Recount Follies in Maine
Marijuana legalization may soon have its very own version of the hanging chad—and, if things go poorly during the recount currently underway in Maine, its very own “Gore vs. Bush in Florida, circa 2000” situation to go along with it.
Maine appeared to have been one of the four states where voters approved adult-use marijuana legalization on Election Day. The victory for Question 1, which would legalize up to 2 and a half ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and over and set up a system of regulated and taxed retail sales, was easily the slimmest in the country—4,703 votes, or less than one percent of all votes cast, so slim that opponents could request a recount under state law.
That recount kicked off Monday, as election workers started to sort through the more than 750,000 ballots cast in the state. Counting all those votes could take more than a month and cost more than $500,000, according to the Portland Press-Herald. Already, some issues are arising.
New York Expands Medical Marijuana Program (Finally)
New York Health officials have agreed to expand the state’s medical-marijuana program by adding “chronic pain” to the state’s list of qualified conditions.
On Thursday, the state Department of Health announced that physicians would soon have the freedom to recommend cannabis medicine to those patients living with this common condition. It is a move that stands to give tens of thousands more patients across the state the ability to use medical marijuana as opposed to prescription opioids.
“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature, it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain,” NY Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker said in a statement. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State, and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.”
Illinois Bank Throws Out Medical Marijuana Patient with MS
An Illinois bank is in the spotlight after tossing out a customer—just because he’s a medical marijuana patient.
According to a report from CBS affiliate KMOV in St, Louis, Darren Steven Miller was refused service at the Bank of Edwardsville in Granite City, Illinois, just across the Mississippi from St. Louis. The reason: He uses medicinal cannabis to treat his stage three multiple sclerosis and terminal lung cancer.
“When I walked in the bank, [the manager] pulled me aside and said because of my cannabis use that I could not have a signature card with their bank,” Miller told the station.
Since Illinois passed the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” in 2013, there have been around 12,000 patients certified to use marijuana for medical purposes. And while federal law does create some murky waters when it comes to the cannabis industry doing business with financial institutions, there are no restrictions that could possibly make it risky for a bank to work with a medical marijuana patient.
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Florida Pols in No Hurry to Enact Medical Marijuana Regulations
Marijuana reform proved to be wildly popular in Florida, where six million people—71 percent of voters—approved an initiative allowing for increased access to medical cannabis. Currently, Florida residents can get their hands on low or no-THC oil for epilepsy—and if someone is terminally ill, they’re allowed “full-strength” marijuana.
That’s all supposed to change starting sometime after Jan. 3, when the state is supposed to start setting up a medical-marijuana industry. Emphasis on “supposed to,” because as the Tampa Bay Times points out, Florida state lawmakers have many other things they’d rather do. Getting rules for cannabis together is simply “not a top priority” for any of the state’s three most-powerful elected officials, the according to the newspaper.
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