This year, there have been many encouraging signs that Kentucky is making progress towards allowing medical cannabis. Gov. Matt Bevin has clearly indicated his support for medical cannabis legislation, and several new legislative champions have emerged, led by Reps. Jason Nemes and Diane St. Onge. Unfortunately, Senate President Robert Stivers continues to claim that he hasn’t seen any evidence that medical cannabis is effective.
Sen. Stivers’ opposition has long been a source of frustration for patients and advocates, but his recent comments on the issue have been truly infuriating. Last week, while speaking to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Sen. Stivers reportedly suggested that if patients want to “relax” or “feel better,” they should drink bourbon instead of trying medical cannabis.
Sen. Stivers is now facing heavy criticism for these comments in the Louisville Courier-Journal and elsewhere. Please take a moment to call Sen. Stivers’ office today and let him know how you feel about hearing such an uninformed and callous statement from the President of the Kentucky Senate. If you’re on Twitter, you can also voice your opinion in a tweet.
After you call Sen. Stivers’ office, please share this message with your family and friends!
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.
Additionally, the board voted to recommend that the state add autism to the list of qualifying conditions, but rejected expanding the program to add ADHD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and ganglioglioma.
Unfortunately, Iowa’s low-THC approach leaves behind thousands of patients who could benefit from medical marijuana.
Check out our full summary of Iowa’ low-THC program here. Five dispensaries across the state will be open to registered patients on December 1. You can also find a wealth of information on medical marijuana here.
Great news! The Department of of Health has announced that Rhode Island families can now access medical marijuana to treat autism. The decision was issued this week after a petition was filed in April to add autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
The announcement imposes some stipulations for physicians interested in recommending medical marijuana for patients with ASD, including that they first try FDA-approved medications and CBD products. The statement can be read in full here.
The Health Department held a public hearing on ASD and medical marijuana in August. At the hearing, Nicole Cervantes, a mother of a son with ASD, testified that CBD had significantly improved her child’s condition. “He has been able to focus more,” she said. “He no longer bangs his head.”
In recent years, families across the country have spoken out about how medical marijuana has helped minimize the worst symptoms of ASD. Rhode Island now joins seven other states that make some allowance for medical marijuana in the treatment of autism.
This is a great step forward for Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program. Let’s keep working to make further improvements to the state’s marijuana policies.
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.
Eight months after the Pennsylvania Senate last approved medical cannabis protections, patients are still waiting for the House to follow suit. On Monday, they held a rally at the State Capitol to urge lawmakers to make passing a comprehensive medical marijuana bill a priority.
The Patriot-News reports:
Several dozen supporters of a bill to permit use of certain cannabis-based products for medicinal purposes in Pennsylvania ramped up the pressure on hesitant state House leaders Monday.
The group of parent, patients and other caregivers - which has flooded the Capitol in support of their cause regularly over the past several years - staged an impromptu sit-in on the House side of the Rotunda Monday afternoon.
The point, said rally spokeswoman Latrisha Bentch, was to show House leaders in a very tangible way their patience is wearing thin as the 2015-16 legislative session enters its second half.
The group took seats on the Capitol's Mercer tile floor shortly before 3 p.m., all but blocking session day traffic and a few perplexed staffers, for 18 minutes: Two minutes for each month since the Senate sent the leading medicinal marijuana bill to the House with a 40-7 vote.
"I feel like our kindness has been mistaken for weakness, and we don't have to be kind to them (lawmakers). We don't," Bentch said as the rally was breaking up.
Last May, the Senate approved S.B. 3, which would allow patients with serious illnesses to obtain and use medical cannabis recommended by their doctors. Over the summer and fall, a House work group developed recommendations and the Rules committee moved the bill to the House floor. But it has yet to get a vote — and the most significant amendment includes troubling provisions such as a cap on the amount of THC.
The three departments that oversee the Illinois medical cannabis program posted several important documents online on Friday, including cannabis patient applications, which are available here.
Additional forms were also made available, including documents for physicians to use for recommendations, fingerprint consent forms, caregiver applications, frequently asked questions, and preliminary versions of applications for both dispensaries and cultivation centers. All those documents and other information are available here.
While they are available now, the department will not accept patient applications until later this year. Applicants whose last names begin with the letters A through L may apply between September 2 and October 31. Applicants with last names that start with M through Z may apply between November 1 and December 31. Beginning January 1, 2015, applications for registry identification cards will be accepted year-round.
The Department of Public Health also announced town hall meetings to answer questions from those who want to apply for patient registry IDs. Meetings are schedule to take place in Collinsville on August 14, Peoria on August 18, and Chicago on August 20.
In a huge victory for patients, the New Hampshire House overwhelmingly approved the medical marijuana bill today by a record 286-64 margin. Similar bills in 2009, 2011, and 2012 also received more than two-thirds support from the House, but today’s vote of more than 81% in favor of HB 573 shows that the House is moving closer to achieving consensus on the issue!
Next, the bill will head to the Senate, which also passed similar bills in 2009 and 2012, but the Senate has always been more difficult to persuade on this issue than the House. Advocates will need to work even harder in the Senate to make sure HB 573 passes this year and creates the best law possible for patients.
Encouragingly, Gov. Maggie Hassan has expressed support for making medical marijuana legal in the Granite State. That means if the bill passes in the Senate, New Hampshire stands a good chance of becoming the 19th medical marijuana state!