Marijuana has been in the decriminalization process since 1973 with many states over the years passing laws to either authorize the use of marijuana or prohibit it. It is time to stop treating marijuana like a deadly drug, when science and public opinion agree that it is relatively safe for adult recreational and medical use. With recreational and medical marijuana on the verge of nationwide legalization, marijuana growers and dispensaries are popping up everywhere.

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This week, Illinois grabbed headlines with its legalization of industrial hemp and the expansion of its medical marijuana law to provide opioid patients access to cannabis.

In this week’s cannabis news, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed bills to legalize industrial hemp and to offer medical marijuana as an opioid painkiller replacement. Elsewhere, in Pennsylvania, state banking regulators asked Congress to create protections for financial institutions so that banks and credit unions might serve the state’s cannabis industry.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

  • Colorado: A second business in Denver has been given the green light to allow patrons to consume marijuana on-site. Denver Excise and Licenses has awarded a social consumption license to Vape and Play, which will now begin construction and will open pending inspections in November.
  • Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority received 996 patient applications and 615 commercial applications for medical marijuana licenses by 5 p.m. on Aug. 25, the day the state’s online application portal went live. In all, 23 patients were approved for medical marijuana licenses on the first day.
  • Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill Aug. 25 to legalize industrial hemp, adding Illinois to a growing list of states that allow the growth of cannabis for non-drug purposes. Illinois’ Industrial Hemp Act, which goes into effect immediately, allows for its use in paper, fabric, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food, according to the governor’s office.
  • A measure that could dramatically expand access to medical marijuana in Illinois—making it available as an opioid painkiller replacement and easing the application process for all who qualify—was signed into law on Aug. 28. It allows doctors to authorize medical marijuana for any patient who has or would qualify for a prescription for opioids like OxyContin, Percocet or Vicodin.
  • Oregon: The OLCC passed a temporary rule which radically changed, without warning, the amount of flower that an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) patient may purchase. Previously, an OMMP patient or caregiver could purchase up to 24 ounces per day from a dispensary, but beginning Aug. 24, that amount plummeted to one ounce.
  • Pennsylvania: With millions of dollars in medical marijuana proceeds—all cash—being moved across Pennsylvania monthly in unmarked cars, state banking regulators have appealed to leaders in the U.S. Congress to create protections for financial institutions so that banks and credit unions might serve the state cannabis industry. The Wolf Administration sent a letter making the request to Congress’ top leaders: U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
  • Alaska: Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board, which oversees the state’s regulatory system for cannabis, has released its proposed rules for the on-site consumption of cannabis at approved locations. Under the proposed regulations, a cannabis retailer in a freestanding location could become licensed to sell adults 21 and older up to a gram of cannabis to be consumed on-site.
  • California: Some California parents would be allowed to give their children medical marijuana on school campuses under a bill passed by the state assembly and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill says the marijuana would have to be in non-smoking or vaping form, such as in capsules or oils, and it could only be given to students with a medical marijuana prescription.
  • Vermont: The Vermont Democratic Party has formally declared its support for a statewide system to tax and regulate marijuana sales, voting last weekend to adopt the policy into its official platform. The party’s embrace of cannabis taxation and regulation comes after recreational use of the drug became legal in July and represents a significant shift from where the party stood on marijuana policy even just two years ago.
  • Nevada: New figures released by Nevada’s Department of Taxation show the state made more than a half-billion dollars in its first year of recreational marijuana sales, 140 percent of what the state expected. The state reported $529.9 million in sales for all marijuana sales—that includes recreational, medicinal and cannabis-related products—and tax-wise, the state reported taking in nearly $70 million from the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

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