Marijuana Legalization News: Clearing Away the Smoke

About 4 min

Marijuana Legalization News: Clearing Away the Smoke

legalization_newsA lot has changed in the few months since Election Day. With 23 states and the District of Columbia passing medical marijuana laws and four states making the drug legal for recreational purposes, news feeds are crammed full of stories. Here are some of the most interesting this week:

Pot Vending Machines

Patients in Seattle can now get their medical marijuana out of a vending machine called ZaZZZ.  Stephen Shearin, President of Technology for the company that makes the machines says, “It’s a way to take something that has proven itself as a viable business model throughout the last century, and bring it into the 21st century.”

In addition to medical marijuana, the machines may sell things like cannabis flowers, vaporizer pens and hemp-oil energy drinks.  Each will be outfitted with a scanner to check the buyer’s medical marijuana license, but a dispensary employee also has to check the ID before someone can make a purchase.

ZaZZZ machines are expected to pop up soon in Washington State, Colorado, California, Michigan, Rhode Island and Alaska.

Pot Doc to Your Door

Patients wanting to get approved for medical marijuana use in the San Francisco area don’t even need to leave the house.  A new service called CannabisMD dispatches a doctor to your door.  If the doctor decides marijuana use is appropriate for your condition, you pay a flat fee of $100 and get your card. Those who don’t qualify don’t pay a penny for the doctor’s visit.

The service is now available in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. The CEO of Meadow, a marijuana delivery startup that runs CannabisMD, says the goal is not just making the drug more accessible, but to educate people as well.

Justice Department Continuing to Crack Down on Dispensaries

Washington has continuously told federal prosecutors not to interfere with states that have legalized marijuana. A memo was issued outlining the hands-off guidelines in 2013.  Congress’s spending bill, passed late last year, prohibited the use of federal funds to crack down on businesses operating in states that have voted to legalize. And to top it all off, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder created a policy that forbids federal agencies from seizing property from marijuana businesses without a warrant.

It seems pretty clear that the federal government is stepping back. But for some reason, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Melinda Haag, is fighting to close a huge medical marijuana collective in Oakland. Harborside Health Center does $25 million in business each year. It’s considered to be the nation’s largest dispensary.  The city of Oakland sued to block the feds’ efforts to shut it down saying Harborside is an asset to the community and losing it could cause a public health crisis.

The case is now being argued before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Easier Access for Veterans

The House of Representatives just introduced a bi-partisan bill that would allow doctors at the VA to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

It is believed by many that medical marijuana can be very helpful in treating traumatic brain injuries and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Supporters of the Veterans Equal Access Act say the bill will allow veterans with these “invisible” injuries to get the treatment they need to thrive.

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