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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 14, 2013

    Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber today signed legislation, House Bill 3460, into law establishing regulations for the creation of state-licensed medical cannabis facilities.

    The law tasks the Oregon Health Authority with crafting rules and regulations over the following nine months to govern the new statewide distribution system.

    Oregon voters initially approved a statewide initiative in 1998 mandating state lawmakers to allow for physicians to authorize qualified patients to consume and grow cannabis. However, that law did not explicitly provide legal protections for outlets that wished to dispense the substance to authorized patients.

    Presently, an estimated 200 unlicensed cannabis dispensing facilities are operating throughout the state. An estimated 57,000 Oregonians are registered with the state to consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC now have licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Nevada and New Hampshire.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 1, 2013

    Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn this morning signed legislation (HB 01) into law making Illinois the 20th state to authorize the physician-recommended use of cannabis for qualified patients. (View numerous pictures of today’s bill signing ceremony from Illinois NORML here.)

    The new law establishes a statewide, four-year pilot program regulating the production, distribution, and possession of medical cannabis. The program creates up to 22 state-licensed cannabis cultivation centers and up to 60 state-licensed dispensaries. Qualified patients participating in the program must have a preexisting relationship with their physician prior to receiving a recommendation for cannabis therapy. Patients diagnosed with one of approximately 40 qualifying conditions — including cancer, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease — will be permitted to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period. Under the law, patients must obtain cannabis only from a state-licensed facility.

    The law takes effect on January 1, 2014. State regulators have 120-days following the bill’s enactment to file program rules and regulations with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC now have licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Nevada and New Hampshire. Legislation in Oregon to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries awaits action from the governor.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 8, 2013

    Members of the Oregon House and Senate have given final approval to House Bill 3460, which licenses medicinal cannabis dispensaries statewide.

    Senate members approved an amended version of the bill by an 18 to 12 vote on July 3. House members had previously passed the bill in June. Members signed off on the Senate’s amendments this past weekend.

    House Bill 3460 “directs [the] Oregon Health Authority to establish a registration system for medical marijuana facilities.” The department has until March 2014 to draft rules regulating dispensaries. Such facilities exist presently in the state but are unregulated and remain subject to state and local prosecution. Officials expect to register an estimated 225 dispensaries in the first two years.

    Oregonians initially authorized the physician-supervised use of cannabis in 1998. However, the law limits patients’ access to cannabis to either home-cultivation or cultivation by a designated caregiver.

    House Bill 3460 was publicly supported of Oregon’s Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum. The measure now awaits approval from Gov. John Kitzhaber.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island have state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 19, 2013

    House and Senate negotiators on Tuesday agreed on a final version of House Bill 573, which allows for a regulated system of medical cannabis distribution in New Hampshire.

    The amended bill calls for the creation of four state-sanctioned marijuana dispensing facilities to produce and distribute cannabis to state-qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation. Patients diagnosed with one of approximately twenty qualifying conditions — including cancer, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, or multiple sclerosis — would be permitted to legally possess up to than two-ounces of cannabis. Under the proposed law, patients must obtain cannabis only from a state-licensed facility. Qualified patients will not be provided with any legal protections to possess or use cannabis prior to the establishment of such facilities.

    As originally passed by the House, the measure allowed for qualified patients to have the option to grow their own cannabis. The measure also allowed for physicians to recommend cannabis for the treatment of post-traumatic stress. Both provisions were stripped from the bill by the Senate at the request of newly-elected Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan.

    Gov. Hassan is expected to approve the reconciled version of HB 573. A commission is expected to be put in place to oversee the implementation of the law as soon as the bill is passed.

    New Hampshire will become the 19th state to allow for the limited, legal use of medical cannabis and the final New England state to do so.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 13, 2013

    Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed legislation, Senate Bill 374, authorizing the creation of up to 66 not-for-profit [correction: facilities may be for profit] medical marijuana dispensaries.

    Under the new law, state regulators are tasked with overseeing the creation of licensed establishments to produce, test, and dispense cannabis and cannabis-infused products to authorized patients. Nevada voters enacted a state constitutional amendment in 2000 mandating state lawmakers to allow for physicians to authorize qualified patients to consume and grow cannabis. However, that law did not provide for facilities where patients may obtain medicinal cannabis.

    Approximately 3,800 Nevadans are presently authorized to grow and/or consume cannabis under state law.

    Senate Bill 374 imposes limits on the home cultivation of cannabis if patients reside within 25-miles of an operating dispensary. However, patients who are cultivating specific strains of cannabis not provided by a local dispensary may continue to engage in the home cultivation of such strains. Patients who have an established history of cultivating medical cannabis prior to July 1, 2013, also may continue to do so until March 31, 2016.

    The bill also amends possession limits from one-ounce to two and one-half ounces and increases plant cultivation limits from three mature plants to twelve.

    Medical marijuana products dispensed by state-licensed facilities will be subject to standard state sales taxes as well as a 4 percent excise tax, of which 75 percent will be directed to education and 25 percent will be directed toward implementing and enforcing the regulations.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, and New Mexico have state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

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