The Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET on a bill that would allow people suffering from conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), and HIV/AIDS to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
HB 350, known as the Cannabis Compassion Act, introduced on February 10 by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville), a registered nurse, was the first effective medical marijuana bill ever introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives. It would allow licensed patients and caregivers to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It would also establish safety compliance facilities and permit one medical marijuana compassion center for every 100,000 state residents. Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville) introduced a similar measure, SB 43, earlier this year.
Nearly 80% of Kentucky adults think people with serious illnesses should be allowed to access and use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctors recommend it, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released in May 2013.
Last week, the state confirmed that the campaign, United for Care, had submitted enough valid signatures to make the ballot. The only hurdle left before officially making the ballot was surviving the legal challenge brought by Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi argued the summary of the measure (which was written by its proponents) didn’t accurately explain what the initiative would do. She also claimed the measure violated Florida’s requirement that ballot questions be limited to a single subject. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, disagreed.
This Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce an executive action creating a medical marijuana program. While it’s encouraging that he has realized patients should not be punished for using their medicine, unlike the medical marijuana bill sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino, Gov. Cuomo’s proposal would not create an effective program. The “State of the State” address will be streaming live at 11:30am ET on Wednesday.
It appears the governor’s plan would only allow patients to access marijuana from a limited number of hospitals, which would dispense marijuana that was either obtained from a federally approved source or that is illegal to dispense under federal law. But the federal government has refused to provide marijuana even to some short-term FDA-approved studies, and there is no reason to think it will approve marijuana for longer-term patient access. Meanwhile, hospitals surely wouldn’t break federal law by distributing unapproved marijuana.
After 10 years of hard work, the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program takes effect today. This is an important milestone for seriously ill patients and a testament to the effort of countless people!
Over the next four months, the three regulatory agencies overseeing the program will hold public hearings and establish rules and forms. The timing has not been established yet, but official statements by at least one agency have indicated that cultivation applications may be accepted in the fall. Importantly, patients are not protected by the law until they have registered in the state registry, which will not be open until this spring at the earliest.
In the meantime, the state has established a central website, which will contain updates and information on the state’s progress.
An overview of the program is available here, and a two-page document specifically designed for patients to share with their physicians is also available. During the year, MPP will encourage the health department to add PTSD and debilitating pain to the list of qualifying conditions. If you have been diagnosed with either and would like to help, please email us at email@example.com. Please include your zip code.