Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category

Illinois Seizure Bill Becomes Law

July 21st, 2014
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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
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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.

 

Vermont’s Medical Marijuana Improvement Bill Takes Effect

July 1st, 2014

The provisions of SB 247 took effect today, moving Vermont’s marijuana policies yet another step forward. This new law eliminates the cap of 1,000 patients who may access dispensaries, allows naturopaths to certify patients, and allows dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients.

But that’s not all: Legislators also authorized a study of whether post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be added as a qualifying condition, along with a study of how marijuana legalization and regulation would impact Vermont.

It’s great to see that legislators are responding to the will of voters, who strongly support ending marijuana prohibition. A recent Castleton poll commissioned by MPP found that 57% of Vermonters support regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. Only 34% said they were opposed.

But it will take more than a majority to get this passed into law in the next session. MPP is preparing to embark on a statewide organizing and coalition-building effort that will maximize our chances.

 

Florida’s Push for Medical Marijuana Supported by Attorney John Morgan

July 1st, 2014

Jacksonville-based attorney John Morgan has given a multi-million dollar donation to the medical marijuana campaign in Florida, Jacksonville.com reports, and will now invest even more in helping seriously ill Floridians find relief. Morgan has added $4 million of his own money in support of Amendment 2, a medical marijuana ballot initiative that will be voted on in November. This amendment was proposed by medical marijuana proponents United For Care. Morgan claims that his support of the amendment is personal: His father and brother have used marijuana medically to alleviate pain from cancer and paralysis, respectively. He hopes that his support will help families like his treat themselves and their loved ones without having to fear arrest. You can find more information about the campaign here.

As MPP has reported, an overwhelming majority of Florida voters support allowing adults to use medical marijuana. A Quinnipiac Poll reported that medical marijuana has an 88% approval rate. Amendment 2 only needs 60% support in order to be adopted. The trend is definitely favoring medical marijuana and the state constitution amendment has a very good chance of passing. Florida lawmakers passed a bill earlier this session that is supposed to permit a limited number of patients to access specific low-THC, high-CBD marijuana oils to treat seizure disorders. Unfortunately, this bill will leave the vast majority of patients without safe and legal access, unlike Amendment 2.

Massachusetts Regulators Approve 11 Dispensary Applications

June 30th, 2014

The rollout of Massachusetts’ medical marijuana program has been proceeding more slowly than anticipated, but a major milestone was reached last week with the approval of 11 dispensary applications. The Department of Public Health granted eleven provisional certificates on Friday, and it’s possible that some of the approved dispensaries will be ready to serve patients before the end of this year.

The department had previously given preliminary approval to 20 applicants, but, after further review of the applications, nine were rejected. Massachusetts’ law authorizes up to 35 dispensaries, so these rejected applicants and others will be allowed to reapply in 2015.

Additionally, it’s disappointing that the state has not yet made it possible for patients to apply for ID cards. However, with dispensaries planning to open in only a matter of months, it seems likely that the ID card issue will soon be resolved.

 

Bill Clinton Encourages States to Experiment with Marijuana Bills

June 30th, 2014

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Former President Bill Clinton spoke Sunday on Meet the Press expressing his belief that states should ‘experiment’ with allowing adults to use marijuana recreationally, Washington Post reports. “I think we should leave it to the states,” Clinton said. “If the state wants to try it, they can. And they’ll be able to see what happens.” Though this seems to be a new take from the former president, he claimed that there are still many questions to be answered. He said, “This really is a time when there should be laboratories of democracy, because nobody really knows where this is going. Are there adequate quality controls? There’s pot and there’s ‘pot’; what’s in it? What’s going to happen? There are all these questions.” This is a similar stance to that of Clinton’s wife, Hilary, who recently changed her official position.

This is in stark contrast to how President Clinton treated the issue during his presidency. Clinton’s administration wanted to punish doctors for even discussing medical marijuana as an alternative treatment with patients. Many who look at this see it as the act of a shrewd politician who has changed his position due to a shift in the political landscape. It could, however, be indicative of where the Clintons are moving when it comes to the evolution of the issue of drug policy.

 

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