The Washington State Legislature is gearing up to tackle medical marijuana again this winter, a year after failing to reach agreement on a merger of the recreational and medical industries. This time, though, the players have changed. There are now dozens of licensed growers and retailers in the recreational pot business, all worried about their bottom lines. Medical patients and sellers bristle at efforts to create a registry of patients and to lump them in with recreational buyers. Their lobbying, along with disputes over whether medical patients should get tax breaks and whether cities and counties should get a share of marijuana revenue, scuttled a deal in the 2014 session. One way the path could be smoother: For the first time, amending I-502 will require a simple majority of lawmakers, not the supermajorities required in the first two years of an initiative’s existence.
A bill introduced in Congress would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana for their patients. The Veterans Equal Access Act. Introduced Thursday by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) with 10 bipartisan cosponsors, would lift a ban on VA doctors giving opinions or recommendations about medical marijuana to veterans who live in states where medical marijuana is permitted. Nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD and depression, according to a 2012 report from the Department of Veterans Affairs. In a recent study, patients who smoked cannabis saw an average 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms. Currently, 23 states allow the medical use of marijuana. Ten of those states, as well as Guam which legalized medical marijuana this month, allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for PTSD-related symptoms.
One of Alaska’s top prosecutors said the state will continue to prosecute people for possessing and selling marijuana for the time being, despite a pending voter-approved law to legalize small amounts of pot. ”We are not blind or oblivious to the fact that there is a change coming, but the change is not here yet,” said John Skidmore, director of the criminal division for the Alaska Department of Law. “We did communicate to our folks that right now it is business as usual,” he said. “We are evaluating what to do in the future.” Law enforcement officers continue to cite people for misconduct involving a controlled substance in the sixth degree for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An Anchorage man was cited by Alaska State Troopers for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana Saturday during a traffic stop near Cantwell. The marijuana was confiscated. “Technically, it’s still against the law,” troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. “We have to enforce the law.”
On Tuesday, a D.C. Council committee is scheduled to take up the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013 — a bill that would allow for the sale, taxation and regulation of legal marijuana in the District. With scant weeks remaining in the D.C. Council session, the fact that the Committee on Business, Regulatory and Consumer Affairs would spend time marking up a lengthy, complex bill would seem to indicate that lawmakers are on the fastest of tracks to give D.C. residents and visitors the opportunity to purchase marijuana in the wake of the Nov. 4 passage of a legalization initiative. It doesn’t appear that package will be headed to Capitol Hill intact. Other committees must mark up the two bills — including the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, which is set to move another major piece of legislation next week, the permanent version of the bill permitting some residents to legally carry handguns in the city.
Colorado has granted a charter for the first financial institution to serve its cash-only marijuana industry. However, before it can open permanently for business, action is also required by the National Credit Union Administration and Federal Reserve. The Colorado Division of Financial Services issued the charter Wednesday to The Fourth Corner Credit Union, which could open in January, The Denver Post reported Thursday. Fourth Corner must get a master account from the Federal Reserve and insurance from the National Credit Union Administration. Fourth Corner can operate until the NCUA makes a decision on the latter. Attorney Mark Mason, an organizer of Fourth Corner, said the NCUA review could take as long as two years. Fourth Corner, whose board members include Denver Councilman Chris Nevitt, intends to serve any legal marijuana enterprise. It also will serve nonprofits that support legal pot, said attorney Douglas Friednash, who incorporated the credit union after the charter was approve