Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana initiative filed in Mississippi

July 31st, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, Mississippians for Compassionate Care filed an initiative with the Secretary of State’s office that would make medical marijuana legal in Mississippi. The group is aiming to bring an amendment to the state constitution to voters in 2020. The first step to getting it on the ballot is to collect over 100,000 signatures from all over the state. You can read the proposed amendment here.

The signature collection is a huge undertaking and the campaign will need lots of volunteers to circulate petitions in their area. If you are a Mississippi resident who is willing to help collect signatures, please email the signature collection coordinator: JB Brown.

For more information on the campaign or to get involved, please go to www.medicalmarijuana2020.com. It’s time for patients suffering in Mississippi to have access to medical marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana

Oklahoma medical cannabis law takes effect; revisions to problematic regs proposed

July 27th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, the penalty-reduction piece of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana initiative became operational. Individuals possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis face a reduced penalty — a misdemeanor fine of up to $400 — if they “can state a medical condition.”

Meanwhile, regulators made application materials available online for patients and caregivers, along with information for businesses and physicians. It will begin accepting applications on August 25.

In another encouraging development, regulators released proposed revisions to many of the problematic final regulations. The Board of Health will meet on August 1 at 3:00 p.m. to consider them.

Draft revisions (summarized here) would make several welcome changes, including:

• Removing the ban on selling smokeable cannabis and edibles;
• Removing the THC cap;
• Removing the requirement that pharmacists dispense cannabis;
• Making the physician registration optional;
• Removing the requirement that doctors subject all “females of childbearing age” to a pregnancy test before recommending cannabis; and
• Removing the limitation on hours of operation, which banned Sunday sales.

However, we still have some concerns, including that:

• Patients who are tenants must obtain their landlords’ written permission to cultivate. Given federal law, even landlords who are open to cultivation may be unwilling to assent in writing.
• Physicians must to “ascertain” if a female is pregnant or likely to become pregnant before recommending cannabis. This strong language may essentially require pregnancy tests for many women, which is patronizing and invasive and drives up costs.
• Physicians must provide an in-person medical exam within 30 days of the certification. Oklahoma allows telemedicine for most medications.

Comments can be submitted to [email protected].

These proposed revisions follow a lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma ACLU on behalf of advocates, and advice from Attorney General Mike Hunter that some regulations exceeded the department’s authority.

If you live in Oklahoma, please speak out and spread the word. Congratulations again to everyone who worked to pass SQ 788!

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Tax and Regulate

Vermont: Primary election voter guide published

July 27th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Early voting is already underway for the Vermont state primary election, which is scheduled for Tuesday, August 14.

This year, we sent candidates a survey consisting of only one question: “Do you support regulating and taxing the production and sale of cannabis in Vermont for use by adults 21 and older?”

Our voter guides include responses from candidates for state representative, state senator, and governor, in addition to public statements and incumbent legislators’ votes on the legalization bill. If a candidate in your district has not responded to the survey, we encourage you to reach out to them directly and ask their position!

For information on where and how to vote in Vermont, click here.

If you are a Vermont resident, please take time to read our voter guide for state legislative races and our gubernatorial voter guide before you vote in the August 14 primary. Then, please share the voter guides with your family and friends!

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Medical Marijuana

Maine Legislature overrides Gov. LePage on medical marijuana reform

July 26th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Earlier this month, the Maine Legislature overrode Gov. LePage’s vetoes of LD 238 and LD 1539, bills to improve Maine’s medical marijuana program. LD 238 allows for third-party extraction of medical marijuana. LD 1539 is the culmination of the Health and Human Services Committee’s session-long work reforming the medical marijuana program.

The bipartisan omnibus reform bill:

  • removes the qualifying condition list so that any Mainer can use medical marijuana so long as their doctor thinks it would be helpful for them;
  • eliminates the requirement that a patient must designate a caregiver or dispensary as their sole provider, allowing for more patient choice;
  • adds two more dispensaries to the existing eight dispensaries and removes the cap on the dispensaries after January 1, 2021;
  • allows for caregivers to open storefronts, if the town approves; and
  • much more…you can read a summary of the changes here.

These reforms are a win for the patients and the industry, and a hearty “Congratulations!” is in order for everyone that worked hard to make this happen.

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Tax and Regulate

N.J. hits pause on low-level marijuana prosecutions

July 25th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

It was a confusing news cycle, with Jersey City’s municipal prosecutor, Jake Hudnut, releasing a memo effectively decriminalizing marijuana locally and state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal declaring that action invalid. Now, AG Grewal has told all prosecutors to “adjourn” (postpone) marijuana prosecutions in municipal court until at least September 4, when his office will issue new guidance.

Hopefully, the state will legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana prior to that, and people with pending cases will never be prosecuted. If you are a New Jersey resident, your lawmakers need to hear from you! Please click here to ask them to end New Jersey’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition today, before one more person is branded with a criminal conviction for choosing to use a substance safer than alcohol.

In other good news, Asm. Jamel Holley announced plans to propose amendments to improve upon Sen. Nick Scutari’s bill to tax and regulate marijuana, such as making it easier to expunge prior marijuana convictions. We hope the final bill will also include small business opportunities and provisions that ensure that people harmed by prohibition have an opportunity to participate in all aspects of the industry.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

New Jersey announces it’s doubling the number of medical marijuana businesses

July 16th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Good news! Today, the New Jersey Department of Health announced that it will begin accepting applications for six additional businesses that can grow, process, and sell medical cannabis in the state. The winning businesses are supposed to be announced on November 1. Unfortunately, there is no provision yet for equity applicants, although applicants may be awarded up to 50 (out of 1,000) points for diversity.

With the tiny number of existing businesses, patients have experienced supply shortages and high prices due to a lack of competition. Today’s expansion should help begin to address these problems, although more will need to be done. Separating the licenses for growing, processing, and selling cannabis will help make many more types of products available to patients, and the health department plans to consider additional applications for these licenses beginning in the fall.

In other news, while the June 30 budget deadline came and went without legislative action on any of the pending marijuana bills, Senate President Steve Sweeny has said he believes there could be a vote on legalizing and regulating this summer.

If you are a New Jersey resident, click here to ask for your lawmakers’ support.

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Medical Marijuana

Oklahoma Board of Health restricts voters’ marijuana law

July 11th, 2018 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On June 26, 57% of Oklahoma voters approved SQ 788 — a broad medical marijuana initiative that required swift implementation.

The Department of Health had been working for three months on regulations in case the initiative passed and swiftly released draft emergency regulations. MPP and many other advocates and patients submitted comments raising concerns, flagging several regulations that included onerous restrictions inconsistent with SQ 788.

Unfortunately, yesterday the Board of Health met to consider those regulations and approved almost all of the regulations we expressed concern about. They also added new restrictions — such as prohibiting the sale of smokeable cannabis.

The rules:

• Prohibit cannabis from being sold with more than 12% THC in infused products and prohibit plants from exceeding 20% THC.
• Prohibit dispensaries from selling smokeable, flower cannabis, and edible cannabis.
• Require each dispensary to have a pharmacist on staff.
• Require physicians to register before making recommendations, complete medical cannabis-specific training, and screen patients for substance abuse, mental health issues, and whether the patient presents a risk for diversion.
• Require physicians to perform a pregnancy test on “females of childbearing years” before recommending cannabis.

These restrictions will deprive some patients of the medicine that works best for them, while driving up costs and driving down doctor participation.

Advocates are considering next steps, including possible litigation. Stay tuned for updates. Also, we want to express our hearty congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to pass SQ 788!

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota patients with autism and sleep apnea now qualify for medical cannabis

July 10th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Last November, the Minnesota Department of Health approved adding autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea as qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program. Under state law, the additions take effect the following summer.

Starting on July 1, 2018, patients with a doctor’s certification and either of those conditions could begin registering for the program. They can start accessing medical cannabis no sooner than August 1. Our allies at Sensible Minnesota offer one-on-one assistance to patients who need help navigating the process. Learn more here.

Congratulations to Sensible Minnesota and to all the advocates and health professionals who were involved in petitioning to expand the program!

Sensible Minnesota is now working on petitions to expand the program to include opioid use disorder, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, and insomnia.

If you are a Minnesota medical professional who might be willing to add your voice to the petition, contact Sensible Minnesota at 952-529-4420 or by email.

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Medical Marijuana

Hawaii governor considering medical cannabis/opioid bill

July 6th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Earlier this year, the Hawaii Legislature overwhelmingly approved SB 2407, which would allow opioid and substance use disorders, and their symptoms, to be treated with medical cannabis if a physician recommends it. But last week, Gov. David Ige announced he intends to veto this compassionate bill.

Medical cannabis can ease the devastating symptoms of opiate withdrawal and make it easier for individuals to stay on treatment regimens. For some, this is an issue of life or death.

The governor has until July 10 to act on the bill. If you are a resident of Hawaii, please call Gov. Ige at 808-586-0034 or send him an email to urge him to reconsider. We’ve provided some talking points and a draft email message to make the process easy.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island legislative session ends…and the election season begins

July 5th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

The 2018 Rhode Island legislative session recently came to a disappointing close. By extending its unproductive marijuana study commission into next year and failing to expand the number of medical marijuana compassion centers, the General Assembly has once again ignored the overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders who support sensible marijuana policy reform.

If you are a Rhode Island resident…

The best way to make your voice heard now is to become active in local elections. When candidates hear from voters about an issue on the campaign trail, they’re far more likely to take action when elected.

If you see a campaign event happening in your district, attend and ask candidates if they will push for legislation to legalize marijuana. Make sure they know that your support for them depends, in part, on their support for ending the senseless policy of marijuana prohibition.

During the 2019 legislative session, MPP plans to launch a robust legalization effort in Rhode Island. Getting involved in local elections is the most effective way for you to help us lay the groundwork for victory next year.

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