Massachusetts to Garner Up to $172 Million in Annual Taxes From Marijuana Sales By 2020

Massachusetts is set to receive a large influx of annual tax money from marijuana sales once the industry gets underway, according to the Department of Revenue.

According to the department, the state will receive up to $172 million in annual tax revenue from legal marijuana sales by 2020. Voters legalized cannabis last year, but cannabis retail outlets aren’t expected to be open until next year.

The numbers are based on a 12% tax rate; this includes the standard 6.25% sales tax, a 3.75% excise tax and a 2% city-wide tax. Nevada lawmakers may still raise this to a higher tax rate, however. According to the department, if lawmakers raise the excise tax from 3.75% to 5%, the state would garner an additional $11 million in annual taxes.

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Chronic Pain Now a Medical Cannabis Condition in New York

As of today, chronic pain is a qualifying medical cannabis condition in New York.

Chronic PainThe change brought forth by New York’s Health Department allows those with chronic pain to legally possess and use cannabis medicines if they receive a recommendation from a physician and register with the state. This would allow them to access one of the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries.

“After conducting a thorough review of the scientific literature it became clear that there may be certain benefits in the use of medical marijuana by patients suffering from chronic pain”; Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said when the department first announced the change in December. “Medical marijuana is already helping thousands of patients across New York State; and adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition will help more patients and further strengthen the program.”

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Companion Bills to Legalize Cannabis Filed in Illinois

Legislation to legalize cannabis fro everyone 21 and older has been filed in the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 316 was filed by Senator Heather Steans (D), and House Bill 2353 was filed by State Representative Kelly Cassidy. Senator Steans was the lead sponsor of a 2016 measure that has since decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis in the state.

Both SB 316 and HB 2353 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for those 21 and older. The proposals would legalize regulated and taxes system of cannabis retail outlets and cultivation centers. All-in-all, the measures would legalize cannabis “in a manner similar to alcohol”.

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Stephen Colbert Makes Fun of Jeff Sessions Over Marijuana Comments

On yesterday’s episode of Late Night With Stephen Colbert, Colbert made fun of Sessions’ recent remarks that marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

Before responding to Sessions remark, Colbert made a cannabis-related joke within the first two minutes of his opening monologue.

“White House staffers are so afraid that a deep state of career military and intelligence officials are out to destroy them. Now, what is a deep state? I thought a deep state is what you achieve after doing three bong hits and watching Planet Earth? Very deep… very deep. Those lizards are going to get caught by those snakes!”

A few minutes later Colbert asked his audience; “Does anyone dabble in the marijuana?”, which led to heavy cheering from the crowd. “Shh… not so loud” Colbert said. “Don’t tell our attorney general and forest gnome whose riddles are kind of racist Jeff Sessions.”

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Washington Bill to Legalize Hemp Passed Unanimously by Senate Committee, Already Passed Full House

Legislation that would explicitly legalize hemp in Washington State has been passed by its initial Senate committee.

hempHouse Bill 2064 was given unanimous approval this morning by the Senate Law & Justice Committee. Earlier this month it was passed unanimously by the state’s House of Representatives.

If passed into law, the measure would exclude “industrial hemp from the definitions of “controlled substance” and “marijuana” for purposes of the uniform controlled substances act.” This would legalize hemp in a manner similar to other agricultural crops such as tomatoes, as in their would be no limit on the amount grown, and no license required to begin cultivation.

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Vermont House Committee Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana Possession and Cultivation

Legislation that would legalize marijuana for those 21 and older has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee passed the measure with an 8 to 3 vote; it’s expected to be voted on soon by the full House. The measure would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, and grow up to two mature cannabis plants (and four immature plants).

“Today’s vote shows just how far this issue has advanced in just this past year,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters agree it makes no sense to continue punishing adults for consuming a less harmful substance than alcohol — especially now that it is legal for adults in Massachusetts and Maine. Vermonters are ready to close the book on marijuana prohibition.”

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Hawaii Bill Adding Five New Medical Cannabis Conditions Passes House Committee

The Hawaii House Health Committee has passed a measure that wold expand the state’s medical cannabis program. They also unanimously passed a bill to change state law to refer to “medical marijuana” as “medical cannabis”.

Senate Bill 174, which has already passed the Senate with a unanimous 25 to 0 vote, passed the House Health Committee yesterday; the vote was 4 to 2. The proposal would add lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and autism as conditions that qualify someone to become a legal medical cannabis patient.

Currently medical cannabis use in Hawaii is limited to those with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS or a “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces” cachexia, severe pain or nausea, seizures, sever muscle spasms or post traumatic stress disorder.

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Mississippi Legislature Passes Bill Preventing Probable Cause to Remove a Child from Home Based Solely on Parent’s Marijuana Use

Mississippi’s full Legislature has passed a bill that would prevent the establishment of probable cause to remove a child from a parent based solely on the parent’s marijuana use.

House Bill 652 was passed by the Senate with a 50 to 2 vote earlier this month, and a few days after was concurred by the House of Representatives with a 98 to 15 vote. The measure was signed today by leaders of the House and Senate, sending it to Phil Bryant for consideration.

According to the measure; “A finding of probable cause, as prescribed under this paragraph, shall not be based solely upon a positive drug test of a child’s parent for marijuana”.

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Pennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Resolution Urging Feds to Respect State Medical Marijuana Laws

A Senate committee in Pennsylvania has passed a resolution urging federal lawmakers to reauthorize an amendment that prevents the Justice Department from interfering with state-level medical marijuana laws.

The Senate State Government Committee passed Senate Resolution 36 with a unanimous 10 to 0 vote. It must now be passed by one more committee before it can be put to a vote in the full Senate, where passage would sent it to the House of Representatives. The resolution was filed by Senator Michael Folmer with 11 bipartisan cosponsors.

According to the resolution:

WHEREAS, The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires on April 28, 2017; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urge the Congress of the United States to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to prevent the United States Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws; and be it further

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Nevada Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Possess Firearms

Legislation to allow medical marijuana patients to legally possess firearms has been introduced in Nevada.

Senator Kelvin Atkinson (D) of Las Vegas introduced Senate Bill 351 yesterday, which would allow medical marijuana patients to possess firearms and a conceal and carry permit. Under current law sheriffs are required to deny a weapons permit if someone is a medical marijuana card holder; if a someone with a firearm permit becomes a medical marijuana patient after receiving the permit, sheriffs currently have the ability to revoke the permit.

Below is the official Legislative Counsel’s Digest of Senate Bill 351:

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