If you are a seriously ill patient with a qualifying medical condition (definition 21), the loved one of a patient, or a medical professional, please also consider testifying in person. Let us know if you’re interested.
The South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act, H 4037, would allow patients suffering from a listed condition to use and safely access medical marijuana if recommended by their doctors. This bill is more comprehensive than and addresses the many flaws of the legislation that was passed last year in an attempt to make certain medical marijuana products accessible to a limited class of patients.
Last week, by a vote of 210-213, an effort to allow physicians within the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana was narrowly defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives. The same amendment failed by 26 votes last year, so the narrow loss represents a significant rise in support.
The vote was in regards to an amendment offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to the House version of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment, which sought to rescind a 2009 directive prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana, was co-sponsored by Representatives Heck (R-NV), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Reed (R-NY), Titus (D-NV), Gabbard (D-HI), Lee (D-CA), and Gallego (D-AZ).
The vote demonstrated an uptick in support over last year when the amendment failed 195-222. Unfortunately, it means that veterans who could find relief from medical marijuana will have to wait even longer to speak about it with their VA doctors.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the island’s health secretary has three months to issue a report detailing how the executive order will be implemented, the impact it will have and what future steps could be taken. The order went into immediate effect.
“We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life,” Garcia said in a statement. “I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope.”
The order directs the health department to authorize the use of some or all controlled substances or derivatives of the cannabis plant for medical use.
Garcia said the government also will soon outline the specific authorized uses of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes.
Lawmakers in Puerto Rico have been attempting to pass medical marijuana legislation for at least two years, so this is certainly good news. However, it is up to health secretary to design an effective bill that ensures safe, reliable access to whole-plant marijuana products.
In 2012, Norman Smith of Playa del Rey, California, died after being denied a liver transplant because he had used medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. A bill to prevent similar tragedies — AB 258 — could get an Assembly floor vote any time — possibly today.
The bill emerged from committee earlier this month on a strong 13-3 vote. Help keep up the momentum and be sure your Assembly member hears from you!
The California Legislature is also considering several bills that would impose a regulatory system on the state’s medical marijuana program. One of the bills, AB 643, emerged from committee on another strong vote of 7-0 earlier this week. While the bill contains some positive provisions, it is flawed and is in need of improvement before it is allowed to become law. With several competing bills this year, it is likely the debate over whether and how to best regulate California’s medical marijuana program will continue.
For more information about Norman Smith’s story, please watch this video from ReasonTV.
Late last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5052 into law, making numerous changes to and giving the state control over Washington’s medical marijuana program. The governor did veto certain sections of this legislation, including provisions that would have created several new felonies for growing and selling medical marijuana outside the state-regulated structure. For more details on vetoed sections, please read Gov. Inslee’s veto letter.
Under the terms of the new law, medical marijuana dispensaries operating under local authority will be phased out. Patients will instead access their medicine from retail shops that hold a medical endorsement and are licensed by the state’s Liquor Control Board. The new law also creates a voluntary patient registry. Patients who sign up with the registry will be allowed to purchase more marijuana per transaction, receive a modest tax break, and are protected from arrest if in possession of their registration card.
Patients retain the ability to grow their own medicine, both individually and collectively. Patients who join the registry are allowed to cultivate six plants, while those who are not registered will be allowed four plants. Collective membership has been reduced from 10 patients to four and a registration requirement has been added. However, the law increased the number of plants a collective may cultivate from 45 to 60.
While these changes are upsetting to some and not enough for others, we hope the Liquor Control Board takes seriously the need for safe and effective medicine and moves forward with a patient-centered focus.