On Sunday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that will add seizure conditions to Illinois’ medical cannabis program for both adults and minors. The new law also allows parents to seek permission for minors to access medical marijuana for other qualifying conditions. Special thanks are owed to bill sponsors Sen. Iris Martinez and Rep. Lou Lang, and the many parents and advocates who tirelessly worked to make the bill a reality for seriously ill patients.
The rules are far from perfect. The Illinois program is by far the most expensive in the nation for cultivators, with a non-refundable application fee of $25,000, and a first-year license of $200,000. That means the Department of Agriculture will receive a windfall of $4.4 million for issuing just 22 cultivation center licenses during the first year of the program, not including application fees. Unfortunately, the enormous tab will surely be passed along to patients.
MissouriGov. Jay Nixonsigned a limited medical marijuana bill into law yesterday. HB 2238allows some patients with intractable epilepsy access to products containing marijuana extracts. Those extracts must be limited primarily to a non-psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant called cannabidiol, or CBD.
Many believe high-CBD marijuana extracts are effective in helping alleviate severe seizure conditions — reducing both the frequency and intensity of seizures. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of patients who can benefit from medical marijuana have this condition, so the vast majority of seriously ill patients in Missouri will be left out of the state program. MPP has a short analysis of the law available here.
Several other states have passed laws that are similarly limited. For the most part, laws passed in other states are not workable due to limitations imposed under federal law. By contrast, Missouri’s carefully crafted law is unique in that it may actually lead to a functioning program. This will be great news for those few seriously ill seizure patients who will be able to participate.
A bill that would establish regulations and protections for a wide range of medical marijuana businesses in California continues to make progress in the legislature. Sen. Lou Correa’sbill SB 1262recently emerged from the Assembly Public Safety Committee, and will next be considered in the Appropriations Committee in August.
Sen. Correa’s bill has been heavily amended no less than five times since it was introduced in February. Many of the changes in the past few months have been big improvements, but some provisions remain troubling. For instance, the current version of the bill requires costly business license fees, saddles local governments with primary responsibility to enforce the law, and gives wide latitude to law enforcement officials to prohibit businesses.
We have been told it is too early to know if these requirements will change as negotiations among many different groups continue at a rapid pace. The only thing that is certain is that the bill remains very much a work in progress. For a list of MPP’s concerns with the current draft of the bill, click here.
Until now, Chicago has been unable to take advantage of Illinois’s medical marijuana law. However, the Chicago Sun Times reports that the Chicago Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will meet tomorrow to discuss how they would implement the medical marijuana pilot program. If there are no objections in the committee, the process of registering patients, as well as dispensaries and cultivation centers, can begin. Should the committee do this, people with debilitating medical conditions would be able to apply for a registry identification card in September. The medical marijuana distributed would have to be grown in state by law and should be available to patients within four to six months of the start of cultivation.
MPP estimates that at least 10,000 people could qualify as patients in Chicago. Chris Lindsey, one of MPP’s legislative analysts, believes that Illinois will move faster than other states with their medical marijuana program. Lindsey said, “A lot of people now know about medical marijuana. They’ve heard about this in Illinois.” If the committee moves forward without delay, medical marijuana would most likely be available in Chicago by 2015.
Will Humble, the top health official in Arizona, has authorized the use of medical marijuana in cases of PTSD on the orders of a state judge, reports AZ Central. Starting January 1, 2015, sufferers of PTSD will be able to use medical marijuana for the palliative, but not as the primary, treatment of the disorder. When announcing the decision, Humble said:
“Today I issued a Director’s Decision that will authorize the use of marijuana … for patients that are currently undergoing conventional treatment for a diagnosis of PTSD. Physician certifications would be valid only for the palliative care of PTSD symptoms (not treatment). Certifying physicians will be required to attest that they have reviewed evidence documenting that the patient is currently undergoing conventional treatment for PTSD before signing the medical marijuana certification.”
With this decision, Arizona becomes the tenth state to allow PTSD sufferers to use medical marijuana as a treatment. This comes on the heels of Dr. Sue Sisley, a major medical marijuana researcher, being fired from the University of Arizona in what is thought to be political retaliation for her public advocacy efforts. Dr. Sisley was among the foremost researchers in medical marijuana specifically for PTSD. Most recently, she was granted approval for a study to observe the effects of medical marijuana on veterans. The future of that study is now uncertain.