Medicinal Cannabis

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California: Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Swarmed By Marijuana Protesters In Berkeley

(Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Attorney General Eric Holder encountered an unhappy crowd of dozens of pro-marijuana protesters at the University of California Berkeley's campus on Saturday when he visited to address the graduating law school class.

During Holder's visit to campus, an airplane circled above Berkeley's Greek Theater for more than two hours, pulling a banner reading "Holder: End Rx Cannabis War #Peace4Patients," reports Carly Schwartz at The Huffington Post. As the Attorney General's limo turned toward the graduation ceremony, demonstrators were waving signs reading "Fight Crime, Not Cannabis."

"There's no doubt we got the A.G.'s attention," said California NORML President Dale Gieringer. "He can't come to Berkeley and not be reminded of his department's bad faith with respect to marijuana."

Holder and the Obama Administration have been harshly criticized for the stepped-up federal crackdown on the medical marijuana industry in California and other states which allow the medicinal use of cannabis.

Though medical marijuana was legalized by California's voters through Proposition 215, a 1996 ballot initiative, cannabis remains illegal for any purpose under federal law.

Illinois: Lieutenant Governor Supports Medical Marijuana Bill

(Graphic: The Daily Chronic)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon on Sunday said she supports a bill allowing the medicinal use of cannabis, explaining that testimony from seriously ill veterans and other medical marijuana patients helped to change her mind.

"As a former prosecutor my first reaction was, 'I'm not interested in changing our laws on medical marijuana,' " Lt. Gov. Simon told The Associated Press in a Sunday interview.

But after hearing from patients and reading up on the bill -- described as the strictest in the nation among medical marijuana states -- Simon said she is convinced the regulations are stringent enough.

The bill, which has cleared the Illinois House and awaits a Senate vote, would let physicians authorize patients with whom they have "an existing relationship" to use medicinal marijuana for more than 30 medical conditions, including cancer.

(Photo: Illinois.gov)A pilot program would be created; patients and caregivers would be required to undergo background checks and would be limited to 2.5 ounces per patient per purchase from state-regulated dispensaries.

Study: Smoking Lots of Marijuana Lowers Risk for Bladder Cancer

(Photo: Patient Advocacy Network)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Researchers have announced that the conclusion of an 11-year study has found a strong association between frequent marijuana use and significantly reduced risk of bladder cancer. The more pot you smoke, the lower your risk, according to the study.

The new study compared the risk of bladder cancer in more than 83,000 men who smoked cigarettes only, marijuana only, or both substances, reports Kathleen Doheny at USA Today.

The investigators found that men who smoked only cannabis were the least likely to develop bladder cancer over the course of the 11-year study.

"Cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence, and tobacco use only was associated with a 52 percent increase in bladder cancer," said Dr. Anil A. Thomas, study author and a fellow in urology at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Smoking both tobacco and cannabis raised the risk of bladder cancer, but not as much as for those who smoked only tobacco, Thomas said. He presented the findings on Monday at the American Urological Association's annual meeting in San Diego.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Senate Committee Vote

(Graphic: The Daily Chronic)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Illinois cleared a key Senate committee vote on Wednesday.

The medical marijuana bill was approved on a 10-5 vote by the Senate Executive Committee late Wednesday night, reports Monique Garcia at the Chicago Tribune.

The bill was approved over the objections of members of the law enforcement community, who claimed the bill wouldn't prevent medical marijuana patients from driving while under the influence of cannabis. (Statistics from states where medical marijuana is legal has shown they have fewer fatal auto accidents than before medicinal cannabis laws were passed.)

The bill now goes to the full Senate, which approved similar legislation in 2009. The proposal already cleared the Illinois House last month, and Gov. Pat Quinn has said he is "open minded" on the subject.

California: More Cities Moving To Shut Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

(Photo: Where's Weed)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More California cities are planning to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries following a state Supreme Court ruling that such citywide bans are legal.

San Bernardino authorities raided a dispensary on Thursday, seizing 30 pounds of marijuana, 80 plants, a 12-gauge shotgun and $9,000 in cash, and citing four dispensary employees, according to City Attorney James Penman, report Richard K. DeAtley and John Asbury at the Riverside Press Enterprise.

The city also sent closure notices to about 30 shops, threatening fines of $1,000 a day. By Wednesday, 17 of the shops had voluntarily shut down.

"Most were very friendly; their lawyers had contacted them and they were in the process of removing their signs, their green crosses," Penman smirked.

"We're treating these businesses as illegal drug houses and drug businesses," Penman bragged. "What we hope to find today and every day is that these stores have closed. Our goal is to shut everyone down." Eleven shops were still operating by the end of thursday, Penman said.

California: L.A. Voters Could Dramatically Reduce Access To Medical Marijuana

(Graphic: Kottonmouth Kings)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Voters in the city of Los Angeles have a decision to make on May 21, with the fate of hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries at stake. Angelenos will have to choose between three medical marijuana measures on the ballot. Estimates of the number of dispensaries in town range between 850 and 1,600.

Widespread confusion among voters appears to be the norm, reports KPCC, as they prepare to decide which of three measures -- D, E, and F -- should be used to regulate medicinal cannabis dispensaries.

Their decision is slightly simplified by the fact that backers of Measure E have abandoned it and thrown their support behind Measure D.

Measure D would shut down most of L.A.'s hundreds of dispensaries, only allowing about 135 of them -- the ones that first registered with the city six years ago -- to continue operation.

Measures D and F and alike in several key ways. Both require dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet form schools. Both raise taxes on the shops from $50 to $60 per $1,000 in gross receipts.

The biggest difference is that Measure F would allow an unlimited number of dispensaries. That's more fair than limiting the number to 135, according to political consultant Garry South of the Measure F campaign.

Florida: Lawsuit Filed To Restore 63-Year-Old Patient's Access To Medical Marijuana

(Photo: Sarasota Herald Tribune)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A 63-year-old Florida woman with Lou Gehrig's disease wants her medical marijuana back -- and she's going to court to make sure the cops never confiscate her pot plants again.

The back yard of Cathy Jordan, director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, was raided on February 25 by Manatee County Sheriff's deputies working on a tip that she and husband Robert were growing pot. Deputies confiscated 23 plants, according to a sheriff's department spokesman, who claimed the plants were worth about $30,000.

But the state attorney's office decided it was going to be difficult to get a conviction, given the Jordans' medical necessity defense, and it declined to prosecute the case, reports Billy Cox at the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Cathy Jordan said she started smoking marijuana in 1989. According to Jordan, cannabis alleviates her painful symptoms, and prescription medications do not.

Her name has become so synonymous with the medical marijuana movement in Florida that when a medicinal cannabis bill was introduced in the state Legislature, it was called the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act.

Missouri: Epilepsy Patient Defies Law To Fend Off Seizures With Marijuana

(Graphic: The Weed Blog)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Missouri's not a medical marijuana state, but Ken Wells says he's been smoking pot for decades. He has epilepsy, and he says his condition is eased by using cannabis.

"I do it the way I do my other medications -- a measured amount each day," Wells said, reports Anthony Kiekow at Fox 2 Now. Ken said he hasn't had an epileptic seizure since he started using about three grams of marijuana per day as a medication.

Since marijuana works to stop his seizures, Ken is willing to risk arrest every day.

But St. Louis Police Chief Tim Fitch is against legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

"That is just a front for legalizing it and using marijuana recreationally," Chief Fitch claimed. "They always start with medical marijuana and then it goes to what Colorado and Washington did -- OK, now we are OK with recreational."

Chief Fitch claimed marijuana is a "gateway drug" which leads to the cemetery. "One of the things I have learned over the last 22 Town Hall meetings with folks that lost children as a result of heroin use is every one of them without fail used marijuana first," he claimed.

The chief really should inform himself with the latest research if he's going to be talking in public about this; the gateway theory was debunked years ago.

Nevada: Bill Would Remove Part of Marijuana DUI Tests

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a refreshing show of common sense, some Nevada lawmakers say that medical marijuana patients shouldn't be punished as if they were impaired when driving, just because they have small amounts of marijuana in their systems.

That idea inspired an intense debate in the Nevada Assembly when Majority Leader William Horne (D-Las Vegas) unveiled AB 351 to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, reports Matt Woolbright of The Associated Press.

"Marijuana is currently the only drug we have a limit where we say, 'You have this much, so you must be impaired,' " Horne told members of the committee. "I think that's unfair."

Drivers with traces of cannabis in their blood are considered impaired under current Nevada law, and are guilty of driving under the influence. The same concept applies to the blood alcohol content of drunken drivers.

But this bill would remove the per se power of marijuana metabolites for medical marijuana patients. Prosecutors would still be able to use the blood test to bolster their case, but more proof would be required to prove the driver was impaired.

"I don't have a problem with the per se limits being there for everybody else," Horne said. "What I am saying is, for a patient, those per se limits should not apply because we don't apply them to any other drug."

California: Obama Administration Targets Respected Marijuana Dispensary For Closure

(Graphic: Berkeley Patients Group)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Berkeley Patients Group, widely considered a national model for regulated medical marijuana providers and one of the oldest nonprofit medical cannabis collectives in California, on Wednesday announced it will fight a civil asset forfeiture suit served against its landlord in an effort to shutter the licensed business and seize the property from which it operates.

Berkeley city officials stood with representatives of Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) at a Wednesday press conference to defend the non-profit collective and announce a resolution condemning the actions of the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney.

In response to a similar case filed against Harborside Health Center by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in June 2012, city officials in Oakland filed a lawsuit to prevent the closure and stop Haag’s suit from moving forward. This response and the resolution from Berkeley City Council represent a growing demand from state and local officials that the Obama Administration allow states to determine marijuana policy per its stated policy.

Illinois: Police Groups Claim Medical Marijuana Bill's DUI Tests Aren't Strict Enough

(Graphic: THCFinder.com)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two major law enforcement organizations in Illinois claim that DUI rules in a pending medical marijuana bill are not strict enough.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association on Wednesday sent a letter to Governor Pat Quinn and other state officials asking for tougher marijuana DUI safeguards, reportes The Associated Press.

The letter didn't mention the rather pertinent fact that according to one major study, states that have legalized medical marijuana see fewer fatal car accidents.

Medical marijuana laws were not significantly linked with changes in daytime crash rates, or those that didn't involve alcohol, according to the study.

Illinois' medical marijuana bill is scheduled for a Senate hearing on Wednesday. The idea has won approval in the Senate in past years, but police opposition could be a hurdle for this year's bill.

(Graphic: THCFinder.com)

Massachusetts: Panel Approves Rules For Medical Marijuana

Massachusetts: Cannabis Trade Group Advises Prospective Dispensary OwnersBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Public health officials in Massachusetts on Wednesday approved final regulations for the state's medical marijuana program, preparing for the voter-approved law to take effect. However, it will likely be a few more months before the first medical marijuana dispensaries open in the state.

Massachusetts in November became the 18th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, allowing patients with cancer, Parkinson's disease and HIV to use cannabis with their doctor's authorization, reports Bob Salsberg at WBUR. The regulations also allow doctors to authorize marijuana for other debilitating conditions not specifically listed in the rules.

The Public Health Council unanimously approved the 45 pages of regulations, which will allow authorized patients to buy and possess up to 10 ounces as a 60-day supply, though some patients could be authorized for greater amounts with permission from their doctors.

Up to 35 dispensaries will be licensed to operate around the state.

Illinois: Senate Committee To Hold Hearing Wednesday On Medical Marijuana Bill

Photo - Illinois: Medical Marijuana Moves Forward In LegislatureReligious leader, former narcotics officer, and physician scheduled to testify in support of House-approved measure that would allow people with serious illnesses to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Illinois Senate Executive Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday at 3 p.m. on a bill that would allow residents with serious illnesses, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to access and use medical marijuana if their physicians recommend it. If approved, the measure will be considered by the full Senate. It received approval from the full House of Representatives on April 17.

Rev. Alexander Sharp, executive director emeritus of Protestants for the Common Good; former narcotics police officer Karen Stone of Glenarm; Dr. David Walters of Mt. Vernon; and a Somonauk-based military veteran with advanced multiple sclerosis are scheduled to testify in support of House Bill 1, which is sponsored in the Senate by former state’s attorney Sen. William Haine (D-Alton).

The measure has been endorsed by the Illinois Nurses Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, and since last month, more than 265 doctors from across the state have signed on to a statement in support of safe access to medical marijuana for patients with serious illnesses.

New Jersey: 2nd Medical Marijuana Dispensary Expects To Open In September

(Photo: Edward Lea/Press of Atlantic City)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three years after then-Gov. Jon Corzine signed a medical marijuana bill into law, New Jersey patients still only have one operating dispensary at which to gain safe access to medicinal cannabis. But that could change in September.

A second medical marijuana dispensary expects to open for business on September 9, a state official said on Monday, saving Egg Harbor Township residents a drive to Essex County, reports Derek Harper at Press of Atlantic City.

Compassionate Care Foundation Inc. expects about 500 patients per month, according to state Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner. The DOH regulates the state's medical marijuana program, for which 885 patients have so far registered.

As many as 16,000 plants will be cultivated at the Egg Harbor Township facility, raising interesting questions about the possibility of federal enforcement actions (the Feds have typically been attracted to grows of more than 100 plants, since the 10-year federal mandatory minimum for marijuana cultivation kicks in at that point).

One local medical marijuana supporter said he was disappointed that the dispensary isn't already open.

New Hampshire: Lawmakers Call On Governor To Allow Patients To Grow Their Own Medical Marijuana

Gov. Maggie Hassan is insisting legislators remove a provision from HB 573 that would allow patients with serious illnesses to grow their own supply of medical marijuana, leaving patients with no legal source of marijuana for two or more years while alternative treatment centers are being developed

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Hampshire State Reps. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter) and Donald "Ted" Wright (R-Tuftonboro) and other legislators will join medical marijuana advocates – including a retired police sergeant and drug task force member – at a news conference Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building, where they will call on Gov. Maggie Hassan and members of the Legislature to recognize patients' immediate need for legal access to medical marijuana.

Gov. Hassan is insisting legislators remove a provision from HB 573 that would allow patients with serious illnesses to grow their own supply of medical marijuana, which would leave patients with no legal source of marijuana for two or more years while alternative treatment centers are being developed.

The news conference is scheduled to follow a Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting regarding the bill. The Senate meeting will begin at 9 a.m. ET in Room 103 of the Legislative Office Building.

California: Supreme Court Upholds Local Medical Marijuana Bans

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The California Supreme Court on Monday held that localities may entirely ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions in a closely watched case, City of Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center.

The result of the Court’s ruling is that tens of thousands of legitimate medical marijuana patients in California will be without safe and legal access to medical marijuana. To date, more than 200 localities have banned dispensaries outright; many more are expected to do so after Monday's ruling.

While there are more than 50 localities in California that have adopted ordinances that comprehensively and successfully regulate medical marijuana and provide meaningful patient access, many others have enacted bans over frustration and hostility at the burden of medical marijuana regulation falling at the local level.

It is likely that the Court’s decision Monday, absent action by the Legislature, will lead to more localities enacting bans.

Eleven other medical marijuana states regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana at the state level. California is unique in placing the responsibility to regulate entirely at the local level and in its complete absence of statewide oversight.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers May Reduce Number of Allowed Dispensaries

Illustration: The Daily ChronicBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Public Health Committee on Monday will hear proposals to change the state's medical marijuana law as it prepares to implement the voter-approved measure. Among the changes is one that would reduce the maximum number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed in the state from 35 to only 10.

Another proposal would prohibit the dispensaries from being located within 1,000 feet of schools, houses of worship or civic centers, reports The Associated Press.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is scheduled to publish final regulations for medical marijuana later this month.

Massachusetts voters last November approved a ballot question legalizing medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions, including cancer, AIDS and Parkinson's disease.

Under the new medical marijuana law, patients are allowed to buy and possess up to a 60-day supply of cannabis.

California: Supreme Court Decision Expected - Can Cities Ban Marijuana Dispensaries?

(Photo: University of San Francisco)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The California Supreme Court on Monday is expected to make a major decision, deciding if cities are allowed to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

About 200 citywide bans are hanging in the balance; a Supreme Court decision could resolve years of conflicting rulings by lower courts, reports Maura Dolan of The Los Angeles Times.

Several justices indicated during a February hearing that they favor upholding city dispensary bans. Their comments hinted that the court might rule that local governments have the power to ban the shops, despite California's medical marijuana law, Prop 215, approved by voters back in 1996.

If the court rules that dispensary bans are acceptable, many more communities across the state are expected to zone the shops out of existence, ending safe access to medicinal cannabis for hundreds of thousands of patients. Advocates have lamented that many patients would be forced to drive hundreds of miles to get medical marijuana legally.

The case currently before the California Supreme Court stems from a dispensary ban by the city of Riverside. Lower courts have given conflicting rulings over whether such bans are legally permissible.

California: Feds Continue Attacks on Medical Marijuana Collectives

(Photo: Patient Advocacy Network)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The federal crackdown on medical marijuana continues, with the feds sending landlord threat letters from the U.S. Department of Justice to collectives. A new round of letters went out this week to landlords and collectives throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Many California cities have had similar federal interference recently, including Oakland, Berkeley, Fairfax, Long Bach, Santa Ana and others.

Los Angeles has lost more than 80 collectives, and San Francisco has seen more than a dozen permitted medical cannabis dispensaries close due to the federal threats of asset forfeiture, prosecution and imprisonment.

California's Patient Advocacy Network is responding with a Day of Action on Monday, May 6. "Feds Out of California" rallies will be held from noon until 1 p.m. in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento, with more details to be announced.

• San Francisco: Noon, Federal Building, 90 7th Street, S.F., CA 94103

• Los Angeles: Noon, Edward R. Royal Federal Building, 255 E. Temple St., L.A., CA 90012

• Sacramento: Noon, Federal Building, U.S. District Court, 501 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Supporters are encouraged to contact California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Monday, May 6, to demand that she stand up for California and defend Prop 215, the medical marijuana law. Ask that Atty. Gen. Harris work to stop the federal attacks on collectives, patients, property owners and banks.

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced With Bipartisan Support

There is a truth that must be heard!Bill with maximum number of House and Senate sponsors would allow Minnesotans with serious illnesses to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bipartisan group of Minnesota state lawmakers joined patients and advocates for a news conference at the state capitol on Thursday to announce the introduction of a bill that would allow people with serious illnesses to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) is introducing the bill in the House of Representatives (HF 1818), and Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) is introducing the companion bill in the Senate (SF 1641). Both bills have the maximum number of sponsors allowed -– 35 in the House, including 12 committee chairs, and five in the Senate, including two committee chairs.

"Medical marijuana made life bearable for my daughter in her final few months," said Joni Whiting of Jordan, who attended the news conference. Her daughter, Stephanie, used medical marijuana to relieve the extreme pain and nausea associated with cancer and chemotherapy.

"She would have tried using medical marijuana immediately after her doctor recommended it, but we feared the legal consequences and she suffered for months before we decided it was worth the risk," Whiting said. "This legislation will prevent patients and families from being put in such a terrible situation."

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