Hello everyone, this is Todd Denkin again with The National Marijuana News coming to you on November 23rd, 2018. I hope everyone had a filling Thanksgiving and that today has been more about relaxing than trudging through a slow day at work! It is Black Friday today as well, so if any of you marijuana enthusiasts are interested, dispensaries in legal states should be offering some pretty hefty discounts today. Nothing like getting some stocking stuffers ready for your favorite people in the world. Am I right? If someone gifts you some weed, well then they must really like you. Nobody, I mean nobody, gifts weed to someone they don’t like. Gifting marijuana is the truest form of the holiday spirit, no questions asked. That’s just the way it is. Let’s get started with our first story!
MA Starts Selling Recreational Weed
So Massachusetts finally started selling recreational weed on Tuesday of this week. It has been a long hard road for supporters of cannabis legalization. Voters legalized weed in Mass back in 2016 and the commercial sale of cannabis could have begun on July 1st of this year. Massachusetts finally approved 2 cannabis lab testing facilities and gave the final go ahead to 2 dispensaries to start selling. Like Canada and every other state that has legalized cannabis, excited customers lined the streets to buy legal marijuana for the first time. NETA opened in Northampton, near the University of Massachusetts in the western part of the state, and Cultivate opened in Leicester, near Worcester on the eastern side of the state. According to the Cannabis Control Commission, consumers bought over $440 thousand dollars worth of cannabis including a 17% tax that made the state nearly $75 thousand dollars all on day one of sales. Shortages of cannabis are expected as demand will be high in Massachusetts and visitors from neighboring states come to check it out too.
New York Bill Could Force State Public Health to Cover Medical Marijuana Expenses
We have a lot of east coast news today. Let’s slowly make our way down the coast by now turning to New York. A new bill has been introduced in New York that would have medical marijuana covered by public health insurance. The new bill goes along with with the efforts of Governor Cuomo, who was re-elected as governor during these midterm elections and is having legislators craft a bill to legalize adult-use marijuana. New York has become very progressive towards cannabis as of late. State Senator Diane Savino sponsored this new bill that would have state run insurance programs like Medicaid and Elderly Pharmaceutical Coverage, along with others, to pay for medical cannabis just as if it were any other prescription drug. We had the opportunity to interview State Senator Savino earlier this year at the CWCB Expo. About the new proposed bill she said, “It’s unfair not to cover marijuana when opioids, OxyContin and Ambien are covered.”
New Jersey to Consider New Bill to Legalize Adult-Use Marijuana
Moving just a little further south, New jersey is introducing yet another bill to legalize recreational marijuana. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is a strong advocate for marijuana legalization but he has had a terrible time convincing other lawmakers of the merits of legalization or to find a reasonable compromise. The new bill was proposed on Wednesday and lawmakers are supposed to discuss it on Monday. The new bill allows adults 21 years or older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana, would impose a 12% tax on sales and also create a governor appointed five person committee to oversee the recreational marijuana industry.
Gillum and Nelson Lose the Races in Florida
Dropping all the way down to Florida, the tight races between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis for governor, and the senate race between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott did not fall the way of marijuana reform. In particular, if Andrew Gillum had won the race for governor he would have pushed for full legalization of recreational marijuana in Florida. However, while the race was recounted by machine due to how close it was, in the end Ron DeSantis won the race for governor. He has no interest in legalizing cannabis and will likely follow suit with Rick Scott’s policies which worked to impede the medical marijuana laws in Florida. I will discuss some of the problems Rick Scott gave Florida’s medical marijuana program in just a moment but he is leaving the position to now become a Senator for Florida as he took Senator Nelson’s seat. Florida voter will have to wait another two years to make another attempt at bringing more marijuana reform to their state. Florida voters did reinstate ex-felons’ rights to vote again in Florida, so we will have to see how, what could be over a million extra votes, might impact the next election.
Sticking with Florida, Appeals Court Set to Hear Case about Ban On Smoking
Finally, still in Florida. After lawmakers in Florida crafted the state’s medical marijuana laws, there was an outcry from supporters that the laws did not match the amendment they voted for in 2016. Lawmakers put together a plan that only allows a small handful of dispensaries to operate in Florida that have the ability to be vertically integrated. They also banned the smoking of medical marijuana. The state has been sued a number of times for the medical cannabis law and multiple judges have found the law to be unconstitutional. Governor Scott has had all rulings by judges appealed by the state health department. The date for the next court hearing to hear arguments on the ban on smoking medical marijuana will happen on January 8th. Florida medical marijuana patients will be keeping their fingers crossed.
Well I hope that everyone is able to enjoy the rest of the Thanksgiving day weekend, keep satisfying those munchies. Remember to checkout TNMNews.com for more great cannabis related articles. Also follow us here on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @NationalMJNews. Until next week, this is Todd Denkin with The National Marijuana News. Stay lifted everyone.