Update: Congress passed a one-week Continuing Resolution, to maintain the current spending levels and Rohrabacher-Farr, meaning state medical marijuana patients and businesses will remain protected from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice until May 5.
With little debate, House and Senate lawmakers voted today to significantly amend Massachusetts’ voter-initiated marijuana law. NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri called lawmakers’ decision a “slap in the face” to the nearly two million Massachusetts voters who decided in favor of Question 4 on Election Day.
[UPDATE: Gov. Baker signed the language into law on Friday, December 30.]
California lawmakers approved a series of bills in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session that seek to establish statewide rules and oversight governing the distribution of medicinal cannabis. The three bills — Assembly Bill 266, Senate Bill 643, and Assembly Bill 243 — now await final approval from Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown.
Legislation to establish a system of medical dispensaries for the state’s nearly 14,000 medical marijuana patients has become law without the Governor’s signature. The state Department of Health has until January 4, 2016 to finalize rules governing the dispensary program. Licensed dispensaries are anticipated to be operational by July 15, 2016.
The enactment of medicinal cannabis laws is not associated with any rise in statewide criminal activity and may even be related to reductions in incidences of violent crime, according to data published online in the journal PLoS ONE. “The central finding gleaned from the present study was that MML (medical marijuana legalization) is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault,” authors reported.
Hawaii voters overwhelmingly support legalizing and regulating the adult use of cannabis, according to just-released statewide survey data by QMark Research and commissioned by the Hawaii Drug Policy Action Group. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they endorsed legalizing cannabis, an increase of nine points since pollsters last posed the question in 2012.
Federal officials are poised to unveil new regulations allowing for financial institutions to legally interact with licensed businesses that are engaged in cannabis commerce. “They (retail facilities that dispense cannabis) want to be able to use the banking system,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said. “And so we (the Obama administration) will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue.”