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Medical Marijuana Update

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #838)

Congressional Democrats who voted wrong on medical marijuana catch some flak, California continues to struggle with regulating medical marijuana, while other states struggle to get bills passed. Let's get to it:

MMJ leaf and stethoscope KY ODCP_135.jpg
National

Last Thursday, a medical marijuana advocacy group began airing TV ads targeting Democrats who voted against ending DEA interference in medical marijuana states. The group Americans for Safe Access is now running TV ads criticizing Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and other Democrats as "out of touch" for voting against a measure to bar the DEA from interfering in medical marijuana states. Wasserman Schultz was one of only 18 Democrats who voted against it while 170 Democrats voted for it.

Arizona

Last Thursday, a state court judge ordered the state to allow medical marijuana for PTSD. A state court judge has ruled that "a preponderance of evidence shows medical marijuana provides palliative benefit to those suffering from PTSD" and given the state Health Department until July 9 to accept his decision or appeal it. The department has denied all previous petitions seeking to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions.

California

Last Tuesday, Tulare County supervisors voted to ban all medical marijuana cultivation. The county had previously allowed cooperatives or individuals to grow up to 99 plants. The board rejected a chance to simply ban collective grows, but chose instead to ban all grows. This is just the initial vote.

Last Wednesday, the city of Riverside sued to block a medical marijuana ballot measure. The city has sued to block an initiative that would legalize and regulate a small number of dispensaries less than a month after organizers qualified it for the 2015 ballot. The initiative "goes beyond the legislative powers of the electorate" and is illegal because it would force the city to violate state and federal laws, including the federal Controlled Substances Act, the city argues.

On Tuesday, the San Jose city council approved tough restrictions on dispensaries and cultivation sites. The council's vote limits dispensaries to a handful of industrial areas making up less than 1% of the city. It also forces dispensaries to grow all their medicine in the county, limit their store hours, and bars them from selling edibles resembling candy. Medical marijuana backers say they have already collected enough signatures to put their own dispensary regulations on the ballot. It ain't over in San Jose.

Also on Tuesday, Sacramento County supervisors introduced an ordinance allowing limited indoor cultivation. Residents of unincorporated areas of the county would be able to grow up to nine plants indoors. Two months ago, the board backed a ban on all outdoor cultivation. The indoor cultivation ordinance comes up for a vote next week.

Also on Tuesday, Santa Cruz County supervisors okayed asking voters to approve a dispensary tax in November. The measure would allow dispensaries to be taxed at up to 10% of their gross sales. The county estimates it would raise about $900,000 a year, to be used to enforce marijuana dispensary and cultivation regulations.

District of Columbia

Last Thursday, the Department of Health added new qualifying conditions for patients. They are seizure disorders, Lou Gehrig's Disease, decompensated cirrhosis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, and Alzheimer's. Hospice patients will also be allowed to use marijuana. Previously, the DC program had been restricted to people suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and muscle spasticity.

Florida

On Wednesday, new polls showed strong support for medical marijuana among Florida voters. With medical marijuana on the ballot in November, a new poll shows 70% of likely voters support the constitutional amendment. Because it is a constitutional amendment, it needs 60% to pass. Another poll released this week has support at 66%. "Florida's medical marijuana amendment that will be on the ballot this fall continues to appear headed for easy passage," Public Policy Polling, which did the second poll, wrote in an analysis.

Also on Wednesday, conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson kicked in $2.5 million to defeat the initiative. Billionaire casino magnate and major Republican political donor Sheldon Adelson has donated $2.5 million to the campaign to defeat the Florida medical marijuana initiative. A newly-formed group backed by Adelson, the Drug Free Florida Committee, was started by long-time GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler and his wife Betty. It has raised $2.7 million so far and its top donors have been primarily Republicans.

Massachusetts

Last Friday, the DEA was reportedly giving dispensary docs an ultimatum: quit the dispensaries or lose your license. The Boston Globe reported that DEA agents have been visiting Massachusetts doctors involved with medical marijuana dispensaries and telling them the DEA will jerk the licenses to prescribe drugs if they don't cut ties with the dispensaries. And it's working. At least two doctors have severed ties, while one gave up his DEA license, saying as a semi-retired surgeon, he didn't need it to do his job. The Globe reports this will likely slow the opening of some long-awaited dispensaries.

Nevada

On Monday, Clark County commissioners approved 18 dispensary licenses. There will soon be 18 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in unincorporated parts of Clark County, the home of Las Vegas. Nevada approved medical marijuana in 2000, but only approved dispensaries last year.

New York

On Tuesday, a key GOP senator said he will not allow a vote on medical marijuana. Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco (R) said today he would not allow a vote on the Compassionate Care Act, sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino (D). "The Savino bill will not come out of my committee, the Finance Committee," he said. "You don't have any kind of reasonable research on the effects. You have people coming in here every day trying to ban e-cigarettes and use of tobacco in other ways." He said he and other Senate Republicans may be open to legislation that would not allow marijuana to be smoked. The session ends next Thursday.

North Carolina

On Saturday, Todd Stimson began a "March Against Fear" to generate support for medical marijuana. He is leading the 259-mile "March Against Fear" from Asheville to Raleigh to help bring attention to a pending medical marijuana bill, House Bill 1161. The bill was filed last month and is now languishing in the House Judiciary Committee. Click on the title link to join up or get more info.

Pennsylvania

On Tuesday, a medical marijuana bill got a committee hearing and stays alive. Following a hearing on Senate Bill 1182, committee members said they had been assured the bill would get a vote in the Senate Law and Justice Committee, but it will be then up to Senate leaders to decide if they will allow a floor vote. If it gets and wins a floor vote, the House would still have to pass it, or pass its own version.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Comments

Brian Kelly (not verified)

When a loved one is in pain, wasting away unable to eat, and needs this marvelous herb in order to increase their appetite, reduce the overwhelming pain, and live as as healthy and happily as they can with the time they have left, let's have the compassion to allow them to have it.
 
Stop treating Medical Marijuana Patients like second rate citizens and common criminals by forcing them to the dangerous black market for their medicine.
 
Risking incarceration to obtain the medicine you need is no way to be forced to live.
 
Support Medical Marijuana Now!
 
"[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane." — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, "Federal Foolishness and Marijuana," editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997
 
"[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications." — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001
 
"[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate." — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998
 
"Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision." — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003
 
"The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses' Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine." — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995
 
"[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use." — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, "Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis," 1995
 
"When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug." — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003
Thu, 06/12/2014 - 3:00am Permalink
massvocals (not verified)

In reply to by Brian Kelly (not verified)

  respectfully  , you forgot that cannabis makes  a perfect  balance in humans  for there life  system  , The plant is meant for us, having  respectors  for THC    we are meant  to use and consume   for  benefits , these benefits  so wide are they in range   that an continue  prohibition is nothing more then Tyrannical oppression  by assholes   . The law does not help anyone  . all this does  is create  a  reality statement  that Massachusetts is  a police state ,  where by the Oligarchy  steals  liberty is foreseen  by all  . The  stage in pony show for greed  and distruction   by  some social pathic law makers  and enforcement  so called   police  we the people  are struck in old law WE Must be in  charge  and credited  ourselves  with the truth and  change  the legal system    no other  peoples  but us can do this  help me legalize  [email protected]   

Sat, 06/14/2014 - 11:30am Permalink
William Aiken (not verified)

 

"He said he and other Senate Republicans may be open to legislation that would not allow marijuana to be smoked."

 

Republicans are so opposed to the idea of anyone smoking weed, that they will ignore the mountains of scientific evidence that shows marijuana has many medicinal benefits, some that require smoking it. It's unfortunate that this Republican Senator, who head a key committee can take such Draconian positions and not suffer any consequences due to their ignorant constituency.

Smoking weed delivers it's medical properties immediately and in small doses. Given weed's long history of being a non-lethal drug, I would like to ask the good Senator why should the method used to receive relief for sick people preclude them from getting that relief in the first place?

Thu, 06/12/2014 - 8:15am Permalink

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