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CA AG Kills Dream of Interstate Pot Sales, Ukraine Approves MedMJ, More... (12/21/23)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1201)

Pennsylvania bills to protect medical marijuana patients from DUI charges are moving, Oregon releases an audit of the state's progress in dealing with its drug problem in the Measure 110 era, and more.

Portland, Oregon. The state has released an audit on progress in addressing the drug problem. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

California Attorney General Issues Opinion Effectively Killing Effort to Sell State's Legal Weed to Other States. On Tuesday, state Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) issued an opinion that allowing legal marijuana companies to export marijuana to other states would create "significant legal risk to the State of California." That opinion effectively kills efforts to aid the state's ailing legal marijuana system by opening up interstate sales.

Last year, the legislature passed a bill that would have created a pathway for sales outside the state -- but only if the federal government explicitly allowed such sales or the state attorney general issued an opinion that such commerce would not create a legal risk for the state.

Department of Cannabis Control spokesman David Hafner said the agency would continue to pursue the "visionary spirit" of the interstate commerce bill, but did not specify how it would do so.

"We appreciate the Attorney General's conclusion that the arguments supporting interstate agreements are 'strong'. Unfortunately, even strong arguments cannot put novel questions beyond all debate. If you are looking for certainty, you will not find it in cannabis," Hafner added.

Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Bills Protecting Patients from DUI Charges Advance in Both Houses. A pair of bills aimed at preventing police from charging medical marijuana patients with impaired driving without actual proof of impairment are moving in Harrisburg. The bills are Senate Bill 363 from Sen. Camera Bartolotto (R) and House Bill 983 from Rep. Christopher Rabb (D).

The Senate version of the bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee last week, while the House version passed the House Transportation Committee.

The two bills are designed to close a loophole in the state's medical marijuana law that allows law enforcement to arrest and prosecute patients for marijuana DUI without showing there are actively impaired.

"In 2016, we legalized the use of medicinal cannabis for a myriad of conditions. We were very careful with how the language was crafted in an attempt to avoid unintended consequences," said Bartolotto during the committee meeting. "Since that time, it has become very obvious that we overlooked one very important aspect."


New Hampshire Bill to Allow Psychedelics for Mental Health, Medical Conditions Pre-Filed. Rep. Kevin Verville (R) has pre-filed a bill that would legalize psilocybin, LSD, and mescaline for therapeutic use with a recommendation from a healthcare provider, House Bill 1693.

The measure would create a system of alternative treatment centers (ATCs) and a regulated psychedelic system for registered patients, echoing the state's existing medical marijuana system, where seven ATCs currently serve patients.

People would be able to use psychedelics for conditions including anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, sleep disorders, substance use disorder, chronic pain, attention deficit, migraines and cluster headaches, postpartum mental illnesses and others.

But it would also allow psychedelics to be recommended for "any novel or emergent illness which is not categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders but is diagnosed by a state licensed mental health professional," though there would need to be published scientific observations, including self-reports, regarding psilocybin as a treatment for the condition.

Drug Policy

Oregon Secretary of State Releases Audit on State's Drug Problem in the Era of Measure 110 Drug Decriminalization. A mandated audit on Measure 110 released by the Oregon Secretary of State on Wednesday showed both progress and shortfalls on the state's progress in tackling its drug epidemic in the Measure 110 era. That 2020 voter-approved initiative decriminalized the possession of personal use amounts of drugs and allocated marijuana taxes to pay for drug prevention and treatment.

The audit makes a number of recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority to help it get better data on Measure 110's impact, as well as ways to streamline grants to treatment centers known as Behavioral Health Resource Networks or BHRNs.

"In the report we highlight we are two thirds of the way through the initial grant period but only one third of the funds have been spend at this time," said audit manager Ian Green. "So its really important that the services continue to be ramped up. We see growth quarter over quarter in terms of spending but it really needs to be accelerated."

The audit acknowledges the rapid rise of fentanyl in the state, noting that 690 fentanyl pills were seized in 2018, skyrocketing to three million pills last year.

"The rapid increase in fentanyl use and overdose related fentanyl is really critical," Green said. "It's really driving increased demand for measure 110 services and it's putting pressure on the whole behavioral health system in the state."

The audit found that the Oregon Health Authority needs to simplify its grants process.

"For the next round of grant funding is to simplify the application process during the initial process which was controlled by the Oversight Accountability Council it was just too complex," he said. "Providers were required to respond to 240 different questions -- and many of those questions required lengthy narratives."

That first round of grants freed up $261 million for the BHRN's, but only one-third of that money had been used by BHRN's by mid-year, the audit found.


Ukraine Medical Marijuana Bill Awaits President's Signature. Ukraine's unicameral legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, approved a medical marijuana bill Thursday, sending it to the desk of President Volodymyr Zelensky, who supports the bill.

Lawmakers overcame a last minute attempt to block the bill by opposition lawmakers by offering hundreds of amendments that critics called "spam amendments."

The bill would allow medical marijuana use for patients with severe illness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from the ongoing war with Russia, now nearly two years old.

The bill will allow for marijuana to be imported into the country.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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