Earlier this week, the Texas Legislature adjourned after its 140-day legislative session. This year's session brought successes and setbacks. Prohibitionists went to great lengths to keep the status quo and some of their reefer madness unfortunately worked.
Industrial Hemp Legalization – HB 1325 legalizes industrial hemp in Texas and establishes a regulatory structure so that Texans may soon start growing hemp.
Limited Low-THC Medical Cannabis Expansion – HB 3703 removes the two-physician requirement for a medical marijuana card and expands the qualifying conditions to include: epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, ALS, autism, terminal cancer, and incurable neurodegenerative diseases. It does not change the 0.5% THC cap. HB 3703 is currently on Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
What Fell Short:
Marijuana Decriminalization – HB 63, which would have replaced possible jail time with a fine, passed in the Texas House but stalled in the Texas Senate after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it his mission to kill the bill.
Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Expansion – HB 1365 would have expanded qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, increased the number of dispensaries, and established a research review board that could allow different amounts of cannabinoids. This bill passed in the Texas House but did not receive a hearing in the Senate.
Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature won't be back in session until 2021. That means two more years of patients suffering and needless arrests. We want to congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make progress, including Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.
Support for marijuana reform is at an all-time high so let's keep our chins up and keep pushing. Together, we can change marijuana laws in Texas.
Texas legislators are back in Austin for another round of policy considerations, and Rep. Eddie Lucio III has introduced HB 85, a medical cannabis improvement bill. This proposal would allow some patients to access whole plant cannabis, including those with terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism, or Parkinson’s Disease.
This bill is more restrictive than the bill introduced during the regular session, but it would still be a major step forward for many seriously ill patients. Currently, the Compassionate Use Program only allows those with intractable epilepsy access to low-THC cannabis. Texas cannabis businesses are expected to be operational by the end of the year.
This will be a very politically charged special session, established to address a specific list of issues that Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas conservatives consider priorities.
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.
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.
Last week, the Iowa Legislature approved HF 524, extending and expanding the state's existing cannabidiol program. Now, all the bill needs is a signature from the governor to become law.
Although the Senate approved a full medical marijuana bill that allowed as much THC as patients might need, the House has lagged behind. HF 524 includes a 3% cap on THC. We are disappointed at the limits of the final bill, but it is still an important step forward.
If passed, patients suffering from illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or terminal illness would be able to enroll in a program with their doctor's authorization. Patients must be permanent residents of Iowa and would apply for their ID cards through the Department of Transportation. Unlike Iowa’s existing CBD program, manufacturers would be licensed to produce the oil, and dispensaries would be established where patients could make actual purchases, thus allowing in-state access to this life-changing medication.
If you are an Iowa resident, please ask Gov. Terry Branstad to sign the measure into law without delay.
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.
After years of advocacy from patients and their loved ones, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved compassionate, comprehensive medical cannabis legislation this evening!
SB 3 will now return to the Senate, which approved the bill last May, to consider the House’s amendments. Gov. Tom Wolf has been a strong champion of the issue and will sign the legislation when it arrives at his desk.
SB 3 allows patients with qualifying conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis with their physicians’ recommendations. As amended by the House, it allows up to 25 growers and processors to produce medical cannabis, which would be dispensed by up to 50 dispensaries with up to three locations each.
Qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain if conventional therapies or opiates don’t work or are contraindicated. More details are available here.
Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard for so long to make this compassionate bill a reality, including the amazing team at Campaign4Compassion, the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, Gov. Tom Wolf, Sens. Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach and their staff, especially MP Tomei, Reps. Mike Regan, Nick Miccarelli, Russ Diamond, and Joe Petrarca and staffer Sarah Speed, Majority Leader Dave Reed, and MPP’s lobbyist Jim Davis!
Virginia is in its final week of its 2016 legislative session and of the many marijuana-related bills Virginian lawmakers considered this year, only one — SB 701 — has made it to the desk of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
This limited bill allows the cultivation of cannabis by pharmaceutical processes that would then produce cannabidiol oil. Patients suffering from intractable epilepsy could receive the oil with a written certification from their doctor. While Gov. McAuliffe is expected to sign the legislation, epileptic patients won’t receive any benefit until at least 2017, as the bill requires a second passage next year.
While MPP applauds the Commonwealth’s effort to bring relief to residents suffering from epilepsy, this measure does not go nearly far enough. If you are a resident of Virginia, please ask your elected officials to show compassion for our sickest residents, including those with other serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, intractable pain, and PTSD. Medical marijuana is far less harmful and poses fewer negative side effects than most prescription drugs — especially painkillers — and patients often find it to be a more effective treatment.
We celebrate this narrow victory and look forward to a future where patients can benefit from the expertise of their doctors by finding relief in medical cannabis.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Monday that recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is intended to allow patients with intractable seizure conditions to access marijuana extracts containing high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and only trace levels of THC.
SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” low-THC marijuana extracts to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.
The bill also only allows for extracts with very little THC, and some seizure patients say a greater ratio of THC to CBD is necessary for it to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures. The bill also fails to allow access to any medical marijuana products for people suffering from other debilitating conditions, such as PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.
Despite SB 339’s significant limitations, advocates supported Gov. Abbott signing it into law and promptly implementing the program. It has frequently taken as long as two to three years for patients to begin safely accessing medical cannabis preparations after state medical marijuana laws are enacted. First, rules need to be crafted for the operation of dispensaries, then there is an application process, and finally the providers must find locations, build out their facilities, and begin cultivation.
While this low-THC cannabis oil program is very restrictive, the passage of SB 339, Texas’ Compassionate Use Act, is an historic moment that reflects the great work done by advocates. Here is an overview of the program.
The 84th Texas Legislature introduced a record number of marijuana related bills. The results varied — details can be found here — but there can be no doubt that more humane marijuana laws are on the horizon.
Yesterday evening, the Texas State House of Representatives approved SB 339 with a vote of 96-34. The bill seeks to allow patients with intractable epilepsy to access cannabis oil containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC.
Unfortunately, SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law. SB 339 previously passed the Senate (26-5) on May 7.
SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions and the risk of losing their DEA registration to prescribe any controlled substances.
The bill also leaves behind Texas patients suffering from debilitating conditions like PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.
But it isn't all bad. Even if doctors are unwilling to “prescribe” marijuana, starting the implementation process will ensure a system of safe access is ready to go when the legislature meets in 2017 — at which point it can fix the flaw and expand access to patients with other serious conditions.