By Adam Kain
COLORADO (Jan. 1)
High demand for legalized adult-use Cannabis caused lines that crept around corners, lower limits than those set by the law, and hourly price spikes that had some shops charging over $400/oz. By the end of the first day several Colorado cities began allowing retail sales of Cannabis to adults 21 years and older – the first of such shops around the world. It is estimated that sales totaled $1 million the first day and $5 million the first full week. Sales are permitted to anyone 21 years or older with a valid ID, with a one-ounce limit for Colorado residents and a quarter-ounce limit for tourists.
Few offenses were reported from police throughout the state, with less than a handful of tickets issued the first day and less being issued the first week.
FRANCE (Jan. 9)
France became the 18th nation in the European Union to allow Cannabis-based derivatives to be prescribed for medical reasons when the Minister of Health announced it will allow the sale of Sativex, a mouth spray to be prescribed for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Sativex, which can be purchased in most European countries already, will be used for multiple sclerosis patients with severe muscle spasms who are resistant to other forms of treatment, the French Health Ministry said. Use of Sativex will be very strictly controlled and it can only be prescribed by certain doctors such as neurologists. Patients will be able to get a month’s supply at a time and must renew their prescriptions every six months.
NEW JERSEY (Jan. 13)
Embattled N.J. Governor Chris Christie could build a bridge that brings his state back together, and he can do it with hemp. A bill to legalize hemp production cleared both houses of the N.J. Legislature and is expected to be signed into law following Christie’s inauguration Jan. 21.
The bill, which relies heavily on federal approval, would create a licensing system with stringent background checks. Even after being signed into law, licenses would not be issued until the federal government removes Cannabis — hemp is included in the Cannabis family — or until the federal Drug Enforcement Agency grants the state a permit to grow hemp.
TURIN, ITALY (Jan. 15)
Turin, Italy became the first major Italian city to legalize medicinal Cannabis through a motion narrowly approved by the City Council.
The proposal consists of two parts: the use of marijuana is permitted for therapeutic and medical purposes, and the overruling of the 2006 Fini-Giovanardi law on drugs which abolished distinctions between soft and hard drugs and penalized Cannabis consumption and cocaine possession equally.
Medical Cannabis use was already allowed in some Italian regions like Liguria, Tuscany and Veneto, but recreational consumption of the drug is still taboo throughout Italy today.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 17)
U.S. President Barack Obama conceded that Cannabis consumption is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco in a profile published on The New Yorker website. Obama, after once again admitting his own youthful indiscretions, said “I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” He then acknowledged the vast differences in arrest rates and punishments among the poor and often minority groups that receive harsher penalties than wealthy groups in what could be seen as an endorsement for decriminalization at the very least.
NEW YORK (Jan. 19)
N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo, after years of opposition has left his state one of the last in the region to allow medicinal Cannabis use, has declared an executive order to allow limited medical use and begin researching the medical efficacy of the plant and its derivatives.
“We’ll establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana,” he said in his State of the State speech. “We will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system.”
National Public Radio reported that polls in the state show bipartisan support of medical Cannabis use at nearly 80 percent, with doctors less likely to support the measure without more research.
The proposal will not allow the production or distribution of Cannabis. Prescribing doctors report they will remain within federal research boundaries. This could mean patients in New York will only have access to Cannabis being grown on a research farm run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the University of Mississippi and Cannabis seized by law enforcement.
COLORADO (Jan. 27)
The Colorado Supreme Court announced it will review the case of a fired medical Cannabis patient, in a case that could impact users all over the state. Brandon Coats – who uses Cannabis to manage the pain from an accident that left him in a wheelchair – was fired from his job at Dish Network in 2010 after testing positive for Cannabis. Coats was never alleged to have been under the influence of his legal medicine at work and had an exemplary record with the company. Dish Network’s said company policy prohibits Cannabis use – regardless of its legality. Coats is challenging the dismissal under the Lawful Activities Statute, a Colorado law which bars employers from firing people for legal activities done off-the-clock.