Medical Marijuana||General

Oklahoma Legislature considering marijuana policy changes

If you live in Oklahoma, ask your legislators to support reducing the penalty for possessing marijuana to a simple fine.

Three bills that would change Oklahoma's marijuana policies are advancing in the legislature.

HB 2614 would reduce the penalty for simple possession of cannabis to a fine of up to $400. Under Oklahoma's voter-enacted medical cannabis law, anyone possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis that can "state a medical condition" is subject to a misdemeanor fine of up to $400. HB 2614 would apply even to those who cannot "state a medical condition."

Ask your lawmakers to support this modest bill. The current penalty for marijuana possession is up to a year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, or both.

The second bill is the "unity" medical cannabis bill, HB 2612. That bill passed the House yesterday and now heads to the Senate. While some changes it proposes, such as providing for lab testing, are beneficial, others would whittle away at patient protections.

Under HB 2612, landlords could prohibit patients who are renters from vaporizing cannabis at home. It would also reduce employment protections by carving out exceptions for broadly defined "safety sensitive positions" that include driving, firefighting, and caring for children or patients. You can read our letter to sponsors here.

Finally, SB 1030, as modified by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis to up to a $400 civil fine. However, it would also add extremely broad exclusions for "safety sensitive positions," which would essentially nullify the medical cannabis employment protections. The exceptions include handling or preparing food, driving, firefighting, and caring for children or patients.

If you want to weigh in on HB 2612 or SB 1030 with your state senator, you can look them up here. You can give your state senator (the third category to appear after you fill in your address) a polite call to urge that HB 2612 and SB 1030 be amended to restore patient protections.

Finally, please share this message with other compassionate Oklahomans.

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Prohibition

Oklahoma: Put decriminalizing cannabis on the legislature’s agenda

If you're an Oklahoma resident, ask your state lawmakers to stop criminalizing cannabis consumers.

Yesterday, the Oklahoma Legislature kicked off the first day of its 2019 legislative session. Let your lawmakers know it's time for Oklahoma to stop arresting and jailing cannabis consumers.

In September, the Oklahoma City Council reduced the penalty for simple possession of cannabis to a civil fine, after the reform was recommended by Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.

Ask your legislators to take this modest but important reform to the state level.

Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation. Let your lawmakers know there are better uses of jail space and law enforcement's time. It's time to stop derailing lives over a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Please take action and spread the word.

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Medical Marijuana

Nebraska: Take action to support legislation to legalize medical marijuana

If you live in Nebraska, click here to send a message to your state senator.

The push for medical marijuana is heating up in Nebraska — and we need you to be part of it!

Sen. Anna Wishart recently introduced a bill that would establish a compassionate program for individuals with serious health conditions. With a doctor's approval, qualifying patients would be able to safely access medical marijuana under this legislation.

Please contact your state senator right now and urge them to support LB 110!

Thirty-two states, including Utah, Oklahoma, and Missouri, have adopted laws to legalize medical marijuana. It's time for Nebraska to do the same. Take action and forward this email to others so they can contact their state senators, too.

One last thing: While we are hopeful that Nebraskan lawmakers pass Sen. Wishart's bill this year, a newly formed committee, Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, is preparing to introduce a 2020 ballot initiative with MPP's support. Sign up to receive email updates from the campaign here, and if you live in or near Lincoln, please attend the campaign's kickoff fundraiser this Friday, January 25! Get more details and RSVP here.

Thank you for your support!

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Medical Marijuana

Tennessee Legislature convenes: Put medical cannabis on the agenda

If you live in Tennessee, let your lawmakers know Tennessee patients deserve a compassionate medical cannabis program.

Yesterday, newly elected and returning lawmakers convened for the first day of Tennessee's 2019 legislative session. Since the legislature adjourned last year, voters in Utah, Oklahoma, and Missouri enacted medical cannabis laws, bringing the number of medical cannabis states to 32.

But even though 81% of Tennessee voters support medical cannabis, patients either needlessly suffer or risk arrest to find relief from cannabis. Let your lawmakers know you want them to change that.

After your use our automated system to send a quick note to your elected officials, please share this message with other compassionate Tennesseans.

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Medical Marijuana

Wisconsin Legislature convenes: Put medical cannabis on the agenda

If you live in Wisconsin, let your lawmakers know Wisconsin patients deserve a compassionate medical cannabis program.

Yesterday, newly elected and returning lawmakers convened for the first day of Wisconsin's new legislative session. Since the legislature adjourned last year, voters in Utah, Oklahoma, and Missouri enacted medical cannabis laws, bringing the number of medical cannabis states to 32.

And, on Election Day, more than a million Wisconsinites cast non-binding votes in support of medical marijuana or adult-use programs. In all 11 counties and two cities — both red and blue — where it was on the ballot, medical cannabis measures passed overwhelmingly. Support ranged from 67% to 89%.

Despite that massive show of support, Wisconsin patients either needlessly suffer or risk arrest to find relief from cannabis. Let your lawmakers know you want them to change that this year.

Wisconsin's new governor, Tony Evers (D), supports medical cannabis, but he can only sign a bill if one makes it to his desk. Wisconsin doesn't have a binding, statewide ballot initiative process. As was the case in Illinois and Minnesota, the only way to enact a medical cannabis law in the state is through the legislature.

So please, send a quick note to your elected officials, and share this message with other compassionate Wisconsinites.

 

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Medical Marijuana

North Carolina Legislature convenes: Put medical cannabis on the agenda

If you live in North Carolina, let your lawmakers know North Carolina patients deserve a compassionate medical cannabis program.

Earlier today, newly elected and returning lawmakers convened for the first day of North Carolina's 2019 legislative session. Since mid-June, voters in Utah, Oklahoma, and Missouri enacted medical cannabis laws, bringing the number of medical cannabis states to 32.

But even though 80% of North Carolina voters support medical cannabis, patients in North Carolina either needlessly suffer or risk arrest to find relief from cannabis. Let your lawmakers know you want them to change that.

After your use our automated system to send a quick note to your elected officials, please share this message with other compassionate North Carolinians.

 

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Prohibition

New Oklahoma City ordinance reduces penalty for marijuana possession!

Ask your state lawmakers to take this reform to the state level.

Starting on October 26, Oklahoma City’s maximum penalty for simple possession of marijuana will be reduced to a fine of up to $400. The Oklahoma City Council approved the proposal to remove jail time and reduce the penalty for marijuana possession last week. Until the new law takes effect, the maximum fine for possession is $1,200 and six months of jail time.

If you live in Oklahoma, let your lawmakers know the time has come for statewide decriminalization!

Penalizing individuals with jail time and a criminal record for possessing small amounts of marijuana wastes law enforcement resources. It can also lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses. You can find more information on decriminalization here.

Please spread the word!

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Medical Marijuana

Oklahoma medical cannabis applications can be submitted starting on Saturday

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) will begin accepting medical cannabis applications from patients and prospective businesses on Saturday at 10:00 a.m.! This will make it one of the quickest states to implement a medical marijuana law.

Application materials and FAQs are already available on the OMMA’s site, including for:

• Adult patients and caregivers
• Minor patients and their caregivers
• Visiting patients registered in other states (temporary applications); and
• Businesses

OMMA has also opened a call center, which is open Monday through Friday, 8.30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The number is 405-522-6662.

In other news, as you may have seen, the Board of Health and Gov. Mary Fallin signed off on revised final regulations. The revised regs fix the major problems — including by nixing a THC cap and the ban on sales of flower and edible marijuana.

Meanwhile, a legislative working group is continuing to meet on the issue, and the Food Safety Standards Board hasissued recommendations.

Unfortunately, some governmental bodies are moving to restrict patients’ rights: Oklahoma State and the University of Oklahoma are prohibiting medical cannabis on their campuses. And the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigationupdated the state’s Self-Defense Act license application to warn individuals who use medical marijuana that they should answer “yes” when asked if they unlawfully use a controlled substance, which may prevent them from being licensed.

Please spread the word, so that Oklahoma patients can get the protections and safe access they deserve!

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Medical Marijuana

Oklahoma medical cannabis law takes effect; revisions to problematic regs proposed

Yesterday, the penalty-reduction piece of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana initiative became operational. Individuals possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis face a reduced penalty — a misdemeanor fine of up to $400 — if they “can state a medical condition.”

Meanwhile, regulators made application materials available online for patients and caregivers, along with information for businesses and physicians. It will begin accepting applications on August 25.

In another encouraging development, regulators released proposed revisions to many of the problematic final regulations. The Board of Health will meet on August 1 at 3:00 p.m. to consider them.

Draft revisions (summarized here) would make several welcome changes, including:

• Removing the ban on selling smokeable cannabis and edibles;
• Removing the THC cap;
• Removing the requirement that pharmacists dispense cannabis;
• Making the physician registration optional;
• Removing the requirement that doctors subject all “females of childbearing age” to a pregnancy test before recommending cannabis; and
• Removing the limitation on hours of operation, which banned Sunday sales.

However, we still have some concerns, including that:

• Patients who are tenants must obtain their landlords’ written permission to cultivate. Given federal law, even landlords who are open to cultivation may be unwilling to assent in writing.
• Physicians must to “ascertain” if a female is pregnant or likely to become pregnant before recommending cannabis. This strong language may essentially require pregnancy tests for many women, which is patronizing and invasive and drives up costs.
• Physicians must provide an in-person medical exam within 30 days of the certification. Oklahoma allows telemedicine for most medications.

Comments can be submitted to omma@ok.gov.

These proposed revisions follow a lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma ACLU on behalf of advocates, and advice from Attorney General Mike Hunter that some regulations exceeded the department’s authority.

If you live in Oklahoma, please speak out and spread the word. Congratulations again to everyone who worked to pass SQ 788!

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Medical Marijuana

Oklahoma Board of Health restricts voters’ marijuana law

On June 26, 57% of Oklahoma voters approved SQ 788 — a broad medical marijuana initiative that required swift implementation.

The Department of Health had been working for three months on regulations in case the initiative passed and swiftly released draft emergency regulations. MPP and many other advocates and patients submitted comments raising concerns, flagging several regulations that included onerous restrictions inconsistent with SQ 788.

Unfortunately, yesterday the Board of Health met to consider those regulations and approved almost all of the regulations we expressed concern about. They also added new restrictions — such as prohibiting the sale of smokeable cannabis.

The rules:

• Prohibit cannabis from being sold with more than 12% THC in infused products and prohibit plants from exceeding 20% THC.
• Prohibit dispensaries from selling smokeable, flower cannabis, and edible cannabis.
• Require each dispensary to have a pharmacist on staff.
• Require physicians to register before making recommendations, complete medical cannabis-specific training, and screen patients for substance abuse, mental health issues, and whether the patient presents a risk for diversion.
• Require physicians to perform a pregnancy test on “females of childbearing years” before recommending cannabis.

These restrictions will deprive some patients of the medicine that works best for them, while driving up costs and driving down doctor participation.

Advocates are considering next steps, including possible litigation. Stay tuned for updates. Also, we want to express our hearty congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to pass SQ 788!

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