NY Senate Has the Votes to Pass Medical Marijuana Bill


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Sen. Diane Savino
Sen. Diane Savino

New York Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) claims she has rallied enough votes to pass SB 4406, which legalizes medical marijuana. Thirty-nine senators, seven more than what is needed to pass the bill, have pledged their support.

However, gathering this support has come at a price. Three significant changes differentiate the current bill from the original.

First, physicians are limited to recommending medical marijuana for only 20 conditions. Secondly, the bill would create an advisory committee to recommend additions to the list of qualifying conditions. This board could also hear appeals for individual patients who fall outside of the list. Lastly, people under 21 would not be permitted to smoke marijuana as a treatment; they would be restricted to ingesting or vaporizing.

Other details of the bill include required medical marijuana cards for patients, a limit of up to 2.5 ounces per 30-day supply, and the dispensaries would have to pay taxes to the state.

According to the New York Daily News, it looks like the Senate’s Health Committee will take up the bill at noon on Tuesday.

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Wisconsin Girl Dies Waiting for Implementation of Cannabis Oil Legislation


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Lydia Schaeffer
Lydia Schaeffer

Tragically, Lydia Schaeffer (aged 7) passed away on Mother’s Day from a rare genetic disorder called Kleefstra syndrome, which causes terrible seizures and other complications. Her plight inspired lawmakers in Wisconsin to legalize a marijuana extract to treat her condition, despite their opposition to a broader medical marijuana reform.

Sally Schaeffer, Lydia’s mother, lobbied the state legislature to legalize the cannabidiol (CBD) extract from the marijuana stain known as Charlotte’s Web for use on children with seizure disorders. Even though lawmakers moved to pass the limited CBD-only bill in record time, determining the implications of the law stalled it from going into effect. Additionally, CBD-only bills leave behind 98% of the patients who can benefit from medical marijuana, so Wisconsin still has a long way to go before patients have legal access to this much-needed medicine.

In Lydia’s honor, Sally plans to continue spreading the word on CBD oil. She said she was contacted by Sen. Robert Wirch’s office this week and told they would try to have the bill she championed called Lydia’s Law. Wirch’s sympathy toward the Schaeffer family is welcomed, but his and other politicians’ compassion for the vast majority of other patients in need is currently lacking.

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Alzheimer’s Prevention Starts with Marijuana, According to British Journal


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Alzheimer's Disease includes reduced brain activity and function (red areas above), the result of years of accumulated damage. THC and CBD in marijuana seem to prevent this damage.
Alzheimer’s Disease includes reduced brain activity and function (red areas above), the result of years of accumulated damage. THC and CBD in marijuana seem to prevent this damage.

A paper published by the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that the chemical compounds in marijuana likely prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and age-related dementia.

Chronic brain inflammation, oxidative stress, and intra-cellular dysfunction are the primary reasons why people develop these debilitating neurological diseases. The study found that both THC and CBD (the primary chemical compounds found in marijuana) positively affect nerve cell function in consumers, significantly reducing these harmful neurological conditions.

THC and CBD (called cannabinoids) tap into a primal, chemical signaling system in cells called “the endocannabinoid system.” The paper shows cannabinoids dampen inflammation, protect cells from oxidative damage, and promote cell health on a number of levels.

This paper echoes claims made in January by Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology, and medical genetics at Ohio State University, that “if you do anything, such as smoke a bunch of marijuana in your 20s and 30s, you may wipe out all of the inflammation in your brain and then things start over again. And you simply die of old age before inflammation becomes an issue for you,”

The implications of marijuana’s medicinal effects on our brains are monumental, from not just a health perspective, but a financial one as well, for more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, costing the country about $203 billion in 2013.

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Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jonathan Ogden, Applies for Medical Marijuana Dispensary License


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Jonathan Ogden
Jonathan Ogden

Jonathan Ogden, retired Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle, has applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. There are a limited number of licenses available in Nevada, so it is still unclear whether or not Ogden will own a dispensary.

One hundred and nine other companies have filed applications, and only 66 will be licensed this year, 40 of which will reside in Las Vegas (Clark county) where Ogden has applied. Applicants must also show they have $250,000 in liquid assets and have a licensed physician as the medical director to apply.

Hopefully, the NFL will feel the pressure of having Hall of Fame leaders like Ogden publicly support medical marijuana. The NFL’s stance on medical marijuana hasn’t evolved to the same extent as that of the nation at large, and the organization still imposes strict laws on players via steep fines and suspensions. However, with the NBA and NCAA rethinking their marijuana-use policies, perhaps, the NFL will move in the direction of acceptance.

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Minnesota Patients Air TV Ad Attacking Gov. Dayton for Opposing Medical Marijuana


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A battle is underway in Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton is standing in the way of an otherwise widely supported medical marijuana bill because he does not want to upset his friends in law enforcement.

The governor is under intense pressure to support the bill, but time is running out in the legislative session, so we are cranking up the heat with an aggressive TV ad that will begin airing tonight throughout Minnesota. It features St. Paul mom Angela Garin and her five-year-old son, Paxton — who suffers from a rare condition that causes hundreds of seizures per day — calling on Gov. Dayton to stop blocking the legislation. It should make waves because the governor is currently under fire in the media fortelling patients and parents like Angela to just find medical marijuana on the street!

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Despite Increased Support, West Virginia Legislators Drop Medical Marijuana Study


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A new poll was released Monday showing increased support for allowing medical marijuana in West Virginia. The poll, which was commissioned by MPP and conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 56% of Mountain State residents support passing a medical marijuana law (up from 53% last January), and only 34% oppose laws that would allow patients to obtain and use medical marijuana (down from 40%). Results are available here.

If you live in West Virginia, share these poll results with your state legislators today!

The West Virginia Legislaturewest-virginia-child-support begins its 2014 general session Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Joint Committee on Health decided to conclude its offseason study without voting on the medical marijuana issue. It appears that, for political reasons, passing a medical marijuana law may be a difficult goal to achieve in an election year such as 2014. With elections coming up later this year, it is particularly important that legislators hear from you and other supporters today. They need to understand that public opinion has dramatically changed, and that most West Virginians support allowing patients to have safe, legal access to medical marijuana.

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Proposed Delaware Medical Marijuana Regulations Will Not Provide Acceptable Access


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Earlier this month, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services issued proposed regulations for a single medical marijuana compassion center that could only cultivate 150 plants – far too few to meet patients’ needs. MPP submitted comments on behalf of Delaware’s patients and potential providers urging the department to revise the regulations to ensure a workable program.

The regulations unnecessarily restrict the compassion center program to a single pilot center that can possess no more than 150 plants and 1,500 ounces of medical marijuana. Gov. Jack Markell announced this approach at a time when the federal government indicated it was concerned about large-scale grows. However, since then, the Department of Justice directed federal prosecutors to stop considering “the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone” as a reason to take legal action against it.

The plant limit will result in shortages, forcing patients to go without or driving them to the criminal market. Meanwhile, a single compassion center does little to help patients who happen to live miles from it. DHSS should register three centers as called for by law.

You can read MPP’s proposed revisions here.

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Washington, D.C. Mayor Wants to Discuss Legalizing Marijuana


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Following the city’s first medical marijuana sale earlier this week, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said that the city should discuss the possibility of legalizing marijuana.

“I don’t have a position on whether to legalize it or not, but we should have that discussion,” Gray told News Channel 8.

vince gray
Mayor Vincent Gray

He said that the topic is an important one because current prohibitionist policies result in harmless young people getting criminal records.

The mayor’s statement comes after growing call for reform in the District. On July 10, D.C. Councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells proposed legislation to remove criminal penalties for the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

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Illinois Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law


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pat quinn
Gov. Pat Quinn

In another historic victory for patients, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) just signed MPP’s medical marijuana bill into law. This makes Illinois the 20th state to allow safe and legal access to medical marijuana!

The measure was approved in the Senate (35-21) on May 17 and in the House (61-57) on April 17. It was endorsed by the Illinois Nurses Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, and more than 270 doctors from across the state signed on to a statement in support of safe access to medical marijuana for patients with serious illnesses.

We put nearly 10 years of hard work into passing this bill. MPP deployed staffers to testify at hearings, hired lobbyists in the state capital, provided grants to local activist organizations, aired TV and radio ads, and mobilized supporters to put pressure on state legislators and the governor.

Once this law goes into effect, patients will be able to obtain marijuana at 60 dispensaries — which will be served by 22 grow locations — creating the third-largest, state-regulated medical marijuana system in the country.

This enactment of the Illinois law is MPP’s third major legislative achievement this year. (We also passed a medical marijuana bill in New Hampshire and a decriminalization measure in Vermont.)

As a result, 40% of the U.S. population now lives in states with workable medical marijuana laws, and 17 states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession. This is a huge feat, but we cannot rest yet!

Unfortunately, people in more than half of the states still face criminal penalties for marijuana possession — including medical marijuana patients.

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California Democratic Party Urges Obama to Halt Federal Raids on Marijuana Dispensaries


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In Costa Mesa, CA on Sunday, July 21, the California DemocraticCA DEM party passed two new resolutions at its executive board meeting. The first of the two dealt with President Obama’s federal raids on marijuana dispensaries.

The resolution reads, “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party requests: President Obama to allow the newly enacted marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington to go into effect with no federal interference, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party asks President Obama to end the Department of Justice interference and raids by federal agencies in states with medical marijuana laws, and a comprehensive study be immediately undertaken to produce recommendations for reform of our nation’s marijuana prohibition.”

This position in the California Democratic platform will have drastic implications for the 2016 candidate chosen by the Democrats. California has historically been a cornerstone of Democrat success. Given President Obama’s earlier comments about racial disparity in arrests like drug offenses, this is an opportunity for Obama to step forward and stop some of those unfair arrests by keeping his campaign promise not to interfere with medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

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