Medical Marijuana

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate February 20, 2019

    In New Jersey, there has been a great deal of progress in the last few years. Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature, ranging from legalization to expungement, and the fight for freedom has never been more widely supported than now. New Jersey residents overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization; in a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University,  62 percent of New Jerseyans support legalizing the responsible adult-use of marijuana, and several members of the New Jersey State Legislature are finally listening to the will of the people and pushing for meaningful marijuana reform. However, marijuana reform has stalled in the past few months. It is urgent that these measures get to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

    There are three major reform bills in the New Jersey State Legislature during the current legislative session.

    • S. 2318 would allow for expedited expungement of records for those previously convicted of a marijuana crime upon passage of decriminalization or legalization measures in the state of New Jersey, as long as those past violations are no longer considered a crime under state law. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/22/2018 and is still stuck in committee. The passage of this bill is incredibly important; legalization alone does not provide a clear roadmap for expungement and the millions of people whose lives have been altered by prior marijuana-related convictions may still be left with the stain of those convictions even after legalization is a reality in New Jersey. For more information on this bill (and similar measure S. 3205) and to send a message to your state lawmaker in urgent support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 2703 and A. 4497 would legalize marijuana for personal adult-use in the state of New Jersey and provides expungement relief for people with certain past marijuana offenses. The bill was voted out of committee on 11/26/2018 and is now on its second floor reading and waiting for a scheduled vote. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 10 and A. 10 would expand patients’ access to medical cannabis through several means. It would allow doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient they believe with benefit, phases out sales taxes on medical cannabis, and establishes additional legal protections for patients and caregivers. It also allows for additional growers and providers and expands on the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. S. 10 is in the amending stage as of 1/31/2019, and A. 10 most recently passed the Assembly Floor on 1/31/2019. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

  • by Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director February 14, 2019
    Virginia SB1719 passes the House of Delegates

    Virginia SB1719 passes the House of Delegates

    Originally posted on the Virginia NORML Blog

    Richmond, Va — Virginia Senator David Marsden’s SB1719 has passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and the Senate, and is headed to the governor’s desk for signature.

    SB1719 allows “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities, and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

    “This law will ensure that patients who may be physically incapable of picking up these life-changing medicines on their own will have access to them from throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Marsden, of Fairfax County.

    Virginia NORML members with Senator Dave Marsden

    Virginia NORML members meet with Senator Dave Marsden

    It is patients like Tamara Lyn Netzel, a teacher from Alexandria who suffers from multiple sclerosis, who stand to benefit from this legislation.

    “Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease with severe symptoms that come and go, so I’ve accepted at some point I may not be able to drive a car safely or leave my home,” said Netzel. “It is comforting to know I will still be able to send my husband to get the medicine I need.”

    SB1719, which passed unanimously through both the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate, will also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to transfer products between the five state-authorized facilities, ensuring that patients have access to a wider range of products. It will also prevent the limited availability of products that could result should a provider experience crop failure.

    “Allowing the exchange of various products between licensed processors will create better product selections for patients, depending on their need, regardless of their location in Virginia,” said Senator Marsden. “I am proud to be part of this effort.”

    SB1719 ensures that patients will greater access to the medicines they need, a key element of continuity needed for the success of any health system.

    “Patient access is critical to the success of Virginia’s medical cannabis program,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “These bills help ensure that all patients are able to obtain and use the necessary therapeutic doses of their cannabis medicines regardless of location or physical ability.”

    Other medical cannabis-related bills are still making their way through the legislature. Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 expands Virginia’s medical cannabis program, adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and allowing a wide range of full therapeutic-strength formulations to be dispensed.

    Delegate Chris L. Hurst’s HB1720 and Senator Glen Sturtevant’s SB1632 would authorize school nurses to administer and registered student patients to use Virginia-approved medical cannabis products at school.

    “We’ve received emails and calls from concerned parents throughout the Commonwealth who are worried their children could be expelled for using their doctor-recommended medical cannabis oil at school,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “Delegate Hurst’s and Senator Sturtevant’s bills would provide a much-needed solution for these families.”

    Track this and all marijuana-related legislation on Virginia NORML’s 2019 legislation monitoring page.

  • by Jax Finkel, Texas NORML Executive Director February 8, 2019

    On Thursday, hundreds of Texans joined us at the Texas State Capitol to discuss marijuana policy with legislators! For this historic day, over 400 Texans registered to participate, covering all thirty-one senate districts and three-quarters of the house district. It was a beautiful representation of how important reform is for Texans.

    We provided a training session for our participants that covered an overview of the legislative process, review of priority legislation, what to expect from their visits and Q&A. We provided training packets for them to use in preparation for their visits, including voting records to check where their legislators have historically stood on the issue. Participants then crafted a message to place on their postcards which they delivered to offices along with policy overviews and then requested their Senator and Representative co-sponsor important legislation. Pictures of the event can be found here. Livestream of the event can be found here.

    The changes that I have seen over the last 14 years in Texas are stark. The first lobby day I ever participated in only had a few dozen dedicated Texans holding the torch for freedom. At that time, legislators had a harsh opinion of our work. But today, we have a record number of bills and have created a huge change in public opinion in the Capitol. The import of these drastic changes over the years are not lost and I am so thankful for all of the work that Texans have done to destigmatize marijuana.

    We want to thank our coalition, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, for helping to continue to elevate and expand these lobby days. We are so appreciative of all of our volunteers who made this event possible. Additionally, RAMP and DFW NORML made it possible for more Texans to participate by arranging buses to bring them to Austin.

    Lastly, we still have a lot of work to do this session. Brush up on our advocacy training. Catch up on the bills and participate in our action alerts! Stay tuned to us via social media and our newsletter to track how the bills are progressing and know when new action alerts are put out.

    Please support our work during this session by becoming a member, making a one-time donation or becoming a sustaining donor.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths with NORML’s Fact Sheets! For more information follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website!


  • by Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director, KY NORML February 5, 2019

    The Kentucky chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KY NORML) is assisting Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana (KY4MM) in its lobbying efforts Feb. 5 with constituents from across the state seeking cannabis reform.

    “There are several meetings made for constituents to meet with their legislators on both days. KY4MM has been extremely important in helping to get all of our supporters to come together. It’s vital that we speak as one voice for a medical program.” said Matthew Bratcher, KY NORML executive director.

    Patrick Dunegan, Executive Director for Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC), “We should not be prisoners of an imaginary border for our health”, referring to Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois becoming emerging medical cannabis markets.

    There are four bills pertaining to the legalization of cannabis during the 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

    State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-33, is sponsoring a medical cannabis bill (HB 136) that allows doctors to recommend cannabis therapy as part of patients’ treatment regimens. “It is time to allow doctors to have this option for their patients,” Nemes said Jan. 9 during a news conference.

    Fairdale Republican state Sen. Dan Seum, R-38, has proposed SB80, which would allow responsible adult use of cannabis. Seum recently told lawmakers he “smoked a joint” instead of using potentially addictive opioids during colon cancer treatment. “And guess what? No nausea,”; Seum said last month.

    Other cannabis bills on the 2019 legislative agenda include a Cannabis Possession Decriminalization bill (SB 82) sponsored by State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, which would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use; and Democratic state Sen. Perry Clark’s “Shauna’s Law”; (SB83) which provides workplace protections for public employees who fail a drug test related to use of a legal industrial product, such as CBD.

    Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia are among states bordering Kentucky that have approved legislation pertaining to medicinal marijuana.

    Following Tuesday’s lobbying session, KY NORML is hosting a Cannabis Community Forum at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Plantory, 501 W. Sixth St., Suite 250, Lexington, on the second floor of the West Sixth Complex. The forum includes an educational seminar on cannabis, a review of House Bill 136 (HB136) and an expert question and answer session.

    The following day, KY NORML returns to the capitol with KY4MM, and Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC) to continue lobbying efforts, culminating with a Rally from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. Scheduled speakers include Rep. Jason Nemes (R-33), Rep. Diane St. Onge (R-63), Sen. Dan Seum (R-38) among others.

    For more information regarding the Feb. 5 and 6 lobbying sessions or Tuesday’s Lexington forum, contact Matthew Bratcher at matthew.bratcher@kynorml.com or Jaime Montalvo at ky4mm2014@gmail.com

    KY NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to influence legislators for the expansion of our hemp industry, implementation of medicinal cannabis, and laying the foundation for responsible adult use.

    To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE or purchase some of our apparel below! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 to help us keep going

    Looking to help in a more direct way? We are always looking for people to help out with any number of tasks! CONTACT US and tell us about yourself and what your talents are!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 1, 2019

    Patients authorized to legally use medical cannabis frequently substitute it in place of benzodiazepines, according to a pair of new studies published this week. Benzodiazepines are class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety. According to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control, the drug was attributed to over 11,500 overdose deaths in 2017.

    In the first study, Canadian researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and benzodiazepines in a cohort of 146 patients enrolled in the nation’s medical marijuana access program. They reported that 30 percent of participants discontinued their use of anti-anxiety medications within two-months of initiating cannabis therapy, and that 45 percent did so by six-months. “Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter,” authors concluded.

    In the second study, investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed over 1,300 state-registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of opioids and benzodiazepines. They reported that 53 percent of respondents acknowledged substituting marijuana for opioids, and 22 percent did so for benzodiazepines.

    These findings are consistent with numerous other papers — such as those here, here, here, and here — documenting patients’ use of cannabis in place of a variety of prescription drugs, particularly opioids and anti-anxiety medications.

    Full text of the study, “Reduction of benzodiazepine use in patients prescribed medical cannabis,” appears in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research here.

    An abstract of the study, “Pills to pot: Observational analyses of cannabis substitution among medical cannabis users with chronic pain,” appears in The Journal of Pain here.

    Additional information is available in NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship between marijuana and opioids,” here.

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