Montpelier, VT: Republican Gov. Phil Scott today rejected legislation, Senate Bill 22, that sought to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the adult use and possession of marijuana. The Governor said that he did not support the legislation as written, but remains open to working with lawmakers over the summer on ways to amend the state's cannabis policies.
Representatives from the Vermont Association of Police Chiefs, the Vermont Medical Society, and the Vermont American Academy of Pediatrics were among those groups opposing S. 22.
"It is disappointing that Gov. Scott would not only defy the will of state legislators, but also the will of the majority of Vermont voters who support ending criminal penalties for those adults who consume cannabis responsibly," NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. "Minor marijuana possession offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it. Rather than looking to the future, Gov. Scott seems intent on repeating the failures of the past."
Senate Bill 22 would have amended state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to two mature plants (and up to four immature plants) would have no longer been subject to penalty, beginning July 1, 2018. It also established a nine member commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market.
State lawmakers approved the measure earlier this month. It was the first time that a legislative body ever approved legislation eliminating criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess or grow marijuana for non-medical purposes.
House lawmakers in 2016 rejected similar legislation. That measure had been supported by former Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Study: Inhaled Cannabis Controls Tics in TS Patients
Toronto, Canada: Inhaled cannabis is effective and well-tolerated in patients with Tourette's Syndrome (TS), according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.
A team of researchers at the University of Toronto retrospectively assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in 19 patients with the disease.
Researchers reported, "All study participants experienced clinically significant symptom relief," including reductions in obsessive-compulsive symptoms, impulsivity, anxiety, irritability, and rage outbursts. Eighteen of the 19 patients experienced decreased tic severity. Cannabis was "generally well tolerated" by study subjects.
Investigators concluded: "Overall, these study participants experienced substantial improvements in their symptoms. This is particularly striking given that almost all participants had failed at least one anti-tic medication trial. ... In conclusion, cannabis seems to be a promising treatment option for tics and associated symptoms."
Placebo controlled data has previously determined that oral THC dosing also improves tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior in TS patients. However, patients utilizing inhaled cannabis have generally shown greater overall improvement.
Full text of the study, "Preliminary evidence on cannabis effectiveness and tolerability for adults with Tourette Syndrome," appears in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.
Virginia: Racial Disparity In Marijuana Arrest Rates Increasing
Richmond, VA: African Americans in Virginia are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at more than three times the rates of whites and this disparity is rising, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by Virginia Commonwealth University's Capital News Service.
Researchers reviewed 160,000 state and local arrest records from the years 2010 through 2016. They found that blacks were 2.9 times as likely as whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana in 2010, but 3.2 times as likely to be arrested by 2016.
In some counties and towns, such as in Hanover County and in Arlington, Virginia, the black arrest rate was six to eight times that of whites.
The findings are similar to those of a 2015 report, which determined that the number of African Americans arrested in Virginia for marijuana possession offenses increased 106 percent between the years 2003 and 2014. That study concluded that blacks account for nearly half of all marijuana possession arrests, but comprise only 20 percent of the state population.
A separate analysis of Maryland arrest data determined that African Americans accounted for 58 percent of all marijuana possession arrested despite comprising 30 percent of the population.
A 2016 analysis of California arrest figures concluded that police arrested blacks for marijuana offenses at three and half times the rate of whites. A prior statewide assessment reported that police in 25 of California's major cities arrested blacks for marijuana possession violations at rates four to twelve times that of Caucasians. Similar disparities have been reported in other major cities, including New York and Chicago.
A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study found that nationwide blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both ethnicities consume the substance at approximately similar rates.
Washington: Governor Signs Legislation Expanding Medical Cannabis Access
Olympia, WA: Governor Jay Inslee has signed legislation, Senate Bill 5131, expanding patients' access to medical cannabis and instructing regulators to consider home cultivation by non-patients.
The new law for the first time allows registered patients to legally purchase marijuana seeds, clones, and immature plants from licensed providers.
Other provisions in the law permit non-patients to legally share cannabis products with one another, and task the State Liquor and Cannabis Board to make recommendations regarding whether to permit the home cultivation of limited quantities of cannabis by adults. Washington is the only state that regulates the adult use of and commercial sale of cannabis, but does not permit adults to legally grow the plant themselves.