Budgetary provisions enacted by Congress in 2014 forbid the Justice Department from taking action against medical marijuana providers who are operating in compliance with state law, a federal judge for the northern district of California determined earlier this week.
California lawmakers approved a series of bills in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session that seek to establish statewide rules and oversight governing the distribution of medicinal cannabis. The three bills — Assembly Bill 266, Senate Bill 643, and Assembly Bill 243 — now await final approval from Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown.
Legislation to establish a system of medical dispensaries for the state’s nearly 14,000 medical marijuana patients has become law without the Governor’s signature. The state Department of Health has until January 4, 2016 to finalize rules governing the dispensary program. Licensed dispensaries are anticipated to be operational by July 15, 2016.
The enactment of medicinal cannabis laws is not associated with any rise in statewide criminal activity and may even be related to reductions in incidences of violent crime, according to data published online in the journal PLoS ONE. “The central finding gleaned from the present study was that MML (medical marijuana legalization) is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault,” authors reported.
Hawaii voters overwhelmingly support legalizing and regulating the adult use of cannabis, according to just-released statewide survey data by QMark Research and commissioned by the Hawaii Drug Policy Action Group. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they endorsed legalizing cannabis, an increase of nine points since pollsters last posed the question in 2012.
Federal officials are poised to unveil new regulations allowing for financial institutions to legally interact with licensed businesses that are engaged in cannabis commerce. “They (retail facilities that dispense cannabis) want to be able to use the banking system,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said. “And so we (the Obama administration) will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue.”
Washington state regulators are presently reviewing over 1,300 applications from would-be entrepreneurs seeking to engage in the state-licensed production and/or sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products to those age 21 and over. Regulators began accepting applications for licenses in mid-November and will continue accepting applications until December 19. In Colorado, regulators began accepting similar applications for commercial cannabis licenses in October — the first of which was approved in late November. Licensed cannabis operations are anticipated to be operational in Colorado on January 1, 2014.
Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber today signed legislation, House Bill 3460, into law establishing regulations for the creation of state-licensed medical cannabis facilities. Presently, an estimated 200 unlicensed cannabis dispensing facilities are operating throughout the state. An estimated 57,000 Oregonians are registered with the state to consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation into law making Illinois the 20th state to authorize the physician-recommended use of cannabis for qualified patients.
Members of the Oregon House and Senate have given final approval to House Bill 3460, which licenses medicinal cannabis dispensaries statewide. House Bill 3460 “directs [the] Oregon Health Authority to establish a registration system for medical marijuana facilities.” The department has until March 2014 to draft rules regulating dispensaries. Such facilities exist presently in the state but are unregulated and remain subject to state and local prosecution. Officials expect to register an estimated 225 dispensaries in the first two years.