Medical Marijuana

California Organ Transplant Non-Discrimination Bill for Medical Marijuana Patients Moves Forward

June 29th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

AB 258 passed both the California Assembly and the Senate by overwhelming margins, sending the bill to Gov. Brown

for his signature. This compassionate bill would prohibit hospitals from denying medical marijuana patients organ transplants simply because of their choice of medicine. Hospitals, clinics, and members of the medical community who do not support medical marijuana should not be able to kick people who are already down by denying them lifesaving treatment.

The California Assembly passed AB 258 with a 62-12 vote, and earlier this week the Senate passed the bill with only one vote in opposition. Clearly, both Californians and their legislators believe in protecting patients from discrimination based on their choice of medical treatment. The bill now needs only Gov. Brown’s signature to become law.

If you are a California resident, please take a moment to ask Gov. Brown to sign AB 258 when it reaches his desk.

 

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Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island Legislators Recess, May Vote on Marijuana Regulation Bill If They Reconvene This Fall

June 26th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

On Thursday night, the Rhode Island legislature was called into recess with many bills still awaiting final approval. There is talk from legislative leaders about calling the legislature back in September or October to address these important issues. Considering its overwhelming public support, we believe the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act should be one of the proposals considered when lawmakers return to Providence. But we need you to make this happen.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please email your lawmakers and ask them to consider the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act if they reconvene this fall.

Colorado and Washington already treat marijuana like alcohol, and Alaska and Oregon are implementing similar programs. At least five states are considering ballot questions replacing prohibition with regulation in 2016, including neighboring Massachusetts. Rhode Island can and should be a regional leader by taking control of their marijuana market as soon as possible.

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Medical Marijuana

First Massachusetts Dispensary Now Open

June 25th, 2015 7 Comments Morgan Fox

Patients who have been desperately waiting for a dispensary to open in Massachusetts will finally have some good news to celebrate this week. A dispensary in Salem has received a waiver from the state to begin operating, and opened its doors to qualifying patients on Wednesday. (An appointment is required.)

According to the Department of Health’s website, three other dispensaries have received approval to begin cultivating marijuana. These three dispensaries plan to locate their retail operations in Northampton, Brockton, and Ayer.patient-front MA MMJ card

Only 15 dispensary applicants were selected by the department in 2014, but the state announced in June that it was overhauling the dispensary selection process and scrapping its widely criticized scoring system for judging dispensary applicants. The department says that from now on, applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and applicants that meet the state’s standards will be approved. Question 3, which was approved by 63% of voters in November 2012, envisioned up to 35 dispensaries for the Bay State.

The delays have been very frustrating for patients, but hopefully this is a sign that Massachusetts is finally getting its act together and implementing the medical marijuana law in an appropriate manner.

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Prohibition

Delaware Becomes 20th State to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

June 25th, 2015 4 Comments Morgan Fox

Last week, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed HB 39 into law, making it the 20th state to decriminalize — or in four cases, legalize — possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. The Senate approved the bill less than an hour earlier in a 12-9 vote.

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Gov. Jack Markell

Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 will make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. HB 39 goes into effect six months after enactment.

Please thank the governor for his leadership! You can call him at (302) 744-4101 or send him a message on social media or by webmail here.

In other Delaware news, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state will finally be open and providing medicine to patients on Friday, June 26.

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Medical Marijuana

Gov. Markell Signs Bill Allowing Seriously Ill Minors to Access Medical Marijuana Program

June 24th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

On Tuesday,  Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed SB 90 — Rylie’s Law — into law. Gov. Markell’s approval is yet another sign of Delaware lawmakers understanding the benefits that medical marijuana holds for seriously ill patients of all ages. Not one lawmaker opposed this new law

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Sen. Ernesto Lopez

Introduced by Sen. Ernesto Lopez (R), SB 90 is now Delaware law. Doctors may now recommend medical marijuana oils to certain patients under the age of 18. To qualify, the young patients must suffer from intractable epilepsy or a medical condition that has not responded to other treatments and that involves wasting, intractable nausea, or severe, painful, and persistent muscle spasms. This compassionate proposal recognizes the sad truth that kids face serious illnesses, too, and it gives doctors one more legal option to help them find relief.

The governor and the General Assembly have joined respected organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognizing that medical cannabis may be appropriate for minors in certain circumstances. The compassion shown by lawmakers from across the state in enacting this bill means many seriously ill children and their families have one more legal option to help ease their symptoms. But it would not have been possible without the compassion of all Delawareans who wrote to their elected officials in support of this bill.

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Prohibition

Delaware Decriminalization Bill Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

June 18th, 2015 5 Comments Morgan Fox

Wednesday evening, the Delaware Senate Judiciary Committeedel flag voted 4-2 to approve legislation that would stop the state’s ineffective and cruel practice of jailing individuals for possessing a small amount of marijuana — a substance that is safer than alcohol. The bill can now be voted on as early as tomorrow. Since the House has already approved the bill, a positive Senate vote will send it to the governor for final approval.

If you are a Delaware resident, please email your state senator today and encourage her or him to support this sensible proposal tomorrow.

Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. More than two-thirds of Delaware voters support this policy.

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Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Finally Licensing Dispensaries

June 18th, 2015 4 Comments Morgan Fox

There is finally good news regarding the implementation of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that three applicants have been approved to move forward with their plans to open dispensaries in four geographic areas (one applicant was granted the ability to operate two dispensaries, while the two others may operate one dispensary each).

The announcement came more than four months after the department’s January 23 deadline. The delay was very disappointing, but late is obviously better than never. The details, including the names of the three approved entities, are available here at the department’s website.

This news, while positive, does not necessarily mean that safe, state-legal access for patients is right around the corner. The approved applicants may face unexpected obstacles and delays before they are able to serve patients’ needs, and unfortunately, the Attorney General’s office has advised the state to refrain from issuing ID cards to patients until the first dispensary is nearly ready to open.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Governor Will Sign Marijuana Reform Bills

June 18th, 2015 27 Comments Morgan Fox
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Gov. Bobby Jindal

The Louisiana Legislature has sent Gov. Bobby Jindal two bills proposing positive reforms to Louisiana’s marijuana policies! While one bill is largely symbolic, the other will help dial back some of the country’s harshest penalties for marijuana possession.

Gov. Jindal said this week that he will sign both bills into law:

“We are going to sign both bills. They’ve made it through the process. They are going to make to my desk in the next few days,” Jindal told The Des Moines Register.

SB 143 amends a 1991 law allowing Louisiana’s physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, this prescription requirement was not removed and because no physician can prescribe marijuana without risking losing their license to prescribe other medications (or worse), we are concerned that this proposal will not create a workable program. However, we are pleased that the House and Senate recognized the medical value of marijuana, and are hopeful Gov. Jindal will too.

Meanwhile, HB 149 chips away at Louisiana’s draconian penalties for marijuana possession by reducing the fine and potential jail time for possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana. For a first offense, the maximum jail sentence would be reduced from six months to 15 days, while the fine would be reduced from up to $500 to up to $300. HB 149 would also significantly reduce the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges. While still harsh, this is a good step toward a more rational approach.

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Medical Marijuana

Pressure Mounts for Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Bill

June 18th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox
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(Image: WFMZ)

Last Thursday, former TV talk show host Montel Williams joined seriously ill Pennsylvanians and their loved ones in making an emotional plea for the House to follow the Senate’s lead and approve medical cannabis legislation.

Now, it’s time to raise YOUR voice. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call or email your representative today to ask the House to stop playing politics with patients’ lives.

House Health Committee Chair Matthew Baker has made it clear he has no plans to release SB 3 from his committee. Even if he doesn’t relent, there are several other ways to get a bill to a floor vote without passing through the Health Committee.

Pennsylvania patients have waited far too long for relief. Since the state began seriously considering medical cannabis legislation in 2009, 11 more states have enacted similar bills, bringing the number of compassionate states to 23. Yet Pennsylvania patients continue to needlessly suffer, risk arrest and prosecution, or be forced to uproot and move across the country to a more compassionate state.

To hear some of the heartbreaking stories of patients who are counting on the House to act, you can watch CBS 21’s entire 90-minute town hall here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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Medical Marijuana

Urge Delaware Governor to Sign SB 90 Pediatric Patient Bill

June 18th, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox
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Gov. Jack Markell

Last week, the Delaware House approved SB 90 by a 40-0 (1 absent) margin! This vote follows unanimous approval by their colleagues in the Senate, sending the bill to Gov. Jack Markell with not one lawmaker having objected.

If you are a Delaware resident, please email Gov. Markell and ask him to sign SB 90 today!

Introduced by Sen. Ernesto Lopez (R), SB 90 would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana oils to certain patients under the age of 18. To qualify, the young patients must suffer from intractable epilepsy or a medical condition that has not responded to other treatments and that involves wasting, intractable nausea, or severe, painful, and persistent muscle spasms. This compassionate proposal recognizes the sad truth that kids face serious illnesses too, and it gives doctors one more legal option to help them find relief.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recognizes that medical cannabis may be appropriate for minors in circumstances like those allowed by SB 90, and Gov. Markell should too.

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