Minnesota: Elevate your state


Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced the agency will expand its medical cannabis program next year to include patients suffering from intractable pain. The program, which started in July, allows patients suffering from a limited number of severe or fatal illnesses to use marijuana in a liquid or pill form. Dr. Ehlinger said a lack of firm scientific evidence about the benefits and risks made the call difficult, but the testimony of hundreds of Minnesotans made adding intractable pain as a qualifying condition the “right and compassionate” choice. Patients certified as suffering from intractable pain can receive medical marijuana starting in August 2016, Ehlinger said.

Alaska: Elevate your state


The board tasked with writing rules for Alaska’s recreational marijuana industry voted to allow cannabis consumption in state-licensed pot shops in November. If approved by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, whose duties include filing and publishing state regulations, the Marijuana Control Board’s decision will make Alaska the first state with Amsterdam-style cannabis cafés and, in turn, becoming the first state to explicitly allow cannabis use in settings other than private residences. The 3-2 vote by the Marijuana Control Board (MCB) also changed the definition of the term “in public” to allow for consumption at some pot shops, none of which are open yet. It is still illegal to buy cannabis in Alaska because businesses have not yet been licensed to sell it. MCB is set to begin accepting business applications in February, with the initial industry licenses expected to be awarded in May.

California: Elevate your state


San Francisco could soon be home to the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the country, according to SF Weekly.
The publication reported that a three-story commercial building at 70 Second Street is for sale—along with the cannabis dispensary the building currently houses—and bids have topped $10 million. The astronomical bidding is because the property comes with the ability to operate a medical marijuana dispensary. The new owner could simply have the health permit transferred to his or her name.

Maryland: Elevate your state


It was reported in early December that Maryland will delay announcing the winners of medical cannabis business licenses for an undetermined amount of time, leaving entrepreneurs in a holding pattern and introducing uncertainty into the process, according to Marijuana Business Daily. The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) said it wants more time to review applications “due to the number of submissions received,” adding that it plans to issue an updated timeline “in the near future.” Previously, the commission had said it would announce license winners in January. In November, the commission received more 1,081 applications for marijuana dispensary, cultivation, processing and testing licenses.

Florida: Elevate your state


In November, the state’s Department of Health named five nurseries that will be allowed to grow non-euphoric cannabis for medicinal purposes under a law passed in 2014. Under the 2014 law, patients in need of medical cannabis were supposed to be able to obtain the substance in 2015 but lawsuits and red tape have caused delays. The cannabis strains that can be grown must contain a ratio of 10 percent or more cannabidiol (CBD), a substance that may help alleviate seizures, and 0.8 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Under the law smoking cannabis is illegal, medical cannabis patients must medicate using an oil, through vaping or other non-smokeable means.