Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Votes to Legalize Marijuana


5,871 miles of open Pacific Ocean waters separate the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) from the coast of California. But the 15-island chain that makes up the United States’ westernmost territory is poised to do something no U.S. state has ever done.

On Wednesday, 18 of CNMI’s 20 legislators voted to approve a bill to legalize cannabis for adult use. The bill would also legalize medical cannabis and industrial hemp. And if CNMI Governor Ralph Torres enacts the bill, the territory will make legalization history—twice.

CNMI Would Be First U.S. Jurisdiction to Go From Total Prohibition to Full Legalization

This isn’t the first time CNMI lawmakers attempted to legalize cannabis. As recently as May, the CNMI Senate approved a piece of legislation nearly identical to the House-approved bill. Procedural issues, however, stymied the bill’s progress.

After another false start in the Senate, the House opted to file its own bill. It took less than a week for the full chamber to vote to approve the proposal.


That act alone makes CNMI unique among the 9 U.S. states that have legalized adult-use marijuana. Vermont comes closest, having legalized marijuana through a legislative process rather than a ballot initiative. But unlike CNMI’s proposed legislation, Vermont’s law doesn’t establish a retail market. The Mariana Islands’ legislation would.

There’s a second way CNMI would make legalization history if the bill becomes law. Every U.S. state that has legalized adult-use marijuana did so only after establishing a medical cannabis program. But in CNMI, there is no medical marijuana. The territory would be the first U.S. jurisdiction to go from total prohibition to full legalization.

What’s Next for Legal Cannabis in U.S. Territories?

Despite the tremendous distance between the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the continental United States, the territory has been closely watching legal cannabis unfold there. Indeed, the overwhelming support for the proposal in the House is due to lawmakers’ recognizing the significant benefits of legal weed.


The full text of the legislation, SB 20-62, cites how states with regulated markets for marijuana “have observed real and significant benefits to public health, safety and quality of life for all residents,” and goes on to list medical benefits like treatments for pain, epilepsy and PTSD, social benefits like a reduction in overdose deaths and lowered crime and economic benefits like tax revenue and job growth.

But the bill still has a couple more hurdles to clear before it becomes law. The CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 is currently on its way back to the Senate for approval. After that, it will head to the desk of Gov. Ralph Torres, a Republican who has expressed concerns about legalization.

In response to House passage of the bill, Torres stressed the importance of taking “a look at both sides of the coin.” Torres wondered about the crime statistics in states with legal weed and other public safety issues.


Whether those reservations would ultimately lead Gov. Torres to veto the legislative effort and oppose the will of CNMI residents, however, remains to be seen. Public hearings about the act had higher attendance than any hearings senators could remember. Initially, legislators had designed the bill as a voter referendum before adopting it in the Senate.

France Opens First Coffee Shops Selling CBD Products


Among European Union nations, France has some of the toughest laws against cannabis. Yet the country of nearly 67 million people has one of the highest rates of cannabis consumption in Europe. Recognizing the demand, some French companies have figured out a way to satisfy customers’ desire for cannabis, in a way that doesn’t break the law.

Across France, “coffee shops” selling cannabis and hemp products are springing up. But customers won’t find any products with THC in them. Instead, these coffee shops are exclusively selling CBD products.

Paris Is The Latest City To Open CBD Coffee Shops

Tucked away in Paris’ chic 11th arrondissement, curious shoppers are lining up outside CofyShop, a cannabis store selling CBD products.

Everything on the shelves, from tinctures and syrups to vape juice, edibles, topicals and even herbs, contains a negligible amount of THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that produces the euphoric sensations users commonly call a high.

But shoppers won’t find anything containing more than 0.2 percent THC in CofyShop. What they will find is a wide assortment of CBD products, mostly produced from hemp.

Still, the fact that France’s cannabis coffee shops aren’t selling anything that would get users high seems to be lost on some first-time customers.

“I want to find out if the stuff they’re selling gets you stoned,” Marc, a 21-year-old lined up outside the shop told the Telegraph. “In theory, it has less than 0.2 percent THC, but I’ve heard it contains more CBD and that should have an effect, at least to make you feel relaxed.”

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the key therapeutic compounds in cannabis. The wide range of medicinal applications of CBD include its relaxing, anti-anxiety effects.

Researchers around the world are investigating how CBD can treat neurological diseases, reduce seizures, fight cancer and reduce inflammation. Their findings continue to corroborate anecdotal evidence about CBD’s effectiveness as a remedy for a number of ailments.

The availability of CBD products throughout France comes from a loosening of some cannabis laws. A growing awareness of the legality of CBD has also contributed to the coffee shop phenomenon.

French Health Minister Says CBD Products Are Legal

In May 2017, newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron appointed Agnès Buzyn to Minister of Solidarity and Health. And in November of that year, Buzyn made a statement regarding the legality of cannabis and hemp-derived CBD products.

Buzyn supports the use of medical cannabis and has re-opened debate about how to expand access to it. France legalized cannabis for medical use in 2013, but the program’s restrictions make it a non-starter for most patients.

But in November, Buzyn announced that CBD was legal for public consumption under two conditions. First, products had to adhere to the 0.2 percent THC limit. And second, producers and retailers had to refrain from making any health claims about the products.

French authorities are also keeping a close eye on the activity of these shops, to make sure no illegal products end up on their shelves.

CBD products are undeniably increasing in popularity across France, drawing criticism from some and support from others. For the most part, however, the public seems to think CBD products are simply “low strength” versions of cannabis containing THC.

Critics are deploying gateway theory to suggest legal CBD will lead people to consuming illicit THC products. Supporters are excited to have access to high quality, potentially therapeutic products.

French cannabis coffee shops import all their CBD products from neighboring Switzerland. On average, shops are selling CBD for about US$15 per gram.




Philadelphia to Treat Opioid Addiction with Medical Marijuana


The Pennsylvania Department of Health approved two major changes to the state’s medical marijuana program on Monday.

First, the health department added opioid addiction to the list of conditions eligible for treatment with medicinal cannabis. With that decision, Pennsylvania joins New Jersey as the only two states that have done so.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine told local media that marijuana won’t be the first treatment for addiction to opioids. Instead, doctors will try more traditional therapies first.

“It’s important to note that medical marijuana is not a substitute for proven treatments for opioid use disorder,” Dr. Levine said. “In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana will be available to patients if all other treatment fails, or if a physician recommends that it be used in conjunction with traditional therapies.”


Opioid addiction has exacted a grim toll in Pennsylvania, particularly in the state’s largest city, Philadelphia. Officials attribute about 1,200 deaths in the city in 2017 to drug overdoses.

Cannabis Research Also Approved

The Department of Health also approved cannabis research licenses for five Philadelphia area medical schools on Monday. One topic researchers at the institutions want to study is the potential role of cannabis in addiction treatment.

The schools that received approval to study cannabis are Drexel University College of Medicine, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“The research component of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program sets it apart from the rest of the nation,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said. “Today, medical research is so limited by the federal government that only a few doctors can even have access to medical marijuana. Pennsylvania’s premier medical schools will be able to help shape the future of treatment for patients who are in desperate need not just here, but across the country.”

Cannabis Flower Gets the Nod, Too

Pennsylvania’s health department also approved several other changes to the MMJ program on Monday. In a boon for patient choice, regulators have approved cannabis flower for sale at dispensaries. Since the program began earlier this year, only more expensive cannabis oils have been available. The law does not allow the smoking of marijuana, but patients will be able to vaporize cannabis flower.

Chris Visco owns Pennsylvania dispensary chain TerraVida Holistic Centers. When adding flower was first proposed, he said that the change would make patients’ medicine less expensive.


“For some patients, the cost of their medical marijuana could drop by 50 percent with the addition of flower,” said Visco. “It offers the lowest price per milligram of THC, the active ingredient.”

The health department also revised the program’s definition of chronic pain. Now, patients will not have to treat the condition with opioids before receiving a recommendation for medical marijuana.

The new regulations for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program will go into effect on May 17.

Ultrasound Increases Yields And Cannabinoid Extraction Speed


Could ultrasound be the next step in the evolution of cannabinoid extraction? Researchers in Hungary tested how ultrasound could impact the speed and efficiency of cannabinoid extraction. The results were promising. In fact, they found ultrasound increases yields and cannabinoid extraction speed.

Using Ultrasound During Cannabinoid Extraction

A study that was published in The Journal of Food Science and conducted at Sopron University in Hungary looked into the benefits of ultrasound cannabis extraction. A team of Hungarian researchers used alcohol as a solvent and low-frequency ultrasound to enhance the extraction of bioactive chemicals from the cannabis plant. There was also a control extraction with no sonification to draw comparisons from.

Alcohol is a popular solvent used for small extractions like Rick Simpson Oiland it is also used in medical extraction facilities. The extraction equipment is small and easier to obtain than the necessary tools for other extraction methods.

The team of Hungarian researchers conducted an experiment on the influence of time, input power and methanol concentration on the extraction of phenols, flavonoids, the ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) and the overall yield.


Influence On Yield

One of the most notable advantages researchers found to using ultrasound were increased yields. In fact, higher values were obtained during the ultrasonic process when compared to the control extraction. Researchers praised the potential of using ultrasound technology to increase the yield of cannabinoid extraction.

“Appreciably higher extraction of cannabinoids was achieved on sonication against control,” the study report stated.

Extraction Speed

One of the greatest advantages noted from the ultrasound-assisted extraction was the influence on extraction speed. A typical extraction can take anywhere from thirty minutes to a few days. The experiment found the optimal extraction time with ultrasound was 15 minutes.

“On comparing the ultrasonic process with the control extraction, noticeably higher values were obtained for each of the responses,” researchers said.




Researchers also noted that the time and the solvent “significantly affected the extraction.” Using ultrasound on other solvents could lead to even more effective extractions but more research would need to be conducted.

Certain extractors are already taking advantage of ultrasonic cannabis extraction with other solvents. It is nonthermal so there isn’t enough heat to cause the degradation of active ingredients. It is energy-efficient so costs are low, it doesn’t add any hazardous or toxic chemicals and best of all research has shown it shortens extraction time while increasing cannabinoid yields.

Marijuana growers, manufacturers have yet to get the green light from L.A.


Months after California legalized the marijuana business, pot growers and manufacturers lament that they are still locked out of the legal industry in Los Angeles.

More than 100 shops have already gotten city approval in Los Angeles, but not the companies that have historically furnished them with cannabis, which were supposed to be second in line under a complex set of city regulations passed in December.



L.A. had originally planned to finish processing their applications by April but has not even started accepting that paperwork. As 4/20 rolled around Friday — the informal holiday for pot enthusiasts — there was no official word on when that would happen.

That has aggravated marijuana growers, manufacturers and other cannabis companies seeking to do business legally in Los Angeles. Under California law, they cannot get state licenses if they do not have local authorization. And if they don't have a state license, it is illegal for newly licensed shops to buy their products.


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"If people don't get their licenses in the very near future, their businesses are tenuous," said Aaron Herzberg, founding partner of Puzzle Group, a law firm specializing in cannabis licensing and real estate. "Maybe those businesses are driven into the black market entirely."

Marijuana companies that had lined up business locations are being "bled dry" as they hang on to costly leases, said Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a cannabis industry group. Ryan Jennemann, manager of the cannabis cultivation company THC Design, said his firm has cut dozens of employees in recent months.

"It's an unsettling feeling," Jennemann said. "We're in a state where cannabis is legal. The 4/20 holiday used to be an underground thing — now they're talking about it on MSNBC. And we don't have permits."

The delay has also prevented any new operators, including shops, growers and other marijuana enterprises, from getting into the legal industry in L.A.

Under the regulations, they would get a shot at city approval in a third phase of applications, after L.A. grants approval to marijuana growers and manufacturers that had been supplying existing shops.

City officials have chalked up some of the delay to short staffing as the newly formed Department of Cannabis Regulation started poring over business applications. The department currently has only four staffers and has relied on workers loaned to it from other city agencies. Council members voted to hire more employees in February, but those positions have yet to be filled.


“The shift from cannabis prohibition to regulation — in the largest cannabis market in the world — is complex,” said Cat Packer, who heads L.A.’s Department of Cannabis Regulation. "Getting it right will take time." (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)


As of Friday, the department had granted approval to 139 pot shops that had been operating in line with an earlier set of city rules — the group of businesses that were first in line for approval. But before other marijuana businesses can apply, the city has been trying to work out remaining details for its "social equity" program, which is intended to help people and communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.

To be eligible for the second phase of licensing, longtime growers and manufacturers that supplied the existing shops must also qualify for that program. If not, they would have to seek licenses in the third phase along with all other kinds of applicants.

Eligible social equity entrepreneurs include poor applicants who either have been convicted of some marijuana crimes or have lived in areas disproportionately affected by pot arrests, as well as firms providing space or other assistance to disadvantaged applicants.

But city officials say they are still figuring out how to proceed.

This year, council members asked to reexamine whether additional communities in the San Fernando Valley, Boyle Heights and parts of downtown might have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, potentially allowing people who had lived in those areas to qualify for the program.

L.A. also needs to fund and set up the outreach and assistance programs that are supposed to be provided under the program — or decide whether to press ahead with licensing social equity applicants before the city can offer such benefits, city officials said. That decision would be made by council members.

A spokeswoman for City Council President Herb Wesson did not provide comment Friday.

"The shift from cannabis prohibition to regulation — in the largest cannabis market in the world — is complex, and involves a broad range of stakeholders," Cat Packer, who heads L.A.'s Department of Cannabis Regulation, said in a written statement Friday. "Getting it right will take time."

California Minority Alliance Chairman Donnie Anderson, whose group advocated for the social equity program, said that "we definitely wanted the city to be farther along, but I understand that the city has to make sure things are right." He added that the city needs to ensure businesses don't find ways to "scam the system" meant to benefit poor and marginalized applicants.

The proposed budget released last week by Mayor Eric Garcetti includes $3.7 million for the cannabis department next budget year, more than four times as much as this year, and provides for 28 staffers.

In his budget, Garcetti also estimated that the city would get $30 million from taxing the marijuana industry, a crucial infusion that will help bankroll city services. The delay in marijuana licensing has already cost the city this year: It had been anticipating $16 million from taxing cannabis businesses this budget year, but is now expecting to pull in only $4.4 million, according to the mayor's office.

New Orleans is About To Get Its First Medical Marijuana Dispensary


The Big Easy is about to pass a major milestone in the ongoing expansion of Louisiana’s medical marijuana program. Thanks to a come from behind victory from the second-generation owner of a father-son pharmacy that’s been in business since the sixties, New Orleans is about to get its first medical marijuana dispensary.

Louisiana Awards Dispensary Permit To New Orleans Pharmacist With Roots In The Community

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Pharmacy Board awarded Ruston Henry, pharmacist and owner of H&W Drug Store, with a permit to operate one of the state’s first ten medical marijuana dispensaries.

Founded in 1961, H&W Drug Store has changed hands and changed locations a couple of times over the years. But the pharmacy has always been a fixture of New Orleans’ 9th Ward, serving the community for over half a century.

Ruston, the son of Sterling J. Henry, took over the family business from his father in 1999. And in a last-ditch effort to win the permit, he appealed to that sense of tradition.

Henry’s testimony certainly worked. Because going into the advisory panel’s discussion, a subcommittee of the Pharmacy Board had ranked H&W Drug Store fourth out of five applicants for Region 1. Region 1 includes New Orleansand neighboring cities.

The board ultimately rejected the subcommittee’s first recommendation, The Rx Greenhouse, because of a poor choice of location that raised concerns among some members. The Rx Greenhouse, which operates another dispensary in Maryland, planned to set up shop in an existing building near an indoor playground area.

Seizing the opportunity, Henry made sure to convey to the board his pharmacy’s long-standing roots in the community. The board voted unanimously, at 9-0, to award the permit to H&W.

Louisiana Will Approve At Least Nine Medical Marijuana Dispensaries This Week

State health officials have divided Louisiana into nine designated healthcare regions. According to the state’s medical marijuana law, each region will initially get one dispensary. The Pharmacy Board plans to issue additional permits on an as-needed basis.

On Tuesday, the board approved permits for dispensaries in Regions 1 through 4. Located in Region 1, New Orleans is about to get its first medical marijuana dispensary, along with cities in the other three regions. The board will award permits to pharmacies in Regions 5-9 on Wednesday.

But restrictions built into the medical marijuana program will shape the kinds of products dispensaries can sell.


Louisiana law prohibits the sale of cannabis in any kind of smokable form. However, medical cannabis patients in Louisiana will be able to access the drug in pill, oil, spray and topical forms.

As in other states, patients will need a recommendation from a physician registered with the state’s medical marijuana program. Qualifying conditions include chronic, severe, debilitating diseases, like cancer, Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Louisiana will also face restrictions governing the source of cannabis products they can sell.

The raw, medical-grade cannabis can only come from agricultural centers at Southern University and Louisiana State University. And vendors under contract with those universities are the only ones that can process and manufacture non-smokable medical cannabis products.

The Final Hit: New Orleans is About To Get Its First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Sales should begin a couple of months after the Pharmacy Board approves the initial round dispensaries for operation.

According to the current timeline, that means patients in New Orleans could access legal medical cannabis products as early as June.

Data Shows The Demand For Legal Cannabis Is Increasing


Demand for legal cannabis continues to show a steady increase, according to new data from Anderson Economic Group (AEG). In particular, the data reveals a significant jump since the 2016 elections, when a number of states passed new legalization laws.

Digging Into the Data

According to AEG’s AndCan Index, which tracks trends in the marijuana industry, the first part of 2018 showed a small uptick in the demand for legal cannabis products. In particular, the report found a 0.1 percent increase in the U.S. demand for legal weed in January of this year.

On its own, that figure is obviously not impressive. But the relatively slow start to 2018 is an anomaly in the context of larger trends, more dramatic trends.

“While 2018 has gotten off to a slow start, the demand for legal cannabis products is poised for even further growth in the coming months,” AEG consultant Traci Giroux said in a press release. “The recreational market in California will start to settle, and the market in Massachusetts is expected to come online this July.”

Despite the tiny uptick in January, the cannabis market has been showing steady growth for years. Since the beginning of 2015, the demand for legal weed in the U.S. has grown by 25.8 percent. Similarly, demand is up almost 11 percent since this time last year.


In the timeline of legal cannabis, 2016 was a standout year. That’s because a number of states voted to legalize new marijuana bills during that year’s elections.

More specifically, Nevada, California, Massachusetts, and Maine voted to legalize recreational weed. Additionally, Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota all managed to pass new medical marijuana laws.

As a result of all those legislative changes, 1 in 5 Americans now has access to some form of legal cannabis, whether recreational or medical.

Not surprisingly, these new markets have contributed to the rise in demand for legal weed. And the experts at AEG expect that demand to keep rising. That’s especially true as more and more states continue to loosen their cannabis laws.


Final Hit: Data Shows The Demand For Legal Cannabis Is Increasing

One of the biggest changes to the national weed scene this year was the rollout of legal recreational cannabis in California. Retail sales began at the beginning of 2018. Close on California’s heels, Massachusetts is also expected to get its retail program up and running this year.

Earlier in 2018, Vermont lawmakers voted to legalize recreational weed. There are also at least 12 other states that could see marijuana bills on the ballot this year.

All of these changes could add to the spiking demand for legal weed. But at the same time, the Trump administration continues to generate uncertainty. A lot of the confusion and concern coming from industry players has to do with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions has long been an outspoken opponent of cannabis. He once said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Earlier this year, he suggested that cannabis is one of the primary causes of the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo at the very beginning of January. The Cole Memo is an Obama-era policy that directs federal agencies to take a “hands-off” approach to dealing with states where weed is legal. By rescinding the Cole Memo, Sessions may have opened the door to a federal crackdown on weed-legal states.

Canadian Province Lays Out Harsh Penalties For Illegal Weed Sales


Not all weed will be legal in Canada by the end of this summer. As the federal government gives provinces the green light to implement local marijuanaregulation, this Canadian province lays out harsh penalties for illegal weed sales, impaired driving, selling to the underaged, and where you can smoke. Following legalization, Nova Scotia will be cracking down on weed.

A Brief Overview of Canadian Legalization

Last year, Canadian officials introduced legislation that would legalize marijuana by summer 2018. Though this projection was a little optimistic, it looks like the Canadian Parliament will cast the final vote in early July.

This means that by September, the sale, cultivation and use of recreational marijuana will be legal everywhere. Canadians over 18 years old can have up to 30 grams of cannabis, grow a maximum of four marijuana plants and buy marijuana from licensed stores.

However, national legislation (Bill C-45) does not specify who will have cannabis licenses, where it can be sold, where you can smoke it or how the police will enforce it. The provinces are left to determine these regulations.

Nova Scotia’s Cannabis Control Act

Nova Scotia’s Justice Minister Mark Furey proposed the Cannabis Control Act on Tuesday. If passed, this legislation will have some serious consequences for people who use or sell marijuana.

The Cannabis Control Act includes measures that address driving under the influence, selling marijuana (especially to the underaged) and smoking in rented properties.


Driving Under the Influence

Under this Cannabis Control Act, neither the driver nor passengers can smoke marijuana in a car. The minimum fine for doing so is $1,000 but can go as high as $2,000. The police will suspend the driver’s license for a year for the first offense.

The consequences for the second offense are even more extreme. If caught driving under the influence in Nova Scotia, a second offender is looking at a minimum of thirty days in jail and over a year with a suspended license.

Whether or not to charge someone with driving under the influence is at the police’s discretion. Per the Cannabis Control Act, the Nova Scotia police can test your saliva or blood. They can also suspend someone’s license for weeks at a time.

The only legal way to transport weed in a car will be in a sealed container. These laws will also apply to other motorized vehicles.

Justice Minister Furey told CBC News, “Let me be clear, driving while high is not only dangerous, it is a crime and the legislation provides strong sanctions for those who drive while impaired.”


Only The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. Can Sell Weed

Not only are the driving regulations intense, but Canadian province lays out harsh penalties for illegal weed sales. As is the case in Quebec, the provincial government will have a monopoly on weed sales. To ensure this remains the case, the Cannabis Control Act has some harsh penalties for those selling weed illegally.

Stores caught selling weed will face fines ranging from a $10,000 minimum to $25,000. Individuals selling weed are fined $10,000. Buying cannabis from an illegal retailer earns a maximum of $250 fine.

Furey justifies that these policies aren’t that different from what’s currently in place. “Dispensaries are illegal presently, dispensaries will be illegal once legislation is rolled out,” he explains.

Fines For Selling Weed to the Underaged

Justice Minister Furey told the press, “Our main priority has been the health and safety of Nova Scotians, especially children and youth.” This seems to be true as the Cannabis Control Act includes some hefty fines for selling weed to people under 19.

Per Nova Scotia law, only people aged 19 and up will be allowed to purchase weed. This is in line with the drinking age in Nova Scotia. The legal age for cannabis and alcohol in Canada ranges from 18 to 19 depending on the province.

The fine for selling to someone under 19 can be up to $10,000. For people under 19, the fine for marijuana possession is $150. Additionally, the police will issue fines to anyone selling drug accoutrements–rolling papers, bongs…–to the underage.

Enforcing These Policies Will Require More Resources

Even Furey admits that the Cannabis Control Act as it is today will require more police work. “We may see a spike in [enforcement],” Furey told CBC News.

Nova Scotia isn’t the only province having to pay for enforcing strict legalization laws. Ontario recently pledged $40 million dollars to fund law enforcement agencies ahead of legalization. Though legalization is supposed to diminish police spending, this hasn’t always been true in practice.

Final Hit: Canadian Province Lays Out Harsh Penalties For Illegal Weed Sales

As this Canadian province lays out harsh penalties for illegal weed sales, driving while high and selling to the underage, everyone is looking to see how Canada implements, and enforces, marijuana legalization.

Some organizations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), are in favor of Nova Scotia’s new policies. MADD CEO Andrew Murie puts forth, “What we do for alcohol, we should be doing for cannabis. Impairment by drugs by alcohol or a combination is the same.”

Though cannabis and alcohol will be equally legal under Canadian law, cannabis is facing harsher legislation. For instance, the Cannabis Control Act will also permit landlords to ban smoking weed. Public places will also bar marijuana consumption.



Michigan May Legalize Recreational Marijuana Before November Ballot


What seems on its surface like an early win for cannabis advocates in Michigan may, in fact, be an attempt to rig the state’s upcoming general election. The question of legalizing recreational marijuana will appear on the November ballot, and voters are expected to turn out to register their support. But the prospect of higher voter turnout has some GOP lawmakers in Lansing worried. Concerned better turnout could impact other races, they’ve begun discussing ways to take legalization off the ballot. But broad support for the issue leaves them with just one move. And that’s why Michigan may legalize recreational marijuana before November ballot.

In A Bid To Suppress Voter Turnout, GOP Lawmakers Want To Legalize Weed Early

Historically, higher voter turnouts tend to favor more liberal or progressive candidates. In other words, more voters typically means more Democrats in office.

No wonder Republican-controlled state legislatures have made voter-suppression tactics a staple of their political strategy. And their efforts have accelerated in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Voter-suppression tactics include things like closing polling locations, issuing strict ID laws, voter purging and disenfranchisement. Gerrymandering, or the redrawing of election districts to favor particular candidates, is another way of distorting democratic representation.

And in these areas, Michigan is one of the worst. In December 2016, Michigan’s Republican-led House passed some of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws in the face of strong objections from Democrats and civil society groups. ID requirements tend to make it harder for minority, elderly, and student voters—groups that tend to vote Democrat—to cast their ballots.


And in April 2017, The Center for Michigan found that gerrymandering in the state is among the nation’s worst. The report shows how districts dramatically and disproportionately favor Republicans.

Put plainly, Michigan Republicans have a documented history of using extreme voter-suppression tactics. And one could argue these have already had a major impact on U.S. democracy. Donald Trump won Michigan by just 10,704 votes.

GOP Lawmakers In Lansing Fear Putting Legal Weed On The Ballot Could Flip The House

The fewer voters the better, as far as GOP lawmakers in Michigan are concerned. But nothing tends to rock the vote quite like a vote on legal recreational marijuana.

All the recent polls show overwhelming support for legal recreational in Michigan. So much so, in fact, that if the vote were to happen today, the measure would pass overwhelmingly.

But polls show another interesting thing about the issue of legal weed in Michigan. Namely, that it could drive voter turnout enough to impact other races.


And in an unpredictable election year many feel could be a wave election flipping state assemblies for the Democrats, some Republicans are viewing the pot voter boost as a legitimate concern.

A few GOP lawmakers in Lansing have already begun discussing whether they should attempt to legalize weed through a legislative process ahead of the state’s general election in November.

In other words, Michigan may legalize recreational marijuana before November ballot in an attempt to keep voters who would otherwise come out to support the ballot, home

Experts expect races will be tight this November. So even a two to three percent boost in voter turnout could make the difference in many districts and cause Republicans to lose the House.

The Final Hit: Michigan May Legalize Recreational Marijuana Before November Ballot

So far, the question of whether to legislatively pass recreational cannabis has been a behind-closed-doors topic among Republican lawmakers. “I don’t think it’s reached critical mass at this point,” said political consultant Dennis Darnoi.

Indeed, deep divisions persist among the caucus over the issue of recreational weed. But concerns over losing the House might be enough to overcome them. Michigan Republicans have previously tried to move a legalization bill through the legislature with no success.

Arkansas Judge Considers Effort to Halt Marijuana Licenses


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge said Friday he’ll rule by the middle of next week on whether to allow the state to issue its first licenses for companies to grow medical marijuana after hearing complaints from an unsuccessful applicant challenging the permitting process.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen did not rule after hearing testimony from the state and Naturalis Health LLC, which wants the 95 applications for medical marijuana cultivation facilities to be re-scored by an independent evaluator. The Medical Marijuana Commission had planned to issue licenses to the top five applicants on Wednesday, but Griffen issued a temporary restraining order halting the process so he considered the request for a preliminary injunction.

“This is a potential billion dollar industry,” Keith Billingsley, an attorney for Naturalis, said during closing arguments. “Ninety-five people submitted applications and spent a lot of time, including my client, on this process assuming the state of Arkansas would get it right, that the state of Arkansas would conduct a blind examination of applications and that it would be done in a fair and impartial way.”

Naturalis ranked 38th out of the 95 applications submitted, state officials said.

Arkansas voters in 2016 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions. The commission is expected later this year to license up to 32 dispensaries to sell the drug.

The company’s lawsuit claims the process for scoring applications and awarding the licenses is flawed. The company also cites two potential conflicts of interest, including one commissioner whose law firm represents the owners of one of the facilities that was going to receive a license in non-marijuana related matters. The state, however, has said that the applications scored by the commissioners were redacted and did not include any identifying information about the applicants.

The state has also said Naturalis has not proved it would suffer irreparable harm if the state is allowed to award the licenses.

“The fact that they spent money to get ready for an application and they submitted an application that was a losing application and, if they were possibly scored again and they improved their ranks from 38th to one of the top five, they might then reap the return on their investment, those are speculative harms,” Deputy Attorney General Monty Baugh said.

Griffen earlier Friday also denied an effort by the state to dismiss the company’s complaint, rejecting arguments that Arkansas was immune from the lawsuit and that Naturalis did not have standing to sue.

Arkansas has approved more than 4,500 applications for patients to use medical marijuana and will issue registry cards about a month before the drug is expected to be available legally.