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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 13, 2019

    Marijuana CBD OilQualified patients now have limited access to medical cannabis products, after the state’s first licensed dispensaries began making sales this week. Voters initially approved medical cannabis access by passing a statewide initiative in November 2016.

    Under the law, qualified patients may obtain both herbal preparations of cannabis and infused cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries. Products must be derived from plants harvested by one of five state-licensed cultivators. To date, only one cultivator is operational. Two additional cultivators are expecting to harvest their initial crops this summer.

    Nearly 12,000 patients are licensed in the state to participate in the medical cannabis access program.

    Arkansas is one of 33 states that permits medical cannabis access.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 23, 2019

    After multiple delays, regulators are finally moving forward with draft regulations to implement the state’s 2016 voter-approved initiative legalizing the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana.

    Regulators are now deliberating over a 73-page draft of rules governing the adult use marijuana market. The rules will not be finalized until regulators receive input from the public and they are approved by a majority of lawmakers.

    Under the proposed rules, commercial licenses will only be granted initially to state residents. Those with a felony drug conviction within the past ten years will be ineligible for a license.

    The proposed regulations also impose limits with regard to THC content and the appearance of cannabis-infused edible products. Retailers will not be permitted to sell customers more than 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and/or five grams of concentrate in a single day. Retailers will need to first receive local approval prior to applying for a state operators license.

    Maine voters initially approved the legalization of cannabis sales in November 2016, but lawmakers – led by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage – have repeatedly taken steps to delay the law’s implementation.

    Newly elected Gov. Janet Mills (D) is on record stating that lawmakers “must follow the will of the people [and] implement the [voter-initiated marijuana] law.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 4, 2019

    Members of the state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation on Thursday establishing a system of retail marijuana sales to adults.

    Members passed Senate Bill 54 by a vote of 23 to 5. The measure expands existing law to permit the state-licensed production and sale of cannabis to those age 21 or older. Under the plan, the state would begin issuing growers’ licenses by December 2020. In February, NORML’s Deputy Director testified in favor of the legislation before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Lawmakers last year enacted legislation permitting adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis. That legislation does not permit commercial production or sales.

    The measure now awaits action from members of the House, which historically has been more hostile to proposals seeking to regulate the marijuana market. Republican Gov. Phil Scott has also expressed his intent to veto the legislation if it fails to adequately fund efforts directed toward youth prevention and traffic safety.

    To track this legislation, or to learn about other pending law reforms in all 50 states, please visit NORML’s Action Center here.

  • by NORML October 15, 2018

    Legislation permitting the possession, use, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis takes effect this Wednesday, October 17.

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri is hailing the policy change. “We applaud Canada for showing legislators in the United States what can be accomplished with true leadership and dedication to sound public policy,” he said. “America’s leaders would be wise to learn from our neighbors, and similarly replace our archaic and failed marijuana prohibition laws with a regulatory scheme that is largely evidence-based and that reflects cannabis rapidly changing cultural status.”

    Canada is only the second country in the world to explicitly legalize cannabis production and sales nationwide.

    The Act, Bill C-45, permits those age 18 and older to legally possess (up to 30 grams) and grow cannabis (up to four plants of any size per household). Individual provinces possess the authority to enact additional regulations with respect to distribution, such as raising the legal age limit to purchase cannabis or by restricting home grow operations.

    The Act also federally licenses commercial producers of cannabis and certain cannabis-infused products, while permitting provinces to regulate retail sales in public (government operated) and private stores, subject to local rules. Online cannabis sales will also be permitted in certain provinces.

    While fewer than 200 total retailers are anticipated to be operational on day one of the new law, additional facilities are anticipated to be operational in the near future. Cannabis-infused edible products are anticipated to be regulated and available at retail stores early next summer. The new social use regulations do not amend Canada’s existing medical marijuana access laws, which have been in place since 2001.

    The enactment of the new law fulfills a campaign pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised shortly after taking office to legalize and regulate the marijuana market. Prime Minister Trudeau, who formerly opposed legalization, cites a 2012 meeting with NORML members as the impetus for changing his position on the issue.

    In anticipation of the law change, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection Agency published a memorandum in September affirming that those Canadians either involved or invested in the legal cannabis industry may be barred admission into the United States. The agency later updated their policy directive on October 9, 2018, acknowledging: “A Canadian citizen working in … the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the United States. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the US for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

    NORML criticized the agency for its stance. NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “Those thousands of Canadians participating in the legal cannabis industry pose no threat to the US and should not face discrimination or additional scrutiny,” he said. “At a time when public opinion and the culture surrounding marijuana is rapidly shifting, not just in the United States but around the world, it is inane for US border officials to maintain such a backward-looking policy.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 28, 2017

    Marijuana ScienceSelect retailers will begin engaging in adult use marijuana sales on the morning of Monday, January 1. California joins Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington in permitting cannabis sales to those over the age of 21.

    Two additional states – Maine and Massachusetts – permit adults to legally possess and grow cannabis, but have yet to enact regulations permitting the plant’s commercial cultivation and sale.

    Under California law, retailers must possess a state license and also be compliant with local regulations. Numerous municipalities — including Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles — have approved local regulations to permit marijuana retailers. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries are allowed to engage in adult use sales if they possess dual licensing.

    “The rollout of legalized retail marijuana sales for adults in California marks another watershed moment for the movement to reform our nation’s marijuana laws,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “As is often the case, California will continue its role as a political bellwether state. It’s successful implementation of adult use regulation will inspire further states to follow its lead.”

    Separate regulations governing the production, testing, packaging, and sale of medical cannabis also take effect on January 1. The regulations are the first broad set of rules governing medical cannabis production in California since voters approved of the practice in 1996.

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