States and countries continue to look towards the future with their eyes on the prize, and that prize is legalisation. Arizona and Nevada have announced some major goals achieved in the fight for the future and thousands of Berliners took to the streets of Germany to call for legalisation in the 19th annual Hanfparade. Hawaiian health officials are taking steps towards opening medical dispensaries and Maryland’s keeping an eye out for their prospective patients.
International Cannabis Updates
A committee made up of cross-committee Senators are endorsing a bill to legalise medical marijuana, although the Health Department fears that it could create a regulatory nightmare. The Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill was introduced into Parliament last November and sent into a committee made up of Coalition, Labor, and crossbench senators in February. Health officials are concerned that the regulatory system outlined in the bill would create complexity and uncertainty and possible clash with the Therapeutic Goods Act.
The committee has conducted public hearings around the country and attracted nearly 200 public submissions. They're due to deliver their report on the measure today, August 10th.
Thousands took to the streets of Berlin to call for legalization of cannabis as a raw material, medicine, and beverages. Berlin police estimated that about 8,000 people came together and met at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof to march to the Brandenburg Gate in the Hanfparade (Hemp Parade). Along the route, they also stopped at the Ministry of Health and the Berlin Cathedral.
The parade was supported by the Greens Party in the Bundestag, with Lisa Paus, a Green Party MP, saying that the ban on cannabis in Germany had “completely failed.” The event continued into the evening, with live music acts along a “hemp mile,” presenting hemp products, food, and beverages, while the scent of cannabis permeated the air.
U.S. Cannabis Updates
Legalisation efforts in Arizona are gaining traction! Marijuana Policy Project is heading up the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, and the group has already collected 50,000 of the 150,000 signatures needed to get the recreational cannabis initiative on the ballot for the November 2016 general election. They’ll need to gather another 100,000 signatures before the July 7th deadline in 2016 – a lofty but attainable goal.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a measure into law that creates steep civil fines for cannabis farms and grow-ops that damage the environment with wastewater, chemicals, tree removal or killing wild animals. The measure was one of 16 bills designed to expand the powers of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to help reign in many illegal cannabis growing operations. Investigators found more than 135 dams and diversions in rivers and streams that resulted in the theft of nearly 5 million gallons of water for cannabis growing, during a time when the already historic drought has ravaged California’s agriculture and fisheries.
The new law would establish fines of up to $40,000 for illegally dumping hazardous materials into rivers and streams, and fines of up to $10,000 for removing tress or killing local wildlife.
Washington, D.C.’s recreational cannabis law is proving to be a strange case for legalisation. On the one hand, residents and officials are becoming increasingly accepting of cannabis. On the other hand, without any regulations or retail shops and with sales being illegal, the line between legal and illegal is blurry and creates loopholes. The illegal market is thriving and police officers are doing little more than shrugging their shoulders at semi-legal transactions taking place.
Alex Jeffrey, the executive director for Washington, D.C.’s NORML division, put the law into perspective:
“D.C. is kind of like the Alice in Wonderland of cannabis. The Queen of Hearts is Congress. Recreation and regulation should go hand in hand. We are the exception to the rule.”
Officials from the Hawaii Department of Health have announced that the process of selection for the state's upcoming medical cannabis dispensaries will be based on a point scale, but it is yet to be determined how transparent that process is. Health Director of Communications Janice Okubo said that categories and criteria are being developed and will be released later this year in anticipation of the application date in January 2016.
Criteria will include evaluating the candidate’s financial standing, security, and abilities to deliver patient care and offer quality testing. An additional requirement will be that prospective applicants have at least $1.2 million in the bank, but the estimated start-up costs will likely be somewhere between $3-7 million. Hawaiian officials will be conferring with the Attorney General as to whether the names of applicants will be released to the general public.
Maryland’s first medical cannabis clinic, Greenway Consultation, just opened in Annapolis and is located in the Conte Lubrano Office Building. The clinic has three physicians and three consultants and has already seen 100 patients, although the Maryland Medical Marijuana Program is not expected to be operational until next year.
The cannabis program just released draft guidelines which were taking comments from the public until July 27th. Although the clinic has not been registered by the Commission yet, the clinic’s spokesman, Nick Petrucci, said that it's adhering to all guidelines as they have currently been set, and will adjust to meet any future regulations.
Nevada’s ballot for the 2016 general election will be featuring a measure to legalise recreational cannabis and it’s receiving support from an unexpected source: alcohol wholesalers. Liquor distributors have already contributed a combined $87,500 for to help pass the measure, according to the Center for Public Integrity. And while cannabis may seem like a competing product, the ballot measure would give alcohol distributors the exclusive right to distribute cannabis for the first 18 months of the new industry, giving the liquor industry good reason to support the cause.