Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category

GOP Congressman Introduces CBD Oil Bill

July 28th, 2014
GOP Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania introduced a bill today that would make CBD oil legal under federal law.

Scott Perry
Rep. Scott Perry

If passed, the “Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014″ would allow states to permit patients suffering from epilepsy and related conditions to use an oil that is extremely low in THC but high in cannabidiol, or CBD. Under current federal law, any product made from marijuana is illegal.

It is great to see growing recognition of marijuana’s medical benefits, but this proposal would not help most of the seriously ill people who could benefit from them. 

 

Sen. Rand Paul Proposes Amendment to Protect Marijuana Laws

July 25th, 2014
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul proposed an amendment that would keep the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and physicians as well as interfering with states that implement medical marijuana laws, Huffington Post reports. The amendment was added to a jobs bill currently being heard on the Senate floor. Senator Paul’s communication director, Brian Darling, explained the senator’s move. “What we’re trying to do is look at the law and allow states that have changed their laws and have allowed medical marijuana to do so, for doctors to be able to prescribe and for people to be able to get those prescriptions without being worried about the federal government coming in and arresting them.”

Senator Paul has proposed similar legislation in the past, such as an amendment that would restrict the DEA and federal prosecutors from pursuing medical marijuana users and distributors that are in compliance with state law. “The effort before was to defund prosecutions — so it would block the federal government from prosecuting until that appropriations bill runs out about a year later.” Said Darling. The Senate is unlikely to vote on Senator Paul’s amendment due to gridlock, but Paul’s office has made it clear they are prepared to pursue similar legislation in the future.

University of Arizona Alumnus Starts Petition to Reinstate Sue Sisley

July 24th, 2014

Ricardo Pereyda, a University of Arizona alumnus and veteran diagnosed with PTSD, has begun a petition for the university to reinstate Sue Sisley, one of the foremost experts in using medical marijuana to treat PTSD. As previously reported, Sue Sisley was dismissed from the University of Arizona after getting the green light to start a study on marijuana’s effectiveness in treating PTSD. Pereyda, who served in Iraq, says that marijuana has “helped [him] to live a more full and productive life” dealing with his PTSD. He hopes his petition will convince the university to reconsider its dismissal of Dr. Sisley so her research can continue.

Minnesota Names Michelle Larson as Marijuana Director

July 24th, 2014

Minnesota has named Michelle Larson as their first marijuana director with less than a year before their medical marijuana law takes effect, the Star Tribune reports. Larson is an environmental health expert who has been instrumental in implementing Illinois’ Health Department policies. She now has until July 15, 2015 to design the state’s medical marijuana infrastructure, when Minnesota’s medical marijuana law is due to take effect. Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger expressed confidence in the choice: “Michelle brings a strong background in public policy and administration, as well as a history of working with the public health community, law enforcement and security, pharmacists, health care providers and community members. She has the ability to work with people to get things done right.”

Minnesota’s medical marijuana law was passed earlier this year and is regarded as one of the most restrictive in the nation. Two manufacturers in the state will produce all of the medical marijuana supply for Minnesota and it will be available at only eight locations. Michelle Larson and her ten-person team are now tasked with delegating who will be licensed as manufacturers and distributors. The department hopes to have the manufacturers chosen by December so there will be plenty of time before patients start registering in May. Larson will begin her job in her new position on August 13.

Illinois Seizure Bill Becomes Law

July 21st, 2014
Pat quinn
Gov. Pat Quinn

On Sunday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that will add seizure conditions to Illinois’ medical cannabis program for both adults and minors. The new law also allows parents to seek permission for minors to access medical marijuana for other qualifying conditions. Special thanks are owed to bill sponsors Sen. Iris Martinez and Rep. Lou Lang, and the many parents and advocates who tirelessly worked to make the bill a reality for seriously ill patients.

In other news, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules gave its final approval last week for regulations the three state agencies will use to oversee the program. A preliminary version of these rules can be found here, with the official version to be published soon. This important step finally allows the program to move forward. News outlets are currently reporting that patients may be able to sign up as early as September, although it is not yet clear when dispensaries and cultivation centers will be operational.

The rules are far from perfect. The Illinois program is by far the most expensive in the nation for cultivators, with a non-refundable application fee of $25,000, and a first-year license of $200,000. That means the Department of Agriculture will receive a windfall of $4.4 million for issuing just 22 cultivation center licenses during the first year of the program, not including application fees. Unfortunately, the enormous tab will surely be passed along to patients.

 

Missouri Governor Signs Bill to Make Limited Marijuana Extract Available to Patients

July 15th, 2014
2013_nixon_headshot
Gov. Jay Nixon

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a limited medical marijuana bill into law yesterday. HB 2238 allows some patients with intractable epilepsy access to products containing marijuana extracts. Those extracts must be limited primarily to a non-psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant called cannabidiol, or CBD.

Many believe high-CBD marijuana extracts are effective in helping alleviate severe seizure conditions — reducing both the frequency and intensity of seizures. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of patients who can benefit from medical marijuana have this condition, so the vast majority of seriously ill patients in Missouri will be left out of the state program. MPP has a short analysis of the law available here.

Several other states have passed laws that are similarly limited. For the most part, laws passed in other states are not workable due to limitations imposed under federal law. By contrast, Missouri’s carefully crafted law is unique in that it may actually lead to a functioning program. This will be great news for those few seriously ill seizure patients who will be able to participate.

 

Bill to Regulate California’s Medical Marijuana Businesses Continues in Assembly

July 15th, 2014

A bill that would establish regulations and protections for a wide range of medical marijuana businesses in California continues to make progress in the legislature. Sen. Lou Correa’s bill SB 1262 recently emerged from the Assembly Public Safety Committee, and will next be considered in the Appropriations Committee in August.

Sen. Correa’s bill has been heavily amended no less than five times since it was introduced in February. Many of the changes in the past few months have been big improvements, but some provisions remain troubling. For instance, the current version of the bill requires costly business license fees, saddles local governments with primary responsibility to enforce the law, and gives wide latitude to law enforcement officials to prohibit businesses.

We have been told it is too early to know if these requirements will change as negotiations among many different groups continue at a rapid pace. The only thing that is certain is that the bill remains very much a work in progress. For a list of MPP’s concerns with the current draft of the bill, click here.

 

Chicago Committee to Implement Illinois’s Medical Marijuana Program

July 14th, 2014

Until now, Chicago has been unable to take advantage of Illinois’s medical marijuana law. However, the Chicago Sun Times reports that the Chicago Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will meet tomorrow to discuss how they would implement the medical marijuana pilot program. If there are no objections in the committee, the process of registering patients, as well as dispensaries and cultivation centers, can begin. Should the committee do this, people with debilitating medical conditions would be able to apply for a registry identification card in September. The medical marijuana distributed would have to be grown in state by law and should be available to patients within four to six months of the start of cultivation.

MPP estimates that at least 10,000 people could qualify as patients in Chicago. Chris Lindsey, one of MPP’s legislative analysts, believes that Illinois will move faster than other states with their medical marijuana program. Lindsey said, “A lot of people now know about medical marijuana. They’ve heard about this in Illinois.” If the committee moves forward without delay, medical marijuana would most likely be available in Chicago by 2015.

Arizona Approves Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for PTSD

July 10th, 2014

Will Humble, the top health official in Arizona, has authorized the use of medical marijuana in cases of PTSD on the orders of a state judge, reports AZ Central. Starting January 1, 2015, sufferers of PTSD will be able to use medical marijuana for the palliative, but not as the primary, treatment of the disorder. When announcing the decision, Humble said:

“Today I issued a Director’s Decision that will authorize the use of marijuana … for patients that are currently undergoing conventional treatment for a diagnosis of PTSD. Physician certifications would be valid only for the palliative care of PTSD symptoms (not treatment). Certifying physicians will be required to attest that they have reviewed evidence documenting that the patient is currently undergoing conventional treatment for PTSD before signing the medical marijuana certification.”

With this decision, Arizona becomes the tenth state to allow PTSD sufferers to use medical marijuana as a treatment. This comes on the heels of Dr. Sue Sisley, a major medical marijuana researcher, being fired from the University of Arizona in what is thought to be political retaliation for her public advocacy efforts. Dr. Sisley was among the foremost researchers in medical marijuana specifically for PTSD. Most recently, she was granted approval for a study to observe the effects of medical marijuana on veterans. The future of that study is now uncertain.

New York Becomes the 23rd Medical Marijuana State!

July 7th, 2014

On Saturday, July 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law, making New York the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law. The law goes into effect immediately, although patients are not expected to have legal protections or safe access to medical marijuana until 2016.New York flag stae outline

The law’s passage is the product of many years of work by legislative champions, led by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, and, more recently, Sen. Diane Savino, patients, their loved ones, and advocacy organizations, including MPP and Compassionate Care NY. Thanks to each and every one of you who made this law possible.

While there are many reasons to rejoice, the law is unfortunately much more limited than what was introduced, largely due to amendments Gov. Cuomo insisted upon. Many seriously ill patients will be left behind, at least initially.

Only patients with one of 10 serious conditions will qualify, although the health department is allowed to add qualifying conditions. The law allows far too few dispensaries by providing for no more than five growers, with up to four dispensing locations each. Patients will not be able to smoke cannabis. A summary of the new law is available here.

While this is a vital step forward, the work to ensure that all seriously ill patients who can benefit from medical cannabis have reasonable access to it is not done. Stay tuned for updates on how you can help improve New York’s new medical marijuana program.