On Friday afternoon, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed HB 364, the bill that would allow registered patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of cannabis at home. This is a very disappointing development, but it's possible that the House and Senate can be persuaded to pass the bill into law despite the governor's veto.
In order to override the veto, two-thirds majorities will be necessary in both the House and Senate. The House has voted by more than two-thirds to support home cultivation bills on several occasions in the past, and the Senate voted 14-10 in support of HB 364 on May 2. This means two additional votes will be needed in order to reach two-thirds in the Senate.
If you have a personal story to share with legislators about how allowing home cultivation would make a positive difference in your life or the life of a patient you know, please include that in your emails to legislators. If you're comfortable having your story shared with legislators or the public, please send details to me at email@example.com.
After you email your representatives and senator, please share this important update with your friends and family!
Yesterday, after a series of delays, the medical cannabis home cultivation bill was finally delivered to Gov. Chris Sununu's desk. That means the governor will have until Saturday to sign or veto HB 364, which would allow registered patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of cannabis at home. If he takes no action, the bill will become law without his signature.
After you call Gov. Sununu, please share this important update with your friends and family!
In four of the last five years, the N.H. House has passed bills that would have allowed patients and caregivers to grow a limited supply of cannabis. Sadly, these bills have all failed to pass the Senate. Instead, all four were referred to so-called “interim study” and then completely ignored.
This year, it appears that a home cultivation bill may finally have a good chance of passing the Senate. HB 364, which has already passed the House in a voice vote, is currently being considered by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The committee appears likely to vote on the bill next Tuesday.
For the sake of patients who are still struggling because of limited access to cannabis, please contact your senator right now and urge him or her to support HB 364!
If you are a patient who would personally benefit from this bill’s passage, or you are a friend or family member of a patient, please email all five members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and share your story.
As amended by the House, HB 364 would allow possession of three mature plants, three immature plants, and 12 seedlings for each patient. The 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.
After you contact your senator in support of the home cultivation bill, please share this message with your family and friends.
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.
The 2018 legislative session is underway in West Virginia, and several bills have already been introduced to make the medical cannabis program more workable and accessible for patients.
The two most important bills that have been introduced so far are HB 4147 and HB 4149. HB 4147 would require the state to begin issuing ID cards to qualified patients and caregivers in July of this year instead of waiting until July 2019. HB 4149 would allow patients to purchase cannabis flowers from dispensaries, rather than limiting patients to more expensive extracts.
Patients and caregivers can begin enrolling in Arkansas’ medical marijuana program now, although cards will not be available for some time.
If you are a qualifying patient, you can go to the Arkansas Department of Health website and enroll online, or you can mail in your application. Patients must submit a written certification form filled out by a physician, a photocopy of their Arkansas state-issued ID, and a nonrefundable $50 application fee. Caregivers must also undergo a $34 criminal history check. Note that due to an amendment to the program by the Legislature, members of the Arkansas National Guard and the U.S. military are not permitted to enroll in the program as either patients or caregivers.
While patients can apply for program enrollment now, their ID cards will not be issued until 30 days before medical cannabis actually becomes available from dispensaries for purchase. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission estimates that dispensaries should be open by the end of the year or early 2018. You can learn more about the dispensary application process here.
The Louisiana Legislature continues to repeat its mistakes. For nearly 40 years, flawed legislative drafting has prevented the establishment of a workable medical marijuana program. Yesterday, the House took another step forward by passing S.B. 180, but it failed to fix a key omission.
Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law S.B. 271, legislation intended to fix a poison pill so Louisiana can establish a medical marijuana program (you can read about it here). However, that law did not amend the criminal statutes, meaning the program would provide medical marijuana to seriously ill patients but allow for their prosecution.
S.B. 180, Sen. Frank Mills’ companion bill, seeks to close this loophole and does so for patients and caregivers. Unfortunately, the House did not even consider amending the bill to also shield growers, pharmacies, or their workers from criminal liability. While a court could find legal protections implicit for licensees, the omission could jeopardize the entire program.
S.B. 180 is now before the Senate for a concurrence.
When this session ends, Louisiana will be significantly closer to offering relief to seriously ill patients. The regulatory and licensing process will take many months, and final fixes can be made next session if they are needed. Meanwhile, the state can move to lay the structure for the program.
The clock ran out on Maryland legislators last night. A bill to give medical marijuana caregivers an affirmative defense against charges of possession was collateral damage as legislators spent the evening trying and failing to reach a budget compromise. It wasn’t a total loss though — two good bills did pass. Here’s MPP’s summary of marijuana policy reform developments in the 2012 session of Maryland’s General Assembly.
The two bills that passed are SB 422 and SB 350. The former requires charging certain minor offenses, including marijuana possession, by citation, meaning marijuana users can be arrested (though it’s not required) but won’t be spending the night or the weekend in jail. The latter reduces the maximum penalty for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana from one year in jail to 90 days and the maximum fine from $1,000 to $500. Here again is the full summary.
In a great show of respect for the will of the voters in Montana, Gov. Schweitzer vetoed H.B. 161, the bill that would have repealed Montana’s medical marijuana law. That law, which was approved by a large majority of voters in 2004, has come under criticism lately, and overzealous lawmakers are doing everything they can to gut or eliminate the program.
While this is a wonderful sign of support from the governor, medical marijuana patients and businesses are still at risk. The legislature is currently considering another bill that would seriously damage the ability of patients to access their medicine, and would destroy the legitimate medical marijuana industry that has emerged in Montana. S.B. 423, and especially the House version of the bill, would add to the already staggering unemployment rate in Montana and would effectively send patients back to criminal organizations to get their medicine. It would also severely limit the number of patients for whom a caregiver can grow marijuana.
Hopefully, the Senate will reject the House’s version of “repeal lite” and insist on a more compassionate proposal. Even if the Senate rejects the House’s unworkable bill, though, the Senate version was also too onerous and unworkable, especially for pain patients. Patients will likely need to rely on the governor to see the error in this bill as well, and suggest reasonable regulations for Montana’s medical marijuana industry that do not hurt patients or their caregivers.