Massachusetts

Massachusetts: Governor Signs Measure To Delay Opening Of Retail Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a measure Friday that delays the opening of marijuana retail outlets by six months in the state. Groups of protesters gathered outside the State House in protest of the move.

Retail dispensaries were supposed to be allowed to open in January 2018, but that won't happen.

The bill was proposed by lawmakers earlier this week. It will not affect the new laws on possession or growing at home, but the openings of retail pot shops will be delayed, as well as the deadline for regulations from the Cannabis Control Commission.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition reacted strongly to the governor's decision. In a statement, it said it was "appalled at this arrogant and cowardly move, whose effect will be to give the black market another six-month monopoly." It added that the delay would deprive Massachusetts "of the considerable revenue that it might generate in taxes from January to July."

Coalition members and supporters protested outside the State House Friday, urging Baker to not sign it.

"This bill, S2524, not only flies in the face of the will of the voters who voted for the January 2018 deadline, it shows contempt for the legislature itself," the coalition wrote online.

Massachusetts: Legislature Delays New Legal Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several provisions of the new law that legalized recreational marijuana in Massachusetts were delayed for six months by the Legislature on Wednesday, angering backers of the measure approved by voters last month.

The bill was passed by both the House and Senate without a public hearing and without debate.

The ballot initiative making pot legal for adults over 21 took effect on December 15, and that does not change. The action taken by lawmakers yesterday will delay the opening of marijuana retail stores from the beginning of 2018 until the middle of that year.

For the moment, it's only legal to sell marijuana in Massachusetts to registered medical marijuana patients.

“The Legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg.

A joint statement from Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that delaying key deadlines for six months will give legislators more time to “improve” the current law by considering issues that were not included in the ballot question.

The group that sponsored the ballot measure, Yes On 4, said it was “very disappointed” in the Legislature’s vote, noting it came with little advance notice or public input.

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Is Finally Confirmed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The opposition for Maine's measure to legalize recreational marijuana, Question 1, finally dropped their request for a recount last weekend, meaning Maine residents can look forward to enjoying the plant legally.

According to the Press Herald:

“Unofficial results of the vote released on Election Day showed the measure passed by 4,073 votes, 381,692 to 377,619. The anti-legalization campaign gave notice to the director of the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections on Saturday afternoon to end the recount, which was on hold for a holiday break until January. Under the measure, the Legislature has nine months to establish rules to deal with such issues as child-proof packaging, restricting advertising to minors, and licensing.

Officials on both sides of the recount were critical of their opponents during the process, with Yes on 1 accusing opponents of slowing down the recount by not providing enough volunteers. No on 1 criticized legalization proponents of rushing to enact the law.”

The approval of Question 1 makes it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, purchase marijuana at retail outlets, and grow a limited number of plants at home.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Legal At Midnight Tonight

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It will be legal for adults 21 and over in Massachusetts to possess marijuana and to grow the plant at home starting at midnight tonight. The Governor's Council recently certified the results of the November election.

“This is a historic day for Massachusetts,” said Jim Borghesani, who was the spokesman of the Yes on 4 campaign. “[W]e urge all residents intending to use or grow marijuana to educate themselves regarding what is and isn’t allowed under the new law.”

Borghesani also argued against changing the law, as some officials have said they intend to do next year. “This law was written with great deliberation and care, and it requires no legislative fixes or revisions. It would be unwise to extend the period where possession is legal but retail sales aren’t in effect. We hope that the Cannabis Control Commission is appointed by the March 1 deadline and that they begin the crucial work of writing the regulations that will control the new industry,” he said.

Massachusetts: Sen. Stan Rosenberg Wants To Raise Legal Marijuana Smoking Age To 25

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said Tuesday that he would be interested in raising the legal smoking age for marijuana under state law to 25.

He did admit, however, that it was his idea alone, and that it would be hard to accomplish in the Legislature.

"I feel obligated to put it on the table and have it discussed even if the decision is to stick with 21," Rosenberg said.

In November, voters passed a measure to make marijuana use and possession legal for adults 21 and over. Although no retail stores are opening yet, pot will be legal to possess in the state on Thursday.

When asked by reporters why he favors the later age for legal pot use, he said that he has seen neurological studies indicating that the brain is not fully developed until age 25, and smoking large quantities of marijuana can affect brain development and have a lifelong impact.

He acknowledged the idea is only his personal opinion, and said "it's not going to be a popular proposal."

Massachusetts: Pot To Be Legal Thursday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin had warned last week that a delay in the measure legalizing marijuana may be necessary, but says now that will not be the case.

Galvin's office said Friday that he will submit official results of the voter-passed legalization measure to the Governor’s Council Wednesday for certification. Possessing, growing, and using marijuana at home will be legal Thursday if no unforeseen obstacle comes up.

“This closes the door on an era that was marked by hysteria, by injustices, and by ineffective public policy,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the legalization effort. “This opens up an era that may take a bit of getting used to, but as in many other social transformations, people will look back and say: What were we so worried about?"

Adults 21 and over in Massachusetts will be allowed to use, posses, and purchase up to one ounce of pot beginning Thursday.

Marijuana use will still be prohibited in public places and anywhere tobacco smoking is not allowed.

People will be allowed to have up to 10 ounces of pot in their primary residence, and grow up to 12 plants per household.

Marijuana accessories, such as pipes, bongs, and grow lights, also become legal on Thursday.

But there will be no retail stores until January 2018.

Minnesota: PTSD Added to List of Qualifying Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Minnesota Department of Health is adding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its list of conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana.

Minnesota now joins New Jersey, Michigan, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon as states that allow those with PTSD to legally use medical cannabis.

A large amount of research has led to the conclusion that medical marijuana can be useful for "innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders,” according to a government-funded study released in 2014.

Another study released in 2015 found that; “When inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes…. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.”

Massachusetts: Senate President Says Parts Of Marijuana Law May Be Delayed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A top Massachusetts lawmaker said on Monday that legislators are talking about delaying some aspects of the recently-passed marijuana legalization measure.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said, “We’ve had discussions about delaying some of the dates to give us more time to fine-tune the bill and, in the next few weeks, we have to make final decisions on that.”

Rosenberg, A Democrat who supported legalization, said that if lawmakers implement a delay of the ballot measure, “it’s going to be a very time-limited delay.”

The initiative legalizes possession, use, and homegrowing of marijuana on December 15, a week from Thursday. It requires the state treasurer to appoint a three-person Cannabis Control Commission to regulate the industry by March 2017. Retail stores would be authorized to sell pot starting in January 2018.

“It’s encouraging that these leaders seem to be indicating that there will be no attempt to delay the December 15 possession and homegrow provisions,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the effort to pass Question 4.

Massachusetts: Study Shows Legal Medical Marijuana Not Predictive Of Increased Teen Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

State laws regulating the use and dispensing of medical marijuana do not contribute to increased use of marijuana by teens, according to a new study published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brandeis University assessed marijuana use patterns among adolescents from 45 states between 1991 and 2011. Authors reported "little evidence for an increase in past-30-day marijuana use, or past-30-day heavy marijuana use, among adolescents in response to state-enacted MMLs (medical marijuana laws), regardless of most provisions."

The conclusions agree with several other studies that find changes in the statewide legal status of cannabis are not predictive of greater use by teens.

U.S.: State Leaders Challenging Marijuana Election Results

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Political leaders in several states are acting to challenge election results regarding regulation of marijuana.

"Voters spoke clearly on election day. They believe that cannabis should be legal and that its sale ought to be regulated accordingly," said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. "Politicians should respect these outcomes, not undermine them."

Massachusetts voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Lawmakers are trying to move the date on which adults can begin growing marijuana from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified later time. They also want to delay retail sales of pot until late 2018.

Although Maine voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law's implementation. Gov. LePage said that he "will be talking to Donald Trump" about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and said that he "will not put this (law) into play" unless the federal government signs off on it.

Massachusetts: Renters May Not Be Able To Use Marijuana At Home

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana becomes legal in Massachusetts on December 15 for adults over 21 years of age. Possession of up to one ounce will be allowed outside of your residence.

People can posses up to 10 ounces in their residence, and will be allowed to grow up to six plants per person, with a maximum of 12 per household.

But if you're a renter, like 829,000 other Massachusetts citizens, you should not expect the right to possess or consume marijuana in a leased property without your landlord's permission.

"Some landlords might be fine with it, and others would say absolutely not," says Adam Fine, an attorney who helped craft the marijuana legalization law that was on the November 2016 ballot.

Massachusetts may have legalized pot, but it remains illegal under federal law. Landlords who deal with federal funding -- such as Section 8 housing – have to comply with federal law.

"No smoking" policies inside buildings would remain in effect, too.

Landlords can ban smoking, growing, production and displays of marijuana on any premises they own or manage.

"The bottom line is people need to understand it's not their property, it's someone else's and they have lease obligations and this is something the landlord can restrict," Fine said.

Tenants in affordable housing should be careful, according to Fine.

Rhode Island: State May Follow Massachusetts And Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimonda said Tuesday that she's planning to take a serious look at moving to legalize marijuana for adults in the state following the passing of Massachusetts' pot legalization measure.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello also expressed interest in moving to legalize the plant, saying he’s ready to take up legislation next year because marijuana will become readily available to Rhode Islanders traveling across the Massachusetts border.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio has also announced plans to pursue pot legalization for adults in Rhode Island.

Although recreational marijuana becomes legal in Massachusetts on December 15, retail sales won’t begin until at least 2018.

Massachusetts: Towns May Try To Block Local Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Less than a week after Massachusetts voters legalized marijuana for adults, cities and towns across the state are exploring ways to limit or even snuff out marijuana shops in their communities.

“I’m dead set against it,” said Mayor Stephen N. Zanni of Methuen, who wants to ban marijuana retailers from opening in his city, where 52 percent of local voters opposed the ballot question. “I don’t think it’s an appropriate fit here for our community.”

Marijuana advocates worry that municipal officials are acting rashly to restrain sales of the drug, even though voters statewide just approved Question 4 by a decisive 54 percent to 46 percent.

“I would not want to see a handful of town officials controvert the vote of the people of Massachusetts,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the legalization campaign. “What we don’t support is rushing out of the gate out of paranoia and hysteria."

Under the new law, recreational use of the drug will become legal on Dec. 15, and marijuana shops can open in January 2018.

The law also gives cities and towns several options to push back, however.

Texas: Legislators File Bills To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Less than a week after several other states approved measures to weaken restrictions on marijuana, Texas lawmakers are aiming to do the same.

On Monday, the first day of bill filing for the 2017 legislative session, Texas legislators submitted several proposals to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Bills were submitted that would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders, reduce criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and re-classify convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

On Nov. 8, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved recreational marijuana initiatives, adding them to a growing list of states — including Alaska,Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — that have already approved the drug for recreational use. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota also approved medicinal marijuana initiatives.

The National Conference of State Legislators reports that 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs.

Arizona: Proposition 205 Campaign Concedes Marijuana-legalization Loss

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Arizona's Prop 205 campaign finally conceded Tuesday afternoon, ending the high hopes of hundreds of thousands of residents that the state would legalize marijuana.

From the first voting results reported, the initiative's future looked bleak. The Associated Press called it a "no" vote later that night. But marijuana supporters and election watchers remained hopeful, knowing that the final votes could make a difference, like they did in the 2010 election, when legal medical marijuana was approved.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voters legalized recreational marijuana. Voters in North Dakota and Florida said "yes" to medical marijuana. But Arizona's Prop 205 was rejected 52-48.

The initiative would have given adults 21 and older the freedom to possess and use up to an ounce of dried marijuana, up to five grams of concentrated resin like hashish, and up to six live plants with a maximum of 12 per household. It would also have created a system of retail stores, giving preference to existing, nonprofit medical-marijuana dispensary companies. The campaign submitted about 259,000 signatures to the state in July to make the ballot.

Here's the entire statement just released from J.P. Holyoak, chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona and a local dispensary operator:

Massachusetts: Senate Leader Says Lawmakers Shoudn't "Dilly Dally" Looking At New Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said on Thursday the initiative to legalize Massachusetts marijuana for recreational use that voters approved this week will need improvements to address such issues as taxes on marijuana sales, driving while high, and edible pot products.

Rosenberg, a supporter of Question 4, said issues related to the new law could be addressed soon after the Legislature begins its new session in January.

He told reporters he believed most voters approved of legalization “in principle.” He noted the measure was drafted more than a year ago, well before a report produced by a special Senate committee that visited Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.

“The Legislature has the right to revisit policy matters that were unaddressed or not addressed as well as they could,” he said.

But the group that spearheaded the ballot question pushed back, arguing that lawmakers shouldn’t move too quickly to make revisions to the law.

“I think this is too rushed,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for Yes on 4, in a telephone interview. “The Legislature has a role to play, but I think they should respect the will of the voters, let regulators do their jobs and then determine what should be done, if anything.”

Germany: Berlin To Trial Legal Marijuana Sales

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Berlin is moving ahead with a plan to at least semi-legalize marijuana after a cross-party movement agreed on a ground-breaking pilot scheme.

The capital’s Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party have agreed on a “controlled distribution of cannabis to adults” project.

Marijuana possession is illegal in Germany, although people found with less than 15 grams are often not prosecuted.

Various German newspapers cited Green politician Benedikt Lux, on Election Day in the U.S., as saying “a scientifically accompanied pilot project for the controlled delivery of cannabis” was planned.

Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district has previously tried to legalize controlled cannabis dealing, but has been stopped by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices.

The city is one of 16 federal states in Germany with the authority to introduce its own laws.

The move follows marijuana legalization measures that passed in California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts, making marijuana possession of up to an ounce legal for adults over 21 years of age.

Max Plenert of the German Hemp Association, quoted by broadcaster Deutsche Welle, said: “The legal code is decided at the federal level, and this is about a local attempt to try to do things differently.

U.S.: What Does Trump Presidency Mean For The Marijuana Industry?

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Whether or not you were a supporter for a Donald Trump presidency, everyone wonders what his presidency will mean for his or her beliefs. Marijuana users and supporters wonder how his presidency will affect the marijuana industry.

Election Day 2016 marked a big win for marijuana. Residents voted in nine different states on legalizing some form of marijuana. Five of those states were voting on whether or not to allow recreational use. Eight of those nine states passed their legalization measures, with only Arizona's recreational measure not passing.

California was the largest state to legalize it, making recreational use legal for adults. In addition to California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada legalized recreational marijuana use. Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved medical initiatives. Montana passed an additional measure to legalize commercial growing and distribution.

The Motley Fool declared marijuana a big winner on Election Day, but pointed out that how the marijuana industry could change under the Donald Trump presidency is open to a lot of interpretation. No-one knows what decisions Trump and Congress will make regarding the marijuana industry between now and January 2020.

California: Recreational Marijuana Now Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana is now legal in California. Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts also legalized recreational marijuana, but the size and population of California puts its decision in a different league and it could lead the way to figuring out policy around the drug.

While the recreational marijuana initiative in Arizona failed, several other states voted on medical marijuana. North Dakota, Montana, Arkansas and Florida all approved medical marijuana.

60 percent of Americans support legalizing weed, up from 31 percent in 2000. California is the state with the largest economy and — now that it has legalized cannabis — the national weed industry has tripled in size.

California’s marijuana industry could be bigger than its famed wine businesses. The market for both recreational and medicinal marijuana is now projected to grow to $22 billion by 2020, up from $7 billion this year.

This may also put a lot more pressure on the federal government to lift its ban of the drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration has long classified cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive classification. This means it’s in the same category as heroin and LSD. Just this August, the DEA rejected an appeal to stop classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug.

Maine: Final Results Are In, Recreational Marijuana Is Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Final results of Maine's referendum to legalize recreational marijuana were tabulated Thursday, declaring recreational marijuana legal in the state. The count took nearly two days because of how close the race was, with victory coming within a fraction of a percentage point.

Supporters had already claimed victory and predicted home cultivation of marijuana would be legal by around Christmas.

The Maine people have passed it, and we should work on implementing it," said Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey, of Auburn, who supported the ballot issue.

People 21 or older will now be allowed to possess and use up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, and retail marijuana shops and social clubs could open around the state. Some municipalities have balked at allowing such businesses to open in their communities.

The campaign that pushed for legalization turned immediately toward the implementation process on Thursday. They said they hope marijuana will be available in retail establishments by 2018.

"We're excited that Maine is going to join many other states that have decided to have a smarter marijuana policy — a policy that no longer punishes adults for smoking marijuana," said David Boyer, campaign manager for Yes On 1.

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