May 112015

A special committee of lawmakers will hold a key vote tonight on a bill placing new limits on Oregon’s medical marijuana program. The limits in Senate Bill 844 are designed to stanch a substantial flow of marijuana, ostensibly grown in Oregon for the medical program, to the black market. Lawmakers say preventing that black market “leakage” is essential to setting up the recreational marijuana market that voters approved in November. But some growers and patients in the program have adamantly opposed the bill. SB 844 includes: limits on the total number of plants allowed per medical marijuana grow site; a mandatory tracking system for most of that marijuana; allowing state health officials to inspect certain grow sites for compliance; and restricting marijuana growing, processing and selling to people who have lived in Oregon for at least two years.

Supporters of three proposals to put legal marijuana in the Ohio Constitution are pushing for a spot on the fall ballot. But there is growing talk of a move by the General Assembly to undercut full legalization. Sources say legislators want to create a more restrictive alternative to legalizing marijuana in Ohio than what is being proposed by private, for-profit groups as a way to undermine those approaches. One option is passage of House Bill 33 — a proposal that would legalize cannabis-derived medicines for those with seizure disorders — either in its present form or by slightly expanding it. Another option is a legislatively initiated ballot issue that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes but in ways far more restrictive than those proposals being discussed. Either of those legislative options, theoretically, would make the prospect of defeating a well-funded proposal by for-profit groups easier, sources said.

For nine months, the city of San Jose has attempted to close down San Jose Organics, a major medical marijuana dispensary with over 5,000 members. San Jose has already fined the dispensary thousands of dollars and told it to cease operations. The city is adding $1,500 a day to its fines for every day it remains open. Now, the two sides are set to face off in court. In a hidden camera investigation, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit saw that the dispensary appeared to be violating several city regulations on the sale of medical marijuana. San Jose city ordinances specify that nobody under 21 can purchase medical marijuana or even be on the premises of a dispensary. The Investigative Unit heard customer after customer confirm that the dispensary regularly sold medical marijuana to people as young as 18. Hidden cameras also showed that the shop sold marijuana concentrates and stayed open for business past 9 p.m., both violations of San Jose ordinances.

Luxembourg’s Parliament is to debate the decriminalization of cannabis, the health minister said while outlining a new drug prevention program. On Monday, Lydia Mutsch explained that drug use in Luxembourg has steadily increased from 2009 to 2014. Among new measures proposed to curb its rise, the minister said that a broad debate in Parliament would take place to consider decriminalizing the consumption of cannabis. Smoking hashish has repeatedly raised safety questions but there remains a large number of voices in favor of relaxing the law on its consumption. The minister said she hoped to raise awareness among young people in future of the risks surrounding cannabis consumption as well as the use of other, legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco.

State Sen. David Argall said he’s once again supporting a bill to legalize the use of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania. On Jan. 26, State Sen Mike Folmer introduced Senate Bill 3, “an Act providing for the medical use of cannabis in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” It’s geared to provide medical cannabis to people with medical conditions including cancer, epilepsy and seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Spinocerebellar Ataxia, post traumatic stress disorder and severe fibromyalgia, according to the bill. On April 22, it was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said Monday she will push for a new bill already enjoying bipartisan support that would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies. The law would not legalize marijuana, she emphasized, but would “respect” the states that set their own medical marijuana programs, and prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers. “We need to modernize our laws,” she said, and is “optimistic” about the chances of success for her bill.