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John Kasich just legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. Now what?
Jessie Balmart,

COLUMBUS - Gov. John Kasich signed a plan to legalize medical marijuana into law Wednesday, making Ohio the 25th state to approve its use.

Those suffering from epilepsy, chronic pain and the side effects of cancer treatments could soon be able to treat their pain with marijuana. Despite years of delays and opposition, state lawmakers passed a plan in May to legalize medical marijuana for those with a doctor's referral. Groups working to place a rival medical marijuana proposal on the fall ballot put pressure on legislators, but ultimately dropped their efforts after the lawmakers approved a plan.

Kasich was quiet about whether he supported legalizing medical marijuana, saying only that he would follow doctors' recommendations and wanted to help children in pain. But he ultimately signed the bill, which will take effect in 90 days.

While medical marijuana will be legal in three months, it will take much longer to set up rules for growers, dispensaries and patients. So, what comes next?

How soon can I buy medical marijuana?

If they have a doctor's recommendation, Ohioans can purchase medical marijuana from other states where it is legal as soon as Sept. 6 and bring it back into the state. Then, the Department of Commerce will have about eight months to create rules for those who will grow marijuana. After that, cultivators will need time to start growing medical marijuana, and dispensaries will set up shop. Around that time, doctors must start applying to the Ohio State Medical Board for a certificate to recommend medical marijuana.

All this means Ohioans won't be able to buy medical marijuana in-state until 2017 or early 2018. Note: Once the Ohio system is set up, Buckeyes will no longer be allowed to bring in marijuana from other states.

What kind of marijuana can I use?

Here's the big sticking point for many marijuana advocates: Under this law, it's still illegal to smoke marijuana – even if you buy it out of state. Vaporizers, edibles and oils are OK.

It goes without saying: Recreational use of marijuana also is still illegal under this law.

Which medical conditions will qualify for medical marijuana?

AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn's disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson's disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette's syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

Who will grow the marijuana?

No one may grow medical marijuana at home or for personal use. But those who want to grow medical marijuana commercially must apply with the Ohio Department of Commerce. They cannot grow marijuana within 500 feet of a school, public playground, church, public park or public library. Those with certain criminal convictions are disqualified from growing marijuana.

Who can recommend it?

Physicians who are certified by the State Medical Board of Ohio. They could be disqualified from certification if they have a financial interest in growing marijuana, have lost their license to practice medicine or have been convicted of certain crimes. These doctors must attend at least two hours of training on diagnosing and treating conditions with medical marijuana.

Can I be fired for using medical marijuana?

Yes. Despite opposition from some Democrats, the law would allow employers to fire employees who violate office policies against marijuana use – even if the marijuana was recommended by physicians. If you are fired for marijuana use, you will not receive unemployment compensation either.

Can I vote on medical marijuana in November?

No. Several groups were interested in placing a proposal on the fall ballot, but each decided against it. The most prominent, Marijuana Policy Project and its local affiliate Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, dropped its bid just three days after senators passed the medical marijuana bill. The effort was too costly and unpredictable in a presidential election year.

"(T)he reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill," said Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, in a statement.

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NJ Weedman fighting the fight

NJ Weedman takes to the radio, blames raid of his joint on retaliation

By Anna Merriman | For

TRENTON – It's been less than a week since Ed "NJ Weedman" Forchion was arrested at his combination eatery-temple in Trenton, but the outspoken marijuana advocate has taken already taken to the airwaves to tell his story.

Forchion spoke with New Jersey 101.5 Weedman's trip as a marijuana advocateradio hosts Deminski and Doyle Tuesday afternoon and called out state Senator Ray Lesniak and the Trenton Police Department for "retaliation."

That "retaliation" came in the form of a raid, Forchion said on the radio station. He was arrested along with 10 other people at his "joint" on East State Street last Wednesday and charged with possession of paraphernalia and drug possession for 5 ounces of marijuana that he'd received as a donation, he said.

Forchion said that he believes the police and prosecutor's office is acting out against him for setting up security cameras to film police activity outside his establishment and for filing a lawsuit against the city earlier this year.

Weedman's trip as a marijuana advocate

Ed Forchion, aka NJ Weedman, has been a protestor, candidate, restauranteur and defendant since the 1990s.

"I was told that this came down from high above," Forchion said Tuesday of the order to raid his joint. He went on to say that he thinks Lesniak may be behind the raid and that the senator is representing the police department.

"He's opposed to legalization," Forchion said.

At least part of the reason for his retaliation theory, Forchion said, is that he never had problems before February – and everyone knows he smokes marijuana.

"I have a bong sitting next to me right now," he said in the radio interview.

It wasn't until the February complaint, he said, that police and prosecutors started paying his establishment more attention.

Now, fresh out of jail, Forchion is inviting Mercer County Acting Prosecutor Angelo Onofri to personally handle the prosecution side of his case, while Forchion represents himself.

"I want you to do this... I want you to take this beating," he said in challenging Onofri.

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[Canadian] Tax revenue from legal pot could hit $5 billion each year, CIBC says

it Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s secret stash.

A new report from CIBC World Markets says Canada’s federal and provincial governments could reap as much as $5 billion annually in tax revenues from the sale of legal marijuana.

CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld crunched the numbers using current estimates of Canadian recreational pot consumption, the revenue experience in U.S. states that have legalized, and other factors – such as prevailing “sin tax” rates on alcohol and tobacco.

The Liberal government has promised to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana and has made MP Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief, the lead on investigating a new regulatory model.

Trudeau maintains that legalized pot will not be a cash cow, and that all revenues will be used to address public health and addictions issues.

The bank report suggests there will be a sizeable bump in government revenues from the eventual legal sales, but says the cash will not enough be to make government deficits simply go up in smoke.


VIA Global News

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GUSCIORA: Legalized pot could revitalize Atlantic City

recreational marijuana industry in Atlantic City would draw tens of thousands of tourists, eager to experience legalized marijuana on the East Coast. (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Asbury Park Press’ Dec. 24 editorial, “Don’t gamble with marijuana in Atlantic City,” opposing my proposal to bring recreational marijuana to the city only demonstrates the ever-expanding problems with the gaming industry.

The Press seemed eager to embrace establishment-fed alternatives, including the creation of two new North-Jersey-based casinos. Yet the sobering fact the Press disregards with that choice is that it will be necessary for taxpayers to foot the bill. That’s right: most recently, taxpayers in the state already shelled out $300 million for the creation of the now-defunct Revel Casino, which was sold for pennies on the dollar. Should we really be expanding that practice?

If we are to truly revitalize Atlantic City, we cannot keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results. Financial bailouts have proven to be beyond costly and ineffective, and further expansion of the casino industry — be it within the confines of Atlantic City or elsewhere in the state – dilutes the market further, reducing the market share of each business.

Conversely, the introduction of a recreational marijuana industry promises to be substantially profitable. The product, which would be taxed and funded by dispensaries, would ultimately result in a positive cash flow to state and city coffers.

A recreational marijuana industry in Atlantic City would draw tens of thousands of tourists, eager to experience legalized marijuana on the East Coast. As potential pioneers of the industry in our part of the country, we stand to capitalize on one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States.

The Press’ impressive knowledge of cannabis culture references only serves the point that the next generation is eager to move past prohibition and the futile, costly and destructive war on marijuana that has dominated our policy landscape for the better part of a century. Lost upon them is the fact that as long as casinos are in Atlantic City, it will not necessarily be a “family-friendly” destination.

In fact, no fewer than 10 states have placed recreational marijuana on the ballot this year, including Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Florida and, casino-mecca, Nevada. By allowing recreational pot in Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos will once again attract gamblers from Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York who have foregone Atlantic City for their own state-based casinos. If we are once again to be a relevant gamblers playground, then we need to reinvent and distinguish ourselves from the other gambling states.

Finally, the Press’ insistence that Atlantic City’s overburdened police have enough problems is misplaced since a legalized marijuana industry will take away the crime element that drives the drug trade there. And while some may want to continue to gamble on taxpayer bailouts or North-Jersey-based casinos, I doubt it will have little beneficial affect on Atlantic City.

A regulated recreational marijuana industry, which currently has positively trending approval in the state, could breathe new life into the ocean city resort and could once again make Atlantic City the focal point of gambling and recreation activities on the East Coast.

Reed Gusciora is a Democratic state assemblyman representing the 15th Legislative District.



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Medical marijuana may go the way of alcohol in Michigan Senate

Cannabis is on display at Shango Premium Cannabis, in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Oregon marijuana stores have begun sales to recreational users, marking a big day for the budding pot industry in the state. Some of the more than 250 dispensaries in Oregon that already offer medical marijuana opened their doors early Thursday to begin selling the drug just moments after it became legal to do so. (Associated Press File Photo)

LANSING, MI — Michigan would create a tiered system for medical marijuana growers, distributors and retailers under evolving legislation up for a likely vote Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said Monday medical pot bills approved by the House earlier this year will be amended in his committee to prevent an owner from being licensed to operate multiple types of medical marijuana businesses.

The state regulates alcohol in a similar, three-tiered fashion.

"Everything I've designed here is to make sure we don't have monopolies" Jones said. "If we have a monopoly, then obviously they'll have monopoly prices, so I would think everyone would be on board with a system where people have different choices."

But the pending amendment is drawing fire from patient advocates, who argue that treating medical marijuana like alcohol will ultimately benefit established distributors, middle men who could drive up prices.

"If you were to grow medical marijuana, you wouldn't be able to have ownership in a retail or provisioning center, which paves the way for a distributor," said Robin Schneider, legislative liaison for the National Patients Rights Association.

She argued that a "vertically integrated" company would be able to produce more affordable products for patients.

The NPRA has worked with lawmakers on medical marijuana legislation for years and generally supported the bills that passed out of the House, but Schneider fears the dispensary bill is being expanded to anticipate eventual legalization of recreational use.

Her group will oppose the Senate legislation if it creates a tiered system similar to alcohol.

"It's really bad for patients," she said. "It's unfortunate. We were really hoping we could reach some sort of settlement or compromise."

House Bill 4209, which won bipartisan support in the lower chamber, would create a system to regulate and tax medical marijuana dispensaries in communities that decide to allow them. The state would also license large-scale growers, processors, distributors and testing facilities.

Patients and caregivers would be allowed to grow a limited number of plants at home, as authorized under the state's 2008 voter-approved medical marijuana law, but they would be prohibited from selling any "overages" to dispensaries.

HB 4210 would allow and regulate medical marijuana edibles and other non-smokable forms of the drug, while HB 4827 would create a seed-to-sale tracking system for marijuana plants and processed products.

Dispensary legislation passed out of the House last year, but law enforcement groups trashed the package in the Senate, effectively killing it during the 2014 lame-duck session.

Sponsoring Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, worked more closely with law enforcement groups as he re-introduced his dispensary bill this session. Jones, a former sheriff, took the reigns in the Senate. He hopes that committee amendments will at least move police and prosecutors from opposed to neutral, which he would consider a win.

Additional licensing restrictions were requested by the law enforcement community, according to Jones, who dismissed "rumors" that the Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association had pushed for a tiered medical marijuana system.

"Unless I get law enforcement on board, I believe the package is dead in the Senate," he said.

Jones expects "literally hours of testimony" on the bills during committee on Tuesday, but he does not intend to draw the process out any longer than that.

If the votes are there for passage, the Senate Judiciary Committee will advance the bill Tuesday. If not, Jones said he'll probably ask Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof to discharge the legislation for floor consideration in the next two weeks.

"I have made many promises to many different groups that I would do everything possible to pass this package of bills out this year, and that's what I intend to do," he said.

Jonathan Oosting is a Capitol reporter for MLive Media Group. Email him, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.



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Canadian Government Reaffirms Plan to Legalize Marijuana

David Johnston delivers the Speech from the Throne to the start Canada's 42nd parliament in Ottawa, Canada on Dec. 4, 2015.

The government says they will learn from U.S. states where the drug has been legalized

New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration has reaffirmed that it will make moves to legalize marijuana now that parliament is resuming after the October election.

In a speech Friday laying out policy plans, Governor General David Johnston said the new Liberal government would make recreational use of the drug legal, but that it would also regulate and restrict access—though details about those restrictions were not forthcoming, The Guardian reports.

Johnston said eliminating the “criminal element” of marijuana use would help fix a broken system, adding that regulators would have much to learn from recent efforts in Colorado and Washington states.



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‘World is going to be looking to Canada’ on pot legalization, Jane Philpott says

Federal health minister says conversations with her own kids convinced her changes are required

By Susan Lunn, CBC News

The federal health minister says "the world is going to be looking to Canada to make sure we do the job well" when it comes to legalizing and regulating marijuana.

In an interview with CBC News, Jane Philpott said the government will look abroad for best practices, but said she doesn't see a perfect model anywhere.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use, and has mandated Philpott, along with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, to create a federal-provincial-territorial process to accomplish that.

Philpott said the government will create a task force to consult with legal authorities, public safety officials and Health Canada scientists, who already have a role in regulating products with health risks such as tobacco.

Scientists in her department have already started to brief her on the topic, she said.

Philpott, a family doctor, has four children, including one who is a teenager. She said she tries to have open conversations with all of them about a range of health issues, including marijuana.

Those conversations have convinced her the current system of prohibition and criminalization is not working.

"I think if any of your viewers, if they ask their teenage children, they can verify for them that [marijuana] is far too accessible. And obviously there's issues around safety and concentrations that are available in certain products are very dangerous," Philpott said.

"Often the products are not pure, and that's something that's a serious health concern for us."

Philpott said it is too early to speculate on what kind of restrictions will be placed around the sale of marijuana, such as an age limit — but she said her government is committed to keeping it away from teenagers.

"It's extremely important to me as a young parent and as a [health-care] provider to make sure we keep marijuana out of the hands of kids and young people, whose brains are developing. And at the moment, unfortunately, it's extremely accessible," she said.

Pot in corner stores?

The Opposition Conservatives did not respond to a request for comment Friday on what they want to see in the government's legislation.

But during the election campaign, the Conservatives were critical of the Liberal plan, telling voters it would lead to marijuana being sold in corner stores, where teenagers could get their hands on it easily.

Trudeau said he didn't think corner stores would be the best place to sell marijuana, suggesting staff weren't always rigorous enough in checking ID.

(The industry association that represents convenience stores noted at the time it hasn't advocated for the right to sell marijuana, though it wasn't happy with Trudeau's characterization of its members' handling of age-restricted products.)

Philpott said most health-care providers are not opposed to the Liberal Party's plan on marijuana.

"I would say they are cautious about this, as I am. We need to be cautious about it," she said. "But I think most thoughtful Canadians recognize that the current system isn't working and they're looking to us to make sure we make a wise decision."

The Canadian Medical Association declined to comment, saying only "we acknowledge the complexity of the issue and the varying perspectives."



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State of Colorado is hiring: Deputy Director of Marijuana Coordination

The state of Colorado is looking to hire someone with 'optimism that Colorado’s social experiment with marijuana can be effectively and efficiently implemented in a way that promotes the health and safety of the people of Colorado.

By Ricardo Baca
The Cannabist Staff

The state of Colorado is looking to fill a major marijuana policy position — perhaps you’re the right fit for the job?

The position: Deputy Director of Marijuana Coordination.

The application deadline: Wednesday, a.k.a. Nov. 18 — so hurry.

The job description: “To aid the director, however needed, in ensuring the efficient and effective implementation of Colorado’s recreational and medical marijuana laws — and the state’s education, prevention and treatment efforts.”

The person who will become the new Deputy Director — replacing outgoing Deputy Skyler McKinley, who is moving into a more senior role with Governor John Hickenlooper’s team — will report to the state’s director of marijuana coordination, Andrew Freedman. The new hire will be responsible for organizing and staffing the state’s Office of Marijuana Coordination. The individual will also write memos, meet with concerned stakeholders, monitor cannabis legislation, coordinate marijuana communications across state agencies and more, according to the job posting.

“Skyler did an amazing job as Deputy Director of Marijuana Coordination, and now I am looking for who will follow,” Director Freedman wrote on his Facebook page. “Interested in being at the forefront of one of the most interesting topics in state government? Care a lot about good government, and how to do things right?”

Applicant requirements include “top-notch organizational skills,” “proven ability to treat diverse issues with a professional neutrality and distance” and “proactive engagement on difficult and/or time-sensitive issues.”

One of the position’s “critical competencies” stands out from the job posting, especially for a state gig: “Enthusiasm — optimism that Colorado’s social experiment with marijuana can be effectively and efficiently implemented in a way that promotes the health and safety of the people of Colorado.”

The full job posting is below — but interested parties can send a cover letter and resume to outgoing Deputy Director McKinley at by Nov. 18 with the subject line, “Deputy Director Application Materials.”

[Read the official job posting here.]


VIA The Cannabist

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Colorado in spotlight as GOP debate hits on marijuana

Expect the topic to re-emerge at the Colorado debate hosted by CNBC next month

By John Frank, The Denver Post

More than any other state, Colorado played a prime-time role in the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night thanks to a question about marijuana legalization.

The question came as Colorado is preparing to host the next GOP debate Oct. 28 in Boulder.

CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper posed the question after saying it came from social media users. He asked Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul about former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s pledge to enforce federal law in Colorado to stop recreational marijuana use.

Paul — who became the first major presidential candidate to court the pot industry at a recent Denver fundraiser — put the emphasis on rehabilitation instead of incarceration. “I personally think this is a crime where the only victim is the individual,” Paul said of marijuana use. “And I think America has to take a different attitude.”

He went on to invoke state’s rights and say, “I don’t think the federal government should override the states.”

Paul also used the question to take a shot at Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who has acknowledged smoking pot in high school, suggesting it’s a case of “hypocrisy.”

Bush responded bluntly: “So 40 years ago I smoked marijuana, and I admit it,” adding that his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, is probably not happy that he did — a line that invoked laughter from the audience.

Bush said he believes weed legalization is a state issue, not one for the federal government. “What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision,” he said.

Paul challenged Bush on the remark, noting that he opposed the 2014 ballot measure in Florida to legalize medical marijuana. Bush said he is open to medical marijuana, if the process is done through the legislature, but the 2014 measure had “a huge loophole.”

“It was the first step toward getting to a Colorado place,” he said of the measure.

Given a chance to explain his original statement, Christie blasted recreational marijuana use, saying states shouldn’t be “legalizing gateway drugs,” adding that it leads to decreased productivity and ruins families.

Paul accused Christie of not supporting the 10th Amendment guaranteeing state’s rights. “Colorado has made their decision and I don’t want the federal government interfering and putting moms in jail for simply trying to get their children medication,” he said.

Christie made clear he supports medical marijuana, which is legal in New Jersey.

Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO and failed California U.S. Senate candidate, had the last word. Her daughter died from a drug addiction.

“We must invest more in the treatment of drugs,” she said. “I agree with Sen. Paul, I agree with states rights but we are misleading people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer — it’s not.”

Expect the topic to re-emerge at the Colorado debate hosted by CNBC next month. It’s unavoidable, given the location.


VIA The Cannabist

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Since Colorado legalized marijuana, highway fatalities are way down

One of the boogiemen of legalizing a previously banned substance is that fear that our streets will become populated by drug-addled drivers, plowing into family station wagons and school buses. Opponents to legalizing marijuana point to studies that show increases in drivers testing positive for marijuana while driving. Proponents of ending the prohibition on marijuana point to similar studies showing that these people testing positive for marijuana are usually in trouble because they are also drunk-driving. Radley Balko, over at the Washington Post has put together some interesting findings concerning driving fatalities in Colorado, since they legalized pot in 2012:

As you can see, roadway fatalities this year are down from last year, and down from the 13-year average. Of the seven months so far this year, five months saw a lower fatality figure this year than last, two months saw a slightly higher figure this year, and in one month the two figures were equal. If we add up the total fatalities from January through July, it looks like this:

Here, the “high” bar (pardon the pun) is what you get when you add the worst January since 2002 to the worst February, to the worst March, and so on. The “low” bar is the sum total of the safest January, February, etc., since 2002. What’s notable here is that the totals so far in 2014 are closer to the safest composite year since 2002 than to the average year since 2002. I should also add here that these are total fatalities. If we were to calculate these figures as a rate — say, miles driven per fatality — the drop would be starker, both for this year and since Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2001. While the number of miles Americans drive annually has leveled off nationally since the mid-2000s, the number of total miles traveled continues to go up in Colorado. If we were to measure by rate, then, the state would be at lows unseen in decades.

That's good news. Even for people against the legaliztion of marijuana, they should be happy that fewer people are dying on the highways—even if this correlation is not a causation. Some people believe that there is a causation in these numbers as (proponents argue) the legal option of getting high on marijuana can replace, in some cases, getting high on alcohol, and driving while high is probably less dangerous than driving while intoxicated on alcohol.

No doubt there are myriad other reasons for the decrease in road fatalities—better cars with better safety features. The important point is that the numbers are down, and while these numbers may have nothing at all to do with the legalization of marijuana, the belief that marijuana legalization might lead to tons of terrible driving accidents, so far, is unwarranted.



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