West Virginia Becomes the 29th Medical Marijuana State


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Today, West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation!

Gov. Jim Justice signed the law today after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House earlier this month.

While the law isn’t perfect, it’s a great start toward providing safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. A summary is available here.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight. In fact, MPP, along with many other advocates, has been working tirelessly to get a medical marijuana bill passed for years.

MPP released the following in a press release:

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”

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North Dakota Medical Bill Improved and Passed in the House


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North Dakota Sen. Rich Wardner’s medical marijuana bill, SB 2344, continues to work its way through the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, being revised and improved along the way. While an earlier version of the bill would have significantly harmed patients, the current version — which passed the House in early April— leaves more of the will of the voters intact. Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of establishing a medical marijuana program last November, in a margin greater than the support received by President Trump.

The current version of the bill, which you can read about here, allows whole plant cannabis and other preparations, but does not permit extracts or edibles. Advanced practice nurses will now be able to issue certifications to patients, though 18-year-olds will still need their parents’ permission to enroll. Unfortunately, the bill would eliminate the tightly controlled home cultivation provision that was included in Measure 5, along with the petition process to expand the list of qualifying conditions. However, terminal illnesses will be added to the program, along with critical legal protections originally missing from the voter initiative.

While MPP still believes the current version of the bill has severe limitations, we are pleased that the bill has improved, and recognize that clear legal protections are an essential element of medical cannabis laws.

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North Dakota Senate Unanimously Votes to Delay Medical Marijuana Law


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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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Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Texas


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On Dec. 6, Texas Senator Menéndez (D-San Antonio) pre-filed SB 269, a comprehensive medical cannabis bill. If passed, this legislation will bring safe and legal access to Texas patients with debilitating medical conditions like cancer, PTSD, chronic pain, and Crohn’s disease, among others.txas-map-flag
Last year, Texas passed the Compassionate Use Act, which was intended to allow access to low-THC cannabis for those with intractable epilepsy. Sen. Menéndez’s bill will make several improvements, including fixing a fatal flaw in the bill, allowing cannabis with any amount of THC, and expanding the law to include other qualifying conditions. As Senator Menéndez says, “Compassion should not be exclusive. Twenty-eight states have recognized the medical benefit of cannabis, including conservative states like Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota … It is time Texas steps up to the plate on behalf of our sickest patients.”
Legislators need to hear from you. If you are a Texas residentplease take a moment to send an email to the lawmakers who represent you. If you have a personal story to share or medical experience that has led you to support medical cannabis, please personalize your letter. Your representative and senator cannot properly represent you if they don’t know you.
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Medical Marijuana Initiatives Sweep Election Night


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All four of the medical marijuana initiatives being considered by states on Election Night were approved by voters, adding to the considerable momentum of marijuana policy reform sweeping the country. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved initiatives for new medical marijuana programs, and Montana voted to significantly expand access and improve its existing program.

medicalAs of now, there are effective medical marijuana laws on the books in 28 states and the District of Columbia, covering 198 million Americans (or roughly 62% of the population). Patients in states without legal, safe, and reliable access to medical marijuana should continue to put pressure on their elected representatives to pass sensible reforms at the state and federal level. Together, we can make sure the seriously ill aren’t treated like criminals for much longer.

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North Dakota Overwhelmingly Approves Medical Marijuana Initiative


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Yesterday, a staggering 64% of North Dakota voters approved Measure 5, a compassionate medical marijuana initiative.yes5
Measure 5 will allow patients with a qualifying condition and a doctor’s recommendation to receive medical marijuana through a state-licensed dispensary. Patients living more than 40 miles from a dispensary will be able to cultivate up to eight plants.
The law will go into effect on December 8, when the Department of Health will begin the implementation process. It will need to develop regulations to implement the program, including the processes for licensing businesses and enrolling patients.

Check out MPP’s summary of the measure.

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Election Day Voter Guides


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Today is the day! This is the biggest election in marijuana policy reform history, but even if you can’t vote on a legalization or medical marijuana ballot initiative today, you could play an important part to make future progress possible in your state.logo-mpp-286-mpp-and-we-change-laws

Before you vote, please check out MPP’s voter guides if you live in the following places:

Delaware

District of Columbia

Illinois

Nebraska

New Hampshire

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Vermont

And don’t forget to tell your friends in Arizona, Arkansas, California, FloridaMaine, Massachusetts, MontanaNevada, and North Dakota to vote YES on their respective marijuana initiatives!

 

 

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North Dakota House Votes Down Medical Marijuana Bill


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From the Grand Forks Herald:

House lawmakers scrapped a bill Wednesday aimed at making North Dakota the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana, saying it was premature and carried too many risks that outweighed the potential benefits.

House Bill 1430 failed 26-67, with one member absent.

The bipartisan bill would have allowed patients and caregivers to possess a certain amount of cannabis or products such as cannabis oils, beverages, vapors and pills, for medical use.

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Rep. Robin Weisz

Rep. Robin Weisz, a member of the House Human Services Committee that recommended 8-3 against passing the amended bill, commended the parents who gave emotional testimony about how they hoped medical cannabis would relieve the pain and seizures of their children suffering from debilitating and terminal conditions.

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North Dakota Considering Medical Marijuana Bill


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UPDATE: The bill was voted down in the House.

 

Last week, a bipartisan group of North Dakota state representatives introduced compassionate legislation that would establish a workable medical marijuana program in North Dakota.North_Dakota_state_seal Under HB 1430, seriously ill patients would be able to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It would also create a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure patients have safe and reliable access.

If you are a North Dakota resident, please tell your elected representatives to support this compassionate legislation.

Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have compassionate laws on the books that protect individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, ALS, and other serious medical conditions from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana medicinally under their doctors’ recommendations. Why should the seriously ill in North Dakota not be afforded the same protections? We trust our physicians to prescribe highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs to treat many of these same conditions, so why should they be prevented from recommending marijuana, which has never caused a lethal overdose, if they think it would work best? It’s clear now more than ever: North Dakota should enact a workable medical marijuana program.

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North Dakota Medical Marijuana Campaign Turns In Signatures


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The first-ever ballot initiative dealing with medical marijuana in North Dakota has taken a step forward. On Monday, more than 20,000 signatures were delivered to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger by North Dakotans for Compassionate Care — well above the 13,500 required to qualify the initiative for November’s ballot. Jaeger will have approximately one month to review the signatures and certify the initiative for the ballot.

The proposed law would allow patients to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana. Qualifying medical conditions would include cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other serious illnesses. Marijuana dispensaries would also be licensed and subject to regulation by the North Dakota Health Department.

While neighboring Montana currently allows medicinal marijuana under the 2009 Medical Marijuana Act, South Dakota voters rejected similar ballot initiatives in recent years, with 52 percent opposed in 2006 and 63 percent voting against it in 2010.

Dave Schwartz, campaign director for the advocacy group, commented however that attitudes have shifted recently in favor of medical marijuana as many people have had personal contact with someone who has or could have benefited from marijuana’s pain-relieving and anti-nausea effects. “[One] of the myths that we often hear is that this is only for people to just go ahead and get high, and that’s not the case,” Schwartz said. “This is about medical patients who would benefit greatly from it.”

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