Jun 112015

Medical marijuana patients in Canada can legally use all forms of the drug, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled. Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana, not only smoke it. Cannabis oil is now permitted instead of only “dried” marijuana, meaning people can bake it into food products. The case began in 2009 when a baker from the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada was charged with trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana. Former head baker of the club Owen Smith was caught baking 200 pot cookies, CBC reports. A British Columbia judge acquitted Mr Smith and gave Canada’s government a year to change laws around extracting marijuana. The Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting possession of non-dried forms of marijuana is “contrary to the principles of fundamental justice because they are arbitrary; the effects of the prohibition contradict the objective of protecting health and safety”.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a provision Thursday that would protect medical marijuana operations from federal crackdown in states where the substance is legal. The committee passed the measure, by a vote of 22-8, as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016. The amendment blocks the Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using appropriated funds to interfere with medical marijuana programs in the states that have legalized the drug for medical purposes. The same measure passed through both houses of Congress last year and ultimately made it into the federal spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in December. The committee’s passage of the provision follows its approval of a historic measure in May to allow Department of Veteran Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their veteran patients. Currently, VA doctors are banned from doing so.

Two Michigan marijuana legalization committees racing to the 2016 ballot cleared an early hurdle Thursday in Lansing, although one of the groups faced a bit of pushback in the process. The Board of State Canvassers on Thursday approved the form of separate petitions from the Michigan Cannabis Coalition (MCC) and the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MCCLRC). That means both committees can begin circulating petitions for their initiated legislation and attempt to collect the 252,523 signatures required to make the ballot in 2016. Both potential ballot proposals would legalize the possession or use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older and allow for sales at retail shops. Under MCC, the Legislature would have authority to set the marijuana tax rate. MCCLRC, meanwhile, is proposing its own tax rate for marijuana sales — a 10 percent excise tax on top of the state sales tax.

A marijuana legalization plan which was shooting for a spot on the Ohio ballot has abandoned its efforts. The organization Better for Ohio will drop its plan because petition costs were too expensive, Ed Howard, the prime backer, told The Blade of Toledo. Better for Ohio was approved last month by the Ohio Ballot Board to begin collecting the 305,591 signatures necessary to get on the Nov. 3 ballot. But the cost of gathering signatures was “getting astronomical,” Howard told The Blade. Howard’s plan was taken, literally, from another proposal by ResponsibleOhio, with some modifications. Howard wanted 40 pot-growing sites, while ResponsibleOhio proposes 10. ResponsibleOhio, which said it has gathered more than 550,000 signatures, has until July 1 to submit its petition to the Secretary of State. ResponsibleOhio has been criticized as being a marjuana cartel or monopoly because only investors who contribute to the campaign would be allowed to grow pot if the amendment passes.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters says in a new report that ResponsibleOhio’s legalization plan would create nearly 35,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state and generate an annual economic output of $7 billion. The report prepared by a task force appointed by Deters last month was funded exclusively by ResponsibleOhio. Meanwhile, Ohio state lawmakers are working to suppress any legislation that could use constitutional amendments to create monopolies. They are currently working to place an anti-monopoly issue on this year’s ballot, alongside ResponsibleOhio’s pro-pot plan. ResponsibleOhio spokesman Ian James told the Dispatch he sees this as a simple attempt to undercut the initiative. “When they can’t beat us, they try to cheat us,” he said. Support for medical marijuana in Ohio is overwhelming, according to a Spring poll, at 84-15 percent in favor, while support for allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use” is 52-44 percent.