In mid-May, the Nevada Tax Commission adopted temporary regulations proposed by the Department of Taxation allowing the state to issue recreational marijuana licenses by July 1, 2017. The ballot measure that passed on November 8 requires the state to initiate sales by January 1, 2018, but this “early start” program will allow businesses to open six months sooner. Only medical marijuana establishments that are already in operation can apply to function as recreational retailers during the early start period. The establishments must be in good standing and pay a one-time, nonrefundable application fee as well as a specific licensing fee. The tax department accepted applications from May 15 – 31, and a second application period is anticipated later in the year. The incentive for the early start program stems from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget request, which includes $70 million from recreational marijuana taxes over two years to support education.
Medical marijuana bill SB 2344 continues to work its way through the North Dakota Legislative Assembly. Voters overwhelmingly voted 63% to 36% in favor of establishing a medical marijuana program last November. The current version of the bill allows whole plant cannabis and other preparations, but does not permit extracts or edibles. Advanced practice nurses will now be able to issue certifications to patients, though 18 year olds will still need their parents’ permission to enroll. The bill, sponsored by Senator Rich Warden, would eliminate the tightly controlled home cultivation provision that was included in Measure 5, along with the petition process to expand the list of qualifying conditions. However, terminal illnesses will be added to the program, along with critical legal protections originally missing from the voter initiative.
The Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee introduced a bill to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in the state in April. The bill would allow patients suffering from cancer, PTSD, intractable pain, and a host of other aliments access to this treatment option if their doctors certify them for the program. The bill would not allow patients to smoke cannabis, but patients could still vaporize or consume their medicine in other forms. Between four and 12 manufacturer licenses would be issued by December 1, 2017. By April 2, 2018, the department would issue 12 dispensary licenses. As a condition for licensure, a medical cannabis dispensary must agree to begin supplying medical cannabis to patients by July 16, 2018. The dispensaries would be located based on geographic need throughout the state.
On May 10, the Vermont Legislature became the first state legislature in the nation to approve a bill that would make marijuana legal for adults and send it to a governor’s desk. However, in late May Vermont Governor Phil Scott vetoed the bill. Though Scott said he views the issue “through a libertarian lens,” he vetoed the bill due to concerns about detecting and penalizing impaired drivers, protecting children, and the role and makeup of a Marijuana Regulatory Commission. Governor Scott said he is “not philosophically opposed” to legalization, “and I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction.” Scott said he’ll send recommended changes to the Democratic-majority legislature, and that if they address his concerns, “there is a path forward on this issue.” He specified a handful of changes that would need to be made for him to support the measure and said he believes the legislature has time to incorporate them and enact a revised version during the summer veto session.
On April 19 West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation when Governor Jim Justice signed it into law after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House. Beginning in July 2019, qualifying patients whose doctors have issued them a written certification for medical cannabis will be allowed to register with the health department to use and buy medical cannabis from regulated dispensaries. Patients may qualify for medical cannabis if they have a terminal illness or if they suffer from cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, intractable seizures, sickle cell anemia, or severe, chronic or intractable pain. The only types of medical cannabis allowed initially will be pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid, and non-whole plant forms for administration through vaporization.