[Canniseur: Knowing the cannabis laws in your state is pretty important. Florida’s cannabis laws are complex and severe, but have been evolving. If you’re one of the many tourists attracted to Florida, or even if you’re a resident, learn how to stay out of trouble. ]
Updated May 2020
Historically Florida has had a strong anti-marijuana stance — but recently the state has made some significant steps forward. Recreational marijuana remains illegal, but in 2016 voters approved a comprehensive medical marijuana program. Learn more about Florida marijuana laws below.
Recreational Marijuana in Florida
Florida has some of the harshest recreational marijuana laws in all of the United States. The possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor with one year imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. Possession, use, or sale of anything greater than 20 grams is charged as a felony with prison time ranging from five years to 30 years and up to $200,000 in fines. Also, if you are convicted of a marijuana-related offense, the state of Florida can suspend your driver’s license for one year.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Marijuana
A mandatory minimum sentence is when a judge must sentence the defendant to at least the outlined mandatory minimum amount of jail time for violating a specified law. With other offenses, the judge is given some wiggle room to consider special circumstances, adjusting the defendant’s jail time to reflect the specifics of their individual case. However, with a mandatory minimum sentence, there is no ability to adjust the sentence based on the circumstances.
Many Florida marijuana laws include a mandatory minimum sentence for both possession and sale. For example, possession of between 25 and 2,000 lbs. of marijuana comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years, and possession of 2,000 to 10,000 lbs. of marijuana comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years of jail time.
Is Hash Legal Under Florida Marijuana Laws?
Also known as hashish, hash is an extremely potent cannabis product that is made using the resin found on marijuana plants. Hash features high levels of THC, so possessing any amount in Florida is classified as a felony. Being caught in possession of hash can result in up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Selling, delivering, or manufacturing hash is also a felony, and carries the same penalties as a possession.
Marijuana Concentrate in Florida
Marijuana concentrate is another highly potent form of cannabis, with all excess plant materials filtered out of the final product, leaving users with a very strong concentrate that only features cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Marijuana concentrates hold the exact same penalties as hash, with possession, sale, and/or delivery resulting in five years of jail time and a $5,000 fine.
Florida Marijuana Laws Regarding Drug Paraphernalia
“Marijuana paraphernalia” is any product used as an accessory for using marijuana, such as pipes and bongs. The possession of marijuana paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, with Florida marijuana law punishing those in possession of paraphernalia with up to one year of jail time and a $1,000 fine.
Local Decriminalization of Marijuana
Florida has several local jurisdictions that have passed local resolutions or laws that decriminalize the possession of marijuana or other cannabis products. For example, in Miami-Dade County, possessing up to 20 grams of marijuana only comes with a $100 fine.
Compare that penalty to the much more restrictive Florida marijuana law for the entire state, where the penalty for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor that results in a $1,000 fine and up to a year of jail time. Check with your local Florida government for more details regarding the local decriminalization of marijuana.
Medical Marijuana in Florida
Florida had a very restrictive high-CBD, low-THC marijuana law for a couple of years before 71% of voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2016 to allow full medical cannabis. Amendment 2 went into effect January 3, 2017, and the Florida Legislature passed legislation that implemented the amendment in July 2017.
Under Florida’s Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions are allowed medical use of marijuana provided they have a doctor’s recommendation and an identification card. Home cultivation for medical purposes is not permitted under the law. The law does allow qualifying patients to have a caregiver who is at least 21 years old to assist in the collection and administering of medical cannabis.
Originally, Florida marijuana laws permitted only medical cannabis oils, sprays, tinctures, edibles, and vaping materials. While smoking marijuana was originally not permitted under the law, in 2018 Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 2016 broadly legalized medical marijuana and gave eligible patients the right to smoke marijuana in private. In March 2019, the Florida Legislature approved SB 182, a bill that overturns the ban on smokable forms of medical marijuana for adults and patients under 18 who are either diagnosed with a terminal illness or who have obtained a second recommendation from a pediatrician.
SB 182 also allows patients to order a 210-day supply of medical marijuana at a time, up from the original 70-day supply limit approved in the initial legislation.
Who Can Be Treated with Medical Marijuana Under Florida Marijuana Laws?
Florida’s medical marijuana program allows medical marijuana to be provided as treatment for patients with the following “debilitating medical conditions”:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- “Other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated”
Additionally, in June 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 7107 to allow a cannabis-derived drug for children with epilepsy. The bill changes that specific drug’s classification in state law from a Schedule I substance to Schedule V.
Drugged Driving Laws in Florida
Drivers in Florida are forbidden from using their car or some other type of motor vehicle if there is any detectable level of THC and/or marijuana in their system. If you have recently consumed marijuana, even if it is legally obtained medical marijuana, do not operate a motor vehicle under any circumstances.
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Florida
While hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Florida
Even for first-time offenders, the cultivation of cannabis for any purpose is considered a felony in Florida. If found cultivating fewer than 25 plants, it is considered a third-degree felony punishable by incarceration up to five years and fines up to $5,000. If an individual is the owner of the property where more than 25 plants are being illegally cultivated, the offense is charged as a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison.
Florida’s Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March 2016, permits certain dispensing organizations to grow and distribute cannabis.
In June 2017, Gov. Scott signed the Industrial Hemp Pilot Projects Bill, which gives Florida A&M University and the University of Florida permission to conduct research pilot projects on growing and selling hemp. Nearly two years later, in May 2019, the Florida Legislature passed a bill enabling the commercial production of hemp. Florida had its hemp regulatory plan approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April 2020.
Legal Status of Other U.S. States
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice. Although we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Therefore, any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.
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Original Post: Merry Jane: Legalizing Cannabis Could Bring New Zealand $500 Million In Annual Tax Revenue
[Canniseur: If New Zealand legalizes, this will be a big deal. A very big deal indeed. And this will be decided by the people. The Parliament in En Zed (that’s what Kiwi’s call New Zealand) has promised to enact legal adult use if the population approves the referendum in September!]
This September, New Zealanders will vote in a non-binding referendum to show whether they support or oppose the legalization of a taxed and regulated legal weed market. Earlier this month, the country’s legislature released the final draft of an adult-use legalization bill, which it has promised to pass if a majority of voters support the referendum.
If the measure passes, legal weed sales could bring the country as much as $490 million annually, according to a new report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER). This estimate is based on the 25 percent cannabis tax rate proposed in the new legislation, in combination with the country’s standard sales tax. But because there is little information regarding how much weed Kiwis smoke, NZIER used data from Canada and Colorado to come up with its predictions.
”The key insight from that is that heavy users do actually consume a lot of this product,” explained NZIER principal economist Peter Wilson, RNZ reports. The analysts assumed that New Zealand’s rate of cannabis use would be similar to that of Colorado, and then scaled this data to match the country’s population. Based on this analysis, NZIER predicts that a legal weed market would sell around 1,100 tons of weed a year.
Wilson notes, however, that sales can only reach this level if the new legal market can successfully displace the country’s existing black market. Although Canada and most US adult-use states are still struggling to defeat illicit weed operations, Wilson believes the data shows that a properly-regulated market offering quality products will eventually negate illegal pot.
”It may take some time to achieve that, but if legal cannabis is safe and the price reasonable, findings from countries which have legalised cannabis tell us that people will make the switch,” said Wilson in a statement. “If regulatory costs and taxes are too high an illegal market will likely re-emerge and gain market share.”
Wilson also notes that the government’s adult-use bill contains a unique provision that could eventually decrease their share of tax revenue. The bill, which is partially modeled on Canada’s restrictive adult-use legislation, will require the government to work to reduce the country’s use of cannabis over time. If the government succeeds at this end, then overall weed sales will decline, as will tax revenue.
“Overseas lessons show the detail of the legislation is important to avoid unintended consequences and achieve the Government’s overall objectives of reducing use through time,” Wilson explained.
Although the report is promising, the fate of the legalization bill remains uncertain. The referendum, which is being included in this year’s general election ballot, is non-binding — meaning that majority support does not guarantee its success. Voters will also be choosing new government officials during that same election, and the country’s new Parliament is under no obligation to uphold any promises made by the current administration.
In other words, even if voters are totally in favor of legal weed, the adult-use bill could still fail. If that happens, New Zealand will continue to prohibit cannabis in any form, as it does today. Even medical marijuana remains completely illegal, although recent laws have made it less risky for terminally ill patients to use medicinal pot.
Original Post: Merry Jane: Legalizing Cannabis Could Bring New Zealand $500 Million In Annual Tax Revenue
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: New Mexico Governor Says Legalizing Marijuana Would’ve Funded Programs Cut Due To Coronavirus
[Canniseur: Could COVID-19 be the impetus to legalize cannabis? Not just in New Mexico, but in many other states that need revenue. COVID-19 has hurt economies in every one of the States. There is a great need to increase revenue without raising taxes. Cannabis could be an answer, at least partially.]
The governor of New Mexico said last week that the state needs to explore every option for economic relief, and that includes passing marijuana legalization.
Near the end of a two-hour livestream updating residents on the state’s coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) was asked whether she was in favor of the legislature passing adult-use legalization during an upcoming special session to generate tax revenue to offset financial challenges caused by the pandemic.
“Let’s end on a high note,” the governor joked, adding that she felt suspensions of various capital projects due to the health crisis “likely would not have occurred” if lawmakers had legalized recreational marijuana during this year’s regular session as she’d unsuccessfully urged them to do.
“The projections are nearly $100 million of recurring revenue into the budget” from cannabis legalization, she said. “If we want economic support and economic relief, then we have to use every economic idea. And I want to point out also that the vast majority of New Mexicans favor recreational cannabis.”
Watch the governor’s marijuana comments, starting around 2:18:10 into the video below:
Lujan Grisham hinted that she may actively campaign against lawmakers who blocked her legalization bill in this year’s regular session.
“We have an opportunity,” she said. “I think all of our policymakers need to think clearly—and they should expect me to be supporting in the next general election—we have to pass recreational cannabis in the state. We need to diversify our economy, we need to increase opportunity for recurring revenue and we have to rebuild an economy that has suffered dramatically during this public health crisis.”
The governor made a similar argument last month, though she also acknowledged that the $100 million revenue estimate, which was released by a working group the governor formed to study the impact of legalization last year, would likely have been affected by the pandemic.
It should also be noted that the $100 million figure is an estimate of the combined tax revenue from the existing medical cannabis market and the add-on of adult-use sales. And that’s after the latter market matures.
Further, a legalization bill that passed one Senate committee earlier this year only to be rejected in another before the close of the short 30-day session stipulated that sales would have begun on July 1, meaning the state would not have been able to collect the much-needed revenue in the midst of the health crisis, unless emergency action was taken.
Legalization might not have happened as planned during New Mexico’s regular 2020 legislative session, but the governor said in February that she’s open to letting voters decide on the policy change via a ballot referendum.
While the Lujan Grisham didn’t directly answer the question about whether legalization should be pursued during the special session in June, a spokesperson for her office recently said that it’s unlikely the reform move will happen during the window.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.
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Original Post: Merry Jane: Illinois Dedicates $31 Million in Pot Taxes to Help People Harmed by Prohibition
[Canniseur: This is what I call social action and it’s by a governmental body. It’s about time we as a country started doing something to solve this horrible problem of social inequity. Bravo! Illinois.]
Illinois just announced that over $30 million in legal pot tax revenue will be used to fund restorative justice grants, continuing the Prairie State’s commitment to implementing social and criminal justice reforms alongside cannabis legalization.
The Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which was established via an act of legislature last year, uses 25 percent of the state’s adult-use tax revenue “to fund strategies that focus on violence prevention, re-entry, and health services to areas across the state that are objectively found to be acutely suffering from the horrors of violence, bolstered by concentrated disinvestment.”
The state’s legal weed market has turned out to be a massive success, and even the recent coronavirus outbreak has done little to slow sales. These strong sales have provided the state with an extra income boost from weed tax revenue, and regulators have just allocated $31 million of this revenue to the R3 program. State officials also identified economically distressed areas throughout the state that are eligible to apply for grants under this new program.
“In developing these funding opportunities, the focus has been on equity in opportunity at the community level,” said Jason Stamps, acting director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, to Marijuana Moment. “This program will start to close those gaps in areas most hard hit by gun violence, unemployment, and criminal justice system overuse. To do so, we are looking to R3 communities for proposals of programs and strategies they identify to best address their needs and challenges.”
The program is offering grants to organizations that are working to reduce gun violence, improve reentry and diversion services from the criminal justice system, offer civil legal aid, or to bolster community health and youth development. The program will accept applications for these grants until July 20.
The R3 program could help Illinois’ violence prevention groups — many of which have been struggling to secure steady funding — survive. “This could have a huge effect on violent crime rates and give Chicago a second opportunity to really be the world-class city that we know it is,” said Monique K. Shelton, program manager with the Centers for New Horizons community group, to The Trace. “We’re on the cusp of something really spectacular.”
“The R3 program is a critical step towards repairing the harms caused by the failed war on drugs and decades of economic disinvestment,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, according to Marijuana Moment. “Equity is one of the administration’s core values, and we are ensuring that state funding reaches organizations doing critical work in neighborhoods most impacted by the War on Drugs.”
Illinois is one of the first US states to roll social justice reform into its initial adult-use law, although many other states have tried to enact social equity initiatives post-legalization. As part of the first wave of reform, Governor J.B. Pritzker cleared the records of over 11,000 former pot offenders before sales began this January.
And not only is the state of Illinois working to enact social justice reform, but individual cities are also implementing their own programs. Last December, the city of Evanston announced that it would use all of its local weed tax revenue to fund programs that will support the city’s black residents in an attempt to pay reparations for centuries of racism and social injustice.
Original Post: Merry Jane: Illinois Dedicates $31 Million in Pot Taxes to Help People Harmed by Prohibition
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Missouri Lawmakers Defeat Amendment To Require They Consume Marijuana Before Voting
[Canniseur: This is too good. And the amendment was put in the bill by a republican. A republican!!! The crazy thing about it is that it would probably work to get these legislators focused on the bills they’re considering! Way to go, Missouri!]
Missouri lawmakers rejected an amendment to a health care bill on Thursday that would have required House members to consume a “substantial” amount of marijuana before performing their legislative duties.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Andrew McDaniel (R), was defeated in a voice vote—though a reporter in the room said he heard a few “ayes.”
Text of the measure stipulated that “members of the Missouri House shall consume a substantial dose of medicinal marijuana prior to entering the chamber or voting on any legislation.”
McDaniel told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview that, this time of year, lawmakers tend to pile on amendments to bills. The current health care-focused legislation has “a whole bunch of crap” that’s been attached to it, he said, and so he saw an opportunity to “get everyone to chill out and get a little chuckle” with his proposal.
< blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”>
A GOP Missouri lawmaker introduced an amendment to a health care bill today that would have required members to consume a “substantial” amount of marijuana before performing their legislative duties.
No really ?https://t.co/32470pjfCE
— Kyle Jaeger (@kylejaeger) May 7, 2020</blockquote >
The hope was also that it could “get them all to pay attention” and “quit messing it up,” he said.
The lawmaker said he similarly heard some “aye” votes from the chamber, though he said he wasn’t going to force people to go on the record with a roll call vote.
“It was just for fun—simmer down, bring up a little bit of laughter in such a somber environment of the times we’re in,” McDaniel said.
Erik Alteri, executive director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that he appreciated the sentiment.
“During these trying times we all could certainly use a laugh which this amendment provided. Though having state legislators imbibe before session might not be the worst thing to encourage cooperation for the public good,” he said. “At the very least perhaps opponents of ending our failed probation on cannabis may finally realize they are ruining hundreds of thousands of lives per year over a plant.”
Another part of the inspiration behind the lawmaker’s amendment was a more serious provision of the overall legislation that provides protections for registered cannabis patients against having their registration in the program reported to the federal government.
The bill, SB 580, states that “no state agency, including employees therein, shall disclose to the federal government, any federal government employee, or any unauthorized third party, the statewide list or any individual information of persons who have applied for or obtained a medical marijuana card.”
McDaniel said that he supports both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization, though constituents in his district haven’t gotten on board with broader reform and so he doesn’t have immediate plans to introduce actionable legislation to that end. The legislator described himself as having a libertarian perspective on the issue.
He did sponsor a bill in 2018 that would have made a constitutional amendment establishing a limited medical cannabis program in the state. That came before voters approved more a far-reaching medical marijuana legalization measure during the November election that year.
Last month, a campaign to legalize marijuana in Missouri officially ended its bid to qualify for this year’s general election ballot due to signature gathering difficulties caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.
Missouri Lawmakers Defeat Amendment To Require They Consume Marijuana Before Voting was posted on Marijuana Moment.
Original Post: High Times: Maryland Allows Medical Cannabis Dispensaries to Remain Open
[Canniseur: Our country has gone from a total ban on cannabis to acceptance at least in legal states, at warp speed. In every state where medical cannabis is legal, dispensaries have been deemed ‘essential’ services. Amazing. Maryland is the latest and now has joined the other states where medical cannabis is legal.]
In order to meet the needs of cannabis users across the state, Maryland is allowing medical dispensaries to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic with some loosened restrictions to make sure everyone has access. Southern Maryland dispensaries in general are working to make sure accessibility is the number-one priority.
According to SoMdNews, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission issued an order that would change some rules for dispensaries. It’s no longer OK to keep a big jar of cannabis for customers to smell before purchasing, but on-site deliveries in parking lots, their version of curbside delivery, is now an option.
Patients also no longer have to sign for cannabis upon pickup, and orders can be processed online. This helps with social distancing and ease of access for those without as much access to transportation.
One store in Solomons, MD, Greenwave Medical Cannabis Dispensary, took advantage of the fact that their building used to be a bank and implemented a drive-thru window for customers. With a little work, they were able to make the business accessible to those who don’t want to leave their vehicles.
“The MMCC has shown great leadership,” Lauren Simpson, director of Greenwave, said. “We’re lucky to have a governor who acknowledged the importance of medical cannabis to state constituents.”
In Mechanicsville, MD, Southern Maryland Relief, owned by Charlie Mattingly, had to make some similar changes in order to keep up with the times and provide access to patients.
Online Ordering Now An Option
In addition to offering curbside pickup, the store is taking online orders. However, since many of their patients are older and not as computer-savvy, he is also keeping the store open so that folks can still get the help they need as long as they socially distance. Only six people are allowed in the waiting room at one time, and three in the showroom.
“We sanitize every 30 minutes … we’re doing more than what was asked. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he said.
With all these measures in place, Maryland is making sure to keep access for patients as a top priority.
Maryland Allows Medical Cannabis Dispensaries to Remain Open was posted on High Times.
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: CIA Says People Who Use Marijuana And Other Drugs Aren’t Necessarily ‘Bad’ Or ‘Unworthy’
[Canniseur: A step in the right direction! So, you want to work for the CIA and you used to toke it up? Just tell the truth. But it will have to be a thing in your past.]
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said on Thursday that it doesn’t necessarily believe using illegal drugs makes you a bad person.
The new comments came in response to question submitted as part of its ongoing “Ask Molly” series.
“I would love to join CIA, but I’ve done illegal drugs in the past,” the person, writing under the name “Eager to Serve,” said. They asked whether there’s “any path forward for me at CIA.”
The agency’s reply emphasized that those applying to work there could still get a job if they admit to such activity, as long as they haven’t consumed any illicit substances within the past year.
Given the traditionally harsh position the federal government has taken on illegal drugs and people who consume them, the agency’s response—which pointed out that past substance use “does not immediately disqualify you from working at CIA”—was somewhat surprisingly friendly and open-minded.
CIA acknowledged that the broad anti-drug policy may seem “archaic” at a time when more states are legalizing marijuana, but said it was necessary for national security purposes. Even so, the agency made a point of explaining that it does not consider prior drug use to be a moral failing.
“I’m not asserting that those who have experimented with drugs are in some way bad or unworthy, but a willingness to break federal law to engage in illicit drug use can be used as a measure of someone’s fitness to hold a security clearance,” the post states. “It should be noted that drug use and abuse is one of the most common reasons applicants are denied a security clearance.”
That’s a far cry from the position of President Trump’s former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who as a senator said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Speaking of cannabis, the CIA post proactively answered a follow-up question that people might have about whether marijuana is treated the same as other controlled substances if it’s consumed in compliance with state law.
“Marijuana remains illegal under federal law in every state,” the agency said. “CIA is bound by federal law, which prohibits CIA from granting security clearances to unlawful users of controlled substances, including marijuana. State laws do not supersede those of the federal government.”
The agency said it was primarily interested in an applicant’s “candor,” and so the most important thing is that they not lie about previous drug consumption.
“Sincerity and honesty are two traits that CIA values above all else, and for good reason,” CIA said, without a trace of irony. “If an applicant were to be dishonest about their drug use in the application process, even out of fear of rejection, it would be a sign to CIA that the applicant doesn’t exhibit candor. And with the stakes so high, CIA can’t afford to take that chance.”
Of course, some might raise eyebrows at the suggestion that CIA holds such high standards of honesty in relation to drugs considering certain operations it’s been behind—including MK-Ultra, which involved covertly administering LSD in human subjects as part of an effort to develop mind control capabilities.
There have also been allegations that the agency was involved in drug trafficking during the Reagan Administration to fund rebels in the the Iran–Contra affair, as well as on other occasions.
In any case, the new CIA post seemed to suggest that people who have used drugs recently should simply wait a few months before applying.
“Keep the 12 month guidance in mind as you consider submitting an application, and remember to be truthful and forthcoming throughout the application process,” it concluded. “The rest will fall into place.”
FBI also has an anti-drug employment policy—something that a former top official said creates hiring problems that prevent the agency from accepting potentially talented candidates. In 2014, then-Director James Comey suggested that he wanted to loosen FBI employment policies on marijuana, as potential skilled workers were being passed over due to the requirement.
But so far, the policy remains in place. In fact, FBI recently said that agents can’t even used hemp-derived CBD, despite it having been legalized as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. The agency did say the CBD ban is currently under review, however.
CIA Says People Who Use Marijuana And Other Drugs Aren’t Necessarily ‘Bad’ Or ‘Unworthy’ was posted on Marijuana Moment.
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Congresswoman Wants Recreational Marijuana Stores Open To Serve Veterans Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
[Canniseur: Even without a lot of scientific evidence, cannabis has shown itself to be beneficial to all the service people who have PTSD or a variety of ills. There is evidence other than anecdotal, that cannabis can indeed relieve some of the indications surrounding PTSD and do it in a way that doesn’t harm the person. Cannabis stores are an important part of essential services that our former soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen need. Keep the stores OPEN!!!]
A congresswoman is raising concern that a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy prohibiting its doctors from recommending medical marijuana to patients means that military veterans could be especially impacted by her home state’s decision to shut down recreational cannabis shops amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) raised the issue in a tweet, linking to a story about a veterans advocacy group that is calling on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (D) to reopen adult-use shops so that veterans can continue to obtain marijuana products more readily and without fear of being penalized.
While medical cannabis dispensaries remain open in the state, the Veterans Cannabis Project said service members often resist registering as patients out of concern about losing federal benefits. Getting certified as medical cannabis patients can also take time and money that many veterans don’t have. In contrast, any adult over 21 years of age can walk into a recreational marijuana shop—or they could, before Baker ordered them closed as part of broader business shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although VA has an administrative policy that says veterans will not lose their federal benefits due to marijuana use, it is not widely known and could be changed at any time. Meanwhile, though VA has maintained that its physicians can discuss cannabis use with veterans, they’re barred from helping them obtain the substance—and that includes by issuing recommendations to certify them as medical cannabis patients under state laws.
“Under federal policy, [VA] health care providers may not recommend marijuana or assist veterans in obtaining it,” Clark said. “By closing down recreational dispensaries, our veterans who rely on these stores are left without care.”
VA “must change its policy and in the meantime, the state must find a way to serve our vets,” she added. “No one should be left behind in this national emergency.”
Baker defended his decision to shut down recreational marijuana shops on Tuesday by arguing that, because Massachusetts is one of few Northeast states that allow adult-use sales, keeping them open would mean attracting out-of-state visitors who could spread the virus.
Clark has championed other cannabis- and veterans- released issues in the past. Last year, the House approved an amendment the congresswoman sponsored that sought to end a VA policy that denies home loans to veterans simply because they work in the marijuana industry. The Senate did not follow suit, however, and the provision was not enacted into law.
A separate piece of legislation that would allow VA doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), was approved by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee last month. That panel also voted in favor of a bill that would require VA to conduct clinical trials on the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana for conditions that commonly afflict veterans such as chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, Blumenauer’s bill to allow VA doctors to recommend cannabis would have zero fiscal impact.
That said, in a hearing last year, VA officials voiced opposition to a variety of marijuana-related bills, including the congressman’s proposal.
Washington Governor Signs Bill To Diversify State’s Marijuana Industry
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.
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