All posts by Morgan Fox

Arizona Medical Marijuana Researcher Fired, Cites Political Retaliation

Sue Sisley
Dr. Sue Sisley

This week, University of Arizona professor and leading medical marijuana researcher Dr. Sue Sisley was fired from her position at the university. The University of Arizona refused to renew Dr. Sisley’s contract after advocates engaged in a contentious political struggle with state lawmakers to secure funding for her clinical study on the beneficial effects of marijuana on veterans with PTSD. Dr. Sisley cites her medical marijuana advocacy and research as the reason for her abrupt dismissal. The university’s action will significantly delay — or even end — her groundbreaking research, which had finally received almost all of the necessary federal approvals.

According to the LA Times:

Sisley charges she was fired after her research – and her personal political crusading – created unwanted attention for the university from legislative Republicans who control its purse strings.

“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley said. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.”

….

In March, the National Institute on Drug Abuse moved to approve Sisley’s research. The decision came as a surprise because some researchers have long accused the institute of hostility to proposals aimed at examining the possible health benefits of marijuana.

Sisley’s study was designed to involve veterans who would use marijuana in an observation facility on campus. She had lobbied state lawmakers for approval to use state funds collected at medical marijuana dispensaries to help pay for the work. When a powerful Republican senator maneuvered to block that money, some of Sisley’s allies launched an unsuccessful recall effort.

Dr. Sisley has long been at the forefront of medical marijuana science, often traveling to testify in legislative hearings to support compassionate bills and derail the misinformation that is so often repeated by opponents of reform. MPP wishes her luck in appealing this decision and continuing her valuable research.

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(Photo: Mauro Whiteman)

Colorado Retail Marijuana Application Rules Changed to Open Market

It’s been exactly six months since legal retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, and today is the first day that retail marijuana business licenses are open to all applicants — not just those who previously held medical marijuana licenses.

Click here for an application checklist and the required application forms. Please note that these licenses would not go into effect until October 1, 2014, and businesses would still require local approval.

In these brief six months, the Centennial State has already experienced overwhelmingly positive results! There has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime from 2013. As of May, the state had collected $10.9 million in taxes from adult use stores alone. The Department of Revenue has licensed nearly 600 retail marijuana businesses — including dispensaries, cultivators, and infused products manufacturers — and 10,043 individuals to work in the industry.

Collateral sectors are also feeling the love, especially in the tourism industry. Colorado ski resorts enjoyed a record-breaking season, with 12.6 million visitors, and 14 million Denver tourists spent an all-time high of $4 billion. More families and businesses are also moving to the Mile High City. In 2013, Denver attracted more sales of single-family homes last year than during the housing boom, and is ranked among the top commercial real estate markets to watch.

 

 

Pennsylvania Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

Mike Folmer
Sen. Mike Folmer

This afternoon, the Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee voted unanimously to approve a medical marijuana bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer and Sen. Daylin Leach. The bill is expected to proceed to the Senate Appropriations Committee next.

This bipartisan measure would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to safely and legally use marijuana to treat their medical conditions. These patients and their loved ones should not face the risk of arrest and prosecution, or be forced into the illicit market, where marijuana may be laced or contaminated and where they may even face the threat of violence, simply to obtain their medicine.

Marijuana is already legal for medical use in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Once New York’s bill is signed into law, Pennsylvania will be nearly surrounded by states with such compassionate measures. Pennsylvanians deserve the same treatment options as their neighbors.

 

Learn More About New York’s Medical Marijuana Law

Last Friday, after days of intense negotiation and more than a decade of advocacy, the Assembly and Senate voted to approve a limited medical marijuana program. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already agreed to sign this bill, which includes several revisions he insisted upon. Finally, New York will be the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law.

Click here for a summary of the Compassionate Care Act.

Access to medical marijuana literally means the difference between life and death for many seriously ill patients. While this new law represents a hard-fought victory and a long overdue step forward for New York, the bill is far from perfect. Unfortunately, due to the compromises with the governor’s office, many patients will still be left behind. But, together with our local allies, including the Drug Policy Alliance and Compassionate Care NY, who led recent lobbying efforts in the state, we will not give up on improving the law.

If you have any questions about how the new law may affect you or your loved ones, please join Compassionate Care NY this Wednesday at 6 p.m. for a campaign call. You must register here to attend.

 

Delaware House Committee Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

Yesterday, the Delaware House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee voted 6-1 to release Rep. Helene Keeley’s decriminalization bill. This bill would remove criminal penalties for the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana, and instead impose a civil fine. The proposal may now be considered on the House floor.

This is a strong step towards more fiscally sound and humane marijuana policies. A March poll found that 68% of Delawareans across the political spectrum support making the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use punishable by a fine of up to $100, without jail time. Across the nation, 19 states and the District of Columbia have already passed similar measures.

This is a much-needed measure in Delaware, where African Americans are more than three times more likely to be arrested for the possession of marijuana than users of other races are, despite similar rates of use across all races. Criminal records have devastating effects; they can become obstacles to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. This measure would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.