New Mexico health officials have once again decided to expand the state’s medical marijuana program. From the Associated Press:
[I]n another change that was welcomed by advocacy groups, Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil agreed to license eight new growers, boosting the state total to 25 in a push to increase plant production and serve more patients.
Since the program started in 2007, the state has faced problems ensuring a steady supply.
Vigil also agreed to allow growers to produce 150 mature plants and seedlings. Under earlier regulations, the limit was 95 plants.
To help finance the program, the state is also enacting new annual fees for growers, “ranging from $5,000 for producers licensed for less than a year up to $30,000 for those licensed for more than three years.” There are currently about 3,000 patients in New Mexico’s program, about half of whom have licenses to grow their own medicine.
Incoming Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has been openly hostile to the state’s medical marijuana program, but a state health department spokesperson told the AP that the new changes will be implemented regardless of the change in office.
Supporters of a medical marijuana law in Illinois, headed by MPP, have announced the release of radio ads calling on Illinois residents to urge their state representatives to support Senate bill 1381, which would allow doctors to recommend marijuana, also known as cannabis, to qualified patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating illnesses.
The ad ‚Äď which will be broadcast in the Chicago, Peoria, Quad Cities, and Rockford media markets ‚Äď features Chicago resident and multiple sclerosis patient Julie Falco, who has used medical cannabis to help ease the pain and muscle spasms associated with her condition.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve tried many prescription drugs to control the extreme pain I‚Äôve lived with every day,‚ÄĚ Falco says in the ad. ‚ÄúHowever, most of them caused terrible side effects that left me flattened and nonfunctional. I‚Äôve found that cannabis works best for me. It allows better control of my symptoms so I can lead a fulfilling, healthier quality of life. In Illinois, though, it‚Äôs a crime for me to use my medicine ‚Äď even though my doctor recommends it. Thankfully the legislature can change that in early January.‚ÄĚ
Falco then encourages the 68 percent of Illinois voters who support medical marijuana, according to a 2008 Mason-Dixon poll, to visit protectpatients.org and ask their state representative to support SB 1381. ‚ÄúPeople living with chronic illness should not be criminalized for following doctor‚Äôs orders,‚ÄĚ Falco says.
To hear the ad, visit www.mpp.org/julie.
The state House of Representatives voted on SB 1381 on Nov. 30, but when neither side reached a majority, the bill‚Äôs sponsor asked for ‚Äúpostponed consideration,‚ÄĚ meaning the bill could be raised again in early January before the new legislature is sworn in. Under the bill, qualified patients could obtain medical marijuana from state-licensed organizations regulated by the state health department, which would also issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients who receive a recommendation from their doctor.
This Sunday, at 9 p.m. Eastern, (8 p.m. Central, 7 p.m. Mountain, 6 p.m. Pacific, and 4 p.m. Hawaii) Free Speech TV (FSTV) will be premiering the hour-long version of Jed Riffe‚Äôs Waiting to Inhale! FSTV is available on DirecTV channel 348 and DISH Network channel 9415. If you subscribe to either of these providers, please check local listings for details.
Waiting to Inhale, a critically acclaimed documentary, examines the debate over marijuana and its use as medicine in the United States. Throughout this open and honest documentary, audiences explore the scientific efficacy of medical marijuana, as well as arguments that marijuana is a ‚Äúgateway.‚ÄĚ Along the way, Waiting to Inhale introduces its audience to patients whose lives are changed for the better by their use of medical marijuana.
Waiting to Inhale, funded in part by the Marijuana Policy Project, was the winner of the CINE Golden Eagle in 2005, winner of the Gold Special Jury Award at Worldfest in Houston in 2005, and was recently screened at the Salem Film Fest in Salem, OR. The Marijuana Policy Project has frequently used screenings of this amazing documentary to help educate both legislators and other opinion leaders, as well as the general public.
If you‚Äôre looking for something interesting, thoughtful, and entertaining to watch on Sunday night, I suggest you tune in to Free Speech TV at 9 p.m. (8 p.m Central, 7 p.m. Mountain, 6 p.m. Pacific, and 4 p.m. Hawaii). And feel free to let your friends and family know so that they can tune in as well. You may also want to let your elected officials or local opinion leaders know so that they can learn more about this important issue.
Prohibition, Tax and Regulate
After his recent marijuana arrest, legendary musician Willie Nelson said it was time for an increased political focus on changing our nation’s failed marijuana laws. “Tax it, regulate it and legalize it,” he said, “and stop the border wars over drugs. Why should the drug lords make all the money? Thousands of lives will be saved.”
With that in mind, MPP has teamed up with the folks at Change.org to ask Willie to help the cause in a way that only he can:
[I]f Nelson wants to help end pot prohibition, he can do more than inspire the push for reform — he can help lead it. And one relatively easy way he can do so is by hosting a benefit concert next year to draw attention to the evils of the drug war, using his iconic pop culture status to raise money for those organizations and people that are working to make the dream of reform a reality. […]
With marijuana legalization initiatives expected to be on the 2012 ballot in states like Colorado and California, the next year will be crucial in building momentum for reform. And Willie Nelson can help: just as he founded Farm Aid 25 years ago to support struggling farmers in the U.S., he should launch a benefit concert in 2011 aimed at drawing attention to the struggle to end pot prohibition. [Charles Davis/Change.org]
The New Jersey Senate passed a resolution yesterday that will give state health officials 30 days to come up with revised regulations for the state‚Äôs medical marijuana law ‚Äď essentially rejecting a proposal Gov. Chris Christie (R) had put forward that was deemed too restrictive by patient advocates.
After the vote, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari called upon the Christie administration to work toward “a real compromise so people who want to be in the business, and sick people who desperately need this medicine can get together in a way that is legal and viable.‚Äô‚Äô
You can read a summary of Christie‚Äôs proposal from earlier this month here.
Medical Marijuana, Prohibition, Tax and Regulate
Marijuana use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students increased in 2010, with more American teenagers now using marijuana than cigarettes for the second year in a row, according to numbers released today by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan as part of the annual Monitoring the Future survey. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days, while 19.2 had used cigarettes.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really no surprise that more American teenagers are using marijuana and continue to say it‚Äôs easy to get. Our government has spent decades refusing to regulate marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers who aren‚Äôt required to check customer ID and have no qualms about selling marijuana to young people,‚ÄĚ said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. ‚ÄúThe continued decline in teen tobacco use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. It‚Äôs time we acknowledge that our current marijuana laws have utterly failed to accomplish one of their primary objectives ‚Äď to keep marijuana away from young people ‚Äď and do the right thing by regulating marijuana, bringing its sale under the rule of law, and working to reduce the unfettered access to marijuana our broken laws have given teenagers.‚ÄĚ
Since the survey‚Äôs inception, overwhelmingly numbers of American teenagers have said marijuana was easy for them to obtain. According to the 2010 numbers, the use of alcohol ‚Äď which is also regulated and sold by licensed merchants required to check customer ID ‚Äď continued to decline among high school seniors.
A Vermont representative unveiled new data yesterday showing that the Green Mountain state spends more than $700,000 annually to prosecute small-time marijuana offenders.
Calling such expenditures wasteful and ineffective, Rep. Jason P. Lorber (D-Burlington) said he plans to introduce legislation that would decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, meaning it would no longer be a criminal misdemeanor requiring prosecution, but rather a civil infraction similar to a parking ticket. Under Vermont‚Äôs current law, the maximum penalty for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is 6 months in prison and a $500 fine.
Thirteen other states have decriminalized marijuana possession in some form or another, and a 2009 Mason-Dixon poll showed that Vermont voters support decriminalization by more than a 2-1 margin.
Earlier this year, MPP backed Democrat Peter Shumlin in his successful bid for governor largely because of his vocal support for decriminalizing marijuana. Once he enters office next year, Vermont will be well positioned to pass this sensible legislation.