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Thursday, June 1, 2017

National News for June 2017

Changes in Washington’s Laws
Washington: Recreational marijuana in Washington was approved in 2012 and implemented in 2013. Recently Senate Bill 5131 made some changes to the voter approved law.  SB 5131 passed the Senate and House on April 20th.

     The original law, while allowing recreational marijuana, made sharing a personal stash illegal.  That has changed under the new regulations. Now adults 21 and older may deliver up to a half ounce of flower, eight ounces of infused solid edible, thirty-six ounces of infused liquid, OR three and a half grams of concentrates to another adult, so long as no money is exchanged and the product is kept in the original packaging.

     Another change affects the patient/producer relationship. Previously patients had to purchase seeds and clones from providers or collectives, but now patients may cut out the middle man and buy directly from the producer.

     Home growing has been illegal since recreational use was permitted, while the bill did not change this aspect, it does require the state liquor and cannabis board to conduct a study on “options for the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users and report on their findings by December 1, 2017”. Though this does not allow users to grow in their home just yet, it does open the door for that opportunity in the future.

     The new bill changes the way companies may advertise their products or their business. New regulations state that advertisements must reduce the potential of appealing to youth. This means billboards, or any other external signs, can only contain the name of the business, the location, and the type of business. They cannot contain images of plants, products, or any image that appeals to children, such as cartoon characters. Advertisements cannot be at public transit stops, such as bus stops, taxi stands, train stations, or airports. There can also be no commercial mascots advertising the businesses as they could draw the eye of children to the shops.

     Other miscellaneous changes include developing a study to determine the feasibility and practicality of industrial hemp production. Increasing the number of retail locations allowed under one license from three to five. It also states that any business that receives a license but fails to open a store within two years may forfeit their license.

     Officials hope that by expanding and clarifying marijuana regulations in the state, recreational users will begin to invest even more into the state’s economy. These changes to the law will go into effect later in the year.

Attempted Dispensary Robbery
Washington D.C.: In late May, officers responded to a call of gunshots in D.C. They arrived at the Takoma Wellness Center to find the two suspects had already fled the scene after attempting to rob the dispensary.

     Takoma is one of three medication facilities in the capital. The incident happened before the business was open for the day. Jeffery Kahn, owner of the shop, told the Washington Post two men approached the door saying they wanted weed. When refused entry, one of the men fired at the security guard. Thankfully the shot missed the doorman and an employee inside the center pushed a panic button to alert police.

     While there was some damage to the outside of the store, the business opened later the same day. Police are still investigating and searching for suspects, encouraging anyone with information to come forward.

Fire Reveals Plants
New Jersey: Officer’s from the Patterson Police Department removed a large marijuana grow operation after responding to a house fire late last month. Nearly 40 plants, black lights, and other growing supplies were seized after firefighters discovered the plants while putting out the fire. Suspects living in the home were arrested and police say they expect to announce charges soon. While medical marijuana laws are enacted in the state and small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized, it is still illegal to have a grow operation of this size in New Jersey.

Governor’s Decision: Veto or Legalize?
Vermont: At the end of May, Governor Phil Scott will decide whether Vermont will be the 9th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The proposed legislation will allow adults over the age of 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana. It will also give them the ability to grow their own in small quantities.
While the governor has stated that he is not morally opposed to recreational marijuana, he does have some concerns about safety when it comes to using and growing the plant. His office has stated that the governor will either sign or veto the proposal, refusing to allow it to become law without his signature.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2015 and possession of small amounts was decriminalized at the same time.

UPDATE: Governor Phil Scott has decided to veto the bill legalizing marijuana in the state. “We need to get this right,” he stated, according to Washington Times, “I think we need to move a little bit slower.” Scott claims the bill ‘lacks adequate safety measures’ and is having it rewritten by legislature.

Accidental Donation
Minnesota: The Maplewood Police Department was contacted after workers at a secondhand shop found nearly 100 grams of marijuana among donated children’s clothes. Employees of Once Upon a Child were sorting through newly donated clothes when they discovered dozens of little plastic bags filled with the green flowers. Police have released a statement inviting the owner to come claim their products from the station. Though the owner, or owners, should be prepared to face a felony charge that carries a sentence of over a year should they come forward. Not shockingly, no one has come to claim the missing marijuana.

Investing Big in the Marijuana Industry
Florida: Successful and wealthy Orlando attorney John Morgan put nearly $7 million into expanding the medical marijuana program in Florida. While that campaign was successful, it is nothing compared to what he is preparing to devote to the industry. Morgan has stated that he plans to invest nearly $100 million “into the right opportunities”. Recently he told the Miami Herald, “I am prepared to invest significant monies in this industry and I plan to. I have learned a great deal about the miracles of marijuana over the last five years. And what better person than me to be involved?” He is hoping to put his money into owning part of a state-licensed dispensary, though he has yet to find one he wants to be financially involved with.

Changing the Date
Nevada: An attorney from Douglas County, Jim Hartman, is filing a complaint against the Nevada Tax Commission for violating open meeting law. During a recent meeting the Commission decided to adopt temporary regulations allowing recreational marijuana to be sold beginning July 1st of this year.

     However, this change causes the start date for selling marijuana to be six months earlier than was originally intended. Hartman states that because the terms marijuana and early start were not included on the meeting agenda for a May 8th meeting, the law was violated.

     If an inquiry finds the open meeting laws were violated by adopting the new regulations, the commission could be forced to have another meeting with the same agenda. A do-over meeting will push back the new recreational sale date by at least two months.

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