Del. expands doctors’ ability to authorize medical cannabis
DOVER, Del. — Democratic Gov. John Carney has signed legislation into law expanding physicians’ discretion to recommend medical cannabis therapy to patients.
Senate Bill 24 amends the state’s medical marijuana access law by permitting physicians, under specific circumstances, to issue cannabis recommendations to patients who are not diagnosed with a pre-approved qualifying condition. In such circumstances, an authorizing physician must attest that the patient possesses a “debilitating condition, [that] current standard care practices and treatments have been exhausted, and [that] there are grounds to support that the patient may benefit from this treatment.” The physician is also required to perform ongoing evaluations of the patient’s progress with regard to whether the treatment is efficacious.
The new law took effect upon signing.
An estimated 6,000 patients are registered with the state to obtain medical cannabis products.
Congress votes to legitimize retail cannabis sales
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted last week in favor of legislation, HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, explicitly amending federal law so that financial institutions may work directly with state-licensed marijuana retailers and other related businesses.
House members voted 321 to 103 in favor of the legislation, with 229 Democrats and 91 Republicans casting ‘yes’ votes.
Commenting on the vote, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “This vote is a significant first step, but it must not be the last. Much more action will still need to be taken by lawmakers. In the Senate, we demand that lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee hold true to their commitment to move expeditiously in support of similar federal reforms. And in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act — which is sponsored by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.
Federal law currently defines all marijuana-related business endeavors as criminal enterprises, including those commercial activities that are licensed and legally regulated under state laws. Therefore, almost no state-licensed cannabis businesses can legally obtain a bank account, process credit cards, or obtain loans for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Australian territory is first to legalize pot for personal use
CANBERRA, Aust. — Members of the legislative assembly for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have enacted legislation de-penalizing activities related to the personal possession and cultivation of cannabis. An estimated 400,000 people reside in the ACT, which includes Australia’s capital, Canberra.
Under the new law, which takes effect on Jan. 30, 2020, adults may possess up to 50 grams of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants per household without penalty. Public cannabis consumption, or use within close proximity to children, will remain prohibited. Under the territory’s existing law, low-level marijuana offenses are punishable by civil fines.
The ACT’s policy conflicts with Australian federal law, which defines cannabis-related activities as criminal offenses. Between 2017 and 2018, Australian police made over 72,000 marijuana-related arrests – 92 percent of which were for personal possession.
Mass. regulators vote in favor of cannabis deliveries
Boston — Members of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission decided this week in favor of regulations to establish licensing for retail cannabis deliveries and for limited on-site consumption facilities.
Members voted 4 to 1 in favor of the provisions. Regulators in May had previously advanced the idea of permitting social use spaces.
A separate provision approved unanimously by the Commission eliminates the annual fee associated with patients’ medical cannabis registration cards.
Regulators anticipate accepting applications for home-delivery licenses within “a couple of months.” Applicants will first need to gain the approval of local communities prior to seeking a state-issued permit. Deliveries will not be permitted after 9pm or before 8am, and retailers are prohibited from delivering cannabis to college dormitories.
Regulators expect the rollout for the licensing of consumption facilities to be slower, and legislative changes to existing state law may be required before the program can become operational.
To date, only Alaska has finalized statewide regulation governing on-site facilities. In May, Colorado lawmakers enacted legislation regulating both marijuana deliveries and “hospitality spaces.” Those laws take effect on January 1, 2020.
In a separate action taken this week, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker instituted an emergency ban on the retail sale of all vapor cartridge products. The retail ban took immediate effect and will remain in place until January 25, 2020. Massachusetts in the first state to enact an explicit ban on the sale of any vaping-related product.
Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.