Medical Marijuana

Congress Members Urge VA to Change Medical Marijuana Policy

January 27th, 2016 1 Comment » Robert Capecchi

In a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald released Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senate and House members urged the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow VA doctors to write medical marijuana recommendations to veterans in accordance with state laws.

The letter comes four days before the expiration of a directive that prohibits VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana, even in states that have made it legal.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

The Congressional members, led by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the Senate and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in the House, say the current policy “disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other,” noting, “It is not in the veterans’ best interest for the VA to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.”

“Congress has taken initial steps to alleviate this conflict in law and we will continue to work toward this goal,” the senators and representatives wrote. “However, you are in a position to make this change when the current VHA directive expires at the end of this month. We ask that you act to ensure that our veterans’ access to care is not compromised and that doctors and patients are allowed to have honest discussions about treatment options.”

The letter also highlights the “sea change in the legal framework surrounding marijuana in the United States” since the directive was issued in 2011. Comprehensive medical marijuana laws have been adopted in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and Congress has twice approved appropriations amendments intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana programs.

 

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Prohibition

New Orleans City Council to Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties

January 26th, 2016 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke
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Councilwoman Susan Guidry

Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. CST, the New Orleans City Council will consider whether to pass a new bill that reduces the penalties for possession of marijuana. Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s bill calls for law enforcement to give a verbal warning instead of an arrest on a first offense marijuana possession charge. The council chamber meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27, will take place at:

1300 Perdido Street, Second Floor West
New Orleans, LA 70112

In addition to turning up to show support at the hearing, let your council members know you support Councilwoman Guidry’s bill by sending them an email letting them know where you stand on this important issue.

 

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Uncategorized

Iowa State University NORML Chapter Wins Censorship Case

January 25th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last week, a federal court ruling struck a blow against censorship directed at marijuana policy reform advocates at Iowa State University. The case, brought by two students with the university’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was heralded as a major victory by the plaintiffs.

…the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa issued a permanent injunction barring Iowa State University (ISU) administrators from using a trademark policy to prevent the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU) from printing t-shirts depicting a marijuana leaf. Students Erin Furleigh and Paul Gerlich, both former presidents of the group, sued ISU in July 2014 as part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

Because ISU had rejected the student group’s t-shirts “due to the messages they expressed” in an effort to “maintain favor with Iowa political figures,” the court found that ISU engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.

The court also denied the defense of qualified immunity to the named defendants, including ISU President Steven Leath and Senior Vice President Warren Madden, meaning that they may be held personally liable for violating Furleigh and Gerlich’s First Amendment rights. In so ruling, the court found that “a reasonable person would understand that Defendants’ actions treaded on Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights of political expression and association.”

Senior District Judge James Gritzner, who issued the ruling, observed that “[t]he development of First Amendment doctrine in the university context has repeatedly affirmed that student groups may not be denied benefits on the basis of their espoused views.” After reviewing the record, the court concluded that “Defendants took action specifically directed at NORML ISU based on their views and the political reaction to those views so that Defendants could maintain favor with Iowa political figures.”

In their original complaint, the students detailed how the university censored the group’s t-shirts based on their marijuana-related messaging and imagery, removed NORML ISU’s advisor, and implemented new guidelines for using ISU’s trademark in order to restrict NORML ISU’s speech. And in a January 2015 ruling, the court rejected every argument ISU made in its initial attempt to have the case dismissed.

You can view the full press release here.

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Tax and Regulate

Delaware Supporters to Lobby State Lawmakers Thursday

January 25th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

This Thursday, the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware Cannabis Bureau of Delawarewill be hosting a lobby day to urge lawmakers to support ending marijuana prohibition in the First State. Residents who want to see real marijuana policy reform should  set up an appointment with your elected representatives to let them know why you think it is time Delaware joins Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in making marijuana legal for adults.

Unlike the four states that already tax and regulate marijuana, Delawareans cannot vote on ballot initiatives to change existing laws. This is why it is so important that you make your voice heard.

Register here to lobby on Thursday, January 28 in Dover.

We will begin with a training session with John Flaherty, Director of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government, who has 20 years of experience as a lobbyist. He will guide us through best practices, helping you to become a more effective advocate.

If you can’t make it to speak up for sensible marijuana policy in person, you can send your legislators a quick message using our automated system.

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Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Bill to Add PTSD as Qualifying Condition Introduced

January 25th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project
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Assemblyman Joe Lachance

Now that medical marijuana cards are finally being issued to qualifying patients in New Hampshire, one lawmaker is working to make sure others who could benefit are not left behind. On Thursday, Assemblyman Joe Lachance introduced a bill that would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions.

Al Jazeera America reports:

The proposed legislation comes as New Hampshire grapples with an opioid and heroin addiction and overdose crisis. Medical marijuana advocates argue that better access to cannabis would offer an alternative means of pain relief to people now using painkillers or heroin. In 2015 the state’s medical examiner attributed 385 deaths to opiates, almost double the 192 fatalities in 2013, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

Also, adding PTSD to the list of illnesses approved for cannabis treatment could provide another option to people who’ve found no relief with standard anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, advocates say.

Joe Lachance, a Republican state assemblyman who co-sponsored the PTSD measure, is one of the 62 medical marijuana cardholders in the state of 1.6 million people. A military veteran and former police officer, Lachance said he suffers from chronic pain and PTSD, ailments only marijuana has helped ease. He also said marijuana helped him kick an opiate habit.

 

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Medical Marijuana

MPP to Support Medical Marijuana Initiative in Ohio for 2016

January 25th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last week, MPP and a coalition of allies began moving forward with a campaign to put a medical marijuana initiative before Ohio voters on the 2016 ballot!

There are still many factors to be worked out, but given the overwhelming support for allowing safe access for patients in the Buckeye State,2000px-Seal_of_Ohio.svg we are confident that this issue will begin gaining momentum very soon.

This initiative and campaign will be very different from the controversial and ultimately unsuccessful initiative to make marijuana legal in Ohio in 2015.

State lawmakers may also be considering medical marijuana legislation, and there is currently a task force that will be touring the state to speak with medical professionals, patients, and experts in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned for more details!

 

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Medical Marijuana

Arizona Lawmakers Are Trying to Restrict Medical Marijuana

January 25th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Arizona’s constitution allows the people themselves to pass laws by initiative. After years of legislative meddling in the people’s laws, Arizonans approved the Voter Protection Act (VPA) to protect their laws from legislative interference. Despite the VPA, legislators have passed multiple measures to undermine the medical marijuana program that the people of Arizona voted for in 2010 — and they’re at it again.

A series of bills proposed by the legislature would limit Proposition 203, which made medical marijuana legal in the state, and run afoul of the medical marijuana law and the VPA:

HB 206, introduced by Rep. Kelly Townsend, would ban the use of medical marijuana by pregnant women, inappropriately inserting the legislature into the doctor/patient relationship; and

HB 2404 and 2405, introduced by Rep. Vince Leach, would limit where marijuana can be grown and increase some patients’ fees.

If that wasn’t bad enough, now Rep. Bob Thorpe has introduced a resolution (HCR 2023) to gut the VPA and allow the legislature to change ballot initiatives passed by the voters in ways that are contrary to the purpose of the initiative.

An additional bill, HB 2019, introduced by Rep. Jay Lawrence, would have limited access to medical marijuana by restricting the types of medical professionals who can recommend it. Thanks to hundreds of patients and supporters calling and emailing Rep. Lawrence in opposition the bill, he decided to withdraw it, saying that he had not done enough research and would not support similar legislation in the future.

If you are an Arizona resident, please ask your lawmakers to stop interfering with medical marijuana!

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Research

Studies Show Marijuana Use Does Not Lower IQ

January 24th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last week, the Washington Post reported on a pair of studies released in January that further disprove an often-repeated theory that marijuana use is linked to lower intelligence.

You might have heard that smoking marijuana makes you stupid.

If you grew up in the ’80s or ’90s, that was more or less the take-home message of countless anti-drug PSAs. In more recent years, it’s a message we’ve heard — albeit in more nuanced form — from Republican candidates on the campaign trail and from marijuana opponents at the state-level.

The contemporary version of argument can be traced to a 2012 Duke University study, which found that persistent, heavy marijuana use through adolescence and young adulthood was associated with declines in IQ.

Other researchers have since criticized that study’s methods. A follow-up study in the same journal found that the original research failed to account for a number of confounding factors that could also affect cognitive development, such as cigarette and alcohol use, mental illness and socioeconomic status.

Two new reports this month tackle the relationship between marijuana use and intelligence from two very different angles: One examines the life trajectories of 2,235 British teenagers between ages 8 and 16, and the other looks at the differences between American identical twin pairs in which one twin uses marijuana and the other does not.

Despite vastly different methods, the studies reach the same conclusion: They found no evidence that adolescent marijuana use leads to a decline in intelligence.

The full article is available here.

 

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Prohibition

Maryland Lawmakers Override Veto of Marijuana Paraphernalia Decriminalization

January 21st, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Maryland General Assembly voted this week to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of SB 517, decriminalizing marijuana paraphernalia.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), removes criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The measure also imposes a new civil fine of up to $500 on public cannabis consumption. Gov. Hogan vetoed the bill in May 2015, after it was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates. MDCoalition2

Maryland adopted a law in 2014 that was intended to decriminalize simple marijuana possession, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia.

The work is not over, however. Until cannabis is legal and regulated for adults, Marylanders who choose to consume a substance safer than alcohol will still be stigmatized as lawbreakers, racially biased enforcement of marijuana laws will continue to result in unequal justice, and the marijuana market will continue to be in the shadows.

The Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland believes that regulating marijuana like alcohol is the best policy option — and a new poll released Thursday shows that 53% of Maryland voters agree.

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Prohibition

Virginia Legislature Opens Session With Marijuana Decriminalization

January 15th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

The Virginia General Assembly began its 2016 legislative session on Wednesday, and already three bills have been introduced to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil fine. Virginia’s current penalties for marijuana possession are steep: Possessing up to a half an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for first time offenders. Subsequent offenses face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Let your state legislators know it’s past time Virginia took a more sensible and humane approach to cannabis possession.

The three decriminalization bills would prevent marijuana consumers from suffering the life-altering consequences that can come with having a criminal record. This less draconian approach to penalizing possession of personal use amounts of marijuana also saves law enforcement time and money, and brings Virginia more in line with Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.’s decriminalization policies.

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