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Marijuana News in MA and World

Marijuana Legalize
66 percent of Americans surveyed believe that adults should be able to legally use marijuana in the privacy of one’s own home, according to a recent nationwide HuffingtonPost/YouGov survey.

59 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Independents said marijuana should be legalized.

Republican poll respondents did not support private consumption by a margin of 57 percent to 31 percent.

A majority of poll respondents, 55 percent, support state-wide laws seeking to tax and regulate the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana for adults, such as those recently enacted in Colorado and Washington.

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MA Dispensary
After multiple delays for Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensaries, advocates are outraged about the most recent news coming from the statehouse. Two more of the eleven currently approved licensed dispensaries are on hold and might be shutdown by the state after finding that the company’s CEO lied on his application about having a college degree.

“When the state released a list of 11 dispensaries we were immediately concerned because it comes short of the amount that we need for safe and easy patient access,” said Matthew Allen, Executive Director of Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance. “Now that there are additional licenses that are on hold and potentially denied, we are becoming very concerned. We want to reiterate that this is a process that needs to be all about the patients.”

Currently, the likeliest dispensary location to receive a license for Central Massachusetts residents is Milford. The state will not grant another dispensary license in Worcester County until each county in the Commonwealth has one approved and officially licensed dispensary, meaning that Worcester or a more centralized medical marijuana dispensary won’t be opened until 2015 at the earliest.

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Banks Marijuana
Over 100 US financial institutions are now working directly with marijuana-related businesses in states that have legal marijuana markets, according to the US Department of Treasury.

Financial Crimes Enforcement Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery acknowledged that US financial institutions have filed over 1,000 reports with the Treasury Department in regards to businesses engaged in the sale of marijuana and marijuana-related goods and services.

“Currently 105 individual financial institutions from states in more than one third of the country engaged in banking relationships with marijuana-related businesses,” stated Calvery.

The Treasury Department and the Justice Department issued two memos in February providing limited guidance to financial institutions that wish to engage in transactions with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

In July, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation restricting the Treasury Department’s ability to take punitive actions against financial institutions that provide assistance to state-authorized marijuana businesses.

However, the US Senate has yet to take any action on the measure.

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Congress Marijuana Use
The District of Columbia Board of Elections agreed to put an initiative on this November’s ballot that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in the district. This prompted an interesting question: Will Congress be allowed to use marijuana recreationally?

If passed, Initiative 71 will allow D.C. residents over the age of 21 to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, cultivate up to six plants, and transfer (not sell) up to 1 ounce. All members of Congress who live in D.C. are adults, so technically they will be permitted to use marijuana at their leisure.

Marijuana possession is still illegal on federal property. So until marijuana is removed from the Schedule I substance list, it will not be allowed on federal property. Members of Congress won’t be able to light up at work, but they can at home – if they live in the district. “Possessing marijuana in their [Congress members'] own home would be legal under D.C. law, as it would be for anybody else,” said Bill Piper, the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

And Initiative 71 does not include any additional provisions related to Congress either. A subsection addresses the professional workplace, but states that agencies, employers, and officers will not be required to allow their employees to use marijuana off the job. Basically, employers will still be allowed to enact their own drug-testing policies; but fortunately for members of Congress, their workplace doesn’t have one.

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MA Marijuana Dispensary
A medical marijuana dispensary in Brockton, Massachusetts, has finally been given “water approval” by the state in order to grow its nearly 2,500 plants.

In Good Health Inc, a nonprofit which owns a dispensary hoping to open its doors this February, will use water from the city’s drinking water supply in order to maintain their marijuana plants.  The water commission has said that they can use up to 650 gallons of water each day for their dispensary and grow operation.

The zoning board of appeals gave In Good Health Inc. a specialized permit last month so that the 16,000 square foot cultivation center and dispensary would be able to operate without interference.

Representative from the dispensary are now gearing up for a site plan review by the Planning board that they will face in September.

The grow site will share the same water meter as the printing shop which currently inhabits the front side of the building according to their landlord.

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DE Marijuana
After waiting more than three years, the first medical marijuana dispensary in Delaware has finally been approved to open.

This Monday, the First State Compassion Center, received approval from the Department of Health and Social Services to open its doors.  The center, which will be located just outside Wilmington, will begin growing marijuana in the fall.

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2011, and legislation permitted one dispensary to operate per county; however, this measure was stalled when Delaware Governor Jack Markell received a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s office threatening federal action.

Last year, the governor decided to ignore the potential federal intervention and move forward and allow a single dispensary to open.

This is a giant stride forward for medical marijuana patients in Delaware, but the governor has stated that this one dispensary will only be permitted to grow 150 plants which will certainly not be sufficient for all of the state’s patients.

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Medical Marijuana States
Currently, 35 states in America have reformed their laws via legislation or voter ballot initiatives to allow qualifying patients access to marijuana and/or marijuana-infused products for medical purposes.

This time last year, 21 states and the District of Columbia had medical marijuana laws – a sixty percent increase in one year.

A majority of these medical marijuana states allow for certain persons to grow marijuana and/or for dispensaries to sell marijuana. A few states have limited medical marijuana programs where patients are only allowed to purchase and use marijuana-infused or CBD-only products, such as oils or concentrates, which can be vaporized or consumed.

A few of the current medical marijuana states will be voting this November to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Many other states are looking into legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in the near future.

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Marijuana Edibles Safety
The first food safety course for manufacturers and retailers of marijuana-infused foods, or edibles, has launched.  There is also an additional course offered for “budtenders”, the customer service staff who work behind the counters of dispensaries.

Figuring out exactly how to properly label and produce infused edibles has proven to be one of the most difficult aspects to regulate since marijuana became legal in Colorado.  Producers want to ensure that uninformed consumers are not accidentally ingesting too much.

With the interest in marijuana-infused foods increasing daily, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), wants to make sure manufacturers and retailers are providing buyers with safe products.  NCIA deputy director Taylor West says, “We know our industry is under a microscope, and we want to make sure cannabis product-makers continue developing the highest quality and safest products possible.”

Marijuana edibles have proved to be the most profitable aspect of the new recreational marijuana industry in Colorado, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the entire market.

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NM Marijuana
Albuquerque is attempting to do away with jail time for anyone who is caught with an ounce or less of marijuana within the city limits.  If the measure proposed by city council member Rey Garduno passes then jail time will be replaced with a small fine.

Garduno says that his proposition has the potential to save the city upwards of $5 million in legal fees alone.  The law currently states that anyone caught with marijuana will be issued a $50 ticket and have to spend up to 15 days in jail, but if Garduno’s measure is approved this will simply be reduced to a $25 ticket.

The petition put together by Garduno has already gathered over 16,000 signatures from residents of Albuquerque who would like to see this measure put on the November ballot.

“This is directed at young people who may find themselves arrested and how it could affect their lives in the future,” said Garduno.  “We’re treating people as criminals when alcohol and even tobacco may even be worse.”

There has been no word yet from city officials, as the mayor’s office said that they “do not comment on pending legislation.”

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DC Marijuana Legalization
Residents of Washington D.C. will vote this November on whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Marijuana advocates gathered more than 22,000 signatures in order to get the initiative on the ballot and the D.C. Board of elections unanimously voted in favor of the measure.

Mayor Vincent Gray signed into effect a decriminalization act in D.C. that as of last month allows residents to possess up to an ounce of marijuana on them with only the fear of a $25 fine and a civil offense.

Proponents of the legalization bill are confident that the House will not be able to block their initiative; however, there have been recent instances where residents have voted in favor of a measure that the mayor has chosen not to enforce.  It happened last year when voters approved an amendment that would have given the district the ability to spend local tax money without Congress’s approval, but it was declined by the mayor.

Congress was even able to delay the medical marijuana program in D.C. by ten whole years after it was approved by voters.

If the initiative is approved in November, residents would be allowed to grow 6 marijuana plants at their home and possess up to 2 ounces.  The sale of marijuana has yet to be addressed.

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