Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana initiative filed in Mississippi

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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Research

Farm Bill Passes House, Hemp Amendment Stays Intact

Jul 12, 2013 Kate Zawidzki

amendment, farm bill, hemp, James Comer, Jared Polis, Kentucky, Research

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a revised version of the highly contested Farm Bill yesterday. Although representatives re-crafted the bill to remove provisions for food stamp funding, they left a hemp amendment intact.

The amendment would change federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes in states where hemp cultivation and production is permitted by state law. The bill must still pass the Senate before final approval.

[caption id="attachment_6722" align="alignright" width="173"]James Comer James Comer[/caption]

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Kentucky expressed their support for the amendment. Comer said, “Without a doubt, this was an historic day for industrial hemp in America.”

The bill narrowly passed on a 216-208 vote.

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Medical Marijuana

Tell Congress to Stop Federal Interference with Medical Marijuana States

An amendment to the 2013 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill in the U.S. House that would effectively end federal interference in medical marijuana states is being considered today, and we need your help!

The Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr-McClintock Amendment would stop federal agencies from spending any funds to target individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. This would include patients and providers, so long as those providers were following the law within their respective states.

If this passes, providers will no longer have to live in fear that the businesses they worked hard to build and keep in compliance with their state and local laws will be arbitrarily raided and destroyed by federal agents. Patients will no longer be forced to buy inferior medicine from dangerous criminals at the whim of U.S. attorneys. States will finally be free to determine the marijuana policies that work best for the seriously ill among their residents.

We need your help to make this happen. Please follow this link and call your member of Congress TODAY! Tell them that they need to support this amendment and make the federal government stop wasting its time and resources on medical marijuana.

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Prohibition

Senators Hutchison and Coburn: Double Standard on States’ Rights

If you’ve been following news in the drug policy world, you know that Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) is sponsoring the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. The bill would create a blue-ribbon panel that, according to Webb, would “take the long-overdue step of undertaking a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, producing recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice at every step of the criminal justice system.” Among the many reasons Webb feels the commission is needed, “the number of incarcerated drug offenders has soared 1200% since 1980.” Sounds sensible enough, right?

Last night, the U.S. Senate narrowly shot down an amendment that would have established such a commission. Why? States’ rights of course.

“We are absolutely ignoring the Constitution if we do this,” said noted drug warrior Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). “We have no role … to involve ourselves in the criminal court system or the penal system in my state or any other state.”

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was even more incredulous: “This is the most massive encroachment on states' rights I have ever seen in this body,” she said.

Never mind that the bill wouldn’t actually change any state laws; it would only establish a commission to review policies and make non-binding recommendations. At this point, you might be curious how these senators feel about the Department of Justice threatening to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries in California. So was I, so I called their offices.

“Given the senator’s strong support for states’ rights, where does s/he stand on the Department of Justice threatening to close medical marijuana dispensaries in California, even though medical marijuana is legal under state law,” I asked, after repeating each senator’s quotes above.  Not surprisingly, each time I was transferred around a couple times, given a “no comment,” and told to leave a voicemail that’ll almost certainly never be returned. Before Sen. Coburn’s office sent me to voicemail purgatory, I did get one staffer to mutter “um … well … he um … he’s opposed to medical … er, I’m not sure.”

Anyone else reminded of the Robot on Lost in Space: “does not compute?”

We will of course update this if we get any sort of official response. In the mean time, maybe you’ll have better luck than me. If you live in Texas, you can ask Sen. Hutchison again by calling 202-224-5922. If you’re reading this from Oklahoma, Sen. Coburn’s office number is 202-224-5754.

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Medical Marijuana

Obama’s New Tactic Against Medical Marijuana Patients: Suspend Free Speech

In the latest move of the Obama Administration’s incomprehensible attack on medical marijuana, U.S. attorneys announced today that they will begin to prosecute media outlets that publish advertisements for medical marijuana! It seems that when it comes to medical marijuana users, or the states in which they live for that matter, the Bill of Rights means practically nothing.

First, there was the memo released by the ATF this month warning firearms dealers that it was against the law to sell guns or ammunition to medical marijuana patients, effectively eliminating the Second Amendment rights of hundreds of thousands of patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. Then on Friday, when the U.S. attorneys from California unveiled their intent to shut down the medical marijuana industry and drive patients into the hands of gangs and other illicit dealers, they said that one of their core tactics was to intimidate landlords and property owners who rent to dispensaries by threatening them with seizure of their assets. While this may not be a direct violation of the law (unfortunately), it certainly treads on the spirit of the Fourth Amendment’s protections of life, liberty, and property. Now, those same attorneys are stomping on the First Amendment as well.

The actions of the Department of Justice are simply baffling.

In its vain and misguided attempt to stymie medical marijuana and stop the reform movement from making any further policy gains, the DOJ is basically trying to shut down two industries that make money, employ many people throughout California, and earn tax revenue for a state in a disastrous economic situation. Neither of these moves makes any sense. Shutting down the medical marijuana industry is not going to stop marijuana production. Denying them the ability to advertise by prosecuting those who publish the ads will not stop marijuana distributors from making a profit. It will, however, be disastrous for the publishing industry. Both the medical marijuana and publishing industries provide much-needed jobs and revenue to California. These methods are quite simply poor tools to accomplish an illegitimate goal. The fact that the media, which has the ability to sway public opinion against the administration, is being targeted seems particularly stupid.

Now, there are of course justifiable reasons for not allowing advertisement for some illegal activity. It is interesting to note, however, that pharmaceutical companies that sell drugs for billions in profits (the very reason the DOJ claims the marijuana industry is so evil) are allowed to advertise freely in all mediums.

Constitutional and federal law aside, it is morbidly fascinating from a philosophical standpoint that the administration is subverting the right to use marijuana to treat one’s illness by attacking two other, more deeply-held rights. After all, it certainly seems that more Americans care about free speech and property rights than they do about bodily autonomy. Will this policy end up being counterproductive to the stated goals of the administration?

Probably. Just like every facet of prohibition, it is pretty much doomed to failure in the long run.

If you’d like to tell the president how you feel about this, please go here or call (202) 456-1111.

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Medical Marijuana

Victory Within Grasp in Delaware!

Thrilling news! Yesterday, the Delaware House passed SB 17, in a 27-14 vote. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence on House amendments before heading to the desk of Governor Jack Markell.

MPP’s Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies, and Noah Mamber, legislative analyst for Delaware, were in Dover to assist with the floor debate. Several patients joined them.

SB 17, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington), would allow the compassionate use of medical marijuana for chronically ill Delaware patients with their doctors’ recommendations. It would include tightly regulated, extremely limited distribution of medical marijuana by licensing three not-for-profit compassion centers, one in each of the Delaware counties.

This is a significant triumph for seriously ill patients in Delaware, and we couldn’t have done it without your support. Thanks so much to all of the committed Delaware patients, health care professionals, and activists who took the time to call and write their legislators in support of the bill. With any luck, we’ll be posting again soon to announce that Delaware has officially become the 16th medical marijuana state!

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Medical Marijuana

Montana Governor “Disgusted” With Legislature

Governor Brian Schweitzer stood up for the voters, medical marijuana patients, and their caregivers Wednesday when he declared his intent to issue an amendatory veto for SB 423. This bill would have drastically hindered the ability of seriously ill patients to become qualified for the program and would have eliminated the bustling legitimate medical marijuana industry, forcing patients to grow their own or resort to the illicit market. Schweitzer said he will send the bill back with amendments that allow strictly licensed commercial growing and distribution, as well as protect the privacy of patients.

The governor stated that the bill, as written and passed by the House and Senate, is unconstitutional. He also expressed disappointment in the legislature for wasting nearly the entire session trying to thwart the will of Montana voters by passing bills that are nothing but repeal in disguise.

From Missoulian:

Schweitzer said he doesn't believe the bill will survive a legal challenge.

"I'm kind of disgusted right now," he said...

… Schweitzer criticized the Legislature for managing to "squander away" most of the 90-day legislative session before sending him the bill. He said lawmakers already know it's unconstitutional, which is why they put a "severability clause" in it, saying if a court strikes down part of the bill, the rest stands. Severability clauses are common in complex bills.

"Why don't you just pass something that works, that's constitutional and that can survive the test of time?" he asked.

If the legislature does not transmit the bill in time for an amendatory veto, Gov. Schweitzer will be forced to either veto it outright or allow it to become law. From his statements, it’s not hard to guess which way he’s leaning.

In addition, it appears that the governor of Montana did not overreact to recent statements from U.S. Attorneys in Washington that the federal government could prosecute medical marijuana businesses and state employees involved in licensing them. Unlike Gov. Gregoire, he probably looked at the absence of such prosecutions in states like Rhode Island, Maine, Colorado, and New Mexico, all of which have state-licensed dispensaries. Just because the Department of Justice says they can go after marijuana businesses does not mean that they will, and the experiences of these states suggest that they are not likely to do so, particularly in states that have clear regulations allowing dispensaries.

Let’s all reach out and thank Governor Schweitzer for treating medical marijuana in a rational, principled, and compassionate manner. If he keeps standing up for the will of the people of Montana, his re-election is “guar-an-dang-teed!”

[caption id="attachment_4007" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer breaks out the "veto brand" on bad bills. - Associated Press photo"][/caption]

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