The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued major changes to its policies regarding marijuana. The nation’s largest group of doctors specializing in children’s health recommended that marijuana be decriminalized, but the states should be wary of full commercial legalization. The pediatricians’ stance is that marijuana use among young people is a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, and it should be treated as such. However, efforts to fully legalize marijuana should be slow and moderate, according to the group. Dr. Seth Ammerman, a pediatrician at Stanford University who wrote the policy paper, said if marijuana companies start marketing their products like alcohol and tobacco companies have done, kids and teens could be affected. The pediatricians also called for cannabis to be moved out of Schedule I, where it is deemed to have no medical value, frustrating legitimate efforts to research it.
Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States and if the trend toward legalization spreads to all 50 states, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry. Researchers from The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm based in Oakland, California, found that the U.S. market for legal cannabis grew 74 percent in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2013. The group surveyed hundreds of medical and recreational marijuana retailers in states where sales are legal, as well as ancillary business operators and independent cultivators of the plant, over the course of seven months during 2013 and 2014. ArcView also compiled data from state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies in the marijuana industry for a more complete look at the marketplace. Over the next five years, ArcView predicts that 14 more states will legalize recreational marijuana and two more states will legalize medical marijuana.
The Pinoleville Pomo Nation in northern California’s Mendocino County is set to be the first tribe to grow and manufacture medical marijuana on tribal land. The tribe has inked a deal to develop an indoors grow facility on its rancheria north of Ukiah. FoxBarry Farms—a subsidiary of the Kansas-based firm, which partners with tribes on economic development projects ranging from farms to casinos—will help develop the state-of-the-art greenhouses, as well as processing and office space. The operation will sell marijuana only for authorized medical users and dispensaries in accordance with California state law. Many anticipate California to join at least four other states in legalizing recreational use of marijuana next year. FoxBarry has pledged $30 million to develop at least three medical marijuana facilities on tribal lands in northern, central and southern California. Industrial hemp farming may also come into play in the future.
Florida medical physicians would be allowed to prescribe “medical-grade” marijuana to needy patients under a major cannabis bill filed Monday by a top Florida Republican state senator. The legislation proposed by St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes would allow people who have specified serious medical conditions —- such as cancer, AIDS or epilepsy —to receive and use medical marijuana if a doctor certifies its use. Patients would be limited to a 30-day supply. But the bill goes a step further and says that doctors could certify medical-marijuana use for other patients who have exhausted other medical treatments first. The legislation is the most far-reaching of its kind proposed by a top Republican and reflects a proposed constitutional amendment that garnered 57.6 percent of the vote. That amendment, which failed because it didn’t meet a 60 percent threshold for approval, has been redrafted and could appear on the 2016 ballot.
More than any prior year, it appears that 2015 will be the year medical marijuana comes to Pennsylvania. A supportive governor has taken office along with new leadership in both chambers of the General Assembly. Last year, House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, opposed the medical marijuana bill, saying that legalization should come down from the federal level. Medical marijuana could have a clearer path there now that the new majority leader is David Reed, R-Indiana, a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill. Gov. Tom Wolf, meanwhile, publicly supported legalization on the campaign trail — a reversal from the position of former Gov. Tom Corbett. Political analysts say the medical marijuana could provide a much-needed early victory for the Wolf administration. Supporters have been ramping up outreach in anticipation for the bill’s reintroduction, which is now named Senate Bill 3.