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medical marijuana

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 19, 2013

    House and Senate negotiators on Tuesday agreed on a final version of House Bill 573, which allows for a regulated system of medical cannabis distribution in New Hampshire.

    The amended bill calls for the creation of four state-sanctioned marijuana dispensing facilities to produce and distribute cannabis to state-qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation. Patients diagnosed with one of approximately twenty qualifying conditions — including cancer, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, or multiple sclerosis — would be permitted to legally possess up to than two-ounces of cannabis. Under the proposed law, patients must obtain cannabis only from a state-licensed facility. Qualified patients will not be provided with any legal protections to possess or use cannabis prior to the establishment of such facilities.

    As originally passed by the House, the measure allowed for qualified patients to have the option to grow their own cannabis. The measure also allowed for physicians to recommend cannabis for the treatment of post-traumatic stress. Both provisions were stripped from the bill by the Senate at the request of newly-elected Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan.

    Gov. Hassan is expected to approve the reconciled version of HB 573. A commission is expected to be put in place to oversee the implementation of the law as soon as the bill is passed.

    New Hampshire will become the 19th state to allow for the limited, legal use of medical cannabis and the final New England state to do so.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 18, 2013

    Another study has once again affirmed that the enactment of statewide medical cannabis laws is not associated with increased rates of adolescent marijuana consumption.

    According to data published this week in the American Journal of Public Health, the passage of medical marijuana laws in various states has had no “statistically significant … effect on the prevalence of either lifetime or 30-day marijuana use” by adolescents residing in those states.

    Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine evaluated the effects of medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use rates during the years 2003 and 2011. Investigators “found no evidence of intermediate-term effects of passage of state MMLs (medical marijuana laws) on the prevalence or frequency of adolescent nonmedical marijuana use in the states evaluated.” Authors concluded, “Our results suggest that, in the states assessed here, MMLs have not measurably affected adolescent marijuana use.”

    The study’s findings rebut often repeated claims from cannabis prohibitionists that the passage of therapeutic cannabis laws adversely impacts teens’ usage of the substance.

    In fact, numerous published studies have contradicted this claim. A 2012 analysis of statewide cannabis laws and adolescent use patterns of commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany concluded: “Our results suggest that the legalization of medical marijuana was not accompanied by increases in the use of marijuana or other substances such as alcohol and cocaine among high school students. Interestingly, several of our estimates suggest that marijuana use actually declined with the passage of medical marijuana laws.”

    A separate 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal and published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology reported similar findings, concluding: “[P]assing MMLs (medical marijuana laws) decreased past-month use among adolescents … and had no discernible effect on the perceived riskiness of monthly use. … [These] estimates suggest that reported adolescent marijuana use may actually decrease following the passing of medical marijuana laws.”

    Previous investigations by research teams at Brown University in 2011 and Texas A&M in 2007 made similar determinations, concluding, “[C]onsistent with other studies of the liberalization of cannabis laws, medical cannabis laws do not appear to increase use of the drug.”

    Full text of the study, “Effects of State Medical Marijuana Laws on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 4, 2013

    Lawmakers gave final approval on Monday to legislation, Senate Bill 374, to allow for the establishment of licensed facilities to dispense cannabis to state-qualified patients. The measure passed with two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers. It now awaits action from Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has previously acknowledged that he is open to the idea of regulating medical cannabis dispensaries.

    If signed into law, SB 374 would establish rules and regulations for the establishment of up to 66 not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensaries.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, and New Mexico have state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

    Nevada voters enacted legislation in 2000 to allow for physician authorized patients to consume and grow cannabis. However, the law does not explicitly provide for facilities where authorized patients may obtain medicinal cannabis.

    Approximately 3,800 Nevadans are presently authorized to grow and/or consume cannabis under state law.

    To track the progress of marijuana law reform legislation in other states, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director June 3, 2013

    Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Silver Tour will convene a medical marijuana training session and lobby day in Washington D.C. to encourage Congress and the Obama Administration to allow states greater autonomy to create their own cannabis policies without political pressure from the federal government.

    Lobby training session is scheduled for Sunday, June 16, with legislative lobbying all day Monday, June 17.

    summer-lobby-day-2013

    For more information about the schedule, speakers and activities, please visit here.

    Joining SSDP is the senior citizen medical cannabis educational project The Silver Tour, which is looking for crowdsource funding to bring The Silver Tour bus to Washington, D.C.

    According to their webpage they’ve already raised $5,500 of the $10,000 needed.

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 23, 2013

    Members of the New Hampshire Senate voted 18 to 6 today in favor of an amended version of House Bill 573, which allows for the physician-authorized use and state-licensed dispensing of cannabis to qualified patients. House lawmakers had previously voted 286 to 64 in March in favor of a broader version of the bill.

    As amended by the Senate, HB 573 would establish up to four state-sanctioned marijuana dispensing facilities. (The House version allowed for up to five facilities.) State-qualified patients would be allowed to possess up to two ounces of cannabis, but they would only be legally able to obtain it from a state-licensed dispensary. (The House version of the bill provided provisions for home cultivation.) Under the amended bill, patients lacking a state-issued identification card would not be permitted to raise an affirmative defense, meaning that patients who could benefit immediately from the therapeutic use of cannabis will be forced to wait several months until after the bill’s passage in order to obtain the necessary paperwork to receive any legal protection under the law. The Senate also voted to eliminate post-traumatic stress from the list of authorized conditions for which a physician could legally recommend marijuana therapy.

    The measure also stipulates that qualified patients must possess a preexisting relationship with their physician (of at least 90 days) and that they have previously pursued conventional remedies to treat their condition.

    Newly-elected Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan had voiced her opposition to several elements of the House version, which spurred the Senate to adopt several changes.

    The Senate version of the bill now goes back to the House, whose members will either sign off on or, more likely, reject the Senate’s amendments. The latter action would create the need for a “committee of conference,” at which time a special committee of House representatives and senators will compromise on a final version of the bill. That language will then be forwarded to the governor’s desk.

    If you reside in New Hampshire, there is still time to contact the Governor’s office and urge her to rethink her position on these controversial Senate amendments. Tell her that these Senate provisions will hurt, not help, patients in New Hampshire. Implore her that seriously ill patients can not wait years for for dispensaries to become available and that they require a home grow alternative. You can call the Governor’s office or use NORML’s ‘Act’ page here.

    Finally, House Bill 573 co-sponsor, Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright, has launched a Change.org petition urging Gov. Hassan to amend her position. Whether or not you reside in New Hampshire, please sign the petition and share it with your friends and colleagues.

    For information on how you can support pending marijuana law reform legislation in other states, please visit here.

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