Tax and Regulate

False TV ads from opponents of Prop 1 in Michigan were pulled from TV stations in lead-up to election

Opponents of marijuana legalization often rely on misleading arguments and fear tactics in their attempts to diminish support for sensible marijuana policy reform. In the run-up to the election for Proposal 1, the adult-use legalization initiative that recently passed in Michigan, the prohibitionist group Healthy and Productive Michigan went even further by publishing television ads with demonstrably false claims.

In their first TV ad, opponents claimed that Prop 1 would allow marijuana products with “unlimited potency.” The text of the initiative, however, plainly stated that the regulator would be required to impose a limit on the amount of THC in edible products.

When the YES on 1 campaign reached out to broadcast TV stations to inform them of this demonstrable falsehood, two stations, WWMT and WPBN, agreed to stop airing the ad. In total, the Prop 1 opposition campaign spent nearly $350,000 on broadcast television ads. The TV stations that pulled the ad accounted for about a third of the opposition’s broadcast TV budget.

“I pointed out that Proposal 1 required that the regulator, the Michigan department of licensing and regulatory affairs, set a maximum potency level for edibles per Section 8 of the initiative,” said Matthew Schweich, MPP’s deputy director who ran the Michigan campaign. “I felt it was necessary to prevent Healthy and Productive Michigan from misleading voters through the use of demonstrably false claims.”

In Healthy and Productive Michigan’s replacement ad, the group falsely claimed that marijuana tax revenue in Colorado has not benefited Denver schools or students. Public documents published by the city’s government disproves this allegation.

Fortunately, voters in Michigan didn’t buy the lies and propaganda peddled by opponents of Prop 1. The measure passed with a substantial margin, 56% to 44%.

“It is somewhat uncommon for TV stations to pull political ads, and this is the first time I’ve seen it happen on the six marijuana reform initiatives I’ve been involved in over the past four years,” Schweich added. “It is representative of the dishonest campaign that prohibitionists ran in Michigan.”

To read more about this story, click here.

 

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Medical Marijuana

CBD Now Allowed Under Kansas Law — If It Has No THC

May 17, 2018

CBD, Kansas, KS, SB 282, THC

In a small step forward for patients who could benefit from medical cannabis, the definition of “marijuana” under Kansas law was changed by SB 282 to exclude cannabidiol (CBD). However, because state law separately bans tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), it will be difficult for medical cannabis patients to take advantage of this provision, because most CBD products contain at least trace amounts of THC (“hemp” is sometimes defined as 0.3% THC or less).

The bill itself does not provide for in-state access to CBD oils in Kansas, and CBD products are generally still illegal under federal law, as the Drug Enforcement Administration clarified in a rule that was recently upheld in federal court. But, there may be a narrow exception under a federal law allowing hemp research programs — and Gov. Colyer also recently signed a bill that will create such a program in Kansas.

While there are a number of “CBD” products available online, these products are typically unregulated, and unfortunately some do not actually contain the amount of CBD on the label — or any at all — or they also contain THC or dangerous compounds such as heavy metals. A more reliable way to obtain CBD oil would be to get it in a state with a regulated cannabis market such as Colorado, but doing so can be costly and onerous.

Despite its limitations, this is step forward. Once the law takes effect (which will happen when it is formally published), if patients are caught in possession of CBD oil that contains no THC, they will no longer be subject to prosecution for marijuana possession under Kansas law. With the passage of this bill, Idaho is now the only remaining state that does not acknowledge the medical benefits of cannabinoids in any way!

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Medical Marijuana

Georgia Governor Signs Bill Expanding Low-THC Cannabis Oil Program

Yesterday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a bill that will significantly expand the number of patients who qualify for the state's low-THC medical cannabis oils. Beginning on July 1, HB 65 will allow patients with intractable pain and adults with PTSD to qualify for the program, which allows registered patients to possess cannabis oils with no more than 5% THC content.

Georgia’s most passionate legislative champion of medical cannabis — Rep. Allen Peake (R) — sponsored both HB 65 and another bill — HB 645 — which would have allowed in-state production of cannabis oils. Currently, registered patients have nowhere to legally purchase cannabis oils in Georgia. Unfortunately, HB 645 didn’t receive a floor vote. However, HB 65 includes a study commission on in-state access to cannabis. Seriously ill patients who are already granted the ability to possess cannabis products clearly need a way to obtain them without sidestepping the law.

This is Rep. Peake’s last year in the legislature; he announced in February that he will not run for re-election. His leadership will be missed in the capital!

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Medical Marijuana||Research

Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research

The University of Utah Health and the University of California San Diego recently announced separate plans to begin new phases of research on medical marijuana. In Utah, the study will focus on the individual effects of cannabinoids on brain processes, while UC San Diego researchers will probe possible treatments for autism with marijuana. Both projects have been made possible by grants from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The University of Utah Health received $740,000 to support innovative brain-imaging research, which will analyze how various cannabinoids affect cognition, stress, and pain. The study will involve 40 healthy young adults and seek to understand the causal mechanisms through which cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain.

“Deciphering the personalized effects of CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] will have a profound impact on how various cannabinoids may best be used for medical treatments,” said Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD, chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and the study’s co-principal investigator.

With the support of a $4.7 million gift — the largest amount ever donated for medical marijuana research in the United States — the University of California San Diego will study the effects of CBD on autism. This research, the first of its kind, will investigate how CBD might correct neurochemical imbalances in individuals with autism, a condition that impacts an estimated 1 in 68 children born today.

“There are unconfirmed reports that cannabidiol could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefits or its safety,” commented Igor Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if cannabidiol holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.”

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Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Announces Major Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program

Yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy held a press conference to announce numerous changes to the medical marijuana program in New Jersey that will greatly improve patient access. These include:

  • Approving additional qualifying conditions under a process that was begun in 2016 — including chronic pain and opioid use disorder — which will help reduce opioid dependence and overdose.
  • Setting up a process to add additional businesses and remove the vertical integration requirement, which will increase competition and therefore reduce prices for patients.
  • Eliminating the physician registry, so that all doctors who wish to do so can recommend medical cannabis to their patients without jumping through hoops.
  • Removing the 10% THC cap imposed by regulation, because some patients need products with more THC for the most effective treatment.

In addition, the Department of Health’s report recommended additional changes, which would have to be made by the legislature. These include increasing the amount of cannabis that patients can purchase each month and allowing patients of all ages to purchase edibles if that’s their preferred delivery method.

You can read the Department of Health's full report here. MPP will continue to work with the administration as it implements these changes,

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Prohibition

Burning Man and Marijuana Laws

Heading to Burning Man? Here’s what you need to know about Black Rock City’s and Nevada’s marijuana laws.

If you are heading to Burning Man this year, you may be thinking about bringing cannabis to the playa, now that Nevada finally legalized marijuana. Not so fast! Before you head out, there are some important things you need to know:

  • Burning man is held on FEDERAL land, and the Bureau of Land Management will enforce federal law, which unfortunately considers all marijuana possession a criminal offense — even if you have a medial card! BLM may also ticket you for violations of various rules in the “closure order,” though these, thankfully, are civil rather than criminal.
  • “Gifting” marijuana to others is drug trafficking under federal law, even though no money is being exchanged. And if you are caught selling marijuana, or are found in possession of more than 1 oz., you will likely be prosecuted under Nevada law by the local Pershing County Sheriffs, who also patrol Burning Man.
  • Especially important: GATE ROAD is also federal property, and in the past, a lot of the law enforcement activity has occurred while people are driving into the event. Keep in mind that you have fewer rights while driving than you do in your home (or in this case, your tent or RV), and can be stopped for a broken taillight or any other minor infraction by law enforcement, who may ask you for consent to search your vehicle (you have the right to refuse). Any marijuana consumption while on the Gate Road could result in a ticket or charges for DUI or marijuana possession.
  • Before or after Burning Man, when you are not on federal land: Adults ages 21 and older may legally purchase marijuana from retail establishments in Nevada! MPP supported the initiative that made Nevada the fifth of eight states to end prohibition.
  • Public consumption could result in a misdemeanor charge, with a fine of up to $600. And because the casinos’ regulators directed them to follow federal law, you cannot consume in hotel-casinos. MPP and our allies hope to establish safe, legal consumption spaces for tourists, but that won’t happen before Burning Man 2017. But you can consume in private homes, which may include private homes for rent.
  • You should also know that Nevada has very strict laws on driving under the influence of marijuana. There is a “per se” threshold of 2 ng/mL of THC in your blood, meaning that you can be convicted based on a positive test result whether you were impaired or not. If you are a regular marijuana consumer, please note that you can have this amount in your system even if you haven’t consumed in a couple of days.
  • If you do have an encounter with law enforcement, it’s always a good idea to know your rights. In addition, Burning Man would like to know about your experience, and if you get into trouble, you can reach out to the volunteer group Lawyers for Burners for help after you return home.

This legal information is provided as a courtesy and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to consult an attorney. MPP is offering this information as a public service and is in no way affiliated with the Burning Man Project.

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Tax and Regulate

Uruguay Marijuana Sales Begin This Week

Legal adult marijuana sales began in Uruguay on Wednesday, making it the first country in the world to establish a regulated market for the product. This follows previous phases of legalization permitting growers’ clubs and home cultivation.

Official sales have been long awaited following a legalization proposal put forward by former President José Mujica in 2012. This was given final approval by Parliament in December 2013 — legally regulating the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana — but has taken longer than expected to implement following a presidential election in 2015 and delays in funding for the regulatory authority.

Under the Uruguay model, the market is very much state-led. Two private firms — Symbiosis and the International Cannabis Corp. — have licenses to grow, package, and distribute marijuana, but production is capped to 400 tons annually (estimated to be around 15% of current consumption). These firms are not allowed to market the product, and the government determines the genetic makeup and THC content.

Legal sales take place in pharmacies in five-gram packages sold for 187 Uruguayan pesos ($6.50), with two products on offer: ‘Alfa 1’ and ‘Beta 1’. Only citizens and legal permanent residents aged 18 and older are allowed to purchase marijuana, and they must register with the government to do so. So far, almost 5,000 individuals have done so.

The introduction of this regulated market has been closely monitored and implemented, with the government taking measures to avoid creating a hub for marijuana tourism. All forms of advertising have been banned, and the production of infused edibles is prohibited. Additionally, consumers are limited to purchasing 40 grams a month — an amount monitored by fingerprint scans at every sale.

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Medical Marijuana

Texas Special Legislative Session Begins, Med. Marijuana Bill Introduced

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.

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Medical Marijuana

Colorado Governor Signs PTSD Bill

Colorado just added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program.

The Cannabist reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The bill opens the doors for Colorado residents to receive a doctor’s OK to use medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD symptoms.

It’s the first new qualifying condition added under the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001. The state’s eight other qualifying conditions are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, and severe pain.

The inclusion of PTSD among Colorado’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions has been a hotly contested issue of recent years.

Coordinated bids led by veterans groups fell short as the Colorado Board of Health quashed requests for PTSD’s inclusion and legislative measures languished in the General Assembly. The Colorado Board of Health has not added any new qualifying conditions since the medical marijuana law’s inception, citing lack of “peer-reviewed published studies of randomized controlled trials or well-designed observational studies showing efficacy in humans,” officials have previously told The Cannabist.

After the Board of Health’s most recent denial of the proposed addition of PTSD, proponents filed suit against the state. That case is pending in Colorado Appeals Court.

Proponents have argued that it’s not cost-effective for PTSD patients and it’s a risk to military veterans’ benefits to purchase recreational marijuana as a potential treatment for their ailments. Additionally, they argue that there is limited availability of suitable marijuana products — heavy in the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — that have been claimed effective for symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares and pain.

Twenty-five of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs now allow patients with PTSD to qualify. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs have been approved and are now awaiting governors’ signatures in New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Medical Marijuana

Indiana Governor Approves Low-THC Medical Bill

May 02, 2017 Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Eric Holcomb, HB 1148, IN, Indiana, THC

Just days after the bill was sent to his desk, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law HB 1148, a bill establishing a low-THC program for patients suffering from severe seizure disorders. The program will be run through the Department of Health and will allow patients access to cannabis oils containing less than 0.3% THC with their neurologists’ certification. The law takes effect on July 1, 2017, and you can check out our full summary of the program here.

While this program will only benefit a tiny fraction of patients in the state who could benefit from medical cannabis, MPP applauds this important policy step forward. Next session, we hope lawmakers will be persuaded to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program, something that 73% of Hoosiers support.

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