Missouri: Multiple Medical Marijuana Bills Pending

Update: The Missouri legislature is adjourned and the bill will not recieve further consideration this year.
Update: A hearing was held on 4/26 for SB 56.
Two separate legislative proposals are pending to allow qualified patients to obtain and legally consume marijuana.

The preferable of the two bills, Senate Bill 56, permits the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to “grant licenses for the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana for medical use.” Importantly, it authorizes qualified patients and caregivers the opportunity to cultivate their own cannabis at home. This option ensures that patients will have an uninterrupted supply of medical cannabis if there is a delay in the establishment of state licensed dispensaries or if they do not reside near such a facility. 

Separate legislation, Senate Bill 153, is also pending. However, this legislation significantly limits patients’ options to self-medicate in the manner that they believe is best. For example, it does not allow patients to cultivate their own supply of medicine, and it also places potential restrictions on how patients may consume their medicine. 

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Missouri patients deserve these same protections.

Statewide polling data compiled in 2016 determined that 62 percent of voters support regulating medical marijuana access. In September, Secretary of State Jason Kander called on lawmakers to move swiftly to legalize medical cannabis, stating, “The Missouri General Assembly should pass legislation to allow medical marijuana so Missouri families that could greatly benefit from it don’t have to watch their loved ones continue suffering.” If lawmakers fail to act this year, advocates are anticipated to place the measure on the 2018 ballot.

Please enter your zip code below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support Senate Bill 56. For more information please visit Missouri NORML’s page.

South Carolina: Compassionate Care Medical Marijuana Act Introduced

Update: SB 212 and HB 3521 failed to receive action before the legislative crossover dates, and are dead for this legislative session.
Update: Members of the House subcommittee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs voted 3-0 on February 21 to report HB 3521 for consideration before the full Committee
Update: Testimony was taken on S. 212 before the Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee on February 16. Among those testifying in favor of the bill included former US Attorney for the District of South Carolina Bill Nettles. 
Update: The Charleston Post and Courier has endorsed the S.C. Compassionate Care Act.
Update: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMasters says he opposes legalizing marijuana, calling it a “bad idea.”
Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 212 and House Bill 3521, to establish a program to provide qualified patients with legal access to medical marijuana products.

Under this program, patients would be permitted to obtain up to two ounces of cannabis and/or cannabis-infused products, such as extracts or edibles, from a state-licensed dispensing facility. 

Patients must be diagnosed with one of the following debilitating conditions to qualify for access: “cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, neural-tube defects, or the treatment of these conditions; or a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; neurological disorders; or severe and persistent muscle spasms including, but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.” The measure also restricts patients from smoking cannabis, but does not prohibit vaporization. 

While NORML believes that such restrictions on smoking are unnecessary, we also are doubtful that such prohibitions can feasibly be enforced. Further, this legislation is more expansive than the state’s existing CBD-specific law, which only applies to patients with intractable epilepsy and has failed to provide needed relief to the patient community. Ultimately, we would like to see this measure amended to include patients’ right to home grow.

The Senate bill appears to have broad legislative support. According to this news story, correspondents were unable to find any lawmakers to go on record in opposition to the bill.

A separate, broader measure is pending in the House. House Bill 3128, the Put Patients First Act, permits qualified patients to engage in cannabis therapy and to obtain cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries. Under this act, qualifying patients may possess “up to two ounces of a usable form of marijuana.” They also have the option of cultivating their own cannabis at home.

A second, more narrow bill, House Bill 3162, seeks to provide medical marijuana access for certain military veterans. It allows those who were discharged in honorable fashion and later diagnosed with PTSD “to possess twenty-eight grams or one ounce or less of marijuana or ten grams or less of hashish.”

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. South Carolina patients deserve these same protections.

Please enter your information below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support medical marijuana access in South Carolina.

Gov. Asks “Why Do We Need Medical Marijuana?” Here’s Why:

 

Update: On Tuesday, February 28, a special committee — the 17-member Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation — charged with facilitating Maine’s transition into a legal marijuana marketplace will hold a meeting to hear public comments on the process as well as to review the dozens of marijuana-related bills pending in the Legislature.
Governor Paul LePage recently suggested abolishing Maine’s medical marijuana program – a program that was approved by a majority of voters on two separate occasions.

In a December 15 radio interview, Gov. LePage said that he sees “no need” to continue to implement a separate medical cannabis program in Maine when adult use becomes legally regulated. “Why do we need medical marijuana?” he asked. “We’ve got to get rid of medical marijuana.”

Tell the Governor ‘no.’

Tens of thousands of Mainers have grown to rely on this program for safe, above ground access to a substance that provides them with symptomatic relief. It is unfair to ask them to switch from their trusted providers to new retailers who may have little or no experience providing for patients’ needs.

Further, many of these patient populations use cannabis to treat chronic conditions, whereas adult non-patient users may only consume cannabis intermittently. It is inappropriate to subject these patients to the litany of taxes associated with retail cannabis. Other medicines are not subject to such taxes and those patients explicitly using cannabis as a medicine should not be forced to pay inflated retail prices.

Finally, many patients utilize niche products, such as marijuana-infused salves and tinctures high in cannabinoids other than THC – the primary mood-altering component in cannabis. It is questionable whether retailers catering to the adult use market will continue to produce or provide these specialized products and formulations, potentially leaving patients out in the cold.

Ultimately, patients’ motivations for accessing cannabis and the type of cannabis they seek to obtain are very different than that of non-patients. As a result, NORML urges Governor LePage to keep the existing medical marijuana program in place while simultaneously working to implement the state’s new adult use regulations swiftly and in accordance with the will of the majority of Maine voters.  

VP-Elect Pence: Where will the new administration take cannabis policy?

After the 2016 Presidential campaign dust has settled, Michigan NORML had a distrubing thought: with their states electoral votes as well as the White House going to Donald Trump and Governor Mike Pence, what will happen to the good people in Michigan who are being helped by the state’s medical marijuana program? Futhermore, how will cannabis policy change under the new administration at the federal level?
In that spirit, Michigan NORML crafted the letter below to send to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence in the hopes of gaining clarity and has recruited over 50 other NORML chapters from across the country to sign-on. 
Add your name to join NORML’s national network in keeping up the pressure to bring an end to the war on responsible marijuana users. 

Texas: Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Legislation Introduced

Update: The Texas House of Representatives Calendar Committee refused to schedule a vote for HR 2107 and it will not recieve any futher consideration this session. Watch the video from the bills sponsors, State Representatives Eddie Lucio III and Jason Issac.

Update: The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health approved HR 2107 on May 5 by a vote of 7-2. The bill will now be considered by the Calendars Committee to determine the date of the full House vote. 
Update: HB 2107 had a hearing on May 2 and after powerful targeted testimony, the number of cosponsors for the bill jumped from 5 to 75!
Update: A bipartisan House version of SB269 to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas has just been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, titled HB 2107,
State Senator Jose Menendez has filed Senate Bill 269, currently making its way through committee, to protect qualified patients who consume cannabis and to provide for the state-licensed production and distribution of the plant.
SB 269 authorizes the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products to qualified patients. Patients would receive cannabis through a network of private dispensaries and operators, similar to pharmacies, regulated under “strict guidelines” by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The state would use existing infrastructure and build upon the registry already established under the Compassionate Use Act, or SB 339, a 2015 bill Sen. Menendez co-authored and helped pass that lets patients with intractable epilepsy receive low-THC cannabis oil.
 
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Texas patients deserve these same protections.
 
Please enter your info below to contact your state elected officials and urge them to support this pending legislation. For more information please visit Texas NORML’s website or find your regional chapter here.

Urge Your Senator To Oppose Jeff Sessions For US Attorney General

Senate lawmakers are only days away from taking a vote that may have a drastic impact on the future of marijuana policy.

Sessions recently was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee and during his confirmation hearing, he failed to give a straight answer with regard to how the Justice Department should respond to states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use and left the door open for federal enforcement,

What is Senator Session’s record on marijuana policy? Think about this.

Senator Sessions has a long and consistent record of opposing any efforts to reform marijuana policy, and he once notoriously remarked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. He was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these:

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

“[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

During the 2015 confirmation hearings for outgoing US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sen. Sessions made clear that he opposed the Obama administration doctrine to allow states the flexibility to impose marijuana legalization absent federal interference, stating: “I hope that you will cease to be silent (on the issue of marijuana legalization), because if the law enforcement officers don’t do this, I don’t know who will. And in the past, attorneys general and other government officials have spoken out and I think kept bad decisions from being made.”

Fast-forward to today: Senator Sessions is on the cusp of becoming the top law enforcement officer in the United States. That is, unless your members of the US Senate hear a loud and clear message from you!

If confirmed by the US Senate to be US Attorney General, Sen. Sessions will possess the power to roll back decades of hard-fought gains. He will have the authority to challenge the medical marijuana programs that now operate in 29 states and the adult use legalization laws that have been approved in eight states. In short, the appointment of Sen. Sessions would be a step backwards at a time when the American public is demanding we push marijuana legalization forward. He is the wrong man for the job, and he represents a clear and present danger to the marijuana law reform movement. 

Please enter your information below to tell your Senates to ‘Just Say No’ to Sen. Sessions as Attorney General.

Delaware: Legalization Bill Tabled, Lawmakers Form Task Force

Update: The 2017 legislative session came to a close with lawmakers taking no further action on HB 110. However, legislators did approve a resolution establishing a task force to study marijuana legalization and make recommendations to the legislature by January 2018.
Please contact DE NORML to find out how you can help push reform in 2018. 
Update: Members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee voted 7 to 2 on May 10 to move HB 110 to the House floor. Because the measure seeks to amend criminal penalties, it requires a two-thirds majority from House members to move to the Senate for further consideration. The vote marks the first time that state lawmakers have ever approved legislation seeking to legalize and regulate the adult use marijuana market.
Update: Legislation, HB 110, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, was introduced on March 30.
Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry has introduced HB 110 to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail sale of marijuana. The measure establishes a regulated commercial market for cannabis cultivation and retail sales, but does not permit unlicensed, home cultivation.

Senator Henry, the author of the state’s medical marijuana legislation said at a recent Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting, “Education is suffering. Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.” 

According to recent polling data compiled by the University of Delaware, sixty-one percent of state voters favor legalizing marijuana.

Enter your information below to contact your lawmakers and urge them to side with the majority of Delaware voters.

Delaware is one of a growing number of states where lawmakers are considering regulating cannabis for adults. NORML will continue to update you in the coming weeks as this proposal is introduced and moves forward during legislative session. For more information on legislative efforts in Delaware, please contact Delaware NORML.

Federal: Protect Lawful Medical Marijuana Programs

Update: House and Senate lawmakers have signed off on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. The measure reauthorizes and updates the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, as well as a similarly worded amendment protecting state-sponsored industrial hemp programs. Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, at which time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire. Non-medical retail marijuana businesses operating in the eight states that regulate adult use sales are not protected by this act and still remain vulnerable to federal interference or prosecution.
Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” 

Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term spending package. This bill extends federal funding through September 30, 2017, at which time the measure — and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment — will expire.

According to recently released nationwide survey data, the majority of Americans are on our side. A whopping 94 percent support the medical use of marijuana. Perhaps most importantly, 71 percent of voters — including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

Please enter your information below to contact members of the incoming Congress and urge them to include these important patient protections as part of any future, long-term appropriations legislation. 

This amendment is strongly supported by both voters and lawmakers and ensures the safety of millions of patients. Congress must not turn its back on those millions of Americans who rely on these state-authorized programs for their health and wellness. 

Federal: Bipartisan Coalition Introduces The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016

A bipartisan coalition of House and Senate lawmakers have proposed legislation, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016, to expedite clinical investigations into the safety and efficacy of cannabis.

Passage of the measures — House Bill 5549 and Senate Bill 3077 — would expedite federal reviews of clinical protocols involving cannabis. It would also eliminate existing production limits for research grade cannabis and allow for investigators to access cannabis from sources other than NIDA’s University of Mississippi cultivation facility. It also mandates an FDA review of relevant cannabis studies to be performed within five years after the passage of the act.

Under present law, clinical investigations involving cannabis must meet approval from various federal agencies, including the DEA, the FDA, and the NIDA. Only cannabis provided by the NIDA may be used in clinical trials.

“Despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, federal policy is blocking science. It’s outrageous,” said co-sponsor, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon in a prepared statement. “We owe it to patients and their families to allow for the research physicians need to understand marijuana’s benefits and risks and determine proper use and dosage. The federal government should get out of the way to allow for this long overdue research.”

Please contact your members of the US House and Senate and urge their support for these important measures.

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