Medical Marijuana

UPDATE: Congressional Budget Deal Extends Medical Marijuana Protections

September 8th, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

A budget deal approved in Congress on Friday extended federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers until Dec. 8, potentially creating another opportunity to ensure they are inluded in the FY 2018 budget.

Earlier this week, the House Rules Committee blocked an amendment introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) from being heard by the House during the rest of the budget negotiations. This made it very likely that the amendment, which prevents the Department of Justice  from targeting state medical marijuana programs, would not be included in the final budget for next year. Without inclusion, these protections would have expired Sep. 30.

This budget deal gives us a little more time to put pressure on Congress to do the right thing. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support medical marijuana.

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Research

National Survey Shows Teen Use Dropping, Possible Substitution for Alcohol in Adults

September 7th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that teen marijuana use rates decreased nationally in 2016. Past-month use rates among adults increased slightly, but alcohol use rates among all age groups decreased, indicating the possibility that adults are substituting marijuana for alcohol.

Past-month use rates for the 12-17 age group decreased by 0.5% from 2015 to 6.5% nationally in 2016. This is the lowest level of marijuana use in this age group since 2002. The data also shows a steady decrease since 2014, when the first states to make marijuana legal for adults began allowing regulated retail sales. The full report is available here.

“Critics of legalization worry about the message being sent to youth by marijuana policy reform efforts, but the real message is that marijuana should only be used by responsible adults, and it seems to be sinking in. Regulating marijuana for adults reinforces that message and creates effective mechanisms for making it more difficult for teens to obtain marijuana,” said Morgan Fox, senior communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and regulation gives adults the legal option to choose the safer substance.”

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Medical Marijuana

House Committee Blocks Medical Marijuana Protection Amendment

September 7th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

An amendment that would keep the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana programs was voted “out of order” by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, preventing the House from including it in its version of the FY 2018 federal budget.

This amendment, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would prevent the Department of Justice from spending any resources to target medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a similar budget amendment in the Senate, which was approved in a committee voice vote in July.

In 2014, Congress passed a similar amendment to an omnibus-spending bill. This amendment was subsequently renewed, but it now stands to expire on September 30 unless the Senate version of the budget is approved in a joint House/Senate conference committee or Congress fails to pass a budget.

If the amendment is not included in the budget or carried over, the Department of Justice will have nothing to prevent it from targeting state medical marijuana programs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly stated that he opposes marijuana being legal for any reason and in May sent a letter to Congress urging it to vote down the amendment and allow him to resume prosecuting medical marijuana providers.

MPP’s Don Murphy released the following statement:

When an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose federal interference in state medical marijuana programs, it is unconscionable not to let their Representatives vote on whether to continue this policy. Unless Congress chooses the Senate budget version, millions of seriously ill patients and the legitimate businesses that provide them with safe access to their medicine will be at risk of prosecution.

“This vote is a slap in the face of patients, their families, their elected representatives, and the 10th Amendment.

UPDATE: A federal budget deal has extended the medical marijuana protections until Dec. 8, but inclusion in the final budget for next year is still in danger.

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Medical Marijuana

Indiana Republican Introducing Medical Marijuana Legislation Next Session

September 5th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

In August, Republican Representative Jim Lucas announced that he is planning to introduce medical marijuana legislation in the upcoming legislative session in Indiana. This is great news for the Hoosier State! Last fall, a poll commissioned by WTHR/Howey Politics found that 73% of voters in Indiana support medical marijuana legislation.

Will you ask your lawmakers to stand with voters and protect Indiana patients? If you are an Indiana resident, please urge your lawmakers to support Rep. Lucas’ medical marijuana bill.

We are so excited that a Republican has stepped up to help champion medical marijuana legislation. It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, so please take a second and send a “thank you” to Rep. Jim Lucas.

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Medical Marijuana

Republican Congressman Urges Conservatives to Support Medical Marijuana Ahead of Crucial Budget Rules Vote

September 5th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

On Tuesday after Congress returned from recess, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher published a column in the Washington Post asking his conservative colleagues to support his budget amendment that would protect state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers from federal interference.

Not long ago, a supporter of mine, visiting from California, dropped by my Capitol office. A retired military officer and staunch conservative, he and I spent much of our conversation discussing the Republican agenda.

Finally, I drew a breath and asked him about an issue I feared might divide us: the liberalization of our marijuana laws, specifically medical marijuana reform, on which for years I had been leading the charge. What did he think about that controversial position?

“Dana,” he replied, “there are some things about me you don’t know.” He told me about his three sons, all of whom enlisted after 9/11.

Two of his sons returned from the battlefield whole and healthy. The third, however, came home suffering multiple seizures each day. His prospects were bleak.

His medical care fell under the total guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose doctors came under federal restraints regarding the treatments they could prescribe. (Among the treatments allowed were opioids.) Nothing worked.

Finally, a sympathetic doctor advised our young hero to see him in his private office, where he could prescribe medication derived from cannabis. The prescription worked. The seizures, for the most part, ceased.

“Dana,” said my friend, “I could hug you right now for what you’ve been doing, unknowingly, for my son.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Research, Tax and Regulate

Teen Use Down in Washington Since Legalization

September 2nd, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Yet another study was released this week showing that teen marijuana use did not increase after legalization, this time from Washington.

Seattle Times reports:

Youth use of pot and cannabis-abuse treatment admissions have not increased in Washington since marijuana was legalized, according to a new analysis by the state Legislature’s think tank.

Under Initiative 502, the state’s legal-pot law, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) is required to conduct periodic cost-benefit analyses of legalization on issues ranging from drugged-driving to prenatal use of marijuana.

The think tank’s findings on youth use were not surprising as they were based on a biannual survey by the state Department of Health of students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades released earlier this year.

Pot use by students in all four grade levels was stable or has fallen slightly since I-502 was enacted, the WSIPP report said.

For instance, 17 percent of the 10,835 high-school sophomores surveyed last year said they consumed pot in the previous month. The level was 18 percent in 2006 and 20 percent in 2010.

Legalization was approved by Washington voters in November 2012. Legal sales began in July 2014.

The study also found that admissions to public treatment centers for cannabis abuse had fallen since legalization took effect, and that the cannabis industry had created more than six thousand full-time jobs.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Tennessee Has Organized a Medical Marijuana Committee

August 28th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally formed a committee to study the potential impacts of legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee.

The committee will be chaired by Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, who has been a staunch advocate for medical marijuana in the Volunteer State.

Speaker Harwell has recently said she is “open” to considering a law allowing medical marijuana in Tennessee and has launched a House task force to fight the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that states with medical marijuana laws are associated with a significant reduction in mortality from opioid abuse; these states saw a 25% reduction in opioid overdose deaths, compared to states without such laws.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés

August 28th, 2017 3 Comments Chris Lindsey

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board published proposed rules for cannabis cafés. Please take a look and consider submitting written comments in support.

It’s important for the board to hear that the public wants adults to be allowed to consume cannabis at regulated establishments.

Comments are due by October 27 at 4:30 p.m., and they may be submitted by email to [email protected], or by regular mail. For more information on making submissions, please see the state’s public notice, available online here. While comments are not due until late October, we strongly encourage you to submit them early so that board members have time to review and consider submissions.

Under the current proposal, the state would allow cannabis flowers to be purchased and consumed on-site by vaporization or smoking, one gram at a time. Concentrates would not be available. Cannabis edibles and food that does not contain cannabis could also be available. A newly proposed addition to the rules would ensure cannabis café workers are not exposed to marijuana smoke while on duty.

The status quo is unworkable for the state’s tourists, and adult residents should not be relegated to private homes when alcohol consumers can choose from a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also important to ensure renters — whose leases may prohibit cannabis consumption — are not shut out of the freedoms Alaskan homeowners enjoy.

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Tax and Regulate

Denver Businesses Applying for Social Consumption Permits

August 25th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In November 2016, Denver voters approved a measure that allows local businesses to apply for permits to set aside areas for marijuana consumption by their customers. Now, after months of conflict over the extremely restrictive nature of the rules, the city is accepting applications.

Advocates are still decrying the regulations, however, saying that the rules are designed to make it almost impossible for most businesses to take part. In particular, they are concerned that a requirement that applicants be at least 1,000 feet from a variety of educational, treatment, and public facilities, including city parks, eliminates most potential applicants and is unfair when compared to much less restrictive buffer zones for businesses that sell alcohol. Locals are considering a lawsuit against the city to address this issue.

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Prohibition

UPDATE: Virginia Marijuana Decriminalization Forum Rescheduled

August 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Virginia State Crime Commission has rescheduled its meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization. It’s important that advocates attend this meeting and show that Virginians support sensible marijuana policies.

What: Virginia State Crime Commission public meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization

When: Monday, October 30, at 1 p.m.

Where: House Committee Room, Ground Floor, Room W011, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Maine Street, Richmond, VA

Don’t forget that the Commission is still accepting written comment on marijuana decriminalization. The specific issues it’s examining are available here. Make sure to submit your comments by Friday, August 23, at 5 p.m. You can email them to [email protected] or mail them to:

1111 East Broad Street, Ste. B036
Richmond, VA 23219

Be sure to check out our decriminalization webpage for assistance crafting your comments. Here are some of the best key points to hit:

  • Punishing marijuana possession with a fine will save the state money, help eliminate enforcement disparities, and allow police to pursue actual violent criminals.
  • Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and marijuana consumers shouldn’t be criminalized for choosing a safer substance.
  • Nearly eight in 10 Virginians support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine (decriminalization), and 62% favor ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

Please spread the word to other Virginians who support humane marijuana policies.

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