Another Research Program For Industrial Hemp Vetoed

Gov. Susana Martinez on Saturday vetoed another bill that would have established a research program for industrial hemp, a measure that legislators of both parties said could create enormous business opportunities for New Mexico’s farmers. Martinez offered no explanation for her decision, which she announced in a brief statement. Her veto of Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, came only three days after she vetoed a more sweeping bill on hemp research authored by members of the House of Representatives. McSorley’s bill had cleared the Senate 37-2 and the House by a vote of 58-8. Martinez’s second and final term expires at the end of 2018.

President Trump named Scott Gottlieb to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While Gottlieb hasn’t said much publicly about marijuana aside from a few vague tweets, the pick is seen as a blow to reformers who had hoped the nomination would go to Jim O’Neil or Balaji Srinivasan, whose names had also been floated. O’Neil served on the board of directors of a marijuana legalization organization and Srinivasan has criticized racially discriminatory drug law enforcement. In a related development, the Joint Blog had claimed that Gottlieb previously recommended medical marijuana to patients. The blog linked to an interview in which a Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he’s written medical cannabis recommendations “for patients with terminal illness and MS.” The problem is that The Joint Blog had cited the wrong Dr. Scott Gottlieb. The post has since been deleted.

Denver, Colorado’s mayor is imploring the Trump administration to leave legal marijuana alone. “It would behoove the federal government to put in systems to kind of allow for the system to move forward, and this comes from a guy who opposed it initially,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, during a sit-down interview with Next. The Trump administration has sent conflicting signals on whether it will enforce federal laws against marijuana. Mayor Hancock says he’s been convinced that legal, recreational marijuana is a benefit to the city. “It was never about money for me. The reality is, this is about a system that the people have said that they want,” said Hancock.

Connecticut’s continuing fiscal woes, coupled with a new law that fully takes effect next year in neighboring Massachusetts, have prompted state lawmakers to take their most serious look yet at possibly legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults. Several bills with bipartisan support that sanction the retail sale and cultivation of pot are currently progressing through the General Assembly. The first bill drew dozens of supporters last week at a Public Health Committee hearing, many lauding the legislation as a way to regulate an illegal industry and potentially deliver millions of dollars for the state’s coffers. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, contends Connecticut should first wait and see what happens to its neighbors to the north.

Four Anchorage marijuana shops generated $22,000 in sales tax revenue in January, a city official said. January was Anchorage’s first full month collecting marijuana tax revenue, but the total wasn’t much greater than the December revenue. The first Anchorage marijuana shop opened Dec. 15. Two more quickly followed. In December, $19,880 in sales tax was generated from those businesses, said Blyss Cruz, a manager in Anchorage’s Treasury Division. A marijuana sales tax of 5 percent was approved by Anchorage voters in April 2016. The tax is separate from the state excise tax of $50 per ounce of marijuana bud and $15 per ounce for other parts of the plant, which the grower pays to the state treasury. Going into January, shops across the state faced supply shortages and either closed temporarily or shortened their hours. There are now six shops open in Anchorage, Cruz said.

Revised rules for the Ohio medical marijuana program expected to debut next year won’t allow home delivery, home-growing or smoking of marijuana but would permit more dispensaries than originally outlined. The Columbus Dispatch reports the updated rules released by the state pharmacy board allow for at least 60 marijuana dispensaries, rather than the 40 originally set. The changes also allow the shops to stay open for two more hours, with a permitted operating window of 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. With the expanded access to those shops, the pharmacy board decided against allowing home delivery of marijuana.