Medical Marijuana Update

Posted on: October 1st, 2011 by admin No Comments

Map Showing Medical Marijuana States

Number Distribution Agencies Name of Storefront Distributers Nonprofit / For Profit Patients Can Grow Estimated No. Patients State Population 2010 Census
Alaska 0 n/a n/a Yes 175 698,473
Arizona 126/unknown** Dispensaries* & Cannabis Clubs** Nonprofit Yes 11,133 6,595,778
California <1,000 Dispensaries, Coops, Clubs, and Collectives For Profit & Nonprofit Yes 750,000 – 1,000,000 36,961,664
Colorado 692 Medical Marijuana Centers Profit & Nonprofit Yes 123,890 5,024,748
Hawaii 0 n/a n/a Yes 5,190 1,295,178
Michigan 0 n/a n/a Yes 105,458 9,969,727
Montana <100** Dispensaries or Caregivers Profit & Nonprofit Yes 26,492 974,989
Nevada <100** Dispensaries Nonprofit Yes 860 2,643,085
New Mexico 25 Producers Nonprofit Yes 4,000 2,009,671
Oregon <70 Clubs Nonprofit Yes 49,220 3,825,657
Washington Unknown Collective Gardens n/a Yes 66,000 6,664,195
Delaware 3 Compassion Centers Nonprofit No 0 897,934
Washington, D.C. 5 Dispensaries For profit No 0 599,657
New Jersey 6 Alternative Treatment Programs Nonprofit No 0 8,707,739
Rhode Island 3 Compassion Centers Nonprofit Yes 3,700 1,053,209
Vermont 4 Dispensaries Nonprofit Yes 355 621,760
Maine 8 Dispensaries Nonprofit Yes 250 1,318,301

*Have Not Opened Yet **May not be operating legally under state law, pending legal action

Alaska

The Facts

Despite its moniker as the “The Last Frontier,” Alaska was one of the first states to allow medical marijuana usage within its territory. Voters approved Ballot Measure 8 by 58% in 1998, tying Oregon as the second state to adopt MMJ, according to Procon.org. The law didn’t go into effect, though, until March of 1999, making Alaska the third state to allow a medical marijuana defense.

Patients are required to get a doctor’s recommendation, and register with the Bureau of Vital Statistics in order to receive an identification card. Once a patient receives the card, they are afforded protection from criminal penalties for possession, cultivation, and usage. NORML reports that patients or their caregivers can grow six plants, but only three can be mature. The six plants are allowed per-patient, not per-caregiver, and a patient can only one alternate for their primary caregiver. These caregivers must be listed with the Bureau, cannot be convicted of a controlled substances felony, and can only serve one patient at a time.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

There is no provision regarding the purchasing or sale of medical marijuana. Therefore, dispensaries or businesses are not allowed to market, sell, or trade MMJ according Alaska State Law (AS 17.37.030). Eligible patients have complained online that most doctors are unwilling to recommend marijuana, fearing that their license will be revoked. State law does protect doctors from prosecution, so the stance may prove irrational in the end. But it does give fearless doctors some opportunity to start capitalizing. No new patient statistics have been posted since Procon.org documented the state’s card-holders at 175 in Jan. 2009. Nearly three years later, CCT research suggests that that number is still under 1000.

Arizona

The Facts

Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, passed Nov. 2, 2010 with 50.13% voter approval, the smallest margin of all medical marijuana ballot measures. As of April 14, citizens with qualifying conditions were allowed to seek written certification from their doctor recommending marijuana. Each patient must register with the Arizona Department of Health Services to gain protection from criminal penalties for MMJ sales, use, possession, and in certain circumstances, cultivation.

Not-for-profit dispensaries are allowed under the AMMA, and the Department of Health is tasked with regulating and approving the number of dispensaries throughout the state. At least one must operate in each county, and the number cannot exceed 10% the number of pharmacies in the state. High Times Magazine reported in April that State Health Director Will Humble was going to allow one dispensary in “125 designated ‘Community Health Analysis Areas.’” But the ADHS says none of the 126 dispensaries have opened since, for fear of legal action. The department’s (website?) states:

“ADHS suspended the dispensary and dispensary agent portions of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act on May 27, 2011. In light of recent communication from the U.S. Attorney, the Governor asked the Attorney General to file a suit asking for a declaratory judgment from a federal court regarding the legality of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and our Rules. As a result of this legal action, legal advice from the AZ Attorney General’s Office and the overall uncertainty about the legality of the Act itself (especially the dispensary parts), ADHS won’t accept dispensary applications in June. Whether we accept and process dispensary applications at a later date will depend on the outcome of legal action.”

Patients are allowed to possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana, and can cultivate up to 12 plants in a secure and locked area. They can only do so if they are 25 miles away from a dispensary, reports Procon.org, so most city dwellers will unlikely be able to grow. But with few signs that dispensaries will appear anytime soon, all patients are currently allowed to grow.

Meanwhile, “Medical Cannabis Clubs” have opened throughout the state to fill the gap from the lack of dispensaries.  They claim to operate under the letter of the law because they are not directly selling marijuana to patients. The Arizona Republic reports that 270 caregivers have been licensed by the state, and “patients and caregivers can share [medical marijuana] with other cardholders ‘if nothing of value is transferred in return.’” Some of the caregivers and patients have joined together to form these clubs. The 2811 Club, an openly advertised cannabis club featured in the Arizona Republic article, charges a $25 application fee and $75-per-visit fee. Patients can then attend different seminars and receive a free marijuana sample. The club also donates an amount of money to its growers. “We don’t sell marijuana here” maintains founder Al Sobol, adding that the clubs that do are “absolutely wrong” in their interpretation of Proposition 203.

But are the clubs really operating legally? Health Director Will Humble did make a distinction for confused patients and caregivers, noted on a his blog:

The Arizona Attorney General has completed their analysis of “cannabis clubs” and have concluded that the clubs and the folks working in them aren’t allowed to legally transfer marijuana.  The Attorney General filed a civil action in Maricopa County Superior Court today against four Valley cannabis clubs.  Today’s action asks for a “declaratory judgment and injunctive relief” meaning that we’re asking the court to stop the cannabis clubs from operating and claiming that they’re able to operate under the protection of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

Nevertheless, Arizona’s clubs are still operating, even in Maricopa County, so it seems that the civil action by the Attorney General has had little effect to cease their operation.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

With no dispensaries, and non-profit clubs threatened by the law, the industry’s revenue in Arizona remains largely in doctor recommendations for each month’s new applicants. For every month since the registry opened in April, over 2,000 applicants have been approved by the Health Department. That totals 11,133 patients in just over six months. If the rate continues, Arizona’s patient population could match that of Colorado within five years.

As for dispensary opportunities, multiple legal actions against the state stand to clarify the application process, so waiting out the legal process could provide quite fruitful. But the state is not accepting further operator applications. Those fortunate suppliers who do appear in the next few years stand to do well, as a large customer base will be limited to fairly few retail options.

California

The Facts

California became the first state to approve Medical Marijuana, with Proposition 215 in 1996. Anyone “who possess a ‘written or oral recommendation’ from their physician that he or she ‘would benefit from medical marijuana’” is a patient in California, according to Procon.org.  Patients are allowed to possess up to eight ounces of usable marijuana, 12 immature plants, and six mature plants. They are subject to arrest if they grow and possess more than the listed amounts, but can use a medical necessity defense in court.

California NORML estimates the number of patients in the state to over 750,000 and maybe over a 1,000,000. Since the state does not have a mandatory registration program for patients, these numbers are only estimates based on statistics from other states.

The California Department of Public Health runs the voluntary registry program in the state but does not regulate or license the state’s dispensaries, cooperatives, and collectives. This authority falls to the counties and local municipalities, many of which have limited such businesses or even banned them completely. According to the Wall Street Journal, over 20 California communities have fully shut out all MMJ suppliers, regardless of their legal structure or compliance.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

Since a physician’s recommendation is all Californian patients need in order to protect them from criminal penalties, doctors are seen the “gateway” into the program – not like the state government as in most states. This means there is a huge demand for qualified doctors to meet the demand of thousands, and thousands, of monthly patients.

The high patient population also means a consistently huge demand for medicine, in general. Growers, store fronts, and the businesses that support them, all stand to profit. Since local municipalities are responsible for regulating grows and retail operations, owners are advised to strike up good business relationships with both local government and their communities. And in areas that banned MMJ suppliers, patients will take their business—and the local economy that comes with it—to the closest alternative.

See our article on Dispensaries, Cooperatives, and Collectives to learn more about how these structures differ.

Colorado

The Facts

Colorado has had over a decade to get its medical marijuana program running. There are over 120,000 patients in the state now, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.  Cannapages.com reports that over 690 dispensaries are currently serving those patients. But the industry’s stability did not come without strict regulations and an ongoing series of local bans.

The citizens of Colorado passed an amendment to their state constitution acknowledging medical marijuana use in 2000, with a bare majority of 54%. The law, which took effect June of 2001, gives the Department of Revenue oversight over dispensaries and grow operations, while the Department of Health and Environment manages the patient registry.

In May 2010, the state legislature passed additional new bills to increase regulations on medical marijuana centers, manufactures of infused products, and growers. A high-tech video-surveillance system is newly enforced by new laws, for instance, so that all facilities can be monitored by the state. Dispensaries–now legally recognized as Medical Marijuana Centers–must grow 70% of their own medicine and are restricted to certain hours of operation. Both patients and MMC operators believe these compliance requirements infringe on their constitutional rights and HIPPA privacy. Local lawyers, including notable industry attorney Rob Corry, have vowed to take the regulations to court and have them removed from the “Code.” Corry’s argument was quoted in Westword Magazine that May:

“There’s a provision in the Colorado constitution that says the state legislature is required to pass any regulations related to medical marijuana by April of 2001 — and it did pass a bill before that date. So there’s an argument that 1284 and 109 are untimely and should be thrown out in total. By passing regulations after the industry was already in existence, the state acted too late — and the constitution says that in black and white.”

As of July 1 2011, House Bill 1284 and Senate Bill 109 have gone into effect. Several dispensaries closed, unable to meet the new requirements, and others were closed down as numerous municipalities banned dispensaries from Castle Rock to Grand Junction, and most recently, Longmont. Fort Collins is the largest of those cities with a ban initiative on the ballot this November. Groups like the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and Medical Marijuana Industry Group (MMIG) are fighting to keep dispensaries open in these towns.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

The registry at the Department of Health reports receiving over 500 patient applications per day. Doctors will find it lucrative to recommend medical marijuana, especially because they don’t have to be part of specialized clinics. In metro areas, grow stores thrive supporting the industry’s 100,000+ marijuana plants, as well. Patients are constitutionally able to grow, or have a caregiver grow for them, so no cities have banned grow stores. Compared to other MMJ businesses in the public eye, they’re also the least-despised, in that they serve traditional home-gardeners.

But are MMC operators making any money through the dispensing of cannabis? With the increase in fees and regulations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate any of these types of medical marijuana businesses. Those with proper investment have time and patience to weather the regulatory storm, but not without risking the quality of medicine. Those without investment are hanging on by threads and maxing out credit cards. Recently, Colorado did stop accepting applications for any kind of MMJ business licenses, which may give its wary industry hope for a sort of equilibrium.

Hawaii

The Facts

Senate Bill 862 was approved on June 14, 2000 and went into effect the following December. The Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division has written a guide for medical marijuana patients describing possession limits: “the qualifying patient and primary caregiver jointly may not possess more than an ‘adequate supply’ which shall not exceed a total of three mature marijuana plants, four immature marijuana plants, and one ounce of usable marijuana per each mature plant.”

Hawaii’s patient application procedure is the same as most states. A citizen with a qualifying condition can visit a doctor for a written recommendation stating the patient’s health should improve through the use of cannabis. The patient must then submit their application with the Narcotics Enforcement Division and pay a $35 fee. After a few weeks, they receive a temporary medical marijuana card, and three to four months later, an “official” blue card.
KHON2 of Honolulu reports that near the end of 2009 there were over 5,190 patients in the state, all of whom have no way of legally purchasing medicine. Patients can either grow themselves or a caregiver can grow it for them—but no one can sell, even to recoup costs. In 2010, a couple of bills (SB2213 and SB2450) were brought before the Hawaii legislature that would allow dispensaries within the state, one for each of the five islands. These bills have faded in momentum and no subsequent activity has occurred since March 2010.

 

Entrepreneur Lowdown

 

If the industry average of patients-per-state—roughly 3% of the population—continues in the Aloha State, patient number could peak at 38,000. With the absence of dispensary system and illegality of sales in general, few entrepreneurs are likely to enter the state. Geographical limitations will not help foster the development of grow stores, either.

 

Michigan

The Facts

Michigan’s medical marijuana program has been turbulent since its beginning in 2008. Proposal 1 was passed by 63% of the vote on November 4, 2008. The new law took effect 30 days later, and allowed registered patients with qualifying conditions to possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants. The state also permitted possession with an out-of-state medical marijuana card.

Ambiguities in the initial laws led to marijuana sales, and eventually, dispensaries. But as of August 24, patients are not able to buy and sell from each other, in a ruling from the Michigan appellate court. This means the numerous dispensaries throughout the state are not able to legally operate, so most have closed or stopped selling marijuana. Patients are only able to grow or receive their medicine from their designated caregiver.

Entrepreneur Lowdown                               

Now that dispensaries have been axed, remaining business opportunities exist for doctors and grow suppliers for the state’s hefty patient population. Michigan has registered 105,458 patients in just over two and a half years, almost as many as Colorado. Since a sizeable group will be attempting to grow the medicine, both traditional hydroponics store and new industry “cultivation-consulting” operations can profit.

Montana

The Facts

Montana passed Initiative 148 by 62% of the vote on November 2, 2004 and it took effect immediately. The law specifically allowed patients to possess one ounce of usable marijuana, and cultivate 16 plants,  four mature and 12 immature. Visiting out-of-state MMJ patients are protected as long as they abide by these same rules.

The language of Initiative 148 was so vague that the state legislature passed another bill, SB 423, to repeal the Initiative and setup new rules. SB 423 limited caregivers to 3 patients, and made it so patients and caregivers could not exchange medicine for money. Doctors are limited to only 25 MMJ recommendations per year, under risk of investigation by the Board of Medical Examiners at their own expense. The bill also restricted caregivers from advertising medical marijuana in any way.

Before SB 423 could take effect, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, a group of patients, caregivers, and their lawyer filed a lawsuit requesting the bill be repealed. They also made a motion for the temporary blockage of the alarming parts of the bill before they went into effect on July 1. District Court Judge James P Reynolds granted the request in a declaration made June 30:

“The complete prohibition against advertising of any kind by only persons with valid registry identification cards implicates substantial constitutional rights of Plaintiffs. Medical marijuana is, under this law, a legal substance. Advertising concerning it cannot be banned consistent with first amendment principles.”

In addition to the ban on medical marijuana advertising, Judge Reynolds blocked portions of the bill limiting caregiver’s rights, and the number of recommendations doctors could write. Patients are still allowed to purchase marijuana as well. The dispensaries can still remain open.

Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services reports each month the number of current registered patients, and the number without a provider or caregiver. For August 2011–the latest month reported–they disclose 26,492 current patients, of whom 23,146 have no provider listed.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

SB 423 makes it quite clear that the state legislature wants caregiver-operated storefronts to close. The temporary repeal of that rule may not hold up in court, so becoming a provider for a large number of patients is risky. Doctors trying to capitalize on recommendations also need to be careful until the repeal is made permanent. The only safe MMJ business in Montana may be a grow store, since the majority of all patients are without a provider and may have to grow themselves. They only way left to get medicine legally, would be to find an extremely generous caregiver willing to “gift” the medicine—without even breaking even–if the temporary repeal is not upheld.

Nevada

The Facts

Voters in Nevada approved Question 9 with 65% of the vote on November 7, 2000, allowing registered patients with qualified condition to possess one ounce of usable marijuana and seven plants. Three of the plants can be mature and four can be immature.

A number of dispensaries have opened up throughout the state, but the US Department of Justice states that “Storefront marijuana dispensaries are not recognized under Nevada law, and it is illegal to sell medical marijuana in Nevada.” Many of these businesses are not actually “selling” MMJ, and instead operate similarly to the donation-based clubs of Arizona. After paying a one-time membership fee, patients pay nominal per-visit fees and receive a complimentary amount of marijuana.

Momentum is building to develop a legal supplier structure, and a few bills have been presented this year to legally allow dispensaries. Senate Bill 336 and Assembly Bill 438 introduced different plans for storefront suppliers, but neither has made it out of their corresponding committees, according to Villiage Voice’s tokeofthetown.com.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

As of the beginning of 2009, Nevada still had less than 1,000 patients, according to procon.org. Dispensaries are currently illegal, so only doctors and grow stores could survive. But with so few patients it is unlikely many new businesses will crop up in this fairly old and heavily regulated medical marijuana industry.

New Mexico

The Facts

New Mexico passed Senate Bill 523 in April 2007, and it took effect on July 1 that same year. Registered patients can possess six ounces of usable marijuana and can request to grow up to 16 plants. Four of the plants can be mature and 12 can be seedlings or immature.

Originally the program only allowed patients or their caregivers to grow marijuana, devoid of any dispensary system. According to NORML, the state’s health department revised the rules for the program in January 2009, to allow non-profit facilities up to grow up to 95 plants sell the medicine to patients. To better serve the state’s 4,000 patients, New Mexico changed that capacity to 150 plants at the end of last year, which affected 25 licensed producers.

Santa Fe New Mexican reported this September that 85 applications are being processed for new producers in the state. No one knows how many will be approved, but the fact that they are accepting applications–especially since numerous states like Colorado are refusing them—makes the state one of few options for fresh investors.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

There are only 4,000 patients in the state, and unlike other states, they have to apply to grow plants. That percentage of growers is unknown, but with the relatively small number of patients in general, grow stores will have a hard time cashing in on this new industry.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that employees of the non-profit dispensaries made $327,715 collectively in the second quarter of 2011 across the 25 providers. That’s nearly $5,000 to employees per store, on average, every month. For the relatively small amount of employees each store employs, it makes a decent payroll—but equipment and costs can be difficult for rural growers who lack the volume in patients. Patients with some decent know-how and management ability may want to investigate becoming one of the licensed providers in the state before the application opportunity ends.

The New Mexico Department of Health states that “Medical Doctors, Doctors of Osteopathy and Family Nurse Practitioners who can legally prescribe medication in New Mexico, can write a recommendation for medical cannabis. No special certification is required.” A number of doctors have already opened clinics tailored for potential MMJ patients, and other medical professionals could find the niche profitable.

Oregon

The Facts

49,220 MMJ patients have registered with the Oregon Health Authority and can possess 24 ounces of usable marijuana, and up to 24 plants. Only 6 plants can be mature, which is defined as a plant over one foot tall. One of the first states to enact Medical Marijuana laws, Oregon’s voters approved Measure 67 in November 1998 and the law took effect precisely a month later.

Oregon law still does not allow the purchase of medicine, so the non-profit clubs that dot the state must freely give away medicine as cannabis collectives. Collectives usually charge a membership fee and door fee, so that each visiting member patient receives a “free” amount of medical marijuana. The collectives usually offer additional services like classes, massage therapy, edibles, ointments, and more.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

Best Meds of Portland openly states their website that they, like every other cannabis collective, operate in a legal gray area written into the program’s laws.

“State law and the OMMP law clearly states that sales/purchasing of marijuana is not permitted within the program, but that “a” grower may be reimbursed for costs associated with the production of marijuana by “a” patient. It does not state that it has to be the registered grower of the patient that get’s reimbursed, and it also doesn’t say anything about a med seeking patient reimbursing another patient with excess meds to reimburse their grower. This is a gray area and the wording is not clear, but it does allow for our service to be provided legally and within OMMP protection as it isn’t against the law for a patient seeking meds to reimburse another patient/grower with an excess quantity of meds for grow expenditures.”

This being said, any group of patients may join together and start a collective, in what could be a profitable venture. There are relatively few of them in a state of nearly 50,000 patients, but that gray area may disappear at any time. Investment and growth will require money, dedication, and at the end of the day, could still be a gamble.

If all of Oregon’s patients turned to home-cultivation for their needs, there would be over 1 million marijuana plants in Oregon at capacity.  The hydroponics and grow store industry is thriving, but new operators will have to work to brand and set themselves apart from the pack.

Washington

The Facts

“If you are a qualifying patient with a valid written recommendation from your health care provider, that’s all you need” in Washington, according to the state’s department of health. Washington began its medical marijuana program with Measure 692, approved in November  1998. A bill passed exactly ten years later, legally allowed patients to possess a 60-day supply of medicine, or 24 ounces of usable marijuana and 15 plants.

An amendment to the MMJ program gave license to “collective gardens.” Ten patients can join together and grow up to the legally-allowed amount per patient.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

Doctors and grow stores, once again, are the only businesses able to profit while helping medical marijuana patients here. Dispensaries are not allowed, according to the Department of Public Health, and all you need in order to grow and possess is a recommendation from your doctor. The number of patients within a state is usually over 1-3% according to NORML, so over 66,000 could patients exist in Washington. If each grows 15 plants, then up to one million plants across the state could be in need of grow store supplies and, possibly, cultivation consultants.

Delaware

The Facts

According to DelawareOnline, the Delaware government passed Senate Bill 17 on May 13, allowing patients to possess six ounces of usable marijuana, which could be purchased from a nonprofit dispensary, or from a caregiver providing care to no more than five patients. “Six ounces is less than the federal government has determined is a one-month supply for patients in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program,” says the bill.

This bill acknowledges that the medicine will be purchased from dispensaries and caregivers, so patients and owners do not have to fear running into the problems that have arisen in Michigan “‘Registered compassion center’ means a not-for-profit entity . . . that acquires, possesses, cultivates, manufactures, delivers, transfers, transports, sells, supplies, or dispenses marijuana, paraphernalia, or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients.”

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services is charged with administering the program in the state. At this time, the department has not yet updated its site to reflect its new responsibilities nor is it collecting patient, caregiver, or compassion center applications. DelawareOnline reports that the DHSS does not have to start collecting applications until July 1, 2012.  This means the soonest any patient could legally receive medicine is not going to happen before late 2012 or early 2013. If the normal delays for regulations take as long as in other states, it may take even longer.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

If you are thinking about jumping into the ground floor of a medical marijuana market, Delaware isn’t likely to be a giant gold rush like California and Colorado. It’s going to take time. No one can even apply until summer of next year, and it’s not likely you will be one of the three centers originally chosen. In addition, patients are not allowed to grow, according to ProCon.org—meaning even less business opportunity. Few businesses translates to fewer monies for advertisers, marketers and other business service firms, so the only real opportunity left is for doctors providing recommendations.

Washington, D.C.

The Facts

More than 50 contenders have been approved to apply for a license to grow or sell medical marijuana in Washington, D.C. According to The Washington Post, only 15 businesses will ultimately be approved out of the 50, and the winners will be announced in early 2012.

This news is welcome for a stalled medical marijuana program in the District. Amendment Act B18-622, was originally approved May 4, 2010, and went into effect on July 27, but no registration cards have been issued. Eligible patients are not allowed to grow but can possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana once registered.

The District is using a model similar to Colorado, where 10 for-profit cultivation centers, or grows, and five stores will be licensed to operate, according to Cannabis Culture magazine. The deadline to apply to become one of the 15 has already passed, and another open application period has not been set.

Marijuana takes numerous input materials to produce, like soil, light, water and nutrients. These 15 businesses will have to compete against each other, paving the way for ancillary businesses making money providing advertising, management and other supplies and services. Millions of dollars are therefore at stake for all these new businesses serving the half million people in the District, and the thousands of potential patients.

Big names such as Montel Williams have applied to be one of the businesses, says The Washington Post: “Williams says he has hopes to change perceptions about medical marijuana in Congress, but opening his clinic would come with a risk.”

Entrepreneur Lowdown

Since patients are not allowed to grow their own plants there isn’t a demand for grow stores, but doctors and clinics will likely start marketing to medical marijuana patients. The store fronts and grows will make a lot of money in Washington, D.C. because there are so few of them, and the thousands of potential patients have to purchase their all of the medical marijuana through them.

New Jersey

The Facts

Governor Chris Christie recently allowed the New Jersey medical marijuana program to continue in his state after halting it to evaluate the federal government’s position on prosecuting employees in the industry. Earlier in the year, he halted the program due to worries about the federal government prosecuting employees within the program.

On June 29, the Justice Department released a memo detailing its position on medical marijuana. The Wall Street Journal says, “it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or their caregiver.”

Christie believes this means the very small and focused program in New Jersey will be outside of the scope that the Justice Department is worried about. But other states should worry because the memo also states that large-scale ‘commercial cultivation, sale, and distribution’ of pot for ‘purported medical purposes’ had expanded, and the federal government never intended to ‘shield’ those types of activities from prosecution.

New Jersey approved six nonprofit Alternative Treatment Centers for the medicinal marijuana program. The New Jersey Health and Senior Services Department announced the six centers on March 21, 2011. Patients are required to purchase their medicine from one of these six ATCs or from a caregiver who purchased it from a center. Neither they nor their caregivers are allowed to grow their own medication.

Entrepreneurial Lowdown

This budding, highly regulated program in New Jersey is not likely to go gangbusters soon. There are only six nonprofit centers selling product, but there are 8.7 million people in New Jersey, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau Statistics. This would lead to a larger population base then Colorado, which could create even more patients. Colorado’s medical marijuana industry is valued at over a half a billion dollars, if not more, according to Cannapages.com. A lot of medicine, and therefore money, will be flowing through these six nonprofits.

Rhode Island

The Facts

The Rhode Island Department of Health has had since June 21, 2007, to work out the kinks in its medical marijuana program setup in Senate Bill 710 and 791. Toke Of The Town reports, Rhode Island had chosen three nonprofit dispensaries to serve its patients, but on September 29, Governor Lincoln Chafee decided to not allow the dispensaries. He cites worries about federal prosecution of the state and dispensary employees. Numerous group vow to sue the state, and make them open the dispensaries as legislated. The rules in the state also allow a patient to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana, and grow up to 12 plants, according to ProCon.org and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

Grow stores, nutrient suppliers, and basic input material providers are likely looking at Rhode Island as a potential customer base. According to RIPatients.org, more than 3,700 patients are already in the state, but regulation and lack of medicine is preventing Rhode Island from becoming a major player in the medical marijuana industry.

 

 

Vermont

The Facts

The Vermont medical marijuana program started July 1, 2004, and allows patients two mature plants, seven immature plants, and 2 ounces of usable marijuana. Seven Days Vermont reports that in June, the state passed a bill allowing four nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. The governor has held up the licensing of only the centers originally chosen to sell medicine in the state due to fears of prosecution of the employees.

When the dispensaries finally open, they are limited to 1,000 patients each. Patients must designate the facility as their caregiver if they decide to use it, but this means they can no longer grow their own plants. The facilities must operate by appointment only, and no medicine can be consumed on the premises.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

It has already been seven years since Vermont removed criminal penalties for registered medical marijuana patients, but only 355 patients exist in the state, according to Seven Days. Until the patient base increases and the state government opens the dispensaries, it’s unlikely many businesses will explore Vermont.

Maine

The Facts

Eight dispensaries have opened in Maine this year as a part of its Medical Marijuana Program, according to the Providence Journal. These nonprofit dispensaries are located in each of the eight districts in the state, and are heavily regulated by the state.

Maine’s program was introduced in December 2009, and patients are protected from criminal penalties while possessing up to 2.5 ounces, growing three mature plants, and growing three immature plants. Patients visiting from other states are protected under Maine’s program as well, reports ProCon.org.

Entrepreneur Lowdown

The State’s Licensing and Regulatory Services Site says no new dispensaries are planned, but more may be allowed in the future. The low number of patients estimated at only about 250 according to Procon.org, means that there will be few medical marijuana businesses within the state.

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