Medicinal Cannabis

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New York: Patient Advocates and Health Care Professionals Rally for Medical Marijuana Bill

(Graphic: The Daily Chronic)Bill Passes Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patient advocates -– including patients who use marijuana for medical purposes -– and health care professionals came to Albany on Tuesday to support legislation to allow medical use of marijuana in New York.

Patients suffering from severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions could be treated with medical marijuana under legislation introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Senator Diane J. Savino. New York’s bill A. 6357/S.4406 is cosponsored by 68 other legislators.

The bill was reported from the Assembly Health Committee Tuesday by 21-4, including three of the Committee’s seven Republicans voting in favor.

The bill has been endorsed by dozens of organizations, including the New York State Nurses Association; the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York; the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; and the New York State AIDS Advisory Council.

A 2012 Siena poll found that a strong majority of New Yorkers support legalization of medical marijuana, 61 percent-33 percent, including 69 percent-27 percent among independent voters.[1]

Delaware: Officials Ready To Restart Dormant Medical Marijuana Program

(Graphic: California Pot Blog)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been almost two years since Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed legislation allowing state-regulated distribution of medical marijuana, and now state officials are finally ready to restart the now-halted program.

Gov. Markell signed Senate Bill 17 on May 13, 2011, and said his decision "largely based on [the] guidance" of the Ogden Memo, a 2009 statement from then-Attorney General David W. Ogden, which said it was not a priority of the Obama Administration to prosecute patients and caregivers who are "in clear and unambiguous compliance" with state medical marijuana laws, reports Jeni Rini at Delaware State News.

The act doesn't allow patients to grow their own medical marijuana, but allows patients with certain qualifying conditions such as HIV, cancer, a multiple sclerosis to buy up to six ounces of cannabis from any of three proposed state-regulated compassion distribution centers (dispensaries).

Patients who are at least 18 years old, and caregivers for homebound patients, can apply for a medical marijuana ID card which grants them protection from arrest in the state.

Nevada: First Medical Marijuana School Opens In State

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

Nevada's first school to teach people how to operate a successful medical marijuana dispensary has opened.

The Cannabis Career Institute on Saturday opened its Budtender School with a workshop for about 40 students, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

The school educates prospective dispensary operators on all aspects of the business, including how to grow cannabis and bake it into brownies, cookies and cakes, according to institute founder Robert Calkin.

The daylong seminar on Saturday cost $249, and featured instruction by several marijuana experts. It featured a textbook on cannabis dispensaries.

The Nevada Legislature is considering a bill which would finally provide safe access for patients to get cannabis, 13 years after state voters approved the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

That measure on Thursday was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It calls for the establishment and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Silver State.

"It's coming," Calkin told the Las Vegas Sun. "Nevada has always been cutting-edge socially and politically. It was ahead of other states on gambling and prostitution, and (marijuana) is a lot less problematic. Nevada appears to be on the cusp of approving it."

Arizona: Medical Marijuana Packaging Bill Loses Prosecutors' Support

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

Members of the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Council have withdrawn their support for legislation their members had helped write that would have regulated packaging of medical marijuana edibles. The council voted last week to no longer support Senate Bill 1440 because of the conflict between the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and federal law.

The bill would have enforced the use of bland packaging on candy containing cannabis, but it will likely die now, reports Lindsey Collom at The Arizona Republic. The attorneys said it's too hard to keep legislating medical marijuana rules in a legal atmosphere that needs to be decided in the courts.

The council withdrew its support for SB 1440 because it conflicts with an argument prosecutors are making in a case before the Arizona Supreme Court, stemming from a case where a Yuma County Superior Court judge ordered the Sheriff's Department to return marijuana seized from a California woman who was a legal medical marijuana patient in her home state.

Oregon: DEA Seizes Medical Marijuana Patient Records For Federal Investigation

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

The fears of some medical marijuana patients that state patient registries could be used against them appear, unfortunately, to have been well-founded. A federal search warrant forced the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) to hand over patient records, according to recently discovered court papers.

The warrant was executed last November against OMMP, the state agency administering the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, voted into law in 1998, reports Jake Ellison at Seattle PI.

A special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) obtained the warrant to "aid in his investigation" of growers in Oregon suspected of black market pot dealing.

"I know that in order to effectively pursue this investigation I need to investigate each of the patients, growers and caregivers associated with" names which turned up in the investigation, wrote DEA special agent Michael Gutensohn.

"I have probable cause to believe that records from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program will contain evidence and intstrumentalities of marijuana manufacturing and trafficking and conspiracy to commit marijuana manufacturing and trafficking offenses," Gutensohn claimed. (It seems odd that Gutensohn would claim to believe that evidence of black market diversion would be contained in official state records of the medical marijuana program.)

Michigan: New Charges Follow Raids On 3 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

(Photo: MLive.com)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michigan's crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries continues. An investigation following last month's raids on three West Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries led to additional charges on Wednesday.

Another arrest was made on Wednesday, and the Kent County prosecutor's office issued warrants for two more suspects, reports Aaron Aupperlee at MLive.com.

One person affiliated with Purple Med, a medical marijuana dispensary at 1365 Plainfield Ave. NE, was arrested on April 10, according to Let. Richard Nawrocki, head of the Grand Rapids Police Department's vice unit.

Two additional warrants were issued by the Kent County Prosecutor's Office for people affiliated with Grand Rapids dispensaries. One warrant was issued for a second person associated with Purple Med. Another was issued for a person associated with Natural Wellness Associates, 1240 N. Taylor Ave., according to Nawrocki.

The additional arrest and warrants came after David Overholt, owner of Mid-Michigan Compassion Club, turned himself in to police on April 5. Overholt, 55, is facing two counts of drug possession and "maintaining a drug house." (It seems particularly sad and ironic that a law originally passed to combat the crack cocaine scourge is now being used against facilities that provide medical help to seriously ill people.)

New Hampshire Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana Bill

Measure that received overwhelming House approval would allow patients with serious illnesses to obtain and use medical marijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on a bill that would allow state residents with serious illnesses to obtain and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST in Room 100 of the State House (107 N. Main St.).

H.B. 573, introduced by State Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), was transmitted to the Senate after being approved by more than 80 percent of the New Hampshire House of Representatives on March 20. It would allow patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to grow up to three marijuana plants in their homes or obtain marijuana through one of five state-licensed alternative treatment centers.

Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), will be testifying in support of the bill.

WHAT: Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing on H.B. 573, which would allow seriously ill patients to obtain and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

WHEN: Thursday, April 11, 1 p.m. EST

WHERE: New Hampshire State House, Room 100, 107 N. Main St., Concord

WHO: Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Matt Simon, Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst

Florida: Longest Serving Marijuana Prisoner Gets Permission To Travel; Needs Funds

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

Robert Platshorn became the longest serving marijuana prisoner in United States history, doing almost 30 years in federal prison for importing Colombian pot in the 1970s. When he got out five years ago, Platshorn -- a weed warrior through and through -- didn't take the easy way out and opt for a quiet retirement. Instead, he took up the cause of medical marijuana, launching The Silver Tour to bring the good news about cannabis to senior citizens.

Platshorn did his time, and when he got out, he started trying to make the world a better place and to help sick and aging people. But last May, even though he'd been officially released from the jurisdiction of the U.S. Parole Commission, the federal government moved to silence him, ordering travel restrictions -- effectively, if temporarily, ending The Silver Tour.

That's where things have stood for almost a year now, but finally, Platshorn, a Florida resident also known as The Tuna (from his '70s smuggling group, The Black Tuna Gang), got some good news this week: permission to travel to state capitol Tallahassee to help push for medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Education for Doctors Now On TheAnswerPage.com

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

Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states and is being studied worldwide by physicians and other healthcare professionals. One of the places professionals are learning more about medicinal cannabis is on the medical education website, TheAnswerPage.com.

"Medical marijuana may be controversial, but it is an important area of study in healthcare," said Stephen B. Corn, M.D., editor-in-chief and cofounder of TheAnswerPage. Corn is a clinician, professor and an award-winning, prolific author.

"Doctors and healthcare professionals must understand the medical, legal, social and political issues to best respond to their patients' questions and attend to their needs," Dr. Corn said.

Medical professionals visit TheAnswerPage.com daily to learn the latest medical information and earn continuing medical education (CME) credit, according to Corn. Educational areas on the site include opioid prescribing, pain medicine, palliative care, risk management, anesthesiology, perioperative and hospital medicine, clinical statistics, and medical marijuana.

The Massachusetts Medical Society accredits all educational content on the site.

California: Researchers Hope To Test Cancer Fighting Marijuana Compound

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

The pain-relieving and nausea-relieving effects of medical marijuana and its chief psychoactive ingredient, THC, are becoming well known for those fighting cancer and other serious diseases. But for more than five years now, a group of researchers in California has been focusing on another of the cannabinoids found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD).

"Cannabidiol is a non-toxic agent from cannabis that is not psychoactive," said Sean McAllister, Ph.D., a lead researcher in the recent study at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, reports Carolyn Johnson at KGO.

McAllister and fellow researcher Pierre Desprez, Ph.D., say they are now ready for human trials, using CBD to treat metastatic cancer. They've already produced a synthetic form of CBD, which they say targets a specific gene related to cancer's spread.

"We found this one compound, CBD, had a specific effect on metastatic cancer cells, very aggressive tumor cells," Desprez said. "The bad cancer cells, the ones that spread throughout the body."

The team documented the effect of CBD on brain cancer in a large scale animal trial in a recently published study. Brain scans showed the disruption of the tumor cells after the CBD was used to switch off a specific gene regulator, according to the researchers.

Oregon: Dispensaries Would Be State Licensed Under House Bill

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

A statewide registry of medical marijuana dispensaries would be created under a bill taken up Monday by the Oregon House.

House Bill 3460, sponsored by Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), would require that dispensary owners pass criminal background checks, document the amount of cannabis coming into their businesses, and verify that the marijuana is from state-registered growers, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

The bill would also require that marijuana sold by state-registered dispensaries would be tested for impurities.

The businesses would be allowed to set their own prices for medicinal cannabis, much as they do today. Unlike Colorado's complex system, the proposal would not generate revenue for Oregon besides the fees to cover the cost of administering the program.

Dispensaries would not be subject to routine inspection by the state under the bill.

Medical marijuana has been legal since Oregon voters approved it in 1998, but the dispensaries which distribute cannabis to patients have evolved in a legal gray area.

The state has a network of marijuana resource centers, collectives, cooperatives, clubs and cafes, but state officials don't know how much marijuana or cash moves through these businesses. Estimates of the number of dispensaries in the state run from 150 to 200.

California: Activist Swerdlow At Center of State Supreme Court Marijuana Case

(Photo: Rachel Luna, Daily Bulletin)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The City of Riverside, California has for years attempted to close the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, a medical marijuana collective at the heart of a state Supreme Court case in San Francisco that could determine the future of medicinal cannabis in the state -- specifically if cities have the authority to ban dispensaries.

Riverside officials claim the city is trying to close the center because it prohibits such facilities in its zoning ordinance, reports Wes Woods at the Daily Bulletin.

Oral arguments in the state Supreme Court case were given on February 5; the court's decision -- due within 90 days of the hearing -- will have a big impact on similar cases in California.

After voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, patients were given the right to cultivate and possess marijuana for personal medicinal use. Prop 215 was the first medical marijuana law in the United States. But federal law bans marijuana for any purpose, classifying it as a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical uses.

Riverside officials claim that Prop 215 doesn't prohibit them from banning dispensaries through zoning, but Lanny Swerdlow -- who founded the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center -- said that cities have no such right.

Maryland: Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

(Illustration: Splice Today)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill to eventually allow seriously ill patients safe access to medical marijuana. The bill, HB 1101, would allow academic medical research centers to apply for licenses to distribute medicinal cannabis to qualified patients.

The Senate on Monday voted 42-4 to approve the bill, which has already been passed by the Maryland House of Delegates, sending the legislation to the desk of Governor Martin O'Malley, reports The Associated Press.

Unlike 18 other states that have adopted medical marijuana laws that allow patients to obtain medicinal cannabis by growing it themselves or by purchasing it from state-licensed businesses, Maryland's law requires that patients obtain their medicine only from a limited number of research hospitals approved to conduct medical marijuana research.

Maine: Marijuana Dispensary Workers Protest Working Conditions

(Photo: Change.org)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

About 25 protesters showed up in Portland, Maine, on Saturday to decry working conditions at Wellness Connection of Maine, the state's largest medical marijuana dispensary group.

The protesters said Wellness Connection is ignoring their complaints about working conditions and their attempts to unionize, reports Beth Quimby at the Portland Press Herald. Saturday's protest in Portland followed a similar event Friday in Hallowell.

The protest, which lasted about an hour, included handing out leaflets to passers-by. It followed months of controversy centered around the dispensary chain.

Wellness Connection, a nonprofit the operates dispensaries in Portland, Brewer, Thomaston and Hallowell, serves about 2,400 patients and has about 40 employees.

In February, the workers had staged a brief walkout. The Maine Department of Health and Human Resources conducted an investigation last month, finding 20 violations of state law and policy, including Wellness Connection's use of pesticides on its cannabis plants.

The state reached a consensus agreement with Wellness Connection after the organization signed on to submit weekly status reports and allow frequent inspections.

Rhode Island: Health Department Gives Go-Ahead To State's First Marijuana Dispensary

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

Rhode Island's very first medical marijuana dispensary is just days away from opening.

On Thursday, the state Health Department granted a registration certificate to the dispensary, which opens the way for the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center to become the first to legally sell marijuana to patients in the state's medicinal cannabis program.

The center will open for business on April 19 at 1 Corliss Street in Providence, according to Chris Reilly, a spokesman for the Slater Center.

Under Rhode Island law, three dispensaries are permitted to sell marijuana to state patients.

Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth is scheduled to open in the coming weeks. A third dispensary, Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick, has yet to apply for a registration certificate.

Interestingly, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center is across the street from the town's main federal post office.

(Photo: Steve Szydlowski/Providence Journal)

Nevada: Bill Would Create Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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

Medical marijuana dispensaries could be created throughout Nevada if a bill in the state Senate passes. Under the bill, medicinal cannabis outlets would be nonprofit, and regulated by the state.

Nevada voters approved the use of medical marijuana roughly 13 years ago, but there is still no good way for patients to actually get cannabis, other than growing their own, reports Joe Harrington at KOLO.

Patients who are registered with the state are allowed to grow three mature and four immature marijuana plants, and are allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. But many patients' health makes it difficult or impossible to grow their own, and are concerned about thieves. For them, dispensaries would be a good solution for safe access.

"A lot of cities are experiencing benefits from the taxation," pointed out Reno City Council member Jenny Brekhus, who recently voted with other council members to oppose the medical marijuana dispensary bill being considered by the Legislature. However, she said Reno should "prepare for the possibility" of dispensaries.

"My strongest desire is the City not have its head in the sand if the the Legislature green-lighyts these we need to get our zoning ordinances and our business license regulations in place," Brekhus said.

Maryland: Senate Poised To Vote On Medical Marijuana Bill

(Photo: CBS Baltimore)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With just a day left in the session, the Maryland General Assembly is poised for a landmark decision on giving seriously ill patients safe access to medical marijuana.

"If everything runs true to form, the Senate will say yes to allowing medical centers to dispense marijuana," predicts Pat Warren of CBS Baltimore.

"If it helps people with cancer, I'm all for it," said Senate President Mike Miller. "My mother died of cancer, a very lingering death. And if my mother wants to smoke marijuana in her old age to help with her cancer, I'm all for it."

This session's medical marijuana bill, HB 1101, sponsored by Delegate Dan Morhaim, would allow academic medical centers to apply for licenses to dispense marijuana to qualified patients.

"It's not to open it up for any and everybody; it's a pain reliever," Miller said. "I've got a fractured nerve in my tooth right now and I wouldn't mind a toke myself."

New York: State Senate To Consider Medical Marijuana Bill

(Illustration: 420 Petition)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New York could be next in line to legalize medical marijuana. A state senator has introduced a bill that would allow the very ill to use cannabis as a medical treatment, but the bill reportedly has an uphill battle.

Diane Savino, a Democrat from Staten Island, is sponsoring the bill, reports John Borsa at WKBW.

"In other countries, the UK and Canada, they've done extensive research on medical marijuana, and have been able to show that there is a direct effect in a positive way on patients," Savino said.

According to the state senator, her bill takes what has worked in other states and leaves out elements that have not been as successful.

Under her proposal, seriously ill patients would need to get their doctor's authorization, and could then buy marijuana through a system of state-regulated dispensaries. The cannabis would be tracked "from plant to patient," Savino said.

But that's where that "uphill battle" we mentioned comes in. Governor Andrew Cuomo has in the past said he "doesn't support" medical marijuana. And of course, some nervous Nellies are fretting about "making marijuana more widely available."

Oregon: Amendment Would Require Medical Marijuana Card Renewal Every 60 Days

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

Medical marijuana patients in Oregon will have a lot more to worry about than just their health, if some lawmakers have their way. They'll also have to worry about getting their medical marijuana cards renewed every 60 days.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday held a public hearing on SB 281, a bill that would allow people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medicinal cannabis. But at the hearing, a number of amendments were proposed, including one by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), that would require medical marijuana patients to renew their registry identification card every two months.

Currently, patients are required to renew their MMJ cards once a year.

Under the amendment, patients would be forced to provide the Oregon Health Authority "updated documentation" from their physician that medical cannabis could help them reduce their symptoms.

The supposed intent behind the onerous requirement of renewing every 60 days was to "make sure that cardholders see their doctor regularly just as they would if they were renewing any other prescription," legislative staff claimed.

It would be difficult for patients to schedule an appointment and continually renew their cards every 60 days, according to Iraq war veteran Jared Townsend, who told lawmakers he was opposed to the amendment to SB 281.

"I think it's just a ploy to clog the system," Townsend said.

Michigan: Town's Attempt To Ban Medical Marijuana Goes To State Supreme Court

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

A Michigan city's attempt to ban medical marijuana appears to be alive again after the state Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear the case.

The state Court of Appeals about seven months ago ruled that a new Wyoming, Mich., ordinance, which essentially bans medical marijuana, was not legal, reports John Tunison of Mlive.com. A three-judge appeals panel ruled unanimously that the Wyoming city ordinance conflicts with the states Medical Marihuana Act.

The court rejected Michigan's argument that state law contradicts the federal prohibition on marijuana, which the U.S. government considers a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical uses.

Medical marijuana patient John Ter Beek, who is an attorney, started fighting the ban after the Wyoming City Council passed the ordinance back in November 2010. Council members who passed the ban said marijuana could be distributed safely by pharmacists (who, by federal law, aren't allowed to touch the stuff), but not by licensed marijuana caregivers.

Ter Beck sued, saying the ordinance went against the will of the state's voters, who by a 63 percent margin approved the law in 2008. Kent County Circuit Judge Dennis Leiber ruled in favor of the city, then the Court of Appeals reversed his ruling.

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