Medical Marijuana

Kentucky Nurses Association Supports Medical Marijuana

July 13th, 2016 No Comments Matt Simon

On July , the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations held a public hearing to consider testimony on the medical use of marijuana. At a press conference prior to the hearing, patients received a strong endorsement from the Kentucky Nurses Association, which announced its support for the proposed reform.Kentucky_Nurses_Association_Logo

“I hope that folks are going to see that when registered nurses say this is an important access to care issue, that folks are going to look at it as the medical and patient care issue that it is and not as a social issue,” said Maureen Keenan, executive director of the KNA.

It is apparent that some Kentucky legislators are evolving on the issue and becoming supporters of allowing medical marijuana. However, others remain vigorously opposed, and many still seem reluctant to discuss the issue in public. If you are a Kentucky resident, please take a moment to send your elected officials a message in support of medical marijuana legislation.

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Medical Marijuana

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

July 7th, 2016 2 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On July 7, the Arkansas Secretary of State announced that Arkansans for Compassionate Care’s (ACC’s) medical marijuana initiative qualified for this November’s ballot. The measure, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, would allow seriously ill patients who have a certification from their doctor to obtain medical cannabis from nonprofit compassion centers. In addition, patients – or their licensed caregivers – could cultivate up to 10 cannabis plants at home provided they take steps to ensure it is secure. For a complete summary, please click here.ARCompassion logo

However, the measure is facing competition from a second initiative, and polling suggests that if both initiatives make the ballot, it’s almost certain that both will fail. Therefore, ACC is urging the competing campaign to end their signature drive and unite behind the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.

If you wish to volunteer to help work towards reform, you can visit ACC’s webpage to sign up and get involved in this important effort. With your support, 2016 may be the year that voters approve medical marijuana in the Natural State.

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General, Medical Marijuana

Rhode Island Legislative Session Closes Without Legalization Vote

June 22nd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Rhode Island legislative session came to close early on Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support for reform, leaders of the House and Senate did not allow legislators to vote on the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act this year.riseal

Other notable outcomes of the 2016 legislative session include:

— Passage of Article 14 in the state budget, which makes significant changes to the medical marijuana program. You can find a summary of the new regulations here.

— Passage of legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

— Passage of legislation to regulate hemp cultivation.

We will continue our efforts to build support for ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in the summer and fall, with plans to work with lawmakers to re-introduce legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana in the 2017 legislative session.

In the meantime, we encourage supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform to become engaged in local legislative races and make marijuana policy reform a salient electoral issue. You can find information about local races in your district by visiting the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Becomes 25th Medical Marijuana State

June 10th, 2016 13 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed HB 523 into law, bringing the promise of relief to thousands of seriously ill patients in the Buckeye State. His action also marks an important milestone in the medical marijuana movement: Ohio’s new law means that now half the states in the U.S. have workable medical marijuana laws for their citizens. MPP_OMM_horizontal green

While this is an important step, more work lies ahead. Several agencies will administer the program, including the Department of Commerce, the State Board of Pharmacy, and the State Medical Board of Ohio. These agencies are expected to start developing rules in the coming months as Ohio begins the process of creating a workable system. Please join us in our efforts to ensure the system is fair and delivers on the promises lawmakers made to create a compassionate program.

We are very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to bring protections to seriously ill patients. Were it not for the donors, volunteers, and signature gatherers who gave so much to the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment, this day would not have come.  As the process moves forward, we will use that amendment as a road map as we work to implement and improve this law.

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Medical Marijuana

Vermont Governor Signs Bill Expanding Medical Marijuana Access

June 7th, 2016 6 Comments Matt Simon

The Vermont medical marijuana program took an important step forward today when Gov. Peter Shumlin signed S. 14, a bill that will make it possible for more patients to qualify for the medical marijuana program.

Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin
Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin

“At a time when opiate addiction is ravaging our state and drug companies continue to urge our doctors to pass out painkillers like candy, we need to find a more practical solution to pain management,” Shumlin said in a statement.

Specifically, the bill reduces the threshold for a pain diagnosis from “severe pain” to “chronic pain.” It also adds glaucoma as a qualifying condition, and it reduces the required provider-patient relationship from six months to three months. A summary of these changes and others made by S. 14 is available here.

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois Legislature Votes to Extend Medical Cannabis Program

June 2nd, 2016 4 Comments Chris Lindsey

On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate approved a key bill that would change the sunset date on the state’s medical cannabis program from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2020. The House approved the bill on Monday. The final votes on SB 10 capped off a whirlwind effort by lawmakers in the closing days of the 2016 session.

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Rep. Lou Lang

In addition to extending the program by two and a half years, SB 10 would allow patients with post-traumatic stress disorder or a terminal illness to qualify for medical cannabis. It would also allow doctors to simply state that a patient has a qualifying condition, rather than recommend cannabis. Finally, SB 10 would change the process for petitioning to add medical conditions and modify the composition of the advisory board.

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Sen. Jim Durkin

The vote was over a year in the making, and while the measure passed both chambers by a wide margin, its success was far from certain. Special thanks go to Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who both worked hard to gain critical support from lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner. Thanks also go to the many supporters and patients who reached out to lawmakers.

Once received, Gov. Rauner will have 60 days to sign the bill into law. SB 10 is available here.

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Campaign Suspends Signature Gathering After Legislature Passes Workable Medical Bill

June 2nd, 2016 1 Comment Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On May 25, 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 523, a limited but workable medical marijuana bill that would allow seriously ill patients to use and purchase cannabis. This bill is now heading to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, who could sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. If you are an Ohio resident, please urge him to sign this compassionate bill into law.

This legislation was a direct response to an initiative MPP funded and sought to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. OH sealThe medical marijuana program established by the bill does not provide for smoking, nor does it allow home cultivation. However, the bill as passed was greatly improved upon from its original version. Unlike some legislatively-approved bills, it includes chronic and severe pain as a qualifying condition.

Due to the legislature passing a workable bill, MPP has suspended its signature collection campaign. We are optimistic that seriously ill patients in Ohio will soon have access to this important treatment option upon their doctors’ recommendations. In conjunction with Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, we plan to continue advocacy efforts to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, while also working to better the program using the ballot initiative proposal as a roadmap for these improvements.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Getting Closer to a Workable Medical Marijuana Program

May 27th, 2016 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The Louisiana Legislature continues to repeat its mistakes. For nearly 40 years, flawed legislative drafting has prevented the establishment of a workable medical marijuana program. Yesterday, the House took another step forward by passing S.B. 180, but it failed to fix a key omission.

Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law S.B. 271, legislation intended to fix a poison pill so Louisiana can establish a medical marijuana program (you can read about it here). However, that law did not amend the criminal statutes, meaning the program would provide medical marijuana to seriously ill patients but allow for their prosecution.Seal_of_Louisiana.svg

S.B. 180, Sen. Frank Mills’ companion bill, seeks to close this loophole and does so for patients and caregivers. Unfortunately, the House did not even consider amending the bill to also shield growers, pharmacies, or their workers from criminal liability. While a court could find legal protections implicit for licensees, the omission could jeopardize the entire program.

S.B. 180 is now before the Senate for a concurrence.

When this session ends, Louisiana will be significantly closer to offering relief to seriously ill patients. The regulatory and licensing process will take many months, and final fixes can be made next session if they are needed. Meanwhile, the state can move to lay the structure for the program.

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Medical Marijuana

Connecticut to Expand Medical Marijuana Access to Pediatric Patients

May 27th, 2016 1 Comment Becky Dansky
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Gov. Dannel Malloy

Earlier this month, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 5450, which will make changes to Connecticut’s medical marijuana program including to allow certain patients who are under 18 to access medical cannabis. The bill previously passed the House 129 to 3 and the Senate 23 to 1.

To participate in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program, minors will have to have been diagnosed with terminal illness, an irreversible spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, or severe or intractable epilepsy. In addition, they must have a written certification from two doctors — a primary care provider and a specialist. Finally, a parent or guardian must also submit a written statement of consent and attest that they will serve as the minor patient’s primary caregiver.

Connecticut first enacted medical marijuana legislation in 2012, but the law did not allow access for minor patients, many of whom would benefit greatly from access to this safe and effective treatment. Of the 24 states that have effective medical marijuana programs, Connecticut is the last state to exclude younger patients.

The new law will also extend legal protections to nurses who administer medical marijuana to patients in hospitals, and creates a research program. It goes into effect on October 1.

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Medical Marijuana

Maryland Medical Marijuana Program Facing Delays

May 20th, 2016 1 Comment Kate Bell

Maryland’s comprehensive medical marijuana law took effect on June 1, 2014. Over 23 months later, no patients have been registered, no ID cards have been issued, and dispensary licensees are not expected to be announced until this fall.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), the state agency in charge of establishing Maryland’s medical marijuana program, announced another delay Tuesday in implementation of the medical marijuana law enacted over two years ago.1280px-Flag_of_Maryland.svg While this delay is only a few additional months, it is the latest in a series of delays that will result in medical marijuana not being available until 41 months after the law’s enactment, giving Maryland among the slowest rollouts of a medical marijuana program in the nation.

While we appreciate that the commission is regulating an industry that is new to Maryland, this delay is unreasonable and unnecessary, and every day it continues is another day patients must suffer. Nine states were able to issue patient ID cards in less than one year, with the average being less than seven months.

Although Maryland law requires patients to obtain medical marijuana from a medical dispensary, an ID card would help patients use the existing affirmative defense, protecting them if they are arrested with their medicine. Please ask the commission to issue ID cards NOW and to make sure there are no more delays in getting patients the medicine they need.

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