Medical Marijuana

Iowa: Medical marijuana sales begin; reforms still needed

On Saturday, December 1, Iowa’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened to the public. MedPharm opened in Windsor and will sell low-THC oil to qualifying patients. Unfortunately, MedPharm may only sell medical marijuana oil, and the oil may not contain more than three percent THC.

While this reform is an important victory for some patients, most seriously ill Iowans will be left behind. Many patients find greater amounts of THC are crucial to the relief they need from their medical conditions, and this severely limited program does not go far enough.

Iowa patients deserve better. Please email your lawmakers and ask them to support a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Pennsylvania

Today marks an historic day in the Keystone State. Less than two years after the governor signed Act 16 into law, six dispensaries have begun selling medical marijuana to patients and caregivers. Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country, and those involved in implementation should be applauded for reaching this point ahead of schedule.

To date, 10 dispensaries and 10 grower/processors have been approved to operate. Over the next few months, we expect up to 81 dispensary locations to open across the state. More than 17,000 patients have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, with nearly 4,000 certified by a physician. As of this week, 708 physicians have registered with the department and 376 have competed the training to become certified practitioners.

However, the implementation process is not yet complete. The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is still working on its recommendations for changes to the program. This week, they met to discuss one of the most important issues — allowing patient access to medical cannabis flower. This is a vital expansion of the program that will improve patient access and lower costs. Only two states have attempted a medical program without flower, which led to disastrous results for patients. You can learn more about the importance of patient access to flower here.

If you want to learn more about becoming a registered patient, visit the DOH website.

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Medical Marijuana||Tax and Regulate

D.C. Bill Would Dramatically Expand Access to Dispensaries

In the District of Columbia, Councilmember David Grosso (I, at large) has introduced a bill, B22-0446, that would allow anyone 21 and over to access a dispensary if they provide a signed affidavit that they are using marijuana for medical purposes and are aware of state and federal marijuana laws. It is being co-sponsored by Robert White (D, at large), Brianne Nadeau (D, Ward 1), and Vincent Gray (D, Ward 7).

This bill would allow many more people to access the regulated dispensary system who are currently forced to shop in the grey market if they are unable to cultivate their own cannabis. It will increase public safety, because disputes in illicit markets are often solved with violence, and protect public health, because consumers will know what they are purchasing. The bill would also give patients a safe, lawful place to consume cannabis outside their home.

Additionally, this bill allows D.C. to move forward in expanding access to cannabis in an environment where Congress is blocking it from setting up adult-use retail stores. It gives people who cannot afford to see a doctor access to this medication and could also facilitate access for people who may be struggling with opioid addiction, for whom studies suggest marijuana can be an “exit drug.”

If you are a D.C. resident, please ask your councilmembers to support this bill.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Launches Practitioner Registration

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced important steps forward for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program — practitioners can now register online, and the department approved two options for physician training.

Under Act 16, a doctor can only issue a certification for medical marijuana after registering with the Department of Health. The law also requires the physician complete a four-hour training course. The department has approved the first two providers of training courses, The Answer Page Inc. and Extra Step Assurance LLC.

For medical marijuana programs to work, doctors need to participate. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, talk to your doctor, and take a copy of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Law: A Guide for Doctors and Patients with you for the conversation. Other materials are also available on MPP’s Pennsylvania page and our medical marijuana page.

It is unclear at this time when the department will begin accepting applications and issuing identification cards for patients and caregivers. Earlier in the summer, the department announced the first round of business permits, including 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits, which may each have up to three locations. It will take some time for the businesses to open and begin dispensing cannabis, but registered patients may have access as soon as early 2018.

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Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Governor Sign Medical Marijuana Improvements

On Thursday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed into law H.B. 1488, a bill to expand the existing medical marijuana dispensary program.

H.B. 1488 adds rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis to the list of qualifying conditions and allows patients and caregivers to access testing facilities. Patients and caregivers will be allowed to cultivate three additional plants of any maturity, for a total of 10 plants. The phasing out of caregivers’ ability to grow marijuana plants for patients has been pushed back five years, to the end of 2023.

The new law, which goes into effect on June 29, also authorizes the Department of Health to permit current licensees to open one additional dispensary — for a possible total of 24 statewide — and allows them to cultivate more plants at their production sites. It also amends certain deadlines and relaxes overly restrictive laboratory standards to accelerate implementation.

With the updated regulations, laboratories should find it easier to meet the requirements for certification. Several dispensaries are ready to start serving patients but cannot do so until they can submit their products for the required testing.

Congratulations and thank you to Gov. Ige, the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, and all of the advocates and lawmakers who made these improvements possible.

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Medical Marijuana

Patient Registry Open in Maryland

After lengthy delays, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is finally opening the patient registry in a phased rollout beginning on Monday, April 10. Please see below for the full announcement from the Commission. Dispensaries are required to be operational by December 9, 2017.

IMPORTANT NOTE: MEDICAL CANNABIS IS NOT AVAILABLE YET IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND. Pre-approved growers, processors, and dispensaries are still constructing their businesses, and depending on the date these operations commence, the Commission expects that medical cannabis will be available to qualifying patients by the end of summer 2017. The Commission will make a public announcement once medical cannabis is available to the public, and dispensary locations will be listed on the website.

This phased early rollout will allow patients time to establish a bona fide doctor-patient relationship months before any medicine is available. Open enrollment will officially begin on Monday, April 24.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Dept. Of Health Asking for Patient Input on Medical Marijuana Regulations

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has asked patients and caregivers to complete a brief survey to help gauge public interest in the medical marijuana program. The responses will be considered as part of the process of drafting medical marijuana regulations relating to patients and doctors.
The patient survey takes less than five minutes to complete and asks just 12 questions, including where you live in Pennsylvania,255px-flag_of_pennsylvania-svg what condition you seek to treat, and the types of treatments in which you are interested. You can also submit comments about the implementation process.
The Department of Health is also seeking public input from individuals interested in applying for a grower/ processor and/or dispensary permit — that survey is available here. The department is seeking to engage the community to determine both the level of interest in seeking these permits and where potential applicants intend to open these types of facilities.
Your answers to these surveys will be considered in the drafting of regulations related to doctors and patients.
MPP will continue to advocate for the strongest possible medical marijuana program for patients, but we need your help. Make sure Pennsylvania’s program includes you and your loved ones by completing the patient survey by December 14.

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Medical Marijuana

D.C. Council Passes Major Improvements to Medical Marijuana Program

On Nov. 1, the D.C. Council unanimously passed B21-0210, which includes many improvements to the medical marijuana program, such as: 1) independent laboratory testing will be required, to ensure patients know what they are purchasing; and 2) advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, dentists, and naturopathic physicians, in addition to M.D.s, will be able to recommend medical cannabis.
A few changes were made before the final vote on the bill. One of these was the adoption of Councilmember Grosso’s amendment (initially supported only by Councilmember Robert White) to make the medical marijuana industry more inclusive. Previously, all individuals with a felony conviction or a misdemeanor drug conviction were barred from the industry, disproportionately impacting African Americans, who were more likely to be arrested for drug possession than whites despite similar usage rates. Now, individuals with misdemeanor drug convictions or felony convictions for possession with intent to distribute marijuana will no longer be barred.
There are other provisions that require D.C. to implement an electronic tracking system for medical marijuana purchased in the District before they can take effect. Then, patients will be allowed to visit whichever dispensaries they choose — instead of being limited to one — and patients enrolled in another state’s medical program will be allowed to visit dispensaries in D.C.

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Medical Marijuana

Maryland Medical Marijuana Program Facing Delays

Maryland’s comprehensive medical marijuana law took effect on June 1, 2014. Over 23 months later, no patients have been registered, no ID cards have been issued, and dispensary licensees are not expected to be announced until this fall.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), the state agency in charge of establishing Maryland’s medical marijuana program, announced another delay Tuesday in implementation of the medical marijuana law enacted over two years ago.1280px-Flag_of_Maryland.svg While this delay is only a few additional months, it is the latest in a series of delays that will result in medical marijuana not being available until 41 months after the law’s enactment, giving Maryland among the slowest rollouts of a medical marijuana program in the nation.

While we appreciate that the commission is regulating an industry that is new to Maryland, this delay is unreasonable and unnecessary, and every day it continues is another day patients must suffer. Nine states were able to issue patient ID cards in less than one year, with the average being less than seven months.

Although Maryland law requires patients to obtain medical marijuana from a medical dispensary, an ID card would help patients use the existing affirmative defense, protecting them if they are arrested with their medicine. Please ask the commission to issue ID cards NOW and to make sure there are no more delays in getting patients the medicine they need.

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Medical Marijuana

Delaware to Increase Patient Access Next Year

On December 2, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services issued a request for proposals for two new medical marijuana compassion centers, one in Sussex and another in Kent County. The announcement comes six months after the state’s first center opened in Wilmington in June. The new dispensaries are scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.Delaware-Department-of-Human-Services-Logo

The addition of two centers will help to better meet the needs of Delaware patients and will reduce the distances they have to travel. Currently, one dispensary serves the more than 700 patients and caregivers who have registered in the state since the program began. Under existing restrictions, a compassion center can only have up to 2,000 ounces of usable inventory at a time. Unfortunately, patients and caregivers are not allowed to cultivate their own medicine, so increasing the number of dispensaries is vital to ensuring safe, reliable access.

Proposals will be accepted until 11:00 a.m. on March 30, 2016.

A mandatory pre-bid meeting will be held on February 1 at the Delaware Division of Public Health, Jesse Cooper Building, Third Floor Conference Room in Dover. Applicants must preregister at (302) 744-4862.

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