Idaho continues to lag behind other states on marijuana policy reform — it is the only remaining state in the country that does not acknowledge any form of medical marijuana under state law. However, lawmakers this year have proposed two bills to move the state in the right direction.
Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) is cosponsoring legislation with Rep. Bryan Zollinger (R-Idaho Falls) to replace penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses involving half an ounce or less with a civil infraction and fine of $250 or eight hours of community service. Currently, possession of three ounces or less is a misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in prison.
Reps. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R-Genesee) and Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) have introduced a bill that would legalize hemp. Sen. Abby Lee (R-Fruitland) is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate. The move comes on the heels of passage of the most recent Farm Bill at the federal level, which removed hemp from Schedule I status and removes barriers to research and development of the crop. But despite the change in federal law, hemp remains classified as marijuana in Idaho. State police recently seized nearly 7,000 pounds of hemp from a truck driver traveling from Oregon to Colorado. The trucker now faces felony trafficking charges.
No bill to legalize medical marijuana has been introduced this year. Use our email tool to contact your state legislators and urge them to support the creation of a compassionate medical marijuana program. Newly-elected Gov. Brad Little recently opened the door to potentially supporting some kind of medical marijuana law.
Please get involved and contact your elected officials. Marijuana prohibition has failed in Idaho, and it's time to enact reform.
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.
Yesterday, the House and Senate granted final approval to the compromise version of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill. HB 573 will soon be printed and transmitted to the governor’s desk, and Gov. Maggie Hassan has already promised to sign it into law. The Senate approved the bill in a voice vote, with no discussion, and the House voted 284-66 in favor, also with no discussion.
Many of us have mixed feelings about the details of HB 573 (summary is available here), but we should all agree that its passage represents a major step forward for marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire. It’s unfortunate that patients will have to wait up to a year until ID cards are issued before they can receive legal protection, and it’s unfortunate that patients will not have legal access to medical marijuana until alternative treatment centers are open. However, we will strongly encourage the state health department to begin issuing ID cards and registering alternative treatment centers as soon as possible.
With Gov. Hassan’s signature, New Hampshire will become either the 19th or 20th state to pass an effective medical marijuana law. (A similar bill is awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois.) MPP will continue working on this policy until New Hampshire patients have safe, legal access to medical marijuana!
Earlier this week, I wrote about the trend in journalism to blame marijuana for the violent outbursts of murderous youth. While this unscientific blame game will probably continue in the foreseeable future, it’s nice to see that the primary target of my wrath in this instance, The New York Times, has redeemed itself.
On Wednesday, the juggernaut of journalism on the East Coast wrote an editorial urging New York’s Governor Cuomo to follow the lead of New Jersey and allow seriously ill New Yorkers to use marijuana to treat their illnesses. Coming from a publication of their size and prominence, this is a fairly significant statement, and hopefully one that will garner a lot of support for medical marijuana in the near future.
Here is the editorial in its entirety:
There is no good reason to deprive patients with cancer or H.I.V. or Lou Gehrig’s disease of the relief from pain or extreme nausea that could come from using marijuana.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who once opposed his state’s medical marijuana law, has changed his mind, deciding earlier this month to allow six alternative treatment centers to begin dispensing the drug to those in need, possibly by early next year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York needs to change his mind as well.
Governor Cuomo said during his 2010 campaign that he opposed legalization of medical marijuana. Recently, he said he was still opposed but that he was “reviewing” the issue and “we’re always learning and listening, talking and growing. We hope.” It shouldn’t take much more personal growth to make the right call.
Governor Cuomo should ask Governor Christie about how he resolved his own doubts. Mr. Christie could explain how his law is the nation’s most restrictive and how the federal Justice Department has indicated that its agents will rightly direct their energies in New Jersey to go after big-time marijuana traffickers, not doctors or alternative centers helping the desperately ill.
Under New Jersey’s law, doctors can recommend that a patient suffering from a specific disease or condition use marijuana of limited strength. Patients cannot grow their own, and they can only purchase 2 ounces every 30 days. Physicians must register to recommend the marijuana use, and patients and caregivers must undergo background checks to get ID cards.
Mr. Cuomo should champion a similar and humane system and ensure that New York’s residents coping with illness have the same chance at relief.
Good recovery, NYT. Please keep it coming!