May 052015

The Louisiana Senate voted 22-13 for Senate Bill 143 would regulate medical marijuana dispensing and cultivation for use in treatment of glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia and for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Similar legislation state Sen. Fred Mills sponsored died last year in committee amid opposition from the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association. This year, the sheriffs group helped craft SB143 to eliminate law enforcement concerns and the committee endorsed the measure. Under the legislation, the state Board of Medical Examiners, the Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry would have different roles in developing the rules, regulations and licensing. The therapeutic marijuana could only be dispensed at 10 pharmacies in the state. All of the therapeutic marijuana would be cultivated at one licensed location. Senators approved an amendment under which the authorization would be subject to sunset in 2020.

Hawaii is on the verge of allowing medical marijuana to be bought and sold legally. On Monday, a House-Senate conference committee advanced House Bill 321, a proposal that would pave the way for eight dispensary licenses throughout the state: three on Oahu, two on Big Island, two on Maui and one on Kauai. Each license would allow for two dispensaries and two production sites for up to 16 of each. It now goes to the full House and Senate for a final vote. If passed, the bill will be sent to the Governor for his signature, veto or passage without his signature. The state Department of Health would accept applications for licenses between Jan. 11-29, 2016 with a $5,000 non-refundable application fee. Awardees would be announced on April 15, 2016 and dispensaries could open for business in July 15, 2016. Dispensaries would also be required to pay $75,000 for a license and $50,000 annually to renew it.

A first-in-the-nation bill that would allow students to have medical marijuana in school is heading to the Colorado governor’s desk after passing the state legislature late Monday night. The change in the law was sought to let schoolchildren in Colorado who are living with conditions like epilepsy, cerebral palsy and seizures take doses of low-THC medical marijuana. While marijuana possession and use is legal in Colorado, schools are still drug-free zones — but bill supporters argued medical marijuana should be treated no differently than other medications. The amendment was inspired by 14-year-old Colorado boy Jack Splitt, whose personal nurse was reprimanded at his middle school for putting a medical marijuana patch on Jack’s arm to help his spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and dystonia. The bill would allow parents or caregivers, with a doctor’s note, to come into schools and administer marijuana in the form of a patch.

For the first time, a committee in the Texas Legislature has approved a bill to decriminalize possession of marijuana, a move advocates hailed as a milestone moment in Texas. The state House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee passed House Bill 507 late Monday, just three days after narrowly voting it down. The tally the second time around was 4-2, with tea party Republican David Simpson of Longview joining with three Democrats. One GOP member did not attend. The measure, which would make possession of less than an ounce of pot a civil infraction instead of a class B misdemeanor, will now go to the committee that controls the floor calendar. It will likely stay there, and has virtually no chance of becoming law in a deeply conservative Legislature. Nevertheless, the committee’s decision speaks volumes on how far Texas has shifted on the controversial matter.

Black farmers in Florida say they are being shut out from the state’s emerging medical marijuana trade, and are pushing for changes in the law that would let them break into the limited, legal pot market. Though Sunshine State voters last fall rejected a broad medical marijuana ballot proposal, the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” allows some nurseries to grow “low-THC” pot and distribute to “qualified patients” suffering from cancer, seizures and muscle spasms. One line in the law is creating controversy. It states farmers must have a license to cultivate “more than 400,000 plants” and must have operated “as a registered nursery in [Florida] for at least 30 continuous years.” “There weren’t that many black farmers 30 years ago in the nursery business,” said Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association President Howard Gunn Jr. “We say they weren’t there because of the discriminatory practices set by the USDA.”