Uncategorized

House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Protections

May 17th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The House Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to continue blocking the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

On a voice vote, the committee approved an amendment offered by Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) to the base FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, prohibiting the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes. The bill will now be considered by the full House.

Such a provision has been in effect since 2014, but this is the first time it has been added to the base CJS Appropriations bill in committee. In previous years, the measure, which was known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (and subsequently the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment), was added to the bill as a floor amendment, but last year Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked it from receiving a floor vote.

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Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island Legalization Bill Introduced

May 17th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Sen. Joshua Miller (D – Cranston) is once again submitting a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in Rhode Island. As marijuana businesses are poised to open their doors in Massachusetts this summer, Sen. Miller hopes his colleagues will understand the wisdom in acting now.

“Legal marijuana sales will be available to Rhode Islanders as soon as Massachusetts retailers start offering it in July,” Sen. Miller said. “But Massachusetts will keep the revenue from the purchases when Rhode Islanders cross the border to get it.”

This legislation would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana. It would also set up a system for the Department of Business Regulation to oversee the licensing and operation of legal marijuana businesses. Most importantly, Sen. Miller’s bill would end the failed approach of punishing adults who choose to use marijuana, a policy which has caused much harm in Rhode Island.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your state senator and representative and ask them to push for a vote on Sen. Miller’s bill.

 

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Prohibition

Two Vermont Counties Will Host Expungement Events in June

May 17th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Now that Vermont’s marijuana legalization law is set to take effect on July 1, the state’s attorneys (prosecutors) for two counties have announced that they will host “Expungement Day” clinics in June to assist Vermonters with having their records cleared of misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Volunteers with the Center for Justice Reform at the Vermont Law School will reportedly assist with filling out expungement petitions in Windsor County on June 9 and in Chittenden County on June 12.

WHAT: Windsor County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Vermont Law School, Oakes Hall Room 012, South Royalton
WHEN: Saturday, June 9, 9 a.m. to noon

WHAT: Chittenden County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Costello Courthouse, Courtroom 2C, 32 Cherry Street, Burlington
WHEN: Tuesday, June 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please note that there will likely be a fee required when the petition is filed.

If you have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in another Vermont county, you may wish to call and ask what it would take to have your record expunged. You can find phone numbers for all of Vermont’s state’s attorneys’ offices here.

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Medical Marijuana

CBD Now Allowed Under Kansas Law — If It Has No THC

May 17th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In a small step forward for patients who could benefit from medical cannabis, the definition of “marijuana” under Kansas law was changed by SB 282 to exclude cannabidiol (CBD). However, because state law separately bans tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), it will be difficult for medical cannabis patients to take advantage of this provision, because most CBD products contain at least trace amounts of THC (“hemp” is sometimes defined as 0.3% THC or less).

The bill itself does not provide for in-state access to CBD oils in Kansas, and CBD products are generally still illegal under federal law, as the Drug Enforcement Administration clarified in a rule that was recently upheld in federal court. But, there may be a narrow exception under a federal law allowing hemp research programs — and Gov. Colyer also recently signed a bill that will create such a program in Kansas.

While there are a number of “CBD” products available online, these products are typically unregulated, and unfortunately some do not actually contain the amount of CBD on the label — or any at all — or they also contain THC or dangerous compounds such as heavy metals. A more reliable way to obtain CBD oil would be to get it in a state with a regulated cannabis market such as Colorado, but doing so can be costly and onerous.

Despite its limitations, this is step forward. Once the law takes effect (which will happen when it is formally published), if patients are caught in possession of CBD oil that contains no THC, they will no longer be subject to prosecution for marijuana possession under Kansas law. With the passage of this bill, Idaho is now the only remaining state that does not acknowledge the medical benefits of cannabinoids in any way!

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Medical Marijuana

Missouri Medical Marijuana Measures On the Move

May 9th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

It’s been quite a week for medical marijuana efforts in Missouri!

Last Tuesday, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 112-44 to approve a very limited medical marijuana measure. Then, on Friday and Sunday, campaigns handed in signatures for three different medical marijuana ballot measures.

New Approach Missouri and Find the Cure submitted signatures proposing constitutional ballot measures, while Missourians for Patient Care turned in petitions for a statutory measure. Next, the secretary of state will review the signatures to see if enough are valid for the measures to make Missouri’s November ballot.

Turning back to the legislature, HB 1554 would improve Missouri’s existing low-THC cannabis oil law, but it is extremely limited and flawed. If you are a Missouri resident and would like to weigh in on the measure, please urge your senator to push for the bill to be strengthened.

HB 1554 leaves behind pain patients, steering them to more dangerous opioids. It also doesn’t allow “combustible” marijuana or for patients to be assisted by caregivers. Furthermore, patients can’t qualify unless a physician certifies they would benefit from medical cannabis “at the same dosage and with the same method of smokeless administration used in a clinical trial.” Yet, the feds have stacked the deck against clinical trials, and there are very few with non-smoked cannabis. This catch-22 could deny patients the kind of cannabis they’d benefit from.

Please stay tuned for updates, and share this news with your networks in Missouri.

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Medical Marijuana

Georgia Governor Signs Bill Expanding Low-THC Cannabis Oil Program

May 8th, 2018 4 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Yesterday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a bill that will significantly expand the number of patients who qualify for the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oils. Beginning on July 1, HB 65 will allow patients with intractable pain and adults with PTSD to qualify for the program, which allows registered patients to possess cannabis oils with no more than 5% THC content.

Georgia’s most passionate legislative champion of medical cannabis — Rep. Allen Peake (R) — sponsored both HB 65 and another bill — HB 645 — which would have allowed in-state production of cannabis oils. Currently, registered patients have nowhere to legally purchase cannabis oils in Georgia. Unfortunately, HB 645 didn’t receive a floor vote. However, HB 65 includes a study commission on in-state access to cannabis. Seriously ill patients who are already granted the ability to possess cannabis products clearly need a way to obtain them without sidestepping the law.

This is Rep. Peake’s last year in the legislature; he announced in February that he will not run for re-election. His leadership will be missed in the capital!

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Medical Marijuana, Research

MPP’s West Virginia Primary Voter Guide

May 7th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

2018 was a frustrating year for marijuana policy in the West Virginia Legislature, with the Senate’s excellent version of a medical marijuana improvement bill never getting a House vote, and other reforms stalling. Fortunately, it is now election season, and candidates all over the state have been talking to voters about marijuana policy. The primary election will take place on Tuesday, May 8.

Before you go to the polls tomorrow, please take time to review MPP’s voter guide for the West Virginia primary election. After sending surveys to all candidates for state House of Delegates and state Senate and compiling their responses, we now have quite a bit of information available on candidates. The voter guide also includes votes cast by incumbent legislators and any available public statements.

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Legislature Approves On-Site Consumption Lounges

May 4th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

House Bill 1258 passed both houses of the Colorado General Assembly and is now heading to the governor’s desk. If signed, the bill would allow approved retail cannabis stores to open a tasting room where on-site cannabis consumption is allowed.

This is yet another big step forward in a state that has long been a leader in cannabis policy. If the bill becomes law, customers could purchase concentrates for vaping on site, along with edible marijuana products. Visitors to the shops would not be allowed to bring their own cannabis products, consume whole-plant cannabis, or smoke on site.

Although Colorado voters ended cannabis prohibition in 2012, restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed have been a burden, particularly for visitors to the state and people living in public housing. While purchases are allowed, there are few options for those who are unable to consume at a private residence. HB 1258 offers a solution by establishing regulated locations where adults can gather and consume without fear of breaking local or state law.

Many responsible marijuana consumers in Colorado believe they should be able to meet in a social setting, no different than those who enjoy a beer with friends at a public place.

If you are a Colorado resident, please ask Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign HB 1258 without delay.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research

May 3rd, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The University of Utah Health and the University of California San Diego recently announced separate plans to begin new phases of research on medical marijuana. In Utah, the study will focus on the individual effects of cannabinoids on brain processes, while UC San Diego researchers will probe possible treatments for autism with marijuana. Both projects have been made possible by grants from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The University of Utah Health received $740,000 to support innovative brain-imaging research, which will analyze how various cannabinoids affect cognition, stress, and pain. The study will involve 40 healthy young adults and seek to understand the causal mechanisms through which cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain.

“Deciphering the personalized effects of CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] will have a profound impact on how various cannabinoids may best be used for medical treatments,” said Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD, chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and the study’s co-principal investigator.

With the support of a $4.7 million gift — the largest amount ever donated for medical marijuana research in the United States — the University of California San Diego will study the effects of CBD on autism. This research, the first of its kind, will investigate how CBD might correct neurochemical imbalances in individuals with autism, a condition that impacts an estimated 1 in 68 children born today.

“There are unconfirmed reports that cannabidiol could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefits or its safety,” commented Igor Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if cannabidiol holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.”

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Legislature Overrides Marijuana Regulation Bill Veto

May 2nd, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Today, the Maine House and Senate overrode Gov. LePage’s veto of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee’s bill that establishes a regulatory framework for marijuana sales.

LD 1719 creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments and sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana. The bill does not implement the portion of the voter-approved initiative that calls for social consumption lounges.

While the bill was by no means perfect, we are glad that the state is moving forward with implementation, and soon there will be a legal way for adults to purchase marijuana.

Here is the link to LD 1719 if you are interested in reading the full text of the bill.

We are disappointed that social clubs were removed from the law and that adults may now only cultivate three plants at home instead of six. We will be working with the next legislature and governor to improve upon the work the legislature has accomplished. To that end, we have sent a survey to the candidates running for governor, asking if they will make implementation a priority once elected. Stay tuned for the results of the survey before the June primary election.

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