Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category

Virginia Governor Signs Low-THC Oil Bill

March 2nd, 2015
Governor Elect Terry McAuliffe
Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Last week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill into law that will provide limited legal protections to patients with intractable epilepsy who find relief from low-THC marijuana. MPP does not consider Virginia a medical marijuana state because the law is so limited that it does not meet our definition of an effective medical marijuana law.

The new law allows certain patients and their parents to raise a defense in court for possession of certain strains of marijuana, which must have no more than 5% THC. It does not prevent the trauma and expense of an arrest or prosecution.

HB 1445 also fails to include any means of accessing those oils. The only realistic way to obtain them is for families to travel across the country to one of the very few states that allows out-of-state patients to access medical cannabis preparations. Even then, patients will have to travel through states where all marijuana is illegal to get home.

You can learn more about the law’s details here.

If you are a Virginia resident, please ask your legislators to make sure this is only a first step. Ask them to champion a compassionate, comprehensive law next year that doesn’t leave thousands of patients with other serious conditions behind. Let them know Virginia should join the 23 other states that leave medical decisions to patients and doctors, and allow safe, in-state access to this beneficial medicine.

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West Virginia Senate Leaders Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill

February 24th, 2015

The West Virginia House has considered medical marijuana bills in recent years, but such bills had not been introduced in the Senate. Yesterday, that situation changed in a big way, as a bipartisan group of three Senate leaders introduced a bill that would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill West Virginians. An identical bill, HB 2909, was introduced today in the House.

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Sen. Mitch Carmichael

SB 546, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Ripley), Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey Kessler (D-Glen Dale), and Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall (R-Oceana), has been introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources. The bill would allow qualifying patients to cultivate up to 12 mature plants and possess up to six ounces. It would also allow for the creation of state-regulated dispensaries that would serve the needs of patients.

HB 2909, which mirrors SB 546, is sponsored in the House by Delegate Stephen Skinner (D-Shepherdstown) and a bipartisan group of 10 co-sponsors.

If you are a West Virginia resident, please ask your lawmakers to support these compassionate bills. 

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North Dakota House Votes Down Medical Marijuana Bill

February 19th, 2015

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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Federal Judge Hears Closing Arguments In Constitutional Challenge To Cannabis’ Schedule I Status

February 12th, 2015

Federal Judge Hears Closing Arguments In Constitutional Challenge To Cannabis’ Schedule I StatusYesterday in Sacramento a federal judge heard closing arguments in a motion challenging the constitutionality of cannabis’ Schedule I classification.

At issue is whether a rational basis exists for the government’s contention that cannabis is properly designated as a schedule I substance — defined as possessing a “high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment,” and “a lack of accepted safety … under medical supervision.” A federal court has not heard evidence on the matter since the early 1970s.

Lawyers for the federal government argue that it is rational for the government to maintain the plant’s prohibitive status as long as there remains any dispute among experts in regard to its safety and efficacy. Defense counsel — attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke of the NORML Legal Committee — contend that the federal law prohibiting Justice Department officials from interfering with the facilitation of the regulated distribution of cannabis in over 20 US states can not be reconciled with the government’s continued insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.

In October, defense counsel and experts presented evidence over a five-day period arguing that the scientific literature is not supportive of the plant’s present categorization. “Numerous clinical trials have been conducted using whole plant marijuana and have concluded the evidence strongly suggests therapeutic value,” defense counsel affirmed in a written brief filed with the court last month. “Physicians in 23 states and the District of Columbia have been recommending whole plant cannabis for treatment of a myriad of medical conditions. The United States, through SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of HHS), holds a patent [on the therapeutic utility of the plant.]”

“… It is unimaginable to believe that if heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or even over-the-counter medications were being distributed in 23 states and the District of Columbia, Congress and the President would abdicate all regulatory authority to those jurisdictions, and then cut off all funds … to intervene in related distribution activities. … Even the most vivid imagination would be hard pressed to reconcile such action with a ‘rational belief’ that marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs in the nation.”

In a brief filed with the court by the federal government, it contends: “Congress’ decision to treat marijuana as a controlled substance was and remains well within the broad range of permissible legislative choices. Defendants appear to argue that Congress was wrong or incorrectly weighed the evidence. Although they failed to prove even that much, it would be insufficient. Rational basis review does not permit the Court’s to ‘second guess’ Congress’ conclusions, but only to enjoin decisions that are totally irrational or without an ‘imaginable’ basis.”

They add: “Congress is not required to be ‘right,’ nor does it matter if the basis on which Congress made its decision turns out to be ‘wrong.’ All that is required is that Congress could rationally have believed that its action — banning the production and distribution of marijuana — would advance its indisputably legitimate interests in promoting public health and welfare. Because qualified experts disagree, it is not for the Courts to decide the issue and the statute must be upheld.”

The Judge is anticipated to rule on defense’s motion within 30 days.

Legal briefs in the case, United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM, are available online here.

New York Draft Medical Marijuana Regulations Too Restrictive

February 6th, 2015

Last December, the New York Department of Health released more than a hundred pages of regulations related to the medical marijuana program. Over the past month, advocates for the Compassionate Care Act have voiced major concerns that the regulations are far too restrictive and would leave many patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions without safe, legal access to their medicine. The state is accepting public comments until February 13.

Our allies at Compassionate Care New York,compassionate-care-ny-logo who led the grassroots effort to pass the medical marijuana law, have submitted several pages of comments outlining their concerns. You can read them by clicking on “CCNY Concerns with Draft MMJ Regulations” here. Their major concerns include:

— A lack of access or accommodation for low-income patients;
— Too few dispensaries and a ban on delivery services;
— A prohibition on whole-plant medicine and a ban on edibles, topicals, and other medical preparations; and
— No clear process for adding more qualifying conditions, even with scientific and medical support.

Please take a look at CCNY’s full comments for an idea of the extensive issues that New York’s medical marijuana program still faces. Don’t forget to submit your own comments to the Department of Health!

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

January 29th, 2015
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Sen. Deborah Dawkins

As marijuana policy reforms advance nationwide, Mississippi Sen. Deborah Dawkins has vowed to keep fighting for medical marijuana legislation. Last week, Sen. Dawkins introduced SB 2318, a bill that would allow seriously ill patients to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. Although SB 2318 would not allow for dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to patients, it would be an important step in ensuring that patients have safe and reliable access to the medicine they need.

Sen. Dawkins introduced a medical marijuana bill in the last session as well, and grassroots support for changing Mississippi marijuana laws continues to grow.

If you are a Mississippi resident, please ask your legislators your support for this important legislation.

North Dakota Considering Medical Marijuana Bill

January 29th, 2015

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.

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.