Study Finds Legalization of Medical Marijuana Does Not Increase Crime, May Decrease Violent Crime


The 18-year-old question as to whether or not legalizing medical downwardmarijuana causes an increase in crime seems to be answered in a recent study by a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas this week. The results did not indicate a “crime exacerbating effect” of medical marijuana on any of the Part I offenses, which (according to the FBI) include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.

Alternatively, states with medical marijuana laws showed a reduction in homicide and assault rates. This is congruent to other studies by The National Academy of Sciences that found THC — the active ingredient in pot — actually causes a decrease in “aggressive and violent behavior” in chronic marijuana users.

“The findings on the relationship between violence and marijuana use are mixed and much of the evidence points toward reductions in violent behavior for those who smoke marijuana,” Robert Morris, the study’s lead author, said in a recent interview with the Huffington Post. “In fact, researchers have suggested that any increase in criminality resulting from marijuana use may be explained by its illegality, rather than from the substance itself.”

These findings run counter to arguments that suggest making marijuana legal for medical purposes poses a danger to public health, in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.

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Kentucky Medical Marijuana Bill to Be Considered by House Committee


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.

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian

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.

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MPP Releases Updated State-By-State Summary and Analysis of Medical Marijuana Laws


MPP has posted a freshly updated guide to state medical marijuana laws that contains all the latest legal and policy changes you need to know about! The full report is available here.

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Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative Makes the Ballot!


Monday brought welcoming news to seriously ill patients in Florida: The Florida Supreme Court declared the medical marijuana constitutional initiative fit for November’s ballot! If passed, this initiative will allow individuals with debilitating conditions to use marijuana if their doctor recommends it. Since this initiative would amend the state’s constitution, it needs 60% support to pass. Please make sure you are registered to vote now, so that your voice will count come November.

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.

The Florida Legislature has refused to act on the numerous medical marijuana proposals brought before it by medical marijuana champions. This November, you have the opportunity to bypass the legislature by voting “yes” on medical marijuana, but only if you’re registered to vote. Finally, please be sure to spread the word to your friends and family in Florida.


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New York’s Gov. Cuomo To Announce Support for Medical Marijuana, But Measure Does Not Go Far Enough


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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

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.

A similar medical marijuana law that passed in Maryland last year, by all accounts, just won’t work. If you live in New York State, let your legislators know the way to protect patients is by enacting a comprehensive medical marijuana bill.

New York patients who suffer from debilitating illnesses deserve protection from prosecution, and access to medical marijuana through a viable program — such as those that have passed in 20 other states, plus D.C. If you are a New York residentplease email your legislators today and urge them to support Assemblyman Gottfried and Senator Savino’s medical marijuana bill.

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Illinois Medical Marijuana Program Takes Effect


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 protected]. Please include your zip code.

Congratulations and happy new year, Illinois.

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Support for Medical Marijuana In Florida Reaches Record Levels


A new poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that 82% of Florida voters support medical marijuana. Florida advocates are currently pushing for legislation that would allow seriously ill residents to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctors.

Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is high among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, with independents lending the most support: 88 percent, the poll shows.

The overall 82-16 percent support for medical marijuana is the biggest to date. The previous high-point for Florida approval was about 70 percent in a poll taken earlier this year by the medical marijuana advocacy group, People United for Medical Marijuana.

Nearly half of Florida voters favor [legalization] — 48 percent — while 46 percent oppose pot legalization for personal use. That’s within the margin of error, but it’s a leading indicator of a shift in public opinion. Support for legalization is again strongest among independents (57-37 percent), and then Democrats (55-39 percent).

But Republicans are opposed 30-64 percent. Contrast that with GOP voter support for medical marijuana is solid: 70-26 percent.

Medical marijuana is a contentious subject in Florida, where seniors and patients have been working diligently to educate voters and gather support. The political establishment has noticed, and the placement of medical marijuana on the November 2014 ballot could influence the gubernatorial race.

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West Virginia Moves Towards Medical Marijuana


Manypenny and Simon
Del. Manypenny (left) and Matt Simon

A January poll showed that a majority of West Virginia voters support a law allowing medical marijuana in their state, and now their representatives are listening.  The WV Joint Committee on Health recently held hearings into the advantages of medical marijuana, and heard stories from patients around the state who seek its relief.  In addition, Del. Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) plans to reintroduce a bill this January that would establish a program to regulate medical marijuana.  Until then, lawmakers are studying medical marijuana policies across the country to find a plan that fits for West Virginia.

Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for MPP, wrote to the Charleston Gazette:

Lawmakers in Charleston are fortunate in that they can look at 20 other states’ laws and determine which features would work best for West Virginia. The fact that this process has already begun provides hope to countless seriously ill residents and their families, some of whom worry they might one day have to leave the state in order to follow their doctors’ advice.

It is time for state lawmakers to take a long, hard look at the evidence surrounding this issue and build upon the knowledge that has been gained from the hearings held this year. If they do so objectively, they will surely agree that West Virginia should be the next state to enact a sensible medical marijuana law.

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Kentucky House Speaker May Support Medical Marijuana


Kentucky advocates for medical marijuana received a pleasant surprise last week when several media outlets reported that House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) is now “leaning in favor” of passing a medical marijuana law.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo

Stumbo, formerly the state’s attorney general, has long been considered an opponent of reforming marijuana laws. When Kentucky was considering a bill to allow industrial hemp earlier this year, Stumbo’s attempt to block the bill resulted ina public dispute with the state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Stumbo eventually relented under strong public pressure and allowed the bill to pass.

Although industrial hemp and medical marijuana are very different issues, advocates feared Stumbo would take a similar attitude toward medical marijuana legislation. His recent comments would appear to pave the way for the Kentucky House to seriously consider a medical marijuana bill in 2014.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please click here to write your elected officials and ask them to sign on in support of medical marijuana legislation.

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Oklahomans Support Medical Marijuana Protections


In a recent poll commissioned by the Oklahoma chapter of NORML,oklahoma-SC voters spoke loud and clear in favor of improving marijuana laws in the state, and an overwhelming majority support legal access to medical marijuana. If you live in Oklahoma and you agree it’s time to establish a compassionate and sensible medical marijuana law, tell your legislators today!

Over 71% of voters in the state support allowing seriously ill patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes with a physician’s recommendation, with broad support among both parties. Medical marijuana is a safer alternative to many pharmaceutical medications, which can have harmful side effects and even lead to overdose deaths. Seriously ill patients in the state deserve an option that will not make them criminals just for seeking a safer alternative.

Sen. Constance Johnson has long been a champion of medical marijuana in the state, but her efforts to bring relief to seriously ill patients have been blocked by leadership. If you are an Oklahoma resident, send a clear message to your senator and representative that it’s time to stop frustrating the will of the voters and support a compassionate law for Oklahomans!

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