By Steve Elliott
The campaign manager of Florida's medical marijuana ballot drive has expressed outrage after a woman last week was abruptly visited by Child Protective Services on an anonymous tip that she had been giving marijuana to her son, who suffers from a rare form of severe epilepsy.
Renee Petro, the advocate in question, wasn't administering any cannabis to her 12-year-old son, Branden, reports Chris Joseph at Broward Palm Beach New Times. But that didn't stop CPS agents coming into her home to interrogate Petro's 9-year-old daughter and the nurse who helps take care of Branden.
"This is exactly why Floridians need to pass Amendment 2 in November," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager with United For Care, the main organization backing the ballot initiative. "And why we need everyone's support to get word out about stories like Renee's and her family's."
Petro gives Branden his prescribed medications, as well as legal hemp oil. Since she hadn't actually broken the law, her experience could be considered even more egregious than that of Cathy Jordan, the wheelchair-bound activist with Lou Gehrig's disease who was raided by police after a tip last year when a neighbor spotted some marijuana plants on the property of Jordan and her husband Robert. (Jordan's charges were dropped by the State Attorney's office in Manatee in April 2013.)
By Steve Elliott
Prospective medicinal cannabis businesspeople in Illinois say the high cost of entry will prevent many with expertise from entering the new industry. Under proposed rules for the new law legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois, would-be cannabis farmers need a $2 million surety bond, $250,000 in liquid assets, $25,000 for an application fee, and $200,000 for a permit fee, as well as an approved site.
"We have the know-how," said Robert Boyce, who grows vegetables, flowers and herbs in greenhouses in Lake Zurich, reports Robert McCoppin at The Chicago Tribune. "We have the manpower, the familiarity with growing herbal and medicinal plants, knowledge of building greenhouses. But right now, you're looking at three to five million dollars in startup costs."
Yes, it seems having a green thumb isn't as important as having a lot of green, if you want to enter the medical marijuana industry in Illinois.
While state regulators claim initial costs could vary widely, they say they want to ensure that those who want to run medical marijuana cultivation centers or dispensaries have sufficient money to operate, especially early on when they have to make big investments before having any revenue.
More medical marijuana dispensaries are open in Arizona than ever before, with nearly 80 shops now open throughout the state. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows for up to 126 dispensaries to open.
Many more dispensaries plan to open in 2014, according to AZmarijuana.com, a medical marijuana industry website.
"As dispensaries become more common place in Arizona, the amount of interest and awareness by the public continues to increase," said Dan Kingston, president of AZmarijuana.com. "Over the last 12 months our site has seen significant growth in the number of visitors searching for medical marijuana doctor offices, dispensaries, jobs, news, products, discounts and other information.
"We anticipate our traffic will continue to increase drastically as the Arizona medical marijuana industry continues to expand," Kingston said.
Arizona currently has 50,000 medical marijuana patients. More than 70 percent of patients have chronic pain listed as their qualifying condition and the majority of patients are males.
Because of Arizona's "25-Mile Rule," patients who live within 25 miles of the nearest dispensary aren't allowed to grow their own cannabis. Almost all the patients in the state fall under the 25-Mile Rule, with a few rural patients the only ones still allowed to grow. One former patient advocate had a lawsuit against the rule, but its status is uncertain since he has since left the state.
By Steve Elliott
Florida is the nation's largest swing-state politically, and Democrats there see the medical marijuana amendment on this year's ballot as a source of hope and high voter turnout in November's elections.
A constitutional amendment which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, making it the first state in South to do so, has widespread public support, reports Michael J. Mishak of The Associated Press. The measure is particularly popular among young voters, a critical part of the Democratic coalition.
"I wish that it didn't take medical marijuana on the ballot to motivate our young voters to go and vote, because there's far too much at stake for them and their children," said Ana Cruz, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. "But listen -- we'll take it any way we can get it."
The Florida Governor's mansion is up for grabs, as are a handful of competitive House seats. Florida could be a test case for whether increases in youth turnout in Washington and Colorado in 2012 -- when marijuana legalization initiatives were on the ballot -- was an anomaly, or part of a trend.
Activists plan to launch at least half-a-dozen legalization campaigns in battleground states in 2016.
"It's a smart move on Democrats' part, said Colorado-based Republican pollster David Flaherty. "It's going to help them, no doubt about it."
Maryland: 2 In 1 Day - 21st State To Allow Medical Marijuana, 18th State To Decriminalize PossessionSubmitted by steveelliott on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:43
Gov. Martin O’Malley signs SB 923/HB 881, which would allow patients with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana; he will also sign SB 364 Monday, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense
Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law Monday making Maryland the 21st state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. He will also sign a bill Monday making Maryland the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“We applaud Gov. O’Malley for signing these important bills into law,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The progress we’re seeing in Maryland is emblematic of what is taking place nationwide. Most Marylanders, like most Americans, are fed up with outdated marijuana prohibition policies and ready to start taking a more sensible approach.”
Senate Bill 923 and House Bill 881 are identical bills that allow state residents suffering from certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Possession limits and regulations governing cultivation and dispensary facilities will be determined by a state-sanctioned commission prior to implementation. The measure will officially go into effect on June 1.
By Steve Elliott
A bill which would allow epilepsy patients to use non-psychoactive CBD marijuana extracts to control seizures passed in the House General Laws Committee with a unanimous 11-0 vote on Tuesday.
The bill, called a "hemp bill" by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-Columbia), is intended to provide legal protection for people who find little help in conventional medicine, he said, reports Rudi Keller at the Columbia Tribune.
The bill allows adults or children with "intractable epilepsy" to get a cannabis extract which is high in non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main component responsible for the high, but which also has many medicinal benefits.
"This helps the children who need it the most and keeps out the outside influences out of the state of Missouri," said Jones, who chairs the committee and likes to say "out" a lot. "This is something that is very personal to me, and that is why I am doing it."
The cannabis oil must be 5 percent of more CBD and less than 0.3 percent THC, according to Jones' bill, which, according to many medical experts, will probably limit the effectiveness of the CBD. All of the dozens of cannabinoids found in marijuana work most effective in a synergistic fashion, potentiating each others' medical benefits in what Dr. Sanjay Gupta has called the "Entourage Effect."
By Steve Elliott
The South Carolina Democratic Party will ask voters on the June primary ballot whether they support legalizing medical marijuana, in a non-binding referendum. Party leaders made the announcement to push a medical marijuana bill currently in the Legislature.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland), who is sponsoring a medical marijuana bill in the Legislature, said state Democrats are putting the question on the ballot so the Republicans who control the State House can see for themselves what voters think of the issue, reports Seanna Adcox at the Associated Press.
Rutherford said patients who are authorized by a physician as suffering debilitating illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma should be able to use cannabis medicinally.
"While this may be the first year we are talking about medical marijuana in South Carolina, we are lagging behind the rest of the nation," Rutherford said during a Wednesday news conference, reports Cassie Cope at The State.
The advisory question on medical marijuana is one of five asked on South Carolina's Republican and Democratic primary ballots on June 10. Two others on the Democratic ballot have to do with gambling.
Republican voters, meanwhile, will be asked about abortion and eliminating the state income tax.
Doctor, patients, and advocates will testify at Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing hearing on SF 1641, which would allow people with specific debilitating medical conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it
The Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing will hold a public hearing and vote on Thursday on a bill that would provide legal access to medical marijuana for people with specific debilitating medical conditions. The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. CT in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
Dr. Burak Gezen, a Chicago physician who specializes in geriatric and palliative medicine, will testify in support of the measure, along with several patients and their family members. Among them will be Angela Garin of St. Paul, whose son suffers from a rare seizure disorder, and Patrick McClellan, a Bloomington man with muscular dystrophy. Both are featured in television ads that began airing across Minnesota last week in support of the bill.
"Most Minnesota voters believe people suffering from debilitating conditions should have legal access to medical marijuana," said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "We hope that will be reflected in the votes of the committee members."
By Steve Elliott
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh this week moved to block the opening of two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, saying he's "dead set" against the shops at a forum in Dorchester and then sending a letter to state officials urging "swift action" if any problems are found with the companies' applications.
"I am writing to express my serious concern regarding the two registered marijuana dispensary applicants in the city of Boston," the mayor wrote in a Tuesday letter addressed to Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, and to Executive Director Karen Van Unen of the state's medical marijuana program, reports Meghan E. Irons at The Boston Globe.
Questions remain about the two companies, Mayor Walsh claimed. Green Heart Holistic Health & Pharmaceuticals Inc. wants to open a 3,000-square-foot dispensary at 70 Southampton Street, and Good Chemistry of Massachusetts Inc. plans a shop on Boylston Street.
The mayor urged "swift and uniform action" if inaccuracies are found in the applications, saying that would bolster confidence in the regulatory process.
"If any information provided in either application is confirmed to be inaccurate, I ask that the Department of Public Health immediately eliminate that application from being eligible for a final certification of registration," Mayor Walsh wrote.
As lawmakers prepare for vote, second TV ad hitting Gov. Mark Dayton for obstructing the medical marijuana proposal will begin premiering tonight across Minnesota
The Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to hold a floor vote Wednesday on a proposal that would allow people with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Specifically, the House will vote on an amendment offered Tuesday by State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) that would add the medical marijuana program to a broader health policy bill, HF 2402. Unlike the medical marijuana bill currently being considered in the legislature, HF 1818, Rep. Garofalo's proposal would prohibit smoking and home cultivation of medical marijuana.
The Republican lawmaker's proposal comes as medical marijuana advocates are working to develop a legislative compromise on HF 1818. Gov. Mark Dayton continues to refuse to support the measure, which would actually provide patients with legal access to medical marijuana, because law enforcement associations oppose it. In March, the governor proposed alternative legislation that would fund medical marijuana research, but would not provide patients with access to medical marijuana or protect them from arrest and prosecution.
Bill would permit physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from any condition for which it provides medical benefits
A proposal is expected to be introduced in the Washington, D.C. Council on Tuesday that would expand access to medical marijuana in the nation's capital.
The measure, to be introduced by Councilwoman Yvette Alexander (who chairs the D.C. Department of Health), and by Councilman David Grosso, would permit doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from any condition for which it provides medical benefits. Patients would then be allowed to apply to the Department of Health for acceptance in the District’s medical marijuana program.
"This is a sensible measure that would provide relief to countless District residents who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We have one of the most well-regulated systems in the country, but currently it is not meeting the needs of the community. The community supports improving the law, and that's what this bill would do."
Under current law, only patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or glaucoma are eligible for the program. The proposed legislation would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other debilitating conditions for which medical marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment.
HB 881 will protect patients from arrest and prosecution, approve physicians, license growers and distributors
The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday voted 125-11 to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that greatly improves upon the unworkable law that was adopted by the state last year. If signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, HB 881 will protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution.
Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC), which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access an MMTC.
"We're excited to welcome Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state," said Mike Liszewski, policy director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), who testified before House and Senate committees. "This bill is a vast improvement over the current law in Maryland and will provide patients with needed protection from arrest and prosecution, and give them a means to safely and legally obtain medical marijuana."
HB 881 was sponsored by Maryland House Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) and co-sponsored by nearly half of the House. A broad coalition including ASA, industry stakeholders, and Stop the Seizures, a group of parents of children suffering from seizure disorders, worked tirelessly to pass HB 881.
HB 1622 sponsor Rep. Donald ‘Ted’ Wright will join medical marijuana patients and advocates for a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building
The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday regarding a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana through growing their own, while the state develops a system of regulated cultivation and distribution.
Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), who is sponsoring HB 1622, will join medical marijuana patients and advocates at a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building. The committee hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET in Room 103.
"My weight is down to around 60 pounds, and I have no appetite without cannabis," said Clayton Holton, a Dover-based medical marijuana advocate suffering from muscular dystrophy, who will not be attending the hearing because he is no longer able to travel. "Where is the compassion for patients like me who are literally wasting away because of these delays?"
HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and twelve immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.
By Steve Elliott
In what could be the first court test of New Jersey's medical marijuana law in the workplace, a 57-year-old Newark man is suing his employer, NJ Transit, for suspending him and sending him into drug rehab because he's a registered medicla marijuana patient with end stage renal failure.
Charlie Davis was as procurement clerk at NJ Transit. He said the nerves in his legs are badly damaged, causing severe pain and sleep difficulties, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Using medicinal cannabis relieves some of the discomfort, according to Davis's lawsuit.
Davis got "bumped" from his job in December by a more senior employee, according to his lawsuit, filed last month in New Jersey Superior Court in Essex County. When he sought another available job in a field position, he was sent for a physical exam which included a drug test.
"I told them I was taking prescribed medical marijuana," Davis said, reports Karen Rouse at NorthJersey.com. "I wanted them to know that. I was not hiding anything from them. I showed them the identification and everything."
Davis even offered to apply for a "non-safety sensitive position" if that was a problem, according to the lawsuit.
By Steve Elliott
Connecticut on Thursday awarded licenses for six medical marijuana dispensaries, chosen from 27 applications, and said that the dispensaries will be up and running by summer.
The state licensed dispensaries in Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Hartford, Montville and South Windsor, reports William Weir at the Hartford Courant.
Two of the dispensary owners on Thursday said that their opening dates will depend mainly upon when Connecticut's four licensed medicinal cannabis growers will have marijuana ready for sale.
The six businesses are:
• Arrow Alternative Care Inc., 92 Weston St., Hartford
• Bluepoint Apothecary LLC, 469 E. Main St., Branford
• D&B Wellness LLC, 2181 Main St., Bridgeport
• Prime Wellness of Connecticut LLC, 75 John Fitch Boulevard, South Windsor
• Thames Valley Apothecary LLC, 1100 Norwich-New London Turnpike (Route 32), Uncasville section, Montville
• The Healing Corner Inc., 159 E. Main St., Bristol
Prime Wellness in South Windsor should have products on the shelf and ready to sell by "late summer," according to CEO Thomas Nicholas, a former registered nurse who worked in Hartford Hospital operating rooms, then became a medical supplies salesman in the 1980s and went on to operate five dialysis centers.