This week, a federal court order recognized free speech for a cannabis producer when it ruled in favor of New Mexico’s Ultra Health, which filed a complaint against New Mexico State Fair officials for unconstitutional attempts to limit Ultra Health’s rights to display a cannabis educational booth at the 2017 State Fair. Elsewhere, in Connecticut, lawmakers introduced the state’s first recreational marijuana legalization bill.
Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.
- New Mexico: For the first time in history, a Federal Court order has recognized the First Amendment protections guaranteed to producers of medical cannabis. The 37-page ruling comes after Ultra Health, a New Mexico cannabis company, filed a complaint against New Mexico State Fair officials for unconstitutional attempts to limit Ultra Health’s rights to display a cannabis educational booth at the 2017 State Fair. Read more
- Arkansas: All five of Arkansas medical marijuana cultivation facilities are now under construction. Delta Medical Cannabis Co. in Newport became the final facility to begin work, breaking ground on Tuesday. Read more
- South Dakota: Senate Bill 22, legislation that would make cannabidiol a Schedule IV substance, is up for discussion this week in Pierre. The legislation is in response to updates at the federal level. Read more
- Connecticut: More than 40 House Democrats have introduced Connecticut’s first marijuana legalization bill, laying out a plan for the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling the drug to all customers. The proposed bill dictates that sales would be limited to customers who are 21 and older and that medical marijuana dispensaries would be given the first licensees to sell recreational cannabis. Read more
- North Dakota: North Dakota began issuing medical marijuana cards this week to patients and caregivers after nearly two years of work developing and implementing a distribution system for the drug, which was approved by voters in 2016. Medical marijuana could become available in eastern North Dakota within a few weeks, with dispensaries operating statewide by early fall. Read more
- Kentucky: State Sen. Jimmy Higdon has introduced a bill to lessen penalties for marijuana possession. If passed, the bill would make the penalty for possessing marijuana for personal use only a pre-payable, non-criminal fine. Read more
- Missouri: Virtually identical proposals by Rep. Barbara Washington and Sen. Kiki Curls give minority- and women-owned businesses a 10-percent bonus when the state scores license applications on a variety of measurements. Advocates of the bills say affirmative action is appropriate since studies have shown that marijuana-related arrests have typically fallen disproportionately on black and Latino users, even though white people use marijuana at about the same rate. Read more
- Oklahoma: Six months after Oklahoma voters approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana, an Oklahoma lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow counties to decide whether the measure applies to their area. The legislation, filed by Sen. Casey Murdock, would allow counties to decide whether they want to follow State Question 788. Read more
- Massachusetts: An advocacy group for Massachusetts marijuana growers has taken the first step toward asking the courts to give the Cannabis Control Commission authority to regulate host community agreements signed between municipalities and marijuana shops. Peter Bernard, president of the Massachusetts Grower Advisory Council, said the large fees required by many host community agreements are a huge problem for the marijuana industry and “a barrier to entry to the smaller operator.” Read more
- Michigan: A group of cannabis advocates is suing the state to get it to remove marijuana from the state’s list of controlled substances in its Public Health Code—a move advocates say would bring an end to police raids. Despite the passage of the adult-use marijuana law in Michigan in 2018, two laws legalizing medical marijuana and the addition of bureaucracy and state taxes on marijuana sales, the state’s Public Health Code treats marijuana like opioids, heroin, codeine, peyote and mushrooms. Read more