Jun 042014

Technical difficulties prevented the recording of today’s show – our apologies.

Iowa and South Carolina are now the seventh and eighth states to legalize the use of cannabidiol oil for the treatment of childhood epilepsy.  Gov. Nikki Haley signed the Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Treatment Research Act into law Monday.  Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa signed his state’s Senate File 2360 into law Friday.  South Carolina and Iowa join Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin as so-called “CBD-Only” states.  Missouri has passed such a law and it awaits Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature.  Florida has passed a CBD-Only bill in its House and Senate, which are now working on reconciling the two versions and sending it to Gov. Rick Scott.  Georgia’s legislature failed to move a CBD-Only bill, but Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order for Georgia Regents University and GW Pharmaceuticals to collaborate on a research study.  And as we reported yesterday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also signed an agreement with GW Pharmaceuticals to research CBD medication.

The federal government has stopped Georgia’s plan to require drug testing for Food Stamps.  The law in question, signed in April by Gov. Nathan Deal, would require the passage of drug test to access federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) benefits.  In an effort to maintain constitutionality of the law, not all SNAP beneficiaries would be tested; only those deemed “suspected drug users” by their failure on a written test would be tested.  Nevertheless, USDA Administrator Robin Bailey wrote to Gov. Deal that “Requiring SNAP applicants and recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits would constitute an additional condition of eligibility, and therefore, is not allowable under law.”  While drug testing for SNAP benefits seems illegal, it is not prohibited for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (or TANF) benefits.  According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, there are ten states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah) that require some level of drug testing to access TANF benefits, though Florida’s law was deemed unconstitutional and Georgia’s has never been implemented, as officials are uneasy about its constitutionality.

Lake County, California, voters have decided to ban outdoor medical marijuana cultivation.  County Supervisors had already passed a county-wide outdoor grow ban in December, but community activists looking to thwart the Supervisors’ plan gathered over four thousand signatures to turn the issue into a public referendum.  On Tuesday, 52.6% of voters agreed with the Supervisors that all outdoor grows are banned within urban growth boundaries and within one thousand feet of schools and parks and one hundred feet from bodies of water.  Indoor grows are also restricted to a one hundred square foot grow space.  Since the California Supreme Court let stand the Appeals Court ruling in the Maral v. Live Oak case, local restrictions and bans on medical marijuana cultivation are perfectly legal.  According to California NORML, twenty-three of California’s fifty-eight counties and numerous California cities have some sort of outdoor cultivation restrictions or complete bans.  The activists complain that the new ban is “ineffective, discriminatory and very difficult to properly enforce,” and plan to qualify their own regulatory ordinance as a referendum for the November ballot.

Lawmakers in Rhode Island are proposing to reduce and restrict the home grow rights of medical marijuana patients.  On Tuesday, advocates in Providence explained that reducing plant counts would impinge on the ability of patients to produce enough raw cannabis to convert into the tinctures, oils, and edibles some need to achieve medical relief.  The proposal would actually double the amount of usable marijuana a patient could possess from two-and-a-half ounces to five ounces, but would reduce plant limits to a quarter of the current values, from twelve plants and twelve seedlings to three plants and three seedlings.  Caregivers would also have to comport with a national criminal background check.  Another bill being proposed would ban medical marijuana home grows within one thousand feet of a school and mandate inspections and background checks of patients and caregivers who grow.  Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine are the only East Coast medical marijuana states that allow all patients to grow their own cannabis; Maine’s limit is six plants and Vermont’s limit is two.

Lawmakers in Delaware debated the legalization of marijuana possession today in the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.  The legislation, which is more akin to “super-decriminalization” than legalization, would make legal the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by anyone twenty-one or older.  However, no marijuana market would be legalized and the possession of more than an ounce or any sales would still remain illegal.  Public use of marijuana would be subject to a one-hundred dollar fine and civil citation.  The chair of the committee hearing the bill today is also a co-sponsor and a former municipal police officer.

While voters in Portland, Maine, chose to legalize marijuana in last November’s election, their neighbors to the south are just saying no.  The city council in South Portland unanimously passed a non-binding resolution opposing marijuana legalization.  South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert said it’s all about sending the right message to the children.  The Police Chief, Ed Googins, added, “It does not make our community safer, and it will not add to the quality of life in our community.”  According to the Maine Chapter of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, “The experiment in Colorado is failing, we don’t need to bring it to Maine.”  Marijuana Policy Project is currently working to place legalization votes on the November ballot in South Portland, Lewiston, and York, and they believe Maine could be one of the states to pass legalization in 2016.