Medical Marijuana

Congress Extends Budget Protecting Medical Marijuana Programs Though April

December 13th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project
State medical marijuana patients can breathe a sigh of relief … for now. Congress just passed a spending bill that will keep the Department of Justice’s budget intact until April 28, 2017.united_states_capitol_-_west_front
This bill temporarily renews a spending provision that protects medical marijuana patients and businesses from being targeted by the DOJ as long as they follow state law.

When Trump’s pick for attorney general, anti-marijuana Senator Jeff Sessions, steps into office, he will not be able to go after lawful medical marijuana patients and entities for several months (if he opts to do so at all).

Since these protections are only temporary, we must push strongly to keep intact the current federal policy that allows states to regulate marijuana without intrusion by the federal government.

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Medical Marijuana

Montana Court Rules Medical Marijuana Providers Can Start Helping More Patients Immediately

December 8th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey
In an important new development in Montana, District Court Judge James Reynolds ruled Wednesday that medical marijuana providers may serve more than three patients starting immediately. This is welcome news to over 11,000 patients who may now re-establish critical access to medical marijuana. Without the ruling, severe limitations for patients would not have been removed until July of 2017. Following today’s decision, there is no need for delay.2000px-flag_of_montana-svg
Voters in Montana adopted I-182 in November, undoing many harmful provisions in the state medical marijuana law and creating new protections for businesses. Unfortunately, a typo contained in the measure suggested that providers could not re-establish their relationship with patients well into next year. The state would not simply correct the error, so the Montana Cannabis Industry Association (MTCIA), which supported the measure, sought relief in state court. Today’s ruling is yet another victory for patients and those who provide to them.
Special thanks to the MTCIA and their supporters for their hard work in support of the measure, and for taking the matter to court when relief was critical to thousands.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Dept. Of Health Asking for Patient Input on Medical Marijuana Regulations

December 8th, 2016 1 Comment Becky Dansky
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has asked patients and caregivers to complete a brief survey to help gauge public interest in the medical marijuana program. The responses will be considered as part of the process of drafting medical marijuana regulations relating to patients and doctors.
The patient survey takes less than five minutes to complete and asks just 12 questions, including where you live in Pennsylvania,255px-flag_of_pennsylvania-svg what condition you seek to treat, and the types of treatments in which you are interested. You can also submit comments about the implementation process.
The Department of Health is also seeking public input from individuals interested in applying for a grower/ processor and/or dispensary permit — that survey is available here. The department is seeking to engage the community to determine both the level of interest in seeking these permits and where potential applicants intend to open these types of facilities.
Your answers to these surveys will be considered in the drafting of regulations related to doctors and patients.
MPP will continue to advocate for the strongest possible medical marijuana program for patients, but we need your help. Make sure Pennsylvania’s program includes you and your loved ones by completing the patient survey by December 14.

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Medical Marijuana

Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Texas

December 8th, 2016 6 Comments Heather Fazio
On Dec. 6, Texas Senator Menéndez (D-San Antonio) pre-filed SB 269, a comprehensive medical cannabis bill. If passed, this legislation will bring safe and legal access to Texas patients with debilitating medical conditions like cancer, PTSD, chronic pain, and Crohn’s disease, among others.txas-map-flag
Last year, Texas passed the Compassionate Use Act, which was intended to allow access to low-THC cannabis for those with intractable epilepsy. Sen. Menéndez’s bill will make several improvements, including fixing a fatal flaw in the bill, allowing cannabis with any amount of THC, and expanding the law to include other qualifying conditions. As Senator Menéndez says, “Compassion should not be exclusive. Twenty-eight states have recognized the medical benefit of cannabis, including conservative states like Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota … It is time Texas steps up to the plate on behalf of our sickest patients.”
Legislators need to hear from you. If you are a Texas residentplease take a moment to send an email to the lawmakers who represent you. If you have a personal story to share or medical experience that has led you to support medical cannabis, please personalize your letter. Your representative and senator cannot properly represent you if they don’t know you.

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Medical Marijuana

New York Closer to Allowing Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain

December 5th, 2016 3 Comments Kate Bell
On Dec. 1, the New York Department of Health announced that it will add chronic pain as a qualifying condition for the medical marijuana program. It will publish proposed rules, “which will include language specifying the chronic pain conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana.”2000px-flag_of_new_york_city-svg
Under current law, patients only qualify if their pain is caused by one of a few qualifying conditions. Allowing medical cannabis for patients with chronic pain will vastly expand the number of seriously ill patients who can enroll in the program. Medical cannabis can reduce patients’ reliance on dangerous opioids and lead to a statewide reduction in opioid overdoes.
Once the Department of Health publishes its proposed rules, the public will have the opportunity to comment before they become final. Stay tuned for more information about how you can submit your comments, and please pass the good news on to other compassionate New Yorkers.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Adds PTSD to Qualifying Conditions

December 5th, 2016 5 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke
In a press conference last week, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the Minnesota Commissioner of Health, announced the department will add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. Patients who suffer from PTSD and have their doctor’s certification will be eligible to sign up for a medical cannabis card beginning August 2017.flag_of_minnesota-svg
Dr. Ehlinger also announced that the department will expand the program by allowing medical cannabis topicals, including patches, lotions, creams, gels, and ointments. Topicals have been shown to be a safe form of administering medical cannabis.
Last year, intractable pain was added to the Minnesota program, significantly increasing patient participation. The program — one of the most limited in the nation — had suffered from a lack of patient participation due to few qualifying conditions. The Commissioner reviewed a total of nine petitions requesting program expansion. While MPP wishes they had all been adopted, adding PTSD will help many hundreds of patients and is a significant victory.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Initiatives Sweep Election Night

November 15th, 2016 5 Comments Morgan Fox

All four of the medical marijuana initiatives being considered by states on Election Night were approved by voters, adding to the considerable momentum of marijuana policy reform sweeping the country. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved initiatives for new medical marijuana programs, and Montana voted to significantly expand access and improve its existing program.

medicalAs of now, there are effective medical marijuana laws on the books in 28 states and the District of Columbia, covering 198 million Americans (or roughly 62% of the population). Patients in states without legal, safe, and reliable access to medical marijuana should continue to put pressure on their elected representatives to pass sensible reforms at the state and federal level. Together, we can make sure the seriously ill aren’t treated like criminals for much longer.

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Medical Marijuana

North Dakota Overwhelmingly Approves Medical Marijuana Initiative

November 9th, 2016 No Comments Becky Dansky
Yesterday, a staggering 64% of North Dakota voters approved Measure 5, a compassionate medical marijuana initiative.yes5
Measure 5 will allow patients with a qualifying condition and a doctor’s recommendation to receive medical marijuana through a state-licensed dispensary. Patients living more than 40 miles from a dispensary will be able to cultivate up to eight plants.
The law will go into effect on December 8, when the Department of Health will begin the implementation process. It will need to develop regulations to implement the program, including the processes for licensing businesses and enrolling patients.

Check out MPP’s summary of the measure.

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Medical Marijuana

Huge Victory for Medical Marijuana Patients in Montana

November 9th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey
Yesterday, 55% of Montana voters approved a compassionate medical marijuana ballot measure — I-182. The vote is welcome relief to over 11,000 patients who were left without reasonable access.
This is the second time Montana’s voters moved marijuana policy forward. In 2004, Montana became the tenth state to adopt a medical marijuana measure. In 2011, lawmakers replaced it with an intentionally unworkable system. Thankfully, voters yesterday weighed in and restored patients’ medical cannabis access.182
This key victory comes after years of court battles over the state’s harsh 2011 law. Among other things, the existing law limited providers to three patients and required the state in initiate an investigation into any doctor that recommended medical marijuana to 25 or more patients each year.

The I-182 win not only rolls back those harmful provisions, it creates important new protections. Medical marijuana can be tested, regulators can issue licenses for businesses and inspect them, and workers also gain critical protections.

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Medical Marijuana

D.C. Council Passes Major Improvements to Medical Marijuana Program

November 3rd, 2016 1 Comment Kate Bell
On Nov. 1, the D.C. Council unanimously passed B21-0210, which includes many improvements to the medical marijuana program, such as: 1) independent laboratory testing will be required, to ensure patients know what they are purchasing; and 2) advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, dentists, and naturopathic physicians, in addition to M.D.s, will be able to recommend medical cannabis.
A few changes were made before the final vote on the bill. One of these was the adoption of Councilmember Grosso’s amendment (initially supported only by Councilmember Robert White) to make the medical marijuana industry more inclusive. Previously, all individuals with a felony conviction or a misdemeanor drug conviction were barred from the industry, disproportionately impacting African Americans, who were more likely to be arrested for drug possession than whites despite similar usage rates. Now, individuals with misdemeanor drug convictions or felony convictions for possession with intent to distribute marijuana will no longer be barred.
There are other provisions that require D.C. to implement an electronic tracking system for medical marijuana purchased in the District before they can take effect. Then, patients will be allowed to visit whichever dispensaries they choose — instead of being limited to one — and patients enrolled in another state’s medical program will be allowed to visit dispensaries in D.C.

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