The marijuana movement is quickly expanding throughout the United States. Many states are discussing and/or implementing plans to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Here are the nine states most likely to legalize marijuana next:
Arizona: Efforts by local groups and major non-profits are expected to help get a recreational marijuana legalization, similar to Colorado’s recreational marijuana , onto the November 2016 ballot.
New Mexico: Support for marijuana decriminalization has been strong and the issue of a regulated and taxed marijuana market is expected to go before state lawmakers in 2015.
California: Already has a medical marijuana program and will likely legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in 2016 with the help of marijuana advocating non-profits.
New York: The governor signed the Compassionate Care Act earlier this year and New York City has officially decriminalized marijuana (less than 25 grams). Recreational marijuana could be coming soon.
Florida: Amendment 2 missed by two percent in the 2014 general election, but the marijuana movement is expected to come back strong.
Maine: Measures to decriminalize marijuana were successful in recent years and supporters think the state could be the next to legalize for recreational use.
Massachusetts: Supporters are drafting an initiative just in case lawmakers do not make an effort to legalize marijuana in 2016.
Michigan: With decriminalization efforts successful, some believe the state could be the first Midwestern state to establish a recreational marijuana market.
Minnesota: The state has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the nation, but many supporters predict changes will be introduced soon.
Tucsondrivers are taking medical marijuana on the road after Tucson and Marana lawmakers voted to allow to deliver medical marijuana to patients.
Arizona’s medical marijuanalets local municipalities regulate if and how medical marijuana dispensary operate.
Earth’s Healing dispensary in Tucson was the first in the area to begin medical marijuana deliveries. They take orders online and already have patients that regularly use the.
The regulations put on dispensary’s delivery service require that their security staff inside the dispensary never lose sight of the medical marijuana or the driver, even after they leave the dispensary. Drivers wear a camera and a GPS tracking device so the dispensary staff can record the driver’s every movement at all times.
“We have a lot of patients who are handicapped and some don’t have a car or have difficulty coming in their car to get their medicine,” said Puchi-Saavedra of Earth’s Healing dispensary.
Any medical marijuana cardholder can order delivery of medical marijuana; they do not have to be homebound or handicapped.
Arizona’s Court of Appeals just ruled the state’s medical marijuana does not give drivers immunity from prosecution if marijuana, or its inactive chemical compound, is found in the body.
Inactive marijuana metabolites can stay in the bloodstream for up to 2 or 4 weeks after use. This means that a medical marijuana patient can consume marijuana today and be arrested on DUI charges weeks later, when they are clearly no longer “high” or “under the influence” from using marijuana. It is the equivalent of consuming an alcoholic beverage today and getting a DUI weeks later for consuming that beverage.
There are currently about 50,000 medical marijuana patients in Arizona.
Marijuanamakers in Colorado have started creating less potent edibles to appeal to novice marijuana users so that they don’t find themselves ingesting too strong of a dose and having undesirable effects.
Tim Cullen, who owns twoin the Denver area equated it to the difference between selling beer alongside liquor. He said, “No one buys a handle of JIm Beam and thinks they should drink all of that in one sitting. But people do want to eat an entire cookie, an entire piece of chocolate. So these products allow you to do that and not have a miserable experience.”
A new product lining recreationalshelves is known as the “Rookie Cookie” and only contains 10 milligrams of . A dose this small would allow for a novice marijuana user to consume the entire thing and probably still be sober enough to operate a vehicle.
Similarly, Dixie Elixirs has put out a new soda that is 15 times less potent than that of their traditional recipe and is marketed as being “great for those who are new to THC or don’t like to share.”
The Growing Kitchen’s Holden Sprout, maker of the Rookie Cookie, said that, “For a long time, the medical market was a race to the strongest edibles. Now it’s a new market, and people want something that won’t get them so inebriated they’re not functional.”
Marijuana activists are hoping to change the public’s opinion on the dangers of over consuming marijuana as well. It is extremely common to hear a story about someone who “overdid it” and consumed too strong of a dose of anand “freaked out.”
It’s important that the newly legal marijuana industry ensure consumers have a safe and enjoyable time when they are inexperienced with marijuana.
Current research is revealing that marijuana provides many health benefits. 12 health conditions that marijuana can help alleviate are listed here:
Alzheimer’s — Marijuana has been found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by the Scripps Research Institute.
Anxiety — Harvard Medical School found that marijuana can provide anti-anxiety effects. (Although, high doses can increase anxiety and paranoia.)
Pain — Marijuana can alleviate pain and inflammation.
Arthritis — Marijuana can alleviate pain and inflammation linked to arthritis.
Crohn’s disease — Marijuana was shown to induce “complete remission” for patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, also known as inflammatory bowel disease.
Cancer — Research in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics journal found that cannabidiol (), which is a natural chemical found in marijuana, turns off a gene called “Id-1,” which cancer cells use to multiply.
Epilepsy — Marijuana has been shown in Virginia Commonwealth University’s animal studies to stop seizures.
Glaucoma — Researchers are working on developing new marijuana-based treatments for glaucoma pain after learning its effectiveness for treating glaucoma, a condition that increases pressure inside the eyeball and can lead to vision loss.
Lung Health — Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that marijuana is capable of increasing lung capacity.
Multiple Sclerosis — A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that(CBD, , etc) found in marijuana significantly reduced pain from multiple sclerosis.
Nausea — Marijuana contains a minimum of 60 chemicals known as cannabinoids, of which THC is most widely known (because of its psychoactive effects), and it has been used in the treatment of nausea, including drug- or chemotherapy-induced nausea.
Parkinson’s Disease — Research published in MedPage Today found that marijuana eases tremors and improves fine motor skills in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Arizona Department of Health Services’ (ADHS) Director, Will Humble, wants to make adding new qualifying medical conditions to Arizona’s medical marijuana program more difficult.
Humble rejected all prior efforts to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying medical conditions, saying there was no credible scientific evidence that PTSD can be helped by marijuana use. But a hearing officer has officially ruled that anecdotal evidence could be considered in this circumstance, and Humble relented. Now, he wants to re-draft Arizona’s medical marijuana rules to say that future changes can come only with peer-reviewed studies that show clear and convincing evidence the marijuana helps.
Humble stated: “So that’s just my intent in making it clear, as I thought it already was, but to make it even more crystal clear that future decisions, or any decisions I continue make in this job, will need to be based on evidence and data.”
ButJeffrey Kaufman noted the change ignores a major key factor, that “The governments have constructed a complex and impossible program and maze for anyone to get medical marijuana studies funding.”
As Colorado’s recreational marijuana market expands, a surge of entrepreneurs are stepping up their game to get a piece of the marijuana pie.
One innovative business, the Scarlet Theater, is planning to open a marijuana-friendly movie theater for tourists and Denver area marijuana-users to hang out, get high, and watch awesome movies.
The Scarlet Theater is currently in development, but they have big plans. The theater will require patrons pay a membership fee to enter and enjoy the club, but it sounds well worth it. The theater plans on featuring a world-class restaurant and a BYOC (bring your own cannabis) policy.
Proprietor Kelly McGonigal describes some key differences that make the Scarlet Theater stand out from other social clubs in the Denver area: “Offering more things to do than just smoke and socialize — which are great in and of themselves, but sometimes people want to toke up, and maybe talk with people for a while, but then they want to go off and do their own thing. People who want to do that can go to the movie theater, they can go to the restaurant. And since they’re all operated by us, patrons will know they’ll be in a supportive, understanding environment.”
The Scarlet Theater is scheduled to open for business on April 20, 2015.
Arizona has the potential to have a $303 million recreational marijuana market that would produce as much as $70 million in tax revenue. NerdWallet Inc., a financial research firm, examined Arizona’s potential recreational marijuana market size and tax revenue generated to establish these projections.
NerdWallet estimated that there are over 228,000 adult marijuana users in Arizona, which accounts for 5% of the totatal population over the age of 25.
Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University economist, estimates that the U.S. marijuana market is valued at $14 billion and legalization would reduce prison and police department costs by nearly $7.7 billion annually.
Arizona will likely have a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016.
US marijuana industry businesses are now profitable enough to become major political donors that support marijuana-friendly candidates and ballot questions.
Congress members who once politely returned the marijuana industry businesses’ contribution checks are now keeping them. Some new marijuana business political activities include fancy fundraisers at Four Seasons hotels and art auctions hosted atfirms.
“We’re developing an industry here from the ground up. If we don’t contribute politically and get out there with the candidates, we can’t help shape what happens,” said Patrick McManamon, of Cannasure Insurance Services, which provides insurance coverage to marijuana cultivation centers and.
Medical marijuana businesses have been giving contributions to candidates since the late 90s, but with the start of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the industry and its political clout are expanding quickly.
Marijuana is currently legal for medical or recreational use in 23 states and Washington, D.C. New marijuana measures will be on November ballots in Alaska, Florida, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. Many contributions are being funneled at those upcoming campaigns and the candidates that support them.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is one of the largest marijuana advocacy contributors and is expected to donate around$150,000 to federal candidates in 2014, up from $110,000 in 2013. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Drug Policy Alliance also contribute directly to federal candidates. And tax-exempt marijuana industry groups such as the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) can contribute an unlimited amount of untraceable money.
Governor Jan Brewer is softening her position on medical marijuana as well as for the right for terminally ill patients to choose to use drugs that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Brewer’s newly-found empathetic stance for people with debilitating medical conditions has her changing her views towards the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act which allows patients with certain medical conditions to get a doctor’s recommendation to obtain marijuana from dispensaries for medical purposes.
“I’ve been reading a lot about it [marijuana research studies],” she stated. “And it certainly looks like it probably does help people.”
When asked about Proposition 303, the “right to use” measure, Brewer stated: “I think that if someone is facing life or death that they should be able to make that choice … and if they’re willing to take that risk … they ought to be able to do it”
Proposition 303 would allow drug companies to make available drugs and/or medical devices that are not yet approved by the FDA for people with a terminal illness. It would also protect doctors from being disciplined by regulatory boards because they agreed to prescribe a non-approved drug to a patient.