Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Work Group Issues Report Urging Swift Legislative Action

October 15th, 2015 1 Comment » Becky Dansky
Rep. Dave Reed

At the beginning of the summer, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed appointed a work group to develop recommendations for House medical cannabis legislation. Late last month, the group sent its recommendations to Leader Reed, and a bill is being drafted that incorporates them.

The work group recommendations included several favorable provisions such as vaporization for all patients, a minimum of 65 dispensaries, and a broad list of conditions including PTSD and chronic pain. While the recommendations are mostly reasonable, we would like to see as many dispensaries as possible and to see several other conditions such as lupus, wasting, nausea, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes included in the final bill.

The work group did not reach a consensus in certain areas where one outcome is clearly preferable for patients. For example, patients should receive immediate legal protections, and the legislation should not include a sunset provision.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please contact your representative today and ask them to act quickly to pass the strongest possible program for Pennsylvania patients.

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board Recommends New Conditions Again

October 15th, 2015 2 Comments » Chris Lindsey

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board agreed last week to recommend adding eight new medical conditions to Illinois’ medical cannabis pilot program. The conditions are chronic pain syndrome, autism, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain due to trauma, chronic post-operative pain, intractable pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.

The department previously rejected the advisory board’s recommendation that it approve 11 conditions. At the time it noted that the program was not yet fully up and running, but now with at least one dispensary opening this month, that reasoning no longer applies. Just yesterday, Harbory in Marion, Illinois became the first dispensary to open in the state.

These changes would significantly improve the state program. The medical cannabis program recognizes only a narrow range of conditions, and Illinois is in the minority of medical marijuana states when it comes to options for patients with serious pain. In addition, an increasing number of medical marijuana states recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seriously ill patients in Illinois should not be left behind. The state should listen to its team of experts and adopt these conditions without delay.

If you are an Illinois resident, please send a clear message to the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health and ask him to add these conditions without delay.

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Prohibition, Video

Marijuana Policy at the Democratic Presidential Debate

October 14th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

Last night, the first Democratic Party national presidential debates took place, and as expected, the issue of marijuana policy was addressed. Bernie Sanders stood out by becoming the first mainstream, major party presidential candidate to publicly support regulating marijuana.

CNN has the video:

After hearing these responses, MPP has updated our Presidential Report Card and upgraded Bernie Sanders to “A”, elevating him above Rand Paul to the head of the class. Hillary Clinton was also upgraded to “B” for her support of medical marijuana.

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Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Historic Medical Marijuana Regulations

October 12th, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey

Gov. Brown signed three landmark bills on Friday that together usher in a new era for medical marijuana patients and those who provide to them. AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643 establish important protections and regulations for California businesses that make medical marijuana available to patients. The Marijuana Policy Project applauds Gov. Brown and the legislature for adopting a much-needed regulatory framework for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in California. This is an important and long-awaited step forward not only for medical marijuana patients and providers, but also for the state as a whole. Nearly 20 years ago, California paved the way for patients’ rights to access medical marijuana. Finally, it is following in the footsteps of states around the country that have proven that regulating marijuana works. We hope localities that have banned medical marijuana establishments will rethink their policies now that these establishments have clear and uniform rules to follow. We wish to thank the many legislators and organizations that all contributed to this effort, including the governor’s office. Despite the many differences over how to proceed, the process saw unprecedented agreement on the solution. Read our summary of the new laws here.

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Medical Marijuana

Historic California Medical Marijuana Regulation Bills Await Governor’s Signature

October 8th, 2015 11 Comments » Morgan Fox

In September, California lawmakers approved a series of bill that would establish a statewide regulatory framework for California businesses that produce and distribute medical marijuana in the state. AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643 create standards for licensing businesses as well as testing, packaging, labeling, and tracking marijuana products, among other things.

Gov. Jerry Brown

The bills establish a new agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which will oversee the system and work with other agencies that will be involved in licensing key areas of activity, such as cultivation and testing. The bureau will develop detailed rules by January 2017, and businesses will begin to apply for state licenses in January 2018, at which point the current system of collectives and cooperatives will be phased out. Medical marijuana businesses will need to obtain local approval to continue operating.

In 1996, California became the first state to adopt a law that allows seriously ill patients to legally access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The law did not include a regulatory structure, resulting in a patchwork system in which some communities allowed medical marijuana providers to operate under local regulations while others opted to prohibit such operations entirely.

Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sunday to sign the bills.

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Medical Marijuana

Michigan House Approves Medical Marijuana Regulation Bills

October 8th, 2015 5 Comments » Chris Lindsey

Three bills that would add much-needed guidelines for medical marijuana businesses passed on a vote in the Michigan House today. These bills would establish clear, statewide protections for dispensaries, ensure patients can legally access non-smoked medical cannabis products, and establish tracking requirements for businesses involved in medical marijuana production.

As we approach the end of the year, time is running short. If you are a Michigan resident, be sure your senator knows you support quick passage.image-michigan-cropped

The changes appearing in these bills are long overdue. HB 4209 provides the basic framework, including a business licensing system and testing and labeling requirements, among other provisions. HB 4210 makes critical changes to the definition of “medical marijuana” so that non-smoked forms can be available to patients. The third bill, HB 4827, establishes production and inventory tracking requirements.

Last minute improvements were made — most notably a reduction in a proposed tax on medical cannabis sales. The proposed tax of 8% (in addition to the standard state sales tax) was lowered to 3%. While this provision and others are still not perfect, the vast majority of the proposed new system is reasonable and similar to other regulated programs around the country.

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Justice Dept. to Release Thousands of Low-Level Offenders

October 7th, 2015 2 Comments » Morgan Fox

Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced that it would be releasing approximately 6,000 federal prisoners early as a means of alleviating some of the damage done by years of overly harsh drug sentencing.

Washington Post reports: 

The early release follows action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission — an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal crimes — that reduced the potential punishment for future drug offenders last year and then made that change retroactive.USSC_Logo

The panel estimated that its change in sentencing guidelines eventually could result in 46,000 of the nation’s approximately 100,000 drug offenders in federal prison qualifying for early release. The 6,000 figure, which has not been reported previously, is the first tranche in that process.


The releases are part of a shift in the nation’s approach to criminal justice and drug sentencing that has been driven by a bipartisan consensus that mass incarceration has failed and should be reversed.

Along with the commission’s action, the Justice Department has instructed its prosecutors not to charge low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no connection to gangs or large-scale drug organizations with offenses that carry severe mandatory sentences.

It is unclear how many of the prisoners being released had been sentenced for marijuana-related violations, but this is surely a step in the right direction toward more just and humane drug policy.

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Maryland Poll Shows Continued Support for Ending Marijuana Prohibition

October 7th, 2015 No Comments Robert Capecchi

This past Monday, the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center of Goucher CollegeGoucher-Poll-450-300 released its Fall 2015 survey of Maryland residents. This latest poll continues to show majority support for “making the use of marijuana legal in Maryland”. The poll found that 52% of residents would support this policy change, with only 42% opposing. It also found that 64% of respondents think that marijuana policy should be left to the states (p. 19).

Just like Colorado and Washington, Maryland can responsibly bring the marijuana market above board by regulating production, distribution, and sales. Regulations will ensure a safe market where products are tested and accurately labeled for greater transparency and education. The state will also be able to realize tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue off marijuana sales — an activity that happens every single day across the state, despite prohibition.

If you are a Maryland resident, please email your delegates and state senator and ask them to support legislation in 2016 to treat marijuana like alcohol.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Making Progress on Medical Marijuana Provisions

October 2nd, 2015 3 Comments » Morgan Fox

A group of lawmakers in Pennsylvania is helping the state move closer to passing comprehensive medical marijuana legislation after they submitted a series of recommendations for the bill this week.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

The recommendations, prepared by 13 House members who had been discussing the issue since July, touched on subjects including how to license growers and sellers, and which medical conditions would qualify for a marijuana prescription.2000px-Seal_of_Pennsylvania

Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Republicans, said the next step would be using the guidelines to draft a bill that can garner enough support in the House.

“Hopefully, [it] passes by the end of the year,” Miskin said. 

The state Senate has already approved its own medical-marijuana bill, and State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery), a longtime proponent of medical marijuana, said he believed the upper chamber would support a House bill that reflected the recommendations that were made public this week by State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R., Centre).

Gov. Wolf is also supportive of medical marijuana, said his spokesman, Jeff Sheridan, and has for months encouraged legislators to get a bill to his desk.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please contact your legislators and ask the to support this sensible legislation.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Legal Adult Marijuana Sales to Begin in Oregon Tomorrow

September 30th, 2015 5 Comments » Robert Capecchi

Beginning tomorrow, adults 21 and older in Oregon will be able to legally purchase limited quantities of marijuana and marijuana plants from certain medical marijuana dispensaries. This allowance, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Kate Brown,flagfrontbig gives adults a legal and regulated access point to purchase marijuana while the state develops the regulatory structure that will govern the marijuana market moving forward.

Individuals 21 and older will be allowed to purchase up to seven grams of marijuana and up to four seedlings from participating medical marijuana dispensaries. The state requires a dispensary to post a sign indicating whether they sell to recreational customers or if they limit sales to medical marijuana patients and caregivers, but it will not keep a list of dispensaries that have chosen to open their doors to all adults 21 and older.

Please remember that it is still illegal to smoke marijuana in public. Violators may be issued a Class B violation, which is akin to a traffic ticket. For more information, please visit the Oregonian’s FAQ page.

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