Medical Marijuana

Zimbabwe to Allow Medical Marijuana

April 30th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

As public support for medical marijuana hovers over 90% in the United States while Congress continues to struggle to pass comprehensive legislation that would permanently protect state medical marijuana programs, Zimbabwe recently became the second African nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Marijuana Business Daily reports:

Details of the country’s cannabis regulations were announced in the government gazette on Friday, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper, The Herald. (The gazette prints official notices and laws from the government.)

Five-year renewable licenses would allow growers to possess, transport and sell cannabis oil and fresh and dried cannabis, according to Reuters, which reported to have viewed Zimbabwe’s regulations.

The regulatory change came via Statutory Instrument 62, which amended the Dangerous Drugs Act to include Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations, The Herald reported.

“In the case of a company, proof of citizenship or proof of being ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe of the majority of directors or proof of an exemption by the Minister and proof of incorporation in Zimbabwe of the company…” according to the regulations.

Production must be licensed by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

No details are available on whether imports or exports would be permitted or how local MMJ consumption would be regulated.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

Illinois Senate Approves a Safer Option for Opioid Patients

April 27th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

An important medical marijuana bill emerged from the Senate yesterday that could bring welcome relief to seriously ill patients around the state. Senate Bill 336 would allow patients who qualify for opioid prescriptions to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 336, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Harmon and Chris Nybo, emerged with a strong 44-6 vote in support. The bill is now in the House.

Seriously ill patients should not be pushed towards some of the most harmful drugs available, particularly when there is a safer alternative. Studies in recent years have supported what many medical marijuana patients already know: medical cannabis can be an effective alternative for patients who might otherwise rely on opioid drugs.

Sen. Harmon’s bill would not only provide that alternative, it would also make other critically important improvements to the state program, including removing the current fingerprint requirement for all patients. Rep. Kelly Cassidy has already stepped in as chief co-sponsor in the House, along with over two dozen other House members who have joined with her as co-sponsors. But it’s crunch time in Springfield, and lawmakers are now working through the busiest time of the year — it’s important the bill continue to advance without delay.

If you are an Illinois resident, please ask your representatives to support this bill and to consider co-sponsoring if they haven’t signed on already.

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Tax and Regulate

Michigan Legalization Initiative Qualifies for Ballot

April 26th, 2018 4 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has cleared a major hurdle towards making marijuana legal in Michigan. This morning, the Board of State Canvassers approved the petition signatures, and the initiative to regulate marijuana will be on the ballot in November. If approved by voters, Michigan would become the first state in the Midwest with an adult-use cannabis law.

In addition to allowing adults age 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana, the initiative would: regulate marijuana businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport, and sell marijuana; legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp (used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics, food, construction materials, and fuel); protect consumers with proper testing and safety regulations for retail marijuana; impose a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana sold at the retail level on top of the state’s six percent sales tax; and give local governments the option of whether they want to allow marijuana businesses in their communities.

Organizations supporting the coalition include the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML, and MILegalize.

The initiative is being certified at a time when national attention is focused on marijuana policy reform. Earlier this month, President Trump reiterated his position in favor of not interfering with state marijuana policies in a conversation with Sen. Cory Gardner and assured him that the Department of Justice would not target individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state marijuana laws.

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Medical Marijuana

N.H. Senate Committee Ignores Patients’ Testimony, Rejects Home Grow Bill

April 25th, 2018 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 to reject a bill that would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Instead of listening to the numerous patients who testified at the public hearing, the committee recommended that HB 1476 be sent to “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year. But there’s still hope. Next, the bill is expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks. Gov. Chris Sununu has not expressed a public position on the bill.

This bill is critically important because many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option. There is no need for further study before allowing limited home cultivation by registered patients and caregivers, especially now that it is becoming clear that access to cannabis is a key to addressing the opiate crisis.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please email your state senator’s office today and urge him or her to support HB 1476! Then, call Gov. Chris Sununu and urge him to do the same.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Health Dept. to Expand Medical Marijuana Program, Allow Flower Vaporization

April 23rd, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine announced the department will implement all of the advisory board’s recommended changes to the medical marijuana program. They include:

  • Allowing patients to use whole plant, flower cannabis via vaporization.
  • Rewording the qualifying condition “severe chronic or intractable pain” to delete the phrase “in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.”
  • Allowing patients to qualify if they are undergoing “addiction substitute therapy — opioid reduction.”
  • Adding the following conditions to the program: cancer while in remission therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and terminal illness.
  • Eventually requiring minor patients to have recommendations from a pediatrician or other pediatric or adolescent health specialist. (This could be problematic due to the very small number of pediatricians who are recommending cannabis.)

The department will promulgate regulations with these changes on May 12, and they will then undergo legislative review.

These changes would have a major impact for Pennsylvania patients. Allowing cannabis in its flower form is crucial to affordability. And with the revised wording for severe pain, Pennsylvania will no longer steer pain patients to more dangerous medications, such as opiates.

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Medical Marijuana

Battle Over Home Cultivation in New Hampshire Intensifies

April 20th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee is expected to vote on HB 1476 next Tuesday, April 24.

The bill, which has already passed the House in a voice vote, would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. Others have to drive long distances in order to reach a dispensary. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call or email your state senator’s office today and urge them to support allowing limited home cultivation.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Key House Committee Advances Medical Marijuana Bill in South Carolina

April 19th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The House version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, H 3521, emerged from committee today in a landslide 14-3 vote.

Unfortunately, a key deadline has passed, and it’s too late for the medical cannabis bill to become law this year. However, it’s important to remind lawmakers that patients and those who care for them are counting on their support.

There is much to be done before the bill becomes law, but today’s vote marks a big step forward for patients. Both the House and the Senate versions made it through their committees, and the bills were sent to the full bodies in both chambers.

Thank you to bill sponsors, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, and the many supporters who have been active behind the scenes and at the hearings, including those who attended an educational symposium for lawmakers yesterday evening.

If you are a South Carolina resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support the Compassionate Care Act in the next legislative session.

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Medical Marijuana

Florida Judge Says Medical Marijuana Patient Can Grow His Own Medicine

April 13th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, Leon County Judge Karen Gievers ruled that Joseph Redner, a 77-year-old cancer patient, may grow his own marijuana plants. Redner is a registered medical marijuana patient in Florida. Unfortunately, the Department of Health has already filed an appeal and will fight the decision.

Tampa Bay Times reports:

The ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers applies only to Redner, 77. The Florida Department of Health responded quickly, filing an appeal.

The department had said Floridians are barred under state rules from growing cannabis for their personal use, including those who are legally registered as medical marijuana patients.

But Redner and other critics across the state say the health department continues to create barriers for more than 95,000 registered patients in Florida that could benefit from marijuana. Redner is a stage 4 lung cancer survivor and a registered medical marijuana patient.

“Under Florida law, Plantiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, soley for the purpose of his emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician,” Gievers said in her ruling. The word “solely” is bolded and underlined for emphasis in the document.

“The court also finds … that the Florida Department of Health has been, and continues to be non-compliant with the Florida constitutional requirements,” the judge added, referring to the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 that made medical marijuana legal.

Redner’s attorney, Luke Lirot of Clearwater, said the judge was right to “castigate the health department for being a barrier to medicine.”

While this ruling only applies to Joseph Redner, it most certainly opens the door for other Florida patients to finally be allowed to cultivate their medicine at home.

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Prohibition

Albuquerque Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

April 13th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Yesterday, Albuquerque, New Mexico Mayor Tim Keller signed an ordinance that decriminalizes simple possession of marijuana under city law.

Once the ordinance goes into effect, the city’s penalty for under an ounce of marijuana will be a $25 civil fine. It will go into effect five days after it is published by the city clerk. Council members Pat Davis and Isaac Benton sponsored the ordinance, which passed the council in a 5-4 vote.

Police Chief Mike Geier voiced his support, saying, ”This new legislation allows officers to focus on violent crime, property crime and drunk driving.”

It will still be possible for a person to be charged under the statewide penalty — a fine of up to $50, up to 15 days in jail, or both. If you are a New Mexico resident, please let your state legislators know you want the state follow suit and stop criminalizing marijuana consumers.

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General

Lead the Marijuana Legalization Movement

April 13th, 2018 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project is looking for our next Executive Director to run the nation’s leading marijuana policy reform organization! We are taking advantage of our first-ever change in executive leadership to cast the widest net possible so we can find just the right person to lead us into the future at this critical juncture in marijuana policy.

We are looking for a leader with a personal commitment to marijuana policy reform and individual liberty who has the drive, skills, and experience to end marijuana prohibition. Marijuana reform is one of the country’s most popular and bipartisan issues, with public support more than doubling over the last 20 years. The opportunity has never been greater to make historic changes to the nation’s marijuana laws.

The Executive Director will lead the team responsible for over half of the current medical marijuana and adult use legalization laws in the country. The position develops and implements the organization’s political strategy and goals in conjunction with the staff and Board of Directors. Ensuring fiscal stability is a major part of the job, and the ideal candidate will have a track record of successful fundraising and a demonstrated ability to run a fast-paced, mission-driven organization of 20 or more employees with a primary focus on changing laws.

Find the full job description here.

Interested parties should contact edsearch@mpp.org with a cover letter, resume, and a list of professional references.

Matthew Schweich, the current executive director, is committed to leading the organization until his successor has been named. He will then focus his attention on the Michigan and Utah ballot initiatives campaigns. Mr. Schweich joined MPP in early 2015 as the director of state campaigns, and he was the campaign director for the 2016 legalization ballot initiative campaigns in Maine and Massachusetts, and also worked on the 2016 Nevada campaign. He was named executive director of MPP in November 2017.

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