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Regulation and Quality Control in Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

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When was the last time you thought about where that medical cannabis came from?

Most people who work in dispensaries will readily admit that they get their cannabis from outside vendors. This means that they have no clue about how the cannabis was cultivated, or any of the process that led to some guy with a backpack showing up at their door with a recommendation and a pre-paid cell phone number. After the unknown, it is the responsibility of the dispensary to keep the cannabis stored properly and in a sanitary way. As a person who has worked at many dispensaries, I have seen first-hand the unsanitary and unhealthy way that many of these dispensaries are run.

The other day I went into a dispensary to purchase some medicine. The only problem was that I have been getting over a bad case of bronchitis, so I didn’t want to handle the cannabis, thinking that it would be nice to keep my germs to myself. When I was asking the guy to hold the jars up for me to smell, it struck me how disgusting it was that they allow people to just stick their hands into the jars. This is an example of an unhealthy practice that would be avoided if medical cannabis was better regulated.

The next time that you go into a dispensary, look around. See how clean it is. I guarantee you that if you see trash in the front, it is ten times worse in the back. See if they use chopsticks or tongs instead of their fingers to weigh out. You have the right to know that the cannabis you purchase for medical benefit is handled in a sanitary way.

Ask if they grow the medical cannabis themselves, or if they have had it tested and have laboratory information.

Some dispensaries offer information about each of their strains, or have a farm run by collective members. These are ideal situations because you can verify the safety of your medical cannabis. Lab tests often include information about safety and the percentage of THC, CBD and other natural substances that have different medical effects. Medical cannabis is a great alternative to many medicines, but it is smart to be wary about your dispensary. You should be picky about what you put into your body.

With no regulation or quality control being enforced by law, it is up to medical cannabis patients to demand not only safe, but healthy access. Support your local dispensaries that give good customer service and use sanitary practices. On the other hand, if a dispensary worker gives you a hard time about being picky, you can always leave! Take your money elsewhere. I guarantee that if enough of us do it, they will get the message.

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Brief: Legal MMJ Moves Forward in Delaware

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Great news for the people of Delaware: the state Senate there has approved a bill allowing the medical use of cannabis in The First State, with 18 yea votes and only 3 nays. That vote was on Thursday, March 31st.

Senator Robert Venables (representing Laurel) told the press that using marijuana for medicinal reasons will help ease the unncessary suffering of cancer patients and others.

This bill would give authorized users of medical marijuana legal permission to possess up to six ounces of the drug, which would be obtainable from “compassion centers” which much be registered with the state.

The bill now moves to the Delaware House of Representatives for their review or approval, and then, if it’s approved, to the governor for signature or veto.

Here’s hoping the other half of the Delaware legislature does the right thing, and gives this bill resounding support.

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MMJ in Hawaii

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Chronic patients in Hawaii may have cause for new hope

While medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for eleven years now, the state lacks any kind of dispensary system, which leaves patients there to acquire their weed either by buying it on the black market, or by growing their own.

Last month, however, state Senator Kalani English, of Maui, introduced SB1458, a bill designed to create what was he described as a “… comprehensive five-year medical marijuana distribution pilot program in an unspecified county.”

English explained, at the time, that he proposed the program because he was seeing too many suffering patients asking where they could get their medicine. He added that he had to make the bill “drip with money” in order to appeal to money-conscious legislative colleagues.

Under the terms of the bill dispensaries (which English referred to as “compassion centers” would be taxed, but they’d also allow patients visiting from other MMJ-friendly states to buy temporary permits for the duration of their visit to Hawaii, at a cost of $100, which may make Hawaii the first American marijuana tourist destination.

The bill passed the Senate at the end of March, and passed two House committees (Health and Safety) as well, with a hearing scheduled for the House Judiciary Committee today.

Last week, a call went out asking people for pro-MMJ testimony. If the bill passes today’s hearing, it will then go before the full House of Representatives, and then on to a joint hearing with both the Hawaii Senate and the House.

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Vermont Considers Dispensaries

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Like Hawaii, the state of Vermont has had medical marijuana laws on the books for several years, but has left patients to either grow their own cannabis or buy it from illegal sources.

Also like Hawaii, Vermont is considering the creation of dispensary system this year. In fact a bill allowing the creation of such businesses has already been introduced into the state legislature and has passed the state Senate Government Operations Committee and is scheduled for a full Senate hearing sometime this week.

The bill, which was sponsored (in part) by Senator Richard Sears (D-Bennington) includes restrictions that make it fairly conservative, especially when compared to the systems in place in states like California. Among them is a requirement that patients have appointments in order to buy cannabis from dispensaries.

There would also be a limit on the number of dispensaries allowed in Vermont. While the current language in the bill calls for a maximum of two dispensaries, it will be raised to four on the recommendation of Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn.

The change would increase revenue to the state as well as make it easier for patients.

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