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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 20 Dec 2016 04:20:21 PST

Federal Marijuana Protections Extended Through April

Washington, DC: Members of Congress have re-authorized a federal provision prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering in state-authorized medical cannabis programs. The provision, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, was included in short-term spending legislation, House Resolution 2028, and will expire on April 28, 2017.

Initially enacted by Congress in 2014, the amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from "implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana." In August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the language bars the federal government from taking legal action against any individual involved in medical marijuana-related activity absent evidence that the defendant is in clear violation of state law.

Because the provision is included as part of a Congressional spending package and does not explicitly amend the US Controlled Substances Act, members must re-authorize the amendment annually. However, House leadership may prohibit federal lawmakers from revisiting the issue when they craft a longer-term funding bill this spring. Such a change in House rules would require members of the Senate to pass an equivalent version of the legislation, which would then need to be approved by House leaders in conference committee.

Canada: Federal Task Force Advocates Legalizing Retail Marijuana Sales

Ottawa, Canada: Marijuana should be legal for those Canadians age 18 and older, according to the recommendations of a federally commissioned task force. The expert panel was tasked by the Trudeau administration to create a legal framework for cannabis that is consistent with the government's commitment to "legalize, regulate, and restrict access."

The report proposes that lawmakers amend federal law to allow for those over the age of 18 to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis. It also recommends establishing regulations to oversee the commercial production, retail sale, and taxation of marijuana and related products, such as cannabis-infused edibles. It proposes limiting the manner in which cannabis may be marketed and advertised, and prohibits the retail sale of marijuana in outlets that also sell alcohol. The task force further recommends, "In the period leading up to legalization, and thereafter on an ongoing basis, governments invest effort and resources in developing, implementing and evaluating broad, holistic prevention strategies to address the underlying risk factors and determinants of problematic cannabis use, such as mental illness and social marginalization."

While the task force's recommendations are not binding, they are intended to serve as a framework for forthcoming legislation to be considered by Parliament this spring.

Canada already regulates the production and use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

In 2002, members of a specially appointed Canadian Senate committee issued similar recommendations, calling on Parliament to permit the adult use and regulated marketing of cannabis. However, lawmakers failed to take any legislative action at that time.

Full text of the advisory report, "A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada," is available online.

Montana: Court Rules That Medical Dispensaries Can Immediately Begin Serving Patients

Helena, MT: Voter-initiated changes in law governing the operation of medical cannabis providers may take effect ahead of the measure's June 30, 2017 implementation date, according to a court ruling.

Fifty-six percent of Montana voters approved I-182 on Election Day, which expands patients' access to medical cannabis. However, a drafting error in the measure delays implementation of the new law until the end of June. Last week, a Helena District Court Judge determined that petitioners' error should not unduly delay qualified patients from obtaining medical cannabis, and called on specific provisions of the law to take immediate effect.

Approximately 13,000 patients are qualified to use medical marijuana under the state's 2004 law, which was gutted by lawmakers in 2011. Initiative 182 restores many of the programs original provisions, and also includes new guidelines for product testing and labeling.

Minnesota: Regulators To Permit Cannabis Access To PTSD Patients

St. Paul, MN: Health Department officials have announced plans to expand the use of medical cannabis to include those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Doctors will be able to begin recommending medical marijuana products to PTSD patients in August.

State regulators rejected calls to expand the pool of eligible patients to include those with depression and/or arthritis.

The 2014 law permits authorized patients to obtain cannabis-infused products, such as tinctures and oils, but prohibits the possession of whole-plant cannabis.

Earlier this year, health officials expanded the program to permit cannabis access to those patients diagnosed with intractable pain.

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