Medical Marijuana

Georgia House Approves Medical Marijuana Improvement Bill

March 10th, 2017 No 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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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bills Progressing in Iowa

March 10th, 2017 2 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The Iowa Legislature is in full swing, and over a dozen bills have been filed that would improve the state’s marijuana policies. Sen. Brad Zaun’s (R) penalty reduction bill, SF 280, has already been reported favorably out of a Senate subcommittee. Under current Iowa law, possessing even the tiniest amount of marijuana can result in a serious misdemeanor conviction, a fine of up to $1,000, and six months of incarceration. SF 280 would reduce these penalties for up to five grams, resulting in a simple misdemeanor conviction, a fine of up to $625, and a 30-day sentence.

Meanwhile, the Legislature is also considering several medical-cannabis related measures. Iowa’s existing low-THC oil law allows patients with epilepsy to possess the oil but provides no means to actually purchase it; the law is set to expire on July 1, 2017. HSB 164 would eliminate this sunset provision, making the law permanent. Better yet, HSB 132 would set up a system to license cultivators and dispensaries to produce and distribute the oil, while SSB 1176 would establish a full workable medical marijuana program.

If you are an Iowa resident, please ask your lawmakers to support SF 280 and other bills to improve Hawkeye State policies.

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Medical Marijuana

Limited Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in Indiana

March 10th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

A pair of bills that would allow certain patients to use low-THC cannabis are winding their way through the Indiana Legislature. One of the bills is markedly stronger than the other.

SB 15 would allow patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to administer low-THC, CBD-rich medical cannabis with their doctor’s authorization. The bill would create a registry program and permit pharmacists to dispense the oil. It has passed the Senate and is now in the House Committee on Courts and the Criminal Code.

The other bill, HB 1148, provides an affirmative defense for patients, and their caregivers, who suffer from Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndromes for low-THC cannabis oil. This means a patient would still be subject to arrest for use of the oil, and would simply have a defense once in court. The House passed that bill unanimously last week and it is now pending in the Senate. While MPP is not opposed to HB 1148, SB 15 is clearly the better proposal since it protects more patients, provides stronger legal protections, and includes more patients with seizures.

While neither bill is the comprehensive reform Hoosiers deserve — and overwhelmingly support — it is clear that lawmakers are listening on this important issue. Please ask your representative to stand up for compassion.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in West Virginia

March 3rd, 2017 4 Comments Matt Simon

Compassionate legislators in the West Virginia House and Senate introduced bills that would create a medical marijuana program in the state. In the House, Delegate Mike Pushkin and 11 co-sponsors introduced HB 2677, a comprehensive medical marijuana bill titled the “Patient Freedom Act.” In the upper chamber, Senator Richard Ojeda and 11 co-sponsors introduced SB 386, which would make medical marijuana legal and create a Medical Cannabis Commission to administer the program.

Unfortunately, House Speaker Tim Armstead has made it clear that he opposes medical marijuana. Your delegates and senators need to hear from you that this issue is important so they will be motivated to help convince the speaker that a medical marijuana law would be good for West Virginia.

If you are a West Virginia residentplease contact your state legislators today and tell them it’s time to move forward with a compassionate medical marijuana program.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Kansas

February 16th, 2017 1 Comment Kate Bell

A proposal to make Kansas the 29th medical marijuana state has been introduced by Senator David Haley (D-Kansas City), and it’s supported by local advocacy group Bleeding Kansas. SB 155, the Kansas Safe Access Act, would allow seriously ill Kansas residents with certain qualifying conditions to access medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

Sixty-eight percent of Kansans believe that marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. There are a multitude of studies that show that medical marijuana can help patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other devastating conditions. These patients should not have to wait any longer or risk jail time to access treatments that may help them.

If you are a Kansas resident, please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support this sensible legislation.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Marijuana Bills Moving Through the Virginia Legislature

January 27th, 2017 2 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The Virginia General Assembly is in full swing, and lawmakers have already considered several marijuana policy reform bills. Sen. Adam Ebbin’s SB 1091 — which would end the automatic six-month driver’s license suspension for first offense possession of marijuana — was approved by the Senate on Friday.

Last year, the General Assembly approved a bill to allow in-state production of cannabidiol oil for patients with intractable epilepsy. However, to become law, that bill — Sen. Dave Marsden’s SB 1027 — needs to pass again this year. It passed the Senate on Jan. 26.

Companion legislation for both bills are now being considered in the House.

Unfortunately, the committee defeated two other bills, which would have decriminalized possession of marijuana — replacing possible jail time with a civil penalty.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Update: Kentucky Bills Introduced

January 24th, 2017 1 Comment Matt Simon

Sen. Perry Clark has introduced two bills that would overhaul marijuana policies in Kentucky. SB 57 would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill Kentuckians, and SB 72 would legalize marijuana for adult use and create a regulated and taxed system.

SB 57 would protect qualifying patients from arrest and allow them to cultivate marijuana plants. It would also allow them to obtain medical marijuana from dispensaries, which would be regulated by the state.

SB 72 would take Kentucky in the direction of the eight states that have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. This would divert millions of dollars away from the illicit drug market and into the hands of Kentucky businesses that would be regulated and taxed by the state. Unfortunately, legislators are not likely to take this bill as seriously in 2017, so we believe it may be best to focus email advocacy in support of the medical marijuana bill until the political landscape changes.

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Medical Marijuana

Proposed Florida Medical Marijuana Rules Spell Disaster for Patients

January 18th, 2017 9 Comments Kate Bell

Tuesday morning, the Florida Health Department released draft rules that are supposed to implement the medical marijuana law approved by 71% of Florida voters. It doesn’t appear regulators actually read Amendment 2, however. Instead, they tried to simply slightly expand the existing, and ineffective, low-THC program.

These rules would be a disaster for patients:

  • They require doctors to “order” specific quantities of cannabis, which is too much like an unlawful prescription and puts them at risk under federal law. If doctors don’t participate, patients won’t be able to enroll.
  • They give the Health Department — not the patient’s doctor — the ability to determine whether the patient’s condition is “substantially similar” to those listed in the amendment.
  • They continue the oligopoly of only seven businesses for an expected patient population of over 162,000 — far fewer businesses per patient than any other state! This will drive up prices and result in less variety of strains and products for different patients’ needs.
  • Even if additional businesses were eventually allowed, they would be subject to unfair and onerous requirements.

Thankfully, these rules are not final and the public has an opportunity to comment. There will be a series of public meetings around the state, and members of the public can provide comments on the Department of Health website.

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Medical Marijuana

North Dakota Senate Unanimously Votes to Delay Medical Marijuana Law

January 18th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The North Dakota Senate unanimously passed S.B. 2154 on Tuesday, which blocks the implementation of Measure 5 until either July or until a new replacement medical marijuana law goes into effect. Now, the bill heads to the House.

Unless representatives hear their constituents oppose this delay, S.B. 2154 is likely to pass. Lawmakers need to heed the will of the voters, 64% of whom passed Measure 5 last November. Many patients can’t afford to wait. Perhaps more alarming still is the bill’s implication that the Legislature may replace voters’ medical marijuana bill. All signs show that any substitution would limit patients’ rights or possibly even be unworkable.

If you are a North Dakota resident, please ask your representative to stand up for patients and to vote NO on S.B. 2154!

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Medical Marijuana

South Carolina Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

January 10th, 2017 No Comments Becky Dansky

Today, South Carolina Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy introduced comprehensive medical cannabis legislation — the South Carolina Medical Cannabis Act. The bill would allow seriously ill patients to safely access medical cannabis from regulated dispensaries. At a press conference in the capitol today, lawmakers, patients, and advocates discussed the legislation.

While 28 states and Washington, D.C. now have effective medical marijuana laws, South Carolina’s seriously ill patients remain criminals if they use a treatment option that is safer than many prescriptions.

Under the proposed law, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) would license and regulate a limited number of qualified medical cannabis cultivation centers, processing facilities, independent testing laboratories, and dispensaries. It would issue registration cards to patients with qualifying medical conditions who have received written recommendations from their physicians, allowing them to purchase a limited amount of medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

If you’re interested in getting involved locally, visit the SC Compassion website, and please ask your lawmakers to support compassionate medical marijuana legislation.

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