Colorado Lawmakers Pass Bill to Allow Medical Marijuana for PTSD

Approximately 8 million adults suffer from PTSD, including many military veterans. (WikiMedia Commons/USMC)

DENVER, CO — Lawmakers in the Colorado legislature have passed a measure to add post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in the state.

The measure, Senate Bill 17, will now be sent to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for final approval.  It was approved

Previous attempts to add PTSD to the conditions that qualify a…

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South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham Lends Support to CARERS Act

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham Lends Support to CARERS Act

WASHINGTON, DC — Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham joined the bipartisan Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683) as a co-sponsor this week.

The support of Senator Graham coincides with the one-year anniversary of the bill’s introduction by Senators Cory Booker (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY).

The CARERS Act is the most comprehensive piece of medical cannabis legislation ever introduced in the U.S. Congress and would remedy the state-federal conflict over…

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Congress Adopts Significant Drug Policy Reforms in New Spending Bill

Congress Adopts Significant Drug Policy Reforms in New Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, DC — Congress approved a must-pass spending bill this week that includes language that stops the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice from spending money to block the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. The amendment was passed last year on a temporary basis and must be renewed this year.

“The renewal of this amendment should bring relief for medical marijuana patients and business owners,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “For decades Congress…

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Georgia Governor Says ‘No’ to Medical Cannabis Production

Georgia Governor Says ‘No’ to Medical Cannabis Production

Advocates: Gov. Deal should look at Medical Cannabis Facts

Last week Georgia Governor Nathan Deal fired a warning shot across the bow of the medical cannabis ship, a warning shot to law makers that he may veto any legislation allowing for in-state cultivation of cannabis for medical use.

This week the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis will host its final hearing to draft a proposal and recommendation to the governor and the general assembly. Over the past two years lawmakers have heard from stakeholders concerning the regulation of…

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CA: Santa Cruz County Repeals Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ban – Daily Chronic

CA: Santa Cruz County Repeals Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ban

SANTA CRUZ, CA — On Wednesday at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting, a historic event in medical marijuana history took place. The County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to repeal ordinance 5201, the ban on cannabis cultivation, and approved appointments to a thirteen member Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee.

This is a result of the recent successful referendum spearheaded by Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz, with the help of Cannabis Advocates Alliance, which overturned the cannabis cultivation ban with over 11,000 signatures.

The new thirteen member panel of the Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee will work together until December 23, 2015, to create a policy framework for regulating medical cannabis in Santa Cruz County.

Supervisors Leopold and Friend…

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New York Announces Five Medical Marijuana Producers

New York Announces Five Medical Marijuana Producers

NEW YORK, NY — The New York State Department of Health (DOH) on Friday announced the five companies that have been awarded the coveted licenses to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York.

The announcement came after a competitive bidding process through which forty-three industry groups contended for the five licenses.

The five companies awarded licences are PharmaCann LLC; Empire State Health Solutions LLC; Columbia Care NY LLC; Etain, LLC; and Bloomfield Industries Inc.

Each producer is restricted to opening only four dispensaries each, they will only be allowed to produce five strains or brands of medical marijuana, and all products must be in pill, oil or tincture form.

The price of the medicine will be set by the Commissioner of Health.

DOH has said that New York’s medical…

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NY Sen. Schumer Throws Weight Behind Federal Medical Marijuana Bill

NY Sen. Schumer Throws Weight Behind Federal Medical Marijuana Bill

Senator Schumer Joins NY Senator Gillibrand in Sponsoring the CARERS Act, a Bill that Would End Federal Prohibition of Medical Marijuana

NEW YORK, NY — New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) added his name to the Senate’s sweeping medical marijuana bill on Tuesday.

The CARERS Act, introduced in March by Senators Gillibrand (D-NY), Booker (D-NJ), and Paul (R-KY) would end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and remove barriers for research, veterans, and banking.

The move comes just days before New York State is expected to announce the names of five companies that will be allowed to produce medical marijuana in New York. New York’s medical marijuana is expected to become fully operational in January 2016.

New York patients have expressed their gratitude for Senator Schumer’s…

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Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Law Falls Short

Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Law Falls Short

ATLANTA, GA — While some patients in Georgia have benefited from the new low-THC / high-CBD law, others are no closer to medical access than before the law was enacted. Better legislation is needed.

It was reported last week that just over 50 patients have registered and received a medical marijuana card which provides some immunity from prosecution for some patients, while other patients are having difficulty getting access.

According to public reports to Georgia C.A.R.E. Project, patients who qualify under the new law say their doctors are refusing to participate in the program leaving them searching for help. Some doctors have even threatened their patients with denial of medical services if the patient test positive for cannabis.

According to Georgia C.A.R.E. director James Bell,…

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Bill to Expunge Federal Marijuana Offenses to be Introduced in Congress

Bill to Expunge Federal Marijuana Offenses to be Introduced in Congress

WASHINGTON, DC — Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) announced on Monday plans to introduce legislation in Congress to expunge certain federal marijuana offenses.

The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015, to be introduced in Congress on Tuesday, creates a pathway for two types of federal marijuana offenders to expunge – or clear the criminal record of – their marijuana offense: those who were federally charged for activity that was state legal at the time; and those whose offense was the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.

“The penalties of failed prohibition policies should stop ruining people’s lives. The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015 follows Oregon’s lead to provide a pathway for expunging certain federal marijuana crimes,”…

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Colorado Health Officials Reject Medical Marijuana For PTSD

Colorado Health Officials Reject Medical Marijuana For PTSD

DENVER, CO — Citing insignificant research, Colorado health officials voted Wednesday against adding post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of ailments eligible for treatment with medical marijuana.

The 6-2 vote came despite a recommendation from the Colorado Chief Medical Officer and a panel of physicians to make PTSD the first condition added to Colorado’s medical marijuana eligibility list in 15 years. Board members said they weren’t swayed by the recommendation because studies on using pot for PTSD are lacking.

“We can’t have physicians counseling people in favor of it because we don’t have data to show it’s correct,” said Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, one of the board members who voted no.

The vote was the third time the board has rejected petitions to add PTSD to the…

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Hawaii Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Hawaii Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

— Nearly 15 years after medical marijuana became legal in Hawaii, Governor David Ige has signed into law a bill that for the first time will establish a system of state regulated medical marijuana dispensaries.

Governor Ige signed the bill into law on Wednesday.

“I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana,” said Gov. Ige. “We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for nearly 15 years, and now the state’s first dispensaries could open as soon…

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Hawaii Bill to Allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Becomes Law

Hawaii Bill to Allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Becomes Law

Legislation to establish a system of medical dispensaries for the state’s nearly 14,000 medical marijuana patients has become law.

Governor David Ige signed the measure Wednesday, stating:

“I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana. We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

House Bill 321 permits the state “to issue eight dispensary licenses statewide; provided that three dispensary licenses shall be issued for the city and county of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each shall be issued for the county of…

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One Year Later, Patients & Families Demand Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana in New York

One Year Later, Patients & Families Demand Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana in New York

Not One Patient Has Yet Received Medical Marijuana; Gov. Cuomo Must Sign a Emergency Access Bill or Take Other Action to Provide Relief to Suffering Patients

NEW YORK, NY — On the one year anniversary of the signing of New York’s medical marijuana law, patients and families gathered in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York City Office to urge him to sign a new bill to expedite access to medical marijuana for critically ill patients.

Since the medical marijuana law passed a year ago, not one patient in New York has been able to access medical marijuana, and at least four children, who could have likely benefited from it, have died while waiting to obtain this much-needed medicine.

“It’s a year and a half since Governor Cuomo announced in the State of the State message that he…

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California: 10,000 Patients Tell Sen. Feinstein to Stop Opposing Medical Marijuana

California: 10,000 Patients Tell Sen. Feinstein to Stop Opposing Medical Marijuana

Petition Follows Feinstein’s Recent Vote Against Protecting Californian Residents from Federal Interference in Medical Marijuana Laws

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A group of California-based advocates will hand-deliver a petition to the San Francisco office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Feinstein has been a leading opponent of marijuana reform, and recently spoke out against an amendment that would protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference.

The amendment passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 21-9, with Feinstein as the only Democrat to oppose the measure, with 8 Republicans voting in support. California locals are fed up with Feinstein’s well-document opposition to medical marijuana.

“California has allowed access to medical marijuana for 20 years and the…

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California Senate Votes to End Transplant Discrimination Against Medical Marijuana Patients

California Senate Votes to End Transplant Discrimination Against Medical Marijuana Patients

Bill Headed To Governor Jerry Brown’s Desk for Final Approval

SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Senate approved Assembly Bill 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, on Monday by a margin of 33-1.

AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medical cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.

Medical cannabis patients in California are routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical cannabis.

AB 258 was introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).  The bill was approved by the Assembly in April.

“AB 258 is about…

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The Colorado’s Supreme Court Unfortunate Ruling On Employment Discrimination

The Colorado’s Supreme Court Unfortunate Ruling On Employment Discrimination

Earlier this week, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that employers in Colorado can fire employees for cannabis use even if they are medical cannabis patients. At the center of Monday’s ruling is Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic that used cannabis to control leg spasms while off duty from his job. Coats had argued that his usage was protected under Colorado state law, but the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that he could be fired because cannabis is illegal under federal law.

Here are some key takeaways to help you understand the ruling:

This Ruling is Very Narrow

Law professor Sam Kamin told the Denver Post that the ruling “really comes down to interpreting this one word in this one statute.” Because cannabis is not legal under federal law, the Court ruled that the Colorado law…

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Colorado Supreme Court Affirms Employers Rights to Fire Medical Marijuana Patients for Off-Duty Marijuana Use

The case involved Brandon Coats, a 34-year-old quadriplegic, who uses marijuana to help with spasms and seizures due to a debilitating car accident. Coats worked as a customer service representative for Dish Network for three years until he was randomly drug tested and subsequently fired for testing positive for THC.

The highest court in the state has now firmly sided with employers on this issue, giving advocates a clear message that state protections are needed.

The case and many others like it highlight the gray areas and legal fixes needed in Colorado and other states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Given that the substance remains illegal under federal law, any rights bestowed upon civilians by state law fall far short of fully protecting medical marijuana patients and…

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Costa Rican Ministry of Health Releases Criteria for Pending Medical Marijuana Bill

Announcement Followed By First Conference In Central America On Medical Marijuana; Marijuana Reform Initiative Finally Brings Central America Into The Regional Debate

“By taking this issue seriously, Costa Rica is demonstrating compassion for those whose suffering could be alleviated with medical marijuana,” said Hannah Hetzer, Policy Manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance. “With so much momentum for drug policy reform building in the Americas, Costa Rica’s medical marijuana initiative brings Central America into a debate that is already strongly underway elsewhere in the region.”

Among the conditions specified by the Ministry are that medical marijuana must be used as a last resort and that recreational use of marijuana will continue to be illegal. Medical…

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Colorado: Supreme Court Affirms Employees Can Be Fired For Off-The-Job Marijuana Use

Colorado: Supreme Court Affirms Employees Can Be Fired For Off-The-Job Marijuana Use

DENVER, CO — Members of the Colorado Supreme Court have unanimously affirmed lower courts’ rulings that employers possess the authority to fire employees for their off-the-job use of marijuana.

The Court found that the plant’s legal status under state law does not make the act of consuming cannabis “lawful” under the state’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute.

The Justices opined:

“The supreme court holds that under the plain language of section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S. (2014), Colorado’s ‘lawful activities statute,’ the term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected…

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Texas Governor Signs ‘Unworkable’ Medical Marijuana Bill

Texas Governor Signs ‘Unworkable’ Medical Marijuana Bill

AUSTIN, TX — As expected, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 339 into law on Monday, a measure aimed at allowing individuals with intractable epilepsy access to cannabidiol (CBD oil) to treat seizures, although advocates say the bill is ‘unworkable’ as enacted.

“There is currently no cure for intractable epilepsy and many patients have had little to no success with currently approved drugs,” Abbott said in a signing statement issued Monday. “However, we have seen promising results from CBD oil testing and with the…

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Seattle to Close Unlicenced Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Seattle to Close Unlicenced Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

SEATTLE, WA — Seattle will close dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries operating without a license, the city’s mayor said on Tuesday, part of a statewide effort to reconcile the unregulated system with the voter-approved recreational pot industry.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray outlined a series of regulatory changes in how cannabis operations will do business in the city, saying the rules will improve the marketplace for patients who depend on medical marijuana.

“We’re strengthening the recreational marijuana market and creating safer,…

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Texas House Passes Flawed CBD Bill

Texas House Passes Flawed CBD Bill

Monday evening, the Texas State House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 339 with a vote of 96-34. The bill seeks to allow patients with intractable epilepsy to access cannabis oil containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC.

On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense.

Unfortunately, SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it…

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‘Unworkable’ Medical Marijuana Bill Passes in Texas

‘Unworkable’ Medical Marijuana Bill Passes in Texas

AUSTIN, TX — Lawmakers in the Texas House voted 96 to 34 on Monday to approve a bill intended to allow patients with intractable seizure conditions to access some forms of medical marijuana, but advocates say the bill is unworkable.

Senate Bill 339, Texas Compassionate Use Act, was approved last week by the Senate, and now heads to Republican Governor Greg Abbott for final approval.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), will only allow “low-THC cannabis” which is defined in the bill by containing less than .5%…

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CA: Referendum Suspends Santa Cruz County Ban on Medical Cannabis Cultivation

CA: Referendum Suspends Santa Cruz County Ban on Medical Cannabis Cultivation

SANTA CRUZ, CA — The first successful Santa Cruz County referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, 2015, and was to go into effect on May 15, 2015.

Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC) circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county. 7,248 valid signatures are required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.

The ordinance was suspended when the Santa Cruz County Clerk…

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Massachusetts Overhauls Medical Marijuana Dispensary Application Process

Massachusetts Overhauls Medical Marijuana Dispensary Application Process

BOSTON, MA — The process for applying to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts was given a much needed overhaul on Friday, allowing dispensaries to be approved in a format similar to how other health care facilities, such as pharmacies, are licensed.

Officials from the Department of Public Health (DPH) said Friday that the new process for licencing Registered Marijuana Dispensaries would begin next month, aimed at streamlining the process for approval and provide better access for patients.  Previously announced changes to the application process were expected to be in place by May 15.

Massachusetts voters approved medical marijuana in 2012. (file)

Massachusetts voters approved medical marijuana in 2012. (file)

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in 2012 to legalize medical marijuana in the Bay State,…

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Texas Senate Passes ‘Unworkable’ Medical Marijuana Bill

Texas Senate Passes ‘Unworkable’ Medical Marijuana Bill

AUSTIN, TX — Lawmakers in the Texas Senate approved a bill Thursday intended to allow patients with intractable seizure conditions to access some forms of medical marijuana, but advocates say the bill is unworkable in its current form.

Senate Bill 339, Texas Compassionate Use Act, was approved Thursday by a vote of 26 to 5, sending the bill to the House of Representatives for consideration.  An identical companion bill, House Bill 892 has already received a favorable recommendation from a key House committee, which could expedite the…

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US House Narrowly Defeats Amendment to Allow VA Docs to Discuss Medical Marijuana

US House Narrowly Defeats Amendment to Allow VA Docs to Discuss Medical Marijuana

WASHINGTON, DC — The United States House of Representatives voted 213-210 Thursday to defeat an amendment to allow doctors at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to discuss the use of medical marijuana with their patients.

A total of 175 Democrats and 35 Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, and 205 Republicans and 8 Democrats voted against it.  A similar amendment narrowly failed on the House floor last year by a vote of 195 to 222.

The appropriations amendment to the first fiscal 2016 appropriations bill of the year, which…

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Medical Marijuana Advocates to Host 3rd Annual National Conference in Washington DC

Medical Marijuana Advocates to Host 3rd Annual National Conference in Washington DC

Scientists, patients, doctors, advocates, lawyers, policymakers unite to further advance public health policy reforms

WASHINGTON, DC — Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will hold its third annual national Unity Conference, “Wellness is Winning,” in Washington, D.C. on March 27-31, 2015.

The conference will highlight medical and legal experts, policymakers, and a wide array of workshops and panels focusing on scientific research, strategic planning, and skills building. On Tuesday, March 31st, ASA will host…

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House Version of Federal Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

House Version of Federal Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

Support for Letting States Set Their Own Marijuana Policies without Federal Interference Growing Rapidly in Congress

WASHINGTON, DC—Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) have introduced the House companion to a groundbreaking bill legalizing marijuana for medical use that was introduced in the Senate two weeks ago by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) co-sponsored the bill soon after.

“Reforming our nation’s failed drug policies…

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