Last week began with a stinging disappointment for Maine cannabis consumers when the Maine legislature failed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto that effectively stymied the state’s recreational marijuana law.
But the week ended on a positive note when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Read all about these developments and more in The Fresh Toast’s Marijuana Legislative Roundup for Nov. 13.
On Monday, the Maine legislature failed to override Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to implement recreational marijuana legalization in the state. The bill was the result of months of negotiations by a special committee tasked with implementing Maine’s voter-approved recreational cannabis law.
It would have increased the sales tax on marijuana from 10 percent to 20 percent, required municipalities to “opt-in” to the state’s legal cannabis market, and made a number of changes to the way cannabis is regulated at the state level. LePage cited concerns over public safety and uncertainty regarding federal policy toward state legalization efforts to justify his veto. The governor, who has been a vocal critic of marijuana legalization, had previously supported legislation that would have pushed the start of recreational sales back to 2019 to give lawmakers more time to finalize a regulatory framework.
Related Story: Maine Governor Paul LePage Just Vetoed Legal Marijuana
The legislature has already extended the moratorium on cannabis sales to February 2018, though this is likely to be extended until at least 2019 while a new regulatory bill is crafted. It has been legal to grow and possess marijuana in Maine since February.
On Monday, legislation was introduced to the Massachusetts House that would make a number of reforms to the state’s criminal justice system, and allow some prior convictions to be expunged. The bill would allow those with past convictions for crimes that are no longer illegal in the state, such as possession of small amounts of marijuana, to petition the court for expungement. Massachusetts law allows adult possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in public and up to 10 ounces at home. Adults are also allowed to grow up to six plants at home, or a maximum of 12 plants for households with more than one adult.
Debate is set to begin on the legislation this week, followed by negotiations with members of the state Senate, which passed a less sweeping criminal justice reform bill last month.
Related Story: New York Vets With PTSD Can Now Use Medical Marijuana
On Monday, the North Dakota Department of Health proposed a set of administrative rules to implement the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law. The Department will be taking public comment on the rules, which govern areas including testing, security, and transportation, through December 15. A finalized set of regulations will then go before the state legislature.
The Health Department expects to begin accepting applications from growers, dispensaries, doctors, and caregivers in April 2018 at the earliest, with medical marijuana sales starting sometime next fall. The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act approved by voters in 2016 allows patients suffering from 17 medical conditions, or any terminal illness, to obtain medical marijuana authorization.
On Monday, a marijuana advocacy group submitted enough signatures to place a medical cannabis measure on the ballot for 2018. The proposal would allow patients with one of several qualifying conditions to obtain a permit allowing them to legally possess up to three ounces of cannabis. The list includes severe conditions such as AIDS, cancer, and hepatitis C. The group was unable to gather enough signatures for a separate measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
On Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to expand the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana to include PTSD. The list also includes severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions such as AIDS, cancer, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy. The legislation took effect immediately.