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MARYLAND: Senate approves defense for medical marijuana use

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, March, 24th 2011 by THCFinder
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland residents who can prove they have a doctor's approval to use marijuana for medical reasons would have a new defense to avoid a $100 fine and a misdemeanor conviction under a measure approved 41-6 by the Maryland Senate on Thursday.
 
Under current law, a person who uses marijuana for medical reasons can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined $100 in Maryland.
 
"What we've done is we're going to say we're going to give you a complete defense, an affirmative defense, where you have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that you were using it for medicinal purposes," said Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery.
 
The Senate bill was changed this month, after legislation that would have created a state-run production and distribution system for medical marijuana stalled in the House of Delegates.
 
Caren Woodson, a spokeswoman for the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group, said Americans for Safe Access backed the bill as a step forward.
 
"It's not ideal, but the bill will help patients avoid what is now a guaranteed conviction if arrested," Woodson said in a statement.
 

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Maryland may approve Medical Marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, March, 23rd 2011 by THCFinder
ANNAPOLIS -- The Maryland Senate is making major changes to a medical marijuana bill proposed by Frederick County Sen. David Brinkley.
The Senate is expected to take up final approval of the measure this week, after giving a preliminary OK on Tuesday to the bill and amendments proposed by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
 
The bill will now allow people charged with use or possession of marijuana to argue before a judge that they did so out of medical necessity. If a judge agrees, the person would be found not guilty of the charge.
 
Additionally, the bill proposes a work group to come up with a model program to allow patient access to marijuana by 2013. The program would be through an academic medical research institution and would require further legislation before it could be implemented.
 
Brinkley said he felt the amended bill makes progress, and it is helpful to people who want to use an affirmative defense for marijuana charges. Under current law, they may use the medical defense and have punishment limited to a fine of less than $100, but would still be found guilty.
 
He doesn't think the new bill is perfect -- the original version he proposed with Delegate Dan Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat, would have established medical marijuana as a controlled dangerous substance and allowed doctors to prescribe it and pharmacies to dispense it.
 
Under the amended bill, patients "are still going to the black market, so we still don't have any type of legal mechanism for the acquisition of the substance, and that's what the study is supposed to get at," Brinkley said.
 
He envisions the state would solicit the help of the University of Maryland or Johns Hopkins University to help administer the program.
 

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Ann Arbor's medical marijuana regulations headed to council for final approval just in time for 4/20

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, March, 22nd 2011 by THCFinder
After more than three months of deliberations, the Ann Arbor City Council voted for the first time Monday night to move a proposed medical marijuana licensing ordinance past first reading.
 
The vote came unanimously after some final tweaking of the ordinance, which regulates dispensaries and cultivation facilities within the city limits.
 
The ordinance now moves on for final approval on April 19, which is a Tuesday — a deviation from the council's normal Monday meeting night. A proposed medical marijuana zoning ordinance also is expected to come back for final approval the same night.
 
It wasn't planned, but the expected final approval comes just in time for 4/20, a sort of countercultural cannabis holiday when marijuana advocates throughout the country light up in celebration and, in some places, participate in events advocating for decriminalization of pot.
 
The City Council took action Monday night to extend the city's moratorium on medical marijuana businesses through June 30, giving the council some leeway on making a final decision if it should need it. The moratorium has been in place since last August.
 
City officials estimate there are about 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor. They think there could be a few that won't be allowed at their current locations under the zoning ordinance.
 
The licensing ordinance would have the city doling out a limited number of dispensary and cultivation facility licenses once the moratorium is lifted.
 
Operations that were up and running prior to the moratorium last August would have up to 60 days after the ordinance takes effect to submit an application for an annual license. No other applications would be accepted until 75 days after the ordinance takes effect.
 
The first year’s licenses would be capped at a number 10 percent higher than the licenses applied for in the first 60 days, but not more than 20 dispensaries and 10 cultivation facility licenses. So, if there really are 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor, and all of them seek licenses, no more than two additional licenses would be available to new dispensaries.
 

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Inside Arizona Politics: Health Department officials ready to get medical marijuana program in place

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, March, 21st 2011 by THCFinder

PHOENIX - Will Humble, who runs the state Department of Health Services, is ready to put the state’s recently voter-approved medical marijuana program in place and get back to his normal work.

On March 31, his department will release all the rules governing Arizona’s medical marijuana program. On April 15, patients will be able to begin having medical pot recommendations certified, and on May 1, hopeful dispensary owners will be able to submit their applications for dispensary and cultivation operation licenses. 

As Humble puts it, “It’s crunch time,” and the pressure is high to get the rules right. Humble said he hopes that Arizona’s medical marijuana program will achieve a couple major goals, not the least of which is ensuring that legitimate patients will have access to pot and that recreational users will be kept out of the system. 

Then he and his department can go back to worrying about all the other duties the Health Department normally is responsible for. 

Interest in what the final rules will look like has been high since the November passage of Prop. 203. From potential patients and dispensary owners to those who think medical marijuana is a black mark on the state, the Health Department has been inundated with more than 3,000 comments on two drafts of the rule package, released in December and January. 

Humble said it’s been a challenge to try to accommodate those who will be served by the medical marijuana program, as well as those who have opposed it, but he feels the final rules will ultimately lay the groundwork for the sort of system he’s hoping to achieve. Recently, he outlined one of the key changes to expect in the final rules that will be released March 31.

(Read more)


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Feds Threaten Marijuana Dispensaries Nationwide

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Fri, March, 18th 2011 by THCFinder
The "Haag Memo" , written on February 1, 2011 from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag (Northern District of California) to Oakland City Attorney John A. Russo, was a response to an Oakland City Council request for guidance regarding medical marijuana and federal law. The memo was written with consultation and approval from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, according to CTI.
 
 
Photo: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
 
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag: "Individuals who elect to operate 'industrial cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities' will be doing so in violation of federal law"
The Haag Memo clarifies the Ogden Memo, which was written by former Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden on October 19, 2009 for the Department of Justice.
 
The Ogden Memo seemed to indicate that the new Obama Administration would restrict federal prosecution of medical marijuana providers in states where medicinal cannabis is legal.
 
This was heralded by many as giving the green light to pursue medical marijuana businesses, as long as they complied with state laws.
 
According to CTI, the Haag Memo clears up that misconception with some very unambiguous statements
 

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Medical marijuana: Coca-Cola says it won't put Coke machines in dispensaries, then backtracks

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Fri, March, 18th 2011 by THCFinder
Does Coca-Cola have a corporate policy against putting Coke machines in medical marijuana dispensaries?
 
 
That's the message delivered to award-winning Altitude Wellness Center a few days ago. But after AWC decided to go public with the rejection, Coca-Cola has backed down, with a representative pledging to apologize.
 
 
Here's the story, shared with us by AWC owner Roger and his daughter, Melissa, who works there. Both of them ask that their last name not be used.
 
According to Melissa, an AWC rep put in a call to the local Coca-Cola distributor shortly after opening about a year and a half ago and requested a cooler to place in the business. Every month since then, the owners have paid between $200 and $300 for Coke to place in the cooler for giveaway to customers. More recently, however, they decided to swap out the cooler for a coin-and-bill-operated machine. With that in mind, Melissa sent the local Coca-Cola territory development manager the following e-mail on March 11:
 
We are currently doing business with you and we have a cooler for our coke products. We are thinking about changing to a machine that you have to put money in -- instead of helping yourself like we do today. Do you have that kind of dispensing unit available and if so can you give me prices?
Thank you
 
 
 
On March 14, the manager replied with the following note:
 
Hi Melissa,
Unfortunately, Coca-Cola has made an internal decision not to place equipment at Marijuana dispensaries. Although, you already have a piece of our equipment I am not able process a work order for a new machine. I do apologize for that. If you would like me schedule a pickup of the cooler please let me know. Thank you.
 
 
 
This answer may strike some observers as ironic, especially given that cocaine was once among Coca-Cola's primary ingredients. But the AWC crew wasn't amused. As Roger says, "The state legitimized our business by collecting individual taxes and fees for licensing. The state's collecting taxes, Denver's collecting taxes. To me, that's as legitimate as it can be."
 

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