Is Nebraska Headed for a No-Rules Medical Marijuana Market?

Is Nebraska Headed for a No-Rules Medical Marijuana Market?

[Canniseur: The craziness of politicians never fails to amaze me. These politicians appear to believe they’re doing a public service by allowing highly restricted access to medical marijuana is a good thing. What they fail to realize or don’t care about is part of their goal in legalizing is to eliminate the black market. The restrictive laws help the black market to continue to thrive. Voters will now have to go to the polls and vote in laws they want, not the laws the legislators think will get them elected again.]

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Year after year, Nebraska’s conservative lawmakers have rejected measures calling for limited and highly regulated medical marijuana.

They’re poised to do it again, but their decision this year could have the unintended consequence of ushering in one of the most unrestricted medical marijuana laws in the country.

If so, Nebraska will join a growing number of conservative states with unusually easy marijuana access, all because red-state lawmakers refuse to touch the issue and thereby make way for ballot initiatives. Read more

Original Post: Leafly: Is Nebraska Headed for a No-Rules Medical Marijuana Market?

Feds Say Illegal California Cannabis Grow Was Funded by Chinese

Feds Say Illegal California Cannabis Grow Was Funded by Chinese

[Canniseur: Criminals believe; “Since cannabis is legal, why not just grow and sell our illegal weed under the radar.” Bathtub gin makers thought that too after alcohol prohibition ended in the 1930s. They were wrong then and illegal growers are wrong now.]

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three men were arrested Thursday as part of an illegal cannabis-growing operation in Southern California that was funded with money from China, federal prosecutors said.

Authorities seized nearly 200 pounds (90 kilograms) of processed marijuana and about 3,000 plants during raids on seven large homes in neatly kept San Bernardino County neighborhoods, said Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

The alleged coordinator of the scheme was a real estate agent who spent more than $5 million to buy the homes with money wired from the Guangdong Province of China, authorities said. Three guns and more than $80,000 in cash was seized from his home.

The case is the latest where overseas money backed illicit marijuana growing operations in places where the drug is legal for adults, prosecutors said.

“In states that have decriminalized marijuana, we have seen an influx of foreign money used to establish grow operations, with much of the marijuana being destined for out-of-state consumers,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said.

In April, federal and local law enforcement agents seized about 100 houses in Northern California that were purchased with money wired to the U.S. by a Chinese-based crime organization and used to grow massive amounts of pot. Colorado authorities have said Cuban syndicates are behind some of the growing operations in that state.

The Southern California operation was being run by Lin Li, also known as Aaron Li, 37, who purchased the homes, ran the shell companies that managed finances and paid utility bills, prosecutors said.

Ben Chen, 42, and Jimmy Yu, 44, were allegedly cultivating the crop.

The three face charges of growing and distributing marijuana. They made initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, but did not enter pleas.

Attorney Anthony Solis, who represents Yu, said he had barely read the complaint and didn’t have a comment. Attorneys for the other two defendants did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

Messages seeking comment left on Li’s cellphone and an email address listed in court documents were not immediately returned.

Prosecutors said the cannabis was being sold in California and Nevada.

Marijuana is legally grown and sold in California for recreational and medical use, though it is strictly regulated. While it remains illegal under federal law, U.S. authorities have typically only prosecuted the most egregious cases.

In an affidavit supporting the arrests, Agent John Harris of Homeland Security Investigations, said Li pirated the enormous amount of electricity needed to grow marijuana under bright lights by tapping into power lines before they passed through a meter measuring use.

The investigation that lasted more than a year included tips from neighbors.

“No one is ever sesen coming or going,” one neighbor complained, according to the affidavit. “The smell of marijuana is overwhelming.”

Original Post: Leafly: Feds Say Illegal California Cannabis Grow Was Funded by Chinese

New Mexico Cannabis Legalization Passes Crucial House Vote

New Mexico Cannabis Legalization Passes Crucial House Vote

[Canniseur: Great idea to legalize adult use cannabis. Terrible idea to run adult cannabis sales through state stores. The states that sell alcohol at retail are subject to all sorts of bureaucratic malfeasance. Too many complexities. Too little variety. States should govern and not operate retail outlets. This will do little to end the black market, especially if they put a 17% tax on the product on top of the New Mexico sales tax, which is already high.]

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico took a step toward legalizing adult-use marijuana when its House approved a bill that would allow state-run stores and require customers to carry a receipt with their cannabis or face penalties.

The measure, narrowly approved Thursday following a late-night debate, mixes major provisions of a Republican-backed Senate bill that emphasizes aggressive regulation with a draft by Democrats concerned about the U.S. war on drugs.

The 36-34 vote sends the bill to the Democratic-controlled Senate for consideration.

Under the House-approved bill, recreational cannabis stores would open for business in July 2020.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has expressed guarded support for recreational marijuana legislation that addresses concerns about child access, road safety and safeguarding the state’s existing marijuana market for medical patients.

Under the House-approved bill, recreational cannabis stores would open for business in July 2020.

Rep. Javier Martinez, a Democrat, described the bill as a “grand bargain” with a group of Senate Republicans who favored use of state-run stores, in part to prevent the proliferation of pot shops on city streets in a phenomenon dubbed the “green mile.”

The proposed system mimics established state-run liquor stores in many areas of the U.S.

Martinez praised the bill as a way to take more marijuana profits from drug cartels and money launderers.

“You can face criminal charges if you don’t have a receipt or other proof of purchase on your person to accompany your cannabis for personal use,” said Martinez, describing that provision as a difficult concession to Senate Republicans.

All House Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against the bill.

“I don’t like this direction,” said GOP Rep. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences. “My choice would be that we give people really active and productive lives and healthy families.”

Ten states and the District of Columbia allow recreational marijuana.

New Mexico could become the second state after Vermont to approve it by legislation rather than a ballot initiative. A bill to legalize recreational cannabis in Democrat-dominated Hawaii fizzled last week.

In New Mexico, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by people 21 and older would be considered legal with a receipt. Home-grown cannabis was ruled out of the proposal because it could be a source for the black market.

Private dispensaries would be allowed where there is no state-run marijuana store within 25 miles. Oversight of the industry would be shared by state agriculture, health and environmental officials.

The bill would repeal criminal laws governing cannabis offenses and expunge and destroy criminal conviction records. It eliminates taxes on medical marijuana to help ensure sufficient supplies to patients.

Taxes of up to 17 percent would be levied on recreational marijuana sales. Some tax revenues would be set aside to collect statistics on marijuana use and road safety, efforts to discourage child consumption and research on the public health effects of legalization.

Prospects are uncertain for approval by the state Senate, where conservative Democrats occupy key leadership and committee posts.

“You can give them all the facts in the world, and they just won’t touch it,” said Democratic Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, describing the staunch opposition by several Democratic colleagues. “It is strong, emotional.”

The prospect of legalization has opened a public rift in the state GOP, with party chairman and former congressman Steve Pearce ridiculing the idea of “state employees selling pot.”

GOP Sen. Cliff Pirtle, a dairy farmer in his early 30s from Roswell, in a staunchly Republican district, has cast recreational marijuana as a source of economic opportunity as well as “liberty and freedom for responsible adults.”

State-run stores would ensure small commercial marijuana producers get shelf space to compete, he said, adding that main streets in small towns are not transformed by the sight of storefront marijuana shops.

Original Post: Leafly: New Mexico Cannabis Legalization Passes Crucial House Vote

Science Backs Most Medical Cannabis Treatment, Study Finds

Science Backs Most Medical Cannabis Treatment, Study Finds

[Editor’s Note: This peer reviewed publication, the journal “Health Affairs”, is a study on why folks are using medical cannabis in the first place. Check out why this is important.]

Chronic pain is the most common reason people give when they enroll in state-approved medical marijuana programs.

That’s followed by stiffness from multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-related nausea, according to an analysis of 15 states published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.

The study didn’t measure whether marijuana actually helped anyone with their problems, but the patients’ reasons match up with what’s known about the science of marijuana and its chemical components.

“The majority of patients for whom we have data are using cannabis for reasons where the science is the strongest,” said lead author Kevin Boehnke of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

California became the first state to allow medical use of marijuana in 1996. More than 30 states now allow marijuana for dozens of health problems. Lists of allowable conditions vary by state, but in general, a doctor must certify a patient has an approved diagnosis.

While the U.S. government has approved medicines based on compounds found in the plant, it considers marijuana illegal and imposes limits on research. That’s led to states allowing some diseases and symptoms where rigorous science is lacking. Most of the evidence comes from studying pharmaceuticals based on marijuana ingredients, not from studies of smoked marijuana or edible forms.

About 85 percent of patients’ reasons were supported by substantial or conclusive evidence in the National Academies report.

Dementia and glaucoma, for example, are conditions where marijuana hasn’t proved valuable, but some states include them. Many states allow Parkinson’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder where evidence is limited.

The analysis is based on 2016 data from the 15 states that reported the reasons given for using marijuana. Researchers compared the symptoms and conditions with a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence: a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

About 85 percent of patients’ reasons were supported by substantial or conclusive evidence in the National Academies report.

The study shows people are learning about the evidence for cannabis and its chemical components, said Ziva Cooper of University of California Los Angeles’ Cannabis Research Initiative. Cooper served on the National Academies report committee, but wasn’t involved in the new study.

About two-thirds of the about 730,000 reasons were related to chronic pain, the study found. Patients could report more than one pain condition, so the figure may overestimate patient numbers.

Patients include 37-year-old Brandian Smith of Pana, Illinois, who qualifies because she has fibromyalgia. On bad days, her muscles feel like they’re being squeezed in a vise. She said she has stopped taking opioid painkillers because marijuana works better for her. She spends about $300 a month at her marijuana dispensary.

“Cannabis is the first thing I’ve found that actually makes the pain go away and not leave me so high that I can’t enjoy my day,” Smith said.

The study also found:

—Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon saw a decline in medical marijuana patients after legalization of recreational marijuana in those states.

—More than 800,000 patients were enrolled in medical marijuana programs in 2017 in 19 states. That doesn’t count California and Maine, which don’t require patients to register. Other estimates have put the number at more than 2 million.

Original Post: Leafly: Science Backs Most Medical Cannabis Treatment, Study Finds

Smoke It? An Idea Tough for Florida Lawmakers to Swallow

Smoke It? An Idea Tough for Florida Lawmakers to Swallow

[Editor’s Note: Florida continues the fight to smoke their medical cannabis. Hopefully this debate will reach a successful conclusion soon and not include a ridiculous 2 doctor requirement.]

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the Legislature to repeal a ban on smokable medical marijuana, but it became clear Monday that some fellow Republicans might not be on board.

DeSantis took office last month and said firmly that he wanted lawmakers to repeal the ban signed into law by now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. If they don’t do so by mid-March, DeSantis said he would drop Scott’s appeal of a court decision that declared the ban unconstitutional.

But the first attempt to get a bill passed that would allow smokable medical marijuana was met with strong resistance, and the chairwoman of the Senate Health Policy Committee amended it to say that smokable medical marijuana can only be allowed if two doctors agree that it’s the only form of that plant a patient can use. Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell talked about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

“Let me tell you some of those risks, OK?” she said. “There is a significant association with smoking marijuana and cancer. Do you know that there are over than 33 carcinogens in marijuana smoke? I won’t name them for you. I could. I have the list, and I could name them for you, but take my word.”

The bill at first died on a tie vote, but it was reconsidered and approved. It was a sign that the Republican-dominated Legislature has mixed feelings on the issue of smokable medical marijuana. Scott signed the bill to ban it, DeSantis wants to allow it, Republican bill sponsor Jeff Brandes doesn’t want Harrell’s restrictions, and Harrell and others on the committee either don’t want it, or want to severely restrict it.

“There’s a little reefer madness going on in the Florida Senate right now,” Brandes said after the meeting.

Brandes said that he hopes to remove Harrell’s restrictions before the bill gets a full Senate floor vote. It has two more committee stops.

“This bill will not reach the floor with my name on it,” Brandes said of the amended legislation. “I’m not going to bring a bill to the floor that hurts patients.”

Legalized medical marijuana was approved by more than 71 percent of Florida’s voters in 2015, but the Legislature implemented the constitutional amendment with the smoking ban. Personal injury lawyer John Morgan largely funded the ballot measure and sued the state over the smoking ban. A circuit court judge agreed that the ban was unconstitutional, but Scott appealed.

Calls and texts to DeSantis’ media office weren’t immediately returned.

Original Post: Leafly: Smoke It? An Idea Tough for Florida Lawmakers to Swallow

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