U.S.: Bill In Congress Would Legalize CBD-Only Marijuana Strains For Medicine


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A three-page bill introduced on Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives would amend the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes marijuana, to exempt cannabis plants with extremely low levels of THC, the substance that makes people high, but contain higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown promise in fighting seizures.

If passed, it would be the first time since 1937 that federal law officially allows any medical marijuana use. A handful of patients have, for years, been allowed to use federal medical marijuana in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, which began in the 1970s.

"No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up the family," said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania). "We live in America, and if there's something that would make my child better, and they can't get it because of the government, that's not right."

Eleven states this year have passed laws loosening regulation of high-CBD, low-THC marijuana strains. Perry said that once Congress members and their staffs are educated, he expects the bill to attract "overwhelming" support. "In a time of inevitability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress," he said.

Pennsylvania: Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill


Senate Law and Justice Committee votes in favor of bill that would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to use marijuana to treat their medical conditions

The Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee on Friday voted unanimously to approve a bill that would make it legal for seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat their conditions with recommendations from their doctors. This is the first time medical marijuana legislation has been considered in Pennsylvania.

The bill is expected to go to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote next, before going to the full Senate.

SB 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), would allow qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state. Smoking would not be permitted, but patients could consume marijuana in edible form or through vaporization of the plant or its extracts.

(This trend towards "non-smoking" medical marijuana bills, by the way, is absurd, and also goes against accepted medical practice of letting physicians and their patients decide upon the most appropriate and effective routes of administration.)

Home cultivation would also not be allowed under the bill. Patients under the age of 18 would be required to have parental consent in order to take part in the program.

A companion bill, HB 2182, was introduced in the House with 46 co-sponsors, but has not yet received a hearing.

Pennsylvania: Philly City Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you have a Phillies Blunt, fire that thing up, man. The Philadelphia City Council, with a veto-proof 13-3 majority, on Thursday voted to decriminalize marijuana. The Philadelphia Police Department could stop arresting people for possessing small amounts of cannabis under the bill, with every Democrat on the council voting in favor of it, and every Republican against it.

Democratic Michael Michael Nutter has until September to make a decision, reports WPVI-TV; even if he chose to veto it, there are enough votes to override his veto.

Mayor Nutter doesn't have to take any action at all on the bill, according to Councilman Jim Kenney's director of legislation, Jim Engler, until the Council is back in session in September. The mayor could either sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing, which would result in the bill becoming law without the mayor's endorsement, reports Dan McQuade at Philadelphia Magazine.

The mayor's spokesman, Mark McDonald, wouldn't immediately say if Nutter plans to sign the bill.

Under the measure, the police would no longer be required to arrest adults 18 and older for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana. Possession of such amounts would still be punishable by a $25 fine.

Colorado: Hershey Sues Company Over Lookalike Marijuana Candies


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Hershey Company is suing a Colorado company which makes marijuana edibles, claiming the packaging of TinctureBell's products is so similar to those made by the Pennsylvania-based chocolate and candy company that consumers can't tell the difference.

The trademark infringement lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Denver, claims the Ganja Joy bars made by TinctureBell look too much like Almond Joy bars made by Hershey, reports Daniel Wallis at MSN.

Besides the alleged trademark infringement, Hershey's lawsuit claims TinctureBelle "also creates a genuine safety risk with regard to customers, including children, who may not distinguish between Hershey's candy products and defendants' cannabis" and might eat the cannabis-infused candies by mistake.

Voters in Colorado approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults, back in 2012.

Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper tightened the rules on edibles and concentrates, as media hype increased around sensationalistic press accounts such as Maureen Dowd's ill-advised consumption of an entire 16-dose candy bar. (Dowd was fine, other than the horribly misleading column she wrote about it.)

Pennsylvania: GOP Lawmakers Balk On CBD-Only Medical Marijuana Bill


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Parents in Pennsylvania who want to treat their children's seizures with a marijuana derivative were hopeful after Governor Tom Corbett announced last month he could support a medical study of cannabidiol (CBD). But the program can't begin until the state's House Republican majority supports the move -- and timid GOP party leaders are opposing it, despite the fact that legislatures in states as conservative as Alabama and Mississippi have approved similar legislation.

A majority of GOP members of the House still oppose such a study, according to a spokesman,and don't support authorizing Gov. Corbett's plan to allow children with intractable seizures who are not helped by standard therapies to have supervised access to cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana that does not produce a high, reports Karen Langley at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Republican state representatives said they believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- not the states -- should decide what is medicine, according to spokesman Steve Miskin, putting the lie to GOP claims of supporting "states' rights."

"That is where the majority of members of our caucus stand," claimed the apparently cold-hearted Miskin. "They do not believe the state should approve pot -- marijuana -- of any sort. At this moment there are no plans to move any type of legislation to legalize the use of any derivative of marijuana."

Pennsylvania: Gov. Corbett Backs Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil For Children With Seizures


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Up for reelection this fall, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has reversed his position on the use of marijuana-derived cannabidiol oil (CBD oil), when used to quell seizure disorders in children.

Gov. Corbett said on Thursday he would support a "medically responsible proposal" for a treatment program using CBD, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis that many report is effective in controlling seizures, report Amy Worden and Marie McCullough of The Inquirer of Philadelphia.

The governor claimed he had "considered the issue extensively" in recent months. Corbett also met on Thursday with parents of children with severe seizure disorders. "I have heard the concerns and heartbreaking stories of these families, and I want to help," he said.

It was not clear how many children would be helped. The decision was an abrupt reversal months before Corbett will be running for a second term as governor.

Corbett, a career prosecutor, had long rejected all forms of medical marijuana. A spokeswoman on Thursday said the Governor remains opposed to the actual use of marijuana to treat medical conditions. In a lame attempt to explain his opposition to the non-toxic herb, Corbett said he "had a responsibility to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians," which translated probably means "Big Pharma makes better campaign contributions than medical marijuana does."

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Supporters Rally At Capitol


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Several hundred people rallied at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on Monday, urging state lawmakers to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the production of industrial hemp, and the decriminalization of recreational cannabis.

The Keystone Cannabis Reform Rally featured speakers who urged the use of marijuana as medicine, in support of Senate Bill 1182, which is pending in a state Senate committee and would allow its use with a doctor's authorization, reports Jon Delano at KDKA.

Among the advocates was Heather Shuker of Valencia, whose 11-year-old daughter Hannah has a severe form of epilepsy with multiple seizures daily. "To see her suffer every day is pretty hard to deal with," Shuker said.

Military veteran Joe Mirt, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, said MS is "very painful and hard to manage. And I have found through cannabis I have relief." He said prescribed pharmaceutical anti-depressants only make him feel worse.

"They tell me I can raise a rifle for my state, but I can't raise a joint for my health," Mirt said, reports David Wenner at PennLive. Mirt said he's a veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and the war in Iraq. "You send us to fight your wars and do your bidding, but when we come home where's the support?"

Pennsylvania: Lawmaker Proposes Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack, a Philadelphia Democrat who's one of six candidates vying for his party's nomination for lieutenant governor, on Wednesday introduced measures to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Two bills introduced this week, SB 1307 and SB 1308, would reduce penalties for having up to an ounce of cannabis, and make it easier for people already convicted of marijuana charges to have their records cleared, reports Mary Wilson at WITF.

Under Stack's bills, the first two marijuana possession charges would be summary offenses, the least serious charges in Pennsylvania's criminal justice system. District attorneys would have more discretion in charging third offenses.

"It's just a no-brainer than too often our criminal justice system is being backlogged by this type of crime and we need to decriminalize it," Stack said. "It's going to save us billions of dollars in criminal justice expenses and prison costs."

Possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in prison and a $500 fine for the first offense under current Pennsylvania law.

Pennsylvania: Poll Shows 85% Support For Medical Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, according to a poll released on Monday.

The Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters found that an overwhelming 85 percent of Pennsylvanians support the legalization of cannabis for medicinal uses, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Just 14 percent were opposed. Even voters more than 65 years old support medical marijuana 84 to 14 percent, the poll found.

Voters were evenly divided on the legalization of marijuana for recreational uses. Although 48 percent of voters support recreational legalization, 49 percent oppose it, according to the poll.

"Pennsylvanians think overwhelmingly that marijuana is equal to or less dangerous than alcohol, and join the American trend toward tolerance for both medical and recreational use," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Men support recreational legalization of cannabis by 55-42 percent, while women oppose it 54-42 percent. Democrats support it by 58-39 percent, while Republicans oppose it by 66-31 percent (independents weigh in with the Democrats on this one, support legalization by 53-44 percent).

Voters from 18 to 29 years old support recreational legalization by 64-34 percent, and voters over 65 oppose it by 66-29 percent.

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Could Affect Gubernatorial Race


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana could be a major factor in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race this year, with a Penn Law grad in the race adopting a pro-legalization stance.

John Hanger's position on cannabis has come to define his candidacy, reports Joel Mathis at Philly Mag. While he embraces that, he also says he has a lot more plans for the state beyond pot legalization.

The Hanger campaign has put up billboards in a couple of Pennsylvania towns urging voters to legalize and tax marijuana. "This issue involves the lives of two million Pennsylvanians," Hanger said.

"Some folks say marijuana is not a voting issue, it's not important. Tell that to the 500,000 Pennsylvanians who have conditions that are treated with cannabis in 20 states," he said. "Tell that to the moms I was with this morning, who have children who are suffering from Dravet Syndrome, whose lives are hanging in the balance. They want marijuana for their children and for them it is not the only issue," Hanger said.

"This is also a very important issue for all taxpayers. We are spending $300 million, approximately, chasing down and arresting people who are possessing small amounts of marijuana," he said. "If we get it out of the underground economy and start taxing it, instead of spending that $300 million we will raise $200 million of new revenue. That's a big deal for taxpayers."

Pennsylvania: Families Testify In Support Of Medical Marijuana Bill At Senate Hearing


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania families on Tuesday came to Harrisburg to testify in favor of Senate Bill 1182, which would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in the Keystone State. Lawmakers heard two and a half hours of testimony on the bill, which is opposed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and supported by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.

SB 1182 would establish state-licensed, nonprofit "compassionate care centers" that would work with nonprofit "commercial medical cannabis farms" to grow and dispense medical marijuana, including "Charlotte's Web," a strain of cannabis with high levels of CBD (which isn't psychoactive but has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties) and low levels of THC (also medicinal, but with psychoactive effects), report Steve Esack and Tim Darragh at the Lehigh Valley Morning Call.

A system of regulation and security would be developed by the Pennsylvania State Police (imagine putting them in charge of medical marijuana, this should be good) and the state departments of Agriculture, Health, and Drug & Alcohol Programs.

Julie and Paul Michaels of Connellsville, Fayette County, and dozens of other parents with similar stories, want the Pennsylvania Legislature to approve cannabis for medicinal use, as 20 other states and the District of Columbia have already done.

Pennsylvania: Republican Helps Medical Marijuana Bill Advance In Legislature


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Senator Mike Folmer -- who was named as one of just 10 "defenders of liberty" in the Pennsylvania General Assembly by the American Conservative Union last year -- is publicly supporting an otherwise Democratic-led effort to legalize medical marijuana for the treatment of serious conditions.

Sen. Folmer has appeared on the Pennsylvania Cable Network to discuss his legislation which would legalize medicinal cannabis in the Keystone State, reports Karen Langley at the Post-Gazette. He keeps a collage of pictures in his car -- photos of children whose parents believe medical marijuana could have helped -- for impromptu interviews.

He has even given other state senators a packet which highlights findings from the LaGuardia Report in the 1940s, to the 1972 Shafer Commission, led by former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer, to more recent medical studies, all supporting his case that medical marijuana could help alleviate suffering without harming society.

Folmer had always wondered why doctors could prescribe opiate narcotics but not cannabis, but he became a vocal advocate after meeting with parents of children with epilepsy.

Dana Ulrich, who lives in Berks County, told the story of her six-year-old daughter, Lorelei, who has hundreds of seizures a day. The Ulrichs have tried more than a dozen pharmaceuticals, as well as a specialized diet, with no success.

Pennsylvania: Hearing Scheduled For Medical Marijuana Bill


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Pennsylvania will get a legislative hearing later this month, the chairman of a state Senate committee announced on Thursday.

Law and Justice Committee Chairman Chuck McIlhinney scheduled a January 28 public hearing in the state Capitol on Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which was introduced this week. Seven members of the 50-person Senate are cosponsors.

Governor Tom Corbett remains opposed to the bill, according to a spokesman, even if it is scaled back to only allow "non-intoxicating" forms of cannabis. "The FDA is the arbiter of the safety and efficacy of all drugs, all substances that are ingested," Corbett's press secretary Jay Pagni said. "If the FDA were to run a clinical trial, the Governor would be interested in the findings."

The 34-page bill would allow patients with a doctor's authorization to acquire marijuana legally. It would create a Medical Cannabis Board; an enforcement arm would be run by the state police.

"There are sick children who have medicine that will make them better, but under current Pennsylvania law they are not allowed to take it," said sponsor Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery). "They are allowed to take much more toxic, less effective medicine."

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced In State Senate


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday would legalize the medical use of marijuana in the state.

Governor Tom Corbett has refused to sign any such bill until the federal Food and Drug Administration approves cannabis for medical purposes, reports John Kopp at Bucks Local News, but the bills bipartisan sponsors, state Senators Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer are working hard for its passage.

Sen. Leach has kicked off a social media campaign showing children who could benefit from medicinal cannabis. Sen. Folmer plans to hold a public hearing to educate his fellow lawmakers on the benefits of medical marijuana.

Children who suffer from severe epilepsy stand to benefit, the senators argue. They pointed to accounts of medicinal cannabis reducing seizures among children.

"This is a drug we need to get to these kids," Leach said. "If it were a derivative of a yucca plant, it would be in every CVS in the country."

Leach said the liquid drops used for children wouldn't contain any THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. They would, rather, contain the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD).

This is the first time that Leach, who has long supported medical marijuana, has enjoyed bipartisan support. He and Folmer announced their intentions last November.

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Legalization Could Impact The Race For Governor


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A hopeful for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania has predicted the primary "will be a referendum in reforming and legalizing marijuana law," and has endorsed cannabis legalization, saying "For a lot of people in this state, this is the top issue in their lives."

John Hanger is currently running fourth in a six-person Democratic primary race for the right to oppose Republican Gov. Tom Corbett next year, reports Charlie Deitch at Pittsburgh City Paper.

"If I'm elected, I support expunging the criminal records of anyone convicted of possessing small amounts of cannabis," Hanger told City Paper on November 14.

"I don't want to arrest and lock up thousands of Pennsylvanians every year for possessing and using small amounts of marijuana," Hanger said. "I think if people come out and vote in favor of their liberties in May, then we will win the primary."

On Monday, one of Pennsylvania's most liberal legislators, state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Philadelphia) joined with conservative colleague Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) to introduce a medical marijuana bill. Folmer has fought cancer in the past, and has said he's seen patients who have benefited from marijuana.

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