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!
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.
The West Virginia Legislature 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.
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.
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.