Medical marijuana was once again the focus last week, as reports surfaced from Massachusetts indicating the DEA has been forcing physicians to either sever ties with dispensaries or loose their federal license to prescribe medication. This comes just a week after the US House of Representatives passed an amendment that would outlaw these types of actions from being supported by federal funds. Hopefully, the Senate will respond to this amendment with as much enthusiasm as it was met with in the House, so the medical marijuana community can begin moving forward without fear of drug enforcement harassment.
Here is a closer look at what your pot-friendly legislators were up to last week:
South Carolina: Limited Medical Marijuana Bill Becomes Law
A bill aimed at legalizing CBD oil for children suffering from epilepsy became law in South Carolina last week with the signature of Governor Nikki Haley. Senate Bill 1035, which recently received a unanimous vote from the Senate and a majority vote of 92-5 in the House, was poised to automatically become law if the governor did not sign or veto the measure… she signed it last Monday.
In addition, the new law authorizes the Medical University of South Carolina to study the effects of CBD-based medicine. The university will supply the state with cannabidiol oil.
Texas: No Legislation, But a Prediction
Last week, Steve Nolin, the executive director of NORML’s Houston chapter, published an article in which he predicts Texas will legalize medical marijuana in 2015, while legalizing recreational marijuana in 2017.
“I believe a bill that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol can be achieved in the next three years,” writes Nolin. “People are realizing that the sky hasn’t fallen in Colorado, and the amount of tax revenue being generated shows how much money is being taken out of the black market and put into a regulated market. It has also been proven that marijuana will cause no more harm to your body than alcohol, so at the very least it should be regulated like alcohol. This idea resonates with people, especially when they relate the failures of marijuana prohibition to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s.”
However, in another article, this one published by Rob Kampia, executive director with the Marijuana Policy Project, it seems he is more convinced that recreational marijuana will no arrive in Texas until 2019. “It will take about five more years to convince Texas legislators that we should follow the will of the people and change the law,” he said. “…and it will happen in 2019.”
Colorado: Marijuana Banking System Becomes Law
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a measure into law last Friday that establishes the first ever marijuana banking system. The law will allow the state’s marijuana industry to step away from their cash-only status and employ the use of cooperatives to fulfill their basic banking needs. The new system is set to be put in to place upon approval from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Maine: South Portland
Although, Portland, Maine legalized small amounts of marijuana last year, officials in South Portland have taken action to ensure that legalization does not happen in their neck of the woods. Last week, the South Portland City Council approved a measure aimed at preventing marijuana legalization. However, the resolution is more just a non-binding statement of their position on this issue. Most of the public in attendance of the city council meeting was in support of legalized marijuana, arguing that if the council wants to prohibit pot in order to protect children, they should ban alcohol as well.
New York: CBD Clinical Trail Approved, Medical Marijuana Program Uncertain
Last Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a measure that will allow the study of cannabinoid-based treatments for children suffering from debilitating conditions. The state is now partnered with Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals to begin clinical trails to test their experimental drug “Epiolex,” which contains CBD extract. Yet, a full proposal for a statewide medical marijuana program still lingers before the state Senate, where there is pressure to make a decision on the issue before the end of the legislative session.
However, Republican support for medical marijuana continues to increase. Last week, Senate Vice President Pro Tempore George Maziarz signed on to be a co-sponsor of the Compassionate Care Act. The bill is currently before the Senate Finance committee awaiting approval.
California: San Jose Deadlock
Last Tuesday, the San Jose City Council meeting ended in a deadlock vote of 5-5 on the longstanding issue of medical marijuana regulations and zoning. There have been talks for some time about forcing all the area dispensaries into industrial areas in an effort to keep them a certain distance from schools and rehab clinics. Yet, many dispensary owners say this change will force them out of business. The issue could be heard again sometime this week.
Delaware: Decriminalization Delays
In an effort to make amendments to the language of the state’s decriminalization bill, lawmakers pushed back the committee hearing that was scheduled to take place last week. House Bill 371 would allow adults over the age of 21 to be in possession of 28 grams of marijuana without risk of prosecution. Public consumption of marijuana would be prohibited altogether -- a $100 fine would be issued for any such offense. There is no word when the hearing will take place.
Arkansas: Recreational Marijuana Proposal Approved… Finally
A proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Arkansas has finally received approval from the state attorney general, and can now begin its signature gathering campaign. Arkansans for Medical Cannabis are now faced with collecting 78,133 signatures in order to get the issue of legalized marijuana on the ballot during the November election. The amendment to the state’s constitution would set up a tax and regulatory system for marijuana commerce across the state, as well as legalize cultivation and industrial hemp.
“We have won the war, yet there's a lot of work that's gotta take place and it's going to be up to the citizens of Arkansas to do it," said the amendment’s author, Robert Reed.
Many previous attempts at getting the measure approved were unsuccessful due to the attorney general’s complaints that the language of the proposal was too vague.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.