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Medical Marijuana Bill Advances to Senate in South Carolina

March 29th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Senate’s version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act passed today in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. Lawmakers on the committee voted 8-6 in favor of sending the amended bill to the floor.

This is a tremendous step forward, but time is short for a vote by the full Senate. Lawmakers only have until April 10 to vote and send the bill to the House before time runs out this year.

The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, introduced last year by Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it. The Department of Health and Environmental Control would regulate and license medical cannabis cultivation centers, processing facilities, dispensaries, and independent testing laboratories. The department would also issue registration cards to qualifying patients and their caregivers. Patients would not be able to smoke medical cannabis under the bill as amended by the committee. South Carolina would have one of the most carefully regulated programs in the country under this bill.

While it’s unlikely that the Senate will vote on S. 212 before the clock runs out, it’s crucial that senators hear from their constituents while the bill is on the floor. If the bill doesn’t pass this year, we can build momentum for next year.

If you are a South Carolina resident, please send an email to your senators asking them to support S. 212.

 

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Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Announces Major Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program

March 28th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy held a press conference to announce numerous changes to the medical marijuana program in New Jersey that will greatly improve patient access. These include:

  • Approving additional qualifying conditions under a process that was begun in 2016 — including chronic pain and opioid use disorder — which will help reduce opioid dependence and overdose.
  • Setting up a process to add additional businesses and remove the vertical integration requirement, which will increase competition and therefore reduce prices for patients.
  • Eliminating the physician registry, so that all doctors who wish to do so can recommend medical cannabis to their patients without jumping through hoops.
  • Removing the 10% THC cap imposed by regulation, because some patients need products with more THC for the most effective treatment.

In addition, the Department of Health’s report recommended additional changes, which would have to be made by the legislature. These include increasing the amount of cannabis that patients can purchase each month and allowing patients of all ages to purchase edibles if that’s their preferred delivery method.

You can read the Department of Health’s full report here. MPP will continue to work with the administration as it implements these changes,

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Prohibition

MPP Calls for N.H. Study Commission Chair’s Ouster After Attempt to Shut Down Legalization Bill

March 21st, 2018 No Comments Matt Simon

We have been expressing concerns about the make-up of New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study commission since last spring, when the bill creating that commission was rewritten by the Senate to exclude reform supporters. We even asked Gov. Chris Sununu to veto the bill last July rather than create a study commission that would not be viewed as credible by the general public.

Sadly, although we have tried to work with this commission, it has now become clear that our initial concerns were well founded. In particular, it has been very frustrating to watch as the commission’s chairman, Rep. Patrick Abrami, has used his influence as vice-chair of the Ways and Means Committee — including by misleading the committee about testimony presented to the study commission — in an attempt to prevent HB 656 from advancing to the Senate.

We believe the people of New Hampshire deserve better. Please sign our petition now to join us in urging House Speaker Gene Chandler to replace Rep. Abrami with an unbiased legislator.

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Prohibition

MPP’s Illinois Primary Voter Guide

March 19th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Primary Election Day happens tomorrow in Illinois, and voters’ choices will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. Lawmakers are now considering legislation to end marijuana prohibition and legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. Illinoisans should take a close look at whether candidates will stand up for sensible marijuana policy reform.

We’ve done some of the work for you. If you haven’t voted already, please check out our Illinois Voter’s Guide to see where the candidates appearing on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s website here.

While elected officials are more supportive of legalization than ever before, we want momentum to build, and this year’s elections will have a big impact both in the legislature and in the governor’s office. It’s crucial that supporters of cannabis reform make their voices heard in Illinois.

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General

Louisiana Lawmakers Considering Penalty Reduction, Medical Expansion

March 19th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last week, the Louisiana Legislature convened, and bills to reform the medical program and decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have been filed! These bills are important steps towards patient access and sane marijuana policy in the Bayou State.

Under the current laws, if you are caught with marijuana in Louisiana, you could be facing jail time. HB 611 would change this by instituting a $100 fine for those caught with up to one ounce of marijuana. HB 579 would expand patient access to medical marijuana by allowing more conditions to qualify, such as intractable pain, PTSD, and other conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana.

If you are a Louisiana resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support these sensible reforms.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Deadline Looming for Maryland Cannabis Bills

March 16th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Monday is a crucial deadline for marijuana policy reform bills in Maryland. HB 1264, which would let Marylanders vote on regulating marijuana for adults, needs to move out of the House Judiciary Committee by then to stay alive this year. HB 602, a bill that would protect the rights of Maryland’s medical cannabis patients, must be voted on by the Senate in order to “cross over” to the House of Delegates and move forward during this session.

If approved by 60% of both chambers of the Maryland Legislature, HB 1264 would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would make possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older and require the state to establish regulations and taxation for a legal cannabis market, as well as to ensure diversity in the cannabis industry.

HB 602 would ensure that patients don’t lose their Second Amendment rights under state law simply because medical cannabis helps them with their serious illness. Regardless of what you think about Maryland’s gun laws, no patient should have to lose any of their legal rights because of their status as a patient. This is of particular concern to veterans, who may be dissuaded from trying medical cannabis — a much safer alternative to the opioids they are frequently prescribed for pain or PTSD — because they don’t want to lose these rights.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

New Jersey Governor Commits to Legalization

March 14th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated his commitment to voters in his budget yesterday, which states that: “New Jersey will join other progressive states such as California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Colorado by legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana,” by January 1, 2019. In his speech, he also refuted claims by opponents that decriminalization alone would address the harms of marijuana prohibition.

“Decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see,” he said. “If these are our goals — as they must be — then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. If you are a New Jersey resident, please thank Gov. Murphy for his continued commitment to sensible marijuana policy and urge your lawmakers to support ending prohibition in New Jersey.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

N.H. House Committee Tries to Crush Legalization Hopes

March 13th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee is attempting to abuse its power by recommending that the House kill the marijuana legalization bill. If the House agrees to the committee’s motion of “interim study” when HB 656 reaches the floor next week, the bill will be dead for the year.

As a reminder, the New Hampshire House has already voted 207-139 to pass HB 656. Instead of legalizing retail sales — which is something a study commission is considering — the bill as amended would simply allow adults to cultivate six plants, three of which could be mature. It would also legalize possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less, and marijuana in excess of that amount would be legal as long as it is stored along with the plants that produced it. You can read a summary of the bill here.

HB 656 should have gone directly to the Senate after it passed the House, but instead it was sent to the Ways and Means Committee, which only deals with issues related to revenue. Some legislators are trying to make this issue complicated, but HB 656 is actually very simple and there is no good reason not to move the bill forward.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please email your representatives right now and urge them to oppose this outrageous action by the committee.

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Medical Marijuana

Virginia Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

March 12th, 2018 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law expanding access for medical marijuana in Virginia. The law allows for practitioners to recommend CBD or THC-A oil for any condition they think would be beneficial to patients. Previously, only those suffering from intractable epilepsy could qualify for CBD or THC-A oil.

Additionally, the law allows any physician to recommend oil to his or her patients. Under the previous law, only neurologists and epilepsy specialists could give a recommendation for medical marijuana. HB 1251 is also considered emergency legislation and went into effect immediately.

We are excited about the many Virginia patients whose lives will be improved by this law.

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Prohibition

Maryland Senate Approves Bill to Address Criminal Overcharging

March 9th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Back in 2014, Maryland lawmakers decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. Unfortunately, in some jurisdictions, people in possession of less than that amount are still being criminalized. Increasingly, some prosecutors are charging individuals with “possession with intent to distribute” — a felony — based on very limited evidence, like having their marijuana in more than one baggie (which could easily be because they purchased it that way or had a few different strains, rather than because they were selling it).

In order to address this overcharging, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, introduced SB 128, which MPP supported. The bill just passed the Senate 45-1. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

SB 128 would simply create a legal presumption that people who have less than 10 grams should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute. Prosecutors could still make the case if there’s evidence of an intent to sell.

Even being arrested for a felony can have serious collateral consequences. For example, some jobs will suspend or fire employees immediately due to a felony arrest. Lawmakers intended to reduce the number of people caught up in the criminal justice system for having small amounts of marijuana — ask them to help fulfill that goal by passing this bill.

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