The program approved by the Senate would allow Iowans who suffer from a variety of debilitating conditions to use and safely access medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. The bill also requires the state to register in-state businesses to produce and distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients. This is a huge step forward, but for Iowa patients to receive the protections they deserve, the bill must first survive the House and then the governor.
Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate
Historic legislation was introduced earlier today in the United States Senate. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced the introduction of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act. This is the first time legislation that would make medical marijuana legal under federal law has been introduced in the Senate.
First and foremost, the bill would make production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for medical purposes that’s legal under state law legal under federal law. The bill would also remove barriers to scientific research, allow Veterans Administration physicians to recommend medical marijuana, allow interstate transportation of CBD oils, ensure medical marijuana dispensaries are taxed fairly, and allow all marijuana businesses — including adult-use stores in Colorado and elsewhere — to access the banking system and no longer be forced to operate on a cash-only basis.
There’s no reason your senators shouldn’t be co-sponsoring this bill. Please email their offices and ask them to sign on.
Learn More About New York’s Medical Marijuana Law
Last Friday, after days of intense negotiation and more than a decade of advocacy, the Assembly and Senate voted to approve a limited medical marijuana program. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already agreed to sign this bill, which includes several revisions he insisted upon. Finally, New York will be the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law.
Click here for a summary of the Compassionate Care Act.
Access to medical marijuana literally means the difference between life and death for many seriously ill patients. While this new law represents a hard-fought victory and a long overdue step forward for New York, the bill is far from perfect. Unfortunately, due to the compromises with the governor’s office, many patients will still be left behind. But, together with our local allies, including the Drug Policy Alliance and Compassionate Care NY, who led recent lobbying efforts in the state, we will not give up on improving the law.
Senate to Vote On Medical Marijuana Amendment
Last month, we made history by passing an amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives intended to prevent the DEA from spending any money raiding and arresting medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it’s legal. Now, in order to get it to President Obama’s desk, we need to pass it in the Senate.
Please take two minutes to call both of your U.S. Senators and urge them to support the Paul/Booker medical marijuana amendment!
The good news is we will get a vote thanks to two courageous senators who are taking a stand for medical marijuana patients and respecting state laws. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are sponsoring an amendment identical to the one that passed in the House last month. The amendment was filed yesterday and could be voted on at any time.
NY Senate Has the Votes to Pass Medical Marijuana Bill
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.
Minnesota Senate Overwhelmingly Approves Workable Medical Marijuana Bill
On Tuesday evening, the Minnesota Senate approved the medical marijuana bill with a veto-proof majority vote, 48-18. The legislation, authored by Sen. Scott Dibble, now crosses over to the House for consideration. If you are a Minnesota resident, please call and then email your state representative to ask him or her to vote “yes” on compassionate and workable medical marijuana legislation today!
An overwhelming and diverse majority of Minnesotans support polices that allow the terribly ill to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Continuing to punish the sick for using marijuana is cruel, and spending millions on a study that would only bring relief for a select few is wasteful.
Minnesota House Offers Unworkable “Compromise” on Medical Marijuana
A new proposal has been put forth in the Minnesota House of Representatives to gut the existing medical marijuana bill and replace it with language that would only allow for clinical trials for medical marijuana. While it’s heartening to know lawmakers are working on the issue, this proposal would not provide any patients with the medicine they need. Among its other flaws, federal law would preempt it by requiring the health department to contract with a marijuana manufacturer. If you are a Minnesota resident, please contact your lawmakers NOW and ask them to support a workable medical program similar to the laws in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
The clinical study amendment to H.F. 1818 was offered on the heels of the Senate medical marijuana bill clearing yet another legislative hurdle. Fortunately, the Senate proposal, which will be heard tomorrow in the Senate finance committee, would create a workable program that would protect seriously ill Minnesotans from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana with the recommendations of their doctors. It would also create a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program to provide safe and immediate access to that medicine.
New Hampshire Legalization Bill Making Progress In Legislature
The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee voted to amend HB 492, which would make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol, in order to simplify the tax structure and regulatory language. The committee then voted 14-5 to recommend that the House not pass the bill, which would also allow people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The House is not bound by this recommendation, and will vote on whether the bill should progress to the Senate soon.
The committee’s amended bill taxes and regulates marijuana by imposing a standardized $60 per ounce tax on growers. Advocates claim the tax will generate approximately $25 to $30 million annually.
MPP’s Matt Simon commented that, “Even with a negative recommendation, this thoughtful amendment will make it much more likely that the bill will receive continued support from the rest of the Legislature. We are optimistic that New Hampshire lawmakers will recognize that their constituents do not want to see adults arrested for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”
When the bill returns to the House, it will have a battle with its new amendments, especially since it passed the House with a 170-162 vote on January 15. Sixty percent of New Hampshire adults support HB 492, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released in October by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Just 36% said they are opposed. The entire poll is available at: http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2013_fall_gastaxpot102513.pdf.
Maryland Senate Approves Decriminalization Bill
For the second year in a row, the Maryland Senate has approved Sen. Bobby Zirkin’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Today’s vote had an even wider margin than last year’s. Seven Republicans joined 29 Democrats for a 36-8 bipartisan vote. SB 364 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard nearly eight hours of testimony on proposals to decriminalize and legalize marijuana from MPP and other members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland.
SB 364 would replace criminal penalties for the possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $100. This is a much-needed measure in Maryland, which has the fourth-highest arrest rate per capita for marijuana possession. Arrest records have a devastating effect on a young person’s life, and can become an obstacle to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. SB 364 is a strong step towards ending the ineffective and destructive prohibition of marijuana. This bill would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.
Maryland Police Chief Cites Fake News Report in Senate Hearing
At a Maryland State Senate hearing to discuss decriminalizing marijuana Tuesday, a high-ranking law enforcement official betrayed his total ignorance about marijuana when he claimed that decriminalization would cause a slew of overdoses throughout the state.
From the Capital Gazette:
“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” [Annapolis Police Chief Michael] Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”
That information is straight from the Daily Currant, a well-known satirical news site, which claimed that Colorado hospitals were overwhelmed with emergency cases caused by marijuana use.
Apparently Chief Pristoop didn’t know that marijuana was already being used widely in Colorado, just like in every other state, and that it is impossible to die from a marijuana overdose.
Maybe Pristoop was truly ignorant of these facts, in which case he probably shouldn’t be testifying in support of continuing Maryland’s failed marijuana prohibition. Or maybe, like law enforcement bosses in Minnesota and around the country, he’s just worried about his budget.