Medical Marijuana

Massachusetts Regulators Approve 11 Dispensary Applications

June 30th, 2014 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The rollout of Massachusetts’ medical marijuana program has been proceeding more slowly than anticipated, but a major milestone was reached last week with the approval of 11 dispensary applications. The Department of Public Health granted eleven provisional certificates on Friday, and it’s possible that some of the approved dispensaries will be ready to serve patients before the end of this year.

The department had previously given preliminary approval to 20 applicants, but, after further review of the applications, nine were rejected. Massachusetts’ law authorizes up to 35 dispensaries, so these rejected applicants and others will be allowed to reapply in 2015.

Additionally, it’s disappointing that the state has not yet made it possible for patients to apply for ID cards. However, with dispensaries planning to open in only a matter of months, it seems likely that the ID card issue will soon be resolved.

 

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Bill Clinton Encourages States to Experiment with Marijuana Bills

June 30th, 2014 15 Comments Kate Zawidzki

BillClinton_June2014

Former President Bill Clinton spoke Sunday on Meet the Press expressing his belief that states should ‘experiment’ with allowing adults to use marijuana recreationally, Washington Post reports. “I think we should leave it to the states,” Clinton said. “If the state wants to try it, they can. And they’ll be able to see what happens.” Though this seems to be a new take from the former president, he claimed that there are still many questions to be answered. He said, “This really is a time when there should be laboratories of democracy, because nobody really knows where this is going. Are there adequate quality controls? There’s pot and there’s ‘pot’; what’s in it? What’s going to happen? There are all these questions.” This is a similar stance to that of Clinton’s wife, Hilary, who recently changed her official position.

This is in stark contrast to how President Clinton treated the issue during his presidency. Clinton’s administration wanted to punish doctors for even discussing medical marijuana as an alternative treatment with patients. Many who look at this see it as the act of a shrewd politician who has changed his position due to a shift in the political landscape. It could, however, be indicative of where the Clintons are moving when it comes to the evolution of the issue of drug policy.

 

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Medical Marijuana

State Lawmakers Approve Low-THC Medical Marijuana Bills

June 30th, 2014 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Spurred on by recent stories of epileptic children finding relief by using marijuana extracts that contain high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), lawmakers have begun adopting bills allowing for medical marijuana to be used as long as it is minimally psychoactive, the Denver Post reports. The oil in these stories is made from specific strains of marijuana that are high in CBD and low in THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. The CBD-rich oils have been shown to dramatically decrease the frequency and severity of seizures in many cases, though conclusive research is still lacking at the present. However, the potential of CBD-rich marijuana’s effects has generated a lot of public interest. The laws, advocates argue, may only be symbolic. Because laws in states like Alabama are so limited in scope, they are likely to be practically impossible to enforce. Still, others believe that these laws are but the first steps on the road towards greater acceptance and more legislation allowing the medical use of marijuana.

Unfortunately, these bills do little to help the vast majority of patients who could benefit from using whole-plant marijuana and its extracts. In most medical marijuana states, seizure sufferers make up only a small percentage of total licensed patients. Low-THC marijuana products are not effective in treating many of the conditions for which marijuana has been shown to be beneficial, particularly chronic pain.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

June 27th, 2014 8 Comments Morgan Fox
Mike Folmer
Sen. Mike Folmer

This afternoon, the Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee voted unanimously to approve a medical marijuana bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer and Sen. Daylin Leach. The bill is expected to proceed to the Senate Appropriations Committee next.

This bipartisan measure would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to safely and legally use marijuana to treat their medical conditions. These patients and their loved ones should not face the risk of arrest and prosecution, or be forced into the illicit market, where marijuana may be laced or contaminated and where they may even face the threat of violence, simply to obtain their medicine.

Marijuana is already legal for medical use in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Once New York’s bill is signed into law, Pennsylvania will be nearly surrounded by states with such compassionate measures. Pennsylvanians deserve the same treatment options as their neighbors.

 

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Colorado Sting Operations Fail to Bust Any Marijuana Shops for Sales to Minors

June 27th, 2014 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

State regulators and state police recently performed sting operations on 20 different marijuana stores in the Denver and Pueblo areas to determine compliance with state law, reports 9 News. The conclusion they reached was undisputed: None of the stores were breaking the law by selling marijuana to people under the age of 21. In Colorado, marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol, including the stipulation that people without medical marijuana licenses may only purchase marijuana from retail establishments if they are 21 or older. The sting operations involved sending underage customers into stores to attempt to buy marijuana while being supervised by police officers. Shops who break the law face huge fines and can have their licenses revoked.

During the course of these sting operations, not a single underage buyer was allowed to purchase marijuana from any of the 20 shops. Business owners have welcomed this announcement as an important sign of the legitimacy of the industry and the effectiveness of the regulatory structure. In response to this news, Lewis Koski, the director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, issued a statement. He said, “We are pleased with the results and will continue to monitor the businesses to ensure that the compliance efforts are maintained.”

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Republicans in Congress Attack D.C. Decriminalization Law

June 26th, 2014 7 Comments Mason Tvert
The Republican-controlled U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment Wednesday that is designed to prevent implementation of the District of Columbia decriminalization law that was approved earlier this year. The measure, introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), blocks funding of the new law, which eliminates jail time as a punishment for marijuana possession and establishes a $25 civil fine for first-time offenders. The amendment must now be approved by the full House, and MPP is working to get the measure killed. If it is approved, it would take effect in October.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray told the Washington Post that the District will implement the law regardless of Congress’s action, even though its authority to enforce it beyond October remains questionable. Gray’s office also warned that the amendment might force the city to shut down the medical marijuana program that was finally implemented last year after being held up by Congress for more than a decade.
MPP issued a release with the following statement from Federal Policies Director Dan Riffle:
“The District of Columbia wisely decided to use stop wasting its own resources enforcing ineffective and racially biased laws and to allow those with serious illnesses whose doctors recommend it to use medical marijuana. Unfortunately, unlike every state in America that gets to determine its own laws, Washington, D.C. laws are reviewed by Congress where Washington, D.C. residents have no voting representatives.
 
“Marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol, and polls clearly show most Americans want to see it treated that way. We’ll do everything we can to restore democracy in D.C. and ensure this regressive amendment is rejected when it is considered by the full House. Mr. Harris’s antiquated, unscientific views on marijuana should be his constituents’ problem, not the District of Columbia’s.”

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Medical Marijuana

Austin City Council Considering Medical Marijuana Resolution

June 26th, 2014 14 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Two Austin City Council members are in support of a resolution that would make medical marijuana legal in Texas, KVUE reports. There is growing support for medical marijuana in Texas, especially among parents of children with mental disabilities and people with debilitating diseases. Thalia Michelle is the Executive Director of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MOMMA). She believes that medical marijuana would beneficial to her son and other children with autism. “It could help with his hyperactivity, cognition, focus, and even speech,” she said. “This isn’t just about smoking for nausea and pain anymore.” Her organization believes that using cannabis oil to treat autism would help sufferers to deal with the disorder.

The policy has been proposed to treat a host of maladies, from nausea and epilepsy to the treatment of muscular dystrophy. This measure, if approved, would not make medical marijuana legal in Texas or the City of Austin, but would signal growing support for such compassionate and sensible policies in the state.

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Prohibition

Signatures Being Gathered Across Michigan for Local Initiatives

June 25th, 2014 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Advocates across the state of Michigan are hitting the streets in a major push to gather signatures that would decriminalize possession of small amounts marijuana in up to 18 cities. They have until July 29 to get the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. If you have not gotten involved already, it’s not too late to help!

Click here for a list of communities involved, the status of the local effort, and the names of local organizers to contact if you want to be part of the change.

Three communities out of the 18 have already qualified. The current effort follows similar campaigns in numerous other cities in years past. Last year, voters in Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson voted overwhelmingly in favor decriminalization measures. In 2012, voters supported similar voter initiatives in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint. MPP wishes to thank everyone involved in this tremendous grassroots effort that is sweeping communities in Michigan!

 

 

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Prohibition

Urge Congress to Pass the Smarter Sentencing Act

June 25th, 2014 13 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Smarter Sentencing Act (S. 1410), sponsored by a bipartisan coalition including Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT), would bring real change to destructive mandatory minimum sentences in our criminal justice system. Aside from saving billions of dollars spent on incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders, the bill would give judges more flexibility in sentencing those with minor criminal records.

More specifically, some current mandatory minimum sentences would be cut in half. That means that if this bill passes, we could potentially see 10 and five-year mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana offenses cut to five and 2.5 years, respectively. This would be a huge victory, and we need your help to secure the votes.

Harry_Reid_official_portrait_2009_crop
Sen. Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently announced that he wants to bring the Smarter Sentencing Act up for a vote in the Senate this summer. Twenty-four senators have co-sponsored the bill already, but we need to secure 60 votes to pass the bill on the floor. The House companion bill, H.R. 3382, already has a bipartisan coalition consisting of 33 co-sponsors.

Please contact your senators and representative today, and tell them to support the Smarter Sentencing Act this summer!

 

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General

Learn More About New York’s Medical Marijuana Law

June 24th, 2014 5 Comments Morgan Fox

Last Friday, after days of intense negotiation and more than a decade of advocacy, the Assembly and Senate voted to approve a limited medical marijuana program. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already agreed to sign this bill, which includes several revisions he insisted upon. Finally, New York will be the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law.

Click here for a summary of the Compassionate Care Act.

Access to medical marijuana literally means the difference between life and death for many seriously ill patients. While this new law represents a hard-fought victory and a long overdue step forward for New York, the bill is far from perfect. Unfortunately, due to the compromises with the governor’s office, many patients will still be left behind. But, together with our local allies, including the Drug Policy Alliance and Compassionate Care NY, who led recent lobbying efforts in the state, we will not give up on improving the law.

If you have any questions about how the new law may affect you or your loved ones, please join Compassionate Care NY this Wednesday at 6 p.m. for a campaign call. You must register here to attend.

 

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