Instead of creating a whole new system of specialized stores to distribute marijuana when it becomes legal, New York should just allow existing liquor and wine retail outlets to sell cannabis to adults. That’s the position of a new advocacy effort launched by owners of booze shops this month.
“With more than 2,000 wine and liquor stores from Buffalo to Montauk, we offer existing retail space with quick and cheap access to the market in every corner of the state,” reads the website for the group, which is called The Last Store on Main Street. “That means more tax revenue, and sooner, for the State to fulfill basic responsibilities and invest in the future of our neighborhoods.”
The group, which previously defeated an effort to allow wine sales in grocery stores, says that its members shops “operate under a highly regulated system that can easily and reasonably be expanded to cover marijuana retail without building new bureaucracy that only serves to eat into the tax revenues the industry creates.”
Jeff Saunders, the group’s founder, said alcohol retailers are worried that unless they are allowed to sell cannabis, their revenues could suffer.
“Recreational marijuana sales have resulted in significant declines in wine and liquor sales in other states, resulting in job loss and even stores closing,” he said, according to the news outlet New York Upstate.
On the group’s website, New Yorkers who agree with the goal of allowing weed sales in liquor stores can send prewritten letters to their state lawmakers that describe the move an “obvious win-win opportunity for a bedrock industry of New York’s Main Street economies and the future of our state.”
The effort to shape how legalization could roll out comes as the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is taking steps to bring about the end of marijuana prohibition.
Earlier this year, Cuomo directed the state Health Department to study legalizing marijuana, a move that led to a report that found that doing so would have more benefits than risks.
State officials are conducting a series of listening sessions around the state on the topic, and the governor created a task force to draft legalization legislation that lawmakers can consider in 2019.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are already holding hearings on ways to end cannabis prohibition.
New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
New York Liquor Stores Want To Sell Marijuana
A Republican congressman in the midst of an especially challenging reelection race took time on Tuesday to accompany a literal busload of elderly citizens on a visit to a marijuana store.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who is one of Congress’s leading proponents of cannabis reform, is the lead sponsor of a successful amendment that prevents the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.
But he might not be around on Capitol Hill next year to champion the measure’s extension if Democratic challenger Harley Rouda has his way. Several polls heading into next month’s election have shown the two running neck and neck.
But that didn’t stop the GOP incumbent from a trip to the local marijuana dispensary. Or perhaps the move was all part of the Rohrabacher campaign’s effort to remind voters of his cannabis accomplishments in Congress.
Either way, several journalists went along for the ride and documented the congressman’s weed field trip.
Earlier this week, Rohrabacher said that he’s been “talking to people inside the White House” and has received assurances that “the president intends on keeping his campaign promise” to protect state marijuana laws from federal interference.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
GOP Congressman Visits Marijuana Dispensary With Bus Full Of Senior Citizens
The first set of regulations for Detroit’s already booming medical marijuana distribution industry were approved 6-1 by the city council. Dispensaries which already operate within the city will be forced to apply for a license or be shut down.
The new rules state that shops may only legally operate with an approved, city-issued license after they pass a background check, and against the wishes of some proprietors, drive-through service is now prohibited. Twenty-four hour service is also prohibited under the new ordinance, and a set inspection process is being developed. Until now, there was no tracking or operation control by the city, which led to reports of concern from Detroit residents.
Detroit Councilman James Tate commented on the city’s responsibility to respond to concerns about the growing number of unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries. Tate also states that licensing and rule adjustment will satisfy those concerned with dispensary control, and it will help patients to receive medication in a more regulated environment.
“Right now, there’s no ordinance to allow for these places to exist. That compassion is there … because it allows these facilities to exist,”
The council-approved regulations, which were proposed by Tate, also dictate new zoning guidelines. It specifies the distance in which medical marijuana shops can operate from organizations such as churches, schools, public parks and other dispensaries. Many Detroit residents are welcoming the new ordinances with open arms, hoping the new rules will shed light on the benefits of medical marijuana for patients of the city in need.
On Thursday, October 1, Oregon joined the ranks of those rare, but increasingly prevalent states that sell cannabis through dispensaries and retail outlets to citizens who are 21 and older. When Oregon passed Measure 91 in 2014, which legalized recreational cannabis possession and consumption for fans of the culture in the Beaver State, all stakeholders knew it would probably be 2016 before adults were actually able to legally walk into a safe, regulated retail outlet without a medical exemption and purchase cannabis.
The state surprised everyone when, over the summer, it announced that it would make recreational cannabis sales legal through existing dispensaries to expedite the rollout of the recreational market and get a leg up on illegal dealers eager to supply a newly motivated and hungry population of consumers. Said Portland resident John Finley:
“Before, I had to go through potentially dangerous, weird people in motels, for instance. Or just people I didn’t want to deal with or don’t trust. It was legal, but I didn’t have any options.”
A Short History
In 1998, Oregon became the second state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law that permitted and regulated the cultivation, processing, and dispensation of medical cannabis to patients with a wide range of ailments.
Roughly 200 of Oregon’s 345 medical dispensaries have registered with the state to expand their customer base to recreational consumers. On June 30, Oregon passed HB 3400, a law to regulate recreational sales, including a detailed seed-to-sale tracking system and the progressive expungement of thousands of non-violent cannabis offenses.
Senate Bill 460, which Oregon governor Kate Brown signed during the summer, allowed recreational sales via dispensaries beginning on October 1 as a means of kickstarting the state’s recreational legalization while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission crafts regulatory language that will set the rules for all recreational marijuana sales in the state. Recreational sales will be tax-free until January 4, 2016, when a 25 percent tax will go into effect.
On July 1, Oregon’s recreational law went into effect, making it legal for millions of Oregonians to possess up to eight ounces of the herb, grow small amounts at home (four plants, if kept out of public view), and take up to an ounce outside their residence. But with only a network of medical dispensaries and no existing recreational retail outlets, cannabis consumers in the state have been trapped in a Catch 22, with no convenient and safe access to the herb that has finally been legalized.
By allowing medical dispensaries to also sell cannabis to recreational users, the state hopes to establish an advantage over the black market and cartels, pushing organized crime out of communities and generating much needed tax revenue. Unfortunately, the state will not even begin accepting applications from entrepreneurs and businesses for retail licenses allowing cultivation, processing, testing, and retail sales of cannabis and cannabis products until January 4, 2016. Recreational retail outlets are expected to begin opening later in 2016, most likely the third and fourth quarter.
Oregon joins Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and the District of Columbia to offer adults 21 and older the legal right to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis for non-medical purposes. Ironically, while California was the first state to establish a legal and semi-regulated environment for medical cannabis in 1996 with Proposition 215, technically speaking, recreational sales are still illegal in the state (a recreational ballot issue scheduled for 2016 is expected to pass). Like Oregon until now, Alaska, which has legalized possession and consumption for all adults, also has not begun legal sales of cannabis to recreational consumers.
While pot sales between individuals remains illegal, gifting and sharing herb is permitted in Oregon. The new recreational law allows citizens to purchase “flower and dry leaf products, plants, and seeds,” according to Oregon.gov. Note the distinct exception of concentrates and edibles. Unfortunately, residents of Oregon who choose to take advantage of the state’s new recreational legalization will be limited to only seven grams (a quarter ounce) of flowers (buds) and related products (the same daily amount that Colorado allows tourists to purchase, while residents can purchase an ounce per visit).
This restriction will be teasingly painful due to the fact that recreational consumers can currently legally shop only in certain medical dispensaries, most of which also sell edibles and concentrates to patients. While displayed direction in front of customers, dispensaries won’t be permitted to sell such prominently promoted products to recreational shoppers. Oregon’s recreational smokers and vapers simply won’t have legal, safe access to concentrates such as Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and its myriad variants (like wax, shatter, and crumble), tinctures, CO2 oil, and live resin.
For those thinking of purchasing and consuming recreational cannabis in Oregon who aren’t tapped into the details of what’s permitted, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has published an infographic that may help. Those sad about a lack of legal access to edibles and concentrates can print out a copy and use it to blow their nose and wipe their tears of frustration.
Where Things Stand
Oregon has set a new record in the sparsely crowded field of states that allow recreational cannabis sales. It sold $11 million worth of non-medical weed after one week of sales. Compare this to what other recreationally legal states sold during their first week of legality:
- Colorado: $5 million
- Washington: <$1 million
- Alaska: $0 (rec sales have not yet begun)
New cultivation facility and dispensary openings are becoming a more common occurrence, with even traditionally conservative states like Illinois, Delaware, and Maryland getting into the game following passage of medical cannabis laws intended to help patients.
On Monday, August 24, Euphoria Wellness opened in the southwest valley of Las Vegas. The dispensary hosted 200 pre-registered patients — all of whom had prescriptions from their doctors — and a long line of customers outside its location. Euphoria Wellness is the first dispensary to open in Las Vegas and the second in the state of Nevada (following Silver State Relief, which opened in July in Sparks, Nevada, just east of Reno).
Unfortunately, the dispensary currently offers only six strains, but hopes to stock more than 25 strains after business ramps up and supplies increase. Although currently not available, edibles like candy and baked goods and concentrates such as oil (BHO) and tinctures will also be available to patients, beginning in October.
Lack of Supply
Euphoria Wellness was staffed and ready to open its doors months ago, but didn’t have sufficient product. Patients like Linda Yost, a stomach cancer patient who battles pain and nausea with cannabis, think it was worth the wait. Said Yost:
“I am no longer throwing up, I have my will to live again and life is good.”
One early customer purchased a half ounce of two strains, Kosher Kush and Cheese, for $225. Due to supply constraints, half an ounce is currently the purchase limit for patients. The dispensary sells grams for $17 and ounces top out at $336. While more expensive than most dispensaries in Colorado, California, and Oregon, these prices are lower than Delaware (where an ounce costs patients about $400-450) and New Jersey (which sells ounces for $500-550).
Long Time Coming
When interviewed, many patients complained of the long wait period between passage of Nevada’s medical cannabis law in 2000 and today, when they are finally — 15 years later — able to legally and safely obtain medicine from a licensed dispensary. Until now, the only way in which patients have been able to obtain medicine is by growing it themselves or turning to the black market.
David Cobbett, who uses medical cannabis to treat back pain, said he prefers marijuana because the narcotics prescribed by doctors carried negative side effects. “I sat in a wheelchair and did nothing,” he said. After four years of having a medical marijuana card, Cobbett is finally able to safely access tested and quality-assured cannabis medicine in a fully legal manner.
After passage, literally nothing happened with Nevada’s medical cannabis program until 2013, when the state legislature formed a regulatory and licensing system for cultivation operations, production facilities, and dispensaries. Since then, the state has been in the process of granting permits and allowing authorized businesses to build out cultivation and retail infrastructure in preparation for business.
Democratic congressperson Dina Titus, who was present at the grand opening of Euphoria Wellness, said:
“I think they are going to be successful, if you look around here, you see this is a very professional place, they’ve got experts, a lot of security.”
Republican senator Patricia Farley, who has helped push medical cannabis bills through the state legislature, said she is confident that the early roadblocks to safe access that have plagued patients for nearly two decades are over. She said:
“This is going to be a successful industry in Nevada that brings in good jobs.”
More dispensaries are slated to open in Las Vegas in the near future. It is anticipated that roughly 50 cannabis dispensaries will be in operation by the end of the year, in addition to cultivation and production facilities that will provide them with raw cannabis and cannabis products. Hopefully Nevada’s regulatory framework will allow enough production to satisfy demand, with the goal of increasing supply and, eventually, decreasing prices.
Photo credit: Reviewjournal.com, SFGate.com, Euphoria Wellness