Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Marijuana Bills Moving Through the Virginia Legislature

January 27th, 2017 2 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The Virginia General Assembly is in full swing, and lawmakers have already considered several marijuana policy reform bills. Sen. Adam Ebbin’s SB 1091 — which would end the automatic six-month driver’s license suspension for first offense possession of marijuana — was approved by the Senate on Friday.

Last year, the General Assembly approved a bill to allow in-state production of cannabidiol oil for patients with intractable epilepsy. However, to become law, that bill — Sen. Dave Marsden’s SB 1027 — needs to pass again this year. It passed the Senate on Jan. 26.

Companion legislation for both bills are now being considered in the House.

Unfortunately, the committee defeated two other bills, which would have decriminalized possession of marijuana — replacing possible jail time with a civil penalty.

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Prohibition

Decriminalization Bill Introduced in Wyoming

January 24th, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

A new bill, HB 157, has been introduced in Wyoming by Rep. Mark Baker (R-Sweetwater) and a bipartisan group of legislators that would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. This would avoid branding someone with a lifelong criminal record for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.

HB 157 would apply to up to three ounces of cannabis or marijuana products (such as edibles) containing 500 milligrams or less of THC. Under current Wyoming law, possession of even a tiny amount of marijuana carries a penalty of up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. Rep. Baker’s bill would reduce the penalty to a civil fine of up to $200.

If you are a Wyoming resident, please ask your legislators to stop arresting people for cannabis so law enforcement can focus on violent crime.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Update: Kentucky Bills Introduced

January 24th, 2017 1 Comment Matt Simon

Sen. Perry Clark has introduced two bills that would overhaul marijuana policies in Kentucky. SB 57 would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill Kentuckians, and SB 72 would legalize marijuana for adult use and create a regulated and taxed system.

SB 57 would protect qualifying patients from arrest and allow them to cultivate marijuana plants. It would also allow them to obtain medical marijuana from dispensaries, which would be regulated by the state.

SB 72 would take Kentucky in the direction of the eight states that have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. This would divert millions of dollars away from the illicit drug market and into the hands of Kentucky businesses that would be regulated and taxed by the state. Unfortunately, legislators are not likely to take this bill as seriously in 2017, so we believe it may be best to focus email advocacy in support of the medical marijuana bill until the political landscape changes.

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Tax and Regulate

Legalization Under Attack in Massachusetts

January 23rd, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, we received a clear indication of what to expect from the Massachusetts Legislature in the next few months. Politicians introduced a number of bills that would adversely impact the implementation of Question 4 and restrict the new law’s home cultivation and personal possession limits.

Legislators have filed bills that would push back sales of edibles by two years, reduce home grow and personal possession limits, give local officials the power to block marijuana establishments, unnecessarily restructure the Cannabis Control Commission, and increase the legal age limit to 25.

These are clear attempts to reverse the will of the 1.8 million voters who approved Question 4.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them that you oppose any attempts to significantly alter Question 4, including those listed above.

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Medical Marijuana

Proposed Florida Medical Marijuana Rules Spell Disaster for Patients

January 18th, 2017 9 Comments Kate Bell

Tuesday morning, the Florida Health Department released draft rules that are supposed to implement the medical marijuana law approved by 71% of Florida voters. It doesn’t appear regulators actually read Amendment 2, however. Instead, they tried to simply slightly expand the existing, and ineffective, low-THC program.

These rules would be a disaster for patients:

  • They require doctors to “order” specific quantities of cannabis, which is too much like an unlawful prescription and puts them at risk under federal law. If doctors don’t participate, patients won’t be able to enroll.
  • They give the Health Department — not the patient’s doctor — the ability to determine whether the patient’s condition is “substantially similar” to those listed in the amendment.
  • They continue the oligopoly of only seven businesses for an expected patient population of over 162,000 — far fewer businesses per patient than any other state! This will drive up prices and result in less variety of strains and products for different patients’ needs.
  • Even if additional businesses were eventually allowed, they would be subject to unfair and onerous requirements.

Thankfully, these rules are not final and the public has an opportunity to comment. There will be a series of public meetings around the state, and members of the public can provide comments on the Department of Health website.

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Medical Marijuana

North Dakota Senate Unanimously Votes to Delay Medical Marijuana Law

January 18th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The North Dakota Senate unanimously passed S.B. 2154 on Tuesday, which blocks the implementation of Measure 5 until either July or until a new replacement medical marijuana law goes into effect. Now, the bill heads to the House.

Unless representatives hear their constituents oppose this delay, S.B. 2154 is likely to pass. Lawmakers need to heed the will of the voters, 64% of whom passed Measure 5 last November. Many patients can’t afford to wait. Perhaps more alarming still is the bill’s implication that the Legislature may replace voters’ medical marijuana bill. All signs show that any substitution would limit patients’ rights or possibly even be unworkable.

If you are a North Dakota resident, please ask your representative to stand up for patients and to vote NO on S.B. 2154!

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Research

National Academies of Sciences Confirms Marijuana’s Benefits, Dispels Myths

January 12th, 2017 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The National Academies of Sciences released a report on the health impacts of marijuana Thursday, confirming the existence of medical benefits and dispelling some long-held myths about the substance.

The review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts found, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective” for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity.

The report also dispels several myths about the health impacts of marijuana. It found no links between smoking marijuana and the development of lung, head, or neck cancers, nor did it establish a link between marijuana use and asthma or other respiratory diseases. The respiratory problems that it did link to smoking marijuana, such as bronchitis, appear to improve after the consumer ceases their use.

According to the report, “There is no or insufficient evidence” linking marijuana use to all-cause mortality (death), deaths from overdose, or occupational accidents or injuries. It also found no substantial evidence of a link between the use of marijuana and the use of other illegal drugs. The report also does not appear to make any links between marijuana use and violent or aggressive behavior. Several of these findings were also included in the National Academies of Sciences’ previous report on marijuana, which was released in 1999.

 

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Research

Survey Shows Majority of Police Support Marijuana Policy Reform

January 12th, 2017 2 Comments Morgan Fox

In a survey released this week, Pew Research Center showed that 69% of police officers polled support allowing marijuana for medical or adult use, despite frequent opposition to sensible reforms from law enforcement organizations.

Washington Post reports:

The nationally representative survey of law enforcement, one of the largest of its kind, found that 32 percent of police officers said marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 37 percent said it should be legal for medical use only. An additional 30 percent said that marijuana should not be legal at all.

Police are more conservative than the general public on the issue. Among all Americans, Pew found that 49 percent supported recreational marijuana, 35 percent supported medical marijuana only, and 15 percent said the drug should not be legal.

Pew also found a generational divide among cops on the marijuana issue, although not as large as the one that exists among the general public. Officers under age 35 were more likely to support recreational marijuana (37 percent) than those between the ages of 50 and 60 (27 percent). Among the general public, those numbers stand at 67 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

Law enforcement groups have often been among the staunchest opponents of marijuana legalization measures. In 2016, such groups made small but significant contributions to oppose legalization measures in California and Arizona, citing concerns over issues such as underage use and intoxicated driving.

This trend is good news for marijuana policy reformers, as support for legalization increases among the people tasked with enforcing prohibition, and as younger cops move into leadership positions.

It should be noted that a Pew survey released in October showed that 57% of the general public supports making marijuana legal for adults, but that study had different sample sizes and methodology than the study just released.

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Medical Marijuana

South Carolina Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

January 10th, 2017 No Comments Becky Dansky

Today, South Carolina Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy introduced comprehensive medical cannabis legislation — the South Carolina Medical Cannabis Act. The bill would allow seriously ill patients to safely access medical cannabis from regulated dispensaries. At a press conference in the capitol today, lawmakers, patients, and advocates discussed the legislation.

While 28 states and Washington, D.C. now have effective medical marijuana laws, South Carolina’s seriously ill patients remain criminals if they use a treatment option that is safer than many prescriptions.

Under the proposed law, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) would license and regulate a limited number of qualified medical cannabis cultivation centers, processing facilities, independent testing laboratories, and dispensaries. It would issue registration cards to patients with qualifying medical conditions who have received written recommendations from their physicians, allowing them to purchase a limited amount of medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

If you’re interested in getting involved locally, visit the SC Compassion website, and please ask your lawmakers to support compassionate medical marijuana legislation.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Medical and Legalization Bills Pre-Filed in Kentucky

January 10th, 2017 1 Comment Matt Simon

The Kentucky Legislature reconvened last week for the 2017-18 session, and Sen. Perry Clark has already prefiled two bills that would reform marijuana laws in the Commonwealth. One bill would end Kentucky’s criminalization of adult marijuana consumers, instead taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. Another bill would permit seriously ill Kentuckians — both adults and minors — to access medical marijuana.

Effective medical marijuana programs have been created in 28 states, and Kentucky patients should have the same access. Meanwhile, legalizing marijuana for adult use would allow the state to generate tax revenue from adult marijuana sales while providing the tools needed to adequately regulate the production and sale of marijuana.

Under current laws, possession of less than eight ounces of marijuana is punishable by 45 days in jail and a $250 fine. There is a narrow medical exception for patients with intractable seizures, but the marijuana must be provided by a physician, which would be a violation of federal law.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please contact your lawmakers today and urge them to support compassionate medical and adult-use marijuana policy reforms.

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