Washington D.C. Moving Slowly Toward Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Several months ago 10 firms received permission to set up dispensaries in our nation’s capital, but according to city officials, none have acquired the regulatory documents needed to begin the process.
The successful applicants for six cultivation centers and four dispensaries have to apply for building permits, certificates of occupancy and business licenses before they register as part of the medical marijuana program. Each of these documents would be issued by the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
“As of this morning, we have not issued any certificates of occupancy to any of the approved medical marijuana cultivation centers or dispensaries,” DCRA spokesman Helder Gil said Monday. Each firm needs a certificate of occupancy to apply for a business license.
Dr. Saul Levin recently took over as the city’s health director, and he said the program has “moved out of our area” and “into the regulatory side of getting this up and running.”
“I can’t even give you a date,” he told The Washington Times earlier this month. “In order to do this right, we don’t want to rush it.”
Some of those on the other side of the process seem to agree. “No one would want to sacrifice doing this the right way,” said Corey Barnette, a principal at District Growers. “I’m happy the District is being cautious in rolling it out.”
Mr. Barnette’s firm is among five cultivation centers approved for registration near New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road in Ward 5. He said his operation is finishing up the construction, or “build out,” of its warehouse to make it ready for marijuana cultivation and he hopes to apply for a certificate of occupancy by next week.
Patients in Washington D.C have waited a long time for better access to their medicine, and for some, relief may be coming soon.
Lawmaker in Montana Says Voters in North Dakota Shouldn't be able to Decide on Medical Marijuana
Montana State Senator Donald Steinbeisser, a Republican, says legislators in North Dakota should decide on medical marijuana, not the voters.
“The problem we had in Montana, before the last session, over half of the people that were using medical marijuana cards were 20- to 30-year-olds,” he said. “You know dog-gone well there’s something wrong with that.”
Is there something wrong with people choosing marijuana to treat whatever ailment they have instead of deadly and addictive prescriptions drugs? And since when do people under 40 have no medical conditions? This ignorance of this man is staggering.
But it seems ignorance is in abundant supply among officials in Montana. “A couple, three years ago it just exploded. Everybody was getting cards,” Fallon County, Montana, Sheriff Tim Barkley said. “One of the things that Montana failed to do is they kind of passed this law on the spur of the moment.”
At the peak, there were a little over 30,000 medical marijuana patients in Montana, out of a population of roughly 1 million. How that translates into “everybody” getting cards is anyone’s guess. It would be interesting to know how many people take prescription pills in Montana. It’s likely a number over 30,000.
“I don’t know if I know of anyone in our community or anyone personally that got a medical marijuana card for medical reasons,” Barkley said of that initial rush to obtain cards. “Most of the people that I saw get the cards were heavy users of marijuana for a lot of years. … I guess it was legal for them, then. But I didn’t know of any of them having cancer issues.”
Beyond the fact that studies have shown marijuana’s efficacy with many ailments besides cancer, this Sheriff acts like he knows more than a very slight fraction of people in Montana. I wonder if he knows any gay or black people. If not, they must not exist in Montana.
People shouldn’t be judged for actions that hurt no one else, period. Whether they use cannabis for medical or recreational reasons, people should be free to decide their own course in life.
Medical Marijuana Supporters in Los Angeles Seek to Overturn Dispensary Ban
Signature-gathers have spread throughout Los Angeles in recent weeks in an attempt to repeal a recent ban on marijuana dispensaries passed by the city council. If they can collect the roughly 27,400 names required within the next three weeks, a referendum to overturn the ban would go before voters in March, 2013.
If the repeal measure does make the ballot, it will share the slate with a mayoral primary race.
Looking to increase their influence in recent months, dispensary owners have coordinated contributions of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of some city council members, and a labor union made up of dispensary workers has held vocal rallies outside of City Hall.
The measure itself seeks a suspension of the ordinance banning dispensaries, knocking the city council back to square one on the issue.
"Relief is on its way," City Councilman Jose Huizar promised residents when the ban was passed, but relief from what? Overemployment? Too much medicine? Too many sick people finding alternate and safer ways of healing?
Some dispensary owners have said they will keep their doors open, even as the city has begun notifying them that they must shut down by September 6th. In a letter mailed last week, city lawyers warned dispensary operators that they risk jail time and fines of up to $2,500 a day if they fail to comply with the ban.
The current ban on dispensaries still allows patients to grow their own and groups of three or less are allowed to grow cannabis and share it within the group.
On Friday a lawsuit was filed against the city by a medical marijuana trade association that represents patients, dispensaries and growers.
Marc O'Hara - director of the Patient Care Alliance - said the dispensary ban is "heartless" and denies patients their right to assemble.
Collecting Taxes from Medical Marijuana in Washington State
Tax officials in Washington State have begun auditing medical marijuana dispensaries, dispensaries that are not technically allowed under state law.
Since 2010 the state Department of Revenue has been telling marijuana operations that they must remit sales taxes on their transactions. About 50 dispensaries have registered with the state, bringing in some $750,000 in taxes from the industry over the span of one year.
“We’ve been doing the educational part and now we’re doing the enforcement part,” said Mike Gowrylow, a spokesman for the Department of Revenue.
But Seattle medical marijuana lawyer Douglas Hiatt said he doesn’t believe the state can tax medical marijuana sales, and says he would not allow one of his clients to cooperate with an audit.
“There’s no way they can do this,” Hiatt said. “DOR doesn’t have the power to tax marijuana. It’s not only that you can’t tax it because it’s illegal, it’s that you can’t tax it because it’s medicine. There’s an exemption for prescription medicine under state law, and an authorization is the functional equivalent of a prescription.”
Steve Sarich - who runs a medical marijuana establishment in Seattle called Access 4 Washington - said any money exchanged at his facility is a donation to the collective effort of producing the marijuana. He noted that it is illegal to sell marijuana under both state and federal law, so it would be hard for any medical marijuana provider to claim sales of the drug.
“If you pay sales tax, you’re admitting to sales,” Sarich said. “I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that.”
Herein lies the problem with incomplete medical marijuana laws. Any functional MMJ law needs to have provisions for growing one’s own medicine as well a dispensary system to sell the medicine. If dispensaries were legal in Washington, then the issue of taxation could be discussed.
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Arkansas Voters Likely to get a Chance to Vote on Medical Marijuana This Fall
An Arkansas initiative to legalize medical marijuana looks like it will qualify for the November ballot after supporters handed in 74,000 more signatures Monday. The group, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, needs 62,507 valid voter signatures to qualify and already has more than 36,000 qualified from a previous signature hand-in.
Which means they only need about 26,000 of the new 74,000 to be valid for the measure to make the ballot. Most ballot initiatives look for about a 50% success rate with valid signatures.
Melissa Fults, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said the group had learned more about the process after handing in its first batch of signatures. During the second round, the group made sure volunteers and paid canvassers were careful when checking that signers were indeed registered to vote.
"I don't think there's much of a chance we won't" qualify for the ballot, Fults said.
Supporters should find out by next week whether or not they were successful.
The ballot measure itself – The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act - would allow patients suffering from certain medical conditions to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. It would allow for a system of state-licensed non-profit dispensaries, and would allow patients or their caregivers to grow their own only if they are not within five miles of a dispensary. In that case, patients could grow up to six flowering plants and patients would be allowed to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana.
It would be easy to dismiss this attempt as a nice first try in a bible belt state, but considering the ease with which supporters gathered signatures, the vote may be close this fall. Arkansas could be the tipping point when it comes to medical marijuana in the southeastern part of the country.
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