Okla. guv signs medical marijuana measure
OKLAHOMA CITY — Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed legislation, HB 2612, clarifying regulations and patient protections specific to the medical use of cannabis. A majority of voters last June approved a statewide initiative authorizing the plant’s use, cultivation, and dispensing.
The new legislation codifies the regulatory bureau, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, within the State Department of Health, establishes a registry for qualified patients and their caregivers, and establishes a revolving fund to address oversight matters.
It strengthens patient protections by explicitly stipulating that registered cannabis consumers may not be denied public assistance, access to firearms, or employment solely based upon their patient status. It further states, “No employer may refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana components or metabolites.”
The bill seeks to facilitate standards for banks who wish to partner with medical cannabis businesses, and prohibits local governments from enacting “guidelines which restrict or interfere with the rights of a licensed patient or caregiver to possess, purchase, cultivate or transport medical marijuana.”
Members of the House voted 93 to 5 in favor of the legislation. Senate members voted in favor of the bill by a margin of 43 to 5. The new law takes effect 90 days following the adjournment of the 2019 legislative session.
An estimated 55,000 Oklahomans are registered with the state to access medical cannabis.
Cannabis use linked to reduced BMI
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The use of cannabis over time is inversely related to obesity, according to data published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
A team of Michigan State University researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and body mass index (BMI) over time in a nationally representative sample of 33,000 subjects.
Investigators reported that cannabis-using subgroups exhibited “appreciably attenuated BMI gain” over the trial period as compared to non-users and quitters, “with the largest attenuation seen in the ‘persistent use’ group.”
They concluded: “This new prospective study builds from anecdotes, pre-clinical studies and cross-sectional evidence on inverse associations linking cannabis use and obesity and shows an inverse cannabis–BMI increase association. Confirmatory studies with rigorous cannabis and BMI assays will be needed.”
Fla. repeals medical cannabis smoking ban
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last week signed legislation, Senate Bill 182, repealing the state’s blanket ban on the inhalation of herbal forms of medical cannabis. Upon taking office, DeSantis demanded lawmakers rescind the ban, which he said was contrary to the provisions of the 2016 voter-initiated medical cannabis access law.
The new law took immediate effect.
Under the law, qualified patients are permitted to possess up to four ounces of herbal cannabis if a recommending physician opines “that the benefits of smoking marijuana for medical use outweigh the risks for the qualified patient.
Lawmakers had previously banned the act of smoking medical cannabis or possessing herbal cannabis flowers, except in instances where they are contained “in a sealed, tamper-proof receptacle for vaping” in 2017.
N.M. approves decriminalization bill
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 323, decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses. The proposal now awaits action from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The bill reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 15 days in jail — to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in situations where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, will remain punishable by the possibility of jail time.
Police in New Mexico made over 3,600 marijuana possession arrests in 2016.
If signed into law, the reduced penalties take effect on July 1, 2019.
Twenty-one states have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of cannabis.
Broader legislation that sought to legalize the possession of marijuana by adults and regulate its commercial production and sale passed the House, but stalled in the Senate Finance Committee because the Chair failed to call the bill for a vote. Nonetheless, the Governor has announced that she will add the issue to the agenda of the 2020 legislative session.
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