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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 9, 2016

    oil_bottlesOhio Governor John Kasich has signed legislation into law establishing regulations for the licensed production and dispensing of medical cannabis formulations to qualified patients.

    House Bill 523 authorizes the use of various forms of cannabis preparations for the physician-authorized treatment of the following qualifying conditions: acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); Alzheimer’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease); cancer; chronic traumatic encephalopathy; Crohn’s disease; epilepsy or other seizure disorders; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; hepatitis C; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple sclerosis; pain that is either of the following nature: (i) Chronic and severe; or (ii) Intractable; Parkinson’s disease; positive status for HIV; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette’s syndrome; traumatic brain injury; and ulcerative colitis.

    The new law, which takes effect in 90 days, requires state regulators to license the production, distribution, and testing of cannabis products, but it forbids home cultivation of the plant.

    Cannabis-specific products may be dispensed as oils, tinctures, edibles, patches, or as herbal material. Smoking herbal cannabis is not permitted under the measure; however, the measure does not clarify how this prohibition would be enforced.

    The vaporizing of medical cannabis products by patients is permitted by the legislation. Similar smoking restrictions exist in four other states: Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania.

    THC content in herbal cannabis will be limited to 35 percent under the measure, while extracts will be capped at 75 percent THC.

    Although the program is not anticipated to be fully operational until early 2018, provisions in the law provide limited legal protections for qualifying patients who acquire cannabis from alternative sources prior to this date.

    A summary of the bill is available from the Ohio Patient Network here.

    Ohio is the 26th state to enact statutory language permitting the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana. Last month, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed legislation amending the state’s dormant medical marijuana law to permit the licensed production and distribution of cannabis-infused preparations to qualified patients. However, patients are not anticipated to have access to cannabis products under that law until late 2017 or 2018.

    Proponents in Ohio who sought to place a separate, broader medical marijuana measure on the 2016 ballot had recently announced that they were suspending their campaign, stating, “[A]ll in all, [HB 523] is a moderately good piece of legislation passed by lawmakers who were pushed hard by the patient community. We plan on continuing forward as an advocacy effort to ensure that the state of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, but also working to better the program utilizing our amendment as a road map for those improvements.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 7, 2016

    thumbs_upMore than nine in ten pediatric oncology providers with opinions favor patients’ access to cannabis therapy, according to survey data provided this week at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

    Investigators from various US cancer treatment centers surveyed 654 pediatric oncology providers, including physicians and nurses, at three National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington. Over 300 providers (46 percent) completed the survey.

    Of those, 92 percent said that they were “willing to help pediatric cancer patients access medical marijuana,” and just over one-third (34 percent) acknowledged that cannabis therapy “is appropriate in the early stages of cancer treatment.”

    Thirty percent of respondents reported receiving requests from patients or their families to access medical marijuana therapy at least once per month.

    Overall, pediatric oncology providers hold “predominantly favorable attitudes toward medical marijuana use in pediatric cancer patients,” authors concluded.

    Previous surveys of physicians and health care providers report similar attitudes. Survey results published in 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 76 percent of respondents supported the use of cannabis therapy in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. A 2014 poll of over 1,500 physicians commissioned by Web MD similarly reported that 82 percent of oncologists believed that marijuana treatment provides legitimate therapeutic benefits.

    An abstract of the survey data, “Pediatric oncology providers and use of medical marijuana in children with cancer,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    legalization_pollThe majority of US voters believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legalized, while more than nine in ten Americans endorse allowing its use for therapeutic purposes, according to the results of nationwide polling data provided by Quinnipiac University.

    Fifty-four percent of respondents say that the “use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States.” Support for legalization is strongest among those age 18 to 39 (69 percent), Democrat voters (65 percent), Independents (61 percent), and males (60 percent). Support is weakest among Republicans (36 percent), those over 65 years of age (37 percent), and female voters (47 percent).

    By contrast, super-majorities in all demographic categories — including 94 percent of Democrats, 93 percent of Independents, and 81 percent of Republicans — support permitting physicians to authorize medical marijuana use to qualified patients.

    In response to a separate polling question, 87 percent of respondents agreed with a recently enacted Congressional amendment authorizing V.A. physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to military veterans in states that permit it.

    The poll’s results are similar to those of numerous recent national surveys, including those by CBS News, the Associated Press, and Gallup showing majority support for marijuana law reform.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator June 6, 2016

    Great news for marijuana consumers in Kansas City, Missouri! After months of back and forth meetings with city officials, NORML KC, the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of marijuana laws, has received approval to move forward with a municipal initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses. If passed, the measure will amend local laws regarding the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for adults age 21 and up from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine to a civil offense punishable by a $50 fine — no arrest or criminal record. Read the full text of the initiative by clicking, here!

    With a deadline of August 25, 2016 to collect the 1,703 signatures needed to qualify the initiative for a vote, the organization’s executive director, Jamie Kacz, is hoping to gather more than 2,300 to offset the possibility of some signatures being deemed invalid. Mrs. Kacz and her volunteers started the process of collecting signatures during last week’s First Friday Art Festival at the Crossroads Art District and will continue to work hard over the next twelve weeks.

    “Current laws are unreasonably harsh and now is the perfect opportunity to make a change. It’s time for Kansas City to take this sensible step forward,” Kacz said. “This will be a grassroots effort and passionate volunteers will be an essential part of our efforts”.

    If you live in Kansas City, be on the lookout for volunteers with NORML KC as they’re out and about with petitions looking to reform your city’s marijuana laws! Make sure you follow NORML KC on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with future events and announcements!

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  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

    Travel writer and public television travel host (and NORML board member) Rick Steves is truly a breath of fresh air.

    As countless American travelers know, Rick Steves is a popular, prolific, and clean-cut travel expert who hosts the popular public television series “Rick Steves Europe” as well the National Public Radio show “Travel with Rick Steves,” and he has written many guidebooks for Americans traveling in Europe. His company, Rick Steves’ Europe, also hosts hundreds of trips to Europe each year. He helps readers, viewers, and tour participants discover not only great cities but cozy villages off the usual tourist-trampled paths. He helps American travelers connect intimately with Europeans—often for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.

    Steves says his company’s mission “is to inspire, inform, and equip Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. We value travel as a powerful way to better understand and contribute to the world in which we live. We strive to keep our own travel style, our world outlook, and our business practices consistent with these values.”

    Steves, who is an active member of his Lutheran church, has a wonderfully wholesome and charming style and has developed a unique comfort level with average Americans. They like and trust him. And it comes as a surprise to many to learn that Steves has another side to him: he is also a marijuana smoker and a public advocate for legalizing the responsible use of marijuana. Because of his ability to personally connect with his audience, Steves is an especially effective NORML advocate whose public support carries great credibility.

    More and more public figures are beginning to speak out, but Steves was ahead of most all of them and has insisted on making his personal views on the subject public, regardless of the audience. Steves made his first appearance as a featured speaker at a NORML conference in 2003, and has been a featured speaker at many of our conferences since. He also frequently joins us to address the annual Seattle Hempfest. He was first elected to the NORML board of directors in 2013 and he continues to serve in that capacity.

    Steves has shown a willingness to articulate in public what many marijuana smokers believe but are uncomfortable saying out loud: that in the right situation, smoking cannabis can be a positive and life-enhancing experience. Not only is it not harmful behavior, when used responsibly, but it can actually improve the quality of one’s life. The mind is clearer, and one’s creative juices are enhanced by the experience of getting high. Beyond that, it can be a wonderful way to simply relax.

    Steves has an effective way to explain his interest in marijuana smoking. “I’m a travel writer. For me ‘high’ is a place. Sometimes I just want to go there. And if my government says no, there better be a good reason. And there isn’t.” He finishes his talk by wishing his audience “Happy travels…even if you’re just staying home.”

    Steves was an official sponsor and significant financial supporter, and toured his home state of Washington actively campaigning in support of the ballot initiative (I-502) that voters approved in 2012, and he actively supported and personally toured Oregon in support of the successful Oregon initiative (Measure 91) in 2014.

    And he has announced he is making similar commitments to the legalization initiatives that will appear on the November ballot in both Maine and Massachusetts this fall. He will spend three days in both states this fall, barnstorming to build support for the measures, and he will make a significant financial contribution to the campaigns in both states.

    Rick Steves - NORML Board MemberJust this past week Steves announced he was putting up $50,000 as a matching grant to the Maine Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, to match the contributions from other supporters.

    I’ve worked hard to help legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult recreational use in Washington State (where I live) and in Oregon. This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to approve a ballot initiative that will end prohibition and replace it with a sensible marijuana policy in their state too.

    As a NORML Board Member, I am proud to announce that NORML is endorsing this initiative. And to demonstrate my commitment, I am going to match every donation up to $50,000, dollar-for-dollar. This October, I’ll be visiting Maine to speak about the initiative and help build support for legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana in the state.

    Through my travels in Europe, I’ve learned that pragmatic harm reduction makes much more sense than legislating morality. And I believe in civil liberties. Responsible adults should be able to use marijuana, just as they can use alcohol. Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska have demonstrated that it is possible to build a system of marijuana control and regulation that works.”

    This isn’t about being “soft” or “hard” on drugs. This is about being smart – and controlling and regulating marijuana the right way.

    Please consider making a donation today. Together, we can make history in Maine.

    Best,

    Rick Steves

    Guidebook Author and Travel TV Host

    NORML Board Member”

    In a press release issued by the Maine campaign, they thanked NORML for endorsing the initiative and expressed their appreciation of Rick Steves’ generosity. “NORML has spent decades educating the public about marijuana and advocating for sensible marijuana policy reform,” said campaign manager David Boyer. “We are proud to have their support, and we are very grateful for Mr. Steves’ exceptionally generous offer. A lot of celebrities express support for ending marijuana prohibition, but few put their money where their mouth is.”

    And that is the point of this column. Lots of celebrities talk the talk, but few actually walk the walk. It is a delight to be working with Rick Steves, a celebrity who does both exceptionally well. Rick Steves may well be the single most effective legalization advocate in America, and he is especially helpful bridging the gap between those of us who smoke and those who don’t.

    Thanks, Rick, for all you do to advance the cause of personal freedom for all of us, smokers and non-smokers alike.

    ____________________________________________________

    This column was first published on Marijuana.com.

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