Marijuana Policy Project

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Ohio: Medical Marijuana Certified For Ballot; Supporters Prepare To Gather Signatures

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The Ohio Ballot Board on Thursday certified an initiative that would establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must now collect 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

The five-member board reviews proposed ballot measures to ensure they represent only one issue.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“We plan to mobilize a large group of volunteers, and we’ll be enlisting the help of paid petitioners to meet the state’s sizeable signature requirement in the short amount of time we have,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative.

“A lot of our volunteers are family members of patients or patients themselves, so they’re incredibly motivated," Tvert said. "The initiative process isn’t easy, but it pales in comparison to undergoing chemotherapy or witnessing your child have seizures on a daily basis.”

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Certified By Attorney General; Advances to Secretary of State

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The measure proposed by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to legally access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday notified Ohioans for Medical Marijuana that he has certified the summary of the group’s proposed ballot initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program and submitted it to the Ohio Secretary of State.

The attorney general confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

The Ohio Ballot Board will now have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws. Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

“We’re pleased with the attorney general’s determination and appreciate his guidance during this process,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative. “Ohio is one step closer to adopting a sensible medical marijuana law that ensures seriously ill people have safe and legal access to their medicine. We’re looking forward to hearing back from the secretary of state and getting our petition drive started as soon as possible.”

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Ohio: Attorney General Rejects Medical Marijuana Amendment

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Ohio Attorney General rejected a medical marijuana legalization amendment on Friday backed by the national group Marijuana Policy Project.

Attorney General Mike DeWine's job is to certify that the language in the petition is accurate in its summary of the amendment, not to judge the merit of the proposed amendment.

DeWine based his rejection on three weak points in the submission from Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, the political action committee formed by Marijuana Policy Project:

-The summary states that "tier 1" medical marijuana cultivation facility licenses are capped at 15, but the proposed amendment contains provisions for issuing additional licenses.

-The summary states that the amendment does not prevent a person from being penalized for "operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or motorboat while impaired by marijuana," but the amendment says medical marijuana patients would not be considered impaired "solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana that appear in insufficient concentration to cause impairment."

-The summary says states there shall be additional ways to obtain patient registry identification cards under certain conditions after July 1, 2017, but the proposed amendment lists that date as Aug. 1, 2017.

Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said they will resubmit a revised petition next week.

"This is just part of Ohio's very rigorous initiative process, so it's not particularly surprising," Tvert said.

Ohio: Two Medical Marijuana Issues Proposed For Fall Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ohio voters failed to legalize recreational marijuana last year, but may see two measures on the ballot this year for medical marijuana.

A proposal from the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, DC group that has helped in the passage of marijuana initiatives in other states, appears to be the strongest and best funded. That initiative would allow 215,000 patients with qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana prescribed by a doctor, and permit patients to grow their own or buy it from retail dispensaries. It would oversee the system and would restrict marijuana use in public or while driving.

The proposed constitutional amendment would limit the number of growers to 15; this has brought criticism from some voters who feel this could create special-interest problems.

Another marijuana initiative is being drafted by a group pursuing both a constitutional amendment to place medical marijuana and industrial hemp in the Ohio constitution, and an initiated statute to create the rules for how both would be regulated.

Don E. Wirtshafter, an Athens county lawyer who is helping to draft that initiative, said Ohio voters are "concerned with people using the constitution for these investment schemes."

“The MPP proposal is so wired for economic interests,” Wirthshafter said. “This is secret money that’s not traceable. They’re trying to lock in the franchises and own them forever.”

Ohio: Ohioans For Medical Marijuana Submit Initiative Petition To State Attorney General

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Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot measure to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio submitted their initiative petition to the Ohio Attorney General on Thursday with more than 2,000 signatures.

The office has 10 days to examine the official summary of the initiative and confirm the petition contains at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters. The petition will then be sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws.

Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November ballot.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), posted the full initiative text, the official initiative summary, and a Q&A with MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia on its website earlier this week at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“This initiative was drafted to ensure seriously ill Ohioans have safe and legal access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering,” said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. “The one benefit of not already having a medical marijuana law is that we were able to incorporate the best practices and lessons learned from the 23 states that do have one.”

In summary, the initiative would:

Ohio: Group Releases Specifics of New Medical Marijuana Ballot Measure

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana could be on the November's ballot in Ohio if 305,291 signatures of registered voters are collected.

The plan, which could provide medicinal cannabis to an estimated 215,000 Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions by 2018, is backed by the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which has been successful with ballot initiatives in other states, reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.

A year after Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected a for-profit plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, the MPP is counting on the differences in the plans to mean success this time. ResponsibleOhio's plan would have handed over control of commercial cannabis cultivation in the state to a dozen wealthy investors who backed the campaign.

MPP will be working locally through a group called Ohioans for Medical Marijuana.

“The Ohio initiative is similar to the medical-marijuana laws in 23 states and the District of Columbia,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the MPP, reports Meghan Matthews at WBNS-10TV. “The Ohio initiative will allow patients with a list of medical problems to use, possess, and grow their own medical marijuana if they have the approval of their physicians.”

Ohio: Details of 2016 Medical Marijuana Initiative To Be Released Tuesday

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Backers of a 2016 initiative effort to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio will release the details of the proposed ballot measure on Tuesday.

The full text of the initiative will be posted at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative at 9 a.m. ET, and the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped draft the initiative, will hold a teleconference.

WHAT: Release of 2016 Ohio medical marijuana initiative language and teleconference to discuss the details of the proposal and answer questions from members of the media

WHEN: Tuesday, March 1, initiative text will be posted online at 9 a.m. ET; teleconference at 10:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: Initiative text at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative

WHO: Heather Azzi, MPP campaigns analyst
Rob Kampia, MPP executive director
Mason Tvert, MPP director of communications

Vermont: Marijuana Legazation Bill Receives Final Senate Approval

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In its final vote on the measure Thursday, the Vermont Senate approved (17-12) the bill that would legalize marijuana for adult use in the state. The bill, S.241, now goes before the House of Representatives who will begin working on it next week.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “We applaud the Senate for advancing this important legislation. Like most Vermonters, most members of the Senate recognize that prohibition is a failed policy. They voted to regulate marijuana because it will make our communities safer."

“We are confident that House members who take an objective look at the evidence will arrive at the same conclusion as their colleagues in the Senate,” Simon continued. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society. We should be regulating it and controlling it, not forcing it into the underground market."

The bill would make possession of up to an ounce legal for adults over 21. Marijuana cultivation sites, retail stores, and testing facilities would be tightly regulated. It would not allow homegrown pot or edibles.

According to a poll released by Vermont Public Radio Monday, 55 percent of Vermont citizens support marijuana legalization for adult use.

Vermont: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Proposal

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As full Senate prepares to vote on S. 241, a new VPR/Castleton poll finds 55% of Vermonters support passing such a law and only 32% are opposed

The Green Mountain State could become even greener. The Vermont Senate Committee on Appropriations on Monday approved a bill (4-3) that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use. It is now expected to receive a full Senate vote.

“The Senate has worked diligently and deliberately on this legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Most Vermonters believe it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana, and it appears most of their state senators agree. We are hopeful that the Senate will approve this commonsense legislation and send it over to the House for its consideration.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill.

It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

Ohio: Recreational Marijuana Initiative Suspended: Campaign Shifts Focus To Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The only Ohio campaign gathering signatures to put a recreational marijuana legalization measure on the state ballot has decided to take a break and refocus their efforts on medical marijuana.

The Legalize Ohio 2016 campaign plans to join forces with the Marijuana Policy Project in their effort to collect signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment designed to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio.

Yesterday, the campaign told supporters that it was unable to raise the money needed for a successful campaign, reporting a bank balance of only $268 at the end of January.

The odds for a successful campaign were long; the District of Columbia and all four states that have legalized recreational marijuana use each had a medical marijuana program in effect before the approval of recreational use.

Legalize Ohio 2016 spokesman Michael Hiles said, "Nobody anticipated MPP coming to the state and we're hoping this is going to be the better policy. Let's do this the right way and work with the coalition across the state. If people don't like that and don't want to vote for it, they don't have to. We can't sit here and keep it criminalized with no policy at all instead of supporting incremental change."

Before announcing their plan to take a break, Legalize Ohio 2016 had gathered about 80,000 of the 305,591 signatures required to qualify for the ballot. Their efforts are not in vain, however. The signatures have no expiration and can be used to qualify for a future ballot.

Colorado: Regulated Marijuana System Generated More Than $135 Million In Revenue For State

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Revenue Includes More Than $35 Million for School Construction Projects

Total revenue raised from 2015 surpassed original projections and far exceeded the costs associated with regulating the system

Colorado’s regulated marijuana system generated more than $135 million in revenue for the state in 2015, including more than $35 million for school construction projects, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

There were just under $588 million in adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado from January-December 2015, producing approximately $109.1 million in tax revenue in addition to $4.7 million in license and application fees. The state’s regulated medical marijuana system produced more than $11.4 million in tax revenue and $9.8 million in license and application fees.

In 2014, the state’s regulated marijuana system raised just over $76.1 million in total revenue, including about $56.2 million from adult-use marijuana tax revenue and fees and $19.9 million in medical marijuana tax revenue and fees.

“There are hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales taking place in every state,” said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Colorado is one of the few where those sales are being conducted by licensed, taxpaying businesses.”

Adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado are subject to the state’s standard 2.9 percent sales tax, plus a 10 percent special state sales tax. Additionally, wholesale transfers of adult-use marijuana are subject to a 15 percent state excise tax.

California: Cannabis Industry Association Announces New Board Members

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The California Cannabis Industry Association on Wednesday announced the election of three new board members.

The staff and current board of CCIA welcomed Lindsay Robinson, director of development at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP); Doug Francis, co-founder/president/COO of Weedmaps; and Aaron Justis, president of Buds & Roses.

“The California Cannabis Industry strives to bring together top industry entrepreneurs, innovators, and cannabis pioneers throughout the state of California to be the voice for the emerging cannabis industry," said Nate Bradley, executive director of CCIA. "The candidates in this election proved to be some of the greatest talents in the industry, and we look forward to working together to guide California out of cannabis prohibition.”

As director of development at MPP, Lindsay Robinson oversees MPP’s national fundraising and membership strategies. Based in San Francisco, California, Lindsay has been a key member of MPP’s fundraising team since 2010 and has been at the helm of department since 2014.

Doug Francis co-founded Weedmaps, where he currently serves as president and COO. Weedmaps is the leading marijuana technology and media company with business and consumer relationships spanning the globe. Due to Weedmaps’ size, revenue, reach and data, the company will play a major role in how this industry will transition out of its prohibition era.

Vermont: Coalition To Regulate Marijuana To Launch TV Ad Campaign

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Campaign Features State’s Former Top Law Enforcement Official

A new television ad featuring Vermont’s former top law enforcement official speaking out in support of regulating marijuana will begin airing statewide on Tuesday, just as lawmakers are taking a close look at the issue.

The ad — viewable online at https://youtu.be/Fk45yWMjtRc — will appear on WCAX, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC through Sunday.

In the ad, titled “Time to End Prohibition (Again)”, former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney draws a comparison between current marijuana prohibition laws and the failed policy of alcohol prohibition.

“We all know that prohibition was a disaster,” Cheney says as images from the era of alcohol prohibition appear on the screen. “It forced alcohol into the underground market, where it was controlled by criminals, and consumers did not know what they were getting. It made us a nation of hypocrites and lawbreakers.

“Marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems,” according to Cheney. “That’s why most Vermonters agree it’s time for a more sensible approach,” he says, referencing a September Castleton Polling Institute poll that found 56 percent of Vermonters support — and only 34 percent oppose — legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use.

The ad ends with Cheney urging viewers to contact their state senators and telling them, “It’s time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana in Vermont.”

Ohio: Marijuana Policy Project Wants Medical Cannabis On November Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Marijuana Policy Project has set its sights on legalizing medicinal cannabis this November in Ohio.

Staff with MPP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that was behind the successful recreational marijuana legalization drive in Colorado, said they can learn from ResponsibleOhio's failed $20 million campaign to legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis last fall, reports Jessie Balmert of Gannett Ohio. Nearly two-thirds of voters opposed that ballot initiative, which would have handed control of commercial cannabis cultivation to a few campaign investors.

"It's quite clear that voters do not support anything that could be perceived as a monopoly or oligopoly," MPP spokesman Mason Tvert said. Ohio voters in November also approved a proposal from lawmakers to ban monopolies in the state constitution, a response on the marijuana investors behind the ResponsibleOhio attempt to monopolize commercial cannabis cultivation in the state.

MPP didn't back or invest in ResponsibleOhio's failed campaign, but the national group didn't actively oppose it, either. Now, though, MPP seems eager to distance itself from the expensive, futile effort. MPP won't be working with ResponsibleOhio leader Ian James or his political consulting group, according to Tvert.

California: Adult-Use Marijuana Initiative Cleared For Circulation

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Coalition announces formation of official committee: Californians to Control, Regulate & Tax Adult Use of Marijuana while Protecting Children

Proponents of a statewide ballot measure to "control, regulate and tax adult use of marijuana while protecting children" on Wednesday announced that they have received an official title and summary for their proposed November measure, have been cleared for circulation and intend to “hit the ground running” to qualify their measure for the ballot.

They also announced the formation of an official political committee in support of the measure: “Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana while Protecting Children.” (I know! "Is it a committee name or a NOVEL?")

The coalition in support of this measure includes business people, physicians, farmers, environmental leaders and social-justice advocacy organizations, according to the group.

The new committee announced $1.25 million in initial contributions, including from co-chairs and respected advocacy organizations such as Drug Policy Action, Marijuana Policy Project of California, New Approach PAC and Californians for Sensible Reform.

Joint Statement of Co-Proponents

Dr. Donald O. Lyman, MD, former chief of the Division of Chronic Disease & Injury Control at the CA Department of Public Health and
Michael Sutton, former president of the California Fish and Game Commission and former vice president of National Audubon Society:

Delaware: Marijuana Decriminalization Law To Take Effect Friday

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Marijuana decriminalization legislation adopted earlier this year in Delaware will officially take effect on Friday, making it the 19th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession. (A 20th state, Missouri, has a similar law on the books that goes into effect in 2017.)

“Delaware’s marijuana policy is about to become a lot more reasonable,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Most people agree adults should not face jail time or the life-altering consequences of a criminal record just for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Taxpayers certainly don’t want to foot the bill for it, and fortunately they will not have to any longer.”

Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Once HB 39 takes effect, the possession or private use of one ounce or less of marijuana will no longer trigger criminal penalties or create a criminal record for adults 21 years of age and older. Instead, it will be a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 20 will face the same $100 civil fine for their first offense, then an unclassified misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which they can have expunged from their records when they reach age 21. Marijuana possession by minors and public consumption by people of any age will remain misdemeanors.

U.S.: Survey Of Teens Finds No Change In Marijuana Usage Rates For Past 5 Years

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The results of an annual survey of U.S. middle and high school students released Wednesday refute claims that reforming marijuana laws and debating legalization will lead to increased marijuana use among teens.

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

· Rates of daily marijuana use by 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, as well as monthly use by 12th-graders, did not change from 2014 to 2015 and have remained unchanged since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 8th-graders did not change in the past year, but has dropped significantly since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 10th-graders appears to have dropped significantly from 2014 (and 2010) to 2015.

The survey also found a decline in the number of teens who perceive "great risk" in marijuana use, negating the theory that softening perceptions of harm will result in more teens using marijuana.

“Many young people recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and other drugs," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "But they also understand that it is not okay for them to use it.

"For decades, teens had an artificially high perception of risk that stemmed from exaggerations and scare tactics," Tvert said. "Now that there is more information out there and it's not limited to horror stories and propaganda, they are developing a more realistic view.

U.S.: Jeb Bush Expresses Support For Decriminalizing Marijuana

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Bush Receives Upgrade in Marijuana Policy Project’s Presidential Candidate Report Card

The nation’s largest marijuana policy organization upgraded Bush — who had not previously expressed support for decriminalization — from a ‘D’ to a ‘C-’ following a Friday interview on a Boston radio station

The nation’s largest marijuana policy organization upgraded Jeb Bush from a “D” to a “C-” in its 2016 presidential candidate report card on Friday following a radio interview in which the former Florida governor expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana.

“It’s one thing to say we should have decriminalization of marijuana. I support that,” the former Florida governor said in an interview with Joe Mathieu of Boston’s WBZ NewsRadio, reports Tom Angell at Marijuana.com.

Bush had not previously endorsed a removal of criminal penalties for cannabis possession.

Bush, however, didn't waste any time in proudly displaying his vast ignorance on the subject of cannabis.

He referred to marijuana as a “gateway drug” during the interview, referencing a theory that was thoroughly debunked by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in a 1999 report commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also said “the new marijuana” is “highly, highly toxic,” despite researchers consistently finding that marijuana is among the least toxic drugs and incapable of producing a fatal overdose.

Minnesota: Intractable Pain Added As Qualifying Condition For Medical Marijuana

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Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger on Wednesday announced that intractable pain, as defined in Minnesota law, will be added to the list of qualifying conditions for which patients can legally access medical marijuana.

The commissioner must notify the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative health and public safety policy committees. Intractable pain will become a qualifying condition for medical marijuana effective August 1, 2016, unless the legislature passes a law stating otherwise.

The vast majority of the 23 states with workable medical marijuana programs allow the use of medical marijuana to treat intractable pain.

“This is a sensible and compassionate decision that will help a lot of Minnesotans who suffer every day from intractable pain," said Robert Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The commissioner heard from countless medical professionals, patients, and families from across the state about the benefits of medical marijuana for people suffering from this debilitating condition.

"We commend Commissioner Ehlinger and everyone else involved in taking this important step toward improving the lives of countless Minnesotans," Capecchi said.

“Medical marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment option for people suffering from severe and chronic pain," Capecchi said. "It is oftentimes more effective than prescription painkillers, and it is undeniably far less addictive and less toxic.

New Hampshire: Judge Orders Health Dept. To Issue Medical Marijuana Card To Terminal Cancer Patient

LindaHoran[InDepthNH]

With an ID card, Linda Horan will be able to obtain medical marijuana legally in Maine and use it without fear of arrest in New Hampshire; Horan sued DHHS after it refused to issue ID cards until dispensaries open next year

A Merrimack County Superior Court Judge on Tuesday ordered the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to issue a medical marijuana ID card to a woman with terminal cancer in order to expedite her access to medical marijuana.

Linda Horan of Alstead filed a lawsuit against DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas earlier this month, asking the agency to immediately issue her a medical marijuana ID card so that she can begin obtaining medical marijuana legally in Maine and using it without fear of arrest in New Hampshire.

DHHS is responsible for administrating the state’s medical marijuana program, which has experienced several delays since Gov. Maggie Hassan signed it into law in July 2013. The agency began accepting applications from patients interested in participating in the program, but patients remain at risk of arrest and prosecution until they receive program ID cards. DHHS is refusing to issue ID cards until dispensaries open, which is not expected until 2016.

Horan, who suffers from stage IV lung cancer, filed an application with DHHS after receiving approval from all five of her physicians.

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