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Alaska has enacted medical marijuana laws that have decriminalized marijuana, however, they do not allow for dispensaries nor has the implementation of the legalization been enacted. Alaskans will have the opportunity this coming November 4, 2014, election to vote on an initiative that may implement licensed, taxpaying businesses for cultivation, testing, and selling (dispensaries) of medicinal marijuana.
Arizona has Medical Marijuana Laws enacted. In November of 2010 The Medical Marijuana Act, also known as Proposition 203 legalized the use of Medical Marijuana for patients with "debilitating conditions," which range from cancer to chronic back pain. The state allows for 126 permits and in August of 2012 awarded 97 of them throughout the state. In February 2012, the state passed House Bill 2349, which makes it illegal for Medical Marijuana use in educational institutions and child care facilities.
California does not have a statewide program, however, medical marijuana dispensaries are licensed and regulated by local municipalities. Only a small portion of the dispensaries in the state operate with permits from their local city or county. Individual jurisdictions throughout the state have the authority to establish, implement and manage their dispensary programs. The process of obtaining an operating permit varies based on the requirements established by the city or county.
Colorado currently has the largest, state-regulated, dispensary market in the country. Colorado now licenses dispensaries and cultivation through the Department of Revenue. Market saturation is high for both patients and dispensaries, leaving little room for growth. In addition to the medical marijuana program, Colorado residents made history when they passed a ballot initiative that allows for adult recreational use of marijuana and the establishment of a regulated system for marijuana production and sales.
Connecticut signed into law An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana in May of 2012. The Act allows for medical marijuana patients and/ or their caregivers to obtain medicinal marijuana from dispensaries that obtain their medicine from licensed producers. The Act also specifies that only the pharmacists who have been licensed will be allowed to apply for a dispensary permit. The list of qualifying conditions is broad and ranges from cancer to chronic pain to PTSD.
Delaware signed a Bill into law in 2011 that legalized medical marijuana use. Since then, the program has been halted while state leaders figure out how to cope with restrictions from the federal government. According to the Act, the state must license up to one non-profit dispensary for each of the state's three counties.
In May, 2014, Florida passed legal use of a low-THC, "Charlotte's Web" strain of medicinal marijuana for various doctor-recommended disease treatments. Bill 1030, the "Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014," allows for five cultivation centers across the state with limitations: each must have already been operating as nursery ventures for thirty consecutive years in the state, and each must hold the capacity to cultivate 400,000 plants. Passage of an amendment to Florida law on the 2014 November general election ballot would authorize medical marijuana NOT limited to low-THC and would authorize broader dispensary opportunities than those covered in the 1030 bill.
Hawaii has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, however, dispensaries are not permitted under the current law. Although dispensaries are not permitted, there are a number of small, underground dispensaries that serve Hawaii's patient base.
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act for Illinois was initiated on January 1st, 2014, but until the regulations have been finalized Medical Marijuana dispensaries cannot open for business. Once the regulations are finalized the state will allow for a maximum of 60 dispensaries, which will be able to obtain medical marijuana from one of the 21 cultivation centers that are authorized to grow.
Maine has licensed eight dispensaries, one for each county, but only half of them are operating. Seven out of the eight dispensaries are in sparsely populated areas throughout the state. Because the allotted amount of licenses has been distributed, the only opportunity available to those interested in opening a dispensary would be through conversions or buy-outs.
Massachusetts became the 18th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana use in November of 2012 with the passing of ballot initiative Question 3. The initiative allows for patients to purchase and use medical cannabis produced and distributed by state-regulated centers. On January 31, 2014, 20 nonprofit dispensaries were approved.
Michigan does not allow for the existence of dispensaries, however, some cities including Ann Arbor, have established programs that will allow dispensaries to operate for patients in need of medicine. What is important to note, is that the state may enact a regulated dispensation system in the future. A senate bill that will establish a dispensary program is making its way through the Michigan legislature.
Minnesota passed a bill on May 16, 2014, that will make it the 22nd Medical Marijuana state. The bill allows for two manufacturers, with up to four distribution centers each, for a total of eight dispensaries across the state. However, the bill only allows for extracted forms of marijuana, such as in pill or liquid form, with no approval of flowers/smoking forms are banned; vaping extracts are okay.
Montana has legalized the use of medicinal cannabis; however in 2012 the state adopted a new law which banned the operation of storefronts. The law, better known as IR-24, stripped the original law and removed several important provisions. Furthermore, the revised medical marijuana law limited the qualifying conditions and limited caregivers to three patients. However, in 2013 caregivers were allowed to serve an unlimited number of patients due to an injunction issued on January 16, 2013.
Nevada passed Senate Bill 374 in June of 2013, which created a realistic framework for patients to have safe access to medical cannabis. The bill created a medical marijuana dispensary system that allows for the operation of 66 for-profit dispensaries. The state will finalize rules and begin the application process in summer 2014, and the first dispensaries could open in late 2014/early 2015.
New Hampshire signed into law legislation HB 130. The new law creates four state-sanctioned marijuana dispensing facilities to produce and distribute cannabis to state-qualified patients who possess a doctor's approval. Patients must have a pre-existing relationship of at least three months with their doctor prior to receiving a recommendation for medical cannabis. Under the law, patients must obtain cannabis only from a state-licensed facility.
New Jersey has granted six provisional licenses, two to each region of the state (North, Central and South). Qualifying conditions and the limited amount of medicine make this a small market, but permit holders have the ability to make a significant amount of revenue based on the lack of home cultivation, the limited amount of dispensaries and the state's large population.
New Mexico has allowed for the establishment of 11 medical marijuana dispensaries since the passing of SB 523 in 2007. The maximum number of dispensaries for the state is capped at 23 but the state will consider expanding the limit in the future based on the number of qualifying patients.
On Wednesday August 14th, 2013 Oregon's Gov. John Kitzhaber, signed a bill giving the state authority to license, audit and inspect dispensaries selling medical cannabis. Under the existing law, the 55,000 medical marijuana patients are required to grow their own medicine or have someone else grow it for them. Oregon has now become the 15th state, after Nevada, to legalize the dispensary program. Oregon has yet to specify the number of allotted dispensaries, but more than likely the number of dispensaries will reflect the number of counties in the state.
Rhode Island has allowed for three medical marijuana dispensaries, however, the law is currently under review and the state has placed a hold on the opening and operation of the three dispensaries.
Washington passed I-502, which authorizes the sale of marijuana in Washington State by retailers licensed through the Liquor Control Board. Washington along with Colorado, made history when it repealed state marijuana prohibition and allowed for the taxation and regulation of marijuana similar to that of alcohol.
Vermont's government signed into effect Senate Bill 76 in 2004, which allowed for the use of medical marijuana. In June 2011, the State's dispensary legislation was passed, which allowed for the establishment of four medical marijuana dispensaries. The four dispensaries were regulated to serving 1,000 registered patients. In 2013, the state decriminalized the possession of marijuana. As a result, residents of Vermont will not be incarcerated for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.
Washington D.C. and its Department of Health awarded registrations to prospective cultivation center operators in March and to dispensary operators in June of 2012. On March 31, 2014, legislation was signed that will potentially remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana—the bill will likely become a law in July, 2014.
On July 5th, 2014, New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana; the restrictive law allows for edibles, oils, and vapors, but no smokeable flowers or forms, has a limited list of qualifying medical conditions, and allows for only 5 regulated cultivators throughout the state, with each able to operate 4 dispensaries.
Maryland has passed twin bills into law (HB 881 and SB 923) that will take effect June 1, 2014, and that will allow, initially, a maximum of fifteen licensed medical marijuana cultivators and no limit to the number of dispensaries that the state's Commission may license. The Commission must adopt its final regulations by September 15, 2014. Depending on the finalized regulations, beginning June 1, 2016, the Commission may increase the allowable number of licensed growers/cultivators in order to meet demand.
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