On Saturday night, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in voting in favor of the $1.1 trillion government funding bill that will fund the government through September. Embedded deep within the 1,600-page legislation that’s come to be known colloquially as the Cromnibus bill (Continuing Resolution Omnibus bill), is a provision that’ll roll back Uncle Sam’s raiding power on medical marijuana facilities. Section 538 of the bill explicitly states that no money appropriated from this bill can be used by the Department of Justice “to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Also in the cromnibus bill that passed in the Senate on Saturday includes a provision, inserted by Republicans, that prohibits the city from spending tax dollars to enact their marijuana legalization initiative. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said Friday that he plans to ignore the provision and instead follow the usual procedure for a voter-approved referendum in a city required to submit to federal oversight: He will send a bill implementing Initiative 71 to Congress in January for a 30-day review, during which federal lawmakers can veto it or let it stand. D.C. Democrats say they are ready to wager that Republicans will be unwilling to get bogged down in overturning the city’s marijuana law, which 7 in 10 voters supported in last month’s election. Doing so, Republican strategists acknowledge, risks exposing a divide between Republican conservatives and libertarians that could prove consequential to the 2016 presidential race.
The Poarch Creek Indians are evaluating a DOJ decision that could allow pot sales in Alabama. The Poarch Creek is one of 566 federally recognized tribes around the country. They currently operate Wind Creek Casinos in south Alabama. The Justice Department issued a memo to U.S. attorneys informing them tribes will be allowed to grow and sell marijuana on reservations, even on states where the drug remains illegal. It’s not clear how many tribes would actually be interested in entering the marijuana trade. Oregon U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall told AP only three tribes – one in California, one in Washington State and one in the Midwest – have expressed an interest in the marijuana business.
Derek Peterson may soon become the first CEO of a public company that cultivates, distributes and sells marijuana. Terra Tech Corp., based in Irvine, California, won approval last week from the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $6.8 million to build and operate medical marijuana operations in Nevada, and will seek to raise about $7 million more later in the year, Peterson said. Peterson is betting the federal government will drop its opposition to marijuana after voters in California and Nevada approve ballot measures in 2016 that will legalize recreational use. Along with already on-going recreational sales in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, that may force the federal government to revisit its prohibition, he said. “I firmly believe this industry will be regulated like alcohol,” Peterson said. “If all goes well, I’m optimistic the federal government could end its prohibition in five to 10 years.”
Minnesota has 87 counties, but you’ll only be able to buy medical marijuana in eight of them. With half the state’s proposed clinics clustered around the Twin Cities, gaps in the cannabis coverage map will leave some families hours away from the nearest clinic. None of them will open anywhere near the southwestern corner of Minnesota. Jeremy Pauling, of Montevideo, is facing a two-hour drive to St. Cloud to access the cannabis oil he hopes might bring some relief to his 7-year-old daughter, Katelyn, who’s battling a debilitating seizure disorder. He worries, however, about frail patients who live even farther away from the planned clinics than he does. Luverne, in southwest Minnesota, is 200 miles from the nearest clinic. So is Roseau, to the north. It’s a 3 ½ hour drive from Grand Marais to the clinic in Hibbing.
Anchorage residents will get a chance to testify Tuesday on whether the Anchorage Assembly should vote to ban commercial marijuana facilities in Alaska’s largest city. Anchorage appears to be the first community to consider the opt-out provision of the initiative. At least one assembly member on the Kenai Peninsula has indicated he plans to introduce legislation that would ban commercial grow operations in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, while in Fairbanks, leaders came to no conclusions on how they might regulate the substance until after the rule-making process concludes.