This is your Managing Editor Richard Lowe at The National Marijuana News. Here are the top five marijuana related news stories of the week for you to catch up on your dose of cannabis news. This week was very political for cannabis.
The Senate Congressional Hearing of Attorney General Nominee William Barr
It looks like after the staunch opponent to cannabis legalization, Jeff Sessions, was forced to resign as the U.S. Attorney General in November, William Barr will take up the post. William Barr sat in front of a Senate Congressional Committee earlier this week getting grilled on what he would do as the AG. When it came to Senator Cory Booker’s turn to ask questions, he immediately asked about what Mr. Barr would do about weed. William Barr made clear that he is also a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization, but that he also believes that too many states have legalized marijuana now to turn back. He referred to it as a “backdoor nullification of federal law,” which he believes is “untenable.” He said he would not use federal funds to prosecute state legal marijuana businesses. Read more about his comments to Senator Booker at TNMNews.com in this article: Attorney General Nominee William Barr More Reasonable On Marijuana Than Jeff Sessions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo Calls for the Quick Legalization of Adult-Use Marijuana in New York
It looks like New York might just beat out New Jersey in the race to legalize recreational marijuana. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he wants New York lawmakers to fast-track adult-use marijuana legalization. He introduced the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act which would allow for the consumption and sale of recreational marijuana in New York to anyone over the age of 21, seal the records of anyone carrying a marijuana possession conviction and create a first of its kind, Office of Cannabis Management. This new Office would basically regulate everything having to do with the marijuana market, including licensing, growing, taxation, production and the sale of weed. He believes that the state can expect to make $300 million over the next three years in marijuana tax revenue. There is strong support for the legalization of cannabis in New York so it is expected to happen quickly, as opposed to their southern neighbor of New Jersey, whose lawmakers have been fighting Governor Phil Murphy on cannabis legislation since he took office.
Florida Medical Marijuana Patients Should Be Able to Buy and Smoke Flower by March
As always, Florida is keeping it real. During the November midterm elections, Florida voters elected Ron DeSantis as governor, a conservative republican that never said much about marijuana legalization during his campaign versus his opponent Andrew Gillum. DeSantis’s predecessor, Senator Rick Scott, was not a fan of Florida’s medical marijuana program and did everything he could to restrict it including appealing a judge’s decision that the ban on smoking medical marijuana flower was unconstitutional. Scott also appealed another court decision that the state mandated vertical integration of cannabis producers is unconstitutional as well. Florida medical marijuana patients have basically been forced to purchase only expensive cannabis oil vape cartridges since the program began in early 2017, and the forced vertical integration has not allowed the medical cannabis industry to be all that competitive. But, surprisingly, Ron DeSantis is going to remove the state’s appeals on both cases unless the legislature changes the laws first. Flower may be available for purchase as early as March of this year.
Ohio Finally Starts Selling Medical Marijuana
Well over two years after Ohio voters forced the state to legalize medical marijuana, four stores opened on Wednesday and began selling marijuana. It’s reported that a total of $75,000 worth of cannabis was sold just on the first day. As of right now, dispensaries can only sell quantities of 2.83 grams that cost $50, which is super expensive. However, patients seemed to be more than happy to pay up for the opportunity to purchase marijuana legally. 30 dispensaries will open across the state eventually. Ohio is in the top five states in the country for opioid overdose deaths and medical marijuana advocates are hoping that medical cannabis will be able to help fight the opioid epidemic in the Midwestern state.
U.S. Virgin Islands Legalize Medical Marijuana
Finally, the new Governor for the U.S. Virgin islands, Albert Bryan Jt. signed the Virgin Islands Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act on Thursday legalizing medical marijuana in the U.S. Territory. Residential patients will be able to possess up to four ounces of marijuana at a time and visiting patients will be able to possess up to three ounces. Whether medical marijuana reciprocity is permitted could not be confirmed. Other U.S. Territories like Guam and Puerto Rico have also legalized very permissive medical marijuana programs as well, and the Northern Mariana Islands legalized recreational marijuana before even having a medical marijuana program. The Virgin Islands will have licensed dispensaries, lab-testing and cultivation facilities as well.
That is it for this week everyone, check out more great stories on TNMNews.com and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @NationalMJNews and checkout our Youtube channel, The National Marijuana News.