NY Medical Marijuana Program Scores C- In ASA Report: No MMJ While On Probation, Cannabis Regs. In FL, CO & MN

Florida To Double Number Of MMJ Licenses, Gov. DeSantis’ Admin Confirms

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration announced Friday that the state health officials will accept applications for 22 medical marijuana licenses in late April, reported Health News Florida, doubling the number of MMJ licenses.

“This is an exciting milestone for Florida’s medical cannabis program, more than five years in the making. These additional licenses are an important step in moving the program forward for Florida’s patients and future licensees,” Courtney Coppola, a former director of the  Office of Medical Marijuana Use, told The News Service of Florida.

In the meantime, the recreational cannabis legalization proposal seems to be on track for the 2024 ballot, according to the number of signatures collected. Trulieve Cannabis Corp TCNNF, Florida's largest MMJ operator contributed $20 million to the Smart & Safe Florida campaign, of which more than $19 million was spent on expenses related to petition collection and verification.

Florida's Medical marijuana sales have boomed recently with $201.6 million in October 2022. In the first six months of the prior year, sales exceeded $1 billion, per Headset data. 

Other medical cannabis companies operating in Florida, such as Red White & Bloom RWBYF, Columbia Care Inc. CCHWF and Verano Holdings Corp. VRNOF are trying to keep up with demand by opening new stores

Colorado Lawmakers Consider Withdrawing Some Medical Marijuana Limitations

Colorado senators plan to discuss Thursday a proposal to withdraw some of the limitations on medical marijuana enacted in 2022, responding to patient advocates requests.

The proposed legislation Access to Medical Marijuana Act aims to reverse some amendments approved in 2021, that are said to have caused a decline in the number of MMJ patients in Colorado last year, writes 9 News.

"We’ve had a very difficult year with patients losing access to products that were working well for them in the past," said Martha Montemayor, who helps people apply for medical marijuana cards in her clinics (from Denver to Montrose). 

Under the law that was enacted in 2022, physicians are required to examine patients in person and recommend specified dosages, potency, and products, with limits on how much cannabis concentrates they can buy in one day.

According to Rachel O’Bryan, co-founder of One Chance to Grow Up, which pushed for the law, the rules were proposed to protect both patients and teenagers who were previously acquiring marijuana and sharing it. O’Bryan further claims that this has worked, seeing 50% fewer medical marijuana cards for 18-20 year-olds in the state.

On the other hand, Montemayor argues that the law limits all patients, with many dropping out of the program. She proposes some compromises: drop the requirement that physicians must see patients in person, except for 10-20-year-old first-time applicants, but also remove the requirement for specified recommendations on dosage and concentrate purchase limits.

New Yorkers On Probation Not Allowed To Use Prescribed Medical Marijuana

Despite medical marijuana being legalized in New York back in 2014, some people on probation are not allowed to use it. That’s right, not even for medical purposes.

“People that are sentenced to probation in this Adirondack region, are being denied use of their prescribed marijuana,” said Julie Garcia, a lawyer in Warren County. To Garcia’s knowledge, this is also affecting individuals in Warren, Essex and Clinton Counties.

Garcia pointed out that the problem is that this could lead to higher use of opioids, writes News 10.

Two years ago, she filed a motion against Warren County on behalf of Justin Dunning who was charged with criminal mischief in the third degree and one-year probation. One part of his probation conditions reads: “The use and/or possession of marijuana is prohibited for the duration of the probation sentence whether or not, it is prescribed for medical purposes.”

Dunning was prescribed medical cannabis for chronic pain after back surgery and did not want to change from MMJ to opioids while on probation. The first motion was opposed, with the Warren County judge denying the medicine, but Garcia didn’t stop there. She re-argued the motion in front of a new judge, which allowed Dunning to continue to use medical marijuana while on probation.

Considering this, it comes as no surprise that New York scored a C- for medical cannabis in a new Americans for Safe Access 2022 report card. “Patients surveyed in NY expressed concern about the looming rollout of the adult-use market, but also, appreciation that home cultivation is allowed,” the report reads. “Additionally, they do not feel that access to medical access is ideal with the few number of current dispensaries. Patients are also concerned about black and gray markets undercutting the regulated markets in the state.”

Minnesota Cannabis Legislation Passes 4th Senate Committee

Minnesota Senate Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee approved a recreational cannabis legalization bill from Sen. Lindsey Port (D) in a 5-4 vote, reported Marijuana Moment. This is the fourth Senate committee to approve the bill that would legalize marijuana.

Minnesota has “an opportunity to undo some of the harm that has been done and to create a system of regulation that works for Minnesota consumers and Minnesota businesses while ensuring an opportunity in this new market for communities that have been most affected by prohibition,” Senate Assistant Majority Leader Erin Murphy (D) said at the Monday hearing.

Photo: Benzinga edit with images from AJEL, lindsayfox on Pixabay

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