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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 16 May 2017 04:20:21 PST

Congress Reauthorizes Protections For State Medical Cannabis Programs

Washington, DC: Spending legislation approved by Congress and signed into law by the President reauthorizes language protecting state-sanctioned medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs. However, the President expressed his personal opposition to the measure by issuing a signing statement suggesting that the provisions may interfere with his constitutional authority. Signing statements are frequently issued by Presidents, but they do not carry the weight of law.

Section 537 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, states that no federal funds may be appropriated to "prevent any [state] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." That language, initially passed by Congress in 2014, is now known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

A similar amendment protecting state-sponsored hemp programs was also reauthorized.

Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, 2017, at which time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire.

Forty-six states now recognize the therapeutic use of either cannabis or cannabidiol derived products. Thirty states recognize hemp as an industrial crop.

Eight states regulate the adult use, production, and sale of marijuana. Non-medical, retail marijuana businesses operating in these states are not protected by these amendments and still remain vulnerable to federal interference or prosecution. In February, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer publicly said that the administration was considering engaging in "greater enforcement" of federal anti-marijuana laws in these jurisdictions.


Vermont: Lawmakers Approve Measure Eliminating Penalties For The Adult Use Of Marijuana

Montpelier, VT: House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 22, to eliminate criminal and civil penalties specific to the adult use and possession of marijuana.

The measure amends state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to two mature plants (and up to four immature plants) is no longer subject to penalty. It also establishes a nine member commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market.

If enacted into law, the penalty changes would go into effect on July 1, 2018.

Senate Bill 22 now awaits action from Gov. Phil Scott, who has previously expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana but has also said that "the timing's not right" for legalization. In February, his office came out strongly in opposition to a more expansive Senate proposal that sought to license and regulate the commercial cultivation and retail sale of cannabis to adults.

Vermont's legislature is the first ever to approve legislation eliminating criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess or grow marijuana for non-medical purposes.


Nevada: Retail Marijuana Sales To Begin This July

Carson City, NV: Nevada regulators have approved rules to allow for the expedited sales of cannabis to adults.

Members of the Nevada Tax Commission voted 6 to 1 on Monday to license select medical dispensaries to engage in retail sales of non-medical cannabis. Dispensaries in good standing with the state will be able to apply for "early start" licenses on May 15. Those facilities who are approved by state regulators will be able to engage in adult use marijuana sales on July 1.

A majority of voters decided last November in favor of The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, a voter-initiated measure regulating the commercial marijuana market. Provisions in the law eliminating criminal penalties regarding the personal possession of personal use quantities of cannabis took effect on January 1, 2017. Separate provisions in the measure regulating the commercial production and sales of cannabis were initially slated to take effect on January 1, 2018.

Regulators decision to expedite marijuana sales is in sharp contrast to the actions of lawmakers in several other states, including Maine and Massachusetts - both of which have taken steps to delay adult use marijuana sales by several months.


Mexico: Lawmakers Approve Legislation Permitting Medical Cannabis Access

Mexico City, Mexico: Mexican lawmakers have approved legislation to regulate the use of medical cannabis products. The legislation awaits action from President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has spoken in favor of the measure.

It eliminates criminal prohibitions related to the cultivation of marijuana for therapeutic purposes and authorizes the Health Ministry to design regulations for the use, importation, and production of pharmaceutical products derived from CBD-dominant/low-THC cannabis. Currently, CBD-infused products may be imported into the country on a case by case basis.

Mexican lawmakers in 2009 decriminalized the personal possession of up to five grams of cannabis. Last year, President Nieto proposed legislation to increase this threshold to one ounce.

In 2015, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-drug laws should not trump individuals' rights to grow and consume cannabis for their own personal use.


Florida: Lawmakers Fail To Reconcile Medical Cannabis Implementation Bills

Tallahassee, FL: Lawmakers failed to enact legislation this legislative session establishing rules for the implementation of Amendment 2, a voter-initiated measure legalizing the use, production, and dispensing of medical cannabis. Over 70 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment in November.

Unless lawmakers convene a special legislative session to address the issue, Department of Health staff will be tasked with establishing regulations for the program. Those rules are due by July 3. The amendment calls for the program to be operational by October.

The agency had previously crafted draft regulations in January. Those provisions received significant pushback because they sought to significantly amend the measure's language and intent.


Georgia: Governor Signs CBD Expansion Legislation

Atlanta, GA: Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation on Tuesday expanding the state's two-year-old cannabinol exemption law. The law took immediate effect.

Senate Bill 16 for the first time permits reciprocity for qualifying patients from other states and expands the pool of patients eligible to possess CBD to include those with autism, epidermolysis bullosa, AIDS, Tourette's Syndrome, severe peripheral neuropathy, or who are in hospice care.

Over 1,700 Georgians are registered to possess CBD-derived products. However, the law neither provides for an in-state supply source for CBD, nor does it establish a regulated distribution system for CBD-specific products.

Sixteen states have enacted similar laws explicitly recognizing cannabidiol as a therapeutic agent.


New Hampshire Poised To Decriminalize Marijuana

Legislation passed the state Senate, will soon head to Governors desk.

In a 17-6 vote, the New Hampshire Senate passed HB 640 to eliminate the threat of jail time for a marijuana possession conviction of less than 3/4 of an ounce and reduces the fine from $350 to $100.

Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, released the following statement:

"New Hampshire remains the only New England state where an adult can be arrested, face up to a year in jail, and suffer a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a personal use amount of marijuana.

"House Bill 640 is a long overdue, fiscally sensible proposals that is supported by the voters, and that will enable police, prosecutors, and the courts to reallocate their existing resources toward activities that will better serve the public.

"After years of stone walling by former leadership, we commend lawmakers for finally correcting this injustice. Once law, Granite state residents will be one step closer to being able to truly 'Live Free’ and not just 'live free, but potentially be incarcerated."

This measure amends penalties for adults who possess small, personal use quantities of marijuana. This change is supported by a majority of New Hampshire voters — 56 percent of whom now say they support outright legalization of the plant.

This change will save taxpayers money and allow police and the courts to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes.

Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young adults, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

Sixty-eight percent of New Hampshire adults support “legalizing [the] possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal recreational use,” and seventy-four percent of respondents endorse marijuana being sold at state-licensed outlets and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.


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