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Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Pennsylvania Launches Practitioner Registration

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 10:40

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced important steps forward for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program — practitioners can now register online, and the department approved two options for physician training.

Under Act 16, a doctor can only issue a certification for medical marijuana after registering with the Department of Health. The law also requires the physician complete a four-hour training course. The department has approved the first two providers of training courses, The Answer Page Inc. and Extra Step Assurance LLC.

For medical marijuana programs to work, doctors need to participate. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, talk to your doctor, and take a copy of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Law: A Guide for Doctors and Patients with you for the conversation. Other materials are also available on MPP’s Pennsylvania page and our medical marijuana page.

It is unclear at this time when the department will begin accepting applications and issuing identification cards for patients and caregivers. Earlier in the summer, the department announced the first round of business permits, including 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits, which may each have up to three locations. It will take some time for the businesses to open and begin dispensing cannabis, but registered patients may have access as soon as early 2018.

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Another Pennsylvania City Decriminalizes Possession

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 12:18

Early this week in Pennsylvania, the York City Council voted to make the possession of small amounts of marijuana a summary offense with a maximum fine of $100 and no jail time. Previously, it was a criminal misdemeanor that carried up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Imprisoning individuals for possessing small amounts of a substance that is safer than alcohol wastes valuable resources and can lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses.

York joins Pennsylvania’s three largest cities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg — and twenty-two states and the District of Columbia, which have stopped jailing individuals for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Across the state, towns and cities are considering similar commonsense policies. The time has come for statewide decriminalization.

To get involved locally, contact the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. You can find some background materials on decriminalization here.

The post Another Pennsylvania City Decriminalizes Possession appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Uruguay Marijuana Sales Begin This Week

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:43

Legal adult marijuana sales began in Uruguay on Wednesday, making it the first country in the world to establish a regulated market for the product. This follows previous phases of legalization permitting growers’ clubs and home cultivation.

Official sales have been long awaited following a legalization proposal put forward by former President José Mujica in 2012. This was given final approval by Parliament in December 2013 — legally regulating the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana — but has taken longer than expected to implement following a presidential election in 2015 and delays in funding for the regulatory authority.

Under the Uruguay model, the market is very much state-led. Two private firms — Symbiosis and the International Cannabis Corp. — have licenses to grow, package, and distribute marijuana, but production is capped to 400 tons annually (estimated to be around 15% of current consumption). These firms are not allowed to market the product, and the government determines the genetic makeup and THC content.

Legal sales take place in pharmacies in five-gram packages sold for 187 Uruguayan pesos ($6.50), with two products on offer: ‘Alfa 1’ and ‘Beta 1’. Only citizens and legal permanent residents aged 18 and older are allowed to purchase marijuana, and they must register with the government to do so. So far, almost 5,000 individuals have done so.

The introduction of this regulated market has been closely monitored and implemented, with the government taking measures to avoid creating a hub for marijuana tourism. All forms of advertising have been banned, and the production of infused edibles is prohibited. Additionally, consumers are limited to purchasing 40 grams a month — an amount monitored by fingerprint scans at every sale.

The post Uruguay Marijuana Sales Begin This Week appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Hampshire Governor Signs Decriminalization Bill

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 08:50

Yesterday afternoon, with a stroke of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s pen, the “Live Free or Die” state took a big step toward living up to its motto on marijuana policy. HB 640 is now officially on the books and will take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state, and the final New England state, to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.

Unfortunately, Gov. Sununu also decided to sign HB 215, which will create a study commission that we fear will be one-sided. However, we understand the governor’s reluctance to veto a study commission, so we are not going to be too critical of his decision.

The decriminalization victory would not have been possible without the hard work of our many dedicated allies. In particular, we’d like to thank attorney Paul Twomey, the ACLU-NH, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and HB 640 sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) for their tireless efforts in support of sensible marijuana policy reforms.

The post New Hampshire Governor Signs Decriminalization Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Texas Special Legislative Session Begins, Med. Marijuana Bill Introduced

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 14:09

Texas legislators are back in Austin for another round of policy considerations, and Rep. Eddie Lucio III has introduced HB 85, a medical cannabis improvement bill. This proposal would allow some patients to access whole plant cannabis, including those with terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism, or Parkinson’s Disease.

This bill is more restrictive than the bill introduced during the regular session, but it would still be a major step forward for many seriously ill patients. Currently, the Compassionate Use Program only allows those with intractable epilepsy access to low-THC cannabis. Texas cannabis businesses are expected to be operational by the end of the year.

This will be a very politically charged special session, established to address a specific list of issues that Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas conservatives consider priorities.

The post Texas Special Legislative Session Begins, Med. Marijuana Bill Introduced appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Marijuana Regulation

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 10:34

After weeks of persistent advocacy from Massachusetts residents, the Senate and House have reached a compromise that largely respects the will of the people. The House’s flawed “repeal and replace” bill would have made disastrous changes to the law voters approved, and we are relieved that the Legislature has agreed to a more sensible plan for implementing legalization.

The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum tax rate — which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes — will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17%, and the local option will be 3%.

MPP and our allies successfully led the 2016 campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana in Massachusetts. After our historic victory in November, it was concerning to see some members of the House propose drastic changes to the initiative approved by the voters. But thanks to the work of thousands of dedicated supporters across the Commonwealth, the law approved by voters will remain largely intact.

The bill isn’t perfect, and we preferred the original language of the ballot initiative. However, given how problematic the House bill was, we are satisfied with the final compromise.

We generated over 1,000 calls to state legislators urging them to reject the House’s “repeal and replace” bill. To everyone who made a call, thank you!

The post Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Marijuana Regulation appeared first on MPP Blog.

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The New York Times Urges Halt to Marijuana Prosecutions

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 11:54

Today, The New York Times published an editorial calling for a halt to all marijuana prosecutions in New York City, following the release of a study showing that racial disparities in arrests persist, despite the recent city efforts to alleviate the problem.

New York City was scaling back its stop-and-frisk program even before a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the tactics underlying it violated the constitutional rights of minority citizens. It’s hard not to look at marijuana arrests today without thinking of that saga. Although the city has reduced the number of arrests for low-level marijuana possession, black and Latino New Yorkers are far more likely to be arrested for smoking in public than whites, who are just as likely to use marijuana.

These arrests have virtually no public safety benefit and can cause lasting damage to people who often have had no other contact with the criminal justice system. Charges are typically dismissed if people stay out of trouble for a year, but in that period, they can be denied jobs, housing and entry into the armed services.

The city needs to do more to minimize arrests. District attorneys can take the lead by refusing to prosecute most, if not all, of these cases.

You can read the full editorial here.

 

The post The New York Times Urges Halt to Marijuana Prosecutions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Delaware Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Improvement Bill

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 14:37

On Wednesday, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed SB 24 into law. Now, patients in the First State suffering from PTSD will no longer need to visit a psychiatrist in order to obtain a certification for medical cannabis. They can instead get their certifications signed by any physician. The change to the program takes effect immediately.

The bill — known as the Bravery Bill — was sponsored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, who is also sponsoring Delaware’s adult use cannabis bill, HB 110. An earlier version of SB 24 would have also added anxiety disorders to the program, but that language was removed from the final bill.

The post Delaware Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Improvement Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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West Virginia Medical Marijuana Bill Takes Effect, but No Access for Most Patients Until 2019

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 10:16

The West Virginia medical cannabis bill officially took effect on Wednesday. Unfortunately, however, most or all patients will not be able to benefit from the law until July 1, 2019, unless something changes.

The law would allow the regulatory agency to make agreements with other states to allow terminally ill cancer patients to buy medical cannabis in another state, but it is not clear yet if that will happen.

For details on how the law will work, including who can qualify for the program, check out our summary.

On a positive note, the members of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board were announced last week, and the first meetings are expected to be scheduled soon. The Advisory Board is important because it will provide an opportunity to discuss improvements to the policy.

The post West Virginia Medical Marijuana Bill Takes Effect, but No Access for Most Patients Until 2019 appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Minnesota Accepting Petitions to Add Qualifying Conditions

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 10:12

The Minnesota medical cannabis program is now accepting petitions to add qualifying conditions. Once again, MPP is teaming up with local advocate group Sensible Minnesota to petition to expand the program.

Post-traumatic stress disorder — which was added as a result of last year’s petition process — qualifies starting on Aug. 1, and the year before we were successful in efforts to add intractable pain. This year we are looking at adding several new conditions. They are: nausea, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, and chronic pain.

If you suffer from one of these conditions, are the guardian of someone who does, or if you are a health care professional who treats one of these conditions, we want to hear from you! Please fill out this form to let us know who you are, what condition is relevant to you, and to share your story. Sensible Minnesota or MPP Foundation will be submitting letters of support along with the petitions.

The post Minnesota Accepting Petitions to Add Qualifying Conditions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Arkansas Medical Marijuana Applications Now Open for Patients and Caregivers

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 10:07

Patients and caregivers can begin enrolling in Arkansas’ medical marijuana program now, although cards will not be available for some time.

If you are a qualifying patient, you can go to the Arkansas Department of Health website and enroll online, or you can mail in your application. Patients must submit a written certification form filled out by a physician, a photocopy of their Arkansas state-issued ID, and a nonrefundable $50 application fee. Caregivers must also undergo a $34 criminal history check. Note that due to an amendment to the program by the Legislature, members of the Arkansas National Guard and the U.S. military are not permitted to enroll in the program as either patients or caregivers.

While patients can apply for program enrollment now, their ID cards will not be issued until 30 days before medical cannabis actually becomes available from dispensaries for purchase. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission estimates that dispensaries should be open by the end of the year or early 2018. You can learn more about the dispensary application process here.

For more information on the state’s program, please check out MPP’s full summary of the law. You can also access the Department of Health’s super-helpful FAQ here.

The post Arkansas Medical Marijuana Applications Now Open for Patients and Caregivers appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Delaware Legislature Enacts Cannabis Regulation Task Force

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 09:56

Early Saturday morning, as the 2017 Legislative session came to a close, the Delaware General Assembly passed a resolution establishing a task force to discuss how to tax and regulate cannabis in the First State. While we’d hoped to end marijuana prohibition outright this year in Delaware, this is an important step forward.

The task force will be composed of agency heads, lawmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders. Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley, sponsors of the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, will co-chair the committee.

This task force is good news for Delawareans who have worked tirelessly for years on this issue, and success is closer than ever. This fall, policymakers will take a serious look at what a post-prohibition Delaware will look like. The task force will issue a report to the Legislature in January 2018. This leaves plenty of time for lawmakers to vote on replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulation.

The post Delaware Legislature Enacts Cannabis Regulation Task Force appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Legal Adults Sales Begin in Nevada

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 09:22

Legal adult marijuana sales began in Nevada on Saturday, making it the fifth state in the nation to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. PT, adults 21 and older with a valid ID will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana-infused edibles or concentrates from licensed marijuana retail outlets. Retail marijuana sales will be subject to a 10 percent sales tax, which state officials estimate will generate more than $60 million in the first two years.

Question 2 required the state to initiate adult sales by January 1, 2018, but the Nevada Tax Commission adopted temporary regulations allowing sales to begin six months earlier through existing licensed medical marijuana outlets. Marijuana possession has been legal for adults 21 and older since Question 2 took effect on January 1, 2017.

MPP’s Mason Tvert made the following statement in a press release:

“Legal marijuana sales in Nevada are going to accelerate growth in public support for ending marijuana prohibition,” Tvert said. “Tens of millions of visitors per year from all over the U.S. and around the world will see firsthand that regulating marijuana works. What happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas, but what is learned about marijuana in Vegas will be shared with everyone back home.”

The post Legal Adults Sales Begin in Nevada appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Hampshire Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 08:00

On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu signed an important bill into law that will expand the number of seriously ill patients who qualify for New Hampshire’s medical cannabis law.

Beginning on August 27, HB 160 will add PTSD to the medical cannabis law and make other improvements to the program. You can read a summary of the new law here.

In other news, the governor’s office informed us this morning that they have not yet received the decriminalization bill, HB 640. This is not cause for concern, since there are often delays this time of year as the Legislature’s work concludes. Gov. Sununu has clearly indicated that he “looks forward” to signing that bill when it reaches his desk.

The post New Hampshire Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Missouri Medical Marijuana Campaign Raising Funds and Gathering Signatures

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 07:53

New Approach Missouri is closing in on its second quarter finance reporting. Having a strong financial report translates to having continued success in the campaign to create a medical marijuana program in Missouri.

Additionally, New Approach Missouri has been promised $200,000 in matching funds once the organization meets its own fundraising goal of $250,000 – and NAMO is well on their way with $185,000 to be banked by Friday.

Signature collection is steadily progressing with 40,000 signatures collected and with a plan to increase signature production with paid collectors later this summer.

New Approach Missouri has until May 6, 2018 to submit signatures, but from now until then, it’s all hands on deck. For information about upcoming events, news and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit New Approach Missouri’s website.

The post Missouri Medical Marijuana Campaign Raising Funds and Gathering Signatures appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Utah Patients Coalition Launches 2018 Medical Cannabis Initiative Campaign

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 07:43

This week, the Utah Patients Coalition (UPC) launched a 2018 medical cannabis ballot initiative campaign. The Marijuana Policy Project will help to lead this effort to victory next year, and we are excited for the historic campaign ahead.

The goal of the ballot initiative is simple: to establish a medical cannabis program that allows Utah patients to legally and safely access medicine without breaking the law. You can read a summary of the initiative here.

After several years of inaction in the Legislature, medical cannabis advocates are taking the issue directly to the voters. Christine Stenquist, UPC spokesperson and leader of TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education) told reporters, “This is our opportunity to finally do something.”

Once the initiative is reviewed and approved by the lieutenant governor, our coalition will hold seven public hearings throughout the state and collect the 113,143 signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot in November of 2018.

A February poll of 402 Utahns found that 73% of voters support a medical cannabis ballot initiative, with only 20% opposed and 7% undecided.

The post Utah Patients Coalition Launches 2018 Medical Cannabis Initiative Campaign appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Louisiana Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Worker Protections Into Law

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 07:33

Last Thursday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law SB 35 — Sen. Yvonne Colomb’s bill to prevent workers employed in the medical cannabis sector from facing felony criminal charges simply for going to work. This important victory marks a critical improvement to legislation first enacted in 1978.

With the governor’s signature, seriously ill Louisianans are one step closer to having access to medical cannabis treatment, but a few more problems remain. Specifically, the state continues to disallow the vaporization of cannabis — which MPP considers an essential element of a comprehensive medical cannabis program — and state regulations actively require doctors to put their DEA licenses at risk in order to recommend patients for the program.

Nevertheless, the program is moving ahead: the two universities granted licenses to operate marijuana cultivation centers continue to move forward; Louisiana State University has indicated it expects medical cannabis to be available for patients before the end of the year.

The post Louisiana Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Worker Protections Into Law appeared first on MPP Blog.

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