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Cannabis Cafes' Get Massachusetts' OK, but Obstacles Remain

Massachusetts marijuana regulators have approved of a plan to slowly roll out "cannabis cafes" where adults could use weed in a social setting.

The 3-2 vote by the Cannabis Control Commission on May 16, 2019, calls for an initial test program in as many as a dozen communities where licenses would be granted for social consumption establishments. Marijuana use might also be allowed at certain outdoor public events.

The program could not move forward without a change in state law that would give local communities the power to authorize cannabis cafes. Bills are pending in the Legislature to do that.

The commission is recommending stringent rules to prevent people younger than 21 from entering social consumption sites, and training for employees to recognize when a patron is too high to drive safely.

Medical Pot Edibles Face Restrictions in Arkansas

Less than a week after Arkansas medical marijuana dispensaries officially opened their doors, patients who would rather eat their weed than smoke it will soon have their chance.

Robert Lercher, a spokesperson for BOLD Team, says the cultivator intends to have gummy chews, concentrates, and vape cartridges available with the next harvest, with products hitting dispensary shelves by mid-to-late May 2019.

Arkansas voters approved a medical marijuana amendment in 2016. Only two dispensaries, both in Hot Springs, are licensed and only one cultivator has harvested a crop, though two others expect to harvest their own this summer.

As of May 14, the two dispensaries, Doctor's Orders RX and Green Springs Medical, had sold more than 26 pounds of the drug in its flower form and totaled sales of about $177,000.

Advocates say edibles are a more controlled way to consume the drug and think demand is high, but cultivators and dispensaries are limited in what kinds they can manufacture and how they can package them, said Department of Finance and Administration spokesperson Scott Hardin.

David Couch, the attorney who wrote the medical marijuana amendment, said he thinks demand for edibles will exceed demand for flower, which is typically smoked.

Since each batch of a product should have the same amount of THC, the drug will be more consistent.

“It's more of a controlled dosage,” Couch said.

The weight of the entire edible will not be considered against a patient's ability to purchase 2.5 ounces every 14 days, just the actual marijuana in the product.

— Hannah Grabenstein

Nebraska Lawmakers Kick Off Medical Marijuana Debate

Nebraska lawmakers have kicked off a debate on a proposal to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes as activists push a much broader ballot measure that would place the issue before voters in 2020.

Supporters argued on May 15, 2019, that the legislative bill is narrowly tailored, with restrictions on how much users can possess and a ban on smokable marijuana.

Senators who oppose the measure say the drug is still illegal at the federal level and argue that its benefits and dangers haven't been fully studied.

The sponsor, state Sen. Anna Wishart, said the bill is intended to address the concerns of many groups who raised concerns about it. Legalization supporters are circulating petitions to place the issue before voters on the November 2020 ballot, where it's likely to pass.

Surveys Detail New Mexico Medical Marijuana  Shortages

State-commissioned surveys of New Mexico medical cannabis producers and patients show that many dispensaries are encountering difficulties in meeting demands for marijuana and related products.

The Department of Health commissioned the surveys as it considers changing its limits on medical marijuana cultivation and per-patient consumption. The current patient purchase limit is restricted to the equivalent of 8 ounces, or 230 grams, each 90 days.

In results obtained May 14, 2019, 55% of producers said they have been unable to keep pace with patient demand for marijuana and related products.

Patient enrollment is surging in New Mexico's medical marijuana program for conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with a 39% jump in participation between March 2018 and March 2019. Active patients now number more than 72,000.

Of the patients surveyed, about one in four said they were unable to purchase cannabis within the past 90 days because it was out of stock.

The patient survey indicated about half of respondents would buy more medical cannabis if they could. Costs also are a concern among marijuana patients, who cited lower prices at recreational marijuana dispensaries in neighboring Colorado.

— Morgan Lee

Feature image by Weedmaps News.