Gov. Rick Scott is called upon by the supporters of legalized marijuana to order a special session after state lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have implemented a ballot measure approved by 71 percent of voters in November. In the constitutional amendment, it?s in the discretion of the Florida Department of Health to make rules that would let patients with ailments like HIV/AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis access to marijuana.
However, a few patient advocates and some marijuana activists are afraid that the DOH won?t make suitable rules.
?DOH has an obligation to implement this,? said Ben Pollara, among the writers of Amendment 2 and executive director of Florida for Care. ?That?s all the more reason that people really need implementing laws.?
Pollara joined a group of lawmakers and lobbyists who say that the Legislature has to play a part ? even if it?s in the following legislative session, which commences in January.
Sen. Rob Bradley, who had driven a medical marijuana bill, said he isn?t assured that the DOH rules will be in line with bills the Legislature put forward, which had a wide-range agreement on many problems, even though they couldn?t achieve a final deal.
Lawmakers are debating whether to delay licensing of marijuana ?social clubs? in Maine, following the lead of other legalization states confronting unwanted scrutiny from federal officials or concerns about public health.
But legalization advocates warn that it?s better to have licensed, closely regulated marijuana clubs than illegal places running in the shadows.
?These clubs will pop up. They already are, and delaying isn?t going to prevent any of that activity,? said Becky DeKeuster, a consultant on cannabis issues who formerly ran medical marijuana dispensaries in Maine and California.
The legalization referendum narrowly backed by Maine voters in November contains references throughout the ballot initiative to ?social clubs? where adults age 21 and over purchase and consume on shop premises. The fully accredited social clubs were pictured as places where users could lawfully assemble ? similar to a bar or smoking lounge ? to use marijuana in a carefully regulated and monitored setting.
Yet Maine could be the first state to allow marijuana clubs ? a prospect that certainly concerned some lawmakers on the committee in charged with preparing the state for retail sales.
Alaska marijuana regulators have delayed discussions about onsite marijuana consumption until next month.
The state?s Marijuana Control Board was expected to consider whether to move forward with proposed rules for letting retail cannabis customers to consume their purchases on site
It?s something that no other state that has legalized the recreational use of marijuana has permitted.
The board used its two day meeting to go through a backlog of permit applications for retail stores and manufacturing facilities.
?They really wanted to concentrate on approved applications at this meeting so people could begin with their businesses as we move into summer,? said Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Board. ?Onsite consumption was kind of the big time-consuming issue that they pushed until the end and then we ran out of time. ?
Research on the effects of marijuana vs. alcohol while driving are inconclusive. Law enforcement has one view, psychologists have another. What we do know is that recreational marijuana creates chemical changes in the brain and these changes may significantly affect ability to safely drive a car:
* According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC in the body can severely affect the ability to shift our focus. This means reaction to changes in traffic or road conditions is slower and this can be dangerous.
* Recreational marijuana consumption affects a person’s judgement and other cognitive functions. In the case of heavy users, this impairment may last up to 24 hours after their last consumption of marijuana.
* Marijuana relaxes people and most have difficulty concentrating on a single activity and are prone to dreamlike states of awareness according to studies.
* Consumption of recreational marijuana can weaken short-term memory and change perception. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse the THC in marijuana gets processed in the hippocampus part of the brain which is responsible for the brain’s functional memory.
A Washington state traffic safety commission announced that police in Grandview, Moxee, Selah, Sunnyside, Union Gap and Yakima (plus the Yakima and Klickitat county sheriff?s offices) and the Washington State Patrol have stepped-up their driving while impaired enforcement operations through January 1st 2015.
Be careful and be safe. Stay within the law and do NOT operate a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of marijuana or alcohol!