Medical Marijuana

Michigan Lawmakers Adopt Regulatory System for Medical Marijuana, Allow Extracts

September 27th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey
The Michigan Legislature passed a series of bills this month that overhaul the state’s medical marijuana program. This is the culmination of a multi-year debate on how, and whether, the state should allow and regulate medical marijuana businesses. It is a major — and controversial — milestone for patients and those who serve them. The bills now head to the governor, who is expected to sign them.mi-seal
For many years, federal and state law enforcement authorities obtained warrants, raided locations, arrested compassionate business owners, took property, and jailed individuals they said violated state law. It has been clear that Michigan’s patchwork system, in which some local communities embrace businesses that state law considers illegal, needed revision. News stories involving aggressive law enforcement tactics, particularly in rural communities in Michigan, have been far too common.

Based on similar laws in other medical marijuana states, the bills passed today represent an opportunity for businesses to get much-needed legal protections. While few business owners like the idea of being subject to more regulation and greater costs, the updates to Michigan’s program were important and to some extent inevitable.

In addition to providing for state-legal dispensaries, the bills will finally allow Michigan patients to use extracts and products like oils and edibles that are made from them.

MPP thanks the National Patients Rights Association and those who support it for working so hard to help guide these changes in the best direction possible

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Medical Marijuana

Chris Christie Approves PTSD As Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana

September 16th, 2016 1 Comment Kate Bell
On September 14, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed A 457, which adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program. Christie, who has frequently said he opposes medical marijuana, cited the large number of PTSD sufferers among military veterans as his reason for supporting the bill.cc
Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators and Gov. Christie — and to DPA’s Compassionate Use Campaign — for making this victory possible. We at MPP are thrilled that patients with PTSD, a devastating mental health condition, will be able to seek relief from medical marijuana where conventional treatments have failed. In addition, the New Jersey Department of Health is currently considering petitions to add additional qualifying conditions to the state’s program.

This law takes effect immediately, and you can find instructions on how to register as a patient here.

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect

September 9th, 2016 1 Comment Chris Lindsey
September 8 marks the first day Ohio’s medical marijuana law will be in effect, bringing new protections for qualified medical marijuana patients. Under the law’s “affirmative defense,” patients will no longer be subject to criminal conviction for possessing marijuana if they meet certain requirements. However, protections are limited, and they fall short of providing access to medical cannabis in Ohio, not expected for at least a year.MPP_OMM_horizontal green
The affirmative defense provides limited, temporary protections for patients while the formal program rolls out. Among other things, it requires a signed letter from a licensed physician, including information about the patient and the medical condition treated. Importantly, the protections do not apply to cultivation or sale of marijuana. It also does not prevent patients from being cited, it only prevents a conviction. For a closer look at what an affirmative defense is and how patients can get the protections it offers, click here.
September 8 also marks the official start date for agencies to begin writing and adopting rules for medical cannabis businesses. We are watching the process carefully to ensure the system is as workable as possible for patients.

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Medical Marijuana

Majority of Montana Medical Marijuana Patients to Lose Access

August 31st, 2016 1 Comment Chris Lindsey
The state of Montana’s nearly 12-year history with medical marijuana takes a turn for the worse on September 1, when most medical marijuana patients are expected lose legal access. After years of court challenges which delayed implementation, most of the state’s 2011 law will be in effect, severely limiting the number of people available to provide medical marijuana to patients.2000px-Montana-StateSeal.svg
Under the newly-enforced law, providers may only serve three patients — a change that state agency officials estimate could leave as many as 10,000 seriously ill patients without access. The only alternative is for patients to grow at home, which most are too ill or unable to do. It is not yet clear how many patients will be able to make the switch.
But hope is on the horizon. Voters on November 8 will have a chance to support I-182, a voter initiative that would restore access for patients and even improve the law in big ways. Among other improvements, businesses would receive state licenses to operate and critical legal protections, and medical marijuana could be tested for safety and potency. Polls indicate voters support these types of changes.
This measure comes at a critical time for patients across the state, and we applaud everyone at Montana Citizens for I-182 and those who support them for giving thousands of patients a chance.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Draft Business Rules Released

August 31st, 2016 No Comments Becky Dansky
Since Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16) went into effect on May 17, 2016, the Department of Health has been working to implement the new law. Thus far, it has created regulations regarding — and accepted applications for — the safe harbor letter program, which provides legal protections for those caring for minor patients when they administer medical marijuana. The department recently announced that 53 caregivers have received a letter.PA Seal
On August 18, the department released draft temporary regulations regarding growers and processors and asked for comments. The draft created a strong foundation for the final version of the rules, though it is unclear when the department will publicize the final version. MPP submitted our recommendations for strengthening the draft on August 23. It is expected that they will soon release the draft temporary regulations for dispensaries as well.
The department also announced a public survey for patients and caregivers, which allows individuals to provide input on the application process and the financial hardship program.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Laws Associated with Decrease in Reported Sick Days

August 30th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

A new study published in Health Economics revealed an unexpected association between states that have medical marijuana laws and the number of sick days reported in those states.

Washington Post reports:

Darin F. Ullman, an economist who recently received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, wanted to know what effect, if any, the enactment of medical marijuana laws has had on employee absentee rates.

A fair amount of research has been done on the aggregate impact of illicit marijuana use on workplace productivity. Generally speaking, the most recent research — gathered and summarized in this 2014 paper — indicates that most marijuana use has little effect on workplace productivity, although chronic or heavy pot use can be a problem.

But there hasn’t been a lot of research into the impact of licit marijuana use — particularly medical marijuana use — on the workplace. So Ullman decided to look into what happened to employee sick-day use in states that legalized medical marijuana, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey (CPS).

So Ullman examined before-and-after sick-day data from 24 states that had medical marijuana laws at the time of his study. On average, he found that “respondents were 8% less likely to report being absent from work due to health issues after medical marijuana laws” were passed. The CPS numbers also suggest that states with fewer restrictions on the use of medical marijuana, such as on the number of conditions it could be recommended for, had more of a decrease in sick-day use than states with stricter regulations.

It is important to note that this study does not prove a definitive link between medical marijuana laws and absenteeism, but it goes a long way to dispelling the idea that marijuana causes decreased productivity. As with most issues surrounding marijuana, more research is needed.

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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

North Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

August 22nd, 2016 No Comments Mason Tvert

Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers across the state, a medical marijuana initiative — Measure 5 — will appear on North Dakota’s ballot on November 8. Advocates submitted more than 17,600 signatures to the Secretary of State, who certified the initiative for the ballot on August 11.

Measure 5 — the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act — would allow patients with a qualifying condition and a doctor’s recommendation to access medical marijuana from a state-licensed compassion center. Patients living further than 40 miles from a compassion center will be able to grow up to eight plants at home.

To participate in the program, patients would apply to the Department of Health for a registry identification card. They would submit an application, a fee, and a written certification from a doctor that confirms the patient has a qualifying condition and that they are likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefits from the medical use of marijuana.

To learn more about the measure, check out MPP’s summary!

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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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