Category Archives: Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana

New York Requests Federal Permission to Import Out-of-State Medical Marijuana

According to WSHU.org, New York’s health department is asking permission from the federal government to import out-of-state medical marijuana until its own program is able complete the regulatory process.

The program requires the health department to establish rules and license marijuana production companies. The health department, however, says that it will take until 2016 to get the program started.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Until then, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has requested the Department of Justice to permit importation of medical marijuana from states with existing functional programs.

Although the federal government could potentially grant such a waiver, or simply exercise prosecutorial discretion, patients in the Empire State should not hold their breath.

MPP’s Rachelle Yeung says the federal government has been slow to recognize the medical benefits of marijuana, and that Gov. Cuomo has been equally slow to implement medical marijuana.

“I don’t want to speculate as to his motivations, but as governor of the state of New York, there are ways to expedite the process without asking for special permission from the federal government.”

Furthermore, Yeung relays that it typically takes years for the federal government to allow researchers access to medical marijuana. To avoid this delay, she and other marijuana advocacy groups are urging Cuomo’s administration to accelerate the regulatory and production processes within the state.

Pennsylvania Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

The Associated Press reported that Pennsylvania state senators approved legislation yesterday that, if enacted, would make several forms of medical marijuana legal, including extracted oil, edible products, and ointments and tinctures, to patients with debilitating medical conditions.

According to the proposal, Pennsylvania residents would need an access card from the health department upon proving a practitioner-patient relationship and written confirmation of a qualifying medical condition.

However, even if the legislation does pass, it would exclude most patients and would not allow them to use marijuana in the way that best works for their preferences and conditions; both vaporizing and smoking marijuana would be forbidden. The list of approved conditions is also extremely narrow and does not include severe pain.

“It is cruel and heartless to deny people the best medicine that is available,” Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) said during the floor debate. “And it’s time to stop treating this irrationally and saying, ‘we’re not going to let you have this, we’re going to instead make you take far more dangerous and less effective drugs.’ That’s just not how we would want to be treated; it’s not how we want our families to be treated.”

Despite these limitations, passage of this legislation would still be a step in the right direction for the state. Citizens of Pennsylvania should encourage their representatives to enact a bill that will benefit vast numbers of suffering patients, as well as allow patients to use marijuana in the way that best suits their preferences and conditions. If you are a citizen of Pennsylvania, please pass this message on to family and friends and help spread awareness concerning the issue.

Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Commission Proposes $125,000 in Grower Fees

Managing a medical marijuana operation could potentially cost each grower more than $125,000 a year in fees, a sum so exorbitant some officials believe it may affect small and newly developing marijuana businesses.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s medical marijuana commission has proposed for such a fee to be imposed on each of the 15 potential growers envisaged for the state’s new program. The commission has also proposed a yearly $40,000 charge for dispensaries. These steep license fees, on top of the estimated $6,000 in application fees, would finance the state’s incipient medical marijuana program.

Eric E. Sterling

“The volume of these fees, for probably many of us, takes our breath away,” commissioner Eric E. Sterling said at a meeting in Annapolis Tuesday. “It is simply a reflection that the General Assembly has put the operation of this on the growers and the dispensaries, and ultimately upon the patients,” he said. “There is no taxpayer money, according to the General Assembly, that is going to finance this.”

The commission plans to meet again October 16, when it is anticipated to take its final vote on the proposed regulations. The decision will be passed on to state health secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein for review and then later go to a panel of state lawmakers for final approval.

Following Tuesday’s meeting to push the fees among draft proposals, citizens expressed concern.

“The number of licenses they’re issuing seems to be incongruent with their perceived demand,” stated Attorney John A. Pica, who represents a coalition that wants to open a growing and dispensing operation in Baltimore. “With high overhead costs and low demand, growers might be forced to increase medical marijuana prices to make ends meet, which would drive patients to the black market. You have to be careful that the price isn’t too high, or you invite the same scenario you had in prohibition,” he said.

The cost to operate a cultivating or dispensing business in Maryland is one of the last major issues the medical marijuana commission must decide on, following the state’s 2013 law that made medical marijuana legal. The Marijuana Policy Project plans to host a “Maryland Canna-Business Seminar” in Bethesda October 8 for entrepreneurs to learn about how to launch a marijuana business. In addition to educating would-be marijuana entrepreneurs, MPP will be urging the commission to reduce fees and otherwise improve draft regulations.

Candidate For Illinois Governor Would Have Vetoed Medical Marijuana Law

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce RaunerBruceRauner announced earlier this week that, if he had been in office, he would have vetoed Illinois’ new lawwhich allows seriously ill patients access to medical cannabis. Rauner also said he preferred a system that would make business licenses available only to the highest bidders in order to raise money for state coffers.

Governor Quinn, who signed the medical marijuana bill in 2013, took exception to the comments, pointing out that the process is both competitive and transparent. His campaign called Rauner’s statements “heartless” and stressed that the law “will ease pain and provide relief for cancer patients (and) severely ill people.”

Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored the current law, noted that Illinois’ program is among the most tightly-controlled in the country. He also stated that “[t]he whole notion that Mr. Rauner would veto the bill, the notion that it would go to the highest bidder, is just callous, and flies in the face of logic.”

Rauner’s opposition to the current law stands in contrast to most Republican lawmakers, who joined Democrats earlier this year to extend the program to allow individuals with seizure conditions to qualify for access. His statements are particularly important because the winner of this election will be in office in 2017 — when the current program expires. In order for seriously ill patients to continue to have access, a new law will need to be passed.

Rally for Medical Marijuana Bill Held at Pennsylvania Capitol

Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol from their summer recess Monday, while medical marijuana supporters rallied for Senate Bill 1182, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. This bill would allow doctors to recommend extracted oil, edible products, ointments, and other marijuana-based products to patients with debilitating medical conditions.

Sen. Daylin Leach

Senate Bill 1182 co-sponsors, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware), said their bill could be sent to the floor next week.

“We are so close. We are closer than we have ever been,” stated Senator Leach. “If this runs in the Senate, we get more than 40 votes, and we are promised it will run next week in the Senate. We have counted in the House. There are 203 members. We have counted about 160 yes votes,” he said.

However, although they have gathered enough votes in the House, there is still concern from the Senate that House leadership may block the bill before reaching the floor.

According to Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, “We know that there is overwhelming support amongst Pennsylvania voters for medical cannabis, and it’s time for their legislators to step up and really represent the will of the people.”

Sen. Folmer thanked the crowd on the Capitol steps for their grassroots efforts and reassured that they were very close, and that things were looking good.

Following the rally, the group that organized it, Campaign for Compassion, continued their educational efforts by handing out informational packets on medical marijuana and talking to their representatives.

“Hopefully, they will learn this is something Pennsylvania needs and they will stand up and do what is right and put the political horse trading to the side,” said Christine Brann, a Campaign for Compassion ambassador.