Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category

South Carolina Medical Marijuana and Decriminalization Bills Introduced

January 21st, 2015
A bipartisan group of South Carolina state representatives led by House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford

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Rep. J. Todd Rutherford

has introduced compassionate legislation that would establish a workable medical marijuana program in South Carolina. Under the Put Patients First Act, seriously ill patients would be able to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It also creates a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure patients have safe and reliable access.

According to a July 2014 poll by ABC News 4/Post and Courier, most South Carolina voters support allowing qualifying seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana legally, instead of being treated as criminals. Support was found across party lines, age, race, sex, ideology, and geography. It’s clear now more than ever: South Carolina should enact a workable medical marijuana program.

South Carolina lawmakers are proving that sensible and humane marijuana policy isn’t a partisan issue. State Representative Mike Pitts — a Republican — has not only cosponsored House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford’s medical marijuana bill, he’s also introduced his own common-sense proposal. H. 3117 would replace South Carolina’s criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a simple civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket.

Montana Judge Protects Medical Marijuana Program, but More Work Needed

January 20th, 2015

Two and half years ago, the Montana legislature gutted the 2004 voter-approved medical marijuana law and replaced it with a law that got as close to repeal as possible. Since then, the state has been fighting in the courts to defend its ill-considered law. Victory was finally handed to Montana patients this month when the presiding judge ruled that caregivers can continue to operate under the state’s marginally functional system. This means they can continue serving an unlimited number of patients — not just the three that the 2011 law allowed, in addition to other important provisions.

While the ruling allows patients at least some access to their medicine, it falls short of the sensible medical marijuana dispensary system that patients deserve, and that almost every other medical marijuana state now has.

Don’t allow the Montana legislature to ignore its responsibility to protect its citizens.  Please pass this message to friends, family, and supporters and ask them to send a clear message to their state legislators!

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Indiana

January 14th, 2015
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Sen. Karen Tallian

State Senator Karen Tallian has long been a champion for improving marijuana-related laws in Indiana, and she has already introduced a new, compassionate bill that would establish a medical marijuana program in Indiana. If passed, SB 284 would allow patients to use and safely access medical cannabis, as is the case in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Medical marijuana can effectively alleviate a wide range of debilitating symptoms and medical conditions, and seriously ill Hoosiers should not be subject to arrest and criminal penalties for using medical marijuana. Nearly half the U.S. population lives in a state that has a medical marijuana program, including Illinois and Michigan. Seriously ill patients in Indiana should not be left behind.

If you are an Indiana resident, please contact your state representative and senator today and ask them to stand up for patients. Then, please ask your friends and family members in your community to raise their voices to protect patients, too.

Illinois Medical Marijuana Patients In Limbo

January 13th, 2015

606 days. That’s how long it’s been since the Illinois General Assembly passed the medical cannabis law. Today, after all that time, nobody can say when seriously ill patients will be able to access medical cannabis.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner

If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to tell the governor the wait is inexcusable. Click here for instructions on how to call Gov. Rauner’s office and demand he use his authority to advance this program. Or, click here to send an email.

On May 17, 2013, a coalition of seriously ill patients, doctors, legislators, community leaders, and MPP’s lobbying team saw passage of a compassionate law that was 10 years in the making. Sadly, the best-case scenario is that it will take two years from that date for Illinois to provide relief to those patients.

Since then, the state has developed rules in a system that is one of the most regulated — and some say one of the most over-regulated — systems in the country. Businesses applied four months ago and press reports indicated licenses would be issued by the end of 2014. Yet they still have not been selected, meaning patients are at least four more months from access (the amount of time it takes for a plant to produce harvestable cannabis).

Kentucky House Speaker Introduces Medical Marijuana Bill

January 9th, 2015
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Speaker Greg Stumbo

The medical marijuana issue got a big boost in Kentucky this week when a bill was introduced by House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg). The bill, HB 3, would make medical marijuana legal for Kentucky patients who are certified by a physician. It would task the Department of Public Health with establishing a patient registry, issuing ID cards to patients who qualify, and licensing and regulating dispensaries that would produce and sell medical marijuana for patients’ use.

Unfortunately, the bill is very restrictive in many respects. Although it covers a broad range of medical conditions, it does not allow patients to cultivate their own plants, and it only allows medical marijuana to be used in a non-smoked form. However, HB 3 is a much better bill than the very limited CBD-only bill that passed in 2014, and if implemented, it would bring great relief to many patients who are suffering needlessly.

Stumbo said he does not expect the bill to become law this year, but he told reporters that he sees the issue gaining support in Frankfort. “I think it’s one of those issues … that the more people learn about it, the less they fear it,” he said.

Virginia Poll Shows Strong Support for Marijuana Policy Reform

January 6th, 2015
 A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday. The poll of 884 registered VirginiaVA seal voters was conducted January 2-4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3%. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/VApoll.

Three out of five Virginians surveyed support removing criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of pot and three out of four back medical marijuana use for seriously or terminally ill patients, according to a survey released Tuesday by an advocacy group.

Forty-nine percent polled support legalizing marijuana for adults

“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”

The survey by Public Policy Polling found that 60 percent of voters questioned say the criminal penalties for possession of up an an ounce should be replaced with a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. The offense currently is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The Virginia Senate this year is to consider making personal possession punishable only by a civil fine of $100.

Seventy-four percent of those polled backed the medical marijuana use for seriously and terminally ill patients. Sixty-four percent said they would be more likely to vote for a legislator who supported the change.

Maine Lawmakers Likely to Consider At Least Four Marijuana Bills

December 30th, 2014

State legislators in Maine are planning to introduce at least four marijuana-related bills in the upcoming session.

From the Portland Press Herald:

The marijuana OUI bill is being proposed by the Department of Public Safety, which wants to set a limit that will allow police officers to determine when a driver is too stoned behind the wheel.

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Rep. Diane Russell

Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, said she will introduce her fourth bill to tax and regulate the use of recreational marijuana. She said this bill will be the Legislature’s last chance to get out in front of two competing citizen initiatives that are likely to end up on the 2016 ballot. Two groups – the Marijuana Policy Project and Legalize Maine – plan to launch petition drives to collect signatures for 2016 referendums to legalize recreational drug use, as the states of Colorado and Washington have both done. The two proposals differ in approach and details, such as whether marijuana use should be limited to private homes or allowed in social clubs.

Russell also will sponsor a bill to remove the list of qualifying conditions for which patients can be approved to use medical marijuana. That would effectively leave it to patients and doctors to determine when the drug might help with a medical condition. Previous bills have been introduced to expand the number of approved conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hillary Lister, director of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, anticipates legislation specifying that the state cannot collect identifying information about medical marijuana patients. She said patients and caregivers are concerned about a recent rule change that requires medical providers to give patients a certification card that is generated through an online portal.

The Department of Health and Human Services also will propose amendments to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, but details of those amendments will not be released until the bill is finalized and the language becomes public, said department spokesman David Sorensen.

Down to the Wire in Michigan Legislature

December 17th, 2014

We are down to the final two days of the 2014 legislative session in Michigan, and this is the last opportunity to pass two critically important bills. HB 5104 would protect patients who consume non-smoked forms of marijuana, while HB 4271 would create clear legal protections for medical marijuana provisioning centers (dispensaries) to ensure patients have safe and regular access to medical marijuana.

Both bills must pass out of the Senate committee and receive a vote on the floor before time runs out on Thursday. Law enforcement has been lobbying hard against these compassionate measures, and it’s crucial your senator hears from you. If you are a Michigan resident, please ask your senator to support these bills and demand that the Senate take up both measures today.

Then, please ask the governor to support these critical measures for the good of all Michiganders!

Currently, non-smoked forms of marijuana are not considered “usable marijuana,” and therefore can’t be legally consumed by those who prefer not to smoke –- sometimes leading to tragic consequences. At the same time, provisioning centers do not have clear protections under Michigan law, which harms patients who should have safe, regulated access to medicine. These bills both make huge improvements for patients. Both passed by wide margins in the House, and now we are down to the final steps in the Senate.

Help spread the word by passing this message to friends, relatives and supporters in Michigan.

 

President Signs Federal Spending Bill Protecting State Sanctioned Medical Marijuana Programs

December 15th, 2014

President Barack Obama signed spending legislation into law on Tuesday that includes provisions limiting the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting are in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states.

Specifically, an amendment sponsored by California Reps. Dana Rohrbacher and Sam Farr to the $1.1 trillion spending bill states, “None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used … to prevent … states … from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Said Farr following Congress’ passage of the legislation: “The federal government will finally respect the decisions made by the majority of states that passed medical marijuana laws. This is great day for common sense because now our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on prosecuting criminals and not sick patients.”

Similar language prohibiting the Justice Department from undermining state-sanctioned hemp cultivation programs was also included in the bill.

Also contained in the appropriations measure is a rider sponsored by Maryland Republican Andy Harris that seeks to limit DC officials’ ability to fully implement a November 2014 municipal initiative depenalizing the personal adult possession and cultivation of cannabis. At this time however, it remains unclear whether the enacted language is written in a manner that can actually do so. On Saturday, The Washington Post reported that DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson “plans to ignore the provision” and that he will “send a bill implementing Initiative 71 to Congress in January for a 30-day review, during which federal lawmakers can veto it or let it stand.” Such a review is necessary before any DC initiative can become law.

Washington DC’s Initiative 71, which was approved by 70 percent of District voters, removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants.

Congress Passes Historic Medical Marijuana Amendment as Part of Federal Spending Bill

December 15th, 2014

The bill includes an amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice — which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration — from using funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. A similar amendment has been offered seven times in Congress,Congress logo failing in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2012. The House finally approved it in May when it was offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. 
The federal spending bill also prohibits the U.S. Justice Department from interfering with state-level hemp laws.
Unfortunately, the bill also contains a provision that is meant to interfere with the implementation of Washington, D.C.’s recently approved marijuana initiative, and effectively blocks the District from regulating marijuana.