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FL Gov Vetoes Hemp Bill, Dutch Panel Recommends MDMA for PTSD, More... (6/10/24)

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Connecticut expands its list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, an Illinois bill ending mandatory reporting of positive newborn drug tests to law enforcement goes to the governor, and more. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has vetoed a controversial hemp bill. (
Medical Marijuana

Connecticut Medical Marijuana Board of Physicians Approves Two New Qualifying Conditions. The Department of Consumer Protection has added two new conditions to the list of qualifying conditions for the Medical Marijuana Program. The conditions were unanimously approved Friday by the Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians.

The two conditions unanimously approved for individuals 18 and over to the program are: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Female Orgasmic Difficulty/Disorder

"Thank you to the petitioners who gave thoughtful and well-researched presentations to the Board, and shared their personal stories with these conditions," said DCP Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli. "I would also like to thank the Board of Physicians for volunteering their time to share their medical expertise, and for their thoughtful questions and consideration of the petitions."

There are currently 39,749 medical marijuana patients, and 1,816 certifying physicians registered with the state’s program. There are 42 conditions that qualify adult patients for medical marijuana, and 11 conditions that qualify patients under 18. The Board of Physicians consists of nine members.

Qualifying patients and their caregivers registered with the Medical Marijuana Program can purchase medical marijuana products at medical marijuana dispensary facilities and hybrid retailers.

  • Medical marijuana is not subject to sales and excise tax at dispensary facilities and hybrid retailers.
  • Medical Marijuana Patients receive priority entry at hybrid retailers.
  • Medical Marijuana Patients may purchase up to 5 ounces per month.
  • Certain products, including those with higher potency and some dosage forms, are only available to registered medical marijuana patients.

Those who wish to petition the Board of Physicians to add a debilitating condition to qualify for medical marijuana may visit DCP’s Medical Marijuana Program website at to read about the process. Any questions can be directed via email to [email protected].


Florida Governor Vetoes Controversial Hemp Bill. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has vetoed a bill that would have banned the sale of synthetic and intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids and altered the definition of hemp under the state's hemp program, Senate Bill 1698

"While Senate Bill 1698's goals are commendable, the bill would, in fact, impose debilitating regulatory burdens on small businesses and almost certainly fail to achieve its purposes," DeSantis said in his veto message. "Senate Bill 1698 would introduce dramatic disruption and harm to many small retail and manufacturing businesses in Florida—businesses that have emerged due to recent legislation paving the way for the commercial use of hemp."

DeSantis was referring to the 2018 federal farm bill, which legalized hemp and inadvertently created a huge market for hemp-derived cannabinoids. The current version of the federal farm bill contains language similar to SB 1698. 

The bill would have prohibited the sale of synthetic cannabinoids and intoxicating cannabinoids, including delta-8 THC, delta-10 THC, THCA, HHC, THCV and THCP; revised the definition of "hemp" to "outline that hemp extract may not exceed 0.3 percent total delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration on a wet-weight basis or exceed 5 milligrams per serving and 50 milligrams per container on a wet-weight basis, whichever is less;" creates "a definition for ‘total delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration’ to mean a concentration calculated as: [delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol] + (0.877 x [delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid]); and modifies "the definition of ‘attractive to children’ to include containers displaying toys or other features that target children," as well as providing additional packaging requirements.

Drug Testing

Illinois Bill That Removes Mandate for Health Providers to Report Newborns' Positive Drug Tests Goes to Governor. Both chambers of the legislature have approved Senate Bill 3136, which removes the mandate that the Department of Children and Family Services must reborn positive drug screens of newborns to law enforcement. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. JB Pritzker (D) for his signature. 

Proponents including bill sponsor Sen. Cristina Castro (D) say current policy creates a disincentive for drug-using women to seek care because numerous studies have shown women who suffer from substance abuse will avoid care based on concerns that clinicians will report them to the authorities. Child protective services will continue to receive reports of newborns' positive test results but will now determine the child's well-being and safety before reporting it to law enforcement. 

It is not clear what Pritzker will do. 


British Columbia Civil Society Drug User Groups Ask Court to Set Aside Recriminalization of Public Drug Use. Thirteen non-profits, representing a broader coalition of over 20 civil society groups led by or representing people who use drugs, have filed for judicial review in Federal Court regarding Health Canada’s decision to recriminalize people who use drugs in British Columbia. The coalition represents over 15,000 people across B.C. who are forced to rely on public space due to a severe lack of affordable housing and adequate safe consumption sites.  

Eight years into the toxic drug poisoning public health emergency in B.C., the safest place to use drugs is in the company of others – ensuring someone is there to potentially save a life. Homelessness is on the rise everywhere in B.C. with many communities reporting rates nearly doubling since 2020.  In Metro Vancouver alone, more than 18,000 households are on waitlists for appropriate social housing. This means that more people than ever are relying on outdoor locations to get through the day. For people at risk of toxic drug poisoning, finding a public place to use that both provides them privacy and is public enough to ensure that help will arrive in case of an emergency is a daily life-or-death decision. 

Health Canada granted B.C. a provincewide exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize the possession of up to 2.5 grams of certain illegal drugs in limited locations in a three-year pilot project, effective January 31, 2023.  Under the pilot, possession remained illegal in locations such as school grounds and licensed childcare facilities. In September 2023, the B.C. government further restricted the pilot to exclude any spaces within 15 meters of playgrounds, spray pads, wading pools, and skate parks.  

In October 2023 the province passed Bill 34, which further restricted decriminalization by creating a complex and overlapping list of places where drug use is prohibited – while not identifying any places where it would be allowed. The law also abruptly expanded police discretionary powers, allowing police to remove people from public spaces based on suspicion that someone may have "recently used" unregulated drugs. Under Bill 34, police can arrest without warrant, fine, and seize or destroy drugs from people seen as non-compliant. 

In December 2023, B.C.’s Supreme Court granted a temporary injunction to the Harm Reduction Nurses Association, blocking Bill 34 from coming into effect because of its potential to cause "irreparable harm." In March 2024, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled it was not in the public interest to allow the province to seek to appeal to the injunction order, which again blocked Bill 34 from being implemented. In November 2024, Bill 34 will undergo a legal challenge under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  

On April 26, 2024, B.C. sent a request to Health Canada, resulting in the decision only 11 days later to return to failed criminal enforcement policy that the coalition in now challenging. B.C.’s request to the federal government to recriminalize people circumvents the B.C. Supreme Court injunction, which is in place to protect people from suffering irreparable harm. Together, Bill 34 and Health Canada’s decision to backtrack on the decriminalization pilot will harm not only people who use drugs but all people who face the worst impacts of law enforcement, as police are given more discretion to criminalize and target people. This means a return to carding, arrests that increase a person’s risk of fatal overdose, and the all-to-common displacement practice that might be best characterized as ‘I don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here.’ 

Coalition members are expressing their grave concern and asking governments at all levels to act on evidence, not politics: 

"Decriminalization has gone from being a call-to-action to a tainted political weapon. Health Canada’s decision to recriminalize drugs in public places is a further entrenchment of settler colonial violence that will be implemented in ways where harm is stratified worst across class, race, Indigeneity, gender, and disability, and will especially target those who cannot afford market housing." - Brittany Maple, Matsqui-Abbotsford Impact Society 

"Don’t force us to use your courts to justify our existence. If you want to say you are committed to working with Indigenous people, then listen to us. We all know that Indigenous people are racially profiled, over-policed, over-incarcerated and our loved ones are dying. This re-criminalization decision is violence against not only Indigenous people, but against those of us who use drugs and who are watching our loved ones die. This move has made it impossible to use drugs without risk of police involvement." –  Kali Sedgemore, Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War 

While criminalizing and displacing people into isolation will not increase public safety or health, it will lead to more losses of life and disconnection from care. Housing is part of the solution, but it will take time and commitment by governments to fulfill the human right to adequate housing for all people. There are, however, things governments can do now, including expanding the number of safe injection sites, prioritizing inhalation services, creating a safe drug supply, and allowing compassion clubs to distribute drugs. 

Dutch Panel Recommends MDMA for PTSD. A Dutch government advisory panel has recommended that the government allow the use of MDMA for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

"The government must act expeditiously to enable the therapeutic use of MDMA," the statement from the state commission read. "With what is currently known, there appears to be sufficient scientific evidence for the effectiveness and safety of this form of therapy."

"It is possible that MDMA as a therapy-supporting medication can help, especially for mental health patients who have been dealing with their problems for years and have not been helped by the current range of therapies," Health Minister Pia Dijkstra said. "However, more scientific, clinical research needs to be done."

But the panel said legalizing MDMA for recreational use was out of the question "as long as there is no certainty about reducing crime and the possibilities for regulation have not yet been worked out in concrete terms."

The decision is a stark contrast with the US, where an FDA advisory panel last week rejected moves to allow the therapeutic use of MDMA for PTSD, saying neither its safety nor its efficacy had been established. 

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.

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