Medical Marijuana

Federal Court Ruling Gives Hope to Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers

August 23rd, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

In a decision released on August 16, a federal court ruled that the Department of Justice cannot spend funds to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers who are in compliance with state law.2000px-US-CourtOfAppeals-9thCircuit-Seal.svg

Time Magazine reports:

The ruling comes after a 2014 Congressional law that prohibited the DOJ from interfering in state implementation of marijuana laws. That law led people being prosecuted by the federal government to seek the dismissal of their charges, arguing they were in compliance with state law. On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, sending their cases back to lower courts to determine if they were in compliance with state laws. Some of the defendants ran Los Angeles based marijuana stores and faced charges for distributing 100 marijuana plants.

Tuesday’s decision by a three-judge panel was unanimous. But in its opinion, the court warned Congress could change its mind and again allow federal funding for prosecution of state-sanctioned marijuana use. “DOJ is currently prohibited from spending funds from specific appropriations acts for prosecutions of those who complied with state law,” the Court wrote. “But Congress could appropriate funds for such prosecutions tomorrow.”

John Hudak at the Brookings Institute agrees that this ruling is a positive development, but warns against celebrating too much. You can read his detailed analysis here.

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Medical Marijuana

First Dispensaries to Open in Florida, but Most Patients Still Left Behind

July 25th, 2016 2 Comments Kate Bell

The first dispensary in Florida to offer low-THC medical marijuana products is expected to open in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Unfortunately, there are still huge flaws in Florida’s law. Dispensaries may be opening up, but for most patients, the doors are still shut.YesOn2Florida

First, only low-THC marijuana will be available, and only patients with cancer, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms will qualify, leaving many patients behind. Although cannabis with more THC will eventually be available, it will only be for terminally ill patients.

Second, doctors are required to “order” a specific amount of cannabis, which is perilously close to prescribing it. This puts doctors at risk of violating federal law, and we expect that it will be very difficult for patients to find doctors willing to take this risk, which is why MPP does not classify Florida as a true medical marijuana state.

The best way to fix these problems is to support United for Care’s efforts to pass Amendment 2, which would create an effective medical program for Florida.

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Medical Marijuana

Kentucky Nurses Association Supports Medical Marijuana

July 13th, 2016 3 Comments Matt Simon

On July , the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations held a public hearing to consider testimony on the medical use of marijuana. At a press conference prior to the hearing, patients received a strong endorsement from the Kentucky Nurses Association, which announced its support for the proposed reform.Kentucky_Nurses_Association_Logo

“I hope that folks are going to see that when registered nurses say this is an important access to care issue, that folks are going to look at it as the medical and patient care issue that it is and not as a social issue,” said Maureen Keenan, executive director of the KNA.

It is apparent that some Kentucky legislators are evolving on the issue and becoming supporters of allowing medical marijuana. However, others remain vigorously opposed, and many still seem reluctant to discuss the issue in public. If you are a Kentucky resident, please take a moment to send your elected officials a message in support of medical marijuana legislation.

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Medical Marijuana

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

July 7th, 2016 11 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On July 7, the Arkansas Secretary of State announced that Arkansans for Compassionate Care’s (ACC’s) medical marijuana initiative qualified for this November’s ballot. The measure, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, would allow seriously ill patients who have a certification from their doctor to obtain medical cannabis from nonprofit compassion centers. In addition, patients – or their licensed caregivers – could cultivate up to 10 cannabis plants at home provided they take steps to ensure it is secure. For a complete summary, please click here.ARCompassion logo

However, the measure is facing competition from a second initiative, and polling suggests that if both initiatives make the ballot, it’s almost certain that both will fail. Therefore, ACC is urging the competing campaign to end their signature drive and unite behind the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.

If you wish to volunteer to help work towards reform, you can visit ACC’s webpage to sign up and get involved in this important effort. With your support, 2016 may be the year that voters approve medical marijuana in the Natural State.

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General, Medical Marijuana

Rhode Island Legislative Session Closes Without Legalization Vote

June 22nd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Rhode Island legislative session came to close early on Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support for reform, leaders of the House and Senate did not allow legislators to vote on the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act this year.riseal

Other notable outcomes of the 2016 legislative session include:

— Passage of Article 14 in the state budget, which makes significant changes to the medical marijuana program. You can find a summary of the new regulations here.

— Passage of legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

— Passage of legislation to regulate hemp cultivation.

We will continue our efforts to build support for ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in the summer and fall, with plans to work with lawmakers to re-introduce legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana in the 2017 legislative session.

In the meantime, we encourage supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform to become engaged in local legislative races and make marijuana policy reform a salient electoral issue. You can find information about local races in your district by visiting the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Becomes 25th Medical Marijuana State

June 10th, 2016 13 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed HB 523 into law, bringing the promise of relief to thousands of seriously ill patients in the Buckeye State. His action also marks an important milestone in the medical marijuana movement: Ohio’s new law means that now half the states in the U.S. have workable medical marijuana laws for their citizens. MPP_OMM_horizontal green

While this is an important step, more work lies ahead. Several agencies will administer the program, including the Department of Commerce, the State Board of Pharmacy, and the State Medical Board of Ohio. These agencies are expected to start developing rules in the coming months as Ohio begins the process of creating a workable system. Please join us in our efforts to ensure the system is fair and delivers on the promises lawmakers made to create a compassionate program.

We are very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to bring protections to seriously ill patients. Were it not for the donors, volunteers, and signature gatherers who gave so much to the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment, this day would not have come.  As the process moves forward, we will use that amendment as a road map as we work to implement and improve this law.

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Medical Marijuana

Vermont Governor Signs Bill Expanding Medical Marijuana Access

June 7th, 2016 6 Comments Matt Simon

The Vermont medical marijuana program took an important step forward today when Gov. Peter Shumlin signed S. 14, a bill that will make it possible for more patients to qualify for the medical marijuana program.

Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin
Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin

“At a time when opiate addiction is ravaging our state and drug companies continue to urge our doctors to pass out painkillers like candy, we need to find a more practical solution to pain management,” Shumlin said in a statement.

Specifically, the bill reduces the threshold for a pain diagnosis from “severe pain” to “chronic pain.” It also adds glaucoma as a qualifying condition, and it reduces the required provider-patient relationship from six months to three months. A summary of these changes and others made by S. 14 is available here.

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois Legislature Votes to Extend Medical Cannabis Program

June 2nd, 2016 4 Comments Chris Lindsey

On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate approved a key bill that would change the sunset date on the state’s medical cannabis program from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2020. The House approved the bill on Monday. The final votes on SB 10 capped off a whirlwind effort by lawmakers in the closing days of the 2016 session.

lang
Rep. Lou Lang

In addition to extending the program by two and a half years, SB 10 would allow patients with post-traumatic stress disorder or a terminal illness to qualify for medical cannabis. It would also allow doctors to simply state that a patient has a qualifying condition, rather than recommend cannabis. Finally, SB 10 would change the process for petitioning to add medical conditions and modify the composition of the advisory board.

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Sen. Jim Durkin

The vote was over a year in the making, and while the measure passed both chambers by a wide margin, its success was far from certain. Special thanks go to Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who both worked hard to gain critical support from lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner. Thanks also go to the many supporters and patients who reached out to lawmakers.

Once received, Gov. Rauner will have 60 days to sign the bill into law. SB 10 is available here.

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Campaign Suspends Signature Gathering After Legislature Passes Workable Medical Bill

June 2nd, 2016 1 Comment Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On May 25, 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 523, a limited but workable medical marijuana bill that would allow seriously ill patients to use and purchase cannabis. This bill is now heading to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, who could sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. If you are an Ohio resident, please urge him to sign this compassionate bill into law.

This legislation was a direct response to an initiative MPP funded and sought to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. OH sealThe medical marijuana program established by the bill does not provide for smoking, nor does it allow home cultivation. However, the bill as passed was greatly improved upon from its original version. Unlike some legislatively-approved bills, it includes chronic and severe pain as a qualifying condition.

Due to the legislature passing a workable bill, MPP has suspended its signature collection campaign. We are optimistic that seriously ill patients in Ohio will soon have access to this important treatment option upon their doctors’ recommendations. In conjunction with Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, we plan to continue advocacy efforts to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, while also working to better the program using the ballot initiative proposal as a roadmap for these improvements.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Getting Closer to a Workable Medical Marijuana Program

May 27th, 2016 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The Louisiana Legislature continues to repeat its mistakes. For nearly 40 years, flawed legislative drafting has prevented the establishment of a workable medical marijuana program. Yesterday, the House took another step forward by passing S.B. 180, but it failed to fix a key omission.

Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law S.B. 271, legislation intended to fix a poison pill so Louisiana can establish a medical marijuana program (you can read about it here). However, that law did not amend the criminal statutes, meaning the program would provide medical marijuana to seriously ill patients but allow for their prosecution.Seal_of_Louisiana.svg

S.B. 180, Sen. Frank Mills’ companion bill, seeks to close this loophole and does so for patients and caregivers. Unfortunately, the House did not even consider amending the bill to also shield growers, pharmacies, or their workers from criminal liability. While a court could find legal protections implicit for licensees, the omission could jeopardize the entire program.

S.B. 180 is now before the Senate for a concurrence.

When this session ends, Louisiana will be significantly closer to offering relief to seriously ill patients. The regulatory and licensing process will take many months, and final fixes can be made next session if they are needed. Meanwhile, the state can move to lay the structure for the program.

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