With New York State beginning to accept applications for medical marijuana providers last week, criticism of the hyper-strict program negotiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been plentiful. Hinged on concerns about arbitrary regulations and insufficient patient access, advocates for medical marijuana access worry the program will be too small and restrictive to be effective.
Andrew Cuomo’s Pot Problem »However, New York is not the only state facing hurdles in implementing medical marijuana laws. In states across the country, legislators are struggling to enact the regulations necessary for legalized medical marijuana programs to function properly, leaving patients with long wait times and a slew of confusing procedures. Here are seven other states that are struggling to translate their marijuana legalization laws as they exist on paper into the real world.
In 2012, Massachusetts’s voters approved via ballot initiative the legalization of medical marijuana and state-regulated dispensaries, but overcomplicated licensing procedures allowed not a single dispensary to open. Two dozen lawsuits followed a two-and-a-half-year wait for the law to be enforced.
This May, Gov. Charlie Baker overhauled the overzealous licensing protocol of the previous administration to speed up the regulatory process. Things in Massachusetts were looking up, with the first dispensary set to open later this month, but then unprecedented requirements on marijuana’s lead levels proved to be an impossible standard that even grocery store vegetables couldn’t meet. As residents wait for a viable program, confusion about the law has led to the arrest of doctor-certified medical marijuana patients, despite state regulations allowing them to grow and possess their own supply.
Enrollment in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program just kicked off, and patients will be legally able to purchase the plant when dispensaries open on July 1. But with a short list of qualifying conditions for patients (nine) and a low maximum number of dispensaries (eight), the program is one of the strictest in the country. Home growing is banned, along with the smokeable marijuana (but not vaping); rather than allowing the raw cannabis plant, only extracts like oils and pills are OK under the law. Patients face a stiff $200 annual enrollment fee for the program, and a host of regulations may deter physicians from involvement.
Expected to help treat 5,000 people in Minnesota – 0.1 percent of the state’s population – Minnesota’s law has become a template for stringent medical marijuana policies that advocates say place political expediency over patients’ …Read More