In May, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law to help fight the opioid epidemic in Colorado. The law creates a center for prevention, research and treatment to tackle the opioid and prescription drug abuse problem. The center will be funded with $1 million from the marijuana tax cash fund and will be headquartered at the University of Colorado Anschutz medical campus.
Also in Colorado cannabis news, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is now a qualifying condition for doctor-recommended medical marijuana. In June, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17 into law, which opens the doors for Colorado residents to receive a doctor’s approval to use medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD symptoms. It’s the first new qualifying condition added under the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001.
Nevada dispensaries are scheduled to begin selling recreational legal marijuana on July 1 with the Nevada Tax Commission’s approval of an early-start program on May 8. The regulations lay out rules for issuing and revoking licenses to companies that are already up and running in the medical marijuana industry. While voters approved a ballot measure last year requiring the state to get sales going by Jan. 1, 2018, the “early start” program would allow businesses to launch six months early. State officials are also counting on tax revenue from early marijuana sales to help them balance the budget. Governor Brian Sandoval’s budget proposal calls for an additional tax on recreational marijuana sales that would yield an estimated $70 million to support public education.
Utah lawmakers have elected not to join more than half of all U.S. states by passing a broad medical marijuana law. Instead, lawmakers gave state colleges and other institutions a green light to study the medical impacts of the drug with the hope of having comprehensive data by next year. However, the studies would likely take years, requiring scientists to navigate layers of bureaucracy that can delay and even discourage research. The slowdown to study cannabis is due to marijuana being considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government, meaning it’s listed along with heroin and peyote among the most dangerous drugs.
In early June, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed S. 16, a bill that will significantly improve patients’ access to Vermont’s medical marijuana program. The bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions. It also authorizes an additional dispensary (bringing the statewide total to five), and allows existing dispensaries to open one additional location each. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, an additional dispensary will be authorized.
On June 9 in a special session of the Florida Legislature, the Florida House and Senate passed a long-awaited medical marijuana implementation bill. The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, who said he “absolutely intends to sign it.” The legislation allows patients who suffer chronic pain related to 10 qualifying conditions to receive either low-THC cannabis or full-strength medical marijuana. Both chambers reached an agreement that there would be a statewide cap of 25 dispensaries per medical marijuana treatment center until the statewide registry reaches 100,000 patients. At that point, the bill calls for adding four more dispensaries. Legislators also agreed the medicine will not be taxed.