Prohibition

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Moves Forward in Chile

July 13th, 2015 No Comments James McArdle

The BBC reports that Chileans may soon be able to legally grow up to six marijuana plants thanks to a bill that was passed by a lower house of congress. Previously, those who possessed or cultivated the plant risked 15 years imprisonment.chile flag Last October, the country began its first medical marijuana trial program.

The new bill will go before a health commission and then the Senate for approval.
Members of the lower house approved the bill by a wide margin, with 68 in favour and 39 against.

Several other countries have eased restrictions for medical or personal use of marijuana in recent years. In the US, more than 20 states allow some form of medical marijuana and Colorado and Washington have legalised it for personal use. Uruguay became the first country to create a legal marijuana market in 2013 and earlier this year Jamaica decriminalised personal use of the drug.

As more and more U.S. states consider ending marijuana prohibition, countries around that world that were pressured into mimicking U.S. marijuana policy are starting to re-examine their laws as well.

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Prohibition

Federal Marijuana Banking Bill Introduced In Senate

July 9th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

Earlier today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in the Senate that would banks to do business with the marijuana industry in states where it is legal for medical purposes or adult use.

Politico reports:

 

Introduced by the Senate delegations from Oregon and Colorado, two of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the bill would prohibit the federal government from penalizing banks that work with marijuana businesses.

Cory_Gardner,_Official_Portrait,_112th_Congress
Sen. Cory Gardner

Though four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law. That makes it difficult for businesses operating in those legalized states to access financial services through the banking industry. Instead, those companies have to run all-cash operations that the senators say invite crime.

The entire legal landscape that legal marijuana currently faces is “insane,” said GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado in an interview.

According to a press release from Drug Policy Alliance, “Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced the House version of this Senate bill earlier in the year, having also introduced a banking bill the previous session.”

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Medical Marijuana

California Organ Transplant Bill Becomes Law

July 8th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

Medical marijuana patients in California won a victory Monday when the Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would prevent patients from being denied organ transplants.

The Associated Press reports:

The Democratic governor

Gov. Jerry Brown

announced Monday that he signed AB258 by Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine of San Rafael.

Supporters say some patients who use medical marijuana have been denied life-saving organ transplants because they are treated by doctors as drug abusers. Marijuana is often prescribed to cancer and other patients to help with pain and side effects of treatment.

Levine’s legislation ensures that medical marijuana users have the same right to access organ transplants as other patients by prohibiting a hospital or doctor from disqualifying a person solely because of medical marijuana use.

One such patient was Norman Smith, a Los Angeles resident who succumbed to liver cancer after being denied a transplant. You can learn about his story here.

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Prohibition

MPP Releases Presidential Candidate Report Card

July 2nd, 2015 35 Comments Morgan Fox

Last Friday, MPP released the 2016 Presidential Candidates Report Card, which grades the various major candidates based on their support for marijuana policy reform or the willingness to allow it to move forward. Since then, a wide variety of news outlets have written about it, including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Times, and others. In particular, there was quite a bit of interest in Republican Sen. Rand Paul receiving the highest grade of any candidate: A-.

The Washington Times reports:

Mr. Paul, received a grade of “A-” from the Marijuana Policy Project. The group said his grade was based largely on his sponsorship of a medical marijuana bill, support for reducing marijuana-related penalties and support for allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult use.

Mr. Christie and Mr. Santorum, meanwhile, two other GOP contenders, both received a grade of “F” “because they oppose reform efforts and they are the most vocal supporters of enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal,” the group said.

“Some of these guys who tout states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, and getting the government out of people’s private lives want to use federal tax dollars to punish adults for using marijuana in states that have made it legal,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the group. “They say using marijuana is immoral or just too dangerous to allow, but serve alcohol, a more dangerous substance, at their fundraisers. The hypocrisy is astonishing.”

Not surprisingly, Sen. Paul has gotten a lot of attention this week by being the first presidential candidate to actively court the marijuana industry for campaign donations.

report card

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Medical Marijuana

First Minnesota Dispensary Open Today

July 1st, 2015 5 Comments Robert Capecchi

Today at 12:01 a.m., doors opened to qualified medical marijuana patients at Minnesota’s first dispensary — Minnesota Medical Solutions’ Minneapolis location. The July 1 opening date adheres strictly to the implementation timeline proscribed by lawmakers last spring. To say that MPP is thrilled that some seriously ill Minnesotans finally have legal access to medical marijuana products recommended by their doctors is an understatement. That said, we know there is plenty of work still to do.

While the Minnesota medical cannabis law will offer relief to some seriously ill Minnesotans, it offers no relief to others suffering unnecessarily. For instance, patients suffering from intractable pain are still excluded — though the health department is required to consider whether to recommend adding that condition.

Even for those patients with qualifying conditions, severe limits on the number of dispensing locations and unnecessary health care practitioner participation requirements will make it difficult to benefit from the program. We are hopeful that the program will prove helpful for those who do qualify and that lawmakers will compassionately expand it in the near future.

For more information on the medical marijuana program, visit the Office of Medical Cannabis’s website.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Marijuana Officially Legal for Adults in Oregon Today

July 1st, 2015 17 Comments Robert Capecchi

Last November, 56% of Oregon voters approved Measure 91 — choosing to regulate marijuana like alcohol and allowing adults to use, possess, and cultivate it. Today, legal protections for adult possession, use, and cultivation official take effect!

As of 12:01 a.m., individuals 21 or older may possess up to eight ounces of marijuana and grow up to four plants in their household.10995393_10152839035666816_1877561359108028132_n Adults may also gift up to an ounce of marijuana to other adults. The state is setting up regulations that will govern the production and sale of marijuana, so access is currently limited to home cultivation. However, the state is considering legislation that will allow medical dispensaries to sell limited quantities of marijuana to any adult 21 and older starting this October.

Measure 91 resembles ballot measures that have removed penalties for adults’ possession and use of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Colorado and Washington have implemented effective public health and safety regulatory structures governing the production and sale of marijuana, and Alaska and Oregon are in the process of doing the same. In the meantime, ask your state representative and senator to support legislation that will more quickly take the marijuana market from criminal actors.

None of this would be possible without the good and hard work of the New Approach Oregon campaign, their volunteers, and, of course, the voters of Oregon. For more information about Measure 91, please see our summary.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Louisiana Gov. Signs Two Improvements to Marijuana Laws

July 1st, 2015 2 Comments Brendan Valentine

Earlier this week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed two positive marijuana-related bills into law — a penalty reduction bill and a flawed medical marijuana program.

The first, HB 149, significantly reduces penalties for marijuana possession! Although penalties will still be harsh for possessing a substance safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it shaves months, and in some cases years, off of cannabis consumers’ sentences. This law is effective immediately.

220px-Bobby_Jindal,_official_109th_Congressional_photo
Gov. Bobby Jindal

While first offense marijuana possession remains a misdemeanor, the penalty for possessing 14 grams or less is now far less severe than it was. The maximum jail sentence is reduced from six months to 15 days while the maximum fine is reduced from $500 to $300. HB 149 also significantly reduces the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges.

Gov. Jindal also signed into law a bill that could, in the future, support a compassionate medical marijuana program for Louisianans, although it will not allow patients to use the medicine in smokable form.

SB 143 allows Louisiana physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with FDA and DEA guidelines. Since these federal guidelines don’t exist, this law is not currently operable. Physicians risk losing their prescription license if they use it to prescribe marijuana. But hope remains for future regulatory improvement. Overall, both new laws signed by Gov. Jindal represent improvements for Louisiana’s marijuana policies.

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Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Dispensary Legislation Will Become Law

July 1st, 2015 3 Comments Robert Capecchi

On Monday, June 29, Hawaii Gov. David Ige released his list of bills that he intends to veto. Thankfully, legislation creating a medical marijuana distribution program was not on this list, meaning HB 321 will become law with or without Gov. Ige’s signature!

HB 321 builds on Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, which was approved by the legislature back in 2000.2000px-Seal_of_the_State_of_Hawaii.svg Since that time, most state medical marijuana programs have either been written to include a regulated system for patients to obtain their medicine, or have been amended to so. In fact, enactment of HB 321 will mean that only two of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs will fail to include regulated access to medicine the seriously ill are able to use.

HB 321 will initially allow eight medical cannabis businesses (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two dispensing locations each. Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each, as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.

This good news would not have been possible without the wonderful work by our allies at Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, and individuals across the state who reached out to lawmakers to ensure passage.

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Medical Marijuana

Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Still Possible in Pennsylvania

July 1st, 2015 No Comments Becky Dansky

Just a few weeks ago, medical cannabis legislation seemed hopelessly stalled in the Pennsylvania House. Thanks to the efforts of advocates, Rep. Nick Miccarelli, and overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, there is strong momentum for passage of effective medical marijuana legislation. While it’s a relief the House is finally moving, it’s important for legislators to hear their constituents want the bill to be patient-focused.

Rep. Nick Miccarelli

As events unfold and legislative strategies are explored, it is important that representatives understand the key components to creating the best possible legislation for seriously ill Pennsylvanians. The most effective legislation, whether it’s SB 3 or a House bill, will allow doctors and patients to decide together from the broadest range of possible strains and will ensure that no matter where a patient lives in the state he or she will have access to these treatments. It’s also vital that the bill include patients with all the serious symptoms that cannabis can alleviate — including severe pain and PTSD.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call or email your representative and ask them to support strong, patient-focused medical cannabis legislation, whether it’s SB 3 or a House bill.

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Medical Marijuana

California Organ Transplant Non-Discrimination Bill for Medical Marijuana Patients Moves Forward

June 29th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

AB 258 passed both the California Assembly and the Senate by overwhelming margins, sending the bill to Gov. Brown

for his signature. This compassionate bill would prohibit hospitals from denying medical marijuana patients organ transplants simply because of their choice of medicine. Hospitals, clinics, and members of the medical community who do not support medical marijuana should not be able to kick people who are already down by denying them lifesaving treatment.

The California Assembly passed AB 258 with a 62-12 vote, and earlier this week the Senate passed the bill with only one vote in opposition. Clearly, both Californians and their legislators believe in protecting patients from discrimination based on their choice of medical treatment. The bill now needs only Gov. Brown’s signature to become law.

If you are a California resident, please take a moment to ask Gov. Brown to sign AB 258 when it reaches his desk.

 

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