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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Update

Medical Marijuana (STDW) - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 07:42

Congress again blocks the Justice Department from messing with medical marijuana in states where it is legal, California localities scurry to regulate or face losing that authority to the state, Maryland patients find out they face more delays, and more.

[image:1 align:left]National

Last Friday, Congress passed a budget bill barring the DOJ from interfering in medical marijuana states. The omnibus spending bill approved by Congress this morning includes several drug reform provisions, although reformers didn't get everything they wanted. The bill includes language blocking the Justice Department and DEA from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws or hemp research projects and it also lifts a freeze on federal funding for needle exchange programs. But Congress failed to approve amendments to allow banks to provide financial services to marijuana businesses or to allow veterans to have access to medical marijuana, despite the Senate having approved both. And the Congress again included provisions that block Washington, DC, from taxing and regulating marijuana.

On Wednesday, the DEA eased requirements for natural marijuana-derived research. The DEA eased some restrictions on research evaluating cannabidiol (CBD) for medicinal use. The changes will relax some requirements imposed by the Controlled Substances Act on use of CBD in specific US Food and Drug Administration-approved research protocols. The changes are in effect immediately.

California

For the past few weeks, localities across the state have been acting to ban or regulate medical marijuana before the state assumes the power to regulate it itself. Once the three bills that comprise the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act go into effect March 1, cities or counties that do not have a land use regulation or ordinance governing cultivation and delivery in place will lose control and the state will become "the sole licensing authority" for those enterprises. There are getting to be too many of them for us to list them all.

Florida

Last Friday, the Supreme Court okayed medical marijuana initiative ballot language. The state's high court determined that the initiative is limited to a single subject and its ballot wording informs voters fairly. That means if supports collect enough valid voter signatures, the measure will appear on the November 2016 ballot.

Hawaii

Last Tuesday, the Health Department issued dispensary rules. The Health Department released detailed rules for dispensaries. The rules cover the application process, security, quality control, and auditing of records and operations for commercial grows and dispensaries. Earlier this year, the legislature and the governor approved opening up eight dispensaries.

Maryland

On Monday, patients got news they will have to wait until 2017 to get their medicine. The state Medical Cannabis Commission announced that it will not award cultivation and processing licenses until sometime next summer, pushing back the date when patients can get to be able to obtain their medicine to sometime in 2017. The state passed its medical marijuana law in 2013, but has faced several delays. Now, one more.

Michigan

Last Thursday, the Detroit city council approved a restrictive dispensary ordinance. The council voted 6-1 last Thursday to approve a new zoning ordinance that will likely force the closure of many of the city's 150 or so dispensaries. The new ordinance prohibits dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, liquor stores, other places considered drug-free zones, or another dispensary.

New Hampshire

On Wednesday, officials announced they will begin issuing medical marijuana ID cards. State officials said that they will begin issuing the cards to registered medical marijuana patients beginning Monday. While dispensaries in the state won't open until the spring, people with the ID cards will be able to buy medical marijuana in neighboring states that have reciprocity.

New Jersey

On Monday, a Senate panel approved employment protections for patients. The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted 6-0 to approve a bill that would bar employers from firing people because they are medical marijuana patients. The bill, Senate Bill 3162, now heads for the Senate floor. "It was not the intent of the legislature when we passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act to allow patients to lose their jobs simply because of their use of medical marijuana," state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who sponsored by the medical marijuana law and this workplace bill said in a statement before the hearing. "Medical marijuana should be treated like any other legitimate medication use by an employee."

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Categories: Medical Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Colombia Legalizes MedMJ, MD MedMJ Delayed Until 2017, More (12/22/15)

Medical Marijuana (STDW) - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 22:11

DPA ups the pressure on Louisiana Gov. Jindal to free Bernard Noble, Maryland patients face further delays, Colombian patients won't, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

The Drug Policy Alliance Requests Sentencing Reprieve for Louisianan Given 13-year Prison Sentence for Possession of Two Marijuana Cigarettes. The Drug Policy Alliance today formally requested the Louisiana governor today to grant Bernard Noble a gubernatorial reprieve and release Mr. Noble from prison, where he has served more than four years behind bars having been sentenced to a term of 13.3 years of hard labor without the opportunity for parole for possessing the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes. "The sentence inflicted by Louisiana on Mr. Noble for simple, low-level marijuana possession, on a gainfully employed father with absolutely no history of any serious or violent crime, is a travesty," said Daniel Abrahamson, senior legal advisor to the Drug Policy Alliance. "Mr. Noble's sentence does not enhance public safety. It has devastated Mr. Noble and his family. And it flies in the face of what Louisianans believe and what current law provides. Governor Jindal should exercise mercy and use his power as Governor to advance fairness, justice and compassion by issuing Mr. Noble a sentencing reprieve."

Wyoming Decriminalization Bill Introduced. For the third year in a row, Rep. Jim Byrd (D-Cheyenne) has introduced a bill to decriminalize pot possession. House Bill 3 would decriminalize up to an ounce of marijuana, with a $50 for less than a half ounce and a $100 fine for up to an ounce.

Medical Marijuana

Maryland Patients Will Wait Until 2017 to Get Their Medicine. The state Medical Cannabis Commission said Monday that it will not award cultivation and processing licenses until sometime next summer, pushing back the date when patients can get to be able to obtain their medicine to sometime in 2017. The state passed its medical marijuana law in 2013, but has faced several delays. Now, one more.

New Jersey Senate Panel Approves Employment Protections for Patients. The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted 6-0 Monday to approve a bill that would bar employers from firing people because they are medical marijuana patients. The bill, Senate Bill 3162, now heads for the Senate floor. "It was not the intent of the legislature when we passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act to allow patients to lose their jobs simply because of their use of medical marijuana," state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who sponsored by the medical marijuana law and this workplace bill said in a statement before the hearing. "Medical marijuana should be treated like any other legitimate medication use by an employee."

Harm Reduction

Indiana County to Start Needle Exchange in Bid to Fend Off Hep C. Monroe County will become the fourth in the state to authorize needle exchange programs after officials there declared a public health emergency amid an outbreak of Hepatitis C. That declaration allows the county to start a needle exchange program.

International

Colombia Legalizes Medical Marijuana. President Juan Manuel Santos today signed a decree legalizing medical marijuana. "This decree allows licenses to be granted for the possession of seeds, cannabis plants and marijuana," he said from the presidential palace. "It places Colombia in the group of countries that are at the forefront... in the use of natural resources to fight disease."

Israel's Top Ethicist Calls for Marijuana Legalization. Professor Asa Kasher, described as "Israel's preeminent expert on ethics and philosophy," told the Knesset Committee on Controlled Substances Tuesday that restrictions on medical use of marijuana violated the principles of medical ethics and that general legalization "can be promoted, but only if the process includes relevant regulation."

Categories: Medical Marijuana

US MD: Delay In Licenses For Medical Pot

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 08:00
Washington Post, 22 Dec 2015 - People who want to buy marijuana in Maryland for medicinal purposes are probably going to have to wait until 2017, nearly four years after the state made it legal. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced Monday that it will not award licenses to grow and process the drug until sometime in the summer - and industry officials say it will take an additional four to six months after that for the product to be ready to sell.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

US TN: Rep. Drafts Pot-For-Veterans Bill

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 08:00
Commercial Appeal, 22 Dec 2015 - Says Exception Aims to Benefit PTSD Sufferers NASHVILLE - While most Tennessee Republican leaders have indicated opposition to any steps toward legalization of marijuana, state Rep. Jeremy Faison said he hopes they will make an exception for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

US CA: Editorial: Marysville Might Have Hit on Right

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 08:00
Appeal-Democrat, 22 Dec 2015 - Marysville City Council members are now catching a little grief from people on both sides of the medicinal marijuana issues for seemingly passing, on first reading, two separate ordinances that seem contradictory. The thing is, we're not so sure they are contradictory. They might, both together, bring about tighter control of medicinal marijuana production and distribution.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

US: Pot Industry Eating Up Vast Amounts Of Power

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 08:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 22 Dec 2015 - Pot's not green. The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation's most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation. Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire. While reams of regulations cover everything from tracking individual plants to package labeling to advertising, they lack requirements to reduce energy waste.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Pittsburgh Decriminalizes, College Drug Testing News, ODs Hit Record High, More (12/21/15)

Medical Marijuana (STDW) - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 20:17

Pittsburgh decriminalizes, Detroit restricts dispensaries, the Univ. of Alabama is forcing all frat members to be drug tested, fatal drug overdoses hit a record high last year, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Massachusetts Legalization Initiative Signature Count Certified. The initiative from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has been certified as handing in enough signatures to force the legislature to consider it this spring. If the legislature rejects it or fails to act by May 3, the campaign must then come up with another 10,000 signatures to put the issue directly to the voters in November.

Pittsburgh City Council Approves Decriminalization. The council voted 7-2 today to approve a decriminalization ordinance. The bill makes possession of 30 grams or less a ticketable offense, with a fine of $100. The measure was intended to "help break the damning life-long consequences of unemployment, lack of education, and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system," said bill sponsor Public Safety Chair David Lavelle.

Medical Marijuana

Detroit City Council Approves Restrictive Dispensary Ordinance. The council voted 6-1 last Thursday to approve a new zoning ordinance that will likely force the closure of many of the city's 150 or so dispensaries. The new ordinance prohibits dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, liquor stores, other places considered drug-free zones, or another dispensary.

Public Health

CDC: Drug Overdoses Hit New High Last Year. The Centers for Disease Control reported last Friday that more than 47,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2014, with 60% of them involving heroin or prescription opiates. Heroin overdose deaths were up 26%, prescription opiate deaths were up 9%, and synthetic opiate deaths (mainly fentanyl) nearly doubled over 2013.

Drug Testing

University of Alabama Subjects All Frat Members to Mandatory Drug Tests. Every fraternity member at the school was required to pass a drug test at the beginning of the academic year, and now, fraternity members are being randomly selected each week for more drug tests. If students test positive, they get several warnings before they are expelled from the fraternity and a university anti-drug program intervenes to "help students get back on track before the school doles out harsher penalties. The drug testing program has been criticized by fraternity members and others as invading the privacy of students, but no one has yet challenged it in court.

ACLU to Appeal Federal Court Ruling Allowing Drug Testing of All Students at Missouri Tech College. The ACLU of Missouri said it will appeal an 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding the suspicionless drug testing of all students at the State Technical College of Missouri. The ACLU is seeking a rehearing of the case before the same three-judge appeals court panel that ruled in the school's favor or by the entire bench in the 8th Circuit. The ACLU had filed suit in 2011 to challenge the policy and won at the district court level, but the appeals court last year reversed the lower court decision. The federal courts have held that, with a handful of exceptions, mandatory suspicionless drug testing violates the Fourth Amendment's proscription against warrantless searches and seizures. The ACLU said the appeals court decision is "poorly crafted and departs from the 8th Circuit and Supreme Court precedent."

International

"Marijuana Exemption" Granted for Jamaica Rasta Festival. The Rebel Salute 2016 festival, to be held next month in St. Ann, has been granted a "marijuana exemption" personally delivered by Justice Minister Mark Golding. "Persons who are adherents of the Rastafarian faith, or Rastafarian organizations, may apply for an event promoted or sponsored by them to be declared an exempt event. In order to apply, the event must be primarily for the purpose of the celebration or observance of the Rastafarian faith," explained a Justice Ministry factsheet. "Where an event is declared exempt, persons who attend the event will not be liable to be arrested, detained or prosecuted for smoking ganja or possession of ganja at the event, or transporting ganja to the event, as long as they have complied with the amounts and conditions specified in the order declaring it an exempt event." This is the second time such an exemption has been granted.

Categories: Medical Marijuana

CN ON: Premier Wants Clear Regulations On Pot

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 08:00
The Record, 21 Dec 2015 - Medical, recreational uses different TORONTO - Ontario is looking for federal government guidance on regulating clinics that sell medical marijuana and on how pot should be sold for recreational use once it's legalized.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

CN ON: Wynne Wants Clear Pot Rules

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 08:00
London Free Press, 21 Dec 2015 - Legislation: Ontario Premier wants to be `socially responsible' as federal government moves to legalize weed TORONTO - Ontario is looking for federal government guidance on regulating clinics that sell medical marijuana and on how pot should be sold for recreational use once it's legalized.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

CN ON: Premier Wants Clear Rules On Distribution, Sale Of Pot

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 08:00
Guelph Mercury, 21 Dec 2015 - TORONTO - Ontario is looking for federal government guidance on regulating clinics that sell medical marijuana and on how pot should be sold for recreational use once it's legalized. The federal Liberals promised in this month's throne speech to "legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana" to keep it out of the hands of children while also denying criminals the financial profits.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

US CA: Law Has Cities Scrambling

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Sun, 12/20/2015 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec 2015 - State Rules for Pot Dispensaries Created Deadline in Error. SACRAMENTO - A mistake in drafting new state regulations for medical marijuana in California has cities and counties scrambling to ban or restrict dispensaries before a March 1 deadline - after which, they fear, more lax state rules may apply.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

CN BC: Council Condoning Illegal Activity: Anderson

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 08:00
Alberni Valley News, 19 Dec 2015 - Further regulations will be imposed on marijuana dispensaries in Port Alberni, following recommendations from the chamber of commerce. In a letter dated Dec. 3, the chamber agreed with the proposed city regulations but asked for a few of their own: requiring all not-for-profit dispensaries to still have a business licence; not allowing them at Harbour Quay or Victoria Quay because they are high tourist areas; increased enforcement of business licence bylaws in general and that smoking regulations from the BC Tobacco laws would also apply to dispensaries.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

US OR: Oregon Warm Springs Tribe Approves Pot Sales Project

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 08:00
The Register-Guard, 19 Dec 2015 - PORTLAND - Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have approved a plan to build a facility to grow marijuana on their reservation in Central Oregon and sell it at tribe-owned stores outside the reservation. The vote comes a year after a U.S. Department of Justice policy indicated tribes could grow and sell pot under the same guidelines as states that opt to legalize. The tribe is one of the first in the country to enter the pot business.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

US CO: Legal Pot Shops Are A High-Risk Business To Banks

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 19 Dec 2015 - DENVER - The Fourth Corner Credit Union occupies a prime spot in downtown Denver, not far from the state Capitol. It has a big safe, four teller windows, drive-up service and a banner out front that says, "The Fourth Corner Credit Union Coming Soon." But there's a problem. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in Missouri, which oversees Denver, has refused Fourth Corner's request for a "master account," essentially a bank account allowing it to do business. "You can't have a bank chartered by the state of Colorado and then nullified by the federal government," said Mark Mason, an attorney for the credit union.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Obama to Free 93 Drug War Prisoners, Budget Deal Includes Drug Reforms, More (12/18/15)

Medical Marijuana (STDW) - Fri, 12/18/2015 - 23:08

The omnibus budget bill approved by Congress today includes several drug policy provisions, the president commutes the sentences of 93 drug war prisoners, Iranian parliamentarians move to end the death penalty for non-violent drug smuggling offenses, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

US Postal Service Doubles Down on Marijuana Advertising Mailing Ban. What started as a one-off letter to a small Washington state newspaper has now become official USPS policy nationwide. The agency's general counsel has penned a new letter directing postal carriers across the country to report marijuana ads to law enforcement, and now, Oregon federal representatives are trying to get to the bottom of it. "We are working as a delegation to quickly find the best option to address this agency's intransigence," said Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer in a statement. "We want federal authorities to respect decisions made by law-abiding Oregonians and small business owners in the state. Unfortunately, the outdated federal approach to marijuana as described in the response from the Postal Service undermines and threatens news publications that choose to accept advertising from legal marijuana business in Oregon and other states where voters have also freely decided to legalize marijuana."

Oregon Indian Tribe Votes to Approve Marijuana. Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs overwhelmingly approved a referendum that would allow for the growing, processing, and selling of marijuana. The referendum passed with 86% of the vote.

Medical Marijuana

Florida Supreme Court Okays Medical Marijuana Initiative Language. The state's high court determined that the initiative is limited to a single subject and its ballot wording informs voters fairly. That means if supporters collect enough valid voter signatures, the measure will appear on the November 2016 ballot.

Congress Passes Budget Bill That Bars DOJ From Interfering in Medical Marijuana States. The omnibus spending bill approved by Congress this morning includes several drug reform provisions, although reformers didn't get everything they wanted. The bill includes language blocking the Justice Department and DEA from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws or hemp research projects and it also lifts a freeze on federal funding for needle exchange programs. But Congress failed to approve amendments to allow banks to provide financial services to marijuana businesses or to allow veterans to have access to medical marijuana, despite the Senate having approved both. And the Congress again included provisions that block Washington, DC, from taxing and regulating marijuana.

Hemp

Key Hemp Provision Added to the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2016. The budget bill that passed Congress today protects the transportation, processing, and sale of hemp that is from Farm Bill-compliant pilot programs. The provision was added to the bill by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Harm Reduction

Congress Passes Budget Bill That Includes End to Ban on Federal Needle Exchange Funds. The omnibus spending bill approved by Congress this morning lifts a freeze on federal funding for needle exchange programs. The ban had been put in place in the midst of drug war and AIDS hysteria in 1988 and was repealed in 2009, when Democrats controlled both chambers, but reinstated by congressional Republicans after they regained control of the House in 2011.Since then, outbreaks of HIV and Hepatitis C in southwestern Indiana and the impact of rising heroin use in states like Kentucky and West Virginia have weakened Republican opposition to restoring the funding.

Sentencing

Obama Commutes Sentences for Nearly a Hundred Federal Drug Prisoners. President Obama today commuted the federal prison sentences of 95 men and women, all but two of them drug offenders serving draconian sentences. He also issued pardons for two people who have already served their sentences. This single step nearly doubles the number of sentence commutations the president has issued in his seven years in office, bringing the total to 184. While that is a tiny fraction of the hundred thousand drug offenders serving federal time, the number of commutations is more than the previous five presidents combined.

International

Move to End Death Penalty for Drug Smuggling in Iran. At least 70 members of the Iranian parliament are supporting an effort to end the death penalty in nonviolent drug smuggling cases. The country is most likely the world's leading drugs executioner, with one UN official estimating that it will hang a thousand people for drug crimes this year. Lawmakers are preparing a bill to present to the parliament.

Categories: Medical Marijuana

Spending Bill Just Passed By Congress Includes Important Drug Reforms

Medical Marijuana (STDW) - Fri, 12/18/2015 - 20:31

The omnibus spending bill approved by Congress this morning includes several drug reform provisions, although reformers didn't get everything they wanted. The bill includes language blocking the Justice Department and DEA from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws or hemp research projects, and it also softens a freeze on federal funding for needle exchange programs.

[image:1 align:left]But Congress failed to approve amendments to allow banks to provide financial services to marijuana businesses or to allow veterans to have access to medical marijuana, despite the Senate having approved both. And the Congress again included provisions that block Washington, DC, from taxing and regulating marijuana.

The language blocking the Justice Department from going after medical marijuana where it is legal also came in the form of an amendment from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), which was passed last year, but had to be renewed this year. In the Senate, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) sponsored the amendment.

Drug and criminal justice reformers welcomed the progress on Capitol Hill.

"The renewal of this amendment should bring relief for medical marijuana patients and business owners," said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "For decades Congress has been responsible for passing disastrous drug laws. It's encouraging to see them starting to roll back the war on drugs by allowing states to set their own medical marijuana policies."

"Patients who benefit from medical marijuana should not be treated like dangerous criminals, and the businesses that support them need to be protected from the old drug war mentality that still runs deep within the DEA," said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals working to end the drug war. "It's very encouraging to see such widespread support for protecting state's rights and the rights of patients."

Reformers also cheered the softening of a ban on states and localities spending federal AIDS funds on needle exchange programs. The ban was put in place in the midst of drug war and AIDS hysteria in 1988, and repealed in 2009 when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, but reinstated by congressional Republicans after they regained control of the House in 2011.

Since then, outbreaks of HIV and Hepatitis C in southwestern Indiana and the impact of rising heroin use in states like Kentucky and West Virginia have weakened Republican opposition to restoring the funding, but not completely. There is still a ban on federal funding of syringes for the programs, but funds can be used for other program expenses such as staff, if a local or state authority has issued an emergency finding.

"Syringe access programs are a sound public health intervention, rooted in science, and proven to drastically reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C," said DPA's Collins. "Lifting this archaic ban will save thousands of lives."

"Needle exchange is a public health and safety necessity," said retired corrections officer, substance abuse counselor, and LEAP speaker, Patrick Heintz. "This new law will not only protect those who use drugs from disease, but it will help prevent other innocent victims who come into intimate contact with people who use IV drugs that have been forced for so long to share contaminated needles."

Needle exchange programs are proven to reduce the spread of HIV, Hep C, and other blood-borne diseases and are supported by every major medical and public health organization, including the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Bar Association, and US Conference of Mayors, as well as UNICEF, the World Bank, and the International Red Cross-Red Crescent Society.

Categories: Medical Marijuana
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