Alabama officials propose new legalization group
The Medical Marijuana Study Commission of Alabama gathered at the State House this Thursday to finalize details surrounding a potential medical cannabis program.
An official set of regulations and licensing have yet to be disclosed, however, the interim state agency has announced plans to create a permanent medical cannabis task-force, tasked with further studying legalization and its potential impacts on a handful of markets and institutions.
The future task-force would be led by Sen. Tim Melson, who championed a legalization bill in the Spring – which passed in the Senate, but stalled in the House. Local news outlets are reporting that the group is expected to be approved, likely giving the state its greatest chance of approving a MMJ or adult-use program by the end of 2020.
“We at least have an obligation to the people of Alabama to consider it (legalization),” stated State Senator Tim Melson during a recent press conference.
Slowly, but surely – Maine inches closer to adult-use sales
Adult-use cannabis was legalized in Maine in November 2016 through the Marijuana Legalization Act – with officials originally promising voters that product would be readily available by the end of 2017.
But since then, conflicts surrounding taxes, licensing, and zoning restrictions have significantly stalled the program, resulting in a standstill that has created a significant divide between party-lines.
In an effort to create some sort of progress before the new year, officials have finally released open and close dates for adult-use dispensary and cultivation licenses, with current MMJ operators being allowed to enter a “rush” application that would hopefully allow for dispensaries to be open sometime in 2020.
But confusion still remains as just 4 towns have approved adult-use rules, with a majority choosing to remain idle until the state releases more finalized rules.
Iowa’s MMJ board approves new conditions and suggest program expansion
Iowa currently features one of the most limited and restrictive medical cannabis programs in the country. All products are required to contain less than 3% THC, and qualifying conditions only include life-threatening and debilitating diseases. The intense limits have led to a patient count that hovers just above 3,000, making it one of the smallest programs in the country.
In an effort to create a more accessible program, this week the Iowa Cannabidiol Board approved two new sets of conditions, PTSD and intellectual disabilities. The board also recommended removing the THC limit, and suggested that the state reopen and reissue a handful of licenses for both dispensaries and cultivators – currently, just three vertically-integrated cultivators are serving the entire state.
The House and Senate will have to approve the board’s recommendations before Jan 1st if they are to become finalized – which shouldn’t be too difficult considering both branches overwhelmingly approved a bill that would have extensively expanded the program, had it not been vetoed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
US SAFE Banking Act remains stalled in Senate, but hope remains
It was a two-party effort in September’s sweeping approval of the US Safe Banking Act, but the bipartisanship unfortunately hasn’t extended to the Senate.
In July, when hearings originally began on the financial cannabis-reform bill, Republican Senate members didn’t even bother to attend multiple hearings – signaling a clear uphill battle from the start.
Since then, little has changed, and with leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell showing no-signs of endorsement, it’s difficult to imagine a pathway to approval.
But just because a path to approval is difficult to imagine, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In fact, since September’s approval, political analysts have deemed the chances of approval have significantly risen from 20% to 30%.
With democrats still working around-the-clock, and rumors of potential concessions being made, this bill is far from being pronounced dead.