A court in Cook County, Illinois ruled last week that the Illinois Department of Public Health must add intractable pain as a qualifying condition to the state’s medical cannabis pilot program. Incredibly, the state has vowed to appeal the ruling and continue to shut pain patients out of the state program.
This is an outrage. A MoveOn.org petition is circulating that allows supporters to voice their opposition to the misguided decision by the state. If you agree the state should add intractable pain and want the state to drop its appeal plans, click here.
Patients and advocates have been working to add the condition to the state program since it went into effect in 2015. A panel of doctors and experts charged with considering new conditions voted unanimously to add pain, yet the health department refused to listen.
Even after a court reached the same conclusion, the health department continues to push back and deny access. As the nation struggles to bring a deadly opioid epidemic under control, medical cannabis should be an option for those who seek a safer alternative. Patients in Illinois should not be encouraged to seek relief from the underground market, when a regulated and tested alternative is available.
With nine months left to gather signatures, the hard-working volunteers of New Approach Missouri are well on their way with over 50,000 already collected! The total number required to qualify for the 2018 ballot is 160,199.
However, gathering enough total signatures is only one part of the process in Missouri. It is also necessary that the signatures be distributed across different congressional districts in the state. So New Approach Missouri is planning to hire a professional petitioning firm to help push the campaign over the finish line and to ensure that geographic distribution requirements are met.
In other news, the list of advocates calling for medical marijuana in Missouri has expanded to include retired NFL player Kyle Turley, who played for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams! Kyle is a patient and an advocate because medical marijuana has allowed him to live without pain and painkillers, as well as helping him to overcome depression. Check out his story here.
Yesterday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts submitted more than 100,000 signatures to the secretary of state. Only 64,750 signatures are needed, and supporters are confident that the measure will qualify for the 2016 ballot!
Associated Press reports:
The proposal would allow Massachusetts residents 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. It would also create a 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales that would be assessed on top of the state's 6.25 percent sales tax.
"You don't want the tax to be too high because then it's difficult to undercut the black market, and you want the tax to be high enough so you can finance the regulation and have some money left over," said Will Luzier, campaign director for the group, as he emptied pages of signatures from two Christmas shopping bags at the state elections office.
The Legislature now has until the first week in May to vote on the proposal, but it's unlikely to win approval from lawmakers given opposition to legalized marijuana from key state officials including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg said last week he expected voters would ultimately decide the issue. Assuming no action by lawmakers, organizers would need to collect at least 10,792 additional signatures to place the question on the November 2016 ballot.
Colorado could be sealing any past marijuana convictions that Amendment 64 would have rendered impotent. If Senate Bill 218 is passed, Coloradans could petition to have their previous marijuana-related convictions sealed if they would have not been crimes under current Colorado law.
The bill has bipartisan support and was announced Tuesday, April 29. The proposed bill comes with only a few days left in the 2014 session, but its impact could be huge, possibly giving thousands of residents the right to petition.
“There are tens of thousands of people with previous cannabis offenses that hurt them from getting things like loans, housing, and employment,” Jason Warf, a marijuana advocate and director of Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, told The Denver Post late last week.
Sens. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, and Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, are the sponsors of the proposal, which is scheduled to be heard today by the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee. If approved, petitioners would have to file in the district where their conviction occurred, and they would have to pay the court filing fees to have their records sealed.
The past month has seen the state of Maine take some notable steps toward positive marijuana policy reform. On June 7, a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, LD 1229, was narrowly defeated. Despite losing this time, this marked one of the best votes in a state legislature for a legalization bill. The sponsor, Portland Democrat Rep. Diane Russell, has vowed to continue pushing for this legislation.
Even if statewide change may be slow in coming, activists aren’t waiting around to promote policy alternatives at the local level. Earlier this month, petitioners submitted the signatures required to propose a ballot initiative in the city of Portland that would make possession of marijuana legal for adults. MPP and other groups have been taking every opportunity to educate voters about this initiative, including at a recent beer festival, where Maine political director David Boyer informed attendees about the objective safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.
And on Wednesday, the Maine Legislature approved a bill that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for its medical marijuana program. Maine will now join California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Mexico in allowing marijuana to be used to treat PTSD.
When a dedicated group of activists hoping to reform Springfield, Missouri’s punitive marijuana laws turned in thousands of signatures they had collected fair and square, they thought the next step would be for voters in Springfield to decide whether or not to support their proposal. In other words, they thought the initiative process works like common sense says it should. They were wrong. What happened next is an example of disenfranchisement so egregious it belongs in a work of fiction.
The Springfield City Council, as is their legal right, went ahead and passed the ordinance, meaning it would not be placed on the November ballot. Their stated reason for this was that they didn’t want the city to have to front the cost of printing the issue on general election ballots. In other words, they were just trying to save the city some money, they said. Normally, at this point, the story would be over. But this is Springfield.
Immediately after the council passed the ordinance, they voted to “table” it, so they could amend the law to their liking. Some wanted to raise the $150 fine, which they thought was too low. Others wanted to remove a provision establishing a “citizen oversight commission.” It gets worse. After 150 people showed up to offer their testimony—the overwhelming majority in support of the original ordinance—four of the nine councilmembers moved forward with a plan to repeal the entire ordinance, stripping citizens of their fundamental right to vote on the proposal. Here’s a quote from one of those councilmembers, and I promise I’m not making this up: "I'm going to support passing, and then gutting, the entire ordinance," said Councilman Jeff Seifried. "This is the fiscally responsible way to do business."
Last night those oligarchs councilmembers followed through on their intentions and repealed the ordinance. The petitioners from Show Me Cannabis Regulation who gathered the signatures are assessing their options now. They have 30 days to gather more signatures to repeal the council’s vote (which, of course, could then be overturned by the council). More likely, they’ll sue to challenge the council’s action as violating the city charter’s initiative language. Either way, one thing is clear: the Springfield, Missouri City Council does not care about your voting rights.
New White House Petition: We Demand a Vapid, Condescending, Meaningless, Politically Safe Response to This Petition
Since the beginning of the White House’s “We the People” petition program, questions and requests about marijuana policy have dominated the site. Last week, the Obama administration lumped all of those detailed, nuanced questions together and answered them all by parroting the same old rhetoric. Very little in the way of an actual response was given to the questions, other than this: marijuana is dangerous and should remain illegal, but more research should be done on its medical properties.
This response is disingenuous, given the federal government’s repeated interference in medical marijuana research, including a recent denial of a study on the effects of marijuana on post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. It is also not an appropriate answer to the myriad policy issues addressed in the petitions.
Luckily, one Jon G from Michigan has started a petition that is sure to get an appropriate reply from the Obama White House:
Since these petitions are ignored apart from an occasional patronizing and inane political statement amounting to nothing more than a condescending pat on the head, we the signers would enjoy having the illusion of success. Since no other outcome to this process seems possible, we demand that the White House immediately assign a junior staffer to compose a tame and vapid response to this petition, and never attempt to take any meaningful action on this or any other issue. We would also like a cookie.
The Coalition to End Marijuana Prohibition, the MPP-backed issue committee paying for the signature drive in Colorado for the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, has hit a major milestone.
As of today, the campaign has 100,000 signatures in hand! This puts us more than two-thirds of the way toward our goal of collecting 145,000 raw signatures by January 6, with 86,105 valid signatures needed to qualify the initiative for the November 2012 ballot.
There are some amazing volunteers helping out on the ground, but we simply cannot finish the drive without also paying people to circulate petitions. The cold weather that's descending on Colorado has forced us to increase the amount we're paying per signature by $0.50. Would you please help us cover the additional $22,500 that we need to finish the signature drive by donating $10, $50, or even $1,000 today?
According to the latest poll, 51% of Coloradans support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol, with only 38% of voters opposed. While these are encouraging numbers, the campaign is far from over. This is one of the primary reasons we need to finish the signature drive as soon as possible — so the campaign can begin to focus on educating the residents of Colorado about the benefits of passing this initiative.
If you live in Colorado and would like to help the campaign, there are a variety of ways to do so. Visit this page to find out what you can do, including becoming a paid signature gatherer.
Together, we will end marijuana prohibition.
"When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens. That’s what the new We the People feature on WhiteHouse.gov is all about – giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them." - President Barack Obama
Here are 12 marijuana policy related petitions currently on the White House We the People petition page:
- Give States the Freedom to Establish Their Own Marijuana Laws.
- Stop denying the medical value of cannabis (marijuana.) Remove it from schedule one of the controlled substances act.
- Release all known beneficial information regarding cannabis (hemp, marijuana) and its derivatives.
- End the destructive, wasteful and counterproductive "War on Drugs".
- Remove Marijuana from the Schedule 1 list of drugs in the Controlled Substances Act.
- Allow United States Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD.
- Eliminate or Reform Departments whose Officers are Required by Law to Lie to the American People.
- Pardon Marc Emery.
- Allow Industrial Hemp to be Grown in the U.S. Once Again.
- Stop Interfering With State Marijuana Legalization Efforts.
- Legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.
- Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
To donate, please visit https://www.mpp.org/donate
I’m starting to sound like a broken record. Yesterday, the DEA, assisted by local law enforcement, raided several Michigan medical marijuana businesses and arrested the owners. No information has been released since the investigation is ongoing.
This sounds awfully familiar. Last month, federal authorities cracked down on medical marijuana facilities in Montana and California. According to all available information, those raided were in compliance with state law and were legitimate businesses.
It seems that the DEA is going to continue taking an active role in investigating and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and caregivers, regardless of Justice Department direction to the contrary. While they are legally allowed to enforce federal law in states where medical marijuana is permitted, the current policy directs them to only do so if state law is being broken.
I’m left wondering why the DEA is involved if the people and organizations being targeted are operating within state law. If these “criminals” are not following state law, why is it necessary to call in the feds? One would think local law enforcement is perfectly capable of enforcing their own state’s laws and wouldn’t want anyone nosing in on their jurisdiction. Could it be that some law enforcement and certain politicians see this as a way to impose extreme penalties on a group of people with whom they have personal and ideological problems?
Or is the DEA simply taking it upon themselves to interpret state law, storming in when someone is operating within a legal gray area?
Either way, the DEA has no business going after medical marijuana businesses in the states. This is a state issue that is best dealt with through debate and regulation, not with assault weapons and battering rams.