This week brings sad news from Hawaii, where Woody Harrelson's application to open a medical marijuana dispensary was rejected by state officials. The state approved eight applications out of 60 submitted. The eight stores permitted under state law in Hawaii will consist of three in Honolulu, two on the Big Island, two on Maui, and one on Kauai – none of which will be owned by the legendary stoner who keeps a house on Maui. State officials gave no reasons for rejecting the application by Harrelson's company, but maybe they figure Woody already has enough of his own.
Last year, Ohio voters rejected a very strange ballot measure that would have granted one private company a legal monopoly on selling both recreational cannabis and medical marijuana in the state. Now, a bipartisan medical marijuana bill is pending in the state legislature. A Republican physician is among the sponsors of the bill, and the Republican-led state House is expected to open the measure to floor debate and a vote. Legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio would mark the half-way point for US states, with 25 allowing medicinal use.
Cannabis legalization trailblazer Colorado is further liberalizing its cannabis regulatory scheme. Currently, visitors to Colorado are only allowed to purchase one-quarter ounce per day in Colorado, whereas residents can purchase up to an ounce. A bill pending in the Colorado legislature, and expected to become law soon, allows visitors to purchase as much cannabis as Coloradans.
The restrictions were intended to prevent tourists from taking their purchases home with them, and are unique among states legalizing cannabis, but Colorado Sen. Cheri Jahn, a Democrat sponsoring the bill, says regulators have found "that's really not happening." Instead, Colorado cannabis regulators and law enforcement officials have found that there is a problem with illegal grow operations in Colorado exporting large volumes of cannabis mainly to eastern states.
In March and April, federal and state police conducted a series of raids throughout the heavily populated Front Range area in Colorado that resulted in more than 40 arrests and seizure of over 30,000 illegally-grown cannabis plants. Colorado US Attorney John Walsh says the raids are part of a concerted effort to stop an increasing number of unlicensed growing operations. Most of the people arrested in the raids were not Colorado residents, and many were foreign nationals from Mexico, Honduras and other Latin American countries.
Finally, Maine officials announced this week that a referendum proposal to legalize recreational cannabis will appear on the state's November 2016 ballot.