Rep. Allen Peake
In a landslide vote of 171-4 Monday, the Georgia House of Representatives passed “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake and over 90 others to legalize medical cannabis. Thanks to the leadership and compassion of Rep. Peake and 170 other members of the House, HB 885 is headed to the Senate!
This bill was named for Haleigh Cox, a four-year-old from Forsyth, who suffers more than a hundred seizures per day. Medical cannabis has proven to be effective in treating hundreds of children with conditions similar to Haleigh’s.
Unfortunately, in its current form, HB 885 would not provide the access to medicine that Haleigh and so many Georgia children desperately need. HB 885 relies on teaching hospitals to grow marijuana and process the cannabis-based liquid drops that relieve seizures. However, hospitals depend heavily on federal grants for funding — grants which may be revoked if the hospitals agree to handle the marijuana. A similar program in Maryland has already proven to be unworkable. The sponsor of that legislation, a physician, is seeking solutions to make it effective.
As Rep. Peake told WSB-TV yesterday, “I still got a big mountain to climb” — the bill will need to be amended to include dispensaries.
Sen. Rick Jones
In Michigan on Tuesday, Sen. Rick Jones’s SB 783 passed the Senate with a vote of 31 to 7. This bill — which is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee — would allow landlords to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation and smoking in the privacy of one’s residence. Meanwhile, more sensible bills including HB 4271 and HB 5104, which protect patient access, currently languish in committee.
This bill would allow landlords to prohibit marijuana cultivation as well as smoking — but not vaporizing — when a lease specifically limits these activities. Those who violate a lease would be subject to sanctions, taking patient rights backwards to the days before the current law was passed in 2008. This bill would limit these rights without addressing fundamental problem in Michigan’s law — the lack of safe and regular access through state-legal provisioning centers and protections for non-smoked forms of the medicine.
Earlier this week, the Utah House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation that would allow individuals suffering from intractable epilepsy to possess and use certain marijuana extracts if their neurologist recommends its use. Patients would only be able to obtain and use marijuana extracts that contain no more than 0.3% THC and more than 15% CBD. Although this law leaves the vast majority of patients behind, it is certainly an improvement on the status quo.
If it becomes law, H.B. 105 would only provide protection for cardholders who use and possess extracts that have been analyzed for cannabinoid content by labs approved by the Department of Health. Minors would only be approved for the program if their parent or guardian has oversight. Passage of this legislation could bring relief to many families grappling with serve epilepsy.
Although the bill does not cover patients suffering from MS, ALS, cancer, HIV, and a host of other serious conditions that respond well to marijuana, it would be a positive step forward.
Late on March 4, the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Policy Committee approved HF 1818 in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote. The compassionate bill will be heard next in the House Government Operations committee.
Rep. Carly Melin
HF 1818, sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin, would allow Minnesotans who suffer from specified conditions to legally obtain, possess, and use marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. It also creates a state-regulated program to dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients in a timely and safe manner. The Minnesota Legislature passed a similar proposal in 2009, only to see then Governor Tim Pawlenty veto it.
Rep. Adam Schroadter
On Tuesday, in a 12-5 vote, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), would reduce the possession penalty to a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100. It would also reduce the penalty for possessing up to six plants from a felony to a misdemeanor, and it would reduce the maximum penalties for other marijuana offenses.
Vermont decriminalized marijuana possession in 2013, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in New England that maintains a criminal penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana. This makes no sense, especially in a state known as the “Live Free or Die” state.