Medical Marijuana, Research

Support for Medical Marijuana In Florida Reaches Record Levels

November 22nd, 2013 4 Comments Morgan Fox

A new poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that 82% of Florida voters support medical marijuana. Florida advocates are currently pushing for legislation that would allow seriously ill residents to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctors.

Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is high among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, with independents lending the most support: 88 percent, the poll shows.

The overall 82-16 percent support for medical marijuana is the biggest to date. The previous high-point for Florida approval was about 70 percent in a poll taken earlier this year by the medical marijuana advocacy group, People United for Medical Marijuana.

Nearly half of Florida voters favor [legalization] — 48 percent — while 46 percent oppose pot legalization for personal use. That’s within the margin of error, but it’s a leading indicator of a shift in public opinion. Support for legalization is again strongest among independents (57-37 percent), and then Democrats (55-39 percent).

But Republicans are opposed 30-64 percent. Contrast that with GOP voter support for medical marijuana is solid: 70-26 percent.

Medical marijuana is a contentious subject in Florida, where seniors and patients have been working diligently to educate voters and gather support. The political establishment has noticed, and the placement of medical marijuana on the November 2014 ballot could influence the gubernatorial race.

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Tax and Regulate

Maryland Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Views on Marijuana

November 22nd, 2013 6 Comments Morgan Fox
mizeur
Del. Heather Mizeur

This week, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D) released a plan to regulate marijuana like alcohol. “Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “It has been a failed policy for us as a nation to criminalize the use of this substance.”

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) — who is leading in the polls — has not said he supports legalization. However, he appears to understand that law enforcement should focus on more violent crimes and he “welcomes a continued discussion and analysis” of decriminalizing negligible amounts of marijuana.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Doug Gansler (D)’s spokesman said, “There does not appear to be a groundswell toward full-scale legalization here in Maryland nor does the attorney general feel that unrestrained legalization would be appropriate.”

On the Republican side, current Harford County executive David Craig opposes legalizing marijuana. Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County was also opposed, though he appeared more open to reform. “I just don’t think you’d be able to control it, so I’m not for the version that [Mizeur] has spoken of,” George said, noting he isn’t necessarily opposed to the concept of allowing adults to use marijuana.

A third Republican candidate, Charles County business executive Charles Lollar, said he is undecided.

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Issues First License for Recreational Marijuana Shop

November 21st, 2013 16 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Central City, the original site of the 1859 Colorado gold rush, is now the first city in Colorado to have a store licensed to sell marijuana to adults! The store, called Annie’s,Annie's is a medical marijuana dispensary that will begin selling marijuana to adults on January 1st, pursuant to Amendment 64. Annie’s is the first store to receive a license, but it won’t be alone for long. The state is considering hundreds of other applications and is expected to issue many more licenses in the coming weeks and months.

The state is scheduled to allow retail marijuana sales to begin on January 1, 2014.

“Colorado is moving forward and leaving marijuana prohibition behind. For the first time in history, those who sell marijuana are receiving licenses from the state instead of rap sheets,” said MPP’s Mason Tvert. “Marijuana will be sold to adults by legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market. […] Colorado is proving to the rest of the world that marijuana can be regulated like alcohol. It will not be long before voters and lawmakers in other states decide to adopt similar policies. Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it is finally starting to be treated that way.”

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Arizona Prosecutor’s Ignorance Interferes With Treatments For Five-Year-Old Patient

November 21st, 2013 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Weltons
Jennifer, Zander, and Jacob Welton

Jacob and Jennifer Welton have filed a suit against the state of Arizona to allow their five-year-old son to be allowed to take marijuana extracts for his seizures disorder. Arizona has already passed a medical marijuana law, which permits qualifying patients to use any preparation of marijuana in their treatment. However, local providers have ceased carrying his medicine after warnings from the local prosecutor.

Maricopa County prosecutor and named defendant in the suit, Bill Montgomery, believes that the law only permits marijuana, not extracts of marijuana. He derives his argument from a complete misunderstanding of the Arizona law and an ignorance of the science behind medical marijuana.

In the past, Zander has consumed dried and ground marijuana mixed with applesauce for treatment. The extract is both more appetizing and more efficient, due to its high concentration and very low levels of THC compared to the other beneficial cannabinoids.

Bill Montgomery has responded to the Welton’s suit by directing them to the state legislature, which would have initiated a long and unnecessary process according to Dan Pachoda, the ACLU attorney representing the Weltons:

The normal thing is not going to the Legislature when some prosecutor is improperly, and, in our view, illegally interpreting a law that clearly decriminalized not only marijuana but things made from marijuana.

Bill Montgomery’s actions contravene the law and common sense. He is preventing a child, who is already taking medical marijuana, from taking a better, less psychotropic form of medicine. He is misinterpreting the laws of his own state and misunderstands the concept of marijuana as medicine. He is waging a political battle against parents who are fighting for the health of their child.

If you want to tell Bill Montgomery what you think about his position on this issue, you can reach him at 602-506-3411 or email him at [email protected].

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Tax and Regulate

Time for Rhode Island to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

November 21st, 2013 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

A guest column from MPP’s Mason Tvert appeared today in the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. An excerpt is below, and you can click here to read the entire piece.

Few social movements have advanced as far and as fast over the past decade as marriage equality and marijuana policy reform.

An October Gallup poll found a record-high 58 percent of Americans think it is time to make marijuana legal — a far cry from the 25 percent support when the same question was asked in 1995. In July, the pollster found a record-high 54 percent of Americans support recognizing same-sex marriage, up from just 27 percent in early 1996.

For both movements, increased public support has translated into legislative victories. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes since 1996, and two states, Colorado and Washington, adopted laws last November to regulate marijuana like alcohol. Sixteen states and our nation’s capital now recognize same-sex marriage, with Hawaii and Illinois becoming the 15th and 16th this month.

Rhode Island has made significant headway on both issues.

The General Assembly approved a limited form of domestic partnership in 2002. In 2006, it approved a limited form of marijuana legalization, allowing individuals with certain debilitating illnesses to use it for medical purposes if their doctors recommend it. Lawmakers authorized civil unions in 2011, and last year the state decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Despite marijuana policy reform leading in the polls nationwide, marriage equality beat it to the finish line in Rhode Island with this year’s passage of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the legislature punted on a bill to create a regulated and taxed marijuana market for adults. Despite being sponsored by a bi-partisan coalition of 19 House and Senate members, it did not receive a vote and instead was “held for further study.”

Now that legislators are over the rainbow, it’s time to take advantage of the pot of gold.

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Prohibition

American Medical Association Reconsidering Marijuana Prohibition

November 20th, 2013 6 Comments Morgan Fox

On Tuesday, the American Medical Associationama announced that while they still consider marijuana a dangerous drug and a public health concern, federal efforts to curb marijuana use are ineffective. The organization recommended continuing the criminalization of marijuana sales but suggested that marijuana use be treated with a public health approach rather than incarceration. The AMA also stated that they would be paying close attention to Colorado and Washington as they begin to implement regulated cultivation and retail marijuana sales.

“We are sorry to hear they wish to stay the course in enforcing this failed policy, but we are pleased to hear they are interested in reviewing the potential benefits of the laws passed in Colorado and Washington to regulate marijuana like alcohol,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Any objective analysis of marijuana will confirm that it is far less harmful than alcohol. If the AMA is truly concerned about public health and safety, it should support a policy in which adults are able to make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol.”

Most Americans agree that marijuana is safer than alcohol and should be treated as such. The AMA is quite right that incarcerating marijuana users fails to curb use and creates more harm to the individual and society. Part of treating marijuana as a public health issue, however, is removing the marijuana market from criminal control by regulating retail sales for responsible adults.

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Prohibition

Debunking the Myths About the Marijuana Lobby

November 20th, 2013 1 Comment Morgan Fox

MPP’s Executive Director, Rob Kampia, wrote an article for the Huffington Post this week discrediting three common myths about the marijuana lobby most often spread by prohibitionists.

It’s important for all of us to keep our eye on the prize by agreeing that marijuana should be legal for people 21 and older; we’ll put cartels and gangs out of business, and we’ll have reasonable restrictions on advertising.

None of this is new. Anyone who believes that alcohol should be legal should also agree that marijuana should be legal.

This is simple for most of us to understand. The only people who are trying to confuse it are those who are making profits from marijuana prohibition — international drug cartels and, unfortunately, so-called anti-drug nonprofit organizations in the U.S.

Click here to read the whole article!

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Medical Marijuana

New, Bi-Partisan Medical Marijuana Bill in Pennsylvania

November 19th, 2013 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Folmer
Sen. Mike Folmer

A new medical marijuana bill has been proposed in the Pennsylvania Senate by a longtime medical marijuana advocate, Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), and a socially conservative senator, Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon). Sen. Folmer’s conservative history makes him an unlikely supporter of the bill, however, after a battle with cancer and meeting potential medical marijuana patients, he has a new perspective.

We’re not talking about banning Oxycontin, we’re not talking about banning Percocet, we’re not talking about banning Vicodin. If you’re gonna say that we’re afraid of the misuse of medical marijuana, you’ve gotta use that same philosophy and ban all the others also.

Do we want abuse of it? No, I don’t want abuse of alcohol, but that’s legal. This isn’t about somebody sitting around lighting up a doobie, this is about helping people who are sick.

Despite bi-partisan support in the Senate, some politicians are hoping the bill will fail. The opposition comes from other conservative senators as well as Governor Corbett. Despite increases in public support, new scientific studies, and the success of medical marijuana in other states, some politicians seem unwilling to consider the issue.

Erik Arneson, the spokesman for Chester Republican Dominic Pileggi, the Senate majority leader, says it won’t change anything.

“I don’t sense any significant change in the views of the members of the Senate on the issue,” Arneson says. “And the governor remains clear in his stated intention to veto it if it ever were to pass. So we have no intentions of taking the bill up any time this session.”

Even though Senator Pileggi and Governor Corbett aren’t on board with this bill yet, there is strong support for bringing medical marijuana to Pennsylvania. A February poll shows that 82% of Pennsylvanian voters support medical marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana

Czech Republic Limits Patients’ Access to Medical Marijuana

November 19th, 2013 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On January 30, 2013, the Senate of the Czech Republic approved a bill by a vote of 67-2 to allow medical marijuana throughout the country. Although support for the bill was high, the law does little to support patients who need medical marijuana.czech flag That is the frustration of Zdenek Majzlik, a 67-year-old man who grows marijuana to treat his 46-year-old daughter’s multiple sclerosis. Majzlik was a strong supporter of the bill and fought for lawmakers to allow medical marijuana; but he is still fighting for safe access.

The bill established strict consumer regulations; no patient under 18 can use medical marijuana, heath insurance companies are banned from covering the cost of medical marijuana, and patients are limited to a little over one ounce per month. Furthermore, the bill currently prohibits growing marijuana in the Czech Republic and only allows four specific strains to be imported from the Netherlands. The result is an extremely limited market and high prices. The Czech National Drug Coordinator said that the situation is unacceptable, and the restrictions on obtaining medical marijuana are “unnecessarily limiting and discriminating.”

Now the government is taking another step against medical marijuana patients. While small independent growers like Majzlik used to be off the police radar, recently the police have raided about 100 stores suspected of selling supplies for growing marijuana. The sweep is in conjunction with investigating about 45 people suspected of illegal marijuana growing or distributing.

The frustrations faced by Mr. Majzlik are similar to the dilemma of many medical marijuana patients throughout the United States.

That I face five years in jail for trying to provide something the current medicine can’t do is insane. I don’t want to be a hero. I am breaking the law, and that’s a problem for me. I don’t think I’m a criminal.

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Prohibition

Life Without Parole for Marijuana

November 15th, 2013 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Anthony Kelly
Anthony Kelly, sentenced to life without parole, with his mother

Many recent victories towards ending marijuana prohibition give hope that our justice system will stop incarcerating nonviolent adults who choose to use a substance safer than alcohol. However, even though there are now fewer people serving long prison terms for marijuana, our justice system still permits these sentences, and there are many being victimized by these harsh policies across the country.

The ACLU recently released a report called “A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses,” including stories of people who have been sentenced to serve life sentences without parole for non-violent marijuana offenses. States are able to pursue a sentence of life without parole if a person has multiple offenses on his or her record, even if those are also nonviolent. As a result, nonviolent, productive members of society are locked away for their entire lives for being associated with a substance that is safer than alcohol.

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