Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category

New Hampshire Senators Crush Patients’ Hopes for Home Cultivation

April 24th, 2014

Earlier this month, patients practically begged the New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee to approve HB 1622, a bill that would allow them to grow up to two mature marijuana plants until a dispensary opens within 30 miles of their residences.

Sadly, even though this bill had already passed the New Hampshire House with 227-73 (76%) support, and even though all five senators on the committee had previously supported home cultivation, the committee refused to move HB 1622 forward. Only Senator John Reagan(R-Deerfield) spoke up on behalf of patients who can’t afford to wait for dispensaries to open, but his appeals fell on deaf ears. After very little discussion, the committee voted 3-1 to recommend the bill for “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year.

John_reagan_sm
Sen. John Reagan

It’s clear that the Senate has no actual intention of studying this bill. Less than a week after the Senate refused to consider a House-approved decriminalization bill, senators are again attempting to avoid a vote on whether or not patients should be allowed to grow their own cannabis.

 

Wisconsin Joins States Passing Incomplete CBD Bills

April 24th, 2014

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has signed into law a bill, A.B. 726, which exempts a very limited class of individuals from criminal penalties for the use and possession of cannabidiol (a component of marijuana) “in a form without a psychoactive effect.” While this is an improvement to current law, it leaves the vast majority of medical marijuana patients without legal protections for using and possessing the medicine their doctors think is best for them.

The law allows individuals with seizure disorders to possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol if they have their physician’s written approval. However, it doesn’t give patients a realistic way to obtain their medicine in Wisconsin.

Individuals with the written documentation would have to travel to one of the few medical marijuana states that allow non-residents to obtain cannabis from their dispensaries. They would then have to bring cannabidiol back to Wisconsin, possibly crossing through other states where it is illegal. With all these limitations, this law may be unworkable even for the limited population it’s meant to help. For more information, please see our summary of the law.

Wisconsin took a small step forward this year, but the law is so incomplete that MPP will not be counting it as a “medical marijuana state.”

 

Tennessee Legislature Passes Extremely Limited CBD Bill

April 24th, 2014

A limited medical marijuana bill recently passed both the Tennessee House and Senate, and now awaits Governor Bill Haslam’s signature. SB 2531, sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, would approve a four-year study on the benefits of cannabidiol, often referred to as “CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. Unfortunately, the many limitations placed on the bill by lawmakers mean it is unlikely to result in relief for seriously ill patients in the state.

State Senator  Todd Gardenhire
Sen. Todd Gardenhire

The bill unrealistically depends on the Drug Enforcement Administration authorizing the cultivation of marijuana within Tennessee for study. The DEA has maintained a monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research in Mississippi, and has steadfastly refused to allow other producers in the past 50 years. Even if it weren’t for that problem, laws that limit patient access to CBD leave most seriously ill patients behind. For a more detailed look at the bill and its many limitations, click here.

Under the bill, Vanderbilt University would conduct the study and Tennessee Tech would theoretically grow marijuana. Both the House and Senate passed the bill by wide margins. According to news reports, Gov. Haslam is expected to sign the bill into law, and has 10 days from the date he received it to sign or veto the legislation.

As in Maryland, we hope Tennessee will move beyond its ineffective medical marijuana law and quickly pass a workable law that will help seriously ill patients in Tennessee.

 

 

Limited CBD Bill Becomes Law in Kentucky

April 24th, 2014

The Kentucky Legislature adjourned last week, ending its work for the year. Sadly, although the House Health and Welfare Committee approved an effective medical marijuana bill in February, it was not called for a vote in the House.

Legislators did make an effort to help some seriously ill patients who could benefit from cannabidiol (“CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana). On Thursday, April 10, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a proposal that is intended to allow patients to use CBD if directed to do so by a physician. The new law went into effect immediately with his signature, but, unfortunately, it is unlikely that it will actually result in patients being able to access CBD.

GovBeshear_5x7
Gov. Steve Beshear

Despite concerns about access, and the fact that this legislation excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients, it is still a positive step forward. For more information on this new law, please see our summary of S.B. 124.

 

Blake Griffin Endorses Medical Marijuana Use in the NBA

April 16th, 2014
Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin, LA Clippers

In an interview with Rolling Stone yesterday, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers voiced his support of medical marijuana use to treat pain in the NBA.  Currently, the NBA has strict penalties for drug use, which typically lead to suspensions and fines. It was only in 2011 that the NBA stopped testing for marijuana use in the off-season, but now that marijuana is in the limelight, its place in the NBA, as a form of medical treatment for pain, has come into question.

Griffin was asked:

The NFL might let players use medical marijuana to treat pain. If you had a vote, would the NBA do the same?

It doesn’t really affect me, but so many guys would probably benefit from it and not take as many painkillers, which have worse long-term effects. So I would vote yes. I just think it makes sense.

 Griffin joins the chorus of other outspoken athletes like Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks, who said earlier this year, “I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it.”

Like any professional sport, the need for painkillers is a part of the game, and, as Griffin pointed out, the harmful long-term effects of some painkillers makes medical marijuana use an alluring alternative. Even the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UFC have begun by changing their thresholds of permissible amounts of marijuana.

Alabama Governor Signs Limited Medical Marijuana Law

April 15th, 2014
Governor-Robert-Bentley
Gov. Robert Bentley

Earlier this month, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed into law SB 174, known as Carly’s Law. This law creates an affirmative defense for patients suffering from debilitating epileptic conditions — or their caregivers — for the possession and use of marijuana extracts that are high in CBD (a component of marijuana). It is a strong endorsement by Alabama lawmakers of the medical benefits of marijuana. Unfortunately, the law suffers from several fatal flaws, rendering it ineffective.

Unfortunately, by being limited to low-THC extracts and patients with epilepsy, SB 174 leaves the vast majority of patients behind. Even patients with epilepsy are extremely unlikely to get relief. Carly’s Law requires a “prescription” for the legal use of medical marijuana. Yet “prescribing” a federally illegal substance may jeopardize a doctor’s federal license. Meanwhile, a “recommendation” is protected under the First Amendment.

By merely providing an affirmative defense, the law won’t protect patients from being arrested and dragged into court. Finally, this law relies on the University of Alabama at Birmingham to implement the medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, based on what we have already experienced in other states, this university hospital-based approach is extremely unlikely to ever get off the ground.

MN Health Committee Defers Vote Until Legislature Returns From Recess

April 15th, 2014
61Dibble
Sen. Scott Dibble

Last Thursday, the Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing took testimony on SF 1641, compassionate medical marijuana legislation introduced by Sen. Scott Dibble. Unfortunately, the hearing ran long, so the committee tabled the vote until they reconvene following this week’s spring recess.

Lawmakers will return to St. Paul on April 22, and they could remain in session as little as a few days before ending their work for the year. Medical marijuana legislation is overwhelmingly supported by the public and championed by a diverse and bipartisan group of lawmakers. Just yesterday, Maryland became the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana law.

The medical marijuana bill will need to move quickly once lawmakers return from the break.

Maryland Becomes 21st Medical Marijuana State, and 18th to Decriminalize

April 15th, 2014

Yesterday morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law both the medical marijuana bill and the decriminalization bill, making Maryland the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana program, and the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The medical marijuana bill expands a program that, while established last year, was unable to get off the ground. The previous law relied on the participation of teaching hospitals, which understandably did not want to be involved with a substance that is still federally illegal. The law signed today will allow registered cultivators to grow medical marijuana and up to 15 licensed cultivators to provide the medicine to patients and dispensaries. This new law will finally provide real access to seriously ill Marylanders.

The decriminalization law removes the criminal penalties for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, and replaces them with a civil fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program. The measure will officially go into effect on October 1.

This is incredible progress, but our work is not done yet. A September 2013 poll found that 53% of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and up, and taxing and regulating it like alcohol.

Florida Democrats Add Medical Marijuana to the Ballot to Boost Voter Turnout for the Midterm Election

April 14th, 2014

Florida Democrats are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would put medical marijuana on the state’s ballot this November. If the initiative passes, Florida would become the first southern state to legalize some form of marijuana usage. Recent Battleground polls have shown widespread support, especially among young voters.

In a previous MPP blog post, we discussed how about 70% of voters (nationwide) would be more likely to vote this fall if marijuana was on the ballot, and how midterm elections traditionally have lower voter turnout, especially with young voters and liberals. In the 2012 elections, Washington and Colorado both saw significant spikes in voter turnout, possibly due to marijuana being on the ballot. If Florida follows suit, it will be a testament to marijuana’s spillover effect.

Florida Democrats are hoping it “could have a marginal impact,” which doesn’t sound like much, but “a marginal impact in Florida could be the difference between winning and losing,” according to Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who managed Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008.

A recent Republican victory in a special House election last month typified the Democrats’ turnout problem. The St. Petersburg-area district has 2.4 percent more registered Republicans than Democrats, but GOP voters outnumbered Democrats by eight percentage points, according to election results.

Oklahomans for Health Files Ballot Initiative for Medical Marijuana

April 11th, 2014
Chris Benge, Oklahoma Secretary of State
Chris Benge, Oklahoma Secretary of State

Today, Oklahomans for Health submitted an application for petition with Oklahoma Secretary of State, Chris Benge, which proposes to add a question to the November ballot asking whether or not Oklahomans should legalize medical marijuana for serious conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

The initiative would call for the reclassification of marijuana as an herbal drug, which would be regulated by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. It would also create licensing and regulatory rules for cultivation and distribution through dispensaries. Patients wanting to use medical marijuana would need to pay a $125 application fee for a medical marijuana card and have an Oklahoma board-certified physician provide a recommendation.

The proposed initiative comes at a time when support for medical marijuana is growing in the state with a recent poll showing 71% approval rate for decriminalizing medical marijuana. A rally was held at the State Capital in February, where parents of epileptic children came to talk to their representatives. Even Josh Stanley of Strains of Hope, featured on WEEDS by Sanjay Gupta, showed up to support Oklahomans in their plight.

Although Oklahoma has some of the harshest marijuana laws, Chip Paul, Chairman of Oklahomans for Health, believes the “language in this initiative…should be a very easy thing for the state of Oklahoma to manage.”