Medical Marijuana

Vermont Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

June 9th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

On Thursday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed S. 16, a bill that will significantly improve patients’ access to Vermont’s medical marijuana program. The bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions. It also authorizes an additional dispensary (bringing the statewide total to five), and it allows existing dispensaries to open one additional location each. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, an additional dispensary will be authorized.

You can read a complete summary of the bill here.

In other news, the governor’s office, legislative leaders, and advocates are making progress on a marijuana legalization compromise bill that could pass this summer during the veto session that is scheduled to begin on June 21.

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Tax and Regulate

Legalization Bill Gets a Hearing in Connecticut

June 9th, 2017 2 Comments Becky Dansky

Connecticut representatives proposed an amendment to another bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults’ use. This provided members a historic opportunity to debate the issue on the House floor, but the amendment did not actually receive a vote.

However, there is still a very real chance for ending marijuana prohibition in Connecticut this year.

Last month, Connecticut Democrats revealed a budget proposal that included the regulating and taxing of marijuana, demonstrating that legislative leaders in the majority party understand regulating marijuana like alcohol is a necessary part of a responsible budget solution.

If you are a Connecticut resident, please call or email your legislators and urge them to support ending marijuana prohibition.

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Medical Marijuana

Florida Lawmakers Reach Agreement on Medical Marijuana for Special Session

June 9th, 2017 9 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Florida Legislature reached an agreement to regulate medical marijuana in Florida resulting in Senator Rob Bradley filing SB-8A. Without this special session bill, the Florida Department of Health would have likely issued unduly restrictive regulations.

The bill calls for 10 new growers to be licensed this year. Five new licenses would go to previous applicants, and the other five would go to new applicants. Additionally, the bill requires four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.

Also, the number of dispensaries each grower can open will be capped at 25 – resolving the dispute that prohibited lawmakers from passing a regulation bill during regular session.

While this implementation bill is a huge step in the right direction, there is still work to be done in Florida in the coming months and years. Specifically, the bill does not fully allow patients to decide how to take medical marijuana and advocates in the Sunshine state have expressed a willingness to challenge this issue in court.

The amendment requires laws be in place by July and enacted by October, and because of this special session, it seems that the legislature will meet that target date.

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General

Decriminalization and Medical Cannabis Bills Advance to Governor’s Desk in New Hampshire

June 9th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Two important marijuana policy reform bills have received final approval from the New Hampshire Legislature and will soon head to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu. In a voice vote on June 1, the House concurred with the Senate’s amendment to HB 640 (decriminalization).

You can read a summary of the decriminalization bill here.

The House also concurred with amendments to HB 160, which adds PTSD to the medical cannabis law and makes other improvements. The governor has already announced that he intends to sign HB 640, which will become law 60 days after it is signed, but he has not yet made a public statement about HB 160.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today to thank him for supporting HB 640 and encourage him to sign HB 160.

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Prohibition

New Jersey Primary Elections a Victory for Marijuana Policy Reform

June 7th, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

This week’s New Jersey gubernatorial primary elections were great news for supporters of marijuana policy reform. On the Democratic side, Phil Murphy said during his victory speech that:

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana … And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

On the Republican side, the victor was Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. While she opposes legalization, she has said she supports decriminalizing marijuana and easing patient access to the medical marijuana program, unlike current Gov. Chris Christie.

The general election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. You must be registered to vote by October 17; click here for more information or to check your registration status. If you have been convicted of a crime, you can still vote as soon as your sentence (including probation) is completed, but you must re-register. If you’re unable to vote in person on Nov. 7, this website has lots of helpful information on voting by mail.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Protection Bill Headed to Governor

June 6th, 2017 3 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On Monday, SB 35, Sen. Yvonne Colomb’s bill to establish legal protections for medical cannabis industry workers, was approved by the Louisiana House. It now heads to Governor John Bel Edwards, who is expected to sign it into law.

The passage of this bill is critical to ensuring Louisiana will someday finally have a workable medical marijuana program. However, there are a few other tweaks — either to regulations that put doctors at risk under federal law or to statutes to require those regulations to be fixed — needed to ensure a workable program.

MPP sends hearty congratulations to everyone who contacted their elected officials on behalf of this important bill, particularly the hardworking team at Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana who have spent years on the ground organizing on behalf of the seriously ill in the state.

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Medical Marijuana

Colorado Governor Signs PTSD Bill

June 6th, 2017 No Comments Morgan Fox

Colorado just added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program.

The Cannabist reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The bill opens the doors for Colorado residents to receive a doctor’s OK to use medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD symptoms.

It’s the first new qualifying condition added under the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001. The state’s eight other qualifying conditions are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, and severe pain.

The inclusion of PTSD among Colorado’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions has been a hotly contested issue of recent years.

Coordinated bids led by veterans groups fell short as the Colorado Board of Health quashed requests for PTSD’s inclusion and legislative measures languished in the General Assembly. The Colorado Board of Health has not added any new qualifying conditions since the medical marijuana law’s inception, citing lack of “peer-reviewed published studies of randomized controlled trials or well-designed observational studies showing efficacy in humans,” officials have previously told The Cannabist.

After the Board of Health’s most recent denial of the proposed addition of PTSD, proponents filed suit against the state. That case is pending in Colorado Appeals Court.

Proponents have argued that it’s not cost-effective for PTSD patients and it’s a risk to military veterans’ benefits to purchase recreational marijuana as a potential treatment for their ailments. Additionally, they argue that there is limited availability of suitable marijuana products — heavy in the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — that have been claimed effective for symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares and pain.

Twenty-five of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs now allow patients with PTSD to qualify. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs have been approved and are now awaiting governors’ signatures in New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Medical Marijuana

Texas Bill Would Create Committee to Study Medical Marijuana Before Next Legislative Session

May 24th, 2017 No Comments Heather Fazio

On Monday, Texas House Representative Eddie Lucio, III introduced House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 149, which requests that the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives create a joint interim committee to study the feasibility of allowing medical cannabis in Texas.

While a resolution is not required to hold an interim committee study, passing this one will ensure that the study takes place. It also sends a signal that legislators care about patients.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Texas patients deserve these same protections.

If you are a Texas resident, please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support HCR 149.

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Prohibition

Vermont Governor Vetoes Legalization, but Offers ‘Path Forward’

May 24th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have made marijuana legal for adults in Vermont, but offered “a path forward” for passing it later this year. He specified a handful of changes that would need to be made for him to support the measure and said he believes the legislature has time to incorporate them and enact a revised version during the summer veto session.

MPP’s Matt Simon responded in a press release:

We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session. Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature respond by passing a revised legalization bill this summer. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and there is no good reason to continue treating responsible adult consumers like criminals.

Despite the veto, this is a huge leap forward. The passage of S. 22 demonstrates most members of both legislative chambers are ready to move forward with making marijuana legal for adults. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.

MPP and the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana will continue to work with the legislature and governor to ensure that a compromise can be reached before the end of the veto session in July.

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Tax and Regulate

Bill to Regulate Marijuana Introduced in New Jersey

May 22nd, 2017 1 Comment Kate Bell

Last week, Senator Nicholas Scutari (D) introduced his long-awaited bill that would end marijuana prohibition in New Jersey and replace it with a system that regulates and taxes cannabis similarly to alcohol. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support S3195.

While Gov. Chris Christie has made no secret of the fact that he would veto such a bill, he is leaving office in January 2018. It’s important to get New Jersey’s lawmakers to discuss this important policy and show their support of ending prohibition now, so that change can happen quickly once a new governor is in office. While Sen. Scutari’s bill doesn’t include every provision in MPP’s model bill — notably not allowing for home cultivation — it would be a dramatic improvement over the status quo. One noteworthy provision would allow people with marijuana possession convictions to expunge their records immediately.

Despite someone being arrested for marijuana possession every 22 minutes in New Jersey, prohibition hasn’t stopped cannabis use, and it has disproportionately impacted African-Americans. If you are a New Jersey resident, please ask your legislators for their support in ending this failed policy.

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