Last week, Minnesota legislators approved the use of medical marijuana for patients with serious debilitating conditions such as cancer, HIV, and epilepsy in the form of CBD pills and oils. Joining many other states in the movement for patient healthcare, legislators chose to legalize only those forms of marijuana extracts while keeping the smoking of cannabis plant matter illegal. While legalization advocates hailed the new rules as a step forward, they argued that Minnesota’s approach was unusually restrictive, potentially excluding patients living in rural areas or on tight budgets from obtaining the drugs.
Washington State House and Senate have both passed legislature that would allow the changes to the recreational marijuana bill such as zoning rules and tax structure. The bill is on it's way to the governor's desk , and if he chooses to sign it the tax on marijuana sold in the state will be 37% for both recreational and medical. The House passed the measure Friday on a 59-38 vote. One of the main changes to the current system would be the elimination of the three-tier tax structure that would be replaced with a single excise tax of 37 percent at the point of sale. The excise tax is one that everyone would have to pay, both medical marijuana patients and recreational users.
Uruguay legalized recreational marijuana in 2013 and has since been slowly implementing parts of the law to get the ball rolling. Differentl marijuana clubs have sprouted up, some allowing members to grow their own plants in club facilities with a max of 45 members and 99 plants. Members of these clubs will be allowed to receive 1.4 ounces of marijuana (40 grams) per month. Strict laws are still in place to keep marijuana regulated properly such as, marijuana club members cannot grow at home and vice versa. The clubs, which are sprouting up in Montevideo, often include giant greenhouses where members can grow plants to their liking and, of course, smoke a joint or two to test a harvest. Members can receive up to 1.4 ounces (40 grams) per month
The Republican Party has not had a particularly positive stance on marijuana throughout history, but this list of political supporters of marijuana may surprise you with Rand Paul ranking the highest due to his support of medical marijuana and reducing penalties for adult marijuana use. Of course there are supporteres on both sides such as Bernie Sanders and Rick Perry, as well as opposers on both sides like Chris Christie and Joe Biden. Though some of these politicians have previously stated their beliefs against legalizing marijuana, many have begun to see the negatives of prohibition and the positives of keeping non-violent offenders out of jail. The first term Republican senator from Kentucky has been an outspoken opponent of the War on Drugs, stating that it creates an undercurrent of unease in the country. “The War on Drugs has created a culture of violence and puts police in an impossible situation,” Paul said at the Desert Vista Community Center in Las Vegas.
In only a few days time, Oregon's recreational marijuana bill will go into effect allowing adults over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana to be used in private. In preparation, the Portland Police issued a fun way of reminding citizens of the legal limits for possession. Personal possession in public is limited to 1 ounce, or roughly the size of a voodoo doughnut doll. Possession at home is limited to 8 ounces while everything over that is still illegal. Driving under the influence of pot and public consumption are both illegal, but police urge citizens to NOT call 911 unless there is an immediate risk. On a more serious note, you can be arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants or get a citation for using in a public place. Along those lines, if you do see someone using marijuana in a public place, police urge you NOT to call 911, unless there is an immediate public safety risk. Transporting marijuana products from Washington to Oregon is a violation of Federal drug laws. If you smell marijuana from your neighbor's home or yard and it's bothering you, police say you should discuss it with them privately and not call 911.
ResponsibleOhio has been working hard to bring marijuana legalization to Ohio for years now, but they're now addressing another problem in preparation for the hopeful oncoming legalization. This new bill, if passed, would expunge previous marijuana offenders from their crime, allowing the information to be erased and freeing them from problematic employment searches and cease many other shortcomings due to a conviction. If the amendment is passed, the legislative language will be exactly how ResponsibleOhio intended, however if lawmakers fail to pass it but its brought to ballot by the voters, then legislators will be able to change and manipulate the law. "If we've decided we want to no longer call this a crime, we should be prepared to erase or be very open to modifying the crime records of anybody who has gotten in trouble with it," Berman said. Currently, Berman said, Ohioans can face dozens of restrictions for a marijuana offense.
This week Massschusetts' first medical marijuana dispensary opened up, and among those in line was a large population of elderly patients just looking for relief. 14 more dispensaries are working on gaining legal approval but only two more are expected to open their doors by this fall leaving patients only one option for now. Trips to the dispensary are strictly appointment only for now, and prices are still rather high, but patients are excited to be a part of this historical moment finally in their home state. Wendy Atwood was waiting in line, too. The 53-year-old said she has used marijuana to ease knee and back pain from arthritis, depression, and anxiety. She also said she has long used the drug recreationally. “I am a law-abiding citizen, a mom with two kids, and a day-care provider,” Atwood said. “It’s going to be very exciting” to walk into the dispensary, she added. “I’m happy that it’s not under wraps anymore.” But the process was hardly speedy. Waves of patients waited up to an hour in line, and then, in small groups, were ushered inside.
New study partially funded by the federal government finds that alcohol impairs drivers much worse than marijuana. In a sophisticated driving simulator, 19 adults were tested with marijuana, alcohol, and placebo in a 45 minute drive to discover the way that drivers become impaired after using such drugs. Alcohol consistently raised the number of times drivers left the lane and weaved, while marijuanas only downfall showed as creating tunnel vision for certain drivers. Researchers said alcohol "significantly increased lane departures/minimum and maximum lateral acceleration; these measures were not sensitive to cannabis." Researchers also concluded Cannabis-influenced drivers "may attempt to drive more cautiously to compensate for impairing effects, whereas alcohol-influenced drivers often underestimate their impairment and take more risk."
After being delayed multiple times, Massachusetts first medical marijuana dispensary will be opening it's doors on Wednesday, June 24th. The state's voters passed the medical marijuana bill almost 3 years ago and after a long wait will finally have safe access to the drug. The first despensary to open, Alternative Therapies Group, wants to remain as professional as possible, seeing patients by appointment only, and keeping the medication at a separate location. ATG is expected to serve thousands of patients in the coming weeks after opening. “Salem has long been a progressive, forward-thinking, and open-minded community, and we look forward to [Alternative Therapies] starting operation this week and providing yet another critical medical choice to patients for the entire North Shore,” the mayor said.
Adults in Oregon will VERY soon be joining the wonderful world of recreational marijuana. July 1st, 2015 marks the day it will be legal to possess up to 8 ounces of pot in your home and up to 1 ounce in public, but as of July 1st the only legal way to obtain the plant is to grow it yourself. There are talks of allowing medical dispensaries to temporarily sell recreational marijuana to jump start the process, but unless that happens then residents will be forced to wait indefinitely until marijuana businesses are allowed to begin cultivation and sale. It will still be illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even coming from Oregon's neighbor to the north who has had recreational marijuana for some time now. WHEN CAN I BUY IT LEGALLY? There is no hard date. The OLCC does not expect to have the chain of retail recreational marijuana growers, processors, wholesalers and sales outlets permitted and operating until late in 2016. There has been talk in the Legislature about jumpstarting that by allowing recreational marijuana sales through medical marijuana dispensaries as early as October, but that remains up in the air.
It's not over yet, but it's very likely that the last potential marijuana legalization bill in Maine will be turned down by the senate. This week state senators unanimously killed a different legalization bill, leaving little faith that this session's final marijuana bill will have any support. Maine passed a medical marijuana bill in 1999, but the bill turned out to be extremely limiting leaving the state no better than before. Though some legislators strongly oppose legalization, the voters will have the final say later this year and will have their chance to bring the issue of legalization to the 2016 ballot. “The Legislature’s failure to act should not be mistaken for waning public interest in marijuana policy reform. Elected officials have always followed the citizens’ lead on this issue,” Boyer said in a written statement. “Maine voters will still have the final say, and we expect they will say it’s time to end marijuana prohibition.”
Progress is coming! For years marijuana has been the subject of scrutiny whether positive or negative light, but the government has refused to change its very negative stance and left the drug's legality in a confusing catch 22. As a Schedule 1 narcotic, it is nearly impossible to gain federal funding to objectively research marijuana through all the hurdles that must be jumped. However, this week the White House will announce the dismissal of one barrier holding back the research of marijuana, allowing federal funding to support scientists and open the doors to the unknown world of cannabis. Researchers have had only the inklings of the good things that pot can do, from fighting cancer to decreasing the effects of PTSD, but they haven’t been able to explore it deeply or even assess its impact on health in the long term. With fewer restrictions on what they can investigate, some of their questions may be answered more quickly, which could mean better treatments for a slew of medical conditions.