Medical Marijuana

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

January 29th, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox
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Sen. Deborah Dawkins

As marijuana policy reforms advance nationwide, Mississippi Sen. Deborah Dawkins has vowed to keep fighting for medical marijuana legislation. Last week, Sen. Dawkins introduced SB 2318, a bill that would allow seriously ill patients to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. Although SB 2318 would not allow for dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to patients, it would be an important step in ensuring that patients have safe and reliable access to the medicine they need.

Sen. Dawkins introduced a medical marijuana bill in the last session as well, and grassroots support for changing Mississippi marijuana laws continues to grow.

If you are a Mississippi resident, please ask your legislators your support for this important legislation.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Lawmakers Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties

January 29th, 2015 3 Comments Morgan Fox

A bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it.

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Rep. Adam Schroadter

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

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Prohibition

Delaware Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession Introduced

January 29th, 2015 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki
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Rep. Helene Keeley

Delaware State Rep. Helene Keeley, State Sens. Margret Rose Henry and Bryan Townsend, and 10 of their colleagues have just introduced legislation that would replace Delaware’s criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a simple civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket.

If you are a Delaware resident, please email your state representatives and ask them to support this modest reform.

Possessing one ounce or less of marijuana in the First State is currently classified as a unclassified misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail, a criminal fine of up to $575, or both! HB 39 proposes making possession of one ounce or less of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100. This modest change will allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes while ending the draconian practice of saddling Delawareans with a criminal record for simply possessing a small amount of a substance that is safer than alcohol.

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Prohibition

Virgin Islands Senate Overrides Governor Veto of Marijuana Bill

January 29th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

Earlier this month, Gov. John deJongh Jr. of the U.S. Virgin Islands stated that he supported decriminalizing marijuana, despite the fact that he vetoed a bill that would reduce penalties at the end of 2014. The Senate overrode his initial veto, adding the Virgin IslandsSeal_of_the_United_States_Virgin_Islands to the list of U.S. territories that are changing their marijuana policies.

Sen. Terrence Nelson sponsored the measure, which is now law, to decriminalize the possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana and make it a civil offense punishable by a fine of between $100 and $200, with the possible forfeiture of the contraband.

In the case that an offender is younger than 18, the offender could receive a $100 fine, the parents or guardians would have to be notified and the offender will be required to complete an approved drug awareness program within one year of the possession.

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Medical Marijuana

North Dakota Considering Medical Marijuana Bill

January 29th, 2015 5 Comments Morgan Fox

UPDATE: The bill was voted down in the House.

 

Last week, a bipartisan group of North Dakota state representatives introduced compassionate legislation that would establish a workable medical marijuana program in North Dakota.North_Dakota_state_seal Under HB 1430, seriously ill patients would be able to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It would also create a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure patients have safe and reliable access.

If you are a North Dakota resident, please tell your elected representatives to support this compassionate legislation.

Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have compassionate laws on the books that protect individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, ALS, and other serious medical conditions from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana medicinally under their doctors’ recommendations. Why should the seriously ill in North Dakota not be afforded the same protections? We trust our physicians to prescribe highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs to treat many of these same conditions, so why should they be prevented from recommending marijuana, which has never caused a lethal overdose, if they think it would work best? It’s clear now more than ever: North Dakota should enact a workable medical marijuana program.

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General

American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Rescheduling, Decriminalizing Marijuana

January 26th, 2015 14 Comments Morgan Fox

In a report released Monday, the American Academy of PediatricsAAP suggested removing marijuana from Schedule 1 in order to make further research easier to accomplish.

From the Associated Press:

To make it easier to study and develop marijuana-based treatments, the group recommends removing marijuana from the government’s most restrictive drug category, which includes heroin, LSD and other narcotics with no accepted medical use, and switching it to the category which includes methadone and oxycodone.

The recommended switch “could help make a big difference in promoting more research,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman, the policy’s lead author and a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Stanford University.

The report also recommended removing criminal penalties for simple possession:

Citing the lifelong negative effects of a criminal record on adolescents, the AAP strongly supported reducing penalties for marijuana possession and use to misdemeanors. This policy statement, The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research and Legal Update is a recent revision to its previous 2004 report about the drug.

“The illegality of marijuana has resulted in the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of adolescents, with overrepresentation of minority youth,” wrote Seth D. Ammerman, MD, FAAP, of the 2014-2015 AAP Committee on Substance Abuse, and colleagues. Effects of marijuana-related felony charges include “ineligibility for college loans, housing, financial aid, and certain kinds of jobs,” they said. The report also recommended pediatricians get involved and “advocate for laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties” for possession or use of marijuana.
The authors state in an accompanying technical report that studies have not shown decriminalization results in an overall increase in marijuana use by adolescents, which is a chief concern of those opposed to decriminalizing the drug. In fact, states with decriminalization laws experience similar rates of marijuana use as those with tougher penalties. However, the authors cite “significant savings in criminal justice cost and resources” in states with decriminalization laws.

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Research

Study Shows Long-Term Marijuana Use Does Not Cause Serious Lung Damage

January 21st, 2015 20 Comments Morgan Fox

A new study reports that long-term marijuana users have little to worry about in terms of lung damage.

Paul Armentano writes in Alternet:

The inhalation of one marijuana cigarette per day over a 20-year period is not associated with adverse changes in lung health, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Investigators at Emory University in Atlanta assessed lungsmarijuana smoke exposure and lung health in a large representative sample of US adults age 18 to 59. Researchers reported that cannabis exposure was not associated with FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) decline or deleterious change in spirometric values of small airways disease.

Authors further reported that marijuana smoke exposure may even be associated with some protective lung effects among long-term smokers of tobacco. Investigators acknowledged, “[T]he pattern of marijuana’s effects seems to be distinctly different when compared to that of tobacco use.”

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Prohibition

Wyoming House Judiciary Committee Approves Decriminalization Bill

January 21st, 2015 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature approved a bill – HB 29 ­– that would replace the current criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a more sensible civil fine. By a vote of 7-2, the committee supported the proposal that will end the threat of arrest for first and second possession charges.

Rep Jim Byrd
Rep. Jim Byrd

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Byrd, the bill originally sought to impose a civil fine of $50 for the first or second possession of up to a half an ounce of marijuana and a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce. The committee amended this language and set the fines at $250 for possession of up to half an ounce and $500 for possession of up to an ounce. If you are a Wyoming resident, please encourage your representative to support this bill, and ask her or him to lower the fine as well.

No one should be saddled with a criminal record for the simple act of possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. If HB 29 is made law, Wyomingites will no longer face that overly harsh penalty. Email your representatives in support of HB 29 and encourage your friends and family in Wyoming to do so too!

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

South Carolina Medical Marijuana and Decriminalization Bills Introduced

January 21st, 2015 12 Comments Kate Zawidzki
A bipartisan group of South Carolina state representatives led by House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford

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Rep. J. Todd Rutherford

has introduced compassionate legislation that would establish a workable medical marijuana program in South Carolina. Under the Put Patients First Act, seriously ill patients would be able to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It also creates a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure patients have safe and reliable access.

According to a July 2014 poll by ABC News 4/Post and Courier, most South Carolina voters support allowing qualifying seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana legally, instead of being treated as criminals. Support was found across party lines, age, race, sex, ideology, and geography. It’s clear now more than ever: South Carolina should enact a workable medical marijuana program.

South Carolina lawmakers are proving that sensible and humane marijuana policy isn’t a partisan issue. State Representative Mike Pitts — a Republican — has not only cosponsored House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford’s medical marijuana bill, he’s also introduced his own common-sense proposal. H. 3117 would replace South Carolina’s criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a simple civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket.

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Tax and Regulate

Missouri Legislature to Consider Allowing Public Vote on Regulating Marijuana

January 21st, 2015 9 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Missouri State Rep. Brandon Ellington’s HJR 15 would give voters a chance to put an end to the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition, and would replace it with legalization, taxation, and regulation for adults 21 and over.

Brandon Ellington
Rep. Brandon Ellington

A companion bill also sponsored by Rep. Ellington, HB 166, would expunge some marijuana-related convictions if voters approve the constitutional amendment.

The Missouri-based Show-Me Cannabis is also in the process of preparing for a similar voter initiative in 2016. If approved, that measure would not only allow and regulate retail sales for adult use, it would also provide unique protections for medical marijuana patients. In addition, the measure would allow individuals to remove harmful marijuana-related convictions from their records.

In the coming years, there will be several opportunities for Missouri to join the four states that have moved away from failed and wasteful marijuana prohibition policies.

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