Medical Marijuana

New York Legislature Pass Bill to Add PTSD to Medical Marijuana Program

June 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Tuesday, the New York Senate took an important step toward improving the state’s medical marijuana program by passing S 5629, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. The Assembly had already overwhelmingly passed an identical bill, A 7006. The bills now head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

MPP’s Kate Bell said the following in a press release:

“State lawmakers are standing up for thousands of New Yorkers who are suffering from PTSD and might benefit from medical marijuana,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We hope Gov. Cuomo will do the same and sign this important legislation. With a single swipe of his pen, he can help countless people find relief.”

Gov. Cuomo has not yet indicated if he’s supportive. If you are a New York resident, please call him now at (518) 474-8390, and politely ask him to make this important treatment option available to patients! To make it easy, we have a sample script available here. You can also click here to send an email in support.

There are only two drugs that are FDA-approved to treat PTSD, and neither has been shown to be more effective than a placebo. Both of these drugs, and others commonly prescribed “off-label,” have dangerous side effects that cannabis does not. Many veterans suffer from PTSD, which is why the State Council of Veterans’ Organizations has come out in support of this bill. Shouldn’t those who have served our country and others who have survived trauma have access to any treatment that might help ease their suffering?

Please ask Gov. Cuomo to allow New York to join the other 26 states — of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs — that include PTSD as a qualifying condition by signing this legislation.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Health Department Announces First Round of Permits

June 20th, 2017 No Comments Becky Dansky

At a press conference today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the recipients of the first round of medical marijuana business permits. A total of 12 cultivation and processing permits were awarded, two in each of six designated regions.

The department received approximately 177 applications for this type of permit. The announcement of up to 27 dispensary permit recipients will be made before the end of June.

Act 16, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, allows for up to 25 grower/ processor permits and up to 50 dispensary permits. The department is expected to issue additional permits after evaluating where additional medical cannabis access is necessary. If program implementation maintains its current pace, dispensaries should be able to begin serving patients in less than year. The department recently released regulations for doctors, but has yet to release regulations for patients wishing to participate in the program. The registry for doctors will be available in July.

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Medical Marijuana

New Mexico Health Secretary Rejects Medical Cannabis Board Recommendations

June 19th, 2017 1 Comment Becky Dansky

Earlier this year, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed H.B. 527, which would have strengthened and expanded the state’s medical cannabis program. Among other changes, the bill would have created legal protections for agency staff and employees of labs, product manufacturers, and others; added protections for patients visiting from other medical cannabis states; and expanded qualifying medical conditions.

Patients and their families then called on Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher to adopt similar provisions, which the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board had already recommended. Despite the support of the board and the Legislature, Secretary Gallagher announced that she is rejecting most of the recommended changes, while reserving judgment on some issues.

Although this development is deeply disappointing, the fight isn’t over. Marijuana policy reform is always a difficult battle, but across the country, medical programs continue to expand while public support grows stronger.

Thanks to the hard work of advocates like our colleagues at the Drug Policy Alliance and other committed activists, an enormous amount of progress has already been made in New Mexico — which was the first state to explicitly allow medical marijuana for PTSD. With continued determination, more improvements will surely be on the horizon.

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Medical Marijuana

Vermont Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

June 9th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

On Thursday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed S. 16, a bill that will significantly improve patients’ access to Vermont’s medical marijuana program. The bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions. It also authorizes an additional dispensary (bringing the statewide total to five), and it allows existing dispensaries to open one additional location each. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, an additional dispensary will be authorized.

You can read a complete summary of the bill here.

In other news, the governor’s office, legislative leaders, and advocates are making progress on a marijuana legalization compromise bill that could pass this summer during the veto session that is scheduled to begin on June 21.

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Medical Marijuana

Florida Lawmakers Reach Agreement on Medical Marijuana for Special Session

June 9th, 2017 9 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Florida Legislature reached an agreement to regulate medical marijuana in Florida resulting in Senator Rob Bradley filing SB-8A. Without this special session bill, the Florida Department of Health would have likely issued unduly restrictive regulations.

The bill calls for 10 new growers to be licensed this year. Five new licenses would go to previous applicants, and the other five would go to new applicants. Additionally, the bill requires four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.

Also, the number of dispensaries each grower can open will be capped at 25 – resolving the dispute that prohibited lawmakers from passing a regulation bill during regular session.

While this implementation bill is a huge step in the right direction, there is still work to be done in Florida in the coming months and years. Specifically, the bill does not fully allow patients to decide how to take medical marijuana and advocates in the Sunshine state have expressed a willingness to challenge this issue in court.

The amendment requires laws be in place by July and enacted by October, and because of this special session, it seems that the legislature will meet that target date.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Protection Bill Headed to Governor

June 6th, 2017 3 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On Monday, SB 35, Sen. Yvonne Colomb’s bill to establish legal protections for medical cannabis industry workers, was approved by the Louisiana House. It now heads to Governor John Bel Edwards, who is expected to sign it into law.

The passage of this bill is critical to ensuring Louisiana will someday finally have a workable medical marijuana program. However, there are a few other tweaks — either to regulations that put doctors at risk under federal law or to statutes to require those regulations to be fixed — needed to ensure a workable program.

MPP sends hearty congratulations to everyone who contacted their elected officials on behalf of this important bill, particularly the hardworking team at Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana who have spent years on the ground organizing on behalf of the seriously ill in the state.

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Medical Marijuana

Colorado Governor Signs PTSD Bill

June 6th, 2017 No Comments Morgan Fox

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

Texas Bill Would Create Committee to Study Medical Marijuana Before Next Legislative Session

May 24th, 2017 No Comments Heather Fazio

On Monday, Texas House Representative Eddie Lucio, III introduced House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 149, which requests that the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives create a joint interim committee to study the feasibility of allowing medical cannabis in Texas.

While a resolution is not required to hold an interim committee study, passing this one will ensure that the study takes place. It also sends a signal that legislators care about patients.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Texas patients deserve these same protections.

If you are a Texas resident, please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support HCR 149.

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Medical Marijuana

Florida Legislature Fails to Implement Medical Marijuana Initiative, Leaving it to Health Officials

May 8th, 2017 2 Comments Mason Tvert

The Florida legislative session ended without a medical marijuana implementation bill being passed. As a result,  state health officials will now have to implement Amendment 2, the initiative approved last November by more than 71% of voters.

According to a report from the News Service of Florida:

A potential deal collapsed Friday evening after the House amended its proposal (HB 1397) to impose a cap of 100 retail outlets for each of the state’s medical marijuana operators, over the objections of some Democrats. The Senate had proposed a cap of 10, at least for now.

The Florida Department of Health now has until next month to issue regulations for implementation of Amendment 2. Unfortunately, the Department of Health’s proposed guidelines, circulated earlier this year, are too restrictive and inconsistent with the overwhelmingly popular amendment. MPP submitted public comments criticizing the Department’s proposed regulations.

If you reside in Florida, please contact the Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use and request that regulations be focused on patient access and market accessibility. Specifically, tell the Department of Health to:

  1. Allow physician recommendations without requiring doctors to specify a type or quantity of medical marijuana;
  2. Permit patients to use medical marijuana by smoking, vaping, or consuming edibles; and
  3. Avoid any limitation on the doctor-patient relationship and allow doctors to recommend after a reasonable assessment.

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Medical Marijuana

Congress Passes Spending Bill Continuing Protections for State Medical Marijuana Programs

May 4th, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Justice Department will continue to be prohibited from interfering in state medical marijuana laws under the federal spending bill passed Thursday in the Senate. The bill has already passed the House, and President Trump has said he will sign it.

The legislation includes a provision that is intended to prevent the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

The provision stems from an amendment originally sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), which was first approved by the House in May 2014. It was approved again by a larger margin in June 2015, then included in the continuing appropriations packages that have funded the federal government since October 2016.

Unfortunately, the spending package approved Thursday also includes a provision that prevents the District of Columbia from regulating the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for adult use. It was originally introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) and approved in 2015, after District voters approved a ballot initiative to make possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

MPP’s Robert Capecchi released the following statement:

“Congress appears to be growing increasingly comfortable with states adopting their own marijuana policies,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unfortunately, spending prohibitions like these expire at the end of the fiscal year, so there is still a need for a long-term solution.

“The time is right for Congress to adopt permanent legislation that protects individuals from federal enforcement if they are in compliance with state laws,” Capecchi said. “It is difficult to understand what they’re waiting for. The vast majority of U.S. voters oppose the federal government interfering in state marijuana laws, and there is now near-universal support for legalizing medical marijuana.”

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