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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Proposed Ohio Medical Marijuana Regulations Released


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flag_of_ohio-svgProposed rules were published yesterday governing both dispensaries and physicians operating in the emerging medical marijuana program in Ohio. Both sets of proposed rules are available online. Members of the public are invited to review and comment on them before January 13, 2017.
Most of the proposed rules are sensible, but there is room for improvement. One area of concern is the state’s initial proposal to limit the total number of dispensaries to 40. Given the state’s population and the likely size of the program, such a low number could create significant access problems for patients.
In addition to the newly proposed rules, the state also published a revision to its cultivation rules, available here. While still short of ideal, the state made several major improvements, including doubling the number of smaller, Level II licenses, increasing the square footage limits for all cultivators, and lowering the financial burden.
If the dispensary or physician rules could affect you, please take a moment to review and comment. The rules and instructions for commenting are available here. A more detailed analysis of the rules and how the program could be impacted will be published on our website in the coming weeks.
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Ohio Localities Decriminalize Marijuana Possession


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Voters in four Ohio towns adopted sensible measures on Election Day by removing all penalties for the possession of 200 grams or less of marijuana under local ordinance. Bellaire, Logan, Newark, and Roseville each adopted similar ballot measures. Voters in Byesville did not adopt their proposal.OH seal
The results are welcome news and a step forward in the four communities. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers have the option of charging a person under either local or state law, meaning that individuals are not fully protected even when local laws change. Law enforcement should follow the will of the voters in those communities that have adopted these improvements.

MPP applauds the hard work that went into giving local residents the chance to have a say, and congratulates Bellaire, Logan, Newark, and Roseville for moving marijuana policy forward. Great work!

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National Poll Shows Increasing Majority Support for Legal Marijuana


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A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that a majority of Americans think that marijuana should be legal, and support is increasing.

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(Pew Research Center)

Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed.

The shift in public opinion on the legalization of marijuana has occurred during a time when many U.S. states are relaxing their restrictions on the drug or legalizing it altogether. In June, Ohio became the 25th state (plus Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) to legalize marijuana in some form after Gov. John Kasich signed a medical marijuana program into law. This November, Americans in nine states will vote on measures to establish or expand legal marijuana use.

The same report released last year showed 53% support for legalization nationally.

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Ohio Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect


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September 8 marks the first day Ohio’s medical marijuana law will be in effect, bringing new protections for qualified medical marijuana patients. Under the law’s “affirmative defense,” patients will no longer be subject to criminal conviction for possessing marijuana if they meet certain requirements. However, protections are limited, and they fall short of providing access to medical cannabis in Ohio, not expected for at least a year.MPP_OMM_horizontal green
The affirmative defense provides limited, temporary protections for patients while the formal program rolls out. Among other things, it requires a signed letter from a licensed physician, including information about the patient and the medical condition treated. Importantly, the protections do not apply to cultivation or sale of marijuana. It also does not prevent patients from being cited, it only prevents a conviction. For a closer look at what an affirmative defense is and how patients can get the protections it offers, click here.
September 8 also marks the official start date for agencies to begin writing and adopting rules for medical cannabis businesses. We are watching the process carefully to ensure the system is as workable as possible for patients.
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Top Legislative Victories of 2016


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Now that most state legislative sessions are over for the year, MPP’s Rob Kampia has published a list of the biggest victories in what is already the biggest year on record for marijuana policy reformers!Rating_Badge_JO

On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.

Two states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, enacted effective medical marijuana laws via their legislatures, making them the 24th and 25th states to do so, respectively. As a result, more than half of the U.S. population now lives in states that have opted to legalize medical marijuana.

In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.

You can read the full article in the Huffington Post.

 

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Ohio Becomes 25th Medical Marijuana State


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On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed HB 523 into law, bringing the promise of relief to thousands of seriously ill patients in the Buckeye State. His action also marks an important milestone in the medical marijuana movement: Ohio’s new law means that now half the states in the U.S. have workable medical marijuana laws for their citizens. MPP_OMM_horizontal green

While this is an important step, more work lies ahead. Several agencies will administer the program, including the Department of Commerce, the State Board of Pharmacy, and the State Medical Board of Ohio. These agencies are expected to start developing rules in the coming months as Ohio begins the process of creating a workable system. Please join us in our efforts to ensure the system is fair and delivers on the promises lawmakers made to create a compassionate program.

We are very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to bring protections to seriously ill patients. Were it not for the donors, volunteers, and signature gatherers who gave so much to the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment, this day would not have come.  As the process moves forward, we will use that amendment as a road map as we work to implement and improve this law.

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Ohio Campaign Suspends Signature Gathering After Legislature Passes Workable Medical Bill


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On May 25, 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 523, a limited but workable medical marijuana bill that would allow seriously ill patients to use and purchase cannabis. This bill is now heading to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, who could sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. If you are an Ohio resident, please urge him to sign this compassionate bill into law.

This legislation was a direct response to an initiative MPP funded and sought to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. OH sealThe medical marijuana program established by the bill does not provide for smoking, nor does it allow home cultivation. However, the bill as passed was greatly improved upon from its original version. Unlike some legislatively-approved bills, it includes chronic and severe pain as a qualifying condition.

Due to the legislature passing a workable bill, MPP has suspended its signature collection campaign. We are optimistic that seriously ill patients in Ohio will soon have access to this important treatment option upon their doctors’ recommendations. In conjunction with Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, we plan to continue advocacy efforts to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, while also working to better the program using the ballot initiative proposal as a roadmap for these improvements.

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Ohio Medical Marijuana Campaign Begins Signature Gathering


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Late last week, the Ohio Ballot Board certified an initiative that would establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio. The five-member board reviews proposed ballot measures to ensure they represent only one issue.OMM_horizontal-green_logo

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must now collect 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

 

Signature gathering for the initiative has already begun. Please contact Ohioans for Medical Marijuana if you would like to get involved.

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Ohio Attorney General Certifies Medical Marijuana Initiative


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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine notified Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Friday that he has certified the summary of the group’s proposed ballot initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program and submitted it to the Ohio Secretary of State.OMM_horizontal-green_logo

The attorney general confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.” The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

The Ohio Ballot Board will now have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws. Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

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