Medical Marijuana

UPDATE: Congressional Budget Deal Extends Medical Marijuana Protections

September 8th, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

A budget deal approved in Congress on Friday extended federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers until Dec. 8, potentially creating another opportunity to ensure they are inluded in the FY 2018 budget.

Earlier this week, the House Rules Committee blocked an amendment introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) from being heard by the House during the rest of the budget negotiations. This made it very likely that the amendment, which prevents the Department of Justice  from targeting state medical marijuana programs, would not be included in the final budget for next year. Without inclusion, these protections would have expired Sep. 30.

This budget deal gives us a little more time to put pressure on Congress to do the right thing. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support medical marijuana.

Read more



Medical Marijuana

House Committee Blocks Medical Marijuana Protection Amendment

September 7th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

An amendment that would keep the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana programs was voted “out of order” by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, preventing the House from including it in its version of the FY 2018 federal budget.

This amendment, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would prevent the Department of Justice from spending any resources to target medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a similar budget amendment in the Senate, which was approved in a committee voice vote in July.

In 2014, Congress passed a similar amendment to an omnibus-spending bill. This amendment was subsequently renewed, but it now stands to expire on September 30 unless the Senate version of the budget is approved in a joint House/Senate conference committee or Congress fails to pass a budget.

If the amendment is not included in the budget or carried over, the Department of Justice will have nothing to prevent it from targeting state medical marijuana programs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly stated that he opposes marijuana being legal for any reason and in May sent a letter to Congress urging it to vote down the amendment and allow him to resume prosecuting medical marijuana providers.

MPP’s Don Murphy released the following statement:

When an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose federal interference in state medical marijuana programs, it is unconscionable not to let their Representatives vote on whether to continue this policy. Unless Congress chooses the Senate budget version, millions of seriously ill patients and the legitimate businesses that provide them with safe access to their medicine will be at risk of prosecution.

“This vote is a slap in the face of patients, their families, their elected representatives, and the 10th Amendment.

UPDATE: A federal budget deal has extended the medical marijuana protections until Dec. 8, but inclusion in the final budget for next year is still in danger.

Read more



Medical Marijuana

Indiana Republican Introducing Medical Marijuana Legislation Next Session

September 5th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

In August, Republican Representative Jim Lucas announced that he is planning to introduce medical marijuana legislation in the upcoming legislative session in Indiana. This is great news for the Hoosier State! Last fall, a poll commissioned by WTHR/Howey Politics found that 73% of voters in Indiana support medical marijuana legislation.

Will you ask your lawmakers to stand with voters and protect Indiana patients? If you are an Indiana resident, please urge your lawmakers to support Rep. Lucas’ medical marijuana bill.

We are so excited that a Republican has stepped up to help champion medical marijuana legislation. It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, so please take a second and send a “thank you” to Rep. Jim Lucas.

Read more



Medical Marijuana

Republican Congressman Urges Conservatives to Support Medical Marijuana Ahead of Crucial Budget Rules Vote

September 5th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

On Tuesday after Congress returned from recess, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher published a column in the Washington Post asking his conservative colleagues to support his budget amendment that would protect state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers from federal interference.

Not long ago, a supporter of mine, visiting from California, dropped by my Capitol office. A retired military officer and staunch conservative, he and I spent much of our conversation discussing the Republican agenda.

Finally, I drew a breath and asked him about an issue I feared might divide us: the liberalization of our marijuana laws, specifically medical marijuana reform, on which for years I had been leading the charge. What did he think about that controversial position?

“Dana,” he replied, “there are some things about me you don’t know.” He told me about his three sons, all of whom enlisted after 9/11.

Two of his sons returned from the battlefield whole and healthy. The third, however, came home suffering multiple seizures each day. His prospects were bleak.

His medical care fell under the total guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose doctors came under federal restraints regarding the treatments they could prescribe. (Among the treatments allowed were opioids.) Nothing worked.

Finally, a sympathetic doctor advised our young hero to see him in his private office, where he could prescribe medication derived from cannabis. The prescription worked. The seizures, for the most part, ceased.

“Dana,” said my friend, “I could hug you right now for what you’ve been doing, unknowingly, for my son.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read more



Medical Marijuana

Tennessee Has Organized a Medical Marijuana Committee

August 28th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally formed a committee to study the potential impacts of legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee.

The committee will be chaired by Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, who has been a staunch advocate for medical marijuana in the Volunteer State.

Speaker Harwell has recently said she is “open” to considering a law allowing medical marijuana in Tennessee and has launched a House task force to fight the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that states with medical marijuana laws are associated with a significant reduction in mortality from opioid abuse; these states saw a 25% reduction in opioid overdose deaths, compared to states without such laws.

Read more



Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire Adds Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions

August 17th, 2017 1 Comment Matt Simon

New Hampshire’s therapeutic cannabis law is finally expanding to include patients who suffer from chronic pain. HB 157 went into effect on Tuesday, adding “moderate to severe chronic pain” as a qualifying condition. This new law will allow many more Granite Staters to use cannabis as an alternative to prescribed opioids — a critically important reform for a state that is struggling to turn the tide against opiate addiction.

Until this week, patients could only qualify with a pain diagnosis if their pain was deemed to be “severe” and related to one of the specific medical conditions provided for in the law. As a result, it was much easier for medical providers to prescribe opioids than to certify patients for therapeutic cannabis. Patients who would like to apply now that the law has changed can access the updated application forms here.

For those who are waiting for the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that is scheduled to take effect on August 27.

Read more



Medical Marijuana

Utah Campaign Launches Signature Drive in Salt Lake City

August 16th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Utah Patients Coalition held a news conference on Thursday to announce the official launch of signature gathering efforts to get a medical marijuana initiative on the Nov. 2018 ballot.  Volunteers began collecting signatures in downtown Salt Lake City immediately following the event.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act received approval from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox on August 10 to begin gathering signatures after supporters held 10 public hearings across the state and met with various state departments and stakeholders. More than 113,000 valid signatures are required to qualify for the ballot.

Good 4 Utah reports:

They are due April 15, 2018, but this group wants to get all the signatures turned in before the 2018 Legislative Session starts.

“The legislature has had an opportunity for the last three or four years to make substantive policy on this and has failed to do so, so now I think it’s time for the people to decide on this issue,” said DJ Schanz, Utah Patients Coalition Campaign Director.

The initiative would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to legally and safely access medical cannabis with the recommendation of their doctor. It limits the number of dispensaries and cultivators, allows local zoning for medical cannabis facilities, prohibits using medical cannabis in public view, maintains the illegality of driving while intoxicated, and closely mirrors the legislation passed by the Utah Senate in 2016. Home cultivation and smoking medical cannabis would not be permitted.

Read more



Medical Marijuana

New York Health Dept. Proposes Medical Marijuana Improvements

August 10th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project
The New York Department of Health proposed additional changes to the state’s medical marijuana program today. While the official proposed regulations will not be released until August 23, the changes appear to be very positive. Once the rules are released, the public will have 30 days to comment.
New forms of medicine would be allowed, including topicals and chewable lozenges, as well as “[c]ertain non-smokable forms of ground plant material,” which will hopefully be clarified in the full text of the regulations. Having whole plant cannabis available for vaporization could dramatically reduce prices for patients, and we will seek to make sure it’s permitted.
Other changes would reduce burdens on medical professionals, hopefully encouraging more of them to participate. For more information and the complete list of proposed changes, you can read the Department of Health’s full announcement.

Read more



Medical Marijuana

New Approach Missouri Gathers More Than 50K Signatures

August 10th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

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.

Read more



Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot

August 7th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

New Approach South Dakota has 90 days to collect the remaining signatures needed to place marijuana initiative measures on the 2018 ballot.

Two petitions are being circulated — one seeks to legalize marijuana for medical uses and the other to legalize certain amounts of marijuana for adult use and to regulate and tax marijuana businesses.

Signatures are tied to the number of votes cast in the state’s most recent gubernatorial election, so each petition needs at least 13,871 signatures by November 2017 to make it on the November 2018 ballot.

To read the petitions and for more information about adding your signature, check out New Approach South Dakota’s website.

Read more