Two influential state senators expressed optimism Tuesday about merging Washington State’s medical marijuana and recreational pot systems. Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) wrote a bill that would forbid medical marijuana dispensaries from selling dried marijuana; it would allow edibles and concentrates for patients. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) has proposed a bill that would create a single license for recreational shops, which then could get state designations to handle medical marijuana as well. Medical marijuana shops would be phased out, and the number of recreational shop licenses would dramatically increase to a yet-to-be-determined figure. Both bills would create a registry-style list of medical-marijuana patients and providers. Under Kohl-Welles’ plan, card-carrying medical marijuana patients would become exempt from the 25 percent state sales tax on the pot. Both bills would phase out collective gardens, which currently produce pot for medical use. With Kohl-Welles’s proposal, any adult 21 or older could grow up to six pot plants in his or her own home. Patients with appropriate medical waivers would be allowed to grow more.
The Wyoming state House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 Tuesday to advance a bill that would decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. House Bill 29 will now advance to the full House for its consideration. Under the bill, someone carrying up to an ounce of marijuana would face a maximum fine of $500 for their first or second offense. And someone with up to half an ounce would face a maximum fine of $250 for their first or second offense. The state’s current law sets a misdemeanor penalty of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for possessing any amount that is less than three ounces.
An Oregon bank is openly offering service to the marijuana industry in Colorado at a time when banks here are lurking mostly in the shadows. MBank, based outside Portland, is part of a growing number of financial institutions, mostly Washington-based credit unions, that are banking openly with marijuana businesses. The bank said it also is taking marijuana-related deposits in Washington, the other state where recreational pot is legal and has been serving Oregon-based medical marijuana dispensaries since September. MBank won’t have a physical office or employees in Colorado. Cash deposits are to be picked up by contracted armored-car services and brought to a Federal Reserve System bank, such as the one located in downtown Denver. Deposits are then credited to MBank’s account and further credited to the account of the marijuana business.
The push by parents of children with epilepsy to obtain medical marijuana in Virginia has resulted in three new bills in the General Assembly. Sen. David W. Marsden wrote a bill which specifically legalizes both cannabidiol oil (also known as CBD) and THC-A oil with a doctor’s recommendation. Medical marijuana has actually been legal in Virginia since 1979 — except that it requires “a valid prescription,” and doctors cannot legally prescribe marijuana while it is federally restricted. But prosecutors do “have a concern about the word ‘recommendation’ as opposed to ‘prescription,’ ” she said, because it is not legally defined and regulated. Del. David Albo’s bill inserts the word “epilepsy” into the conditions for which medical marijuana may be recommended. The current law allows it only for cancer or glaucoma. Del. Kenneth Plum’s bill instead deletes cancer and glaucoma and would make medical marijuana available without specifying a condition, though still require a doctor’s recommendation.
A panel of state senators voted Tuesday to scrap most of Gov. Hickenlooper’s plans to change Colorado’s rules regulating how medical marijuana is grown and sold. Gov. Hickenlooper’s administration wants to crack down on caregivers by requiring them to tell health authorities where they grow the pot, which only about 5 percent of Colorado’s around 3,000 caregivers do. In Colorado, recreational marijuana must be tested for potency and contaminants before it is sold, but tests are optional in the medical market. The administration suggested making testing mandatory for medical pot. Patients agreed, but they complained that private citizens should be able to have their pot tested if they wish. Testing companies testified that the regulations prohibit them from accepting home-grown pot, leaving patients reliant on pricier marijuana from dispensaries.
Florida State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda has introduced The Hemp Industry Development Act. The bill would allow the cultivation of low-THC hemp “to promote economic development and job growth.” Growers would be required to register with the state and submit a statement that the seeds contain low levels of THC.