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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

National News for May 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

Marijuana Bills Still Moving in Nevada
Nevada: While many legislative bills in Nevada died in April, many marijuana bills are still moving either to the Senate or the Assembly floor. Most of these bills, sponsored by Senator Tick Segerblom, involve controlling and supporting the new industry. Bills waiting to move to the next step include; Senate Bill 236, which will permit local governments to allow public marijuana use in businesses such as bars and hotels with a permit. Senate Bill 302 would allow medical dispensaries to begin selling products immediately rather than waiting for the July 1st opening day. This bill would also create a 5 percent state tax on medical marijuana and a 15 percent tax on recreational.

     Senate Bill 329 has been referred to a finance committee and deals with marijuana research. Under Senate Bill 344, edible marijuana products cannot contain sugar unless they are baked goods and must not have labels with cartoon characters, mascots, action figures, balloons, fruits, or toys. Senate bill 374 will prohibit professional licensing boards from disciplining a card holder and employers from taking adverse actions against an employee ‘for expressing opinions relating to marijuana.’ Assembly Bill 135 proposes eliminating urine tests to assess suspected DUI drivers, and would require blood testing for specific marijuana metabolites. There were 5 bills that were exempt from being voted on immediately. Segerblom is hopeful that so many proposals survived the session and will move to the Legislature.


New Possession Program in Dallas
Texas: City council members in Dallas passed a “cite and release” program with a 10-5 vote. As part of the program, any person caught with less than 4oz of marijuana will be issued a misdemeanor citation and a court date. Currently, possession of even the smallest amount can land a person in jail so many are supportive of the new program going into effect October 1st. However, there are some, like defense lawyer Pete Schulte, who feel it will put more stress on law enforcement and the justice system. Schulte told CBS Local, “In a perfect world, if people were cited, they were released and they showed up to court and took care of their case, perfect. [But] if someone does not show up for their date in court, a warrant will be issued and served for their arrest, it just taxes law enforcement weeks or months later.” Dallas Police have confirmed they will be participating in the program, but would like to remind residents that the program does not apply to drug free areas.


“Cash Me Outside” Girl Caught Outside
Florida: Danielle Bregoli became an internet sensation after appearing on Dr. Phil in September of last year. Her horrible attitude and atrocious articulation became instant viral art with “cash me outside, how bow dah” appearing everywhere for a few weeks. The 14-year-old is in the news again for being caught outside her friend’s house with a joint on the same day she appeared in court over battery and theft charges. Bregoli claims she didn’t touch the joint, but as neither girl would tell law enforcement who it belonged to, they were both issued a citation.


Always One Step Ahead
Colorado: A proposed bill, recently passed by Colorado’s Senate, will keep marijuana cultivators and retailers safe if the federal government tries to interfere with their state laws. The law will allow growers and distributors ‘to reclassify recreational weed as medical marijuana in the event of a federal crackdown.’ Though many say that reclassifying the plants will not prevent federal interference, others believe this is “the boldest bid yet by a US marijuana state to avoid federal intervention.” The bill will now move to the state’s Democrat-controlled house.


Cultivation and Processing Center in Findlay
Pennsylvania: Sweetwater Pharmacognosy LLC has been given the green light, by Township Supervisors in Findlay, to create a large growing and processing facility. The building will have a 24,000-sq. ft.  greenhouse and an additional 8,000-sq. ft. will be used for the manufacturing process and office space. The final product will be shipped and sold at dispensaries. The company has already submitted applications to open dispensaries in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Chief facilities director, Frank Zappala, told the post-gazette, “The growing and processing must take place in the same location, but selling and dispensing cannot take place in the same facility…wastewater from the facility will be filtered and recycled and the disposal of plant waste will follow regulations keeping it separate from other waste.”

     Sweetwater will not only be producing the forms of marijuana allowed in the state such as pills, oils, topical solutions, tinctures, and liquids, but has also obtained the only license in Pennsylvania for selling a transdermal patch. After the meeting, Supervisor Tom Gallant stated, “It’s legal, it’s been approved by the legislature, I have no problem with medical marijuana. I think the way we have been handling the issue in the past has gone nowhere. I would rather have it in our township where our board can make sure it is handled exactly the way it is supposed to be, rather than have it go someplace where we can’t trust what’s going to happen.”


There’s an App for that
Nevada: Unfortunately, there is still a stigma tied to marijuana use in society today. This can make it hard for people to meet like-minded individuals in the cannabis community, especially if they are not located near a marijuana-friendly area. Thankfully, there’s now an app for those looking to socialize more with other smokers. High There is the largest of several social and match making apps available to marijuana enthusiasts.

     CNN recently reported on a couple from Las Vegas who met on the app and are now planning their wedding. Chloe Lebbate and Dakota Shyface met through the site after having difficulty finding anyone that was comfortable with their regular cannabis use on sites like Tinder and “I had given up on dating apps,” Lebbate told CNN. “I couldn’t find anyone who also smoked weed. It’s something that’s part of me. I use medical marijuana for health ailments, and a lot of people aren’t cool with that.” Shyface added, “I remember swiping (through Tinder), and I’d say 50% of profiles said, ‘no smoking’.” After finding each other on the app they met up in person, and were engaged three months later. High There has nearly 500,000 uses around the world with the highest areas being in California, New York, and Colorado. With so many ways to be involved in the cannabis community, no stoner should ever feel alone.


Coming Soon: Legalization
Illinois: Details on House Bill 2353 were released by Senator Heater Steans and Representative Kelly Cassidy last month. The bill attempts to revise the Cannabis Control Act, which currently states that any person in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana will be fined up to $200, up to 30 grams is a class B misdemeanor, 30-100 grams is a Class A misdemeanor, and more than 100 grams is a felony. The revisions would allow adults 21 and older to purchase marijuana and the process would be similar to buying alcohol. Identification would be required when purchasing and smoking in public would remain illegal.

     Residents in the state would be allowed to possess up to 28 grams and grow their own marijuana so long as they are not grown in public view. Anyone would be able to cultivate and distribute marijuana but must have a state license to grow or sell hemp. Smoking and driving would still be illegal. The Department of Agriculture will have 180 days, if the amendment is approved, to create rules and regulations for over the counter establishments. A $50 tax would be put on every 28 grams of cannabis flower, $15 per 25 grams of non-flower marijuana products, and $25 for every immature plant. Taxes will be distributed to the Board of Education, the Department of Public Health, and the general revenue fund.

     The amendment allows employers to deal with marijuana ‘as they see fit’, lawmakers do not want to infringe on the rights of business owners. HB 2353 moves to the House Rules Committee next.

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