Tag: Vermont

All the Cannabis Legalization Measures in Play Right Now

Compared to 2016, when Donald Trump won an upset presidential victory, four states voted to legalize the adult use of cannabis, and four more legalized medical use, 2017’s election season promises to be a much quieter affair.

In fact, this year’s most cannabis-relevant race may be the New Jersey governor’s race, which is notable for who isn’t running. That would be Gov. Chris Christie, the outspoken cannabis prohibitionist. The end of the Christie era could open the door for adult-use legalization via the state Legislature, which has been readying a measure for much of the past year.

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Otherwise, most of this year’s cannabis-related politicking involves laying the groundwork for 2018, when at least a half-dozen medical and adult-use measures may go up for a vote.

As the season opens, here are the most interesting races so far:

Ballot Initiatives

Florida

Regulate Florida is circulating petitions to put an adult-use measure on the 2018 ballot. If successful, this measure would amend Florida’s constitution to end cannabis prohibition.

“Florida citizens have no other method for changing the laws besides a constitutional amendment,” Karen Seeb Goldstein, director of NORML Florida, told Leafly.

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“This petition is partially a reaction to the poor implementation of Amendment 2 [a 2016 measure to legalize medical cannabis], but there’s more to it than that. The war on drugs is a failure. Prohibition just doesn’t work.”

A Quinnipiac poll taken last spring found that 56% of voters support legalizing recreational cannabis.

Michigan

The Michigan Regulation & Taxation of Marijuana Law is spearheaded by the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol (CRMLA).

“We surpassed the 200,000-signature mark last week, and, assuming all goes well [over Labor Day] weekend, we expect to be well on our way to 250,000 by next week,” Josh Hovey, CRMLA spokesperson, told Leafly.

That 250,000-signature estimate comes tantalizingly close to the total of 252,523 verified signatures organizers must submit by Nov 22, 2017. To be safe, the campaign hopes to collect at least 360,000 signatures before the November deadline.

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“We have been thrilled to have nearly 60% of the public in support of legalizing cannabis in Michigan,” Hovey said. “But at the same time, this is far from a sure thing. There are big-money business interests that would love for us to fail, because they would rather see the law written in a way that allows them to monopolize the market.” His group’s initiative, he explained, is intentionally set up to benefit small businesses.

“There are also plenty of prohibitionists out there who will use Reefer Madness fear tactics to mislead the public,” Hovey said. “That’s why our coalition is working hard to raise the funds necessary to keep up our paid signature-collection effort to make the ballot and then run a professional, disciplined campaign that can win in November 2018.”

Missouri

New Approach Missouri is actively gathering signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot to permit medical cannabis in Missouri. Advocates have until May 6, 2018 to gather 160,199 verifiable signatures to qualify.

“We are circulating a petition for November of 2018 and currently have about 60,000 signatures, gathered by volunteers,” New Approach Missouri Campaign Manager John Payne told Leafly. “Our campaign got off to a great start with immense support from our volunteer base, and now we are about to shift signature collection into high gear by bringing in a professional signature-gathering company. Our current timeline calls for us to complete signature collection in January, well ahead of the May 6 deadline for signature submission.”

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The most recent statewide medical cannabis poll, conducted in June 2016, showed support for medical cannabis in Missouri at 62%. Only 27% of respondents singled a no vote.

South Dakota

New Approach South Dakota is circulating petitions to place two marijuana-themed measures on next year’s ballot. One would legalize medical cannabis, while the other would permit recreational cannabis for adult use.

“Both measures require 13,871 (verified) signatures,” Melissa Mentele, who directs New Approach South Dakota, told Leafly. “I don’t have exact numbers, but we’re about two-thirds of the way there, roughly 6,000 signatures short for both of them, so South Dakota voters need to come out of the woodwork and sign my petition!”

“We’re exhausted and we’re sunburned, but we’re all working really hard to reach our goal of 25,000 total signatures for both petitions.”

Melissa Mentele, New Approach South Dakota

With a Nov. 8 deadline looming, advocates aren’t taking any chances. New Approach SD volunteers spent the past week “camping out” near the South Dakota State Fair in Huron, the group said. The fair was an organizing bonanza for both ballot measures.

“Our booth at the state fair is on point,” Mentele told Leafly. “We’re exhausted and we’re sunburned, but we’re all working really hard to reach our goal of 25,000 total signatures for both petitions.”

“I think that recreational, after what happened last time, honestly, this is going to be a hate vote,” Mentele said. Last year’s legalization measure was tossed from the ballot due to a clerical error. “So yeah, it’s gonna be a spite vote, and so far I’ve gotten a lot of spite signatures. Voters are mad, you have no idea!”

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Utah

The Utah Patients Coalition is currently gathering signatures to place State Question 788 onto the 2018 ballot. Advocates need at least 113,143 verified signatures by April 15, 2018 to qualify.

Momentum for medical cannabis in Utah is strong, with 75% of Utah residents in favor of legalizing medical cannabis, according to a poll taken earlier this summer.

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Legislative Action

In addition to the ballot measures described above, there’s momentum in several state capitals to end prohibition through legislation. Thus far in America, the path to legalization has been at the ballot box—at least in terms of adult use. Bragging rights are due to whichever state legislature that ushers in legal markets first.

Vermont

It may seem like the movie Groundhog Day in Vermont, where legalization has been on—and off—the table multiple times. “But it’s not Groundhog Day,” MPP’s Matt Simon told Leafly.

“I’m extremely optimistic progress will happen in January.”

Matt Simon, Marijuana Policy Project

Simon, a keen observer of Vermont’s many, many ups and downs, said he’s “extremely confident” that Vermont will pass a limited legalization bill that permits home cultivation and possession.

“The votes are there,” he said. “In fact, the House has passed [a similar bill] before and the governor has agreed. If he backtracks now, that’s really a major flip-flop. That’s why I’m extremely optimistic progress will happen in January.”

What about the multiple misses in Vermont already? “Sometimes you gotta lose before it’s your time,” Simon said.

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New Jersey

In a few months, Gov. Chris Christie will be gone. The most likely candidate to replace him is Democrat Phil Murphy, who’s been very vocal about drug reform while on the campaign trail. He says he’s motivated by both economics and social justice.

“By carefully watching what other states have already done, we can ensure a legalization and taxation program that learns from their experiences and which will work from the outset,” Murphy told Leafly. “But we must keep in mind this also is about social justice, and ending a failed prohibition that has served mainly to put countless people—predominantly young men of color—behind bars and behind a huge roadblock to their futures. New Jersey should choose to be a leader.”

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Legislative leaders in Trenton are on board. State Sen. Nick Scutari chairs the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. He’ll gavel in the first hearings on the topic. He’s also the prime sponsor of NJ’s cannabis legalization bill.

“In New Jersey, we now have a Democratic nominee, who I believe will be our next governor, who supports legalization,” Scutari told Leafly. “That’s why it is so important that we begin shaping our recreational marijuana program now, so that we are prepared to move forward with a program that ends the prohibition on marijuana and that treats our residents fairly and humanely. We’ve already done extensive research on how legal cannabis programs are faring in other states and are continuing the process of working on legislation to create the best recreational marijuana program for New Jersey.”

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Delaware

Delaware has flirted with legalization for a while now. Could 2018 be the year?

“Delaware took one step closer to legalization last week with the first meeting of the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force,” said Zoë Patchell of the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware.

The group’s job?

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“To recommend a model of legalization that would best fit Delaware,” Patchell told Leafly. “The conversation for cannabis legalization has officially moved from an ‘if’ to a ‘how’, and we are confident that, with continued pressure, Delaware will legalize in 2018.”

What does Delaware’s new task force look like?

“Cyn Ferguson, John Sybert, and Tom Donovan [all of whom support cannabis reform] were appointed by the governor,” Patchell explained. “They represent cannabis advocates on this 25-member panel comprised mostly of various state agencies and stakeholders. The report is due Jan. 31, at the end of the first month Delaware’s legislative session reconvenes.”

Rhode Island

Judging from the locals, it ain’t happening in Rhode Island—this year or next.

“Our laws will remain rooted in injustice and oppression in 2018,” Rhode Island legalization advocate Melissa Bouchard told Leafly. “Rhode Island won’t legalize cannabis until the small sector of hand-selected triple their money on their ‘medical’ dispensaries. Economies in neighboring states, like Massachusetts and Maine, will be supported by Rhode Island residents traveling across the border. Meanwhile, Rhode Island misses out on a huge opportunity by continuing to study this program. They are studying for a test they already failed.”

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Mike Falade, another long-time New England cannabis reformer, offered a similarly dim forecast. “Rhode Island will legalize as soon as they figure out how to get ALL of the growers money and not just MOST of the growers money,” he said.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Vermont Governor Forms Commission to Study Cannabis Legalization

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday signed an executive order establishing a Marijuana Advisory Commission that will study the best way to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state.

The 13-member commission will be led by former Republican lawmaker and attorney Tom Little and former Vermont Democratic Party chairman Jake Perkinson.

In announcing the formation of the commission, Scott, a Republican, who in May vetoed a marijuana legalization bill that had been passed by the Legislature, said he was not philosophically opposed to marijuana legalization

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“We cannot ignore the fact that states around us have already legalized. This commission is part of a more thoughtful, deliberative process to deal with an issue that impacts all of us,” Scott said. “It’s critical that we get this right.”

Before Scott vetoed the marijuana legalization proposal Vermont was set to become the first state to legalize marijuana through legislative actions. Other states that have legalized marijuana did so through citizen referendums.

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The Vermont commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting before Oct. 1 and submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 15.

Different subcommittees of the commission will focus on the separate issues of highway safety, education, prevention, and taxation and regulation.

The Legislature is expected to reintroduce a marijuana legalization proposal when it reconvenes in January, but it’s unclear how quickly lawmakers will be able to act.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Vermont’s Supreme Court to Consider Cannabis ‘Sniff Test’

Vermont’s highest court is set to consider a case involving whether the simple smell of cannabis constitutes legal grounds to search and seize a driver’s vehicle.

In 2014, police in Vermont pulled over driver Greg Zullo, claiming his license plate was partially obscured by snow. After approaching Zullo’s car, a state trooper claimed he could smell cannabis and asked to search the vehicle. Zullo refused. So the trooper seized the car and towed it—leaving Zullo stranded eight miles from home in the dead of winter.

The stop has already cost trooper Lewis Hatch his job. “You have again placed your personal pursuit of drug detection above all else, including your duty to follow orders and your duty to properly and thoroughly document objective legal justification for your actions,” Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn wrote in a letter to Hatch five months before the officer was fired, relying on documents indicating Hatch had a history of conducting illegal searches.

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Now, in a case that could set sweeping precedent statewide, the Vermont Supreme Court will consider whether the stop was warranted—and whether the simple smell of cannabis can justify a search.

The case also turns on race. The ACLU of Vermont is representing Zullo, who is black, and argues the traffic stop was motivated at least in part by the color of his skin. A snow-obscured license plate isn’t a violation that allows officers to pull over a driver in Vermont, and studies—including some out of Vermont—have found that black men in particular are more likely than others to be searched after traffic stops.

“We question why the officer choose this particular car to pull over when almost every single car would have been in the same situation. The one difference that stands out is Greg’s race,” Lia Ernst, an ACLU attorney representing Zullo, told the website VTDigger in May. And Mark Davis, a reporter at Seven Days who’s been following the case, told Vermont Public Radio that Hatch, the former trooper, appeared to have a history of disproportionately targeting black men.

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Zullo, who was 21 at the time of the stop, was left to pay a $150 towing fee. When authorities eventually searched the vehicle, according to the lawsuit, they found a grinder and a pipe that police said contained cannabis residue. Zullo was never ticketed or charged with a crime.

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After the suit was initially filed, Superior Court Judge Helen Toor ruled against Zullo, writing that the smell of cannabis alone—a so-called sniff test—does indeed provide probable cause to search a vehicle. “Vermont’s decriminalization statute explicitly states that it leaves unchanged marijuana’s ability to furnish probable cause,” she wrote. “The national consensus is that the mere smell of marijuana supports probable cause.”

In response, the ACLU appealed the case to the state Supreme Court.

US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor established the “plain smell doctrine” in a 1982 opinion involving a traffic stop. The officer smelled cannabis on the driver, which led to a search of his car and the discovery of cannabis in the trunk.

O’Connor’s opinion in that 1982 case, United States v. Haley, didn’t establish the plain small doctrine nationwide. The court left it open to each state to adopt or dismiss the doctrine.

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In many states, court precedent has indeed maintained that the smell of cannabis suffices as probable cause. Others, including Michigan and Montana, have expressly rejected it.

And as laws change, more states are beginning to second-guess the rule. In Colorado, for example, an appeals court recently held that the smell of cannabis alone isn’t enough to justify a vehicle search. Courts in Arizona and California have issued similar opinions, although in July 2016 the Arizona Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s opinion and reaffirmed that smell alone could justify a search in that state.

A ruling in the Vermont case isn’t expected until at least next year.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Vermont Governor Creating Commission for Cannabis Legalization

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says he’s organizing a commission to study issues related to the legalization of marijuana and will announce members in the next few days.

As Vermont Public Radio reports, retail outlets in Maine and Massachusetts will begin selling legal recreational marijuana in less than a year. The Republican governor says he wants the new commission to help answer questions about the arrival of legalized marijuana in neighboring states, especially concerning highway safety.

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Scott says he wants to have more stringent highway safety standards in place before he’ll consider state-sanctioned recreational marijuana sales.

Earlier this year, Scott vetoed legislation that would have legalized possession of marijuana for Vermont residents. A compromise measure he negotiated was later blocked by state House Republicans in June.

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Meanwhile, at least two applicants have filed for a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation license in Bennington, Vermont.

The Bennington Banner reports that the applications came in after legislators approved a fifth license for the state in June. Lindsey Wells, who works for the registry program, says most of the interest is in Bennington as it has a larger underserved population.

Town Manager Stuart Hurd says he has been contacted by Vermont Green Grow and a doctor’s group from the Burlington area.

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Wells says the applicants will be judged on the safety of the community, health needs of registered patients and their business plan. Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson makes the final decision.

The owner will also be allowed to create a satellite retail operation under the legislation.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Inside Report: Ohio Campaign Goes Medical-Only, Vermont Makes Strides Toward Adult Use, and Switzerland Eyes Cannabis Clubs

Ohio’s initiative efforts are heating up, but organizers are shifting from their goal of full legalization to a purely medical program. Iowa and Utah are looking to seize a rare chance to allow limited medicinal use in their deep-red states. Switzerland hopes to start a pilot program for cannabis social clubs in four lucky Swiss cities. And cannabis cultivation is going Down Under.

Leafly’s got the scoop to keep you informed. Here’s the latest:

U.S. News

Arkansas

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has a history of rejecting cannabis initiatives, but for the first time since she came into her position, Rudtledge has approved the language for a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize cannabis in the conservative Midwestern state. Not to be confused with the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, another medicinal cannabis initiative that’s been gathering signatures since 2014, the latest proposal comes from Little Rock attorney David Couch and is dubbed The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. Couch had submitted ballot language for the measure three times before it won approval. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment will need to gather 67,887 signatures in order to qualify for the November ballot. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act already has a head start.  

Ohio

Ohio’s legalization efforts are moving forward, but forward in a slightly different direction. Legalize Ohio 2016 announced this week that the campaign will join forces with a medical marijuana initiative movement spearheaded by the Marijuana Policy Project. “We must put aside our differences and do our best to live up to the expectations of the sick and dying citizens of Ohio,” Legalize Ohio said in a statement to supporters. “There is no more time to waste.” A recent Public Policy Polling survey found that 74 percent of Ohioans support medical legalization, a good sign for the upcoming ballot measure.

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Oregon

There are three major bills on the docket to improve Oregon’s legal cannabis market. House Bill 4904 provides legal protection to banks and credit unions that offer financial services to cannabis-related companies. Senate Bill 1511 would combine medical and recreational shops into one entity and allow recreational outlets to offer untaxed cannabis for medical patients, similar to the system Washington state is implementing. And HB 4014 would eliminate the in-state two-year residency requirement, which was initially intended to protect small marijuana businesses, but has prevented the influx of much-needed equity investment from sources outside the state.

Iowa

Iowa passed legislation last year to allow patients with epilepsy to use and possess cannabidiol oil (CBD) with the recommendation of a doctor. But like so many CBD-only states, Iowa failed to include a provision to allow the legal production or distribution of CBD oil to qualified patients. A new bill in the House could change that. House Study Bill 607 would allow production and distribution in the state itself, but would only cover three qualifying conditions: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and terminal cancer. The bill passed through committee and is now headed to a full House vote.

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Utah

Utah’s Senate passed SB 73 by a nose, on a 15–13 vote. The measure would allow qualifying patients to use cannabis edibles, extracts, and oils. A narrower competing bill, SB 89, passed on an 18–8 vote. Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs), the author and sponsor of SB 73, already had to reword the language of his bill to remove access to whole plant cannabis, which essentially earned a pass from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, albeit not an actual endorsement.

Vermont

Vermont may legalize recreational cannabis sooner rather than later, becoming the first state to legalize through the legislative process rather than a voter initiative. With the newfound support of the state attorney general, S.241 sailed through the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committee. It won initial approval from the full Senate on Wednesday, and a second vote is expected later this week. If the Senate passes the bill, it will head to the House for scrutiny by a number of committees. Gov. Peter Shumlin has promised his signature.

Wyoming

The state Senate is wrestling with how to regulate marijuana edibles. And by “regulate,” it means outlaw. The Senate voted to advance Senate File 96, which would make possession of more than three ounces of cannabis-infused edibles a felony. Lawmakers can’t decide potency details or how to measure the concentration of the cannabis in the edibles, however. Sen. Cale Case (R-Lander) proposed an amendment that would allow defendants to argue that their stash of edibles actually contained less than three ounces of raw cannabis material. The amendment failed.

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International News

Australia

The Australian Parliament just took a monumental step forward in cannabis policy reform. Amendments to the Narcotics Drug Act will now allow the growth and manufacture of products for medicinal use within the country, actions that previously were forbidden. The New South Wales government is in the process of setting up clinical trials on the medicinal benefits of cannabis, but ran into a problem when it came to sourcing cannabis. Due to restrictions in the Narcotics Drug Act, cannabis products would have to be imported from outside the country, likely from Europe, which would limit the supply and could compromise the trials.

Switzerland

Cannabis clubs could be coming soon to four Swiss cities. A pilot program is seeking to open social clubs for members to consume cannabis freely in Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Geneva. If enacted, the program would allow an estimated 2,000 citizens to use cannabis legally. That might not meet demand: Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen recently reported that more than 500,000 Swiss residents regularly consume cannabis. Cannabis is decriminalized in Switzerland, and possession of up to 10 grams is punishable by a civil fine of 100 Swiss francs ($99). The four-year project still needs approval from local governments before it can take effect.

Which States are Most Likely to Legalize Cannabis in 2016?


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.