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California: Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Regulations; Governor Expected To Sign

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The California Legislature on Friday passed a series of bills that would establish comprehensive regulation and licensing of medical cannabis, in a multi-tiered licensing system being praised by some organizations, while other activists are calling the proposed rules "convoluted" and even "treacherous."

Assembly Bills 243 and 266 as well as Senate Bill 643 were all approved and will delegate regulation of commercial medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution to various state agencies as well as create a state-level licensing system for the first time in the history of the state’s medical cannabis program. Governor Jerry Brown is widely expected to sign all three pieces of legislation.

"I am pleased that the California legislature has taken an important step by passing a comprehensive regulatory framework to improve patient care, provide greater certainty for the industry and protect our environment," said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). "In Congress, I intend to continue working toward federal government policies that respect state marijuana laws.

"The federal government should not come between patients and their medicine," Rep. Lee said. "That is why I have introduced the States Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 262) and am a proud cosponsor of other legislation including the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (H.R. 1013), Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (H.R. 1940) and the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act (H.R. 2076)."

California: Governor Signs Bill Ending Transplant Discrimination Against Marijuana Patients

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California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday signed AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medicinal cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.

Medical cannabis patients in California have been routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical marijuana. AB 258 was authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

“AB 258’s passage is the result of ASA’s membership tirelessly working for over two years,” said Don Duncan, ASA’s California director. “In California, legal medical cannabis patients will never again face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant.

"Governor Brown deserves credit for protecting medical cannabis patients from this harmful discriminatory practice that has no basis in medical research,” Duncan said.

On June 15, more than 200 patients and advocates participated in the ASA California Citizen Lobby Day, which focused on educating lawmakers about AB 258 and other medical cannabis legislation. During the lobby day ASA began a postcard campaign to encourage Governor Brown to support AB 258.

California: Legislator Introduces Bill To End Organ Transplant Denials For Medical Marijuana Patients

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Americans for Safe Access sponsors bill introduced by Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) to end discriminatory practice

California State Assembly member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) has introduced AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, a bill aimed at preventing medical marijuana patients from being unduly denied organ transplants.

The Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act is sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which has long advocated for patients seeking organ transplants, including Norman B. Smith, a medical marijuana patient who died in 2012 after being denied a liver transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Specifically, AB 258 states that, "A hospital, physician and surgeon, procurement organization, or other person shall not determine the ultimate recipient of an anatomical gift based solely upon a potential recipient's status as a qualified patient...or based solely on a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient." The bill simply establishes the same protections that currently exist for other transplant candidates with mental or physical disabilities.

California: Study Refutes Claims of Widespread Abuse in Medical Marijuana Program

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92% of participants reported that "medical marijuana helped alleviate symptoms or treat a serious medical condition"

A new landmark study published last week by the peer-reviewed journal Drug and Alcohol Review refutes the long-held belief that abuse of California's medical marijuana law is widespread. The study, "Prevalence of medical marijuana use in California, 2012," is the first time anyone has formally measured such data in the state according to its authors Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra, Marta Induni, and Danielle Ewing of the Survey Research Group at Public Health Institute in Sacramento.

The report found that as much as 92 percent of participants reported that "medical marijuana helped alleviate symptoms or treat a serious medical condition." Researchers said that "To get that kind of agreement on anything is pretty astounding."

The report also found that one-in-20 California adults -- roughly 1.4 million people -- reported using medical marijuana to treat serious illness, and that such use spanned all ages, genders, races, and geographical regions.

"This study proves what patients and advocates have been saying for years, that medical marijuana is efficacious,” said Don Duncan, California Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "The study roundly rejects the argument that medical cannabis is a smoke screen or a sham."

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