Bill Allowing Medical Marijuana Research In Utah

A city-sponsored measure giving Los Angeles tools to regulate the recreational and medical marijuana industry was overwhelmingly approved by voters Tuesday night. Measure M, which was placed on the ballot by the City Council, will allow the city to repeal a current ban on medical marijuana dispensaries under the previously approved Proposition D and replace it with a new set of rules for different types of marijuana businesses. It will give the city tools to enforce its regulations, such as authorizing fines, criminal penalties or loss of power and water service for businesses operating without a license or ignoring city rules. The measure also allows for gross-receipt taxes to be imposed on marijuana businesses, including the sale of general-use and medical cannabis, delivery services and manufacturing.

The leader of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department expects federal drug agents will attempt to step up marijuana enforcement as California moves forward with legalization. But he believes there isn’t the manpower to conduct widespread raids on growers and businesses selling marijuana. In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he expects legalization of recreational marijuana to bring additional challenges for his deputies, who patrol nearly 4,000 square miles in Southern California, from an increase in fatal traffic collisions to a rise in overdoses caused by brownies, gummies and other edibles that deliver uneven dosages of THC, the chemical compound that provides the high.

The Legislature on Wednesday approved a bill allowing medical marijuana research in Utah. HB130 was approved in the House after lawmakers concurred to amendments made earlier in the Senate. The bill previously passed in the House 70-2 and in the Senate 23-1. It now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his consideration. In addition to allowing researchers to study cannabis for medical use without federal approval, the bill would create a board to consider recommendations for future medical marijuana policy. In a Senate committee last month, Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, though supportive of medical marijuana, voted against the bill, saying plenty of research has already been conducted into medical marijuana, saying “This is to placate people that are suffering right now.”

By an overwhelming margin, the New Hampshire House has passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession. In a 318-36 vote Wednesday, the House approved HB640, sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, and 10 bipartisan co-sponsors. The bill would reduce the penalty for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, with greater fines for subsequent offenses. Currently, possession is a criminal misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. The bill now moves on to the state Senate, where decriminalization bills have been voted down in past sessions. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has said he favors decriminalization. New Hampshire remains the only New England state that treats marijuana possession as a crime.

Yesterday, Fort Myers Rep. Ray Rodrigues finally unveiled the first medical marijuana regulations for the state of Florida — and they would ban people from smoking marijuana or using edibles. Patients would also be prohibited from vaporizing weed if they aren’t terminally ill. In fact, Rodrigues’ bill is more restrictive than the laws that existed before Florida overwhelmingly voted to legalize medical weed. Lawmakers also included rules mandating that a medical cannabis patient submit his or her state driver’s license and a second form of ID to obtain approved for medicinal weed. Patients can have their medical-pot licenses suspended if they’re charged (not convicted) of any drug offense; the state can also revoke pot licenses once a patient is deemed to be “cured.”

A bill seeking to reduce the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee has been extinguished in a state Senate committee. The Judiciary Committee voted 6-3 on Tuesday against the measure sponsored by Sen. Jeff Yarbro. The bill would have made possession of less than one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana a Class C misdemeanor punishably by a fine of no more than $50. Pot possession is currently a Class A misdemeanor that can be punished with up to nearly a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.