Archive for the ‘Michigan’ category

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.

 

Michigan Court Overturns Medical Marijuana Conviction Because of Prosecutor’s Closing Rant

December 5th, 2014

Last month, a Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of a man charged with cultivating marijuana for medical purposes. During the original trial, the prosecutor used her closing arguments to viciously criticize Michigan’s medical marijuana program.

The prosecutor’s closing argument was clearly and thoroughly improper. The prosecutor embarks on a political commentary, and a personal diatribe discrediting the MMA as a whole, claiming (without supporting evidence) that its protections are being abused by recreational users and exploitative physicians…and suggests that those suffering from chronic pain are simply cheating the system. She also denigrates the general population of lawful medical marijuana users, claiming that they attract violence to the community and advocate that everyone be allowed to “walk around stoned.” Finally, she states that it is unfortunate that the jury cannot judge the MMA…By making these unfounded, irrelevant and inflammatory statements, the prosecutor essentially argues that defendant’s affirmative defense is nothing more than a drain on the community, and that even if he is innocent under the MMA he is simply exploiting the system. As a result, the prosecutor encouraged the jury to convict defendant despite the protections of the Section 8 defense. This affected defendant’s substantial rights.

Hearing people in law enforcement use their positions to inappropriately cast dispersions on medical marijuana laws and patients is nothing new, but this is a rare occurrence where the consequences negatively impacted the prosecutor instead of the patient on trial. Police and prosecutors in medical marijuana states need to respect their laws instead of using people’s lives and freedom to protest policies they do not like.

Majority of Americans Continue to Support Making Marijuana Legal in the U.S.

November 7th, 2014

According to a recent Gallup Poll, 51% of Americans favor making the use of marijuana legal — similar to the 50% who supported it in 2011 and 2012 — but down from 58% support last year.

The October 12-15 Gallup poll was conducted in the run-up to the midterm elections, in which various marijuana policy reform ballot measures were before voters in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Florida, as well as in many cities in Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Last year was the first time that Gallup found an overwhelming majority in favor of making marijuana legal, at a solid 58%. This year, however, support is shown to be at 51%, which is still a majority, though the percentage is closer to where it was in 2011 and 2012.

According to the communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert:

While most observers would agree there was solid majority support in 2013, many thought 58% was questionably high. Rarely, if ever, do you see public opinion on a controversial social issue jump as much as seven points in the course of one year. It will be interesting to see if the same opponents who declared such a large increase was impossible last year will have the same analysis of such a large decrease this year.  

Things are moving in one direction when it comes to the tangible products of public opinion. I would take passage of laws in two states and our nation’s capital over some jumpy poll results any day. If Gallup finds 49% support in 2016 after five more states vote to end marijuana prohibition, I could live with that. 

The bottom line is that public support for making the use of marijuana legal has clearly increased and continues to increase as more Americans recognize that it makes no sense to punish responsible adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. Four states, the nation’s capital, and two East Coast cities now legally allow the use of marijuana. It is clear that momentum is growing across the nation for marijuana policy reform.

State, Local Marijuana Legalization Measures Win Big On Election Day

November 5th, 2014

Oregon and Alaska legalized and regulated the commercial production and sale of marijuana for adults, while voters residing in the nation’s capitol and in numerous other cities nationwide similarly decided this Election Day to eliminate marijuana possession penalties.

Voters in two states decided in favor of a pair of statewide measures to regulate the commercial production, retail sale, and personal use of marijuana by adults. Alaska and Oregon are the third and fourth states to enact regulations on the licensed production and sale of cannabis, joining Colorado and Washington. All four states have enacted their marijuana legalization laws via voter initiative.

Commenting on the new laws’ passage, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The majority of voters in these states, like a majority of voters nationwide, agree that a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or potential abuse. Elected officials in Alaska, Oregon, and elsewhere should welcome the opportunity to bring these common sense and long overdue regulatory controls to the commercial cannabis market.”

Under the new Oregon proposal (Measure 91), adults who engage in the non-commercial cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use (up to four marijuana plants and eight ounces of usable marijuana at a given time) will not be subject to taxation or commercial regulations. Imposition of the new law will not “amend or affect in any way the function, duties, and powers of the Oregon Health Authority under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.” The legalization measure takes effect on July 1, 2015.

Under the Alaska measure (Ballot Measure 2), the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six-plants for personal consumption will be legal and untaxed. Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis will be subject to licensing and taxation. Since 1975, Alaskans have enjoyed personal privacy protections allowing for the possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis. However, state law has never before permitted a legal market for marijuana production and sales. The initiative becomes law 90 days after the election is certified, which is expected to be in late November.

Some 56 percent of Oregon voters backed Measure 91 while 52 percent of Alaskans endorsed Measure 2.

In California, nearly 60 percent of voters backed Proposition 47, which defelonizes simple drug possession crimes, such as the possession of hashish. Under the measure, Californians with felony records for certain marijuana possession offenses will also be eligible to have their records expunged. Those serving time for felony drug offenses will also be able to petition for resentencing.

In the US territory Guam , 56 percent of voters decided in favor of Proposal 14A, the Compassionate Cannabis Use Act. The new law directs “the Department of Public Health and Social Services to regulate the use of marijuana as treatment for medical conditions.” The Department has up to nine months to provide rules for the territory’s medical marijuana program.

By contrast, a proposed Florida amendment (Amendment 2) fell shy of the 60 percent support threshold necessary in that state to amend the state’s constitution. Fifty-eight percent of Florida voters endorsed the measure, including supermajorities in most every age group except for those voters age 65 and older. Said NORML’s Deputy Director: “This vote wasn’t a rejection of medical marijuana in Florida, but rather an affirmation that most Floridians want patient access to cannabis therapy. NORML hopes that the Florida lawmakers will hear this message loud and clear and take action in 2015 on behalf of the will of the majority of the electorate.”

Municipal voters overwhelmingly decided in favor of depenalizing cannabis on Election Day. In Washington, DC, some 70 percent of District voters approved Initiative 71, which 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. Adults who engage in not-for-profit transactions of small quantities of cannabis or who possess marijuana-related paraphernalia are also no longer be subject to penalty under this act.

Unlike legalization measures in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, I-71 does not establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial cannabis market. However, members of the DC City Council are currently considering separate legislation to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. (Because Washington, DC does not possess statehood, all District laws are subject to Congressional approval prior to their implementation.)

Voters in several Michigan cities, including Saginaw (population 51,000), Port Huron (30,000), and Berkley (15,000) also decided in favor of local ballot measures depenalizing offenses involving the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Michigan lawmakers are anticipated to debate a statewide decriminalization proposal in 2015.

Likewise, voters in South Portland, Maine approved a municipal ordinance eliminating local penalties in regard to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Voters in Lewiston, Maine rejected a similar measure.

In New Mexico, voters in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties decided in favor of advisory questions in support of the decriminalization of one ounce or less of marijuana at a city, county and state level. Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties represent a third of the state’s population.

Finally, in Massachusetts, voters in several state representative districts voted in favor of various nonbinding public policy questions calling on state officials to legalize and regulate cannabis-related commerce.

Michigan Marijuana Victories in Hazel Park and Oak Park

August 6th, 2014

If yesterday’s elections in Hazel Park and Oak Park are any indication, voters in cities and towns across Michigan will be standing up for sensible marijuana policies in November. Voters in both communities voted to make it legal under local law for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana on private property. The measures received 62% of the vote in Hazel Park and 53% in Oak Park.

Congratulations to organizers Debra Young and Tim Beck and to the many activists who helped make these victories possible!

Hazel Park and Oak Park represent the first of 17 cities in which similar measures either have or will likely be added to the ballot. For a complete list of cities and the measures’ current statuses, click here. These wins in Oak Park and Hazel Park follow an uninterrupted streak of victories in Michigan cities in recent years, including Lansing, Ferndale, Jackson, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint.

These votes do not change state law — which still makes criminals of people who choose a substance that is safer than alcohol and many prescription drugs. But they send a very important message to local law enforcement authorities, elected officials, and state government: Voters are sick and tired of the failure of the prohibition on marijuana and want change!

In other good news for sensible marijuana policies, Congressmen Justin Amash (R) and Dan Benishek (R) — who co-sponsor the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act — survived primary challenges.

Signatures Being Gathered Across Michigan for Local Initiatives

June 25th, 2014

Advocates across the state of Michigan are hitting the streets in a major push to gather signatures that would decriminalize possession of small amounts marijuana in up to 18 cities. They have until July 29 to get the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. If you have not gotten involved already, it’s not too late to help!

Click here for a list of communities involved, the status of the local effort, and the names of local organizers to contact if you want to be part of the change.

Three communities out of the 18 have already qualified. The current effort follows similar campaigns in numerous other cities in years past. Last year, voters in Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson voted overwhelmingly in favor decriminalization measures. In 2012, voters supported similar voter initiatives in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint. MPP wishes to thank everyone involved in this tremendous grassroots effort that is sweeping communities in Michigan!

 

 

Michigan: Regulators Expand State’s Medical Marijuana Law To Include Patients With PTSD

March 18th, 2014

Michigan physicians may now authorize cannabis for the treatment of post traumatic stress.

Members of the Medical Marihuana Review Panel voted 6 to 2 to expand the state’s list of qualifying conditions to include PTSD. The Director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has signed off on the recommendation.

This is the first time that regulators have expanded the state’s list of qualifying conditions since voters initially legalized the physician authorized use of cannabis in 2008.

Six other states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon — explicitly allow for the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Nevada regulators expanded their law to include PTSD earlier this year. Oregon and Maine lawmakers amended their medical cannabis laws last year to include post-traumatic stress.

California physicians may recommend medical cannabis at their discretion.

Clinical trial data published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry theorized that cannabinoid-based therapies would likely comprise the “next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. To date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.

Last week, federal officials at the Public Health Service approved the use of cannabis in a privately funded pilot trial at the University of Arizona College of Medicine to assess its potential risks and benefits in war veterans suffering from PTSD, including the plant’s potential impact on subjects’ anxiety, suicidality, and depression. Although the study was initially approved by the FDA in 2011, neither PHS nor the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) signed off on the protocol until this month. Both agencies, as well as the US DEA, must approve any clinical trial involving cannabis.

PTSD Approved as Qualifying Condition in Michigan!

March 18th, 2014

Late last week, the director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, accepted a recommendation that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) be added as a qualifying condition for Michigan’s medical marijuana program. This makes Michigan the eighth state where patients with PTSD qualify to use medical marijuana.

Director of LARA Steve Arwood

Dir. Steve Arwood

Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Steve Arwood issued a press release last Friday, stating that he has decided to approve the recommendation, despite stating several concerns. Mr. Arwood ultimately chose to put his “trust in the medical professionals in Michigan to certify the use of medical marihuana for PTSD with the utmost care and attention to the patient seeking assistance.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD will affect 7-8% of Americans at some point in their lives. In Michigan, that’s about three quarters of a million people. PTSD can be debilitating in all areas of a person’s life, impacting sleep, work, and relationships.

This decision would not have been made without all those who provided comments in support of adding PTSD to the medical marijuana program.

Bad Medical Bill Progresses in Michigan

March 7th, 2014
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Sen. Rick Jones

In Michigan on Tuesday, Sen. Rick Jones’s SB 783 passed the Senate with a vote of 31 to 7. This bill — which is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee — would allow landlords to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation and smoking in the privacy of one’s residence.  Meanwhile, more sensible bills including HB 4271 and HB 5104, which protect patient access, currently languish in committee.

This bill would allow landlords to prohibit marijuana cultivation as well as smoking — but not vaporizing — when a lease specifically limits these activities. Those who violate a lease would be subject to sanctions, taking patient rights backwards to the days before the current law was passed in 2008. This bill would limit these rights without addressing fundamental problem in Michigan’s law — the lack of safe and regular access through state-legal provisioning centers and protections for non-smoked forms of the medicine.

Michigan Senator Stalling on Medical Marijuana Regulation Bills

February 5th, 2014
Sen.-Randy-Richardville-R-Monroe1

Sen. Rchardville

The Detroit Free Press published a story  Monday reporting that two key medical marijuana bills, HB 4271 and HB 5104, may be stalled in the Senate. Senate Government Operations Committee Chair, Randy Richardville, indicated he intends to “sit on them for a while” in his committee. Please politely and respectfully let Sen. Richardville know that Michigan’s patients need safe, reliable access to their medicine now.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take a moment to call or send an email to Senator Richardville today and voice your concern. If you have time to write a handwritten letter, it will have the most impact. You can write Sen. Richardville at: P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536.

HB 4271 would ensure patients have safe and regular access to medical marijuana by clearly protecting medical marijuana provisioning centers (dispensaries) in communities that allow and regulate them. HB 5104 would extend the protections currently in place for smoked forms of marijuana to marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in topical applications, tinctures, and other medical marijuana products. As both Senate majority leader and chair of government operations, Sen. Richardville’s support is critical.

If you are a patient in Michigan or know a patient or a medical professional who would like to know more about this issue, please email clindsey@mpp.org for more on how to get involved.