Medical Marijuana

Time Runs Out on Compromise to Fix Maryland Medical Cannabis Program

April 21st, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

After long and difficult negotiations and consultation with advocates, industry stakeholders, and the Attorney General, legislators agreed on a compromise bill, HB 1443, to address the lack of diversity in the Maryland medical cannabis industry without delaying the program. Unfortunately, the clock ran out on the last night of session and the final vote occurred at 12:02 a.m. — just after the end of session.

This is really unfortunate for two reasons. First, because two lawsuits that would have been dismissed if the bill had passed will continue; they could derail the entire program. Second, even though African-Americans have borne the brunt of marijuana prohibition, being almost three times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession, no African-American-owned companies received pre-approval to grow or process cannabis. This unfairness is why the legislative Black Caucus championed the bill.

Under Maryland law, the Governor is required to call a special session if a majority of legislators in both chambers of the General Assembly petition him to do so. It appears the speaker of the House of Delegates, Mike Busch, is the primary obstacle to this happening. If you are a Maryland resident, please call the speaker’s office and ask him to do the right thing. A good bill with overwhelming support should not fail just because the clock ran out before the final shot hit the basket.

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Medical Marijuana

West Virginia Becomes the 29th Medical Marijuana State

April 19th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Today, West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation!

Gov. Jim Justice signed the law today after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House earlier this month.

While the law isn’t perfect, it’s a great start toward providing safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. A summary is available here.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight. In fact, MPP, along with many other advocates, has been working tirelessly to get a medical marijuana bill passed for years.

MPP released the following in a press release:

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Iowa

April 17th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee introduced a bill to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in the state. The bill already received unanimous support by a subcommittee at a hearing last week, and may receive a full Senate vote as early as this week.

The bill would allow patients suffering from cancer, PTSD, intractable pain, and a host of other aliments access to this life-saving treatment option if their doctors certify them for the program. The bill would not allow patients to smoke cannabis, but patients could still vaporize or consume their medicine in other forms. You can read more about the bill here.

The Iowa legislative session is almost over for the year, so in order to pass this bill, your lawmakers need to hear from you. If you are an Iowa resident, please contact your legislators.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

N.H. Senate Committees Approve PTSD and Chronic Pain Bills

April 17th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Slowly but surely, the New Hampshire Senate appears to be evolving in support of marijuana policy reforms. After hearing compelling testimony from patients and medical providers, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted to pass two important bills that would improve the therapeutic cannabis program: HB 157, which would allow patients to qualify if they suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain, passed 4-1, and HB 160, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition, passed 5-0.

Unfortunately, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police persuaded Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley to offer a terrible amendment to the Senate Judiciary Committee on HB 640, the decriminalization bill. You can read more about that here.

Committees also heard testimony on HB 472, which would allow qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of cannabis, and HB 215, which would create a study commission to consider legalization for adult use, though no action was taken on those bills.

Please call or email your senator today, and urge him or her to support these sensible and compassionate reforms.

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Medical Marijuana

Patient Registry Open in Maryland

April 17th, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

After lengthy delays, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is finally opening the patient registry in a phased rollout beginning on Monday, April 10. Please see below for the full announcement from the Commission. Dispensaries are required to be operational by December 9, 2017.

IMPORTANT NOTE: MEDICAL CANNABIS IS NOT AVAILABLE YET IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND. Pre-approved growers, processors, and dispensaries are still constructing their businesses, and depending on the date these operations commence, the Commission expects that medical cannabis will be available to qualifying patients by the end of summer 2017. The Commission will make a public announcement once medical cannabis is available to the public, and dispensary locations will be listed on the website.

This phased early rollout will allow patients time to establish a bona fide doctor-patient relationship months before any medicine is available. Open enrollment will officially begin on Monday, April 24.

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Medical Marijuana

North Dakota Medical Bill Improved and Passed in the House

April 17th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

North Dakota Sen. Rich Wardner’s medical marijuana bill, SB 2344, continues to work its way through the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, being revised and improved along the way. While an earlier version of the bill would have significantly harmed patients, the current version — which passed the House in early April— leaves more of the will of the voters intact. Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of establishing a medical marijuana program last November, in a margin greater than the support received by President Trump.

The current version of the bill, which you can read about here, allows whole plant cannabis and other preparations, but does not permit extracts or edibles. Advanced practice nurses will now be able to issue certifications to patients, though 18-year-olds will still need their parents’ permission to enroll. Unfortunately, the bill would eliminate the tightly controlled home cultivation provision that was included in Measure 5, along with the petition process to expand the list of qualifying conditions. However, terminal illnesses will be added to the program, along with critical legal protections originally missing from the voter initiative.

While MPP still believes the current version of the bill has severe limitations, we are pleased that the bill has improved, and recognize that clear legal protections are an essential element of medical cannabis laws.

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Medical Marijuana

WV Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

April 7th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

West Virginia is on the verge of becoming the next state with an effective medical marijuana law!

The bill received final approval in the West Virginia Legislature on Thursday and is headed to the desk of Gov. Jim Justice. He has publicly expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana and is expected to sign the bill into law, making West Virginia the 29th state to adopt an effective medical marijuana law.

SB 386, titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form. This differs from the original version of the bill and the medical marijuana programs in most other states. A summary of SB 386 is available at http://bit.ly/2nbUAq3.

MPP issued the following statement in a press release:

“Some of the House amendments to the bill are concerning, but it still has the potential to provide relief to thousands of seriously ill WestVirginians,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “We commend the Legislature for passing this compassionate and much-needed legislation, and we encourage Gov. Justice to sign it into law.

“This will be an important and, in some cases, life-saving program,” Simon said. “It is critical that the state implement it promptly. We are committed to working with officials to make sure the program is as effective as possible and to get it up and running in a timely fashion. Many patients cannot afford to wait much longer.

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Medical Marijuana

West Virginia House of Delegates Approves Medical Marijuana Bill With Amendments

April 4th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

A bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it was approved by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday. SB 386 passed 76-24 on third reading after being revised on second reading.

SB 386 was originally introduced by Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) in the Senate, where it was approved 28-6 last week. The House version of the bill, which is titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, would charge the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries, while the Senate version would set up a 16-member independent commission. Under the amended House bill, patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions could use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form. This differs from the Senate version of the bill and most of the other state medical marijuana programs.

MPP issued the following statement in a press release:

“The Legislature has answered the prayers of many seriously ill West Virginians and their families,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “This could be life-saving legislation for some patients. We commend House members for working diligently to make sure it passes this year, but we urge the Legislature to continue efforts to make sure the program truly works for the seriously ill and to ensure it does not unnecessarily drive up costs.”

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Medical Marijuana

West Virginia Senate Approves Medical Marijuana

March 30th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The West Virginia Senate has voted to approve a medical marijuana bill Wednesday. SB 386, sponsored by Sen. Richard Ojeda, passed the Senate in a 28-6 vote! The bill will now move to the House.

In the past, House Speaker Tim Armstead has not been willing to allow medical marijuana bills to be considered. However, if enough delegates are willing to stand up and support this critical reform, it will be possible to overcome the speaker’s opposition.

“We applaud the Senate for standing up for seriously ill West Virginians and giving them hope with this much-needed legislation,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “For many patients, medical marijuana is a far safer alternative to opioids and other prescription drugs. Any delegates who are serious about addressing the opiate crisis in West Virginia need to consider the substantial benefits this law could have on that front.  We hope Speaker Armstead will review the facts and give this bill a fair shake in the House.”

If you are a West Virginia resident, please call your delegates’ offices right now, and urge them to support allowing medical marijuana in West Virginia.

It’s also imperative that you call House Speaker Tim Armstead’s office at (304) 340-3210, and urge House leaders to stop stonewalling on this important issue.

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Medical Marijuana

Georgia House Approves Medical Marijuana Improvement Bill

March 10th, 2017 2 Comments Chris Lindsey

Both the Georgia House and Senate this year presented bills that would make changes to the state’s low-THC medical marijuana law. The better of the two, House Bill 65, just passed the House by a huge margin of 156-6 in support. The bill is now on its way to the Senate.

House Bill 65 would increase the list of qualifying medical conditions, adding HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, peripheral neuropathy, and others, and it would offer basic protections for those patients visiting from out-of-state. Unfortunately for many veterans and others, PTSD was removed from the list while in committee earlier this week.

The Senate’s bill, SB 16, has already passed the Senate. Unfortunately, while it would add autism as a qualifying medical condition, it would lower the total amount of THC allowable in medical marijuana products from 5% to 3%, harming the program for all who participate.

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