Cannabis news roundup: On-site pot use in Alaska, medical rules …

ANCHORAGE — Alaska marijuana regulators this week are expected to resume debate over whether people should be allowed to use pot in authorized stores.

Alaska’s top medical officer continues to express health concerns with that idea.

The Marijuana Control Board began mulling the concept of onsite use of marijuana in late 2015, eventually drafting rules for how use would be permitted.

The board abandoned that effort in February, citing concern about how the new Trump administration might view marijuana.

The board reversed itself last month and agreed to again attempt to write rules.

Alaska is one of eight states to legalize recreational marijuana. It remains illegal on the federal level.

The state’s chief medical officer, Jay Butler, says onsite use of marijuana raises health concerns, such as driver impairment and second-hand smoke.

— Associated Press


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Top Democrats in the Maryland legislature have agreed to expand the ranks of medical marijuana growers in the state as part of an overhaul of the burgeoning but beleaguered industry.

Lawmakers are still wrangling, however, over which businesses should have a shot at entry into the lucrative market.

Fifteen companies preapproved last year by regulators can open cultivation sites as early as summer if they pass final inspections and background checks.

Five more growing licenses would be granted under a bill that passed the House of Delegates on Tuesday and is aimed at favoring minority-owned companies.

House and Senate negotiators say they’re on the brink of a compromise over how many new licenses to issue and whether to shrink the total number of growers if any company fails inspection.

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, the largest caucus in the legislature, is insistent on expanding minority participation in the industry, after the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission failed to license any African American-owned growers.

— Washington Post


SANTA FE, New Mexico — New Mexico officials want to expand the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, to include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and anxiety, among other ailments.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board also voted Friday to increase the amount and potency allowed for an approved user.

Other conditions the board wants to recognize include depression, chronic headaches, including migraines, sleep disorder and dystonia, a neurological condition that causes muscle spasms, tremors and other problems with movement.

The recommendations now go to the state Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher for final approval.

The board’s recommendations in November to add Alzheimer’s disease and opiate use disorder to its current list of 20 qualifying health conditions are still pending.

— Associated Press


PIERRE, S.D. — Medical marijuana supporters who came up empty at the South Dakota Legislature and ballot box are emboldened to try again after an overwhelming vote in North Dakota to make cannabis available to patients there.

Backers of the South Dakota effort hope to soon gather enough signatures to put the question on the November 2018 ballot after the strong showing last fall in North Dakota, where 64 percent of voters supported a similar plan.

“If North Dakota can pass it at that great of a margin, I’m absolutely positive South Dakota can also,” said Melissa Mentele, founder and director of the group advancing the measure. “It definitely looks good for us.”

New Approach South Dakota’s proposal would allow patients with serious medical conditions and a health practitioner’s recommendation to use marijuana. Qualifying patients — such as people with cancer, AIDS and hepatitis C — would be able to get a registration card to possess up to 3 ounces of the plant. The group also plans to pursue a recreational marijuana initiative.

The Republican-held Legislature has been reluctant to support medical cannabis. But, lawmakers this year did approve a law to allow people with a prescription to use a non-intoxicating compound found in marijuana if it’s approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Medical marijuana initiatives in South Dakota have failed at the ballot box at least twice since 2006. Last year, the secretary of state’s office said backers didn’t turn in enough valid signatures to get on the ballot.

— Associated Press 


SALEM, Ore. — Oregon state lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that would shield the names, birthdates and other identifying information of marijuana users from being accessed by federal drug agents amid worries of heightened enforcement.

The bill was approved 53-5 by the Oregon House on Monday and is largely in response to mixed signals about the new White House administration’s stance on the federal marijuana prohibition.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign it into law.

Oregon pot shops would have 30 days to destroy their recreational pot customers’ personal data from their records and be banned from keeping such records thereon.

Data collection about pot clients is already illegal or discouraged in Alaska, Colorado and Washington state.

Recreational marijuana is legal in those states and sold from stores.

— Associated Press


DENVER — Colorado was set Monday to outlaw marijuana growing co-ops soon after the state Senate unanimously approved a bill making it a crime for people to cultivate recreational pot for other people.

The bill supported by the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper passed 35-0 but it was unclear when he would sign it.

FILE – This Jan. 26, 2013 file photo taken at a grow house in Denver shows marijuana plants ready to be harvested. Colorado is set to outlaw marijuana growing co-ops after the state Senate unanimously approved a bill on Monday, April 10, 2017 that would make it a crime for people to cultivate recreational pot for other people. The bill was supported by the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

There are no state estimates on how many collective recreational marijuana growing operations exist in Colorado, though they are popular among users who share the cost of electricity, water and fertilizer to grow their pot.

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but it has a nagging black-market problem. Law enforcement and state lawmakers attribute the black-market problem in part to weak restrictions on who can grow pot.

The Colorado state constitution authorizes people over 21 to grow their own pot, or to assist someone else in growing pot. That language allows groups to designate a single “farmer” to care for their marijuana plants, allowing them to avoid pot taxes that approach 30 percent, depending on the jurisdiction.

But police groups and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, have called on lawmakers to curb the practice of assisting other recreational pot users.

The governor plans to sign another bill this week that limits the number of marijuana plants that can be grown in a home to 12 plants, which would force medical marijuana users authorized to grow more than 12 plants to grow it in agricultural or commercial locations or to buy it from dispensaries that tax marijuana. Last week, he signed a measure forbidding a court from saying that criminal defendants who are marijuana patients must abstain from pot as a condition of bond.

— Associated Press

 

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