March 2017

Cleveland Colleges Offered Marijuana Educational Courses

This past year, before Ohio even legalized the marijuana for medical use conferences and workshops have been cropping up across the state.

But a Northeast Ohio native has started the state’s first brick-and-mortar facility to offer more in-depth training about the industry as well as the plant.

After the state has finalized details about the medical marijuana program in Ohio, the Cleveland Cannabis College will offer classes in horticulture, law, history and other areas this fall.

Founder Richard Pine said the school is geared toward individuals who would like to work as medical marijuana growers or in dispensaries, but classes are offered to anybody who would like to learn more regarding the plant and its uses.

 

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Ohio Proposed Strict Regulation Limits For Medical Marijuana Supply

Proposed limitations on how much medical marijuana Ohio patients could possess and purchase would be one of the most stringent in the country.

Patients could possess and purchase up to 6 oz of marijuana products or plant material comprising the equivalent amount of THC in a span of 90 days. That sets Ohio on level with New Jersey and Washington D.C. as the most restrictive states among 13 regulators compared Ohio with.

Ohio’s medical marijuana law permits patients with 20 medical conditions to purchase and use marijuana if recommended by a physician. Smoking the plant isn’t permitted, but dispensaries can sell plant material and oils for vaping, tinctures, patches and marijuana-infused oils and foods.

The law restricts patients to purchasing and possessing at most a “90-day supply,” but does not define how much that is. On Thursday, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy released draft rules detailing the allowable amounts.

 

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Livingston County To Put Up A Marijuana Oversight Program

Cardholders and caregivers in Livingston County could find a sheriff’s deputy in the door doing spot checks to ensure they are in compliance with the medical marijuana laws in Michigan. Local law enforcement is preparing to beef up enforcement.

After being given a state grant that will reimburse up to $47,438 of the expenses through September, the county’s sheriff department intends to set up a new medical marijuana supervision program. It is going to be spent on enforcement, equipment and education.

“We already enforce the state laws, but this will allow for a targeted response for compliance checks,” Lt. Eric Sanborn of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office said.

“It would be spot checks. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem, it is only to make sure people are in compliance,” he said.

Police Officers can show up unannounced.

“It does us no good to let them know we’re coming,” he said.

It was unsettling news to Howell-area attorney and founder of the Michigan Cannabis Development Association Denise Pollicella, who said compliance checks are “incredibly invasive.”

“My reaction as an attorney is that it’s extremely unconstitutional to show up to make sure people are complying with the law, in terms of due process,” Pollicella said. “That hasn’t been well-defined enough in the courts.”

Pollicella helped draft legislation to revise medical marijuana laws in Michigan, as well as the state Senate last fall passed a package of bills that, in part, develop a licensing system for commercial marijuana businesses. The bills — HB 4209-4210, HB 4827, SB 141 and SB 1014 — build upon the constitutional amendment passed by voters to legalize medical marijuana in 2008.

“I don’t have any problem with law enforcement applying the law. But I don’t think it’s necessary for them to get additional funding to target medical marijuana,” she said.

There are 1,812 medical marijuana patients with state-issued cards residing in Livingston County, according to state data provided by the sheriff’s department. There are about 184,000 individuals in the county.

The grant money is part of about $3 million pulled from medical marijuana patient fees that the state spreads to counties throughout Michigan for “education, communication and enforcement” of state medical marijuana laws, according to Michael Loepp, a spokesman for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

 

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Survey Reveals Support For Recreational Marijuana In Michigan

A brand new survey shows voter support for marijuana reform, giving high hopes for change in Michigan law to legalization advocates.

A Michigan senator says legal marijuana doesn’t have hope of passing in the Legislature as legalization supporters work to bring the matter before voters in 2018.

EPIC-MRA (Educational, Political, Industrial, Consumer Market Research Analysis) of Lansing ran the poll by phone in January and February of 2017.

It demonstrates 57 percent of the 600 people surveyed said they’d definitely vote yes, probably, or lean toward voting yes on a ballot question about legalizing pot in Michigan with particular conditions, based on an EPIC-MRA news release.

The outcomes are up four points in comparison to an identical survey in March 2016, EPIC-MRA said.

The group pushing for marijuana legalization in Michigan, MI Legalize 2018, heralds the latest results.

“We commend Michigan NORML (The Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) for commissioning the survey question,” attorney Jeff Hank, leader of MI Legalize 2018 said. “The continuity of this survey brings credibility to the results and confirms this as a dependable gauge of public sentiment.”

In 2016, MI Legalize turned in 354,000 signatures for the ballot problem — more than the total needed to qualify for the November ballot — but state rules making signatures older than 180 days void blocked it from being added to the ballot.

MI Legalize differs with the interpretation of the law that kept the issue off the ballot, and sued the state before the 2016 election in an unsuccessful bid to bring the problem to voters.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he supports medical marijuana after spending time analyzing the problem. But, as a former police officer, he really doesn’t support legalizing recreational marijuana.

He said legalizing weed, a “social drug,” could result in more accidents on Michigan roads as well as other issues.

“The marijuana that we’ve got today is much stronger than the marijuana many people grew up with in the ’60s and the ’70s,” Jones said. “This more powerful. It’s dangerous, it causes more bad health effects.”

He said lots of people have attempted to convince him that taxing sales of legal marijuana would bring in a great deal of money to the state, however he believes the negatives would outweigh the positives.

“Also, it is going to only increase unemployment because most employers don’t want to hire people that use marijuana,” Jones said.

Legalization of marijuana has “no hope” of making it through the Legislature, Jones said, meaning a ballot question could function as the only path to becoming law.

“They keep running these polls hoping to persuade people to pay for a ballot initiative,” he said. “If they gather the signatures and put it on the ballot, so be it.”

 

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Maine Lawmakers Heard Public’s Opinion On Marijuana Regulations

As the state goes toward permitting retail sales of marijuana, lawmakers heard hours of testimony about the economic opportunities, enforcement challenges and regulatory concerns posed by recreational marijuana.

While marijuana use became legal for Mainers age 21 and over on Jan. 30, lawmakers are just starting the process of setting up a regulatory and enforcement framework before the licensing of commercial sales begins in February 2018. On Tuesday, more than 75 people – from medical marijuana growers to adversaries of legal cannabis and municipal officials – and legal cannabis from medical marijuana growers testified during a wide-ranging public comment session to help advise that process.

“It must be a level playing field for all who are involved,” said Scott Durst, a 21-year veteran of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency who now works as a security consultant to the cannabis industry. “Citizens of this state need to know they made the vote – that it’s legal but there has to be accountability and everybody.”

Others encouraged policymakers “respect the will of the voters” and allow sales of marijuana despite doubt over the Trump administration’s disposition toward the eight states that have legalized a drug that’s still prohibited under federal law.

“Question 1 has cleared surprising political roadblocks than most referendum questions in recent memory,” said a former state lawmaker advocating on behalf of Legalize Maine, Ryan Harmon, among the two organizations behind the ballot initiative. “No more delays, no more politics, no more changes. Mainers have spoken. The time is now.”

 

RECONSIDERING FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT

Nevertheless, occasions in Washington, D.C., were casting a long shadow over states that have legalized the drug.

Even though the Obama administration had taken a hands-off strategy as an increasing number of states moved to legalize recreational and medical use of the drug, the Trump administration might be preparing to change that policy.

Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer said he anticipates states to be subject to “greater enforcement” of federal laws against recreational marijuana use. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions – an outspoken legalization adversary while an Alabama senator – further muddied that image when he drew a connection between marijuana and drug violence while saying the Trump administration would pursue “responsible policies” for enforcement.

“I’m undoubtedly not a supporter of expanded use of marijuana,” Sessions told reporters at the Justice Department, according to Politico. “States, they can pass the laws they choose. I would simply say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

Sen. Roger Katz, an Augusta Republican who is a co-chairman on the Legislature’s Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation, said the committee is pushing forward with its work.

“But we’ve one eye on Washington,” Katz said in an interview. “We don’t have any control over Washington and we’re assuming that we are going to move ahead with legalization like Colorado has done unless we hear otherwise.”

Maine voters voted by a slim margin last November to enable adults age 21 and over to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to six adult plants, although use of marijuana is only legal in a private setting. The ballot initiative also sets up a procedure for retail sales of marijuana. But, the Legislature delayed the effective date of that portion of the legalization measure until at February 2018 as a way to provide state agencies time to draft rules and regulations regarding licensing, sales and enforcement.

The time needed to set up a retail marketplace leaves Maine in a gray area where it’s legal to possess and use, but people can’t purchase it without breaking the law.

The ballot initiative additionally permitted municipalities to prohibit or to limit retail marijuana stores or “social clubs” where patrons will be allowed to use marijuana in a private setting. Maine is the first state to open the possibility to such legal social clubs.

 

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Marijuana Still Prohibited In Maine Colleges

Marijuana and schools could be linked in the public consciousness, but the two don’t go together in Maine – at least not officially despite the drug’s legalization earlier in the month.

Universities and Colleges throughout Maine have been reminding students that marijuana continues to be prohibited on their campuses, irrespective of weed’s new legal status elsewhere for those 21 and older. It’s a textbook instance of political satire, given that many of these schools are situated in towns that leaned greatly for legalization last November in a campaign where the statewide margin of victory was merely 4,000 votes.

“The federal law and the state law are in conflict with one another and our perspective is – like a lot of our fellow institutions of higher education – that we will continue to follow federal law,” said Joshua McIntosh, Bates College’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Our strategy to it and our policies toward it remain unchanged and will probably stay unchanged until that conflict between the state and federal governments gets worked out.”

Same goes for most, if not all, institutions of higher learning in Maine.

“Nothing will change here,” said Robert Dana, vice president for student life in the University of Maine in Orono.

 

PART OF A NATIONAL TREND

That dynamic also is playing out on campuses in Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado as well as the four other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Faced with the prospect of losing scholarship money and grants by breaking federal law, schools are choosing to play it safe in regards to official policy, even if the on-campus truth is a bit vaguer.

Sam Mendez, director of the University of Washington School of Law’s Cannabis Law and Policy Project, isn’t conscious of any schools in legalization states which are openly permitting the usage of marijuana, considering that would risk the loss of federal funds. Mendez, whose state along with Colorado legalized marijuana in the year 2012, said private schools which are not as dependent on federal funds could test that theory, but none have been willing to roll the dice.

“The ironic thing is cannabis is used in college campuses very widely but it remains against the rules and against the law,” Mendez said. “Until here’s actually reform at the federal level, I don’t believe that is going to change much. There might be (a school) which is going to challenge the federal government, but that’s a huge risk because that could be the loss of millions or even tens of millions of dollars.”

As of last Monday, Mainers age 21 and over are permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to six flowering plants for their personal use in a private setting. The ballot initiative last November approved by a small majority of voters also legalizes retail sales of marijuana, yet weed stores and social clubs will not open until at February 2018 after licensing and enforcement rules are in place.

 

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A New Bill To Legalize Hemp Cultivation In Arizona

On a sprawling farm in Maricopa, his family’s land has been cultivated by Kelly Anderson for decades.

Ornamental plants are grown by him, dehydrated foliage and wheat which are sold in craft shops. Another possibly more profitable crop: industrial hemp, is being eyed by farmers like Anderson, although demand for the decorative plants is high.

An assortment of the cannabis plant, industrial hemp is used to make rope, paper, cosmetics, food and textiles. It features low levels of marijuana’s main psychoactive substance, but doesn’t create a high. Until lately, it couldn’t be lawfully grown anywhere in the U.S. and was imported from Canada, China, Europe, Russia and elsewhere.

“It uses less water than cotton, it’s a very heat-tolerant plant and we need a good rotation-kind crop to help the soil,” Anderson said. “Instead of growing cotton after cotton after cotton, or hay after hay after hay, you could rotate this. This could be used to help the ag economy and we’re always trying to expand our production base”

Two state lawmakers are looking into to legalizing hemp cultivation in Arizona.

The procedure to produce, distribute and sell hemp in Arizona would be set up by Senate Bill 1337 through a program managed by the state agriculture department. Processors and growers would be asked to pass criminal background checks and would need to maintain comprehensive records about growing locations. Harvests could possibly be inspected and tested by agriculture officials, and in the event the plants were discovered to have more than 0.3 percent of THC on a dry-weight basis, the crop can be destroyed and farmers can be prohibited from future hemp growing.

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Federal Law Doesn’t Outlaw Medical Marijuana Act According To Arizona Court Ruling

Local officials cannot use federal laws outlawing marijuana to refuse to provide required zoning for dispensaries, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

In their unanimous decision, the judges admitted the federal Controlled Substances Act makes the possession and sale of marijuana a felony. And they noted that the zoning sought by White Mountain Health Center was particularly to be able sell the drug from a store in an unincorporated area of Sun City.

But Judge Donn Kessler said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery had no legal basis to assert that federal law trumps the 2010 voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. And he also rejected Montgomery’s contention that having county officials issue the necessary zoning would mean they were aiding and abetting in the violation of federal law.

The fight has its origins in the 2010 initiative that enables those with a physician’s recommendation along with a state-issued ID card to get up to 2 1/2 oz of marijuana every two weeks. That law also set up a network of state-regulated independently run dispensaries to sell the drug.

State health officials need certification from the local government that the website is properly zoned before issuing a license for a dispensary. White Mountain Health, attempting to find in Sun City, sought the required certification from Maricopa County.

But Montgomery instructed county officials not to react. He asserted that doing this would make them guilty of breaking federal laws that prohibit not only the possession and sale but doing anything to facilitate either.

And he claimed that anything the state does cannot preempt federal law.

 

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Will Religious Lawmakers Support Marijuana Legalization?

Over half of US states—28—have legalized medical marijuana. Legalization is supported by sixty percent of Americans, based on an October 2016 Gallup poll—including 42% of Republicans. A few of these cannabis supporters live in states that are traditional, and some are even in their own state’s legislature,currently supporting marijuana reform measures.

In Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah— traditionally Republican locales— marijuana reform bills are introduced for consideration in the coming sessions.“And, it’s worth noting that Republicans, who control state legislatures in most of these states, are behind the drive,” writes Maureen Meehan in High Times on Jan. 16.

This month in Missouri, a Republican representative and licensed doctor, Jim Neely, introduced a bill to give terminally ill patients access to medical marijuana. His daughter died of cancer in 2015, and Neely believes the drug would have helped relieve her pain. An initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri last year didn’t make it on the November vote. However, Neely stated that the culture appears to be open now, noting, “I believe the timing is great.” He said on Jan. 13 that he’s confident the bill will make it to the House floor, thanks to his conservative bona fides and medical professional qualifications.

In Tennessee, two Republican legislators, Steve Dickerson and Jeremy Faison, a physician, introduced a measure to legalize therapeutic marijuana in December. They think it’s going to be an economic advantage to the state. The bill allows for 50 grow houses to be constructed, 15 of them designated for economically distressed zones.

The Tennessean reports that the marijuana measure is also part of a drive by lawmakers to undertake an opioid outbreak. More opioid prescriptions are handed out than there are individuals in Tennessee, and marijuana is viewed as a feasible, non-addictive alternative for pain alleviation.

Republican representative Ryan Williams co-sponsored a similar bill to legalize medical marijuana during the 2015 session, but it died in committee. He told The Tennessean there will likely be a “huge push” for medical marijuana during the 2017 legislative session to deal with the opioid outbreak.

 

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Small Marijuana Growers Exemption In Mat-su

Smaller marijuana cultivators are already exempt from strict property drawbacks in Mat-Su, a change some say will assist the Valley’s longtime illicit area growers move from the black market into legal sales.

Others, however, say the change does not go far enough to boost the increase of a leading commercial marijuana industry.

Mat-Su, with its rich soils and proximity to urban centers of demand, has for ages been viewed as the marijuana cultivation capital in Alaska. But growers outside the city of Houston fell under a months-long commercial marijuana moratorium in 2016 and are just now starting to get underway amid a statewide legal marijuana supply deficit.

In what critics called another challenge to cannabis industry here, borough regulations adopted in August for legal marijuana comprised a 100-foot setback from rear lot lines or adjoining side, and 50 feet from roads.

Preparation officials say given the borough’s lack of proper zoning, that was the sole solution to safeguard residential areas from being inundated with commercial marijuana businesses.

The drawbacks are stricter than those in state law, which require marijuana businesses be more than 500 feet from a school, recreation or youth center or correctional facility.

 

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