Medical Marijuana Update

It's been fairly quiet on the dispensary front, but action is beginning to heat up at state houses in preparation for the 2013 legislative season. Let's get to it:

Alabama

Last Wednesday, a medical marijuana bill got a hearing in the House Health Committee. Again sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), the bill would allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. But after 90 minutes of testimony, the committee chairman and a top legislative leader said it would be a long time before the measure even got a vote. Previous bills have never made it out of the committee, but Todd will keep trying. "This is the beginning of the conversation," she said.

California

Last Tuesday, the Berkeley city council agreed that a local dispensary was operating illegally and should be shut down. The Perfect Plant Patients Group (3PG) is in violation of numerous zoning and permitting regulations, the council found. While the council voted unanimously to shut down 3PG, at least one member, Councilman Kriss Worthington, challenged the city's law limiting the number of dispensaries to four. "We have to expand the number of dispensaries that are legal beyond four," he said, arguing there are hundreds of places in Berkeley where people can get medical cannabis. "We're closing our eyes, pretending it doesn't exist."

Colorado

Last Thursday, the state Court of Appeals ordered Colorado Springs police to return 60 pounds of medical marijuana they seized from a cancer patient who was later acquitted of drug charges. Police had seized the marijuana in May 2011, and a district court judge earlier this month ordered that it must be returned after Bob Crouse, 64, was acquitted. El Paso County prosecutors had won a stay after arguing that police could be at risk of violating federal law if they returned the marijuana, and the appeals court agreed to hear that appeal, but ordered that the marijuana must be returned to Crouse. The returned marijuana is most likely now unusable.

Connecticut

On Tuesday, medical marijuana advocates met in Hartford to discuss creating a business alliance for entrepreneurs and others interested in the subject. The proposed Connecticut Medical Cannabis Business Alliance would be modeled on similar groups in Colorado. The state's medical marijuana program is expected to be up and running by late next year, with the Department of Consumer Protection having until July 1 to submit proposed regulations to the General Assembly.

Iowa

On Monday, state Rep. Bruce Hunter said he would reintroduce a medical marijuana bill. The Des Moines Democrat said he will also introduce a decriminalization bill. State Sen. Joe Bolckom (D-Iowa City) said that he, too, was reintroducing a medical marijuana bill and looking for cosponsors. But it's an uphill road: Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has said he will veto any such bill, and a spokesman for House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said that "as with past efforts to legalize marijuana, House Republicans are unlikely to support the measure and do not believe it is a priority."

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Close your eyes

It's easy to close your eyes if you or your loved ones aren't suffering from painful, deadly diseases that give them one option-ever increasing amounts of narcotics that will get stronger the rest of your life. It's just ignorant to have lethal drugs legal when a plant can do the job better, and make the patient feel happy-some hope when you get to the point where you don't look forward to a long life-just hope you get it over with. When I lived in CO my doctor reccomended a kind with less THC, but more cannabinoids for pain, anti-inflamitory, and sleep promoting qualities using a vaporizer- no smoke or smell. I was sceptical, but on one of my bad days when the opioids didn't work, I tried it. I got instant releaf from the pain and the anxiety associated with my diagnosis. After just three months I had grown bone where before bone was being destroyed. I actually felt hope for the first time in years. As this is all due to a birth defect, I never thought I could have such a change in the quality of my life. I ate healthier food because I was able to cook healthy meals instead of whatever I could eat in bed after a quick grab in the kitchen. I now live in AR. I inherited my father's house, where I grew up, after he lost his fight with camcer,but after I found the drastic difference in my life and well-being, I'd rented it out. A flood caused so much damage to the floors I lost my renter, and couldn't afford to fix it, and pay my rent in CO. This last year was lived full of hope I could keep the house I'd grown up in, be close to family and friends, keep good Dr's I'd been so lucky to find, but that means narcotics only. No marijuana. The opposition was so ruthless in the lies and false allegations that people who didn't know better, or do their own research quickly believed the scare tactics and propaganda. It makes me wonder if the opposition had financial gain in the failure of this law. It was close, 49% for, 51% against. I believe it would have passed if the truth were told, if news media were reporting both sides fairly, and such big money was not used to beat this proposition at any cost. I'm now at my mother's to visit her one last time before I have to sell my house in this awful economy, but I lost $800 for breaking my lease in CO last time. I just can't do that again. I endured untold pain to try to volunteer for this worthy cause, not just for me, but for the many just like me I met during the last year. I'm lucky, I can move, I have a house to sell and retirement income along with total disability. So many are stuck in this poverty-ridden state. I know of one suicide personally. I doubt it is the only one. How many have to suffer to the point of choosing death over 24/7 pain and misery? All over a drug safer than Tylenol, Alcohol, or Tobacco? It makes no sense, and shows how backward and ignorant some Arkansans are. Sad. Thank you to all the brave doctors, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and patients who stood up bravely for the truth. Thank you to 49% of Arkansans who educated themselves and worked so hard to educate others while the news ignored them, and only spread half-truths and outright lies. I pray for you all. I'll miss you mom, my grown children, and my dear grandchildren. I say goodbye with sorrow, but it is not sweet. I'm so very sad. I spent 23 years here teaching children to read, learn to love to learn, and to be kind to others. I hope you all grow up to be the leaders AR needs. Leaders who stand for what is right, leaders who care about the suffering of innocent people. I will never forget you. Goodbye my loved ones. Goodbye sweet, beautiful Arkansas.

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