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New York Senate Approves Comprehensive MMJ Bill, Gov Promises to Sign

Friday was a historic day for medical marijuana supporters in the New York State legislature. Cheers could be heard in the New York State Senate upon passage of bill S. 7923, a bill that passed earlier in the morning by the New York Assembly. Governor Cuomo has promised to sign it.

New York is now set to become the 23rd Medical Marijuana. New York is the 3rd most populous state following California and Texas, and home to the most populated city in the nation, New York City.

Governor Cuomo opposed medical marijuana early in his term but then in January announce an executive order to allow up to 20 hospitals to prescribe it for research purposes. At a press conference Thursday, Governor Cuomo called the new medical marijuana legislation “The best of both worlds” as cannabis will be made available to qualified patients.

But that there are also safeguards to prevent abuse of the program. For instance, while New York’s Health Department is charged with implemented the program within 18 months, the governor has the option to pull the plug on the program at any time. The bill also prohibits smoking cannabis. Patients must use other methods of delivery such as vaporizing, using tinctures, or eating edibles.

Only a handful of diseases will qualify patients for medical use, including AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and several serious degenerative conditions — although the bill provides a provision that more diseases may be added on to the law in the future. One Senator complained that the bill leaves out veterans suffering from PTSD.

Initially, five organizations — both businesses and nonprofits — will be allowed to dispense marijuana, each at up to four locations around the state. The plant will be grown in New York and will be subject to a 7 percent sales tax. The law must be reauthorized by New York lawmakers in seven years.

Senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker seek to block funding DEA for state-legal MMJ enforcement

This week in the Senate, two lawmakers often viewed to be far apart on the political spectrum have teamed up as co-sponsors to an amendment that supports medical marijuana states. Kentucky’s Republican Senator Rand Paul, a member of the Tea Party, introduced the amendment last Wednesday. By Thursday, New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Cory Booker signed on as co-sponsor.

The amendment to the Commerce, Justice & Science or CJS Appropriations bill would END all funding for Department of Justice enforcement that interferes with implementation of State Medical Marijuana Laws. The amendment, which has failed many prior attempts, passed the US House on May 29th with a vote of 216 in favor and 189 opposed. Advocates say that the recent flurry of states adopting CBD-only laws helped garner support for the amendment.

Another amendment to the CJS appropriations bill was introduced Wednesday by Democratic Sen. John Walsh of Montana. Walsh’s amendment, if passed, would bar federal prosecution of medicinal marijuana patients who own or possess firearms. The amendment seeks to overturn a 2011 directive from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that stated “any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

California MMJ bill SB 1262 moves forward in the Assembly

A medical marijuana regulatory bill that last month passed through the Senate unanimously and last week passed through its first Assembly committee. SB 1262 introduced by Senator Lou Correa now moves to the Public Safety Committee. The committee is chaired by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, the author of a competing medical marijuana regulatory bill that died in the Assembly. Correa’s office continues to amend SB 1262 as it works with many stakeholder groups.

Changes include the addition of language from the failed Ammiano bill. SB 1262 must pass the Public Safety committee and Appropriations in order to have a vote on the Assembly floor. The Public Safety committee hearing of SB 1262 is expected next Tuesday.

Humboldt Outdoor Ordinance Up This Week

Also next Tuesday In Humboldt County, a controversial outdoor ordinance will get a first reading by the Humboldt Board of Supervisors. The ordinance passed through the county’s planning commission last night with recommended changes and is scheduled to get a first reading by the Humboldt Board of Supervisors Tuesday, June 24.

According to Robert Sutherland of the Humboldt Mendocino Advisory Panel, or HUMMAP — Following many comments by the public, the ordinance passed 5-2 out of the planning commission with the following recommended amendments as proposed by Planning commissioner Noah Levy: The elimination of the proposed ban on outdoor growing on parcels less than 1/2 acre and that such parcels be allowed 100 sq feet of canopy size for medical marijuana. The Planning commission also recommends that the Humboldt Board of Supervisors determine the cost of enforcing the ordinance.

Cannabis Legalization a Hot Topic in Republican Primaries Nationally

In a sign of the changing times, the Republican Primary for Gubernatorial Candidates occurs in many states next week, and marijuana legalization has become a hot issue in campaigns. Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Mary Fallin will face off with two republican challengers who both support marijuana legalization.

In Colorado next week, Republicans will decide who will challenge democratic incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper who allowed the implementation of voter-approved marijuana legalization.

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