Medical Marijuana

Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bills into law

June 5th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed HB 579 and HB 627, which expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana! These two bills add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Congratulations to Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana and all the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois lawmakers pass major improvement to medical cannabis program, now on to the governor

June 1st, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

The Illinois General Assembly passed the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program Act yesterday during a whirlwind last day of its regular legislative session. If signed into law, SB 336 would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the medical cannabis program. It also dramatically improves current law by streamlining wait times and removing fingerprint requirements for patients.

This bill would provide welcome relief to thousands who need a safer alternative to harmful opioid drugs. For a summary written by bill supporters — including key changes to background checks and shortened approval process — click here. The final bill draft language is here.

A huge shout-out goes to the medical cannabis community, the warriors who worked so hard to make it happen, and primary bill sponsors, Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and co-sponsors for their leadership and support. Thousands of lives could improve as a result.

But without the governor’s signature, it won’t become a reality. Gov. Rauner has 60 days from the day he receives it to sign or veto the measure, and he needs to hear from you. If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support for the measure with the governor’s office.

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General

California: Key bill could automatically clear marijuana convictions

May 31st, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

In the coming days, lawmakers are expected to vote on providing relief for Californians saddled with harmful cannabis-related criminal histories. Under Assembly Bill 1793, any adult who was convicted of a marijuana offense that is no longer illegal would have their conviction erased automatically. This is a huge step forward to repairing decades of harmful policy.

Marijuana prohibition has harmed hundreds of thousands of individuals who now have cannabis convictions. This can limit career, educational, and housing opportunities. Since voters approved Prop. 64 in 2016, Californians have been able to petition to expunge (remove) these prior convictions, but the process can be costly and burdensome. And many don’t realize it’s an option.

AB 1793 would make the process automatic. It would direct the state Department of Justice to review the state’s criminal database and identify convictions that could be dismissed, downgraded, or simply expunged, and take the steps needed to make those changes.

If you are a California resident, contact your Assemblymember and voice your support for AB 1793.

To learn about the status of other cannabis reform bills in California, check out this East Bay Express article.

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Tax and Regulate

Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Releases General Assembly Voter Guide, Grades Candidates’ Marijuana Policy Positions Ahead of June Primary

May 31st, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition released a General Assembly voter guide that documents and grades candidates’ positions on cannabis policy. The release comes exactly two weeks before early voting begins in the 2018 primary election (June 14).

The web-based voter guide can be found at MarylandCannabisPolicy.org. In March, the Marijuana Policy Project released a separate guide to the Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates.

The General Assembly voter guide is based on a questionnaire that was sent to the 550 official House and Senate candidates contending in the June 26 primary. Candidates were asked for their positions on regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use and home cultivation, as well as for comments on the controversial implementation of the state’s medical cannabis program. The guide also notes whether candidates have previously co-sponsored bills to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults or refer the question to voters. Legislation that would have allowed voters to decide was debated in the General Assembly this year, but it did not receive a vote.

“Marylanders do not get to vote on legalization this year, but they do get to weigh in on the legislators who declined to put it on the ballot,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This is their chance to send a message to current and future lawmakers that legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis for adult use should be a priority for lawmakers next year. Most people recognize cannabis prohibition has been a costly failure and they want to know where their candidates stand.”

Sixty-four percent of likely Maryland voters support making cannabis legal for adults, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September 2016.

Advocates also expressed concern at the large number of candidates who have not responded to the questionnaire, which was sent out over a month ago. More than three out of four candidates have not responded yet, including more than 125 incumbents.

“Maryland’s cannabis policy affects everyone in the state, and it is receiving a significant amount of debate in the General Assembly,” Bell said. “Many voters care deeply about this issue, and they deserve to know where the candidates stand on it. It is disappointing to see so many candidates are still not on the record on cannabis policy, and we are encouraging voters in their districts to contact them directly to get them on the record.”

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General

Arkansas: Little Rock considers making marijuana possession a low priority

May 31st, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

A Little Rock city director has proposed formally making misdemeanor marijuana offenses a “low priority” for city law enforcement officials. As Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson highlighted, simple misdemeanor marijuana offenses can haunt an individual for life, making it harder to secure employment and higher education.

If you live in Little Rock, please contact your directors and ask that they support this commonsense reform. If you are unsure of your ward’s city director, please go here to find out which ward you live in. In addition to your ward director, be sure to also email the three at-large directors that represent the entire city. This proposal is a great step in the right direction and will help shape policies at the state level in Arkansas.

Unfortunately, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner had issues with the wording of the proposal and claimed the police department already views misdemeanor marijuana offenses as a low priority. If this is true, City Director Richardson explains there is no harm in simply putting this policy in writing.

If you’re a Little Rock resident, please take a few minutes to make sure the city directors know their constituents want Little Rock to make marijuana offenses a low enforcement priority. Then, please spread the word to others in Little Rock!

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Medical Marijuana

Utah’s medical cannabis initiative is officially on the ballot

May 30th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Great news! Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox officially announced yesterday afternoon that the medical cannabis ballot initiative has qualified for the November ballot. Legal medical cannabis just got one step closer to becoming a reality in Utah.

Our opponents’ attempts to stop our initiative from reaching the ballot have failed. Now the real campaign begins, and anti-cannabis crusaders are ramping up their efforts. Their strategy will be to buy TV ads and flood the airwaves with misinformation about the initiative.

The campaign needs your help to push back against the big donors who want to defeat this initiative. Please make a contribution to help fight back.

Walter J. Plumb III, owner of a pharmaceutical company, just dumped over $100,000 into our opponents’ account. Plumb has a long history of promoting falsehoods about cannabis in Utah, and that’s exactly what the opposition campaigns plan to do with his money.

This is a critical time, and we need all of our supporters to pitch in. The more the campaign can raise now, the less likely it is that our opponents will continue fighting, because they’ll realize they can’t win. Please consider making a donation to send a strong message that you won’t stand by while the opposition attempts to deprive Utah patients of legal and safe access to medical cannabis.

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Medical Marijuana

Victory: Florida judge rules that ban on smokable marijuana is unconstitutional

May 29th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

On May 25, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that patients “have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians.”

This is a big win for patient rights in Florida. After voters overwhelmingly approved the medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2016, the Florida Legislature passed a law to prevent patients from using smokable marijuana. As you may know, for some patients, smoking marijuana is more effective than vaping or using edibles.

People United for Medical Marijuana and Florida for Care, joined by patients Cathy Jordan, who has ALS, and Diana Dodsen, who has AIDS, challenged the legislature’s attempt to restrict patients’ options. Judge Gievers ruled that patients have the right to use medical marijuana in private under the constitution.

Unfortunately, soon after Judge Gievers’ ruling, the Florida Department of Health appealed the decision, resulting in an automatic stay and preventing the decision from going into effect immediately. We are hopeful that the court decision will remain in effect and that patients will soon have the right to use medical marijuana in whatever way that works best for them.

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois: Two medical marijuana improvement bills are on the move

May 25th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Illinois House of Representatives may soon vote on SB 336, which would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Last month, the Senate passed the measure by a wide margin, but its future in the House is less certain.

If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support with your lawmaker today.

While opioids can be highly addictive and dangerous, many seriously ill patients across the country are opting for a safer alternative. Medical cannabis has emerged as an effective option for hundreds of thousands of patients around the U.S. Yet, Illinois’ medical cannabis law does not include pain as a qualifying condition. It’s past time to allow patients to use cannabis instead of opiate-based medications.

Another bill which would also provide patients welcome relief passed both chambers and is now on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. If signed, HB 4870 would allow students who are registered patients to access medical cannabis at school under certain circumstances. While limited, it is an important improvement to ensure patients do not have to choose between their health and their education. If you are an Illinois resident, call Gov. Rauner at (217) 782-0244 and ask him to sign this important bill into law.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Legislature passes medical marijuana reform this session

May 24th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

This session, the Louisiana Legislature passed two bills to expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. HB 579 and HB 627 add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain. These bills are now on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. If you have a second, call the governor and politely ask him to sign HB 579 and HB 627. His constituent services number is (225) 342-0991.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Many thanks go out to the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

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Prohibition

Injustice in NYC: marijuana arrests far more likely for minorities

May 22nd, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

We’ve known for years that marijuana laws disproportionately harm people of color, but the results of a recent New York Times investigation are still shocking. According to the report:

  • Black New York City residents are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites; Hispanic residents are five times more likely.
  • During the first three months of this year, 89% of the 4,000 marijuana arrests in New York City were Black or Hispanic.

It doesn’t make sense to arrest an adult for possessing or consuming marijuana, but the racial disparities in these arrest rates make the injustice of marijuana prohibition even more intolerable.

The situation in New York City is so morally indefensible that the Manhattan district attorney announced his office will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana cases, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is directing police to stop arresting people for public consumption of marijuana.

Those are positive steps, but the solution is to repeal the destructive policy of marijuana prohibition.

 

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