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.
Vermont’s medical marijuana program has come a long way since the law was first approved by the Legislature back in 2004. In 2011, MPP worked with Vermont legislators and our allies to secure approval for four state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. As a result of that law, which was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, the fourth dispensary began serving patients in southern Vermont last Tuesday.
This is great progress, but we can’t stop here. The addition of four dispensaries has dramatically improved access for patients, and over 1,000 patients have now registered for Vermont’s program. But there are still a number of issues with Vermont’s medical marijuana law that need to be addressed, including an absurd restriction that only 1,000 Vermont patients may be served by dispensaries.
Sen. Jeanette White
We are currently urging Vermont legislators to pass S. 247, which would eliminate the 1,000-patient cap and make other positive changes to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Sponsored by Senator Jeanette White (D), S. 247 would authorize the Department of Public Safety to license two additional dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and it would allow naturopaths to certify patients for the program.
S. 247 has already been approved by two Senate committees, and a vote is expected soon by the full Senate.
If you are a Vermont resident, please email your senator and ask them to support his sensible bill.
Last week, the Oregon Senate unanimously approved legislation to allow local governments to enact reasonable restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries. As passed by the Senate, SB 1531 would allow municipalities to develop rules about where, when, and how dispensaries can operate. Unfortunately, the bill was amended to allow municipalities to completely ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
The Oregon legislature passed a bill creating a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program last year. The legislation required the state health authority to create thorough regulations dispensaries must adhere to. These regulations ensure the dispensaries are run responsibly. There is no reason to deny patients access to their medicine simply because of where they happen to live. If you are an Oregon resident, please ask your representative to oppose this unnecessary proposal.
Regulated medical marijuana dispensaries are no more harmful to a neighborhood than a coffee shop. It makes little sense to allow cities to ban them completely when they provide a necessary service to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.