Prohibition

Big Pharma Opiate Profiteer Throws Big Money Against Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana

September 27th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

While there is a long history of opposition to sensible marijuana policy reform from some big pharmaceutical companies, September saw the biggest financial donation from such a company against a legalization ballot initiative to date, and their motives couldn’t be more blatant.

According to campaign finance reports, the committee formed to oppose Prop. 205, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, received a $500,000 contribution on August 31 from Insys Therapeutics, Inc. According to a CNBC investigative piece about the Chandler-based company — titled “The pain killer: A drug company putting profits above patients” — Insys Therapeutic’s revenue is “almost entirely derived from the highly addictive opiate fentanyl,” which experts call “the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market.” Insys’s aggressive marketing and other shady business practices have triggered multiple state and federal investigations, including one conducted by the Arizona Attorney General.

The front page of Insys’s website also touts its development of “pharmaceutical cannabinoids,” which are synthetic versions of natural chemical compounds found in marijuana.

A number of major media outlets reported on the clear intent to protect profits at the expense of public health and individual freedom, but neither Insys, nor the campaign dedicated to arresting adults for using something that is safer than alcohol, have shown any sign of remorse.

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Medical Marijuana

Michigan Lawmakers Adopt Regulatory System for Medical Marijuana, Allow Extracts

September 27th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey
The Michigan Legislature passed a series of bills this month that overhaul the state’s medical marijuana program. This is the culmination of a multi-year debate on how, and whether, the state should allow and regulate medical marijuana businesses. It is a major — and controversial — milestone for patients and those who serve them. The bills now head to the governor, who is expected to sign them.mi-seal
For many years, federal and state law enforcement authorities obtained warrants, raided locations, arrested compassionate business owners, took property, and jailed individuals they said violated state law. It has been clear that Michigan’s patchwork system, in which some local communities embrace businesses that state law considers illegal, needed revision. News stories involving aggressive law enforcement tactics, particularly in rural communities in Michigan, have been far too common.

Based on similar laws in other medical marijuana states, the bills passed today represent an opportunity for businesses to get much-needed legal protections. While few business owners like the idea of being subject to more regulation and greater costs, the updates to Michigan’s program were important and to some extent inevitable.

In addition to providing for state-legal dispensaries, the bills will finally allow Michigan patients to use extracts and products like oils and edibles that are made from them.

MPP thanks the National Patients Rights Association and those who support it for working so hard to help guide these changes in the best direction possible

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Medical Marijuana

Chris Christie Approves PTSD As Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana

September 16th, 2016 1 Comment Kate Bell
On September 14, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed A 457, which adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program. Christie, who has frequently said he opposes medical marijuana, cited the large number of PTSD sufferers among military veterans as his reason for supporting the bill.cc
Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators and Gov. Christie — and to DPA’s Compassionate Use Campaign — for making this victory possible. We at MPP are thrilled that patients with PTSD, a devastating mental health condition, will be able to seek relief from medical marijuana where conventional treatments have failed. In addition, the New Jersey Department of Health is currently considering petitions to add additional qualifying conditions to the state’s program.

This law takes effect immediately, and you can find instructions on how to register as a patient here.

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Tax and Regulate

Alaska Issues First Marijuana Business License

September 12th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey
The Alaska Marijuana Control Board issued the state’s first retail business license on September 9, reaching yet another milestone in the rollout of the voter-approved program. Frozen Budz, which plans to make cannabis-infused products in Fairbanks, received Alaska’s first retail license.ak-seal
Many other applications remain under consideration, and the review process for other retail businesses continues, if slower than many expected.
In addition, despite the board’s assurances earlier this year, it has not adopted rules or considered applications for cannabis cafés. With establishments that allow on-site consumption of alcohol commonly available, adults 21 and over who choose to consume a safer product should be able to partake at a regulated establishment, whether a resident or not.
The board previously issued a limited but sensible rule enabling some retail establishments to allow on-site consumption. It is troubling that the board’s decision to clearly authorize and regulate these important businesses could be stalling. With the recently issued opinion by Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth that bring-your-own cannabis clubs are unlawful, the board should proceed with the licensed alternative — retail cafés — without further delay.

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Prohibition

Rhode Island Primary Voter Guide

September 9th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Next week on Tuesday, September 13, Rhode Island will hold its primary election across the state. You can see your sample ballot and look up your polling location by visiting the Secretary of State’s website

Regulate Rhode Islandrri recently partnered with Motif Magazine to conduct a marijuana policy survey of candidates running for a seat in the General Assembly. The candidates were then assigned a letter grade based on their responses and — in the case of incumbents — their record on marijuana policy bills.  

You can look up your district and see the results for your local candidates who responded here. The results are also included in the most recent print edition of Motif Magazine. 

It is crucial that supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform remain engaged in local politics. That is why it is important to not only vote, but also to contact your elected officials and educate them on the many reasons to support regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. 

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect

September 9th, 2016 1 Comment Chris Lindsey
September 8 marks the first day Ohio’s medical marijuana law will be in effect, bringing new protections for qualified medical marijuana patients. Under the law’s “affirmative defense,” patients will no longer be subject to criminal conviction for possessing marijuana if they meet certain requirements. However, protections are limited, and they fall short of providing access to medical cannabis in Ohio, not expected for at least a year.MPP_OMM_horizontal green
The affirmative defense provides limited, temporary protections for patients while the formal program rolls out. Among other things, it requires a signed letter from a licensed physician, including information about the patient and the medical condition treated. Importantly, the protections do not apply to cultivation or sale of marijuana. It also does not prevent patients from being cited, it only prevents a conviction. For a closer look at what an affirmative defense is and how patients can get the protections it offers, click here.
September 8 also marks the official start date for agencies to begin writing and adopting rules for medical cannabis businesses. We are watching the process carefully to ensure the system is as workable as possible for patients.

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Tax and Regulate

Arizona Initiative Cleared for Ballot After Language Challenges

September 7th, 2016 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

After a court ruling rejected a challenge from prohibitionists to13925181_550967435082980_8533437240301629316_n keep the initiative to legalize marijuana in Arizona off the ballot, opponents of the measure made a last-ditch effort to deprive voters of their right to choose by alleging that the ballot language summary was misleading and the initiative should be invalidated.

On August 31, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the initiative summary was accurate and comprehensive enough to comply with state law, allowing it to proceed.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition

MPP and Institute for Justice Fight for Free Speech in Alabama

September 6th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Recently when attempting to lobby for marijuana policy reform in Alabama, MPP legislative counsel Maggie Ellinger-Locke discovered that she would have to travel to the Yellowhammer State and take an ethics class before she could speak with any lawmakers on the subject. This is a clear violation of free speech, and Institute for Justice is helping us fight back.IJ logo

Alabama Today reports:

Virginia-based public interest law firm Institute for Justice filed a new federal lawsuit on behalf of Maggie Ellinger-Locke and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

At issue is an Alabama law requiring all registered lobbyists to attend an ethics class offered only four times a year and in only one place – Montgomery.

Part of Ellinger-Locke’s job, says IJ Senior Attorney Paul Sherman in a recent op-ed, is to talk with legislators and government officials in nearly a dozen states on ways to make marijuana policy “more just, sensible and humane.”

“Unfortunately for her,” Sherman writes, “all lobbyists in Alabama are required to take an in-person ethics class.” The problem is, Ellinger-Locke lives in Arlington, Virginia and works at the MPP headquarters in Washington DC.

Sherman also points out that mayors, city and county council members, as well as members of local boards of education, are each required to take similar training – a program that could easily be offered online.

Nevertheless, Sherman adds that such a requirement is not only bad public policy but also unconstitutional. That is why IJ filed a First Amendment challenge in federal court.

“If a person wants to talk to an elected official about a matter of public policy,” Sherman concludes, “they shouldn’t have to take a government-mandated class. Instead, the only thing they should need is an opinion.”

We will post updates as they happen.

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Medical Marijuana

Majority of Montana Medical Marijuana Patients to Lose Access

August 31st, 2016 1 Comment Chris Lindsey
The state of Montana’s nearly 12-year history with medical marijuana takes a turn for the worse on September 1, when most medical marijuana patients are expected lose legal access. After years of court challenges which delayed implementation, most of the state’s 2011 law will be in effect, severely limiting the number of people available to provide medical marijuana to patients.2000px-Montana-StateSeal.svg
Under the newly-enforced law, providers may only serve three patients — a change that state agency officials estimate could leave as many as 10,000 seriously ill patients without access. The only alternative is for patients to grow at home, which most are too ill or unable to do. It is not yet clear how many patients will be able to make the switch.
But hope is on the horizon. Voters on November 8 will have a chance to support I-182, a voter initiative that would restore access for patients and even improve the law in big ways. Among other improvements, businesses would receive state licenses to operate and critical legal protections, and medical marijuana could be tested for safety and potency. Polls indicate voters support these types of changes.
This measure comes at a critical time for patients across the state, and we applaud everyone at Montana Citizens for I-182 and those who support them for giving thousands of patients a chance.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Draft Business Rules Released

August 31st, 2016 No Comments Becky Dansky
Since Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16) went into effect on May 17, 2016, the Department of Health has been working to implement the new law. Thus far, it has created regulations regarding — and accepted applications for — the safe harbor letter program, which provides legal protections for those caring for minor patients when they administer medical marijuana. The department recently announced that 53 caregivers have received a letter.PA Seal
On August 18, the department released draft temporary regulations regarding growers and processors and asked for comments. The draft created a strong foundation for the final version of the rules, though it is unclear when the department will publicize the final version. MPP submitted our recommendations for strengthening the draft on August 23. It is expected that they will soon release the draft temporary regulations for dispensaries as well.
The department also announced a public survey for patients and caregivers, which allows individuals to provide input on the application process and the financial hardship program.

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