Posted by The National Marijuana News on Friday, March 16, 2018
3-15-18 Status of Cannabis Reform in RI, MD, VA, PA, WV
Let’s review the state marijuana legalization surge of 2018 through the first quarter of the year.
Pennsylvania began medical marijuana sales on February 15th, almost 2 years after Governor Wolf signed Act 16 into law. Pennsylvania legislators are still working on finalizing rules including whether to grant patients access to medical marijuana flower which would help lower costs for everyone including the dispensaries. So far there are 6 dispensaries selling medical cannabis to patients and 4 more to come. Over the next 10 months it is anticipated that 81 dispensary locations will open up throughout the state. Currently there are 17,000 medical marijuana patients in the state of Pennsylvania and 708 physicians are registered to diagnose and authorize patients access to medical cannabis.
Moving to Rhode Island, despite voters favoring recreational legalization 3 to 5, lawmakers are dragging their feet on putting it into law. There is a measure that is moving its way through Rhode Island’s state Congress that if passed would allow voters to decide in the ballot box this November. You can read more about this measure on TheNationalMairjuanaNews.com in an article titled, The Marijuana Legalization Surge of 2018 Continues with Rhode Island. It is surprising that Rhode Island lawmakers are as reluctant at they are to pass legislation to legalize cannabis without forcing the will of voters considering the rest of New England has either legalized recreational cannabis or are near to it.
In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam signed House Bill 1251 last Friday which went into effect immediately and expanded the state’s medical marijuana program considerably. The movement to get the bill executed as quickly as possible was referred to as, Let Doctors Decide. Just as the movement’s name suggests, it will be left to any Virginia doctor’s discretion to grant access to either CBD or THC-A oil to any patient they believe would benefit from it. Recreational marijuana is not being discussed seriously, neither is access to medical marijuana flower. It is still a big improvement on the previously limited program that only allowed patients with intractable epilepsy to use cannabis oil.
In West Virginia, the exact opposite happened, where legistors failed to even vote on expanding its medical marijuana laws. Many lawmakers blamed a hard push to have recreational cannabis legalized creating too much debate before the legislative session ended.
Finally, in Maryland legislators met on Tuesday to discuss and hear petitions to have a recreational marijuana question added to the ballot during the June gubernatorial election. The vote will take place on June 26th, but even if the question does not make it to the ballot, the newly elected governor will have a lot to say on the status of marijuana in the state. Many gubernatorial candidates support legalization and if voters place a cannabis advocate in the governor’s seat, the state may get access to recreational cannabis anyways.