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Medical Marijuana

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 10, 2018


    Up until a few years ago low-income housing that received federal subsidies were required to maintain a “drug-free” environment. This meant that if anyone living in subsidized housing was caught possessing and/or consuming marijuana onsite, everyone living in the property was at risk of being evicted.

    Fortunately, in 2014 the Obama Administration amended this policy to no longer mandate evictions which provided some discretion to housing management. As a result, the decision is now left to property management so they can insist on a “drug-free” environment, but are not required by law to impose such restrictive policies.

    Unfortunately, due to inconsistencies in the different policies adopted by property management companies and limited knowledge of the law, marijuana patients residing in subsidized housing are losing their homes. A situation that is becoming all too common. Most recently, John Flickner, a 78-year-old wheelchair bound medical marijuana patient, was evicted from his low-income senior housing facility in Niagara Falls for using medical marijuana that was recommended by his physician.

    In response, Lynne Patton, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional official announced that she is working to resolve the ongoing conflict between federal and state marijuana laws as it applies to tenant rights in federally-subsidized housing.

    “State & federal law needs to catch up with medicinal marijuana usage & require private landlords to legally permit the same. Period,” Patton wrote. “Regardless, my team is already working with Mr. Flickner & a local grantee to place him in permanent housing again, as anyone else in his boat.”

    Read more here: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/trump-official-wants-to-legally-permit-medical-marijuana-in-federally-subsidized-housing/

    That’s why NORML is supporting the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act, which would prohibit property owners of federally assisted housing from establishing standards to prevent access to federally assisted housing to anyone who engages in the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana as long as they are in compliance with state laws.

  • by Justin See, Board Member, Indiana NORML November 15, 2018

    On Tuesday, November 6th, Indiana voters took their final opportunity to vote in the 2018 midterm election. While Indiana did not have the opportunity to vote directly on cannabis propositions as in other states, there were numerous candidates on the ballot supportive of reforming our cannabis laws. Many of them did not win their races, but this election was not without wins for cannabis reform in Indiana. Here are some highlights and some races we’re still watching:

    JD Ford: State Senate District 29

    During the 2018 session, state senator Mike Delph (R) voted against legalizing CBD products in Indiana, an issue widely supported by Hoosiers. JD Ford (D), on the other hand, actively campaigned on the issue of cannabis. “I believe that it is time to work with law enforcement agencies, healthcare groups, and other stakeholders to legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis,” Ford told us in response to one of our candidate survey questions. Delph responded to the same question about decriminalization by stating that, “This is not our most pressing area of criminal law. From a practical standpoint, we really need the federal government to address its position before we can meaningfully do so at the state level.”

    JD Ford won his race and will be a new voice for reforming our cannabis laws in the Indiana Senate, where the sentiment on cannabis legislation is thought to be more even more hostile than in the House.

    Chris Campbell: Indiana House District 26

    Chris Campbell (D) ran against incumbent state representative Sally Siegriest (R), and won with 57% of the vote. In response to our candidate survey, Campbell said she was supportive of implementing a medical cannabis program in Indiana, decriminalizing cannabis, and allowing retail sales of cannabis for personal use.

    Chris Chyung: Indiana House District 15

    In house district 15, Chris Chyung (D) won his race against incumbent Harold Slager (R). “The federal government also needs to set clear guidelines on the legality of cannabis,” Chyung said in response to a question posed by NWI Times about issues that required action from the federal government, “Colorado has benefited to the tune of over half a billion dollars in revenue alone, and more in jobs growth and economic development. I will never allow Indiana to leave that kind of potential money on the table.”

    Other races with supportive candidates remain to be called. Due to widespread issues at polling locations, results for Indiana’s 4th house district might not be available until November 16th, although candidate Frank Szczepanski (D) supports implementing a medical program, decriminalization, and the legalization of retail sales for personal use.

    Read more here: https://www.inorml.org/election-highlights/

    For more information about marijuana law reform efforts in Indiana, follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director November 14, 2018

    Just two days after Veteran’s Day, Congressman Seth Moulton has introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing the therapeutic use of marijuana among veterans.

    Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and other medical issues can be a matter of life or death. Moreover, failure of VA policy to allow physicians to openly talk about cannabis or recommend it has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and on the well-being of our veterans.

    While Rep. Moulton’s bills do not address the core issue of the inability for VA doctors to fill out state-legal medical marijuana recommendations it does address the uncertainty of VA policy when it comes to a veteran’s ability to have an honest conversation with their doctor.

    The three bills are as follows:

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Policy for Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would amend and codify a medicinal cannabis policy the VA has but is not widely disbursed. As more veterans turn to medicinal cannabis to more effectively treat their various service- and non-service related injuries, the relationship with their healthcare providers is becoming ever more important. The VA has a policy protecting a veteran’s benefits if they discuss their medicinal cannabis use with their health care provider; however, not all healthcare providers respond in a standard way and veterans still fear and experience repercussions of some kind. This bill clarifies and codifies patients’ and healthcare providers’ roles and responsibilities in incorporating medicinal cannabis into a patient’s treatment plan and requires the policy to be prominently posted in all VA facilities.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Survey of Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would have the VA conduct a nation-wide survey of all veterans and VA healthcare providers to learn about how veterans are using medicinal cannabis. From the American Legion’s survey on medicinal cannabis, “22 percent of veterans stated they are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition and 40 percent of caregivers stated they know a veteran who is using medical cannabis to alleviate a medical condition.” With the growing use of medicinal cannabis among veterans, the VA needs a better understanding of what veterans are doing to self-medicate various conditions.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Education Act of 2018. This bill would partner the VA with medical universities who have incorporated medicinal cannabis education into their curriculum to develop continuing education programs for primary healthcare providers.

    Upon introduction, Rep Moulton said “Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana – including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible. We also have an obligation to make sure our veterans are getting the best healthcare in the world. We have a long road ahead of us until medicinal cannabis is fully researched and legal but we can take a few steps now to start figuring that out. As someone who still receives healthcare from the VA, I see no reason why veterans healthcare should be behind the eight ball. These bills are an important first step towards finding out what can be most successful as treatment options evolve and change.”

    While these bills would make commendable advances if passed by Congress, they fail to include the fix most needed of VA policy, which would be to allow VA doctors to fill out the necessary state-legal medical marijuana recommendation form in the 33 states that now have laws governing the therapeutic use of cannabis.

    There are two pieces of legislation currently pending which would address that currently pending in the House and Senate. They are The Veterans Equal Access Act in the House carried by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act in the Senate carried by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

    You can contact your federal lawmakers in support of medicinal cannabis policy reform to support veterans by clicking here.

  • by Pedro Padilla, Executive Director, NORML at the U of U October 29, 2018

    Members of the newly established NORML at the University of Utah hosted a panel discussion on the current state of marijuana law reform efforts in Utah, which included Proposition 2, as well as the negative impacts marijuana prohibition has had on Utahns. Panelists included Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sim Gill, as well as Alex Iorg who is the campaign manager for Utah Patients Coalition, the group sponsoring Proposition 2, and Tom Pasket, policy director for TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), a well known medical cannabis advocacy group in Utah.

    Panelists discussed the potential fate of Proposition 2 and highlighted the compromise that was recently reached between proponents of Proposition 2, opposition groups, and the state legislature. Unfortunately the new compromise has many proponents on edge as some feel their vote will no longer matter if state lawmakers can simply adopt a more restrictive program using the legislative process. Throughout the discussion, Mr. Gill, who believes Proposition 2 is “an indictment of the failure of the Legislature to listen to its citizens,” stressed his support and even urged those in attendance to support the ballot proposal on November 6th. Others in attendance shared this sentiment and encouraged voters to hold Utah state lawmakers accountable by voting YES on Proposition 2.Panelists also explored some of the legal implications of the ongoing conflict between state-sanctioned marijuana programs and federal law. Some leading public officials in Utah have warned that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and that it is the job of law enforcement to make that clear. However, several panelists thoroughly unpacked the CJS amendment highlighting how federal law has actually been amended every year since 2014 to prevent the Department of Justice from going after state-sanctioned marijuana programs. When asked about the 6,000 marijuana arrests in Utah and how possession cases are handled, our panelists agreed that the criminal penalties for marijuana in Utah are too punitive and would like to see reform in that area as well.

    Our goal by hosting this panel discussion was to bring education to Utahns about the current state of marijuana reform efforts in Utah, as well as other avenues of reform such as decriminalization. In the future, we hope to host similar events in order to deconstruct the reefer madness rhetoric and advocate for the liberalization of marijuana laws in our state.

    To learn more about marijuana law reform efforts in Utah, follow NORML at the University of Utah on Facebook and visit our website today!

  • by NORML October 26, 2018

    With the marijuana midterms right around the corner, it’s imperative that you know who and what is going to be on your ballot leading up to Election Day on November 6th. To see who the Vote marijuanamost pro-cannabis reform candidates are in your district, check out our Smoke the Vote scorecard and voter guide.

    In addition, if you live in any of these 16 counties and/or two cities, be sure to vote YES on the following marijuana ballot questions. In no way are these questions binding, but passing results often serve as an antecedent for legislative action by lawmakers.

    Brown County

    Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

    Clark County

    Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

    Dane County

    Should marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?

    Eau Claire County (Vote option A)

    Should cannabis:

    (a) Be legal for adult, 21 years of age and older, recreational or medical use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
    (b) Be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?
    (c) Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law?

    Forest County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Kenosha County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    La Crosse County

    Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 years or older, to be taxed and regulated in the same manner that alcohol is regulated in the State of Wisconsin, with proceeds from taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?

    Langlade County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Lincoln County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Marathon County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Marquette County

    Resolved, that “We the People” of Marquette County, Wisconsin support the right of its citizens to acquire, possess and use medical cannabis upon the recommendation of a licensed physician, and; Be It Further Resolved, that we strongly support a statewide referendum Wisconsin to join the thirty-two (32) states that have already approved the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, several debilitating diseases and disabling symptoms.

    Milwaukee County

    Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?

    Portage County

    Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical [treatment] purposes, if those individuals have a written [treatment] recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

    Racine County

    Question No. 1: “Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal use? Question No. 2: Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older? Question No. 3: Should proceeds from marijuana taxes be used to fund education, health care, and infrastructure?”

    City of Racine

    Should cannabis be legalized for adult recreational use in Wisconsin? Should cannabis be legalized for medical use in Wisconsin?
    Should cannabis sales be taxed and the revenue from such taxes be used for public education, health care, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
    Should cannabis be decriminalize in the State of Wisconsin?

    Rock County

    Should cannabis be legalized for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the Taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?

    Sauk County

    Should the state of Wisconsin legalize medical marijuana so that people with debilitating medical conditions may access medical marijuana if they have a prescription from a licenses Wisconsin physician?

    City of Waukesha

    Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

    Just under half of Wisconsin’s population lives in the counties that will be voting on cannabis advisory questions. Make sure you know where your polling location is, and be sure to get to the polls on November 6th to #SmokeTheVote!

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