Medical Marijuana, Research

MPP Publishes Report Criticizing New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Program

July 23rd, 2015 1 Comment » Matt Simon
clayton5
Clayton Holton

On this date two years ago, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed HB 573, making New Hampshire the last state in New England to approve a medical marijuana law. Unfortunately, so far this law has failed to benefit patients in any way. Some patients, including well-known patient-advocate Clayton Holton, have passed away while waiting for the law to take effect. Others, such as Ron Mitchell, have had no choice but to leave their families behind and move to another state in search of relief.

To raise awareness about the program’s many shortcomings, MPP has published Confusion, Delays, and Continued Arrests: A Two-Year Retrospective on New Hampshire’s “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis” Law.

This report includes the most recent updates, analyzes why the law is not yet effective for patients, and makes recommendations for improving the law and policy moving forward.

Please read the two-year retrospective today, and then share it with your elected officials and with your friends and family.

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Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Governor Signs Dispensary and Civil Protection Legislation

July 16th, 2015 1 Comment » Robert Capecchi

On Tuesday, two key medical marijuana bills were signed into law by Hawaii Gov. David Ige. While we already knew the bills would not be vetoed, we are thrilled the governor decided to personally support these compassionate proposals by signing them into law instead of allowing them to become law without his signature.

Governor_David_Ige
Gov. David Ige

One of the bills, HB 321, creates a medical marijuana dispensary system. The law allows, initially, eight medical cannabis businesses (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two dispensing locations each. Starting in 2017, the health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.

The other bill, SB 1291, strengthens existing civil protections for medical marijuana patients and adds new protections. Landlords, schools, and courts may no longer discriminate against medical marijuana patients!

Neither of these good new laws would have been possible without the wonderful work by our allies at Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii.

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Medical Marijuana

Massachusetts Legislators Consider Bill That Would Improve Patient Protections

July 15th, 2015 1 Comment » Matt Simon

On Tuesday, Massachusetts patients and advocates urged the Joint Committee on Public Health to pass H. 2065, a bill that would improve Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law. The bill, which is supported by our allies at the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance,mpaa1-logo would protect patients from being discriminated against (with regard to college admissions, professional licensing, employment, and organ transplants, to name a few examples). It would also allow caregivers to provide up to 10 patients, and it would add a reciprocity provision allowing qualifying patients from other states to benefit from the program.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please contact your state legislators today and ask them to join you in supporting H. 2065. 

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Medical Marijuana

California Organ Transplant Bill Becomes Law

July 8th, 2015 1 Comment » Morgan Fox

Medical marijuana patients in California won a victory Monday when the Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would prevent patients from being denied organ transplants.

The Associated Press reports:

The Democratic governor

Gov. Jerry Brown

announced Monday that he signed AB258 by Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine of San Rafael.

Supporters say some patients who use medical marijuana have been denied life-saving organ transplants because they are treated by doctors as drug abusers. Marijuana is often prescribed to cancer and other patients to help with pain and side effects of treatment.

Levine’s legislation ensures that medical marijuana users have the same right to access organ transplants as other patients by prohibiting a hospital or doctor from disqualifying a person solely because of medical marijuana use.

One such patient was Norman Smith, a Los Angeles resident who succumbed to liver cancer after being denied a transplant. You can learn about his story here.

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Medical Marijuana

First Minnesota Dispensary Open Today

July 1st, 2015 5 Comments » Robert Capecchi

Today at 12:01 a.m., doors opened to qualified medical marijuana patients at Minnesota’s first dispensary — Minnesota Medical Solutions’ Minneapolis location. The July 1 opening date adheres strictly to the implementation timeline proscribed by lawmakers last spring. To say that MPP is thrilled that some seriously ill Minnesotans finally have legal access to medical marijuana products recommended by their doctors is an understatement. That said, we know there is plenty of work still to do.

While the Minnesota medical cannabis law will offer relief to some seriously ill Minnesotans, it offers no relief to others suffering unnecessarily. For instance, patients suffering from intractable pain are still excluded — though the health department is required to consider whether to recommend adding that condition.

Even for those patients with qualifying conditions, severe limits on the number of dispensing locations and unnecessary health care practitioner participation requirements will make it difficult to benefit from the program. We are hopeful that the program will prove helpful for those who do qualify and that lawmakers will compassionately expand it in the near future.

For more information on the medical marijuana program, visit the Office of Medical Cannabis’s website.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Louisiana Gov. Signs Two Improvements to Marijuana Laws

July 1st, 2015 2 Comments » Brendan Valentine

Earlier this week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed two positive marijuana-related bills into law — a penalty reduction bill and a flawed medical marijuana program.

The first, HB 149, significantly reduces penalties for marijuana possession! Although penalties will still be harsh for possessing a substance safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it shaves months, and in some cases years, off of cannabis consumers’ sentences. This law is effective immediately.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal

While first offense marijuana possession remains a misdemeanor, the penalty for possessing 14 grams or less is now far less severe than it was. The maximum jail sentence is reduced from six months to 15 days while the maximum fine is reduced from $500 to $300. HB 149 also significantly reduces the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges.

Gov. Jindal also signed into law a bill that could, in the future, support a compassionate medical marijuana program for Louisianans, although it will not allow patients to use the medicine in smokable form.

SB 143 allows Louisiana physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with FDA and DEA guidelines. Since these federal guidelines don’t exist, this law is not currently operable. Physicians risk losing their prescription license if they use it to prescribe marijuana. But hope remains for future regulatory improvement. Overall, both new laws signed by Gov. Jindal represent improvements for Louisiana’s marijuana policies.

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Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Dispensary Legislation Will Become Law

July 1st, 2015 3 Comments » Robert Capecchi

On Monday, June 29, Hawaii Gov. David Ige released his list of bills that he intends to veto. Thankfully, legislation creating a medical marijuana distribution program was not on this list, meaning HB 321 will become law with or without Gov. Ige’s signature!

HB 321 builds on Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, which was approved by the legislature back in 2000.2000px-Seal_of_the_State_of_Hawaii.svg Since that time, most state medical marijuana programs have either been written to include a regulated system for patients to obtain their medicine, or have been amended to so. In fact, enactment of HB 321 will mean that only two of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs will fail to include regulated access to medicine the seriously ill are able to use.

HB 321 will initially allow eight medical cannabis businesses (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two dispensing locations each. Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each, as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.

This good news would not have been possible without the wonderful work by our allies at Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, and individuals across the state who reached out to lawmakers to ensure passage.

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Medical Marijuana

Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Still Possible in Pennsylvania

July 1st, 2015 No Comments Becky Dansky

Just a few weeks ago, medical cannabis legislation seemed hopelessly stalled in the Pennsylvania House. Thanks to the efforts of advocates, Rep. Nick Miccarelli, and overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, there is strong momentum for passage of effective medical marijuana legislation. While it’s a relief the House is finally moving, it’s important for legislators to hear their constituents want the bill to be patient-focused.

Rep. Nick Miccarelli

As events unfold and legislative strategies are explored, it is important that representatives understand the key components to creating the best possible legislation for seriously ill Pennsylvanians. The most effective legislation, whether it’s SB 3 or a House bill, will allow doctors and patients to decide together from the broadest range of possible strains and will ensure that no matter where a patient lives in the state he or she will have access to these treatments. It’s also vital that the bill include patients with all the serious symptoms that cannabis can alleviate — including severe pain and PTSD.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call or email your representative and ask them to support strong, patient-focused medical cannabis legislation, whether it’s SB 3 or a House bill.

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Medical Marijuana

California Organ Transplant Non-Discrimination Bill for Medical Marijuana Patients Moves Forward

June 29th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

AB 258 passed both the California Assembly and the Senate by overwhelming margins, sending the bill to Gov. Brown

for his signature. This compassionate bill would prohibit hospitals from denying medical marijuana patients organ transplants simply because of their choice of medicine. Hospitals, clinics, and members of the medical community who do not support medical marijuana should not be able to kick people who are already down by denying them lifesaving treatment.

The California Assembly passed AB 258 with a 62-12 vote, and earlier this week the Senate passed the bill with only one vote in opposition. Clearly, both Californians and their legislators believe in protecting patients from discrimination based on their choice of medical treatment. The bill now needs only Gov. Brown’s signature to become law.

If you are a California resident, please take a moment to ask Gov. Brown to sign AB 258 when it reaches his desk.

 

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Medical Marijuana

First Massachusetts Dispensary Now Open

June 25th, 2015 7 Comments » Morgan Fox

Patients who have been desperately waiting for a dispensary to open in Massachusetts will finally have some good news to celebrate this week. A dispensary in Salem has received a waiver from the state to begin operating, and opened its doors to qualifying patients on Wednesday. (An appointment is required.)

According to the Department of Health’s website, three other dispensaries have received approval to begin cultivating marijuana. These three dispensaries plan to locate their retail operations in Northampton, Brockton, and Ayer.patient-front MA MMJ card

Only 15 dispensary applicants were selected by the department in 2014, but the state announced in June that it was overhauling the dispensary selection process and scrapping its widely criticized scoring system for judging dispensary applicants. The department says that from now on, applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and applicants that meet the state’s standards will be approved. Question 3, which was approved by 63% of voters in November 2012, envisioned up to 35 dispensaries for the Bay State.

The delays have been very frustrating for patients, but hopefully this is a sign that Massachusetts is finally getting its act together and implementing the medical marijuana law in an appropriate manner.

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