Maryland is now the 21st whole-plant medical marijuana state and the 18th decriminalization state. Gov. Martin O’Malley today signed the bills into law. The medical marijuana bill does not yet define qualifying conditions or patient possession limits, but does mandate that fifteen medical marijuana growers will be licensed to provide medicine for an undetermined number of dispensaries. The earliest medicine will be available for patients in Maryland is projected to be Fall of 2015. Meanwhile, the decriminalization measure just enacted protects all adults from arrest for the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana a civil offense with a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program. The measure will officially go into effect on October 1.
A new marijuana vending machine is making its debut in Colorado this week. ZaZZZ is a machine made by American Green and was demonstrated at a private event this Saturday prior to its unveiling at the Herbal Elements dispensary in Denver. The machine uses biometric technology mandated under the Control Meth Act to verify the ID and age of the purchaser. The machine does not yet read medical marijuana “red cards” in Colorado, but Herbal Elements is a medical-only dispensary, so anyone using the machine will have been identified as a legitimate medical consumer before accessing the machine. So far, the machines will only be placed inside of licensed dispensaries.
4/20 is drawing tourists to Colorado in droves. According to the travel website Hotels.com, booking for the April 18-20 weekend is up 73 percent compared to the 4/20 weekend last year. In the first quarter of 2014, hotel searches for Denver are up 25 percent and the state of Colorado overall has seen a 7 percent increase. Tourists visiting for the weekend have a large selection of pot-related fun at hand besides visiting the state’s legal marijuana shops. The HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup will take place at the Denver Mart, expecting 30,000 people in attendance. Concerts in the area include Ice Cube and Action Bronson on Friday, Slightly Stoopid and Mac Miller on Saturday, and Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa on Sunday. The 4/20 Rally at Civic Center Park will feature B.o.B. and Wyclef Jean. Leftover Salmon will appear in the streets, the Dabroots festival will bring Nappy Roots and other reggae heavyweights to Darkstar Lounge. The counterculture CHAMPS Trade Show will also be happening. For a complete Denver 4/20 Guide, see The Cannabist online.
St. Louis cops have donated equipment seized from marijuana growers to a charity that helps disabled people plant indoor vegetable gardens. An estimated $20,000 worth of lights, ballasts, hoods, and other equipment taken from marijuana busts was given to The Challenge Center, a non-profit organization supported by the Catholic Charities Bureau. This is the first time the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office has donated the items rather than sell them at auction. “I thought it could be of use to them. I know they will use it for a good cause,” said Sheriff Ross Litman. “It didn’t make sense to put the items back on the market. The equipment will now go to a good cause and won’t end up in the wrong hands,” said the sheriff, referring to marijuana growers who often frequent police auctions for low-cost equipment.
The push for cannabidiol-only medical marijuana continues as Kentucky’s Governor has signed Senate Bill 124. This law was approved unanimously by the Kentucky House and Senate. It approves the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville to produce and distribute high-CBD oil to patients who have a recommendation from a university physician. The law simply exempts cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana, similar to how industrial hemp isn’t considered marijuana. Kentucky becomes the 3rd state to pass a CBD-only bill after Utah and Alabama; meanwhile, CBD-only bills are in the works in Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, and Wisconsin.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order to drug test every state employee may be reviewed by the US Supreme Court. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals slapped down the governor’s overly broad approach to public employee drug testing last year, saying that suspicionless drug testing was an unconstitutional violation of most public employees’ Fourth Amendment rights. Some of the 85,000 affected employees who have safety-sensitive positions could be legally tested, the appeals court reasoned, but not every employee, so the appeals court sent the case back to the district court to sort out which employees could and could not be tested. In response, Gov. Scott petitioned the US Supreme Court, which is expected to decide Friday whether they will hear the case.