The Biggest Legislative Marijuana Policy Reforms Of 2016
The Huffington Post - By. Rob Kampia - 08/10/2016
On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.
Two states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, enacted effective medical marijuana laws via their legislatures, making them the 24th and 25th states to do so, respectively. As a result, more than half of the U.S. population now lives in states that have opted to legalize medical marijuana.
This year has also seen improvements to several existing medical marijuana programs. Colorado adopted “Jack’s Law,” which provides protections for medical marijuana patients who attend public schools. Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont expanded the lists of medical conditions for which patients can qualify to use medical marijuana. Vermont also enacted a law that reduces the required time for a patient-provider relationship from six to three months, allows marijuana to be transferred to research institutions, and requires labeling and child-resistant packaging for edibles sold at dispensaries. Oregonincreased access to medical marijuana for veterans who receive assistance from the VA program. In Illinois, Gov. Rauner signed a bill to extend and expand the state’s pilot medical marijuana program, and in Maryland, lawmakers enacted a law allowing nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists, and nurse midwives to recommend medical marijuana to qualifying patients.
Florida enacted a law allowing terminally ill patients to use any form of medical marijuana. However, this law does not affect Florida’s flawed low-THC medical marijuana law for non-terminal patients. It also contains a major flaw in that it requires physicians to acquire medical marijuana for terminal patients, exposing the physicians to potential criminal sanctions and/or loss of licensure.
In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.
In states where marijuana is legal for adults, legislators and regulators made notable improvements and progress toward full implementation.
In Colorado, lawmakers passed a bill to allow out-of-state ownership of marijuana businesses and increased the amount of marijuana that non-residents may purchase at retail establishments. Colorado also increased local control of testing laboratories and created a new business category for businesses that transport marijuana. And in Washington State, a number of bills were passed to streamline practices in the marijuana industry and make it easier to apply for research licenses.
Alaska regulators began licensing marijuana cultivators and expect to begin issuing retail licenses soon. Oregon is in the process of licensing adult-use marijuana retailers while currently allowing any adult to purchase marijuana from existing medical dispensaries; Oregon also passed comprehensive regulations that, among many other things, increase cooperation between the medical and adult retail programs, exempt patients from being taxed, allow out-of-state investment in marijuana businesses, and protect financial institutions from prosecution under state law for doing business with the marijuana industry.
In addition to this progress, Vermont came close to becoming the first state to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older through a legislature; a comprehensive bill passed in the state Senate but stalled in the House. Rhode Island is close behind Vermont, with both states expected to enact legalization laws during their 2017 legislative sessions.
Looking forward to November 8, voters in as many as 10 states will be voting on marijuana ballot measures. Specifically, medical marijuana initiatives have already qualified for the ballot in Arkansas and Florida, and Missouri and North Dakotacould also be in play. As for regulating marijuana like alcohol, such ballot initiatives have qualified for the ballot in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, withArizona soon to follow. Finally, a tenth state, Montana, will be voting to improve its existing medical marijuana law.
This year is already the most important year in the history of the movement to end marijuana prohibition in the United States.
Curbing the marijuana industry's voracious energy appetite
By Gina Warren-University of Houston-7/18/16
As voters go to the polls this November, at least four states will consider ballot questions on marijuana legalization. Pending proposals in Nevada, Maine andCalifornia would authorize recreational marijuana use, while Floridians will vote on whether to allow medical marijuana use.
Legalization of marijuana in the United States has spread rapidly over the last few years. Half of the states have legalized marijuana in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have legalized it for recreational use. And the Democratic Party platform committee recently voted 81 to 80 to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs. The stated purpose of this proposed amendment is to "provid[e] a reasoned pathway for future legalization."
States with some form of legalized marijuana have implemented stringent regulatory and licensing schemes with regard to the who, what, where and how of marijuana possession, cultivation, and distribution. But policymakers have failed to address an important area: the marijuana industry's energy and climate impacts. Although marijuana is a plant, it is not a "green" product when grown indoors. As more states – and, potentially, Congress – consider legalizing the marijuana industry, they should also adopt rules to make it more environmentally sustainable.
Indoor marijuana farms are energy hogs
Indoor marijuana cultivation is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the United States, generating nearly $6 billion in energy costs annually. According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which carries out energy planning for the Columbia River Basin states (Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon), growing marijuana indoors consumes up to 5,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per kilogram of output. For comparison, aluminum production requires about 16 kilowatt-hours per kilogram.
Colorado's experience demonstrates marijuana's large energy footprint. Since the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, the industry has expanded rapidly there. In 2015 legal marijuana businesses in Colorado made nearly $1 billion in sales, up 42 percent from the previous year. And as marijuana businesses become more competitive and specialized, growers are moving their farms indoors to get a more controlled product.
Indoor cultivation requires electricity to power high-intensity lights, frequent air exchanges and ventilation and to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity levels day and night. As a result, the state has numerous indoor warehouses that consume huge quantities of electricity.
Experts estimate that a 5,000-square-foot indoor marijuana facility in Colorado consumes six times more electricity per square foot than an average commercial business and 49 times more than an average residence. Last year Denver officialssought guidance from the Department of Energy on ways to curb the industry's power requirements. Electricity use in Denver is rising by 1.2 percent yearly, and marijuana farms account for nearly half of the increase.
Colorado has set a goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, however, only 18 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources. The rest is generated from coal and natural gas.
On-site generation systems, such as rooftop solar arrays, and community-scale energy projects cannot produce enough electricity to meet marijuana growers' energy needs. As a result, the marijuana industry is indirectly increasing Colorado's reliance on fossil fuel.
Legalization provides some energy benefits. For example, it allows indoor cultivators to connect to existing electricity grids instead of relying on carbon-intensive gasoline and diesel generators. However, these benefits are swamped by the industry's fast-growing electricity requirements.
Experts estimate that nationwide, indoor marijuana cultivation accounts for nearly15 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually – more than the annual energy-related emissions of South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont, or the District of Columbia. Public utility commissioners across the nation are discussing strategies for managing power demand from indoor pot growers.
Legalize and regulate
When states legalize marijuana cultivation, they establish detailed regulatory and licensing schemes governing who may sell, possess and cultivate the plant, where they may do so, and how much they must pay for licenses. Policymakers should also seize this opportunity to enact rules governing the industry's climate and energy impacts.
Since indoor growers consume such enormous amounts of electricity, policymakers should start by requiring indoor cultivators to consume only carbon-free energy sources or to pay a carbon fee until such measures can be implemented.
Boulder, Colo., is addressing this issue by implementing city and county licensing schemes that require indoor marijuana cultivators to use energy monitoring technology and routinely report their energy use. Growers must offset their energy use by utilizing 100 percent renewable energy, purchasing renewable energy credits or paying a carbon fee. However, few other states or localities have followed Boulder's lead.
Oregon has established a task force to study energy and water use for marijuana production. The group is scheduled to report its findings to the state legislature later this summer. Preliminary indications are that the task force will call on growers to follow energy best practices, but it is unclear whether it will recommend making this policy mandatory or merely a suggestion.
States that do not have enough renewable energy generation to meet the industry's electricity demands, such as in Colorado, should take a two-pronged approach. First, they should require indoor growers to pay escalating carbon fees based on their electricity consumption. These funds should be used to support development of more efficient technology and climate-friendly electricity facilities.
Second, legislators should also require an exponential increase in the percentage of energy consumed by indoor growers from renewable energy sources via on-site generation – such as rooftop solar – or community renewable energy facilities. This two-pronged approach would ensure growers do not become complacent just paying the fee.
The best time to address impacts of this magnitude is before they occur, not after a major industry is already established. Marijuana production is rapidly developing into an extremely lucrative industry that can afford to manage its impacts on the environment.
Before it was outlawed in 1938, hemp was named the next billion dollar crop
VIENNA, W.Va. — West Virginia hemp seeds are being distributed to approved growers in the state for a research project on the crop.
State officials say it took two years to create rules governing the project. Applicants must pass background checks before being licensed to participate.
The planting of hemp seeds moved forward this year after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have prevented individuals from growing industrial hemp for research projects.
J. Morgan Leach is executive director of the West Virginia Hemp Farmers Cooperative. He told the News and Sentinel in Parkersburg that his father, Jim Leach, and Dave Hawkins are among the members of the cooperative who have been approved by the state to plant hemp seeds in the project.
The state Department of Agriculture recently delivered seeds to Jim Leach, who will plant them on his property in Vienna along the Ohio River. He is interested in the manufacturing prospects for hemp and has a 30- by 90-foot plot for growing three varieties of hemp.
Hawkins, owner of Mother Earth Foods in Parkersburg, will plant seeds he receives from the state on a half-acre of his property in Wood County.
Industrial hemp can be used as food, fiber and supplements, said Chris Ferro, chief of staff for state Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick. It can also be used for clothing and in building.
Morgan Leach said hemp can be used to make paper, fabrics, rope, cosmetics and plastics.
“Hemp canvas covered the wagons that settled America, and was named the next billion dollar crop by Popular Science Magazine in 1938 before it was officially outlawed,” he said.
The Agriculture Department will test the hemp to ensure the levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary intoxicant in marijuana) in the crop are below the federally mandated 0.3 percent.
The hemp looks like marijuana but doesn’t have the same THC component, Ferro said. The state will work with law enforcement officials to let them know where the legally grown hemp is located, he said.
Ferro and Morgan Leach have visited with Department of Agriculture officials in Kentucky where hemp growing is “taking off,” Leach said.
This is believed to be the first time hemp has been planted legally in West Virginia since World War II.
“This is a pretty cool idea,” said Hawkins, saying hemp production is an interesting project for West Virginia as a commodity crop to help the state’s economy.
Morgan Leach said veterans and former coal miners could become involved in hemp production.
Although the hemp focus is now on the research side, the Department of Agriculture wants to assist in future market and product development and the plant being used for remediation of the land, Ferro said.
Ferro said the department hopes the project develops into hemp processing plants opening in West Virginia.
A tip for American farmers: Grow hemp, make money
By Doug Fine latimes
june 25 2014
After a 77-year break, hemp plants are growing in American soil again. Right now, in fact. If you hear farmers from South Carolina to Hawaii shouting "God bless America," the reason isn't because Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper (he did). Nor is it because the canvas that put the "covered" in pioneer covered wagons was made of hemp, nor that the hemp webbing in his parachute saved George H.W. Bush's life in World War II.
Nope. It's because U.S. policy is finally acknowledging that hemp can help restore our agricultural economy, play a key role in dealing with climate change and, best of all, allow American family farmers to get in on a hemp market that, just north of us in Canada, is verging on $1 billion a year.
Hemp is a variety of cannabis — and thus a cousin of marijuana — that contains 0.3% or less of the psychoactive component THC. (Marijuana plants typically contain 5% to 20% THC.) You can't get high from hemp, but starting in 1937, U.S. drug laws made cultivating it off-limits.
Finally, the U.S. hemp industry is back. A provision in the 2014 farm bill signed by President Obama on Feb. 7 removed hemp grown for research purposes from the Controlled Substances Act, the main federal drug law.
Not a moment too soon. American farmers have been watching as Canadian farmers clear huge profits from hemp: $250 per acre in 2013. By comparison, South Dakota State University predicts that soy, a major crop, will net U.S. farmers $71 per acre in 2014.
Hemp takes half the water that wheat does, and provides four times the income. Hemp is going to revive farming families in the climate change era. — Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin
Canada's windfall has been largely due to the American demand for omega-balanced hempseed oil. But hemp is also a go-to material for dozens of applications all over the world. In a Dutch factory recently, I held the stronger-than-steel hemp fiber that's used in Mercedes door panels, and Britain's Marks and Spencer department store chain used hemp fiber insulation in a new flagship outlet. "Hempcrete" outperforms fiberglass insulation.
Farmers I've interviewed from Oregon to Ohio have gotten the memo. In a Kansas-abutting corner of eastern Colorado, in the town of Springfield, 41-year-old Ryan Loflin wants to save his family farm with hemp. "It takes half the water that wheat does," Loflin told me, scooping up a handful of drought-scarred soil so parched it evoked the Sahara, "and provides four times the income. Hemp is going to revive farming families in the climate-change era."
From an agronomic perspective, American farmers need to start by importing dozens of hemp varieties (known as cultivars) from seed stock worldwide. This is vital because our own hemp seed stock, once the envy of the world, was lost to prohibition. This requires diversity and quantity because North Dakota's soil and climate are different from Kentucky's, which are different from California's. Also, the broad variety of hemp applications requires distinct cultivars.
Legally, farmers and researchers doing pilot programs in the 15 states that have their own hemp legislation (including California) now have the right to import those seeds. The point of the research authorization in the farm bill is explicitly to rebuild our seed stock. Such research is how the modern Canadian hemp industry was kick-started in 1998.
But one final hurdle has been placed in front of American hemp entrepreneurs. In Kentucky, U.S. Customs officials, at the behest of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in May seized a 286-pound shipment of Italian hemp seed bound for the state's agriculture department. After a weeklong standoff, a federal agency had to be reminded by the federal courts that the law had changed and Kentucky's seed imports were legal.
The problem is as much an entrenched bureaucratic mind-set as the ink drying on the new federal hemp policy. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart told a law enforcement group last month that the hoisting of a hemp flag above the U.S. Capitol last July 4 was "the low point in my career."
It should have been a high point. Hemp's economic potential is too big to ignore. When he was China's president, Hu Jintao visited that nation's hemp fiber processors in 2009 to demand that farmers cultivate 2 million acres to replace pesticide-heavy cotton. Canada funded its cultivar research for farmers, with today's huge payoff.
Even Roger Ford, a politically conservative Kentucky utility owner, told me his Patriot BioEnergy's biofuels division would be planting hemp on coal- and tobacco-damaged soil the moment it was legal. Why? To use the fiber harvest for clean biomass energy. "We have a proud history of hemp in the South," Ford told me.
Congress knows the farm bill hemp provision is just a baby step. The real solution is the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), which would allow nationwide commercial hemp cultivation. Colorado, already ahead of federal law on legalizing psychoactive cannabis, is also in front on hemp; it has a state law allowing commercial hemp cultivation. At least 1,600 acres were planted this season.
Wyden's bill should be fast-tracked. In the meantime, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) believes hemp is so important for the Bluegrass State that he's not waiting for another brouhaha over seed imports. He added an amendment to a bill that controls the DEA's budget to specifically protect imported hemp seeds from seizure. It passed in the House 246 to 162 on May 30.
It's a necessary move: Just last week at the Canadian border, the DEA seized another shipment of hemp seeds, this time bound for Colorado farmers. This counterproductive nonsense must stop.
American farmers and investors need our support to catch up with Canada's and the rest of the world's hemp head start. Now. As Loflin put it when I toured his family's 1,200-acre Colorado spread, "I'm planting hemp to show my neighbors that small farmers have a real option as businesspeople in the digital age."
We're down to 1% of Americans farming; it was 30% when our world-leading hemp industry was stymied in 1937. The crop is more valuable today than it was then. We should be waving flags and holding parades for the farmers ready to plant the crop that Thomas Jefferson called "vastly desirable." I know I'm ready. To cheer, and to plant.
Study Shows Long-Term Marijuana Use Changes Brain's Reward Circuit
Francesca Filbey Ph.D.
Chronic marijuana use disrupts the brain’s natural reward processes, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.
In a paper published in Human Brain Mapping, researchers demonstrated for the first time with functional magnetic resonance imaging that long-term marijuana users had more brain activity in the mesocorticolimbic-reward system when presented with cannabis cues than with natural reward cues.
“This study shows that marijuana disrupts the natural reward circuitry of the brain, making marijuana highly salient to those who use it heavily. In essence, these brain alterations could be a marker of transition from recreational marijuana use to problematic use,” said Dr. Francesca Filbey, director of Cognitive Neuroscience Research in Addictive Disorders at the Center for BrainHealth and associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Researchers studied 59 adult marijuana users and 70 nonusers, accounting for potential biases such as traumatic brain injury and other drug use. Study participants rated their urge to use marijuana after looking at various visual cannabis cues, such as a pipe, bong, joint or blunt, and self-selected images of preferred fruit, such as a banana, an apple, grapes or an orange.
Researchers also collected self-reports from study participants to measure problems associated with marijuana use. On average, marijuana participants had used the drug for 12 years.
When presented with marijuana cues compared to fruit, marijuana users showed enhanced response in the brain regions associated with reward, such as the orbitofrontal cortex, striatum, anterior cingulate gyrus, precuneus and the ventral tegmental area.
“We found that this disruption of the reward system correlates with the number of problems, such as family issues, individuals have because of their marijuana use,” Filbey said. “Continued marijuana use despite these problems is an indicator of marijuana dependence.
DEA and police raid Westford family home in marijuana oil bust, arrest six
Boston.com By Nik DeCosta-Klipa
Four Westford family members, along with two family friends, were arrested Wednesday on a litany of drug charges after federal and local law enforcement raided their 3,855-square-foot home in a marijuana oil lab bust.
According to the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, Westford police and a Drug Enforcement Administration drug lab team arrived at the Mountain View Lane home at 8 a.m. to execute a search warrant.
Upon arrival, officials said they found a large basement lab manufacturing butane honey oil, a yellow honey-like substance which contains a more potent level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
The process, in which butane liquid is put through marijuana buds, to create the yellow honey-like drug, also known as hash oil or dabs, can potentially cause hazardous or fatal explosions, according to the New England DEA head Michael J. Ferguson.
Husband and wife Bradley Heath Sr., 63, and Diane Heath, 61, as well as their son Bradley Heath II, 22, and daughter Linley Heath, 28, were charged with possession with intent to distribute and the manufacturing of a Class C substance, as well as conspiracy to violate drug laws.
The Heath son, who allegedly sold the drug under the name “Gold Street Extracts,” was also charged with distribution of a Class C substance, possession with intent to distribute a Class D substance, possession of a Class B substance, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, according to officials.
Ayer District Court Judge Michael Brooks set Bradley Heath II’s bail at $30,000 cash on this case and detained him without bail on a probation violation from a previous case. Bail for the other three Heath family members was set at $500.
Westford resident Lyndsey Holston, 20, who police said is Bradley Heath II’s girlfriend, was also arrested in the case for manufacturing, distrbuting, and possessing with intent to distribute a Class C substance, as well as a conspiracy charge. Her bail was set at $1,000.
Twenty-two-year-old Groton resident Prachi Joglekar, a friend of Linley Heath, was also arrested for possessing with intent to distribute and manufacturing a Class C substance, as well as conspiracy charge. Joglekar’s bail was set at $500.
The defendants pleaded not guilty Wednesday. All six due back in court June 27.
“Their alleged lab operations compromised the safety and security of their neighbors, as well as the law enforcement officials who arrested the suspects today,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement.
The latest involves a backlash over words that have long been a part of the weed lexicon—"weed" being one of them.
"Can you stop using the word 'weed' and replace it with cannabis. Especially within the context of law and medicine. It sounds awful not edgy," wrote one commenter in reference to a recent story of mine about the Toronto dispensary raids in which I'd written, "In February, the MMPR program was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, who said patients should be able to grow their own weed." Another added, "It's cannabis people.. Let's be grown ups about this shit." I was informed that saying "weed" invokes a negative connotation.
Instinctively, it struck me as uptight that a word as banal as "weed"—akin, in my mind, to describing alcohol as "booze"—is now considered offensive. But a survey of activists in the cannabis community revealed there is a legitimate debate over the term, as well as words like "dope," "stoner," and "pothead."
"I say weed all the time and people are offended," said Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto. "Apparently words like 'weed' and 'pothead' have stigma associated with them. I like to reclaim them."
Medical cannabis patient advocate Tracy Curley, who goes by the moniker "Weed Woman Canada" said the concern over the term "weed" comes from the "Reefer Madness" prohibition era, when marijuana was dubbed "Mexican locoweed."
"That propaganda is part of our history, a long fought one," she said. Still, she personally embraces the term "stiletto stoner" and, as for pothead, "I don't find pothead to be any more derogatory than drinker... I know which one will get home safely at the end of the night."
Others feel much more strongly about it.
"My issue is your use of 'stoner' as a rather pejorative term, whether derogatory or not, like the words 'faggot' or 'queer,'" one reader wrote me in an email, while accusing me of "painting all enjoyers with the abuser paint brush" and setting back the legalization movement.
Vancouver-based advocate Dana Larsen, who recently gave away two million pot seeds on a cross-country tour, told VICE the media does often "denigrate" cannabis users with these terms.
"We don't see regular beer drinkers being called 'drunkards' or wine drinkers being called 'winos' in media stories, but cannabis users get called 'stoners' and 'potheads' regularly," he said, noting he'd prefer to be called a "cannabis enthusiast."
But he's admitted he gets heat from "purists" who object to the word "marijuana" over "cannabis." He uses both, but said the former is more widely recognized.
That sentiment was echoed by Cannabis Culture owner Jodie Emery, who recently opened two fully recreational dispensaries in Toronto. She pointed to a recent Toronto Star article, in which marijuana was referred to as "dope" as offensive.
"'Dope' is a term straight from the Reefer Madness era, equivalent in ridiculousness to calling cannabis 'the reefer'."
Emery herself has likely offended people with some of the analogies she's used to describe the plight of the cannabis community.
In a recent police press conference about the dispensary raids, she responded to a complaint about dispensaries breaking the law by referencing civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who refused to give her seat on a public bus to a white guy. Emery's husband, Marc, was later quoted in an article comparing the dispensary raids to Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when tens of thousands of Jews were moved to concentration camps. When asked by VICE if those comparisons were not insulting, Emery said, "I want to make it very clear that I'm not comparing the experience of the two oppressed groups, but I am comparing the strategy used—that of civil disobedience." She said her husband was likening the Toronto police's "smash-and-grab" tactics to the government-sanctioned strategies used during Kristallnacht.
On a personal level, she said she's been called a "pothead in pearls" and "weed princess," neither of which bother her.
A few years ago, when cannabis culture was still very much underground, this debate probably would have been laughable. But as the movement gains momentum, conversations we'd once dismiss as "stoner talk" are likely to become a part of the mainstream.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.
Medical marijuana legalized in Pa.
By Julia Terruso, Staff Writer philly.com
HARRISBURG - Hundreds of cheering families, legislators and patients watched Gov. Wolf sign a medical marijuana bill into law Sunday afternoon, many hopeful at last for relief from debilitating pain, seizures and other medical conditions.
Allie Delp watched from her mother's lap, purple sunglasses strapped around her wide blue eyes to protect them from the light. Large crowds are tough for Allie. The 4-year-old suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe seizure disorder, and most days she stays in the dimly lit, cool comforts of her home to avoid triggers. Today was too important not to make the drive from Ford City, said Allie's mother, Amanda Delp.
"It feels like a dream. It really does," Delp said. "If you would have asked me four years ago if I would be advocating for medical marijuana, I would have told you it's just people wanting to get high. It took my daughter for me to open my eyes and realize it can save people."
A row away from Allie, Robert Billhime Jr., 45, sat with his girlfriend and 6-week-old napping son, Aspen. Multiple back surgeries left Billhime addicted to painkillers three years ago. He lost his job, his home. Addiction nearly cost him his life, he said. "If it wasn't for the cannabis I wouldn't be here. I won't go back. I won't be an addict," he said wiping a tear from his eye and looking down at his son.
Billhime called the day a huge step in the right direction but said discrimination and misunderstanding persist. "It's still not going to change the bigotry already in the legal system. If you're a cannabis user, legal or not, you're prejudged simply because you refuse to be an addict."
Billhime said he almost lost custody of his children because the family court judge ordered he take a drug test while he was using cannabis for back pain. He had supervised visitations for six months.
In the packed rotunda Sunday there were hundreds of stories like these. People trying to make it through their pain, determined, loving parents doing whatever they could - and then some for their kids. Wearing green for cannabis - and purple, for epilepsy awareness - they erupted in cheers as Wolf signed the bill into law.
Wolf thanked the advocates, particularly the mothers who brought their kids to rally at the Capitol to give a face to the people the legalization would benefit.
"When you have people who represent a cause as eloquently and in as heartfelt a way as the advocates for this has done, it shows we can get something done that means something," Wolf said. "We're not responding to a special interest here; we're not responding to someone who makes campaign contributions - we're responding to people who are telling us there is a real human need here in Pennsylvania."
There was much congratulating among legislators for bipartisan work on the bill.
"We won!" Sen. Mike Folmer (R., Lebanon), who rallied Republicans, said to a roar as he took the podium. "This is your day!"
Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach, who represents parts of Delaware and Montgomery Counties, recalled introducing a medical marijuana bill in 2010 and failing to find a single cosigner. "The pain of illness touches us all eventually and so we all united to defeat [pain] . . . We worked together, we studied, we begged, we cajoled and we argued - and we convinced our fellow legislators to join us."
The law allows people suffering from 17 specified conditions - including cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and seizures - to access medical marijuana in pill, oil, or ointment form at dispensaries statewide.
The Department of Health is expected to oversee what will become a new industry in Pennsylvania, with dozens of dispensaries, hundreds of workers and potentially thousands of patients. Patients would use identification cards, after receiving a doctor's prescription, to access marijuana from one of 150 dispensaries statewide. All dispensaries would be licensed by the state and face intense regulation.
Getting the system up and running could take more than 18 months before a patient can actually access medical marijuana. A provision in the bill allows families with children under 18 to obtain medical marijuana from other states where it is legal without fear of prosecution.
Temporary regulations are also expected to be written to permit adults access if they can demonstrate they suffer from one of the 17 conditions listed in the legislation.
Delp hopes to use that provision to get Allie cannabis oil in the near future. Her daughter has as many as 80 seizures a month, she said. One in five children with Dravet doesn't live to adulthood, Delp said. Many are mentally challenged and require care the rest of their lives.
"Cannabis not only gives us hope to help control the seizures, but there are children in legal states where it's been shown to help their cognition," Delp said. "Maybe she'll be able to catch up, lead a normal life."
Allie is an active tomboy (she did barefoot laps around the rotunda before the bill-signing got under way). She doesn't know to avoid triggers for the seizures that threaten her life.
"She loves riding her four-wheeler, chasing her sisters around, just being a kid," Delp said. "This - it won't solve everything - but it gives us hope, and we need hope."
May 2, 2016
But, but...weed is for the people, it's the people's weed.
On Friday, longtime weed enthusiast Woody Harrelson lost a Hawaii-wide bid for licensing a medical marijuana dispensary through his company Simple Organic Living LLC. The State of Hawaii Department of Health opened applications for "a total of eight dispensary licenses: three for the City & County of Honolulu, two for Hawaii County, two for Maui County and one for Kauai County." According to Reuters, the state "did not specifically say why the actor's application was denied." Sure, he's not too upset, though. He'll find something else to do with all that would-be dispensary money.
COLORADO: Stricter marijuana edible rules went into effect Sunday with new product guidelines for packaging, labeling and potency.
One of the shops that prepared for the new law is The Spot Marijuana Dispensary in Pueblo West.
Mark Scarr is legal counsel for the shop. He said it was a challenge getting in state regulated products.
“It’s a very difficult process. We had to read and understand the different regulations, along with looking up definitions of the all the different words so we know what (the state is) talking about,” he said.
The new guidelines make sure the edible products are child resistant. The new rules include all edibles must being sold in child resistant packaging and wrapped individually, or portioned into serving sizes of 10 milligrams or less of THC. New labels will warn users that marijuana is unlawful outside of Colorado and that it can take up to one to two hours to feel the full effects.
VIA MMJ News Network