Medical Marijuana

Oregon Legislature Approves Adding PTSD to Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions

May 31st, 2013 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

On Thursday, in a 36-21 vote, Oregon lawmakers approved a bill that would allow individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to register for medical marijuana cards.

Currently, Oregon’s medical marijuana program only permits patients with certain debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and Alzheimer’s disease to register. Senate Bill 281 would add PTSD to this list.

According to the National Center for PTSD, approximately 5.2 million adults in the nation suffer from the anxiety disorder during a given year.

john lively
Rep. John Lively

Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield) revealed that he personally suffered from PTSD; he also has family and friends with the anxiety disorder. Rep. Lively’s fellow lawmaker Rep. Jim Weidner (R-Yamhill) stated that his son, who served in Iraq, had three friends who committed suicide.

The bill now heads to Gov. John Kitzhaber for approval.

MPP supports the state’s effort to help veterans and others trying to cope with PTSD and hopes Gov. Kitzhaber will make Senate Bill 281 a reality so that patients and their doctors have the opportunity to decide what treatment works for them.


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Did Getting Arrested Change New York Lawmaker’s Position?

May 31st, 2013 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

UPDATE: Katz wrote this article Thursday explaining his voting history and personal feelings about medical marijuana.

On Wednesday, in an unofficial 80-59 vote, the New York Assembly passed legislation to reduce the penalty for publicly holding a small amount of marijuana. Only one Republican assembly member voted in favor of the bill: Steve Katz.

Assemblyman Steve Katz

Originally a staunch prohibitionist, Katz voted against allowing medical marijuana in 2012, but a brush with the law this past March seems to have brought about a change of heart.

The state police stopped Katz for speeding on the state thruway and subsequently found less than 25 grams of marijuana in his vehicle; he later failed a drug test. Fortunately for the assemblyman, in accordance with a favorable plea deal, his drug charges will be dismissed after he completes a mere 20 hours of community service (and keeps out of legal trouble for six months).

Katz declined to discuss his vote on Wednesday when approached in the Assembly chamber. However, he did issue a statement later in the day saying he hopes the bill leads to “a broader discussion of our state’s policies.”

The bill, if passed, would lower the penalty for the public possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation. It now faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Jailing Medical Marijuana Patients Costs Taxpayers a Fortune

May 30th, 2013 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The imprisonment of Jerry Duval, a seriously ill medical marijuana patient convicted of distributing the drug, could cost taxpayers upwards of $1.2 million, reports the Huffington Post.

Duval suffers from Type 1 diabetes. He has received both a kidney and a pancreas transplant, and he also lives with glaucoma and neuropathy. Consequently, he has a strict medical regime, which prior to his arrest included medical marijuana.

Despite the fact that Duval was a registered Michigan medical marijuana cardholder acting in compliance with state law, the Department of Justice (DOJ) brought the ailing farmer to court.

During the trial, Duval was not allowed to refer to his medical condition or the fact that he was acting in accordance with Michigan law, and in April 2012, he was found guilty of drug trafficking and given a 10-year sentence, which he will serve in a federal medical facility.

Now, Duval’s healthcare falls on taxpayers.

“The annual cost to preserve my kidneys and pancreas alone tops $100,000,” wrote Duval in a request for compassionate release.

“In addition, I require treatment for coronary artery disease and diabetic retinopathy, which has forced me to undergo nearly two-dozen eye surgeries. These expensive optical procedures will likely need to be repeated several times during the decade that I am in BOP custody.”

Once again, the DOJ’s refusal to acknowledge state laws has devastated a family and misused taxpayer dollars.

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General, Uncategorized

Nevada Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

May 30th, 2013 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Sen. Tick Segerblom

Yesterday, the Nevada Senate passed SB 374, which would allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and growers in the state. Sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, the bill received a 17-4 vote — well above the 2/3 votes needed to advance the bill to the Assembly. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn by early Tuesday morning, so time is running short.

Despite the constitutional rights established in Article IV, Section 38 of the Nevada Constitution, the legislature failed to provide seriously ill patients with a way to obtain medical marijuana — other than growing it themselves or finding a volunteer to do so. SB 374 aims to fix that shortfall by authorizing and regulating producers and providers.

There are still several critical steps ahead for this bill. If you are a Nevada residentplease ask your assembly member to support SB 374.

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Louisiana House Passes Bill to Reduce Possession Penalties

May 30th, 2013 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, Louisiana state Rep. Austin Badon’s HB 103, a bill that would reduce marijuana possession penalties for second and subsequent offenses, passed the House 54-38.

Unfortunately, time is running short on this year’s session. The Louisiana Legislature plans to adjourn June 6, so the Senate must act quickly to pass this sensible reform.

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Rep. Austin Badon

Rep. Badon’s proposal has been weakened somewhat since the last vote, but it’s still a solid step in the right direction. As approved by the House yesterday, HB 103 would change the maximum sentence for a second possession offense to two years rather than five; a third offense would carry a five-year maximum sentence instead of 20; and the maximum sentence for a fourth offense would be set at eight years rather than life. In addition to lowering penalties and possible incarceration time for marijuana possession offenses, the proposal would also remove marijuana possession from the list of offenses that receive mandatory minimum sentences.

If you are a Louisiana residentplease ask your senator to support this sensible legislation.

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Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Senate Approves Flawed But Fixable Medical Marijuana Bill

May 29th, 2013 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The New Hampshire Senate voted 18-6 last week to pass HB 573 and send it back to the House. Unfortunately, after hearing a number of objections from Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Senate had little choice but to amend the bill in ways that will be bad for patients. The Senate removed home cultivation from the bill, gutted the affirmative defense provisions that would have immediately given patients a defense they could raise in court, and adopted other changes that are detailed here (some of which would actually render the bill unworkable if not corrected).

Gov. Hassan

The bill will now return to the House, which we expect will disapprove of the Senate’s amendments. This means a “committee of conference” will be formed, in which a special committee of representatives and senators will work to agree on a final version of the bill that will move forward to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Hassan has been quoted saying she is still open to listening and learning more, so if you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Hassan’s office and politely urge her to reconsider her insistence on these provisions that will harm patients!

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Governor Signs Historic Marijuana Bills

May 29th, 2013 7 Comments Mason Tvert

Governor John Hickenlooper signed the first bills in history to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults and initiate the development of a regulatory framework for the cultivation, distribution, and processing of industrial hemp. The four measures were approved by the General Assembly earlier this month in accordance with Amendment 64, a ballot measure approved by 55% of Colorado voters last November.
The Huffington Post reports:

“We applaud Gov. Hickenlooper for the initiative he has taken to ensure the world’s first legal marijuana market for adults will entail a robust and comprehensive regulatory system” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, who served as an official proponent of Amendment 64 and co-director of the campaign in Colorado…

Tvert added: “Colorado is demonstrating to the rest of the nation that it is possible to adopt a marijuana policy that reflects the public’s increasing support for making marijuana legal for adults.”

The Colorado Dept. of Revenue now has until July 1 to develop the specific regulations necessary for implementation, and voters will need to sign off on the proposed tax levels in the upcoming November election. If all continues to go smoothly, state-regulated marijuana retail stores will begin opening their doors to adults 21 and older in January 2014.

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Medical Marijuana

Michigan Supreme Court Protects Medical Marijuana Patients

May 22nd, 2013 10 Comments Kate Zawidzki

In a crucial win for patients in Michigan, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state’s zero tolerance driving under the influence law does not apply to medical marijuana patients when it is based on the mere presence of THC in a patient’s blood stream. Because THC can remain in a person’s system for days after it is consumed, the only other result would have meant that thousands of medical marijuana patients would be driving illegally simply for having used their medicine hours or days earlier.

Rodney Koon
Rodney Koon

Rodney Koon — a medical marijuana patient — was stopped while driving and later accused of a DUI because he had THC in his system. He said he had not used his medicine in six hours. The state Supreme Court found that under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act — which was drafted by MPP — a registered patient cannot be penalized or arrested for the “internal possession” of marijuana, so long as the patient complies with the requirements of the law. The initiative’s protections trump the state’s zero tolerance law for registered patients. The court noted the law does not allow patients to drive when they are under the influence of marijuana.

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Prohibition, Research

Organization of American States Report Urges U.S. to Reform Drug Policies

May 22nd, 2013 11 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Last Friday, the Organization of American States (OAS) gathered in Bogotá, Colombia for the release of its $2 million report, ”The Drug Problem in the Americas,” which characterized marijuana as a relatively benign drug.

The 400-page study concluded that if the United States was sincere in its desire to reduce drug violence in the western hemisphere, then it would have to seriously rethink its stance on marijuana and look into more rational drug policies:

“It would be worthwhile to assess existing signals and trends that lean toward the decriminalization or legalization of the production, sale, and use of marijuana. Sooner or later decisions in this area will need to be taken.”

Jose Miguel Insulza

The discussion is long overdue, according to OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza, and most Latin American leaders – “whose countries suffer the bloody brunt of the largely failed U.S.-led drug war” – agree. Read the rest of this entry »

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General, Uncategorized

San Diego Mayor Urges Jurors to Ignore Federal Law

May 21st, 2013 14 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Mayor of San Diego is encouraging jurors of an upcoming medical marijuana case to reject the prosecution’s argument, which rests on the fact that marijuana is banned at the federal level.

The feds arrested Ronnie Chang of San Marcos in 2009 for operating a medical marijuana dispensary. He is just one of the many Californians who have faced legal consequences for their state-sanctioned efforts to bring relief to patients.

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Mayor Bob Filner

Mayor Bob Filner is outraged at Chang’s situation. “Someone should not be going through this stage of prosecution for trying to help people to have access to medical marijuana,” he told reporters.

A champion for civil rights and a former Freedom Rider, Mayor Filner wants jurors to send a message to the federal government this fall, when Chang’s trial is expected to begin.

“[I]t’s time, like with Prohibition, to step back and say this was a stupid thing to do…and juries ought to take the lead in saying that to the federal government.”

In a process known as “jury nullification,” Mayor Filner hopes that those selected to listen to Chang’s case will place their consciences above the evidence and acquit him of any wrong doing.

Let’s hope the jury heeds Mayor Filner’s bold cry for action.

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