Medical Marijuana

Bill to Improve Medical Marijuana Access in Vermont Gets Final Approval

April 30th, 2014 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On Wednesday, the Vermont Senate gave final approval to a bill that will improve access to medical marijuana and remove the arbitrary cap of 1,000 patients who may benefit from dispensaries. S. 247 was approved by the House last week, and the bill will now move forward to Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk where it will receive his signature.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), this bill will increase possession limits for dispensaries, allow them to deliver medical marijuana to patients, and permit naturopaths to certify patients for the program. Additionally, the bill was amended by the House to initiate two studies: One will explore the possibility of adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical marijuana program, and one will evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.

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Sen. Jeanette White

That’s right — not only did Vermont legislators improve the medical marijuana law this year, but they are already gathering the information they will need to consider sensible marijuana policy reforms during next year’s legislative session.

 

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General

Past Marijuana Convictions Could Be Sealed if SB 218 Becomes Law in Colorado

April 30th, 2014 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

CO flag Colorado could be sealing any past marijuana convictions that Amendment 64 would have rendered impotent. If Senate Bill 218 is passed, Coloradans could petition to have their previous marijuana-related convictions sealed if they would have not been crimes under current Colorado law.

The bill has bipartisan support and was announced Tuesday, April 29. The proposed bill comes with only a few days left in the 2014 session, but its impact could be huge, possibly giving thousands of residents the right to petition.

“There are tens of thousands of people with previous cannabis offenses that hurt them from getting things like loans, housing, and employment,” Jason Warf, a marijuana advocate and director of Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, told The Denver Post late last week.

Sens. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, and Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, are the sponsors of the proposal, which is scheduled to be heard today by the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee. If approved, petitioners would have to file in the district where their conviction occurred, and they would have to pay the court filing fees to have their records sealed.

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General, Tax and Regulate

Rep. Blumenauer of Portland, OR Runs TV Ad Supporting a Tax-and-Regulate Policy on Marijuana

April 30th, 2014 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

EarlblumenauerFacing a reelection race in Oregon this fall, Portland Rep. Earl Blumenauer aired a television ad on April 25 focusing on marijuana legalization. Blumenauer’s heavily Democratic district lends him an easy reelection, but that hasn’t diluted his fervor to advocate for his signature issue.

In the ad, Blumenauer points out how “our marijuana laws don’t work and cost the government billions.” Later, he calls for the federal government to “let states set their own laws — tax it, use the money to fund education and let the police focus on real drug abuse.”

It is unclear how many ads he plans to run, but Blumenauer said he plans to spend six figures on campaign advertising that will broadcast not only in Oregon, but online and in other states, drawing national attention to the issue.

Blumenauer said the purpose of his ad isn’t just about reelection — it’s about transparency and letting his constituents know what he is doing in Congress. In a response to releasing the ad, Blumenauer told The Oregonian that, while he appreciates letting the states move forward on marijuana laws, the Obama administration is doing the “absolute least the federal government can do.”

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Tax and Regulate

Recent Quinnipiac Poll Shows Coloradans Still “Feel Good” About Legalizing Marijuana

April 28th, 2014 7 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On April 28, 2014, Quinnipiac University released poll data showing that Coloradans still “feel good” about legalizing marijuana. With a 14 percent margin (52-38 percent), voters believe marijuana legalization has been beneficial for the state, and, when asked about whether legalization “eroded the moral fiber” of people in Colorado, voters resounding replied with 67 percent disagreeing and only 30 percent agreeing.

“Colorado voters are generally good to go on grass, across the spectrum, from personal freedom to its taxpayer benefits to its positive impact on the criminal justice system,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll also found voters aged 18-29 support legalization at a margin of 2-to-1, but, surprisingly, the same age group said they have not smoked marijuana since it became legal on January 1 at the same 2-to-1 margin.

The Quinnipiac poll’s results were collected April 15-21, via telephone survey, from 1,298 registered voters with a margin of error at plus or minus 2.7 points. Live interviewers called landlines and cell phones.

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Tax and Regulate

Alaska Marijuana Initiative Moved to November Ballot

April 24th, 2014 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

In case you missed it, Ballot Measure 2, which would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol in Alaska, has been moved off the primary election ballot and will now appear on the general election ballot on November 4.

The reschedule is due to a constitutional provision that requires initiatives to be placed on the first statewide ballot 120 days following the end of the legislative session. When the state legislature failed to adjourn its session on time this past Sunday night, the initiative was automatically moved to the November ballot.

The date of the election is not an issue for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska because Alaska voters support regulating marijuana like alcohol by a wide margin. According to a recent poll, 55 percent of voters in Alaska agree that it’s time to make marijuana legal, with only 39 percent opposed.

Additionally, the change of ballot provides extra time to organize volunteers, register voters, and spread the word that it’s time for a new approach that would take marijuana sales out of the hands of criminals in the underground market and put it behind the counters of licensed, taxpaying businesses.

 

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Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Senators Crush Patients’ Hopes for Home Cultivation

April 24th, 2014 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Earlier this month, patients practically begged the New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee to approve HB 1622, a bill that would allow them to grow up to two mature marijuana plants until a dispensary opens within 30 miles of their residences.

Sadly, even though this bill had already passed the New Hampshire House with 227-73 (76%) support, and even though all five senators on the committee had previously supported home cultivation, the committee refused to move HB 1622 forward. Only Senator John Reagan(R-Deerfield) spoke up on behalf of patients who can’t afford to wait for dispensaries to open, but his appeals fell on deaf ears. After very little discussion, the committee voted 3-1 to recommend the bill for “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year.

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Sen. John Reagan

It’s clear that the Senate has no actual intention of studying this bill. Less than a week after the Senate refused to consider a House-approved decriminalization bill, senators are again attempting to avoid a vote on whether or not patients should be allowed to grow their own cannabis.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Wisconsin Joins States Passing Incomplete CBD Bills

April 24th, 2014 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has signed into law a bill, A.B. 726, which exempts a very limited class of individuals from criminal penalties for the use and possession of cannabidiol (a component of marijuana) “in a form without a psychoactive effect.” While this is an improvement to current law, it leaves the vast majority of medical marijuana patients without legal protections for using and possessing the medicine their doctors think is best for them.

The law allows individuals with seizure disorders to possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol if they have their physician’s written approval. However, it doesn’t give patients a realistic way to obtain their medicine in Wisconsin.

Individuals with the written documentation would have to travel to one of the few medical marijuana states that allow non-residents to obtain cannabis from their dispensaries. They would then have to bring cannabidiol back to Wisconsin, possibly crossing through other states where it is illegal. With all these limitations, this law may be unworkable even for the limited population it’s meant to help. For more information, please see our summary of the law.

Wisconsin took a small step forward this year, but the law is so incomplete that MPP will not be counting it as a “medical marijuana state.”

 

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Medical Marijuana

Tennessee Legislature Passes Extremely Limited CBD Bill

April 24th, 2014 9 Comments Kate Zawidzki

A limited medical marijuana bill recently passed both the Tennessee House and Senate, and now awaits Governor Bill Haslam’s signature. SB 2531, sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, would approve a four-year study on the benefits of cannabidiol, often referred to as “CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. Unfortunately, the many limitations placed on the bill by lawmakers mean it is unlikely to result in relief for seriously ill patients in the state.

State Senator  Todd Gardenhire
Sen. Todd Gardenhire

The bill unrealistically depends on the Drug Enforcement Administration authorizing the cultivation of marijuana within Tennessee for study. The DEA has maintained a monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research in Mississippi, and has steadfastly refused to allow other producers in the past 50 years. Even if it weren’t for that problem, laws that limit patient access to CBD leave most seriously ill patients behind. For a more detailed look at the bill and its many limitations, click here.

Under the bill, Vanderbilt University would conduct the study and Tennessee Tech would theoretically grow marijuana. Both the House and Senate passed the bill by wide margins. According to news reports, Gov. Haslam is expected to sign the bill into law, and has 10 days from the date he received it to sign or veto the legislation.

As in Maryland, we hope Tennessee will move beyond its ineffective medical marijuana law and quickly pass a workable law that will help seriously ill patients in Tennessee.

 

 

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Medical Marijuana

Limited CBD Bill Becomes Law in Kentucky

April 24th, 2014 7 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Kentucky Legislature adjourned last week, ending its work for the year. Sadly, although the House Health and Welfare Committee approved an effective medical marijuana bill in February, it was not called for a vote in the House.

Legislators did make an effort to help some seriously ill patients who could benefit from cannabidiol (“CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana). On Thursday, April 10, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a proposal that is intended to allow patients to use CBD if directed to do so by a physician. The new law went into effect immediately with his signature, but, unfortunately, it is unlikely that it will actually result in patients being able to access CBD.

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Gov. Steve Beshear

Despite concerns about access, and the fact that this legislation excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients, it is still a positive step forward. For more information on this new law, please see our summary of S.B. 124.

 

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Tax and Regulate

Washington State Marijuana Retail Licenses Lottery Rolls Out This Week

April 21st, 2014 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

I-502The Washington State Marijuana Retail Licenses Lottery begins today with a total of 334 retail licenses to be awarded. Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center will be conducting the lottery for the state’s liquor control board, which oversees the marijuana retailers once they become licensed.

Approximately 1,500 applicants are in the lottery pool. With such a large applicant pool, the lottery process is expected to take all week with the board reviewing background checks on not only the applicants, but also their investors and financiers. The Washington State Liquor Control Board says, “The process will be extremely secure and will determine who gets a retail license to sell pot legally in Washington.”

“Legally” is the key term here. This lottery marks the beginning of WA businesses controlling the marijuana market and taking it out of the hands of criminals. Since small amounts of marijuana possession were legalized on Dec. 6, 2012, Washington residents have been acquiring marijuana through unlicensed, illicit dealers.

Final results of the lottery will be released on May 2, and the state expects to have the first marijuana stores open sometime in July of 2014, in accordance with the Implementation of I-502.

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