Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Pennsylvania

February 15th, 2018 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Today marks an historic day in the Keystone State. Less than two years after the governor signed Act 16 into law, six dispensaries have begun selling medical marijuana to patients and caregivers. Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country, and those involved in implementation should be applauded for reaching this point ahead of schedule.

To date, 10 dispensaries and 10 grower/processors have been approved to operate. Over the next few months, we expect up to 81 dispensary locations to open across the state. More than 17,000 patients have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, with nearly 4,000 certified by a physician. As of this week, 708 physicians have registered with the department and 376 have competed the training to become certified practitioners.

However, the implementation process is not yet complete. The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is still working on its recommendations for changes to the program. This week, they met to discuss one of the most important issues — allowing patient access to medical cannabis flower. This is a vital expansion of the program that will improve patient access and lower costs. Only two states have attempted a medical program without flower, which led to disastrous results for patients. You can learn more about the importance of patient access to flower here.

If you want to learn more about becoming a registered patient, visit the DOH website.

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Medical Marijuana

West Virginia to Consider Medical Marijuana Improvements

February 14th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, who championed last year’s medical cannabis legislation, has put forward a new bill for 2018 seeking to make the medical cannabis program more accessible for patients.

SB 487 would make several positive changes to the law, including allowing patients and caregivers to grow their own limited supply of cannabis. It would also eliminate onerous restrictions on doctors and make it easier for patients to qualify. You can read a summary of the bill here.

The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Board is also expected to consider changes to the current law later this month.

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Prohibition

Federal Spending Deal Keeps Medical Marijuana Protections in Place… For Another Few Weeks

February 9th, 2018 4 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

After a government shutdown lasting only a few hours, Congress passed yet another temporary spending bill on Friday that will keep medical marijuana patients and providers safe for a little while longer. The bill includes the amendments that has been part of the spending budget since 2014, which prevents the Department of Justice from spending resources to prosecute people or businesses that are in compliance with state laws. This deal is set to expire on March 23.

Congress will need to pass another spending bill before then in order to continue keeping state medical marijuana programs safe. In the event of a government shutdown, there will be nothing to stop federal prosecutors from targeting medical marijuana programs around the country.

However, supportive lawmakers are using the temporary reprieves to push for even more comprehensive protections, including amendments that would extend protections to businesses in the adult-use market.

Please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support state marijuana protections in the final spending bill.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois Bill Would Allow Patients to Substitute Medical Marijuana for Opiates

February 6th, 2018 4 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Illinois State Sen. Dan Harmon is championing a bill that would allow individuals who are prescribed opioids to qualify for access to medical cannabis. His bill, SB 336, is expected to receive a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Executive Committee.

Hundreds of thousands of people are prescribed opioids in Illinois. These drugs carry a very high risk of dependency, and they can cause significant long-term harm including the risk of overdose death. Medical cannabis is now providing relief around the country and reducing incidents of drug ovedose deaths where it is available. But Illinois is one of only three medical marijuana states where pain patients don’t qualify, unless they have a specifically listed disease.

This bill would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions. It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day.

If you are an Illinois resident, please tell your senator to support SB 336 and vote “yes” if it is placed before the senator for a vote.

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Medical Marijuana

Virginia Senate Unanimously Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Bill

February 5th, 2018 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On February 5, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed legislation that will permit doctors to recommend CBD or THC-A oil to their patients for any diagnosed condition or disease. The companion bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Friday, and the bill will now go to Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to sign it.

This bill expands Virginia’s CBD oil law, which previously limited the use of CBD oil to cases of “intractable epilepsy” only. This bill represents a major expansion of that program, allowing doctors to determine whether CBD or THC-A oil is right for any given patient. This law will provide relief to thousands of patients in the commonwealth and could help curb the ongoing opioid crisis in Virginia. We applaud all of the activists and patients who worked diligently to see this moment.

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Tax and Regulate

After Legalizing Possession, Some Vermont Lawmakers Moving to Regulate Marijuana

February 1st, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Passage of Vermont’s legalization bill, H. 511, was a huge step forward for the state — and the nation. Now that Gov. Scott has signed this bill allowing personal possession and cultivation, effective on July 1, it’s time for the legislature to begin moving forward with plans to regulate and tax marijuana production and sale for adults 21 and older.

Some legislators who voted NO on H. 511 have already said that they support regulating and taxing marijuana. Others are reconsidering their positions now that it’s clear that marijuana will soon become legal. A bill on this issue, H. 490, is still active in the House after being carried over from last year.

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Tax and Regulate

Maryland Begins Session With Marijuana Policy on the Agenda

January 31st, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Maryland’s legislative session began earlier this month, and there are several cannabis policy issues already on the agenda. MPP and our allies in the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition are supporting an effort to let the people of Maryland decide whether the state should tax and regulate cannabis for adults.

Unlike many other states, Maryland citizens can’t collect signatures to put an issue on the ballot. In order for the people to vote on an issue, lawmakers must pass a bill that puts a constitutional amendment on the ballot. We hope that Maryland lawmakers will allow voters to put an end to the ineffective, costly, and unfair policy of cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system that allows adults to lawfully consume a substance that is safer than alcohol.

In other news, the legislative black caucus introduced a bill that would license additional businesses that could go to women and minority-owned businesses in light of a disparity study that found these groups were at a disadvantage in the licensing processes. And Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, has introduced bills that would expand Maryland’s decriminalization law, SB 127 and SB 128.

If you are a Maryland resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them you want the chance to vote on legalization this year.

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Medical Marijuana

West Virginia Considering Medical Marijuana Improvements

January 31st, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The 2018 legislative session is underway in West Virginia, and several bills have already been introduced to make the medical cannabis program more workable and accessible for patients.

The two most important bills that have been introduced so far are HB 4147 and HB 4149. HB 4147 would require the state to begin issuing ID cards to qualified patients and caregivers in July of this year instead of waiting until July 2019. HB 4149 would allow patients to purchase cannabis flowers from dispensaries, rather than limiting patients to more expensive extracts.

If you are a West Virginia resident, please email your state legislators today and tell them patients can’t afford to wait another year and a half, and that they need access to whole plant cannabis.

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Prohibition

Penalty Reduction Bill Introduced in Iowa

January 25th, 2018 No Comments Morgan Fox

The Iowa Legislature is back in session, and there is renewed hope for common-sense marijuana policy reform. Last week, a Senate subcommittee recommended passage of SF 432, a bill that would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession. The bill would change the penalty for first offense possession of marijuana under five grams from a serious misdemeanor to a simple misdemeanor.

The bill, though not perfect, would be a step in the right direction for Iowa. You see, the Iowa Legislative Services Agency studied the bill and reported that this reform would result in “considerable fewer jail admissions” and “savings to local governments.”

The fiscal note also detailed how marijuana prohibition disproportionately affects the African American community. In FY 2016, 18% of the persons convicted for first-offense marijuana possession were African American, yet African Americans only make up 3.5% of the Iowa population and have nearly equal marijuana usage rates as white Iowans.

If you are an Iowa resident, please ask your lawmakers to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.

 

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Bill Introduced That Protects Legal Marijuana Businesses

January 24th, 2018 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind Obama-era guidance that protected legal marijuana businesses, legislators in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would prohibit state and local police from participating in federal cases against people or licensed operators who follow state marijuana laws. The bill also serves as a response to the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, who declined to ensure that that his office would uphold the will of Massachusetts voters, calling marijuana a “dangerous drug” and refusing to limit potential prosecutions to illicit dealers.

The State Police and the Boston and Worcester Police Departments have indicated that they will not participate in federal interdiction, but other smaller departments may still be tempted by the prospect of receiving unencumbered funds from civil asset forfeitures. This legislation, if passed, will make it much more difficult for federal agents to disrupt state-legal commerce. Representatives Dave Rogers and Mike Connolly introduced the bill, calling it the “Refusal of Complicity Act.” According to Rep. Rogers, “We have a state law, it’s valid, and we think it should be respected. If federal law enforcement has something different in mind, they can use their own resources, because Massachusetts taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to do something that goes against our laws.”

MPP’s Will Luzier, a leader of the Yes on 4 campaign, helped to conceive the bill. “I think it will help local law enforcement agencies to have clear parameters regarding their involvement with federal actions against lawfully permitted cannabis establishments,” said Jim Borghesani, an MPP spokesman.

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