Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Congress Renews Ban on Justice Department Interference in State Medical Marijuana Laws

December 18th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

The Justice Department will continue to be prohibited from interfering in state medical marijuana laws under the new federal spending bill unveiled late Tuesday night.

The compromise legislation includes a provision that is intended to prevent the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. It stems from an amendment sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) that was first approved in the House of Representatives in May 2014 and included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 signed by President Obama last December.

In April 2015, a Justice Department spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that the department did not interpret the amendment as affecting cases involving individuals or businesses, but merely “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws.” In October, a federal judge ruled that interpretation was inaccurate and that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prevents the department from taking action against individuals who are acting in compliance with state laws.

Unfortunately, the new spending plan also includes an amendment, introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) and approved earlier this year, which prevents the District of Columbia from regulating the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for adult use. District voters approved a ballot initiative in 2014 to make possession and growing of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Health Dept. Accepting Public Comments on New Rules

December 11th, 2015 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger gave patients reason to cheer earlier this month when he approved intractable pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Unfortunately, though, proposed revisions to Minnesota’s medical marijuana regulations could result in an excruciatingly long delay for reviewing future petitions. Under the proposed changes, there could be a delay of more than two years from the time a petition to add a new qualifying condition or delivery method is made to when it takes effect!

If you are a Minnesota resident, please write to Commissioner Ed Ehlinger at the Minnesota Department of Health and urge him to once again show compassion to patients by changing the timeline for adding new conditions. Members of the public may comment on the proposed rules until Wednesday, December 16.

A vast majority of medical marijuana states allow individuals to use and access any number of preparations of medical marijuana to treat a variety of conditions. Minnesota is one of the few that exclude conditions like severe nausea and that strictly limits the modes of delivery — including by excluding whole plant.

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Medical Marijuana

Delaware to Increase Patient Access Next Year

December 9th, 2015 No Comments Becky Dansky

On December 2, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services issued a request for proposals for two new medical marijuana compassion centers, one in Sussex and another in Kent County. The announcement comes six months after the state’s first center opened in Wilmington in June. The new dispensaries are scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.Delaware-Department-of-Human-Services-Logo

The addition of two centers will help to better meet the needs of Delaware patients and will reduce the distances they have to travel. Currently, one dispensary serves the more than 700 patients and caregivers who have registered in the state since the program began. Under existing restrictions, a compassion center can only have up to 2,000 ounces of usable inventory at a time. Unfortunately, patients and caregivers are not allowed to cultivate their own medicine, so increasing the number of dispensaries is vital to ensuring safe, reliable access.

Proposals will be accepted until 11:00 a.m. on March 30, 2016.

A mandatory pre-bid meeting will be held on February 1 at the Delaware Division of Public Health, Jesse Cooper Building, Third Floor Conference Room in Dover. Applicants must preregister at (302) 744-4862.

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Medical Marijuana

Georgia Poll Finds Overwhelming Support for Expanding Medical Marijuana Law

December 8th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

A poll released Monday shows that the vast majority of likely Georgia voters support expanding the extremely limited medical marijuana law.Seal_of_Georgia.svg

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

The poll, conducted Nov. 29-30 by Atlanta-based Opinion Savvy, found 84.5 percent of likely 2016 Georgia primary voters somewhat to strongly supported allowing production and distribution of cannabis oil in Georgia.

Another 72.7 percent of respondents said they are somewhat to very confident law enforcement agencies could effectively police the law’s expansion — something law enforcement officials in Georgia have said they are still skeptical about.

Among other findings, 81.8 percent of respondents said they support expanding the list of illnesses now included in the program for the oil’s use. Another 61.5 percent said they somewhat to strongly support allowing the smoking of medical marijuana as a form of treatment. And 49.4 percent said they would at least somewhat support recreational use of marijuana in Georgia, although state lawmakers have said they have no appetite for allowing recreational use here.

Under the current law, there is no in-state production of medical marijuana, and what few patients are able to qualify for the program must risk arrest by obtaining their medicine in other states. Hopefully, the Governor and legislature will listen to the will of the people and not stand in the way of improving the law!

 

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota to Allow Medical Marijuana for Intractable Pain

December 2nd, 2015 4 Comments Brendan Valentine

Today, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger announced that intractable pain will be added to Minnesota’s medical marijuana program!

Official Government Photo
Dr. Ed Ehlinger

Unless the legislature passes a measure to override his compassionate decision, patients with intractable pain can be certified under the program beginning July 1, 2016. Once certified, they can receive medical marijuana beginning August 1, 2016.

A vast majority of medical marijuana states allow individuals to use and access medical marijuana to treat severe pain, and Minnesota does well to follow suit. Cannabis is far safer than opioids and prescription painkillers, and patients deserve this option.

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Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Judge Orders State to Issue ID Card to Cancer Patient

November 25th, 2015 7 Comments Matt Simon

New Hampshire patients who have been desperately waiting for the state to begin issuing ID cards can finally breathe a sigh of relief. This afternoon, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Robert McNamara ruled in favor of Linda Horan, a terminal lung cancer patient who wishes to obtain medical marijuana legally from a dispensary in Maine. The state will now have to issue Linda an ID card without delay (you can read the full court order here). The card will protect Linda from arrest in New Hampshire and allow her to comply with the terms of Maine’s law, which allows dispensaries to serve visiting patients if they possess ID cards from their home states.

cushinghoran
Paul Twomey, Linda Horan, and Rep. Cushing (PHOTO: InDepthNH)

This lawsuit was needed because although New Hampshire passed its medical marijuana law in 2013, the attorney general’s office blocked the issuance of ID cards, advising that the state must wait until the first dispensary was ready to open (which is not expected until 2016). Congratulations and many thanks to Linda, her attorney, Paul Twomey, and state Rep. Renny Cushing for their courageous leadership!

Twomey summed the case up perfectly with the following quote: “Linda is a hero. Facing death, she has chosen to fight for the rights of all the critically ill patients in New Hampshire, who should not have to fear arrest because they are sick. She may be dying, but we all owe her our thanks for showing us how to live.”

If you are a patient, you can learn more about the registration process and download the relevant forms by visiting the program’s website here.

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Medical Marijuana, Video

Rep. Blumenauer Calls for Firing of DEA Director

November 18th, 2015 14 Comments Morgan Fox

Recently, we shared a story about interim DEA head Chuck Rosenberg referring to medical marijuana as a “joke.” Since then, a Change.org petition started by Marijuana Majority calling for Rosenberg to be fired for his lack of compassion for patients and poor understanding of marijuana has garnered almost 100,000 signatures!

Today, Rep. Earl Blumenaur (D-OR), who has been a champion of marijuana policy reform at the federal level, called on Congress to demand that Rosenberg be replaced!

You can watch the coverage from C-SPAN.

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Medical Marijuana

Colombia to Make Medical Marijuana Legal

November 13th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

On Thursday, the Colombian government announced that it will make medical marijuana use, cultivation, and sale legal in the near future!

Washington Post reports:

Juan_Manuel_Santos_In_Brazil_2
Pres. Juan Manuel Santos

The change is coming in an executive decree that President Juan Manuel Santos will soon sign into law. It will regulate regulating everything from licensing for growers to the eventual export of products made from marijuana, Justice Minister Yesid Reyes said.

With the new policy, Colombia joins countries from Mexico to Chile that have experimented with legalization or decriminalization as part of a wave of changing attitudes toward drug use and policies to combat it in Latin America. But unlike many of its neighbors, Colombia has long been identified with U.S.-backed policies to eradicate drug production and a sharp decline in levels of violence over the past 15 years is largely attributed to the no-tolerance policing.

Sen. Juan Manuel Galan, who last year introduced legislation that tracks with the government’s decree, said that as many as 400,000 Colombians suffering from epilepsy and other ailments could benefit from the clearer regulatory framework to be provided by the decree.

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Medical Marijuana

Veterans One Step Closer to Getting Access to Medical Marijuana

November 11th, 2015 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On this Veterans Day, MPP would like to thank those who served for their sacrifice, and we are excited to note that a Senate vote yesterday brought them one step closer to being able to access medical marijuana.

U.S. News reports:

On the eve of Veterans Day, the Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would for the first time allow Veterans Health Administrationheader-logo doctors to authorize medical marijuana use for patients.

The Veterans Health Administration currently does not allow its physicians to discuss marijuana as a treatment option with patients in the nearly two dozen states with medical pot laws, forcing veterans to turn elsewhere for guidance and the paperwork necessary to acquire the drug.

The Senate legislation won’t change the federal illegality of using marijuana as medicine or open the door to greater legal research through changing its classification as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act – which deems it without medical value – but it’s nonetheless a big win for reform advocates.

The Senate measure was adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee in May by a vote of 18-12, with four Republicans joining Democrats in favor. The larger spending bill to which it was attached – funding veterans and military construction projects – passed the Senate without opposition Tuesday.

The medical marijuana language still must survive a negotiated spending deal between leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The lower chamber narrowly rejected the proposal in April when it passed its own version of the bill.

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Medical Marijuana

Time Running Out for Pennsylvania House to Act on Medical Marijuana

November 10th, 2015 No Comments Becky Dansky
still waiting room 3
Patients at the Pennsylvania Statehouse in a symbolic doctor’s office, still waiting for the House to act.

With very few session days remaining this year, Republican leadership in Pennsylvania still has not introduced medical marijuana legislation in the House. Early reports about the contents of the draft still raise serious concerns — including a 10% THC cap, an explicit prohibition on dried flowers and plants, and no immediate legal protections for patients.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call your representative today! Let him or her know it is critical that these problems are addressed and the bill is brought to the floor for a vote immediately. You can click here to find your representative’s contact information along with talking points to guide your call.

It has been almost six months since the Senate passed sensible medical cannabis legislation. Seriously ill patients have been suffering while waiting for the House to take action. They should not have to wait one more day. It is time for the House to vote on comprehensive and compassionate medical marijuana legislation. Let them know that Pennsylvanians are tired of waiting. They need to do it right! Do it now! Let them know that compassionate use legislation should be focused on the needs of patients and not politics as usual.

Urge them to tell leadership our concerns and to demand safe and affordable access for Pennsylvania’s most fragile citizens.

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