Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category

New Mexico’s State Licensed Medical Marijuana Producers’ Businesses and Bank Accounts in Jeopardy

October 1st, 2014

According to a Drug Policy Alliance press release, just eight short months after the Federal Justice Department and Treasury Department announced new guidelines permitting banks to work with marijuana businesses, credit unions in New Mexico sent letters to nearly half of the state’s licensed medical marijuana producers stating that they will no longer accept their business and will proceed with closing their bank accounts.

The credit unions attest that they are unable to adhere to federal guidelines for servicing the medical marijuana business accounts. This move forces producers to operate on a cash-only payment system or leaves producers struggling to find another financial institution that is willing to accept their business.

Emily Kaltenbach

“It is disappointing to see that the banking industry in New Mexico is failing to protect medical patients and small businesses in light of the assurances the federal administration has provided and a robust and thriving medical marijuana industry in the state,” said Emily Kaltenbach, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This abrupt move has all of us asking why they are unexpectedly ceasing to do business with the marijuana industry in New Mexico. We would like to know why they are unable to comply with the federal guidelines.”

Ultimately, these legitimate medical marijuana businesses are being denied the same financial services afforded to other industries in every state, despite generating large amounts of tax revenue, particularly in Colorado and Washington. In the meantime, beginning today, all medical marijuana business transactions in New Mexico will be cash-only.

New York Requests Federal Permission to Import Out-of-State Medical Marijuana

September 30th, 2014

According to WSHU.org, New York’s health department is asking permission from the federal government to import out-of-state medical marijuana until its own program is able complete the regulatory process.

The program requires the health department to establish rules and license marijuana production companies. The health department, however, says that it will take until 2016 to get the program started.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Until then, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has requested the Department of Justice to permit importation of medical marijuana from states with existing functional programs.

Although the federal government could potentially grant such a waiver, or simply exercise prosecutorial discretion, patients in the Empire State should not hold their breath.

MPP’s Rachelle Yeung says the federal government has been slow to recognize the medical benefits of marijuana, and that Gov. Cuomo has been equally slow to implement medical marijuana.

“I don’t want to speculate as to his motivations, but as governor of the state of New York, there are ways to expedite the process without asking for special permission from the federal government.”

Furthermore, Yeung relays that it typically takes years for the federal government to allow researchers access to medical marijuana. To avoid this delay, she and other marijuana advocacy groups are urging Cuomo’s administration to accelerate the regulatory and production processes within the state.

Pennsylvania Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

September 25th, 2014

The Associated Press reported that Pennsylvania state senators approved legislation yesterday that, if enacted, would make several forms of medical marijuana legal, including extracted oil, edible products, and ointments and tinctures, to patients with debilitating medical conditions.

According to the proposal, Pennsylvania residents would need an access card from the health department upon proving a practitioner-patient relationship and written confirmation of a qualifying medical condition.

However, even if the legislation does pass, it would exclude most patients and would not allow them to use marijuana in the way that best works for their preferences and conditions; both vaporizing and smoking marijuana would be forbidden. The list of approved conditions is also extremely narrow and does not include severe pain.

“It is cruel and heartless to deny people the best medicine that is available,” Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) said during the floor debate. “And it’s time to stop treating this irrationally and saying, ‘we’re not going to let you have this, we’re going to instead make you take far more dangerous and less effective drugs.’ That’s just not how we would want to be treated; it’s not how we want our families to be treated.”

Despite these limitations, passage of this legislation would still be a step in the right direction for the state. Citizens of Pennsylvania should encourage their representatives to enact a bill that will benefit vast numbers of suffering patients, as well as allow patients to use marijuana in the way that best suits their preferences and conditions. If you are a citizen of Pennsylvania, please pass this message on to family and friends and help spread awareness concerning the issue.

Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Commission Proposes $125,000 in Grower Fees

September 24th, 2014

Managing a medical marijuana operation could potentially cost each grower more than $125,000 a year in fees, a sum so exorbitant some officials believe it may affect small and newly developing marijuana businesses.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s medical marijuana commission has proposed for such a fee to be imposed on each of the 15 potential growers envisaged for the state’s new program. The commission has also proposed a yearly $40,000 charge for dispensaries. These steep license fees, on top of the estimated $6,000 in application fees, would finance the state’s incipient medical marijuana program.

Eric E. Sterling

“The volume of these fees, for probably many of us, takes our breath away,” commissioner Eric E. Sterling said at a meeting in Annapolis Tuesday. “It is simply a reflection that the General Assembly has put the operation of this on the growers and the dispensaries, and ultimately upon the patients,” he said. “There is no taxpayer money, according to the General Assembly, that is going to finance this.”

The commission plans to meet again October 16, when it is anticipated to take its final vote on the proposed regulations. The decision will be passed on to state health secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein for review and then later go to a panel of state lawmakers for final approval.

Following Tuesday’s meeting to push the fees among draft proposals, citizens expressed concern.

“The number of licenses they’re issuing seems to be incongruent with their perceived demand,” stated Attorney John A. Pica, who represents a coalition that wants to open a growing and dispensing operation in Baltimore. “With high overhead costs and low demand, growers might be forced to increase medical marijuana prices to make ends meet, which would drive patients to the black market. You have to be careful that the price isn’t too high, or you invite the same scenario you had in prohibition,” he said.

The cost to operate a cultivating or dispensing business in Maryland is one of the last major issues the medical marijuana commission must decide on, following the state’s 2013 law that made medical marijuana legal. The Marijuana Policy Project plans to host a “Maryland Canna-Business Seminar” in Bethesda October 8 for entrepreneurs to learn about how to launch a marijuana business. In addition to educating would-be marijuana entrepreneurs, MPP will be urging the commission to reduce fees and otherwise improve draft regulations.

Candidate For Illinois Governor Would Have Vetoed Medical Marijuana Law

September 19th, 2014

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce RaunerBruceRauner announced earlier this week that, if he had been in office, he would have vetoed Illinois’ new lawwhich allows seriously ill patients access to medical cannabis. Rauner also said he preferred a system that would make business licenses available only to the highest bidders in order to raise money for state coffers.

Governor Quinn, who signed the medical marijuana bill in 2013, took exception to the comments, pointing out that the process is both competitive and transparent. His campaign called Rauner’s statements “heartless” and stressed that the law “will ease pain and provide relief for cancer patients (and) severely ill people.”

Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored the current law, noted that Illinois’ program is among the most tightly-controlled in the country. He also stated that “[t]he whole notion that Mr. Rauner would veto the bill, the notion that it would go to the highest bidder, is just callous, and flies in the face of logic.”

Rauner’s opposition to the current law stands in contrast to most Republican lawmakers, who joined Democrats earlier this year to extend the program to allow individuals with seizure conditions to qualify for access. His statements are particularly important because the winner of this election will be in office in 2017 — when the current program expires. In order for seriously ill patients to continue to have access, a new law will need to be passed.

Rally for Medical Marijuana Bill Held at Pennsylvania Capitol

September 17th, 2014

Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol from their summer recess Monday, while medical marijuana supporters rallied for Senate Bill 1182, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. This bill would allow doctors to recommend extracted oil, edible products, ointments, and other marijuana-based products to patients with debilitating medical conditions.

Sen. Daylin Leach

Senate Bill 1182 co-sponsors, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware), said their bill could be sent to the floor next week.

“We are so close. We are closer than we have ever been,” stated Senator Leach. “If this runs in the Senate, we get more than 40 votes, and we are promised it will run next week in the Senate. We have counted in the House. There are 203 members. We have counted about 160 yes votes,” he said.

However, although they have gathered enough votes in the House, there is still concern from the Senate that House leadership may block the bill before reaching the floor.

According to Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, “We know that there is overwhelming support amongst Pennsylvania voters for medical cannabis, and it’s time for their legislators to step up and really represent the will of the people.”

Sen. Folmer thanked the crowd on the Capitol steps for their grassroots efforts and reassured that they were very close, and that things were looking good.

Following the rally, the group that organized it, Campaign for Compassion, continued their educational efforts by handing out informational packets on medical marijuana and talking to their representatives.

“Hopefully, they will learn this is something Pennsylvania needs and they will stand up and do what is right and put the political horse trading to the side,” said Christine Brann, a Campaign for Compassion ambassador.

 

 

 

 

Grease Pot Parody: Steve Berke-style

September 16th, 2014

Grease Pot ParodyAdding to his ever-growing series of pro-cannabis law reform song parody videos, as well as in support of his home state’s current efforts to pass a medical cannabis initiative, comedian and Miami Beach political gadfly Steve Berke has just released a new pro-pot parody based on the famous movie of the 1970s ‘Grease‘.

Upping the ante in Berke’s video productions, his talented crew drove from Florida to Texas, in search of the original amusement park backdrop used for the 1978 movie production of ‘Grease’.

“You’re The Law That I Want!”
A more heartfelt and satirical political advertisement in support of passing the voter ballot initiative question in Florida this fall, Amendment 2, is hard to envisage.

For more information about Steve Berke’s 4TT production company and make donations to run 30 second version of the Grease parody on Florida TV stations check out press release below.

 

PRESS CONTACT: Lee Molloy
PHONE: 786-499-6134
EMAIL: LeeGMolloy@gmail.com

September 15, 2014

For Immediate Release

Miami Beach politician drives 1,400 miles to Texas to shoot “Grease” parody video supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida

Founded by former Miami Beach mayoral candidate Steve Berke, The After Party PAC is a political organization fighting to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote on Amendment 2, The After Party recently commissioned a shot-for-shot parody video of the song “You’re the One that I Want” from the movie “Grease.”

Called “You’re the Law that I Want (Yes on 2)” the musical parody faithfully recreates the carnival scene made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – with Berke taking on the role of Travolta.

The original Fun House used as a location in the ’70s movie classic was in service at a county fair in Texas this summer. So, Berke and the production crew traveled the 1,400 miles from Miami Beach to Decatur (in an RV) especially for the two-day shoot.

“Our crew drove half way across the country because we wanted to make this parody as authentic as possible,” Berke said. “We felt compelled to really go to bat for the 1.1 million Floridians who signed the petition to get medical marijuana on the ballot this November.”

Berke is a former professional tennis player who found marijuana after herniating two discs in his lower back. The injury permanently ended his tennis career and Berke, an athlete and Yale graduate, realized that marijuana wasn’t just for stoners when his doctor in California recommended trying medical marijuana to manage his pain as an alternative to dangerous prescription drugs.

“Ultimately, all we are asking for is that people in Florida have the same opportunity that I had to get the medicine they need,” Berke said. “And, our video gets that message across in a way that is fun, informative and memorable.”

 

Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate Supports Medical Marijuana

September 11th, 2014

Eighty-seven percent of Ohio voters think that people should be able to use marijuana as medicine, although nearly all of the currently elected state officials, including Gov. John Kasich, disagree.

However, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, some of the candidates running in November’s election — Ed FitzGerald (D), David Pepper (D), Micah Kamrass (D), and Charlie Winburn (R) — believe marijuana use should be legal with a doctor’s recommendation.

Ed FitzGerald

“There are people that are suffering from conditions that medical marijuana can alleviate, especially those chronic pain types of conditions, “ FitzGerald, struggling Democratic candidate for governor, said in a telephone interview. “I just think that it would show a real lack of compassion if we would continue to deny them that access.” “As long as it’s done under the supervision of a doctor… I think the risks associated with medical marijuana are outweighed by the benefits,” he stated.

Other candidate’s stances seem to follow suit. Fellow Democrat David Pepper, the Anderson Township Democrat running for attorney general, also supports legal medical marijuana use. He views it as a way to curtail the extensive use of prescription painkillers, which can lead to fatal overdoses. In addition, Micah Kamrass, the Sycamore Township Democrat running for the 28th Ohio House District in northeast Hamilton County, supports legal medical marijuana use if it ensures that people get the care that they need when extremely ill. Charlie Winburn, the Republican Cincinnati city councilman running for the Ohio Senate’s 9th District, is leaning towards supporting the legal use of medical marijuana under a doctor’s care, especially to aid in relieving the pain and suffering caused by cancer or glaucoma.

Unfortunately, the prospect of a medical marijuana initiative getting passed this November is unlikely. Proponents of medical marijuana lack legislative support, though they have started circulating three separate ballot initiatives. The Ohio Rights Group, whose amendment has gained most momentum, has gathered only 100,000 of the required 385,000 signatures needed to secure the amendment on the November ballot. The group is now targeting the November 2015 ballot.

MPP’s Mason Tvert on ‘Fox & Friends’ with Bishop Ron Allen: Part 2

September 9th, 2014

Here is the second debate between MPP’s Mason Tvert and prohibitionist Bishop Ron Allen on Fox & Friends, as promised.

Workers’ Compensation to Cover Medical Marijuana in New Mexico

September 9th, 2014

According to the Courthouse News Service, medical marijuana recommended by a physician for an injured patient’s pain must be paid for by the patient’s employer and insurer, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled.

Despite marijuana’s federal classification as a controlled substance, the court concluded that New Mexico law grants Gregory Vialpando reimbursement for medical marijuana to treat the high-intensity pain that followed failed spinal surgeries caused by a workplace back injury. As the ruling states, Vialpando met the required threshold for payments under New Mexico’s workers’ compensation laws when his physician diagnosed medical marijuana as reasonable and necessary for his treatment. The August 29 decision is based on a lower court finding that Vialpando’s participation in the New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program constitutes reasonable and necessary medical care, the requirement set for reimbursement by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

Vialpando’s employer at the time of the incident, Ben’s Automotive Services, and health care provider, Redwood Fire & Casualty, argued that medical marijuana should be treated as a prescription drug. If it were, it would require a pharmacist or health care provider to dispense, which New Mexico’s medical marijuana program does not have, and thus, could not be paid for by worker’s compensation.

However, the appeals court found that although “medical marijuana is not a prescription drug,” if it were, “our analysis would lead to the same conclusion.” “Indeed, medical marijuana is a controlled substance and is a drug. Instead of a written order from a health care provider, it requires the functional equivalent of a prescription – certification to the program. Although it is not dispensed by a licensed pharmacist or health care provider, it is dispensed by a licensed producer through a program authorized by the Department of Health,” the court wrote.

Vialpando’s employer and insurer also argued that reimbursements would force them to commit a federal crime, or at least violate federal public policy. The appeals court rejected that, as well.

“Although not dispositive, we note that the Department of Justice has recently offered what we view as equivocal statements about state laws allowing marijuana use for medical and even recreational purposes.”

In terms of the next steps for New Mexico’s medical marijuana policies, the state is heading in the right direction considering legalization.