On Tuesday, Â Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed SB 90Â â Rylieâs Law â into law. Gov. Markellâs approval is yet another sign of Delaware lawmakers understanding the benefits that medical marijuana holds for seriously ill patients of all ages. Not one lawmaker opposed this new law
Introduced by Sen. Ernesto Lopez (R), SB 90 is now Delaware law. Doctors may now recommend medical marijuana oils to certain patients under the age of 18. To qualify, the young patients must suffer from intractable epilepsy or a medical condition that has not responded to other treatments and that involves wasting, intractable nausea, or severe, painful, and persistent muscle spasms. This compassionate proposal recognizes the sad truth that kids face serious illnesses, too, and it gives doctors one more legal option to help them find relief.
The governor and the General Assembly have joined respected organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognizing that medical cannabis may be appropriate for minors in certain circumstances. The compassion shown by lawmakers from across the state in enacting this bill means many seriously ill children and their families have one more legal option to help ease their symptoms. But it would not have been possible without the compassion of all Delawareans who wrote to their elected officials in support of this bill.
There is finally good news regarding the implementation of New Hampshireâs medical marijuana law. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that three applicants have been approved to move forward with their plans to open dispensaries in four geographic areas (one applicant was granted the ability to operate two dispensaries, while the two others may operate one dispensary each).
The announcement came more than four months after the departmentâs January 23 deadline. The delay was very disappointing, but late is obviously better than never. The details, including the names of the three approved entities, are available here at the departmentâs website.
This news, while positive, does not necessarily mean that safe, state-legal access for patients is right around the corner. The approved applicants may face unexpected obstacles and delays before they are able to serve patientsâ needs, and unfortunately, the Attorney Generalâs office has advised the state to refrain from issuing ID cards to patients until the first dispensary is nearly ready to open.
The Louisiana Legislature has sent Gov. Bobby Jindal two bills proposing positive reforms to Louisianaâs marijuana policies! While one bill is largely symbolic, the other will help dial back some of the countryâs harshest penalties for marijuana possession.
“We are going to sign both bills. They’ve made it through the process. They are going to make to my desk in the next few days,” Jindal told The Des Moines Register.
SB 143 amends a 1991 law allowing Louisianaâs physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, this prescription requirement was not removed and because no physician can prescribe marijuana without risking losing their license to prescribe other medications (or worse), we are concerned that this proposal will not create a workable program. However, we are pleased that the House and Senate recognized the medical value of marijuana, and are hopeful Gov. Jindal will too.
Meanwhile, HB 149 chips away at Louisianaâs draconian penalties for marijuana possession by reducing the fine and potential jail time for possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana. For a first offense, the maximum jail sentence would be reduced from six months to 15 days, while the fine would be reduced from up to $500 to up to $300. HB 149 would also significantly reduce the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges. While still harsh, this is a good step toward a more rational approach.
Now, itâs time to raise YOUR voice. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call orÂ email your representative today to ask the House to stop playing politics with patientsâ lives.
House Health Committee Chair Matthew Baker has made it clear he has no plans to release SB 3 from his committee. Even if he doesnât relent, there are several other ways to get a bill to a floor vote without passing through the Health Committee.
Pennsylvania patients have waited far too long for relief. Since the state began seriously considering medical cannabis legislation in 2009, 11 more states have enacted similar bills, bringing the number of compassionate states to 23. Yet Pennsylvania patients continue to needlessly suffer, risk arrest and prosecution, or be forced to uproot and move across the country to a more compassionate state.
To hear some of the heartbreaking stories of patients who are counting on the House to act, you can watch CBS 21âs entire 90-minute town hall here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Last week, the Delaware House approved SB 90 by a 40-0 (1 absent) margin! This vote follows unanimous approval by their colleagues in the Senate, sending the bill to Gov. Jack Markell with not one lawmaker having objected.
Introduced by Sen. Ernesto Lopez (R), SB 90 would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana oils to certain patients under the age of 18. To qualify, the young patients must suffer from intractable epilepsy or a medical condition that has not responded to other treatments and that involves wasting, intractable nausea, or severe, painful, and persistent muscle spasms. This compassionate proposal recognizes the sad truth that kids face serious illnesses too, and it gives doctors one more legal option to help them find relief.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recognizes that medical cannabis may be appropriate for minors in circumstances like those allowed by SB 90, and Gov. Markell should too.
In a move that is indicative of the increasing acceptance of medical marijuana programs, the American Medical Association released a statement urging more research into marijuana and protection of doctors who recommend it in states where it is legal.
The association has not yet endorsed marijuanaâs use as medicine, but itÂ hasÂ urged research into the drugâs potential to treat a wide range of conditions and supported âunfetteredâ patient-doctor discussions that do not âsubject either party to criminal sanctions.â
The association’s new resolution calls for âlegislation ensuring or providing immunity against federal prosecution for physicians who certify that a patient has an approved medical condition or recommend cannabis in accordance with their stateâs laws.â
Physicians are protected under the 1st Amendment when recommending medical marijuana to their patients, but they cannot legally prescribe it, even in states with effective medical marijuana programs.
It was bad enough when she lost custody of her son two months ago, but now Kansas resident Shona Banda is facing up to 30 years in prison for five marijuana-related felonies.
Bandaâs troubles began when her 11-year-old son questioned the authenticity of the information being taught to his fellow fifth graders at a âdrug educationâ program at his public school:
As Shonaâs son listened to the misinformation given by authorities to his class during the drug education presentation, he courageously spoke up and informed them that the information they were relating was incorrect in regards to cannabis. Â He was pulled from class and sent to the office for questioning by authorities without his mother present.
Banda was rightfully worried when her son did not come home from school and called inquiring of his whereabouts. Unbeknownst to her, the police had detained her child at school and questioned him for over an hour without even informing Banda.
Authorities asked to search her house, but Banda did not consent. However, within hours they had obtained a search warrant and found marijuana and related manufacturing devices. She subsequently lost custody of her child and has since been charged with multiple felonies, including possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and endangering a child.
Banda, who uses medical marijuana to treat her Crohnâs disease, is emphatic that she is a responsible parent:
I spent years raising my children from a couch, not being able to move much,” she told the Post. “I wasn’t able to be a proper mother when I was sick. And now I’m a fantastic mother.
Kansas is not one of the 23 states that allow medical marijuana use. Banda now faces multiple years in prison for attempting to relieve her Crohnâs disease, a serious condition that marijuana has been shown to effectively treat. Had she lived in neighboring Colorado, her actions would have been perfectly legal.
She is proud of her son who had the courage to question the false propaganda that is unfortunately propagated to young children in schools across the country:
âŠshe can’t fault her son for having the courage to question inaccurate statements about cannabis. “For him to have spoken up in class I can’t be upset about because he hears me daily on the phone talking with people, encouraging people to speak up and speak out,” she said. “We did have the talk about how it’s not OK to bring this up in Kansas, because it’s a different state [than Colorado]. It’s very confusing for a child.”
Supporters from around the world have donated and signed a petition demanding that law enforcement drop charges against her and that her son be taken out of state protective custody and returned to his mother.
Nearly a year ago, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a medical cannabis bill into law after insisting on significant revisions. As a result, patients with several serious medical conditions were excluded and protections for patients waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn were removed. At least four children who could have benefitted from medical cannabis have died since the bill became law, and no patients have received access to cannabis.
The Assembly has already passed this important bill in a 130-18 vote! But if the Senate does not act this week, patients will be left in the lurch for many more months.
The Department of Health is moving forward slowly with implementation. Forty-three dispensary applications were filed last week. Experiences in other states indicate it could be a year or longer before the first patient obtains medical cannabis from a state-licensed provider in New York. But others âÂ such as Minnesota â have shown that health departments can move far more quickly when they are required to do so.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure 20-10 on Thursday that is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.
The amendment, offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes. It mirrors the amendment sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that was approved last week in the House of Representatives. Passage of identical amendments in the House and Senate typically indicates it will be included in the final spending bill Congress sends to President Obama.
This was the first time the amendment had been offered in the Senate. The House has passed it in each of the last two years, and it was codified in the so-called âCRomnibusâ funding measure that became law last year. The amendment is similar to the operative provisions of the CARERS Act, introduced in March by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY).
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Monday that recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is intended to allow patients with intractable seizure conditions to access marijuana extracts containing high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and only trace levels of THC.
The bill also only allows for extracts with very little THC, and some seizure patients say a greater ratio of THC to CBD is necessary for it to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures. The bill also fails to allow access to any medical marijuana products for people suffering from other debilitating conditions, such as PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.
Despite SB 339âs significant limitations, advocates supported Gov. Abbott signing it into law and promptly implementing the program. It has frequently taken as long as two to three years for patients to begin safely accessing medical cannabis preparations after state medical marijuana laws are enacted. First, rules need to be crafted for the operation of dispensaries, then there is an application process, and finally the providers must find locations, build out their facilities, and begin cultivation.
While this low-THC cannabis oil program is very restrictive, the passage of SB 339, Texasâ Compassionate Use Act, is an historic moment that reflects the great work done by advocates.Â Here is an overview of the program.
The 84th Texas Legislature introduced a record number of marijuana related bills. The results varied âÂ details can be found hereÂ â but there can be no doubt that more humane marijuana laws are on the horizon.
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"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. ... It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record."
"The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense - the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy."
"There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana."