ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of New Mexico’s licensed medical marijuana producers is suing Expo New Mexico officials over refusal to let the company display its products at the state fair later this year.

Attorneys for Ultra Health Inc. filed the lawsuit in federal court Wednesday, alleging that the company’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process are being violated.

Ultra Health says it sought permission from fair officials to put up an informational booth featuring diagrams and photos of cannabis plants as well as lists and other information about medical cannabis products.

Fair officials informed the company via email that any plants, products or images of the restricted items would be prohibited.

Expo New Mexico officials did not immediately respond Thursday to a message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Medical marijuana has been legal in New Mexico for a decade.

—Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas will soon begin taking applications from those who hope to grow and dispense medical marijuana, though the state’s strong religious heritage and restrictions imposed by the Legislature will limit where greenhouses and distributors can operate.

Voters last November made Arkansas the first Bible Belt state to legalize medical marijuana, clearing its use by people with certain medical conditions. While setting up rules for licensing, legislators said growers must be at least 3,000 feet from churches, schools or daycares, while dispensaries must be 1,500 feet away. The limits will make it tough for some towns and small cities to host marijuana operations.

“Some cities are reviewing where churches, schools and daycare centers might preclude the location of cultivation facilities and dispensaries,” said Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League.

Arkansas had 6,697 congregations, synagogues and Muslim houses of worship in 2010, according to a study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Zimmerman said many towns have so many churches that it could be difficult to site a greenhouse or dispensary close to where people live — “especially in small, compact cities.”

For example, the survey showed 94 congregations in Malvern, a town of 11,000 that covers 9 square miles. Add daycares and schools and the number of potential sites is limited further.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is set to begin accepting applications for cultivation and dispensary licenses for on July 1. Applications will be accepted for 90 days, and then officials will score and process them before awarding licenses based on merit. The cultivation license application fee is $15,000, and a $100,000 fee is required from an applicant who has been selected to receive a license.

—Associated Press

Photo slideshow — story continues below

  • Women with a body paint participate in a march for the legalization of Marijuana, in Santiago, Chile, Saturday, June. 03, 2017. Tens of thousands of people gathered in the central streets of Santiago to demand that the government change its policy regarding marijuana and its therapeutic uses as well as the right to self-cultivation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s medical marijuana oil program will start in weeks, but obtaining the medicine will be difficult and manufacturers said it’s unclear if the state’s effort will be viable.

Although the cannabis oil program approved during the last legislative session will begin July 1, there is no immediate supplier of the oil in Iowa, and manufacturers in other states question whether enough people will enroll in the limited program to make it self-sustaining.

Last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office forecast that 6,022 people will enroll in Iowa’s new program, which allows use of cannabis oil for those suffering from cancer; multiple sclerosis; seizures; HIV or AIDS; Crohn’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; untreatable pain; and terminal illness with a life expectancy of under a year.

Albert Gutierrez, CEO of MedPharm, a Colorado-based cannabis distributor, said Iowa’s projected participant level of 6,000 patients comes true, profit margins could be slim.

“I think 6,000 is probably a little bit conservative, based on some of the numbers, for a business or dispensary to operate in the Iowa market and be able to be successful,” Gutierrez said.

And it’s possible those projections are overly optimistic.

In Minnesota, a similar medical marijuana law is nearly 2 years old but still has less than 6,000 people enrolled, said Andrew Bachman, the CEO for LeafLine Labs, one of two licensed cannabis manufacturers in Minnesota. He notes that Minnesota’s population of 5.5 million is significantly higher than Iowa’s 3.1 million, and that fewer patients could mean less revenue.

“We are 23 months into the program… and we are not yet profitable,” Bachman said.

—Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Maryland’s highest court on Friday intervened in a lawsuit that threatened to upend the state’s long-awaited medical marijuana program, but whether the state can move forward remains in question.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams had scheduled a Friday hearing on whether to grant an injunction to block regulators from authorizing companies to grow marijuana while a lawsuit alleging the state failed to consider racial diversity in setting up the industry was pending.

But Williams abruptly stopped the hearing as soon as it began, citing an order from the Maryland Court of Appeals. The state high court paused the proceedings after an appeal from patients and other pre-licensed marijuana growers who wanted to intervene in the lawsuit. Williams had denied their request, triggering their appeal.

Williams last week ordered the state to temporarily halt licensing marijuana growers until he could hold a full hearing on the matter. Maryland state officials could not immediately say whether they could resume the program because of the high court’s ruling.

It’s also unclear what the next steps will be for the litigation.

The lawsuit holding everything up was filed by Alternative Medicine Maryland, a company led by a black health-care executive from New York, after it failed to win a cultivation license. It alleges that the process of selecting growers was illegal because regulators did not follow a provision in the medical marijuana legalization law calling on them to “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity among growers.

—Washington Post

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