Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Green light: MMJ news from across the country

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 4:21 PM

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With the release of our spring issue of ReLeaf on our mind — look for it April 18, following along with the new Wednesday release of the Independent — it's time to take a look around the country.

• The Associated Press did a rundown of registered MMJ patients in some of the various states that allow it, and it turns out Colorado's near the top of the pack with 82,089.

The prevailing wisdom is that this is miles more than California's 9,637 patients because that state doesn't require people to register, as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does.

A quick top five goes like this: Michigan with 131,483, Colorado, Oregon with 57,386, Arizona with 22,037 and Montana with 14,364.

• Speaking of California, the Redwood Times says the collection of signatures for a potential patient-centric ballot measure is good to begin.

The Medical Marijuana, Patient Associations, Initiative Statute, provides that patients qualified to use marijuana for medical purposes shall have the right to form an association for purposes of cultivating, processing and distributing medical marijuana within their association, and to recover reasonable costs incurred. It provides that neither the state nor any local government may prohibit operation of a medical marijuana patient association, including a storefront, unless a court finds it is an actual nuisance. The measure states that medical marijuana patients have a property right to own and possess medical marijuana.

• In a southern state, people are scrapping like hell to get a question allowing medical marijuana on the ballot, reports Cheree Franco at the Arkansas Times. The issue's mainly being funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, which has poured some $22,000 into the effort so far.

Most interesting is what they're building into the bill, based on watching other states: it would allow MMJ treatment for 15 specific conditions, employees could not get fired just for being an MMJ patient, and cardholders would purchase from a dispensary or, if they live more than five miles from one, could grow up to six plants.

On the downside, though, is how often the attempt has been tried and denied:

[Arkansans for Compassionate Care] is an offshoot of another political nonprofit, Alliance for Reform of Drug Policy in Arkansas, which tried a legislative approach in 2003 and 2005. The bills, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Jim Lendall of Little Rock, died in committee. In 2004, the Alliance also tried the ballot initiative route, collecting more than the 64,456 signatures needed to earn ballot representation. But former attorney general Charlie Daniels invalidated 17,000 signatures due to a notary public error on some petitions.

A non-related group, Arkansans for Medical Cannabis, led a 2011 charge, supported by Sen. Randy Laverty, D-Jasper, to bring a different medical marijuana bill to the legislature. But Laverty failed to find a House co-sponsor, and the bill never made it to committee.

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