All four of the medical marijuana initiatives being considered by states on Election Night were approved by voters, adding to the considerable momentum of marijuana policy reform sweeping the country. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved initiatives for new medical marijuana programs, and Montana voted to significantly expand access and improve its existing program.
As of now, there are effective medical marijuana laws on the books in 28 states and the District of Columbia, covering 198 million Americans (or roughly 62% of the population). Patients in states without legal, safe, and reliable access to medical marijuana should continue to put pressure on their elected representatives to pass sensible reforms at the state and federal level. Together, we can make sure the seriously ill aren't treated like criminals for much longer.
In response to the recent decision by the DEA not to move marijuana out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, MPP's Rob Kampia offered the following analysis of the situation, and what the best course of action would be:
In the wake of the DEA’s decision against rescheduling marijuana, the super-majority of the American people who support legalizing medical marijuana might properly wonder, “How bad is this news?”
As the leader of the largest marijuana-policy-reform organization in the nation, my answer might surprise you: It barely mattered which way the DEA ruled.
Back in 1970, Congress and President Nixon placed marijuana in Schedule I, along with LSD and heroin, defining these drugs as having no therapeutic value and a high potential for abuse. Simultaneously, drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine were placed in Schedule II, which are defined as having therapeutic value.
This “Flat Earth Society” view of marijuana has been challenged numerous times since 1970, but the DEA and federal courts have rejected all such attempts, including the Washington and Rhode Island governors’ 2011 petition that the DEA just rejected.
To be sure, moving marijuana to Schedule II would have had symbolic value, showing that prohibitionists were wrong to stubbornly claim for decades that sick people were merely imagining or lying about the medicinal benefits they experienced. However, there are federal criminal penalties for marijuana possession that are imposed regardless of its schedule. Even if the DEA had moved marijuana to Schedule II, growing 100 marijuana seedlings would still land you in federal prison for a minimum of five years...
You can read the entire article at Huffington Post.
A bill that would make several changes to the Oregon medical and adult use marijuana programs passed the House yesterday on a vote of 48-11.
HB 4014 would lower the annual patient registration fee for veterans from $200 to $20, and it would allow medical cannabis patients on probation to be treated the same as if they were administering a prescribed pharmaceutical medication. It would also allow patients who have submitted physicians’ statements to receive medical marijuana before the state issues registration cards — avoiding what for many can be a long delay.
HB 4014 also makes significant changes for businesses. In particular, it would remove current residency requirements for business owners and investors. This has been somewhat controversial — while many support this change as a way for local businesses to get access to much-needed loans, others oppose it as creating more competition for smaller, locally owned shops.
If you are an Oregon resident and support HB 4014, please take a moment to ask your senator to support this important bill and pass it without delay.
Two other bills may also advance this week, including one that makes clear that banks serving marijuana businesses would not be subject to state criminal laws, and another that would allow nonmedical retail businesses to serve medical patients without imposing taxes.
The Georgia government enacted an ineffective law last year that was intended to provide relief to patients with epilepsy, but which didn't provide for a source of medical marijuana within the state.
Since then, state Rep. Allen Peake (R) publicly admitted to illegally transporting medical marijuana from Colorado to Georgia to help some parents with epileptic children, and he's now pushing hard to fix the ineffective law by legalizing dispensaries for patients to purchase medical marijuana.
If you are a Georgia resident, please tell your lawmakers to support a workable medical marijuana bill.
MPP was all over the news this past week when we initiated the process of putting a medical marijuana initiative on the November 2016 ballot in Ohio.
MPP communications director Mason Tvert issued the following statement:
MPP is committed to working with local patients, advocates, and professionals to pass a well-written initiative that ensures seriously ill Ohioans are able to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. We are in the very initial stages of this process — filing a committee, starting to build a campaign team, and conducting outreach to potential coalition partners and donors. MPP has helped pass several state medical marijuana laws through the initiative process and through state legislatures. We are looking forward to working with our allies in Ohio to produce the most effective and responsible medical marijuana system possible.
This initiative and campaign will be very different from the broader and ultimately unsuccessful 2015 initiative to legalize marijuana for medical and adult use.
State lawmakers are also contemplating medical marijuana legislation. The House recently announced it is launching a task force that will meet with medical professionals and representatives from business and law enforcement to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, members of the Senate announced they would be touring the state to hear testimony from Ohio residents.
It's great to see some legislators are finally taking this issue seriously and MPP would support well-written, comprehensive medical marijuana legislation if it is brought forward. In the meantime, we feel it is important to move forward with plans for an initiative in the case that the legislature fails to take action this year. That seems quite likely given the discouraging remarks some legislative leaders have been making in the news.
New York Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) claims she has rallied enough votes to pass SB 4406, which legalizes medical marijuana. Thirty-nine senators, seven more than what is needed to pass the bill, have pledged their support.
However, gathering this support has come at a price. Three significant changes differentiate the current bill from the original.
First, physicians are limited to recommending medical marijuana for only 20 conditions. Secondly, the bill would create an advisory committee to recommend additions to the list of qualifying conditions. This board could also hear appeals for individual patients who fall outside of the list. Lastly, people under 21 would not be permitted to smoke marijuana as a treatment; they would be restricted to ingesting or vaporizing.
Other details of the bill include required medical marijuana cards for patients, a limit of up to 2.5 ounces per 30-day supply, and the dispensaries would have to pay taxes to the state.
According to the New York Daily News, it looks like the Senate’s Health Committee will take up the bill at noon on Tuesday.
Tragically, Lydia Schaeffer (aged 7) passed away on Mother’s Day from a rare genetic disorder called Kleefstra syndrome, which causes terrible seizures and other complications. Her plight inspired lawmakers in Wisconsin to legalize a marijuana extract to treat her condition, despite their opposition to a broader medical marijuana reform.
Sally Schaeffer, Lydia’s mother, lobbied the state legislature to legalize the cannabidiol (CBD) extract from the marijuana stain known as Charlotte’s Web for use on children with seizure disorders. Even though lawmakers moved to pass the limited CBD-only bill in record time, determining the implications of the law stalled it from going into effect. Additionally, CBD-only bills leave behind 98% of the patients who can benefit from medical marijuana, so Wisconsin still has a long way to go before patients have legal access to this much-needed medicine.
In Lydia's honor, Sally plans to continue spreading the word on CBD oil. She said she was contacted by Sen. Robert Wirch's office this week and told they would try to have the bill she championed called Lydia's Law. Wirch’s sympathy toward the Schaeffer family is welcomed, but his and other politicians’ compassion for the vast majority of other patients in need is currently lacking.
[caption id="attachment_7627" align="alignright" width="300"] Alzheimer's Disease includes reduced brain activity and function (red areas above), the result of years of accumulated damage. THC and CBD in marijuana seem to prevent this damage.[/caption]
A paper published by the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that the chemical compounds in marijuana likely prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and age-related dementia.
Chronic brain inflammation, oxidative stress, and intra-cellular dysfunction are the primary reasons why people develop these debilitating neurological diseases. The study found that both THC and CBD (the primary chemical compounds found in marijuana) positively affect nerve cell function in consumers, significantly reducing these harmful neurological conditions.
THC and CBD (called cannabinoids) tap into a primal, chemical signaling system in cells called "the endocannabinoid system." The paper shows cannabinoids dampen inflammation, protect cells from oxidative damage, and promote cell health on a number of levels.
This paper echoes claims made in January by Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology, and medical genetics at Ohio State University, that “if you do anything, such as smoke a bunch of marijuana in your 20s and 30s, you may wipe out all of the inflammation in your brain and then things start over again. And you simply die of old age before inflammation becomes an issue for you,”
The implications of marijuana’s medicinal effects on our brains are monumental, from not just a health perspective, but a financial one as well, for more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, costing the country about $203 billion in 2013.
Jonathan Ogden, retired Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle, has applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. There are a limited number of licenses available in Nevada, so it is still unclear whether or not Ogden will own a dispensary.
One hundred and nine other companies have filed applications, and only 66 will be licensed this year, 40 of which will reside in Las Vegas (Clark county) where Ogden has applied. Applicants must also show they have $250,000 in liquid assets and have a licensed physician as the medical director to apply.
Hopefully, the NFL will feel the pressure of having Hall of Fame leaders like Ogden publicly support medical marijuana. The NFL's stance on medical marijuana hasn’t evolved to the same extent as that of the nation at large, and the organization still imposes strict laws on players via steep fines and suspensions. However, with the NBA and NCAA rethinking their marijuana-use policies, perhaps, the NFL will move in the direction of acceptance.