Two-thirds of Americans now live in states with compassionate laws that allow the medical use of marijuana. Meanwhile, Tennessee patients are stuck with the cruel choice of forgoing a medicine that could bring them relief, uprooting from their home state, or breaking the law to ease their suffering.
Last week, Republican lawmakers introduced twin bills that would finally allow medical cannabis in the Volunteer State. Sen. Janice Bowling and Rep. Ron Travis' Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act would provide relief to patients with around 20 medical conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, seizures, spasms, opioid addiction, and PTSD.
Unfortunately, Gov. Bill Lee (R) said he wants to "explore alternatives before we go there."
You can call Gov. Lee at 615-741-2001 or send him a tweet to respectfully let him know that patients have explored alternatives, but that medical cannabis simply works for some patients where other medicines do not. You can let him know cannabis is far safer than prescription painkillers. While 16,000 Americans die each year from opiates, none have died of a cannabis overdose.
Let your governor know Tennessee patients deserve the same medical freedom patients have in 32 other states.
And don't forget to write your lawmakers. Finally, please spread the word to other Tennesseans, so that they, too, can raise their voices for sensible and humane cannabis policies.
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.
New Approach South Dakota submitted nearly 15,000 signatures to the Secretary of State with hopes of adding a medical marijuana measure to the 2018 ballot.
South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said the review of the submitted measure would likely be finished within four months. Her office conducts a random sampling of the signatures to determine validity, with at least 5% of the collected signatures being reviewed.
The medical marijuana measure that was submitted for signature validation would allow patients with certain conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic debilitating pain, and PTSD to obtain a registration card to possess up to three ounces of marijuana.
To read the full text of New Approach South Dakota’s proposed medial marijuana ballot initiative, check our their website. We are hopeful that the initiative will qualify for the 2018 ballot and that South Dakotans will have the opportunity to adopt a compassionate policy for medical marijuana patients.
The West Virginia medical cannabis bill officially took effect on Wednesday. Unfortunately, however, most or all patients will not be able to benefit from the law until July 1, 2019, unless something changes.
The law would allow the regulatory agency to make agreements with other states to allow terminally ill cancer patients to buy medical cannabis in another state, but it is not clear yet if that will happen.
For details on how the law will work, including who can qualify for the program, check out our summary.
On a positive note, the members of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board were announced last week, and the first meetings are expected to be scheduled soon. The Advisory Board is important because it will provide an opportunity to discuss improvements to the policy.
Oklahoma will vote on medical marijuana in 2018! The Oklahoma Secretary of State has certified Question 788 for the ballot, meaning Oklahomans will finally have the opportunity to vote on medical marijuana in November of next year. After collecting enough signatures to qualify for the 2016 election, the group Oklahomans for Health faced legal difficulties when the state's attorney general took issue with the ballot summary of the new law.
After a hard-fought legal battle, Oklahomans for Health has come out on top, ensuring that the question will appear on the ballot in next year's election. Seventy-one percent of Oklahomans believe that marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. There are a multitude of studies that show that medical marijuana can help patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other devastating conditions. These patients should not have to wait any longer or risk jail time to access treatments that may help them. Mark your calendar for November 6, 2018, then forward this message to let your friends and family know about this important development.
The Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee introduced a bill to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in the state. The bill already received unanimous support by a subcommittee at a hearing last week, and may receive a full Senate vote as early as this week.
The bill would allow patients suffering from cancer, PTSD, intractable pain, and a host of other aliments access to this life-saving treatment option if their doctors certify them for the program. The bill would not allow patients to smoke cannabis, but patients could still vaporize or consume their medicine in other forms. You can read more about the bill here.
The Iowa legislative session is almost over for the year, so in order to pass this bill, your lawmakers need to hear from you. If you are an Iowa resident, please contact your legislators.
A proposal to make Kansas the 29th medical marijuana state has been introduced by Senator David Haley (D-Kansas City), and it’s supported by local advocacy group Bleeding Kansas. SB 155, the Kansas Safe Access Act, would allow seriously ill Kansas residents with certain qualifying conditions to access medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
Sixty-eight percent of Kansans believe that marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. There are a multitude of studies that show that medical marijuana can help patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other devastating conditions. These patients should not have to wait any longer or risk jail time to access treatments that may help them.
If you are a Kansas resident, please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support this sensible legislation.
The National Academies of Sciences released a report on the health impacts of marijuana Thursday, confirming the existence of medical benefits and dispelling some long-held myths about the substance.
The review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts found, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective” for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity.
The report also dispels several myths about the health impacts of marijuana. It found no links between smoking marijuana and the development of lung, head, or neck cancers, nor did it establish a link between marijuana use and asthma or other respiratory diseases. The respiratory problems that it did link to smoking marijuana, such as bronchitis, appear to improve after the consumer ceases their use.
According to the report, “There is no or insufficient evidence” linking marijuana use to all-cause mortality (death), deaths from overdose, or occupational accidents or injuries. It also found no substantial evidence of a link between the use of marijuana and the use of other illegal drugs. The report also does not appear to make any links between marijuana use and violent or aggressive behavior. Several of these findings were also included in the National Academies of Sciences’ previous report on marijuana, which was released in 1999.
The first dispensary in Florida to offer low-THC medical marijuana products is expected to open in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Unfortunately, there are still huge flaws in Florida’s law. Dispensaries may be opening up, but for most patients, the doors are still shut.
First, only low-THC marijuana will be available, and only patients with cancer, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms will qualify, leaving many patients behind. Although cannabis with more THC will eventually be available, it will only be for terminally ill patients.
Second, doctors are required to “order” a specific amount of cannabis, which is perilously close to prescribing it. This puts doctors at risk of violating federal law, and we expect that it will be very difficult for patients to find doctors willing to take this risk, which is why MPP does not classify Florida as a true medical marijuana state.
The best way to fix these problems is to support United for Care’s efforts to pass Amendment 2, which would create an effective medical program for Florida.
New Approach South Dakota (NASD) is collecting signatures for a proposal to make medical marijuana legal! This ballot initiative will appear on the 2016 ballot if supporters can collect enough signatures by November 9. That’s only a week away!
To help get the measure past the finish line, contact NASD’s Melissa Mentele at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the proposal appears on the 2016 ballot and is approved by the voters, it would:
-- Legalize the medical use of marijuana for patients with a medical practitioner’s certification and one of several listed conditions, including cancer, AIDS/HIV, seizure disorders, PTSD, and severe pain;
-- Allow patients and their caregivers to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and grow six plants;
-- Create a licensing system to provide patients with safe access to medical cannabis, allow businesses to process, dispense, and test medical cannabis products; and
-- Prohibit public smoking and driving under the influence of marijuana.
The full measure can be viewed here. Support for compassionate medical marijuana policy is an urgent matter for some South Dakotans. We encourage residents to contact NASD to ask how you can help support the initiative.