LastTuesday, the state’s first municipal referendum on marijuana sales resulted in a ban on the opening of recreational retailers within the town of Milford. The referendum was held under the state’s two-tiered system for regulating local marijuana sales. Under the legislature’s modified legalization law, bans and restrictions on the opening of cannabis retailers can only be implemented in municipalities that voted in favor legalization if a referendum is held and a majority vote in favor of the restrictions.
In localities that voted against legalization, only a vote of the municipal governing body is necessary. Milford voters supported the November 2016 ballot initiative on legalization by a 52 percent margin. However, 56 percent voted in favor of banning recreational retailers on Tuesday. Over 100 municipal governing bodies have already enacted bans and zoning restrictions in towns that voted against legalization last year.
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This unorthodox arrangement was the result of protracted negotiations between members of the state House and Senate, which had passed two widely different bills to implement marijuana legalization. Whereas the House bill would have “repealed and replaced” the ballot measure and taken away the ability of voters to decide on local marijuana restrictions, the Senate bill would have made minor changes to the way cannabis is regulated at the state level. Critics have argued that the two-tiered system of municipal governance violates the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment.
District of Columbia:
On Tuesday, Councilmember David Grosso introduced the Medical Marijuana Improvement Amendment Act of 2017. The Act is designed to expand access to those who may not have the time or money to obtain physician certification. Under the current process, patients must visit a physician and fill out paperwork, then wait for the District to issue a medical cannabis identification card before they can access medical marijuana. If enacted, the Medical Marijuana Improvement Amendment Act would allow patients to present a signed affidavit at medical marijuana dispensaries stating that they are 21 or older, consume cannabis “explicitly for medical purposes,” and are aware of local and federal laws regarding marijuana. The bill would also authorize dispensaries to open facilities where the plant could be consumed on their premises.
On Wednesday, a Kentucky judge upheld the state’s ban on medical marijuana. Kentucky is one of the 21 states that have yet to legalize marijuana for any purposes, including the treatment of severe and chronic conditions. A group of citizens sued the governor and state attorney general earlier this year, arguing that it is unjust to deny treatment to those suffering from illnesses who could benefit from treatment with cannabis. In his ruling, the judge wrote that the legislature has “discretion to regulate what is harmful to the public health and wellbeing.”