Hawaii Conference Committee Agrees to Dispensary Legislation

The Hawaiian legislative conference committee working out the differences in medical marijuana dispensary programs proposed by the House and Senate has come to an agreement.

HB 321 will initially allow eight dispensaries (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai). Starting in 2017,2000px-Seal_of_the_State_of_Hawaii.svg 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.

But first things first — both chambers must agree to this final language. If you are a Hawaii resident, please email your lawmakers in Honolulu today in support of HB 321!

South Carolina Subcommittee Takes Up Medical Marijuana

Tomorrow afternoon, a subcommittee of the South Carolina House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee will take testimony on the need for a compassionate medical marijuana program.Seal_of_South_Carolina.svg

If you are a South Carolina resident, please email your representative today to ask him or her to support medical marijuana.

If you are a seriously ill patient with a qualifying medical condition (definition 21), the loved one of a patient, or a medical professional, please also consider testifying in person. Let us know if you’re interested.

The South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act, H 4037, would allow patients suffering from a listed condition to use and safely access medical marijuana if recommended by their doctors. This bill is more comprehensive than and addresses the many flaws of the legislation that was passed last year in an attempt to make certain medical marijuana products accessible to a limited class of patients.

House Defeats Veterans Medical Marijuana Amendment

Last week, by a vote of 210-213, an effort to allow physicians within the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana was narrowly defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives. The same amendment failed by 26 votes last year, so the narrow loss represents a significant rise in support.

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer

The vote was in regards to an amendment offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to the House version of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment, which sought to rescind a 2009 directive prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana, was co-sponsored by Representatives Heck (R-NV), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Reed (R-NY), Titus (D-NV), Gabbard (D-HI), Lee (D-CA), and Gallego (D-AZ).

The vote demonstrated an uptick in support over last year when the amendment failed 195-222. Unfortunately, it means that veterans who could find relief from medical marijuana will have to wait even longer to speak about it with their VA doctors.

Puerto Rico Governor Clears Path to Medical Marijuana

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Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla

On Sunday, the governor of Puerto Rico signed an order that will allow the territory to establish some kind of medical marijuana program in the near future.

Associated Press reports:

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the island’s health secretary has three months to issue a report detailing how the executive order will be implemented, the impact it will have and what future steps could be taken. The order went into immediate effect.

“We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life,” Garcia said in a statement. “I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope.”

The order directs the health department to authorize the use of some or all controlled substances or derivatives of the cannabis plant for medical use.

Garcia said the government also will soon outline the specific authorized uses of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes.

Lawmakers in Puerto Rico have been attempting to pass medical marijuana legislation for at least two years, so this is certainly good news. However, it is up to health secretary to design an effective bill that ensures safe, reliable access to whole-plant marijuana products.

Colorado Governor Starts to Come Around on Regulated Marijuana

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Gov. John Hickenlooper

After fighting against the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and  publicly questioning the wisdom of voters in the years since his state made marijuana legal for adults, it appears the Gov. John Hickenlooper is finally realizing that regulating marijuana was a good idea.

The Denver Post reports:

And now this headline — “Colorado Gov.: Pot is ‘not as vexing as we thought it was going to be’ (video)” — tied to “Opening Bell” host Maria Bartiromo’s interview with Hickenlooper at the Milken Institute Global Conference, which runs through today.

“It’s all those young people coming, and they look at marijuana and say, ‘Hey we can drink whiskey, why can’t we have a legalized system with marijuana?’ If you look back it’s turned out to not be as vexing as some of the people like myself — I opposed the original vote, didn’t think it was a good idea. Now the voters spoke so we’re trying to make it work, and I think we are.[“]

Colorado-rooted legalization advocate Mason Tvert said he welcomes the governor’s new turn.

“It’s great to see the governor recognizes that regulating marijuana is working in Colorado and that it has many benefits,” said Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Polls show more voters support the law now than did when it was approved, and it appears he might be part of that late majority.

“Just about everyone who takes an objective look at what is happening in Colorado agrees that things are going quite well.”

You can watch the video at Fox Business News.

Marijuana Policy Project