Releaf Magazine
6Sep/160

Massachusetts to make a big choice on election day-will it work out?

bostonWhy marijuana legalization in liberal Mass. might be a tough sell

Boston.com - By. Adam Vaccaro - 9/6/2016

Deep-blue Massachusetts has a recent history of marijuana-friendly votes. In 2008, voters turned out in droves at the ballot box to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of pot. Four years later, advocates were rewarded with a landslide victory to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The third act is set for November, when Massachusetts voters will be asked whether they want to legalize marijuana and permit retail sales in the near future. Supporters say the initiative would treat marijuana similarly to alcohol, replacing today’s vibrant illegal market with one overseen by the government and creating a new source of tax revenue for the state.

The last two votes have been widely seen as reason for confidence in the pro-pot campaign, coming in successive presidential elections, which traditionally have higher turnout of marijuana-friendly young voters. Successful pushes to legalize marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon since 2012 have also been encouraging.

But since the spring, things haven’t looked quite as hot for local pot advocates.

The most recent polling has suggested Massachusetts voters may be having second thoughts about full legalization ahead of the fall’s campaign. In May, one poll found a 46-43 percent advantage for the opposition. Another poll in July found a 10-point lead for the ‘no’ crowd.

“I was surprised by the last two polls,” said Steve Koczela, president at the MassINC Polling Group. “The trend did seem pretty clear.”

There are caveats, of course. Prior to the recent polls, data in Massachusetts and across the country indicated widespread support for legalization and seemed to suggest a layup at the ballot this year. As recently as April, a poll showed 57-35 percent support for passing the proposed law.

Koczela cautioned that ballot question polling is volatile and can swing wildly, especially before ads start airing and the campaigns really swing into gear.

And Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the pro-legalization Yes on 4 campaign, said both surveys may have under-sampled the young voters that his campaign is relying on. The May poll was also within the 4.4 percentage-point margin of error, meaning that it doesn’t even really show advocates to be trailing in the first place.

It does, however, portend a close race. Even to Borghesani, the dispute over Question 4 is not shaping up to be the kind of blowout advocates saw in 2008 and 2012.

“We know this race is going to be close,” he said. “We’re not taking anything for granted. We never have.”

And recent polling aside, those following the issues see a number of factors that could make the legalization, regulation, sale, and taxation of marijuana in liberal Massachusetts a harder sell than you might think.

Ballot question campaigns generally face an uphill battle because a vote for ‘yes’ means something has to change. If a voter isn’t certain about an issue, he or she may is more likely to default to ‘no.’ And despite Massachusetts’ reliably liberal voting record, the state also has a well-worn reputation for skepticism about change.

Opposition campaigns can be successful by zeroing in on specific language within the law, Koczela said.

“The thing that ‘no’ sides often do is add complexity,” Koczela said. He pointed to a 2012 initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which saw a polling swing in 2012 before failing amid questions about specific provisions.

Indeed, that does seem to be the strategy of the opposition group – a bipartisan, politically potent campaign backed by officials including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

“What we are asking voters to do is not think of this as the concept of legalization, but think of and vote on a very specific proposal at a specific time,” Corey Welford, a spokesman for the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, said in a May podcast with CommonWealth magazine.

In short, the law would:

  • Legalize marijuana use and possession by 2017 for those aged 21 and older;
  • Establish a new state commission to oversee the industry;
  • Allow for licensed retail stores to open by 2018;
  • Impose a 3.75 percent excise on top of the state sales tax, plus additional municipal taxes;
  • And permit individuals to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household for personal use.

But there’s plenty of room for opponents to harp on specifics of the ballot initiative, which is 24 pages long.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts points to the fact that the law would allow for the sale of edible marijuana, arguing it could come in the form of candies, cookies, or beverages — and thus make pot more attractive to children. (Broader concerns about young people’s welfare have been a common theme of the campaign, though data out of Colorado has not shown a clear effect on teen usage.)

By way of a rebuttal, the pro-pot contingent says the law will allow a new regulatory body to ban edible products or packaging that is too child-friendly. The opposition retorts that if that was the intent of the law, it would be explicitly included in its text.

At that point, the debate reaches something of a stalemate — but it plays to the opposition’s advantage to be so deep in the weeds rather than talking about legalization as a broader concept.

Koczela thinks it’s possible the opposition also got a polling bounce from organized opposition from high-profile politicians. The two recent figures showing more support for the ‘no’ side came after the state’s political power players formally launched their campaign.

“The last two were done as the ‘no’ side kicked into gear,” Koczela said. “So that certainly may have something to do with it.”

Sure, the pro-pot campaign has collected a few city councilors, a Western Massachusetts mayor, 10 state legislators (most of whom occupy the progressive wing of the state’s Democratic party), and a former governor (Bill Weld, who is running for vice president on a pro-legalization ticket with the Libertarian party) in its corner. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal leader of national prominence, has not endorsed legalization but said in a statement that she is “open to the idea” because of the lack of regulation in the current illegal market.

But the opposition has the clear numerical advantage in terms of elected officials. In addition to Baker, Walsh, DeLeo, and Healey, nearly 120 other state legislators have come out in opposition.

Borghesani, with the pro-pot campaign, notes that high-profile politicians – including the governor and the mayor of Boston – opposed the 2008 and 2012 votes, and came out on the losing end of routs. Koczela also suggested that if the polls did in fact respond to the formal unveiling of the opposition campaign, it may ultimately prove to have been a temporary shift, almost like the bounce presidential candidates get from party conventions.

Even Walsh, who plans to be active around the issue through the fall, has some doubts that he will have much of an effect on the outcome.

“I think campaigning’s important, but I think a lot of people will make their minds up for themselves,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think Marty Walsh or somebody else is going to sway them. … Do they want to create a marijuana industry in Massachusetts? Do they feel that Massachusetts needs a marijuana industry or not?”

***

Some marijuana reform advocates worry that, with several states trying to legalize this election year, fundraising could present another obstacle.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a national political organization that has long pushed reform initiatives, is also behind legalization campaigns in Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada.

That’s in stark contrast with the last presidential election in 2012. Though two states legalized marijuana, only Colorado’s initiative was backed by MPP. With five state ballot questions – not to mention three other medical marijuana questions in other states – some activists are concerned that MPP could be stretched too thin this election cycle.

“There’s only so much resources and staff time in the movement,” said Tom Angell, who runs the advocacy group Marijuana Majority. “Only so much money that can go toward putting ads in the air.”

Mason Tvert, a spokesman for MPP, pish-poshed that particular worry.

“Regardless of what year it is, or how many initiatives there may be, we only pursue initiatives when it’s clear that there is clear public support for the proposal,” he said. “And we’re confident that we’re going to be able to run a strong campaign. So whether there are five other initiatives on a ballot or no others, it really comes down to whether there’s strong support for the law we’re proposing.”

But the local pro-legalization camp does admit that fundraising has its challenges this year. Borghesani said he doesn’t think the problem is the number of states on the ballot, but rather that Massachusetts’s own liberal reputation may cause potential donors to see legalization as inevitable and not in need of money.

In a recent national fundraising email, Troy Dayton, a MPP board member who also runs a pot industry investment network, cited both ideas when listing reasons why all of the campaigns across the country are “underfunded.”

“1. Marijuana has never been on 8 ballots at the same time so the total amount needed to be raised is more than has ever been raised for this issue,” he wrote. “2. The media has done a good job of leading people to believe legalization is inevitable when it is not. This creates a false sense of security for supporters.”

Additionally, pot advocates across the country have been growing frustrated with the businesses seeking to get in on the legal market that aren’t pitching in enough money.

“[A]ny business that budgets zero dollars for political change is being silly because marijuana is actually illegal,” Rob Kampia, MPP’s executive director, told VICE earlier this summer.

Yes on 4 hopes to raise $3 million ahead of November and has already booked some ad space, Borghesani said. The funding situation for the opposition is unclear, as the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts declined to name a fundraising target and has not publicly discussed its donors. Both sides must file campaign finance disclosures with the state in early September, which will provide the first insight into the race’s financial situation since last winter.

Sam Tracy, who works for the marijuana business consultancy 4Front Ventures, which has donated office space to the legalization campaign, has one other worry about national political dynamics and how they could affect the state’s pot race.

While past Massachusetts ballot questions have been aligned with presidential races, in part to take advantage of the heightened number of young voters, Tracy theorizes that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are each so disliked by young people that those voters may stay at home to the detriment of the legalization bid.

“Youth turnout [is] going to have to come down to getting people excited about this question specifically,” he said. “Youth is our strongest demographic.”

Koczela, the MassINC pollster, said the unpopularity of the major party candidates might “numb” turnout a bit, but doesn’t see it as a major challenge to the question’s viability.

“It’s certainly better than having it in a midterm,” he said.

In other words, even with sagging polls, there’s no time like the present for pro-pot forces. For that matter, there’d also likely be no other time soon if the effort falls short. The Massachusetts constitution bars ballot questions that are “substantially the same as any measure” that previously failed at the polls from appearing before voters again for six years.

 

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15Jun/160

Wanna work with weed? Here’s insider info on pot jobs

Insiders share their stories from the 'fastest-growing industry in America'; marijuana isn’t included in mainstream jobs reports, but another report says pot outsold Girl Scout cookies in 2015

By Brooke Edwards Staggs, The Orange County Register
workers

Some have messy buns and sleeve tattoos. Some have salon cuts and $2,000 suits.

Some are joining blue-collar unions, getting health benefits as they grow and sell a plant they’ve long loved. Some say they never touch it, but they’re standing guard outside shops and fiercely lobbying legislators in Sacramento to ensure that others can.

As public support and legalization of cannabis spreads, those who’ve quietly worked in California’s medical marijuana industry are slowly emerging from the shadows. And professionals who never would have considered joining the industry a couple of years ago are leaving behind traditional careers in law, real estate and finance as they flock to what they see as the next big boom.

“The fastest-growing industry in America is marijuana, period,” said Jake Bhattacharya, who recently quit his information technology job to open a cannabis testing lab in Upland.

With medical marijuana legal in 25 states and recreational use allowed in four, pot outsold Girl Scout Cookies in 2015, according to a report from Marijuana Business Daily, a 5-year-old news website covering the industry.

Pot retail sales are expected to hit $4 billion this year, and Marijuana Business Daily is projecting that number could nearly triple by 2020.

The actual size of the industry may already be much larger, too, since California hasn’t tracked its massive medical marijuana market in the 20 years since it’s been legal. And it could skyrocket if voters here and a handful of other states approve recreational use Nov. 8.

The lack of reliable data coupled with the “niche” aspect of the industry is why cannabis — and the connected marijuana jobs — isn’t included in mainstream economic and jobs reports, according to Christopher Thornberg, director of the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development at UC Riverside.

“It’s still too fly-by-night,” Thornberg said.

California’s Employment Development Department doesn’t track the diverse daisy chain of cannabis jobs either. And several recruitment firms said they don’t deal with the industry.

Job seekers and employers instead turn to Craigslist or specialized sites. There’s a recent post on WeedHire.com for a $75,000-a-year account manager at GFarmaLabs, which makes marijuana products in Anaheim, and one on 420careers.com for growers and trimmers at Buds & Roses dispensary in Los Angeles.

Working in the industry isn’t without complications.

It remains illegal at the federal level, which limits access to financial services and causes lingering concerns over raids by federal authorities.

California’s market is also emerging from two decades of nearly nonexistent regulation and intense battles with local governments who were less than welcoming to “potrepreneurs.” That legacy means newly licensed shops often still rely on growers and manufacturers in the gray market, and they struggle to survive alongside unlicensed operators who aren’t paying the same hefty taxes.

Then there’s the glaring disapproval that comes from shrinking (per the polls) but vocal pockets of the public. Fear of backlash from conservative family members or future business associates kept a number of cannabis workers from speaking on the record for this story.

“Let’s face it, of course there is a stigma,” said Juliet Murphy, a career coach who runs Juliet Murphy Career Development in Tustin.

Murphy expects that it would raise eyebrows for more traditional employers to see a weed industry job on someone’s résumé. However, Murphy sees it as less of an issue going forward as the industry becomes more mainstream and as millennials continue to transform the workforce.

“There are still a lot of kinks that are being worked out. But I think this presents an opportunity for a lot of jobs, provided that people do it right,” Murphy said. “I think in the next 5 to 10 years, it’s going to be huge.”

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9Jun/160

THEY WANT ALL OUR DERBS!!!!!

DEA and police raid Westford family home in marijuana oil bust, arrest six

Boston.com By Nik DeCosta-Klipa

hash-oil-extractor
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.
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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.
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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.

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1Jun/160

Canna Care Cards in Jeopardy???

suspended

Medical Marijuana Doctor Has License Suspended, Clinic Under Investigation After Death of Massachusetts State Trooper
ReLeaf Media-Providence,RI

 By: Mikey Perry
-05/31/16

(If any Canna Care patients end up having their licenses revoked, or at the very least worried that it will happen to them, True Herbal Consults is a Medical Marijuana Consulting and Renewal office in Massachusetts able to take any Massachusetts patients in need. 

They have offices located at 360 W. Boylston Street, Suite 210 in West Boylston, MA and also at 25 N. Main Street, Suite 101 in Fall River, MA & 269 Washington street Somerville MA 02121. They can be reached at 617-401-5295.)

Dr. John C. Nadolny, of Canna Care Docs, a medical marijuana evaluation clinic with locations all over Massachusetts, (and in at least 6 other states) had his license suspended on May 26 by The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, after being tied to a man that struck and killed State Trooper Thomas Clardy.

State Trooper Clardy was making a routine traffic stop on March 16 and was struck from behind by David Njuguna, 30, of Webster, while he sat stationary in his cruiser. Njuguna tested positive for marijuana at the time.

A thorough investigation of Njuguna led officials to Canna Care Docs, the clinic that gave him access to medical marijuana. Now they are under investigation.

Dr. Nadolny, the medical director of Canna Care Docs has had his license temporarily suspended for, according to The Boston Globe, breaking protocols multiple times over the course of issuing 5,792 medical marijuana certificates.

“Canna Care is cooperating fully with the investigation into Mr. Njuguna.  Canna Care stands behind its medical staff and insures all state government regulations are complied with,” Michael Maloney, attorney for Canna Care Docs, told Fox 25.

Canna Care owner Kevin Kafka told FOX25 Investigates he is not aware of any state investigations into any of its other doctors and defended the prohibited practice of nurse practitioners approving medical marijuana patients

Canna Care Docs has also hired public crisis relations firm, Ball Consulting Firm, to help handle the situation.

“Canna Care Docs will continue to fully cooperate with any investigative authority relating to its practice of medicine,” said Kafka. “We are not aware at this time of any inquiry into any active physicians in our practice and we stand by the certifications of patients that we have issued for medical marijuana in Massachusetts.  While we believe nurse practitioners are qualified and authorized under Massachusetts General Law to conduct certifications with a physician’s supervision, we have suspended the practice pending clarification from the Department of Public.”

The board describes summary suspension as: "If the Board determines, based on affidavits and other documentary evidence, that a physician represents a serious threat to the public health, safety or welfare, the Board may suspend the license pending a hearing on the merits.”

"Among the violations were failing to diagnose patients with a debilitating medical condition as required by law and delegating to nurse practitioners the authority to make such diagnoses," according to the Globe.

According to The Boston Post, “The board outlines a specific instance in which a marijuana card was issued to a clinic patient under Nadolny’s authorization even though he wasn’t working that day. The board said Nadolny didn’t diagnose the patient or have a physician-patient relationship with the person.”

Massachusetts State Law holds that doctors can only issue cards “in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship,” which is defined under the law as “a relationship between a certifying physician (acting in the usual course of professional practice) and a patient, in which the physician has conducted a clinical visit, completed and documented a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, has explained the potential risks and benefits of the marijuana use, and has a role in the patient’s ongoing care and treatment.”

At $200 a card, Nadolny’s 5,792 patients would of made Canna Care Docs a whopping $1,158, 400. While Nadolny isn’t linked directly to State Trooper Clardy’s death, the investigation has really raised eye brows at what Canna Care Docs has been doing. The investigation is full force and many are wondering what will happen to the status of licenses currently held by medical marijuana patients that received care at Canna Care Docs and the overall reputation of the clinic itself for the future.

According to all news sources & our own attempts Nadolny has not been commenting on anything pertaining to this situation.  We will keep you up to date on the situation as it evolves.

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6Dec/150

Mass. marijuana advocates look toward 2016 ballot

By Jim Haddadin/Daily News Staff

FRAMINGHAM – For years, Jim Pillsbury has been a familiar sight on Tax Day, standing outside the post office in Framingham and holding a sign encouraging voters to legalize marijuana.

This April, the 62-year-old won’t be there.

After decades campaigning to change the state’s drug laws, Pillsbury is all but certain Massachusetts voters are ready to make a historic decision in November 2016, when a ballot question will potentially ask them to legalize recreational marijuana sales, joining Colorado and a handful of other states where voters have approved similar laws.

“I’m not going to stand by the side of the road anymore with a sign that says, ‘Legalize pot,’” Pillsbury said Friday. “I think people have pretty much made up their minds on this by now.”

Marijuana legalization advocates in MetroWest could be celebrating a major victory next year if one of two initiative petitions aimed at legalizing pot make it onto the ballot.

The group backing one of those ballot proposals, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said last week it collected more than 100,000 signatures, of which at least 69,000 were certified by city and town clerks.

“This is direct democracy in action,” Will Luzier, the manager of the ballot campaign, said in a statement. “People can see that our current prohibition policy isn’t working, and they’re taking action to replace it with a more sensible system. Based on the level of support and enthusiasm we saw during the petition drive, voters are ready to end prohibition and start treating marijuana more like how our state treats alcohol.”

Pillsbury and some other long-time activists in Massachusetts gathered signatures for a second initiative, which is facing a less certain fate. A proposal from Bay State Repeal would legalize marijuana for people age 21 and older and subject marijuana to the state sales tax, but it wouldn’t create a new licensing commission or limit the amount of marijuana adults could possess or grow.

Under state law, a minimum of 64,750 valid signatures from registered voters are needed to advance the proposed ballot question. The deadline for turning in the signatures fell on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

The Secretary of State’s Office is expected to announce later this week which petitions gathered the required signatures.

"We sort of knew right up front, without any influx of big dollars to help us collect signatures, it was going to be an insurmountable task to collect that many signatures," Pillsbury said.

If the Bay State Repeal measure fails to advance, Pillsbury said he will cast his support by the other ballot question, but with some reservations. He believes the proposal could create a “huge bureaucracy” and establish a fee structure for commercial growers that will make it difficult for those without significant financial banking to get in the business. And medical marijuana growers who are already permitted to operate in Massachusetts would have a jump start on potential competitors, he said.

"They could make that switch from medical to an open market really quickly,” Pillsbury said, “and I hope that it doesn't affect the thousands of people that already have prescriptions and that already use it now."

The Legislature now has until the first week in May to vote on the proposal, but it's unlikely to win approval from lawmakers given opposition to legalized marijuana from key state officials including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg said last week he expected voters would ultimately decide the issue. Assuming no action by lawmakers, organizers would need to collect at least 10,792 additional signatures to place the question on the November 2016 ballot.

Material from Bob Salsberg and Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press was used in this report. Jim Haddadin can be reached at 617-863-7144 or jhaddadin@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JimHaddadin.

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VIA Milford Daily News

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4Sep/150

1,500 Customers in 2 Months for First MA Dispensary

The first medical cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts has served as many patients in its first two months of operation as it originally expected to serve in its first year.

Alternative Therapies Group (ATG), which opened on June 24, served 1,500 customers in July and August, according to The Boston Globe. It has been the state’s only operating dispensary until today, when a second one opened, the Boston Business Journal reported.

Both dispensaries were granted special permission by the state to begin filling demand without meeting required testing standards, though other dispensaries in the future will have to meet those requirements before being allowed to sell MMJ.

A total of 15 dispensaries have thus far received provisional licenses.

Demand is obviously high: The Globe reported that more than 20,000 state residents have obtained a doctor’s certification for MMJ, and around 12,000 have finished state paperwork in order to purchase cannabis.

There are limits on how much patients can purchase from ATG and In Good Health, the second dispensary. Currently, patients can only buy 4.23 ounces every two months, but once testing standards are in place, that number will jump to 10 ounces every two months.

ATG will have a competitive advantage for the foreseeable future, as it can sell edibles, while In Good Health currently cannot.

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VIA MJ Biz Daily

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2Sep/150

11 States Most Likely to Legalize Marijuana Next

With a majority of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization, it seems to be only time before the herb is legal in every state. Currently only four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) and D.C. have legalized recreational pot for adults—but according to financial blog 24/7 Wall St., 11 more states might not be far behind.

The blog's predictions are based on two criteria: states where medical marijuana is legal and states where possession of small amounts of weed is not punishable by jail.

Other considerations included the number of marijuana-related arrests per 100,000 residents, the estimated proportion of residents who used marijuana in the past year and public opinion polls.

According to USA Today, most of the states on the list also have a high number of marijuana users, with nine surpassing the nationwide rate.

See the list below:

1. Massachusetts

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana Related Arrests in 2012: 2,596
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 39
Minimum Penalty Classification : Civil Offense

2. Nevada

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $600
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 8,524
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 309
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

3. California

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 21,256
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 56
Minimum Penalty Classification: Infraction

4. New York

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 112,974
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 577
Minimum Penalty Classification: Not Classified

5. Vermont

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $200
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 926
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 148
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

6. Minnesota

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $200
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 12,051
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 224
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

7. Connecticut

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $150
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 3,747
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 104
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Penalty

8. Maryland

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 22,042
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 375
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Offense

9. Rhode Island

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $150
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 2,320
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 221
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

10. Maine

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $600
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 3,202
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 241
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

11. Delaware

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $575
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 2,912
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 318
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

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VIA High Times

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25Jun/150

At Salem medical marijuana dispensary, a sense of relief

By Kay Lazar and Virgie Hoban | GLOBE STAFF AND GLOBE CORRESPONDENT

Chuck Grant displayed his medical marijuana that he picked up from the dispensary in Salem.

SALEM — It was 40 minutes past 10 a.m., and already roughly two dozen patients waited in line. They had come for the start of business Wednesday at Alternative Therapies Group, the first dispensary to sell marijuana for medical use in Massachusetts. Patient number one was a gray-haired man with a walker.

Access to the dispensary is by appointment only. A police officer stood by the entrance to the old brick factory building, and a private security guard checked off patients’ names from a clipboard as they waited under crystal blue skies.

Voters in November 2012 overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in a statewide ballot initiative. But the awarding of dispensary licenses quickly became mired in controversy under the administration of Governor Deval Patrick, with questions about conflicts of interest and political favoritism. The system, stalled for months as patients grew increasingly frustrated, was recently revamped and streamlined by Governor Charlie Baker’s administration.

Now, nearly three years after the vote, medical marijuana is legally available to the 18,000 people who, according to state records, have the required physician certifications.

“We fought a long time for this,” said Peter Hayashi, a 59-year-old former neuropsychologist who was among the first to enter the dispensary.

Hayashi said he has a painful neurological condition — at times, cold air can make his skin hurt — and he has been getting medical marijuana from a Maine dispensary to ease his symptoms. Without the marijuana, he said, he has often spent hours in bed, his skin under covers to protect it against temperature changes.

“Marijuana has helped me be up and around more normally,” he said.

Wendy Atwood was waiting in line, too. The 53-year-old said she has used marijuana to ease knee and back pain from arthritis, depression, and anxiety. She also said she has long used the drug recreationally.

“I am a law-abiding citizen, a mom with two kids, and a day-care provider,” Atwood said. “It’s going to be very exciting” to walk into the dispensary, she added. “I’m happy that it’s not under wraps anymore.”

But the process was hardly speedy. Waves of patients waited up to an hour in line, and then, in small groups, were ushered inside.

They said they were shown a 10-minute video about marijuana and the types of strains the dispensary would be selling, although on Wednesday just two varieties were available.

Patients said they were not allowed to see or smell the products, and were instead shown pictures on a computer screen, using a system that staffers told patients they had learned to operate just the night before.

Patients said they placed their orders and then went to another area in the dispensary to pick them up.

Many said that the prices were higher than they had anticipated, and that the dispensary took only cash, but had an ATM for those who ran short.

Barry Levine, a 62-year-old self-employed lawyer from Marblehead, said he paid $372 for 1 ounce. Levine said marijuana helps ease his nausea from chronic gastritis.

Access to medical marijuana “is a panacea for everyone who uses it,” he said. “This for me is an old hippy’s fantasy land.”

About 120 patients had signed up for appointments Wednesday, according to the company’s security guard. Alternative Therapies executive director Christopher Edwards briefly stepped outside to speak with the guard, but declined a request for an interview.

Fourteen other dispensaries from Northampton to Boston have received preliminary state approval and are finalizing plans to open. At least two are expected to open this fall.

The executive director of a trade association for the dispensaries issued a statement saying the industry welcomes the opening of the first facility, but raised concerns the state’s testing standards for medical marijuana are too stringent.

“Massachusetts has the most conservative testing limits in the country,” Kevin Gilnack, executive director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, said in the statement.

Alternative Therapies was able to open after receiving a temporary waiver last week from the state that allows it to sell cannabis that has not been fully tested for pesticides and other contaminants.

The one-time waiver was granted because laboratories in Massachusetts are not yet able to complete the quality testing required under state health department rules, Baker’s office said last week.

But chemists at two labs poised to test dispensary products said the problem isn’t operations at the labs. The problem, they said, resides with the state’s guidelines, issued just six weeks ago, which set standards that are too stringent for lead.

The trade association said in its statement that the state made an errant assumption about how much marijuana patients might consume.

“A survey of available data showed that the heaviest users consume about 2 to 3 grams of cannabis per day,” Gilnack stated. “Connecticut assumed a patient might consume 2.33 grams per day while Nevada assumed a patient might consume 5 grams in a day,” he said, yet the Massachusetts Department of Public Health “based our testing limits on the assumption a patient could consume 28 grams — about six to 12 times more than what we’re seeing in other states.”

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VIA The Boston Globe

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14Mar/150

Should Massachusetts Lawmakers Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

Legalizing recreational marijuana in Massachusetts would generate at least $50 million annually in tax revenue, according to one survey.

By Jason Claffey

State lawmakers recently proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in Massachusetts.

The state approved medical marijuana in 2012.

Since 2012, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., have approved recreational marijuana.

“The time has long since come to take a more realistic approach to marijuana in our society.,” said State Rep. David Rogers, D-Cambridge, and State Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, in a statement. “Forcing marijuana into the underground market ensures authorities have no control of the product. Regulating marijuana would allow the product to be sold safely and responsibly by legitimate businesses in appropriate locations.”

Rogers and Jehlen in January presented legislation that would allow anyone who’s at least 21 years old to purchase marijuana. It would also allow “cannabis cafes” where food and drinks—but not alcohol—could be served.

Legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts would generate at least $50 million in tax revenue, according to one survey. Groups are organizing for a possible voter referendum in 2016 if state lawmakers don’t approve legalization this year. Efforts are underway in Vermont and Maine to legalize marijuana by 2016, too.

One opponent of legalization in the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

“We have seen the detrimental effects it has on families, especially youth,” said A. Wayne Sampson, the organization’s executive director, said in an interview last year with the Boston Globe.

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VIA The Boston Globe

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13Nov/140

Gov.-Elect Charlie Baker will ‘vigorously oppose’ marijuana legalization

Massachusetts Governor - Elect Charlie Baker,lfet speaks with reporters following a meeting with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, right at City Hall Friday . ( MARK M.MURRAY / THE REPUBLICAN ) (The Republican file photo by / Mark M. Murray )

BOSTON - Governor-elect Charlie Baker pledged to "vigorously oppose" the legalization of recreational marijuana, even as he plans to move forward with the implementation of medical marijuana.

Supporters of legalized marijuana have already started laying the foundation for a 2016 ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. Similar ballot questions passed in Colorado and Washington in 2012.

Baker, asked about the issue in an interview with The Republican/MassLive.com in Boston on Monday, said, "I'm going to oppose that and I'm going to oppose that vigorously ... with a lot of help from a lot of other people in the addiction community."

Baker, a Republican, said many people dealing with addiction believe marijuana use is a "significant first step" toward addiction to other drugs. "There's a ton of research out there at this point that says, especially for young people, it's just plain bad," Baker said.

Massachusetts, by ballot vote, has already approved the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and the use of medical marijuana. However, although the medical marijuana ballot initiative passed in 2012, so far, no dispensaries have opened. Medical marijuana advocates have complained about the slow pace of the licensing process, which has been marred by problems. Several applicants whose licenses were approved were later found to have problems with their applications – for example, applicants mischaracterized their local support or had problems with marijuana dispensaries in other states. The process resulted in several lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants.

Baker declined to comment on his next steps regarding the licensing process or the provisional licenses granted by the administration of outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat. Baker said he needs to learn more about where the process sits today and about the pending legal challenges. He reiterated comments he made on the campaign trail that he is disappointed the administration did not consult with experts in pain and cancer treatment.

Baker indicated that he will move forward with trying to get the dispensaries open. "I think waiting is a bad idea. There are clearly people who are looking for Massachusetts to get its act together and move forward on this," Baker said.

Baker also stressed his commitment to addressing opiate addiction – which has become a big issue over the last year after a spate of overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The state legislature passed a comprehensive bill aimed at addressing drug addiction by requiring insurers to cover substance abuse treatment and implementing new regulations regarding data reporting, the development of abuse-deterrent drugs and more. Baker, a former health insurance executive, said one issue that he thinks the bill did not adequately address is the frequency with which doctors write prescriptions for addictive pain medication. "I want to have a very open and frank discussion" with health care providers about the abuse of pain medication, Baker said.

On health care more generally, Baker said the state needs to do more to create transparency in health care pricing. He said today, different providers provide the same health care services with the same outcome, but the price differences can be 300 or 400 percent. "The state can do a lot more with the information it's already collected to make that case. I also think at some point we should get to the point where people have to post their prices," Baker said.

Patrick's administration did recently unveil a new website that links to cost estimator tools provided by all of the state's insurers, where customers can search for the cost of common procedures performed by different doctors based on the provisions of their health care plan.

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Via Mass Live

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