ailments. 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 will qualify for the card.

Arizona: Proposition 205 failed in the 2016 November election. The bill was defeated with 52% of voters turning it down, and 48% in support. Those who decided to vote to reject the prop had reasons ranging from fear of stoned drivers to disliking the legalized atmosphere of Colorado. Some felt the measure was poorly written and had contradictory language in regard to impaired driving. The law would have made driving a car, boat, or other vehicle under the influence illegal but also stated “the state could not punish someone ‘for an action taken while under the influence of marijuana … solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana in the person’s body or in the urine, blood, saliva, hair or other tissue or fluid of the person’s body’.” Prop 205 would have allowed adults 21 and older the ability to possess, buy, and grow up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. It also would have set up a system of retail shops, which would’ve been monitored and licensed by the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control. The 15 percent tax imposed on the sale of marijuana was intended to be deposited in a Marijuana Fund and to be distributed to the Department of Revenue, localities where marijuana businesses exist, and the Arizona Department of Health. Those behind the legalization effort are regrouping and are thinking positive as the gap between those opposed to or accepting marijuana use is closing.

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