medical marijuana

New Hampshire: Senate Committee To Vote Tuesday On Bill To Provide Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

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Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will vote on bill that would allow limited home cultivation until alternative treatment centers open

The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will vote Tuesday morning on a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated alternative treatment centers. The vote is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. in Room 103 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

Sponsored by Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and 12 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.

"If this bill passes, New Hampshire will continue to have one of the most tightly controlled medical marijuana systems in the nation," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "It will help desperately ill patients who cannot wait any longer for legal access to medical marijuana."

Washington: Five Medical Marijuana Patients Headed To Federal Trial; Prosecutors Seek 10 Years

LarryHarveyAndRhondaFirestack-Harvey

Prosecutions Contradict Obama Administration Statements, Policy Against Targeting Sick Patients

Family members from a rural area of eastern Washington are expected to go to trial next month on federal marijuana charges, despite the Obama Administration's repeated claims that it does not target seriously ill patients. The federal trial of the "Kettle Falls 5" is scheduled for May 12, pending several pretrial motions which will be heard on April 22 before U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane.

Because of marijuana's illegal status under federal law, patients like the "Kettle Falls 5" are typically prohibited from raising a medical necessity or state law defense in federal court.

Federal agents raided the property of Larry Harvey, 70, and his wife, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 55, at their rural family home near Kettle Falls, Washington in August 2012. In addition to seizing 44 premature marijuana plants, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confiscated the family's 2007 Saturn Vue, $700 in cash, medicated cookies and marijuana stored in the family freezer, along with legally owned firearms.

The five federal defendants, including Mrs. Firestack-Harvey’s son, Rolland Gregg, and daughter-in-law, were all qualified patients in compliance with Washington state law. Defense attorneys say the cannabis being cultivated on a remote corner of the family's 33-acre property was strictly for personal use.

Michigan: Medical Marijuana Advocates Concerned About Saliva Testing For Drugged Driving

PoliceDUICheckpoint

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are fighting proposed changes to Michigan's driving laws that would allow police to check a driver's saliva for the presence of drugs during a traffic stop.

The Michigan House Judiciary Committee on Thursday heard testimony on a three-bill package of legislation concerning "drugged driving" and make driving under the influence of a controlled substance subject to the same testing as drunk driving, reports Brian Smith at MLive.com.

Michigan law already allows for blood, breath and urine testing for driving impairment. House Bill 53895 would add saliva testing through a mouth swab. The Los Angeles Police Department are already using saliva tests at DUI checkpoints in a pilot program.

The changes would "put a new tool in our toolbox" for dealing with impaired driving, Sgt. Dwayne Gill, legislative liaison for the Michigan State Police, told the House panel. Sgt. Gill claimed the cops wouldn't immediately use the tests until the science behind them was proven.

"It's forward-thinking," Gill claimed. "These tests have not been proven to be reliable in Michigan yet, but we are looking to have pilot testing in the future on some of these tests."

But medical marijuana advocates told legislators they are worried about saliva testing because of questions surrounding the accuracy of the tests.

Arizona: Judge Orders Maricopa County To Pay Marijuana Dispensary's Attorney Fees

ArizonaMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Arizona Superior Court judge has ordered Maricopa County to pay $190,000 in attorney fees for a Sun City medical marijuana dispensary operator who successfully challenged the county's refusal to provide zoning clearance for the facility.

Superior Court Judge Michael D. Gordon also ordered the county to pay an additional $3,700 in other legal costs for White Mountain Health Center, plus another $5,000 penalty for trying to impose a complete prohibition on medical marijuana dispensaries, reports the Associated Press.

Judge Gordon previously ruled that White Mountain's lawsuit that Maricopa County wasn't in compliance with Arizona's medical marijuana law, approved by voters in 2010.

The county is appealing the ruling that allows dispensaries, pointing to federal laws against "marijuana trafficking."

But since the judge's initial ruling, Maricopa County in January approved a new ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial zones, and cultivation sites in industrial zones.

Graphic: Arizona Medical Marijuana Blog

Michigan Supreme Court Refuses To Review Cop's Use Of Fake Medical Marijuana Card

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Narcotics cops are committing fraud in Michigan -- masquerading as medical marijuana patients -- and they're getting away with it.

The Michigan Supreme Court last month denied Jeffery Miller's Application for Leave to Appeal, leaving undisturbed the trial court's opinion denying him of all his medical marijuana defenses at trial. The case has since been assigned to a new trial judge, and that judge will rule on the prosecutions' renewed motion on Friday, April 25.

The trial court is expected to rule that Miller (AKA "Otto Roxx" will be stripped of all medical defenses at trial, and precluded from even mentioning medical marijuana.

The "crime" of which Miller is accused is that an undercover cop entrapped him, pretending to be a suffering patient with no access to medical marijuana. The officer tricked Miller into selling him cannabis after showing him a forged patient card and matching driver's license.

"The increasingly common law enforcement practice of using falsified medical marijuana registry patient cards to entice law abiding citizens is unconscionable," said Daniel W. Grow, lawyer for Miller. "When officers entrap lawful registered caregivers into making transfers of marijuana for medical use, Michigan's citizens must not be deemed felons."

Illinois: Proposed Rule Nixed; Would Have Barred Medical Marijuana Patients From Having Guns

IllinoisMedicalMarijuanaGunOwners

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposed rule that would have barred medical marijuana patients from getting Firearm Owner's Identification cards has been nixed.

State officials had posted preliminary rules for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program that barred medicinal cannabis patients or their caregivers from obtaining a FOID card if they were part of the program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

That provision has now been removed from rules that will be officially filed for review later this week, according to the Sun-Times. It was not immediately known if the same provision about Concealed Carry Weapons Permits had also been removed from the rules.

"I'm happy to see that they have changed the provision," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who sponsored the medical marijuana legislation and sits on the committee that will vote on the official rules. "I did ask them to remove it. I'm not the only one who did."

Both patients and caregivers would have been required to certify their understanding of the conflict between gun ownership and medical marijuana use, reports Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Campaign Manager Blasts CPS Investigation Of Advocate

LegalizeMedicalMarijuanaInFlorida

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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.)

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Entrepreneurs Say Startup Fees Too High

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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.

Arizona: Nearly 80 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Now Open; 126 Allowed

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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.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Amendment Could Help Democrats

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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 Possession

MarylandGovernorMartinO'Malley

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.

Missouri: House Panel Passes Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil Bill

MissouriStateRepresentativeCalebJones(R-Columbia)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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."

South Carolina: Democrats Will Ask Voters For Opinions On Medical Marijuana On June Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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.

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Bill To Receive Hearing And Vote Thursday In Senate Committee

DrBurakGezenIllinoisPodiumMMJ

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."

Massachusetts: Boston Mayor Says He Will Block Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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.

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