Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Medical Marijuana Bill Making Progress

May 29th, 2015 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Wednesday afternoon, the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee approved a bill that is intended to stop the cruel criminalization of seriously ill patients who benefit from medical marijuana. The bill, which has already passed the Senate with a 22-13 vote, now moves to the full House for a vote. If you are a Louisiana residentplease take a moment today to write your representative in support of this compassionate bill — SB 143.

Fred Mills Jr Louisiana
Sen. Fred Mills, Jr.

SB 143, filed by Sen. Fred Mills, Jr. (R), would amend a 1991 law that allows Louisiana’s physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with FDA and DEA guidelines. Since these guidelines don’t exist, this law has never been operable. Sen. Mills’ proposal requires the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to develop regulations governing distribution of medical marijuana.

Fortunately, the Health and Welfare Committee replaced the requirement that physicians “prescribe” medical marijuana with one stating that they “recommend” its use. This change was necessary as no physician — even in medical marijuana states — can “prescribe” medical marijuana because of federal law. While this is an important improvement, we are still concerned that the proposed program relies on pharmacies to dispense medical marijuana, which they are very unlikely to do because they are regulated by the DEA and distributing marijuana is a federal crime.

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Bobby Jindal has “no concerns” about the bill.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Senate Expected to Vote on Decriminalization Next Thursday

May 27th, 2015 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to recommend against passage of HB 618, Rep. Adam Schroadter’s sensible bill that would decriminalize possession of one-half ounce or less of marijuana.

Schroadter
Rep. Adam Schroadter

This isn’t good news, but there is still hope for HB 618. In fact, one senator who voted “no” is already working to negotiate a compromise amendment that will be able to earn majority support when the bill is considered on the Senate floor. The full Senate is expected to vote on HB 618 next Thursday, June 5.

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Prohibition

Maryland Governor Vetoes Paraphernalia Decriminalization Bill

May 27th, 2015 3 Comments Morgan Fox
Larry Hogan
Gov. Larry Hogan (PHOTO: Washington Post)

Late Friday afternoon, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed SB 517 — a common-sense bill that would decriminalize marijuana paraphernalia. His veto is deeply disappointing. If we can garner votes from three-fifths of the House and three-fifths of the Senate, his veto will be overridden and the measure will become law.

If you are a Maryland resident, please email your state delegate(s) and senator today and urge them to override Gov. Hogan’s veto.

The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 517 to fix the current legal absurdity that makes possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil citation (like a traffic violation), but leaves possessing the container that marijuana is in a criminal violation. Without this fix, the door is left open to selective, biased enforcement, and Maryland would continue to divert valuable law enforcement time and effort that would be better spent protecting our communities from violent crime.

An override is within reach, but won’t be easy. It is crucial lawmakers hear their constituents want them to vote “yes” on an override!

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Prohibition

Illinois Senate Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

May 21st, 2015 21 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s bill, which would replace criminal penalties for the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana with a civil fine, passed the Illinois Senate today on a vote of 37-19. The bill will soon be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk for his signature. While he has not signaled any opposition to the measure, it is critical that he hear from Illinoisans in support of this historic bill.

If you are an Illinois resident, please contact the governor’s office today and ask him to sign HB 218 into law.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner

The bill does several important things. First, it removes the possibility of arrest and jail for those in possession of a small amount of marijuana. It also prevents harming a person’s criminal record, which could limit future job prospects as well as housing and educational options. And because many communities have already removed criminal penalties for possession while others have not, the bill helps ensure that all residents in Illinois will be treated similarly under the law, regardless of where they live.

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Medical Marijuana

U.S. Senate Committee Approves Measure That Would Allow Veterans Affairs Physicians to Recommend Medical Marijuana

May 21st, 2015 24 Comments Morgan Fox

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure 18-12 Thursday that would allow Veterans Affairs physicians to recommend medical marijuana to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, serious injuries, and other debilitating conditions.

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Sen. Steve Daines

The amendment, offered by Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Senate version of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would rescind a portion of a 2009 directive prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana, even in states that have made it legal.

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Sen. Jeff Merkley

The amendment must now be reconciled with the House version of the bill. The House narrowly defeated a similar amendment 210-213 on April 30. A similar measure was defeated 195-222 in 2014.

According to MPP’s Dan Riffle:

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers came together and passed broadly supported marijuana policy reform. This is exactly how most Americans want Congress to handle this issue. Hopefully we are reaching a point at which it is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. The pace at which support appears to be growing in the Senate is particularly encouraging.

Doctors should never be prohibited from helping their patients obtain the best possible medical treatment. Many veterans are finding that medical marijuana is the most effective treatment for PTSD and other service-related medical conditions. Finally, Congress is working to remove barriers to accessing it rather than building them.

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Prohibition

Maryland Governor Could Sign Bill to Fix Decriminalization Law Soon

May 20th, 2015 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Last month, the Maryland Legislature sent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) a bill to remove the criminal penalty for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The time for Gov. Hogan to act on this bill is running out, so please email him today and encourage him to sign this reform into law.

Larry-Hogan
Gov. Larry Hogan

By removing the criminal penalty for possessing marijuana paraphernalia, SB 517 will fix the current legal absurdity that makes possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil citation (like a traffic violation), but makes possessing the container that marijuana is in a criminal violation. Without this fix, the door is left open to selective, biased enforcement, which wastes law enforcement time and effort that would be better spent protecting our communities from violent crime.

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Medical Marijuana

Texas House Passes Flawed CBD Bill

May 19th, 2015 4 Comments Morgan Fox

Yesterday evening, the Texas State House of Representatives approved SB 339 with a vote of 96-34. The bill seeks to allow patients with intractable epilepsy to access cannabis oil containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC.

On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense.TexasFlagPicture3

Unfortunately, SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law. SB 339 previously passed the Senate (26-5) on May 7.

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions and the risk of losing their DEA registration to prescribe any controlled substances.

The bill also leaves behind Texas patients suffering from debilitating conditions like PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.

But it isn’t all bad. Even if doctors are unwilling to “prescribe” marijuana, starting the implementation process will ensure a system of safe access is ready to go when the legislature meets in 2017 — at which point it can fix the flaw and expand access to patients with other serious conditions.

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General

South Carolina Subcommittee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill; Rally In Support Next Wednesday

May 15th, 2015 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki
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South Carolina State House

Last week, a subcommittee of the South Carolina House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee approved legislation that would create a compassionate medical marijuana program in South Carolina, with a 3-1 vote! If you are a South Carolina residentplease email both your state representative and senator and ask them to support this legislation.

Potential medical marijuana patients, their caregivers and loved ones, and medical marijuana advocates will be holding a rally at the State House in Columbia next Wednesday in support of H 4037, the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act. If you are free, please consider joining them.

WhatRally in support of medical marijuana legislation

When: Wednesday, May 20 at 11:30 a.m.

Where: South steps of the State House in Columbia (1100 Gervais St.)

The South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act, H 4037, would allow patients suffering from a listed condition to use and safely access medical marijuana if recommended by their doctors. This bill is more comprehensive than and addresses the many flaws of the legislation that was passed last year in an attempt to make certain medical marijuana products accessible to a limited class of patients.

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Prohibition, Research

Alabama Lawmakers Considering Unscientific Marijuana DUID Bill

May 15th, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox
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Sen. Arthur Orr (Photo: John Godbey/Decatur Daily)

In April, SB 162, introduced by Sen. Arthur Orr, passed the Alabama Senate. It now awaits action in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. This bill would declare anyone with five nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood guilty of driving under the influence — regardless of whether the person was actually impaired!

Although intoxicated driving should not be tolerated, knee jerk ideas like per se limits for THC are unethical, unscientific, and unnecessary. Alabama already criminalizes impaired driving. This bill would unfairly target medical marijuana patients who could have higher levels of THC in their blood without being impaired.

Recent peer-reviewed studies have concluded that low levels of active THC can remain in a person’s system long after the intoxicating effects of THC have worn off — sometimes for several days. THC levels can even increase in a person’s bloodstream days after consuming marijuana, but without the person being impaired. SB 162 would therefore result in individuals who are not impaired to be found guilty of DUI-D.

If you are an Alabama resident, please email your representative and ask him or her to oppose this bill.

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Prohibition, Video

MPP and Allies Launch Texas TV Ad Campaign

May 14th, 2015 11 Comments Morgan Fox

This week, we began airing a TV ad in Texas featuring Russell Jones, a retired narcotics detective and Texas Hill Country resident. Jones says that people under the influence of marijuana are much less problematic than people under the influence of alcohol, and that “law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time.” Its primary purpose: to urge lawmakers to support HB 507, which would reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession in the Lone Star State.

The TV ad — online here — is airing on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel through Thursday at midnight, and received a lot of media attention, including from Huffington Post, International Business Times, San Antonio Current, and many others.

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show that more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

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