If your focus has drifted away from what is newsworthy in the world of cannabis legislation, you are not alone. Despite a worldwide pandemic, things are moving along when it comes to laws by state for cannabis. Below is a year-to-date review of top moments in the legalization of cannabis.
At the start of 2020 in Mississippi, a business-friendly medical cannabis initiative qualified for the November ballot. Backed by Mississippians for Compassionate Care, this constitutional amendment would prohibit the state government from setting medical cannabis prices as well as banning them from limiting the number of business licenses. The strategy includes industry regulation by the Mississippi Department of Health.
Pending the approval of the Kentucky Senate, medical marijuana sales are on the path to legalization. The House has approved by vote; this is the inauguration of a medical cannabis bill passing either legislative chamber in the state. Potential Senate changes to the bill include doctor-recommended treatments for conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and nausea.
The governor of Rhode Island signed into law a bill that repeals the ability of lawmakers to veto medical marijuana, as well as hemp regulations. After engaging in a related lawsuit against the General Assembly, the governor maintained the Legislature’s control over cannabis and hemp industry rules were unconstitutional.
Vermont’s House of Representatives gave initial approval to the legalization of cannabis sales for adult-use and to create an industry regulated marketplace. The bill would establish a regulatory body and set the tax rate at 20%, barring municipal authorities from adding further local taxes. Additionally, under the bill, commercial cannabis products containing THC would be capped at 60% for concentrates and 30% for flower.
A medical cannabis bill passed in the Alabama Senate that would allow patients with the recommendation of a doctor to utilize cannabis for 15 conditions. The form in which the product can be administered is also addressed and includes methods such as pills, creams and skin patches. Smoking or using vaping devices remains prohibited.
Members of the Oglala tribe overwhelmingly approved to legalize both medical and recreational cannabis on their South Dakota reservation. If the results are upheld, the Oglala will be the only tribe in the United States to establish a cannabis market in a state where cannabis is otherwise illegal, although a referendum for all of South Dakota to legalize medical and adult-use marijuana is planned for November.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that amends the state’s cap on medical marijuana program THC, plus grants patients with more conditions entrance to the program. The former 3% limit now has a cap of 4.5 grams per patient every 90 days. The law allows for two exceptions: those whose health care provider certifies the new limit is not effective enough to treat the condition, and if the patient’s medical condition is certified as terminal, with a less than one year of life expectancy.
Louisiana legally expanded its medical marijuana program to allow recommendation by any medical doctor in good standing, effective Aug. 1. The requirement of doctors to carry an additional license to recommend cannabis has also been removed. Further, the new law includes nearly any condition for a recommendation. The wording specifically states: “Any condition not otherwise specified in present law or proposed law that a physician, in his medical opinion, considers debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his medical education and training to treat.”
Social equity in the cannabis industry has grown in the spotlight this month; in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation that allows groups of social equity licensees to collectively own a majority stake, provided the licensee or group holds at least 51% company ownership. Additionally, now regulators are banned from denying licenses to social equity applicants based solely on criminal provisions.
Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill allowing medical marijuana edibles; the legislation is now on the governor’s desk. If approved, the law would go into effect on Jan. 1, but state rules would need to be established before sales of edibles could start.
Legal action is being threatened against the state of Idaho if officials there continue to refuse legalization activists the opportunity to electronically collect signatures due to coronavirus precautions ending in-person petitioning. A separate campaign for education funding was previously granted the right to work electronically due to the pandemic; the Idaho Cannabis Coalition believes it should also be allowed.
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