Patients, Caregivers and Healthcare Providers Thank Legislators and Governor, Immediately Turn Their Attention to Swift Implementation: “Patients Are Out of Time and Need Access Now”
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed a medical marijuana bill into law, making New York the 23rd state to allow legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. Patients, caregivers and healthcare providers are attending the bill signing ceremony at The New York Academy of Medicine, along with the bill sponsors, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino.
After years of advocacy and intense last minute negotiations between lawmakers, the bill passed on the final day of the legislative session with extraordinarily strong bipartisan support. New York is the second largest state in the nation
“Thanks to the bill sponsors and the Governor’s actions today, New York has joined twenty-two other states in creating safe and legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients,” said Holly Anderson, executive director of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. “Patients in New York have been fighting for this for 18 years, and they have waited long enough. I urge the Governor to do everything within his power to insure that patients in New York can access medical marijuana as soon as possible."
The first stores where adults can legally purchase marijuana in Washington State are set to open on Tuesday, roughly six months after Colorado launched what is so far seen as a successful effort to regulate sales of the drug there. The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) on Monday issued the state's first 24 marijuana retailer licenses.
At least three retail shops will open on Tuesday, reports Tony Dokoupil of NBC News: Cannabis City Seattle, Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham and The Freedom Market in Kelso.
The state faces a huge backlog for licenses, with only 18 license reviewers trying to process thousands of applications. The first grower approvals didn't happen until March, which left very little growing time to stock the shelves.
That's given rise to a predictable shortage of recreational marijuana, and more and more irate entrepreneurs. Some have already gone under as opening day was delayed again and again, due largely to Washington's foolish decision to scrap the existing medical marijuana market and create the recreational marijuana market from scratch.
By Steve Elliott
Here's how it's done. The city of Berkeley, California will require medical marijuana dispensaries to give two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each month to low income patients at no charge.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously at Tuesday's meeting to change the city's medical marijuana rules, which would also allow for a fourth dispensary in the city, reports Ryan Takeo of CBS San Francisco.
"Basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine," said Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore.
At least two percent of all medical marijuana dispensed at each shop would be required to be given away to very low-income members under the proposal. What's more, the free cannabis would have to be the same quality that's dispensed to regular paying customers.
"We think this is the responsible thing to do for those less fortunate in our community," Moore said.
The measure also adjusts the definitions for medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries, patients and caregivers, as well as setting new rules for operating hours and testing both cannabis and edibles.
One Berkeley dispensary, the Berkeley Patients Group, has already been giving out free cannabis to the poor for 15 years.
By Steve Elliott
It was bound to happen, and now it has: The first of a planned national chain of medical marijuana dispensaries has opened. The very first Kaya Shack opened Thursday morning in Portland, Oregon, and began sales to licensed medical marijuana cardholders.
The Kaya Shack dispensary opened at 10 a.m. in a 1,000-square-foot storefront near Southeast 17th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard. As required by Oregon law, the company has a state resident responsible for the dispensary.
The planned Kaya Shack chain is owned by the Florida-based Alternative Fuels Americas, Inc. (AFAI) majority owned subsidiary Marijuana Holdings Americas, Inc. Marijuana Holdings Americas is one of only a handful of out-of-state companies that have ventured into Oregon's medical marijuana market in the past 16 years, since voters approved medicinal cannabis at the polls in 1998.
"Our analysis showed that Oregon was the next state of any significance," CEO Craig Frank told the Portland Tribune's Kevin Harden in May. "So we focused on Oregon."
The opening places AFAI as the first publicly traded company in the United States to own a majority interest in a marijuana dispensary conducting legal sales of cannabis, according to the company.
"We are very excited to be opening the first Kaya Shack," said Frank. "We believe our brand is unique and inviting, and out staff is well trained to provide a friendly and knowledgeable consumer experience."
A California company which specializes in custom vending machines and automated retailing systems announced on Wednesday that its new Lane Recognition Technology will have a "profound impact" on America's growing legal marijuana industry.
According to a press release from AVT, Inc., the technology, which identifies every item in its temperature controlled storage area, provides verification on each package that it dispenses. The system eliminates human error, and provides 100 percent dispensing accuracy, according to the company.
This can be especially important in retail environments where precise "seed-to-sale" tracking is often required.
The use of marijuana to treat a variety of conditions is now allowed in almost half the country, reports CNN. New York was one of the latest states to pass a form of medical marijuana legalization.
"The momentum has picked up recently," CNN reported, as more states line up to pass sensible laws regarding the medical use of cannabis.
D.C. Hoping to Follow Colorado and Washington, as Polls Show Over 60% Support for Legalization Among DC Residents
The D.C. Cannabis Campaign will submit 58,000 signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections at 441 4th Street NW, Suite 250, on Monday at 10 a.m., in order to place Initiative 71 on the November ballot. The Board of Elections will have 30 days to verify that the campaign has the required 23,780 signatures to qualify.
Monday at noon, members of the campaign will join D.C. elected officials on a national press teleconference to discuss the impact of the ballot initiative and the City Council’s bill on overall marijuana arrest rates, issues surrounding racial justice, and the District’s fight for self-determination.
D.C. hopes to follow in the steps of Colorado and Washington by legalizing marijuana and polls show the issue is popular among District residents, with support above 60 percent. The District of Columbia currently has the highest per capita marijuana arrest rates in the U.S.
In 2010 black people in the District accounted for 91 percent of all marijuana arrests -– even though black and white people use marijuana at roughly similar rates.
Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana on their person at any time, and allows for the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants at home.
District law prevents the ballot initiative from addressing the sale of marijuana. However, the D.C. City Council is currently considering a bill which will tax and regulate marijuana within the District.
By Steve Elliott
A prominent marijuana researcher who only months ago had received rare federal approval to study the effects of cannabis on patients with post traumatic stress disorder has been abruptly fired by the University of Arizona.
Professor Suzanne A. Sisley's dismissal puts her research at risk, and has caused dismay among medical marijuana advocates, reports Evan Halper at The Los Angeles Times.
Dr. Sisley, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, said she was fired after her research created unwanted attention for the university from legislative Republicans who control its funding.
"This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and educaiton I have been providing the public and lawmakers," Sisley said. "I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance."
University officials refused to explain the non-renewal of Sisley's contract, but claimed their motives weren't political.
"The university has received no political pressure to terminate any employee," claimed University of Arizona spokesman Chris Sigurdson, who noted that university supported a 2013 legislative measure permitting such studies.
Dr. Sisley got letters from university officials on Friday, telling her that she will be terminated from her job on September 26. The letters offered no explanation beyond citing guidelines which permit the university to fire its employees.
By Steve Elliott
At least 20 lawmakers in the Philippines have signed on as co-authors of a bill which would legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora is among the supporters of the bill, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, House Bill 4477, filed by Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, reports Maricel Cruz at the Manila Standard.
"Right now, the bill has been backed by at least 20 lawmakers, and counting," Albano said. "For the record, the measure would not decriminalize the sale and use of marijuana as this is intended for medical purposes. It is just a matter of explaining to them what the bill is all about."
House Minority Leader Zamora said it's time for the Phillippine Congress to open its discussions on the medical benefits of cannabis. "We are in agreement that marijuana for medicinal -- strictly medicinal purposes -- should be examined," he said. "For recreational purposes, that's an entirely different issue."
House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. John Jorge Banal Jr., from Quezon City, said Albano's measure has a chance of being approved in Congress, as it would help patients suffering from serious illnesses that could be helped by medical marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
A Nevada-based company that plans to sell recreational and medical marijuana products has named former Libertarian Presidential candidate New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as its CEO and president, the company, Cannabis Sativa Inc., announced on Tuesday.
The company also said it has acquired Kush, a marijuana research business founded by Steve Kubby, a fellow Libertarian who once called for California to secede from the United States. Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian Party nominee for California governor, was named chairman by Cannabis Sativa Inc.
Johnson said he hoped to expand the company and said he intends to work out of New Mexico to help develop products that are legal in Colorado and Washington, reports the Associated Press. Johnson will be paid $1 a year and receive equity in the company.
The company will make marijuana-based oils aimed at helping children with epilepsy, according to Johnson, who said it will also make cough drop-like products for recreational use.
"Couple of things hit you when you try the product," Johnson said. "One is, wow, why would anybody smoke marijuana given this is an alternative? And then secondly, it's just very, very pleasant. I mean, very pleasant."
By Steve Elliott
Stephen Gaskin, the tie-dye wearing hippie philosopher who founded The Farm commune in Tennessee and authored books including "Cannabis Spirituality," died Tuesday morning at his home in Summertown, Tennessee after a lengthy illness.
Gaskin, an ex-combat Marine and self-described "hippie priest and freelance rabble rouser," had led a caravan of hippies across the United States in the early 1970s from San Francisco eventually to the hills of Tennessee, where they founded a commune based on utopian ideals. It became one of the world's oldest surviving intentional communities.
"We have been freethinkers for generations," Gaskin wrote of his family. "And, as is provided for in the Constitution, I have passed my philosophical and religious ways on to my children, who are very proud of their heritage and ancestors."
Gaskin's teachings inspired not only those who followed him across the country to found The Farm. His ideas also changed forever the way a generation thought about changing society and making the world a better place in which for us to live.
He spent two years teaching English and creative writing at San Francisco State College after earning his master's in 1964. In 1967, he began an informal philosophy seminar that became the Monday Night Class, in which the hippie guru would discuss religion, politics, sex and drugs.
Florida's Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, is leading with a lop-sided margin in the polls. With change seemingly on the way, the Florida Medical Marijuana Institute's Regulatory Seminars are aimed at entrepreneurs and investors, doctors, lawyers and pharmacy owners across Florida, who seek insight into Florida's likely regulatory landscape.
"People ask us, 'How will your Regulatory Seminar address regulations that haven't yet been issued?'" said Jan Frel, director at the Florida MMTC Institute, a business education school offering a Regulatory Seminar on July 12 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Downtown Miami. "There is an abundance of useful information to use as a guide for Florida's likely regulatory scenarios; the right mix of experts can provide invaluable business guidance."
Regulatory seminars will be offered every three weeks through November, according to the Institute.
The Institute draws its analysis from the Amendment 2 language on Florida's November ballot, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act approved by the Florida Legislature in May, regulatory approaches in other medical marijuana states, and current Florida statutes regulating related industries, such as the production and distribution of alcohol and pharmaceuticals.
By Steve Elliott
Iowa's new CBD-only medical marijuana law takes effect July 1, a month after being signed by Governor Terry Branstad. The governor, like many other Republicans, had previously been a firm opponent of medical marijuana, but he signed this bill to allow parents to buy cannabis-based cannabidiol (CBD) oil to reduce their children's seizures.
Two-year-old Quinn Stumpf and her parents, April and Chad, played a big role in the passage of the bill, a very narrowly defined law that marks Iowa's first venture into medical marijuana, reports Josh O'Leary at the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The Stumpf family visited Des Moines several times in recent months; one one of the trips, the parent sat down with Gov. Branstad in his office, and Quinn made an appearance on the Senate floor.
Quinn, who has a severe neurological disease, is on a long list of medicaitons and has endured more than 150 doctor visits and eight hospitalizations in her two years of life. "She's in pain, it seems like, all the time," April said of her daughter.
"They haven't given us the best prognosis for Quinn, but to know she's helped make a difference in so many lives and touched so many people, for her to have done that at such a young age is something we're really proud of," April said. "No matter what happens with her, we know she's made an impact on so many lives."
By Steve Elliott
John Morgan, the man who has led the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, has donated $4 million more of his own money to the campaign.
Morgan is pushing to pass Amendment 2, and he says it's for his dad, his brother, and others who may suffer from debilitating diseases, reports Kendra Conlon at WTSP.
"It's all frivolous until it happens to you," John's brother Tim Morgan said. Tim broke his back in 1977 in a lifeguarding accident; he's now quadriplegic, with excruciating pain that has only gotten worse over the decades.
"I had cancer in 2003 and a pacemaker put in two years ago," said Tim, who added that medical marijuana gets him through the day as director of Morgan and Morgan. "You just break out in a sweat for no reason; you smoke pot and it stops. Why? I don't know; I don't care. It works."
"With my dad, he was dying from emphysema," John Morgan said. "It gave him appetite on Day 1, and it took away his anxiety."
If Amendment 2 passes with 60 percent or more of the vote (as a constitutional amendment, it needs more than a simple majority), it would allow doctors to authorize patients to use medical marijuana, with the state regulating production and distribution.
"I have never met one person -- because there's none -- who has ever died from a marijuana overdose, ever," John said. "It's so simple and so easy, and that's why I think it's going to pass."
By Steve Elliott
It's been almost a year and a half since Washington state voters approved Initiative 502, the limited marijuana legalization measure, in 2012. But there still isn't a single state-licensed cannabis store open in the state -- and once the shops finally open, presumably next week, Washington could then face a marijuana shortage.
What's wrong with this picture? How did Colorado get so much more right in implementing legalization than did the weed-friendly Evergreen State? Well, Colorado -- unlike Washington -- built its recreational marijuana infrastructure on the already existing medical marijuana system, rather than foolishly opting, as did Washington, to build an entirely new system from the ground up.
Wait a minute, you may be saying. That's just crazy. They had, in place, a system of retailing marijuana -- and proprietors experienced in doing so -- but they are completely eliminating that system and turning the business over to a new set of retailers? Yes, you're getting the idea -- and that has resulted in a bureaucratic nightmare, reports Jordan Larson at Vice.
Producers, processors and retailers have had trouble getting the necessary licenses and space to retail, warehouse, and grow cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is cracking down on the state's booming cottage industry of medical marijuana caregivers who have been selling cannabis to meet the demand created by the state's medical marijuana law, adopted 18 months ago.
The state has sent letters to more than 1,300 patients, along with 17 caregivers, warning them that state regulations may prohibit any caregiver from selling marijuana to more than one patient, according to David Kibbe, spokesman for the Department of Health, report Shelley Murphy and Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.
The caregivers are the only legal avenue for Massachusetts patients to buy medical marijuana until storefront dispensaries start to open -- and that won't happen before November at the earliest. Many of the caregivers advertise on the Internet.
The action angered many patients who rely on cannabis to relieve their symptoms.
"I have been put in a terrible situation," said David Tamarin, 41, a lawyer from North Andover whose doctor authorized him to use medical marijuana for chronic back pain and anxiety. Tamarin said he was outraged by the letter telling him he had to find another caregiver -- one who was not serving any other patients.
"The legalization of medical marijuana should make it easier, not more difficult, for a patient to get his medicine," Tamarind said.