Controlled Substances

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Before they voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, legislators in Illinois committed to learning as much as possible from the experiences of other states. Rep. Kelly Cassidy, lead sponsor of the bill signed into law in June (HB 1438), and others spent two years visiting growers, processors and dispensaries across the United States; they also held more than 100 stakeholder meetings in the state.
The end result: a 600-plus-page bill much different than any other state’s law on marijuana legalization. For example, the bill focuses heavily on ensuring diversity in ownership of the new businesses that come from legalization, and investing in the communities and people disproportionately impacted by enforcement of the state’s old laws on cannabis. But another facet of the new law stands out as well, and reflects what lawmakers found in their fact-finding work prior to the bill’s introduction. “[We were] struck by the intensive power and water usage involved in growing marijuana,” Cassidy says. In response, lawmakers included environmental requirements and efficiency standards for those seeking a license to cultivate marijuana.

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Recently released data from Indiana show that policymakers and law enforcement are making progress in their efforts to curtail methamphetamine manufacturing in the state. The number of meth labs fell by 35 percent in 2016, Indiana State Police statistics show.

 A new study published in the journal Health Affairs shows a significant reduction in prescription painkiller use as well as other prescribed drugs in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. 

Kratom, the popular name for leaves of the mitragyna speciosa tree, is a botanical supplement that has grown in popularity and usage across the United States in the last few years.  Originating from Southeast Asia and sold in gas stations, ‘head shops’ , and through a variety of online vendors, kratom has gained an array of users who seek it’s mood elevating and pain reducing properties.  In addition to the rise in popularity of kratom, it has increasingly caught the attention of state lawmakers concerned about possible negative consequences associated with unregulated sale of the non-FDA approved plant.

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In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear his state’s challenge to neighboring Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is pledging to “determine the best next steps toward vindicating the rule of law.” Oklahoma joined Nebraska in the lawsuit. It was filed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court without going through a lower court — an action that is allowed when states have legal complaints with another, SCOTUSblog.com reports.

More than 17.5 tons—that’s how much recreational marijuana was sold in Colorado in the first year of legalized commercial sales. That’s in addition to the 109,578 pounds of medical marijuana and 4.8 million units of marijuana-infused edible products, such as candy and cookies, which also were sold in the state last year. In total, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division reports that the state sold nearly $700 million in medical and recreational marijuana in 2014, on which the state collected $63 million in tax revenue and an additional $13 million in licenses and fees.

This act amends Tennessee’s fetal homicide law to allow the prosecution of a pregnant woman for the illegal use of a narcotic drug, if her child is born addicted or harmed by the drugs she took during her pregnancy. The charge of assault is a misdemeanor offense, but if the child is harmed, aggravated assault, with a 15-year maximum prison term, could be charged. That a woman is enrolled in long term drug addiction treatment before the child is born, remains in the program after delivery and successfully completes the program is an affirmative defense under the law. The law is set to expire on July 1, 2016.

State and territorial attorneys general have made it a priority to combat the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and to protect military service members from predatory lenders. Their efforts include law enforcement operations, state drug monitoring programs and education campaigns. 

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A year after it joined the growing list of states that allow for the medical use of marijuana, Illinois has modified its law to provide relief for children who suffer from seizures. SB 2636 will take effect at the start of next year. It permits children under 18, with a parent’s consent, to be treated with non-smokable forms of medical marijuana. The state’s original law did not include seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, among the list of debilitating medical conditions that could legally be treated with medical marijuana.

Recent voter initiatives in Colorado and Washington legalizing the use of recreational marijuana have amplified the debate and the uncertain social and legal ramifications. The Future of Western Legislatures Forum featured industry perspectives and insights from officials about how their states are implementing these initiatives. The session also focused on state medical marijuana laws, including state program comparisons and challenges.

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