• Atlanta votes to decriminalize small marijuana possession

    October 03, 2017

    The Atlanta City Council, on Monday, unanimously passed an ordinance which decriminalizes the possession of marijuana in small amounts. The Council voted 15-0 in favor of the ordinance. The legislation was proposed by Mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall in March.

    The law if passed, would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana as a ticketing offense rather than facing an arrest. Currently, possessing marijuana in Atlanta City calls for a penalty up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to six months. The new law is set to reduce the fine up to $75 for possessing less than an ounce of cannabis.

    “To everyone who came out in support of the legislation to reduce the penalties for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, we heard you. Motion passed unanimously 15-0,” official handle of the Atlanta City Council tweeted.

    The ordinance now requires the signature of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to become law. Reed can either sign the ordinance or veto the legislation within eight calendar days. However, the legislation can also turn into the law without his signature.

    Hall urged that the change of the law was necessary to reduce the rate of imprisonment of the African Americans, who account for almost 92 per cent among people arrested for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

    The next task, the Council members believe is to ensure the public at large is informed about the law.

    “In fact, what I’ve said is I don’t want blood on my hands. I don’t want some college kid to think they are within their rights to possess marijuana in Atlanta, get arrested, resist arrest and, God forbid, the worst happens,” said Councilwoman Keisha Lance-Bottoms.

  • Nevada sells $27 million weed in first month

    October 02, 2017

    The one-month old recreational marijuana market in Nevada has sold over $27 million worth of pot in the first month itself. The weed sales in the newly legalized cannabis dispensaries have upped the tax revenue of the State by over $3.6 million.

    According to the report of Department of Taxation in Nevada, the State’s few dozen recreational marijuana dispensaries have sold marijuana worth 27.1 in the month of July. The numbers are in tune with the State’s projected earning which aims to reap $120 million marijuana-related tax revenue over the next two years.

    The tax figures of July takes into account funds reaped through two separate taxes: a 10 percent retail sales tax and a 15 percent wholesale tax.

    Nevada had recently approved the setting up of recreational marijuana dispensaries, becoming the fifth state to legalize pot. It has however, crossed all the five states to register the top spot for inaugural sales figures. The other states which has legalized recreational marijuana include Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska.

    While Colorado shops sold around $14 million recreational marijuana during its opening month in January, 2014, Oregon sales showed similar figures in October 2015. Washington’s inaugural sales in July 2014 amounted to a mere $3.8 million while Alaska’s dispensaries made less than $1 million during its first month of sales in October 20.

    The recreational marijuana sales was legalized in Nevada last November and the law was put into effect on July 1. A total of 44 dispensaries were permitted to set up recreational pot shops in the State. After licensing nine other dispensaries, Nevada currently has a total of 53 licensed pot shops in the State.

    Similarly, last year, the voters in California, Massachusetts and Maine had opted for legalization of recreational cannabis.The legal pot shops in the three States are expected to open next year.

  • Ohio releases information on medical pot growers

    October 02, 2017

    The Ohio Department of Commerce, on Friday, released a portion of the information of the 185 businesses which had applied for growing medical marijuana. The Department released 372 pages information, including the locations of where the businesses plan to set up their farms. However, the documents do not feature the investors behind the applicants.

    With the country’s highest licensing fees, Ohio charges $2000 from small growers to apply and $18,000 as licensing fees. The large scale growers have to pay $20,000 to apply and $180,000 for license. During scrutiny, the applicants will be scored out of 100 points on their business plans. Cultivation methods and past industry experience. Small growers will cultivate areas up to 3000 square feet while large cultivators will grow in areas of up to 25,000 square feet.

    At least two dozen operations are proposed for the Miami Valley which includes six in Dayton, three in Wilmington, and two in Huber Heights and one each in German town, Springfield and Yellow Springs.

    While most the applicants are based in Ohio, applications also surfaced from at least six other states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

    According to the State’s medical marijuana law, people with 21 medical conditions are allowed to purchase and use marijuana only after being prescribed by the doctor. The 21 medical conditions includes cancer and chronic pain. However, Ohio’s medical pot law prohibits smoking weed or growing at home.

    The applications are under review and the licenses are scheduled to be awarded in November. While the small cultivators are expected to be notified around November 15, large growers will be notified a couple of weeks later.

    The medical pot will be available to medical card holders in about a year.

  • Pennsylvania Health Dept firm on keeping evaluation panel secret

    October 02, 2017

    The Pennsylvania Department of Health is firm on its decision to conceal the identities of state employees who evaluated the publications of State medical marijuana patients.

    The Department has taken the matter to the Commonwealth Court after the State Office of Open Records ordered the State Health Department to furnish details of the evaluation committee members. The Office of Open Records has sought the names, job titles and employers of the evaluation committee members.

    “Releasing this information puts these state employees at personal risk for harassment and the regulations specifically protect this information, as best practices from other states support insulating these state employees from outside influence or harassment,” the Health Department said in a statement.

    “These highly vetted employees, all issue area experts, worked to ensure that the department chose the best companies to provide relief to children and other in need of this medicine.”

    The Pennsylvania Department of Health had received a total of 280 applications for dispensary license, which included 45 application in the northeast region. For the cultivator permits, the State Department had received 170 applications. 

    After scrutiny by the evaluation committee, the Health Department had issued licenses to 27 dispensaries and 12 cultivators. As per the law, the patients are eligible to apply for the medical marijuana card only if they have qualified for at least one of the 17 prescribed medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other seizure disorders.

    For the potential cultivators, they were required to submit a non-refundable application fee of $10,000 and a permit fee of $30,000 which is refundable if the permit is not granted.

    The Health Department had earlier quashed all claims of medical marijuana cultivators trying to sell licenses to other companies.

  • Quebec likely to set legal age for marijuana use at 18 years

    October 02, 2017

    The legal age for consumption of marijuana in Quebec is likely to be 18, reports have revealed. As per information, Quebec will allow people to use pot at the same age as alcohol, which is 18 years.

    As per the leaked reports, the Liberal government will also ban the private sector from indulging in sales of marijuana. A Crown corporation, likely the SAQ, is likely to handle the sales, as done in Ontario and New Brunswick.

    The decision has been taken to discourage the marijuana sales in the black market to young adults. However, the move is likely to displease the opposition party Coalition Avenir Quebec, which has been advocating 21 years as the legal age for consumption of marijuana.

    Though there is disagreement regarding the safe age to use marijuana, the federal government and the Canadian Pediatric Association have recommended age 18 to ‘safe age,’ since most brain development has already happened by the time a person turns 18 years.

    Not just the opposition, the Canadian Psychiatric Association also argues cannabis should be banned until age 21, and that until age 25 people should be limited in how much they can use.

    The Quebec Government was initially reluctant to legalize marijuana, but has been conducting a number of hearings to develop a policy before next summer. Health Minister LucieCharlebois is expected to table legislation concerning marijuana in the coming weeks.

    The Ontario Government has announced the minimum age of marijuana consumption to be 19 years, and New Brunswick is also expected to follow suit, though there is no official announcement in the regard.

  • Philippines’ House panel approves Medical Marijuana Bill

    September 26, 2017

    Philippines’ House of Representatives cleared a bill which legalizes the use of medical marijuana for patients with a set number of conditions. The Bill No 180, also called the Philippines’ Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, was approved after the lawmakers agreed that medical pot treatment was effective for patients suffering from cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and other chronic diseases.

    The Bill will now be out for vote to make it a law. As per the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act, marijuana has been classified as a ‘dangerous drug’ in Philippines.

    The Bill which was presented by Isabela Representative Rodito Albano in the House for the second time, was scrutinized by a technical team that analysed the provisions of the Bill. The Bill was supported by both House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and President Rodrigo Duterte.

    If approved through voting, the Law will enforce the establishment of Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC). The Centers will replace the already established hospitals accredited by the state and speciality hospitals, including a few private tertiary hospitals.

    The Centers which will be licensed by the Department of Health, will be allowed to sell, supply and distribute medical pot to prescribed patients. The patients will be identified and issued a medical cannabis card. The pharmacies selling medical pot, will be accredited by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

    Besides, selling and supplying medical marijuana to patients, the Bill also proposes to form a research organization called the Medical Cannabis Research and Safety Compliance Facilities, which will research on the effectiveness of medical marijuana.

    Though President Rodrigo Duterte has often expressed his displeasure on drugs and drug dealers, he extended his support to legalizing medical pot, citing its effectiveness to cure patients.

  • Legal hassles surface over unfair evaluations of pot permits

    September 26, 2017

    A Bethlehem based applicant has approached the Court to put on hold the roll out of medical marijuana licenses over unfair evaluations in awarding permits for dispensary and grower licenses. The company Keystone ReLeaf, a rejected applicant, has filed a lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court.

    The move has upset the state lawmakers, who say though it is not surprising to see rejected applicants filing lawsuits, but the delay in disbursing medical pot licenses will trouble the patients.

    A report has revealed that though photo identity cards and resumes were the scoring criteria, at least 20 applications were disqualified for technical glitches and errors at the clerical level. In certain cases, the patients were barred from making easy corrections. The Health Department’s decision not to score applications which were deemed incomplete has been challenged by over 20 applicants.

    As per the Medical Marijuana Act, the Health department has to ‘notify’ the applicants in case of further documentation. In such cases, the applicant have the time period of 30 days to provide additional information in their application. Keeping this paragraph into account, the appeal alleges that the disqualification is illegal and not just severe.

    Keystone’s attorney has argues that the rejection based on technical glitches ‘would be an abuse of discretion.’

    Besides, the appeal also claims that a Pittsburgh-based applicant was allowed by the Health Department to resubmit its application after it was destroyed in the process of email.

    The companies which had applied for the licenses had to pay a non-refundable fees of $ 10,000 for growing medical pot. Those, who wanted to set up dispensary had to pay $5,000 as the application fees.