American Medical Association Votes to Support Legal Protections for Physicians who Recommend Cannabis
Delegates to the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States, have passed a resolution in support of protecting physicians who recommend cannabis from legal prosecution. The vote came during an annual meet in Chicago.
Specifically, the AMA agreed that in states where the therapeutic or recreational use of cannabis is legal, physicians who give it to patients for “an approved medical condition” should be guaranteed they will not face federal prosecution for doing so.
The resolution states that protecting physicians is “consistent with AMA policy to protect patient-physician communications about treatment options, supporting a public health approach rather than a law-enforcement focus, for individuals possessing cannabis for personal use and opposing government interference with the practice of medicine.”
Founded in 1847, the American Medical Association has a membership of 217,490 (as of 2011).
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One-quarter of patients with multiple sclerosis report having used cannabis therapeutically and nearly one out of six (16 percent) currently use it to treat symptoms of the disease, according to survey data commissioned by the North American Research Committee on MS.
Over 5,600 MS patients participated in the survey, the results of which were presented last week at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Center 2015 Annual Meeting.
Most subjects who had tried marijuana said it mitigated disease symptoms, such as spasticity or pain. Only five percent of patients surveyed said that cannabis said it did not provide some level of relief.
Those with more advanced symptoms of MS were more likely to report using cannabis therapeutically.
Of those surveyed, 82 percent said that they would consider cannabis therapy if it were a legal option in their state.
Clinical trials have previously reported that cannabis inhalation is superior to placebo in reducing pain and spasticity in patients with treatment-resistant MS. Other studies indicate that long-term use of cannabinoid therapy may potentially modify MS progression.
Previously survey data published in the journal Neurology reported that 14 percent of MS patients used cannabis for symptom management.
Bill to Reduce Cannabis Penalties, Allow Expungements, Passes Louisiana Legislature, Heads to Governor
Louisiana’s House of Representatives has passed House Bill 149, a proposal to drastically reduce the penalties for cannabis possession while allowing for the expungement of certain cannabis convictions, with a 74 to 19 vote. The vote comes just days after the Senate passed the measure 54 to 37. It now heads to Governor Bobby Jindal, who plans to sign it into law.
House Bill 149, sponsored by Representative Austin Badon, will reduce the penalty for possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis from a potential six month jail sentence, to a maximum jail sentence of 15 days. The penalty for a second cannabis possession offense – any amount not deemed for distribution – would be reduced to a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of six months; it’s currently a felony with a potential five year prison sentence.
The penalty for a third cannabis possession offense would be reduced to a maximum sentence of two years, with the fourth offense being a maximum of eight years. Under current Louisiana law, a third cannabis possession offense (and all subsequent offenses) can result in a 20 year prison sentence.
The bill also includes a provision to allow those with a conviction for cannabis possession to have the charge removed from their record (though only if they didn’t receive another cannabis-related charge within a two-year period afterward).
Though it’s not certain when, Governor Bobby Jindal plans to sign the measure into law.
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A team of attorneys will soon file a series of lawsuits to place an injunction on, and overturn Washington State’s Senate Bill 5052, a recently signed law that will drastically reduce the rights of medical cannabis patients in the state while closing dispensaries and establishing an illegal patient registry.
Signed by Governor Jay Inslee in April, Senate Bill 5052 – which takes full effect in July, 2016 – will drastically reduce the amount of cannabis patients can possess and cultivate, making felons out of those who possess currently allowable limits. The measure will also lead to the closure of nearly every medical cannabis dispensary in the state, and will establish an illegal patient registry that is in clear violation of federal HIPAA laws.
The lawsuits will seek to place an immediate injunction on the new law, preventing it from taking effect while the group works to overturn it permanently.
The group of renowned attorneys who will be working on the lawsuits include Sensible Washington co-founders and longtime criminal defense attorneys Douglas Hiatt and Jeffrey Steinborn (who have 70 years combined legal experience), and attorney Aaron Pelley of Pelley Law LLC, among others.
Hiatt tells us that the group will be filing two to three separate lawsuits that will seek to fully dismantle the new law, in order to protect the rights that patients currently have, and to prevent the state from establishing the patient database.
They group plans to make a formal announcement in the coming days.
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Fifty-four percent of Californians support legalizing marijuana for adults, according to polling data commissioned by the Public Policy Institute of California and released today.
The percentage of respondents agreeing that “the use of marijuana should be legal” increased three percent since 2014. Fifty-four percent is the highest level of support for legalizing cannabis ever reported in a PPIC poll.
Among likely voters, 56 percent favor legalization (versus 41 percent opposed).
Democrats (65 percent), Californians age 18 to 34 (62 percent), Independent voters (61 percent), and whites (60 percent) were most likely to favor legalization. Sixty percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Republicans opposed legalization.
The complete PPIC poll is online here.
California is one of several states where voters are anticipated to decide whether or not to legalize and regulate the use, production, and retail sale of the plant in 2016.
Most Arizonans support permitting adults to legally possess marijuana for personal consumption, according to statewide polling data commissioned by the Behavioral Research Center.
Fifty-three percent of respondents favor legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. That is an increase of two percent compared to when pollsters asked a similar question last year.
Only 39 percent of respondents disapproved of the notion of legalizing cannabis.
Legalization supporters were more likely to be under the age of 35 (71 percent) and to vote Democrat (64 percent). Respondents age 55 or older (45 percent) and Republicans (33 percent) were least likely to support legalizing the plant for adult use.
Arizona is one of several states where voters will likely decide whether or not to legalize and regulate the use, production, and retail sale of the plant in 2016.
Although it won’t come as much surprise to those who know his political background, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vowed on Sunday to overturn every state-level cannabis legalization law if he’s elected President next year.
The governor, speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation, said a Christie administration would use federal law to attack states that have legalized cannabis, including prosecuting those following their state’s law.
“Yes sir,” Christie told host John Dickerson when asked whether he’d go after Colorado and Washington, both of which legalized cannabis in 2012 through voter-approved initiatives.
“If you were president would you return the federal prosecutions in the states of Colorado, Washington states?” Dickerson asked. “Yes,” said Christie.
Dickerson, looking for clarification, then asked; “So, if somebody’s enjoying that now in their state, if you’re president, that’s getting turned off?”
“Correct,” Christie responded.
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Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has signed into law legislation that allows hemp to be cultivated for research purposes.
Senate Bill 305, introduced by Senator Tick Segerblom and passed by the state’s legislature with a unanimous vote, allows universities in the state, as well as the state’s Department of Agriculture, to grow and produce hemp for the purposes of researching the plant, with hemp being defined as having no more than 0.3% THC.
According to recent estimates by the Hemp Industries Association, there was over $600 million in hemp sold in the U.S. in 2016, despite the country retaining the illegality of hemp cultivation.
Next year, voters in Nevada will have the opportunity to legalize the possession, personal cultivation and state-sanctioned distribution of cannabis for recreational purposes.
Toke TV 87: Congress Tells DEA Hands Off Medical Marijuana! Ancient Humans Smoked Pot For Health! McCartney Switches From Cannabis To Booze ‘For The Kids’!
When my answer to the questions, “So what do you want to do?” changed from “I don’t know” to “I want to advocate for marijuana law reform” I got surprised faces, sometimes gasps, many smiles and A LOT of what I like to call, hushed support. Hushed support is the kind of support where someone congratulates you and tells you how much they agree with you, but also lowers their voice in hopes that no one else was paying attention. As a born and raised Floridian, I understood the hesitancy to speak at a regular volume when talking about the need for cannabis law reform. What I didn’t understand, however, was how one could be content hiding how they really felt. How much support does ‘hushed support’ really offer? It was these reactions that solidified my desire to advocate for marijuana policy reform for a living.
As NORML’s newly appointed Political Director I couldn’t be more excited to join a team of groundbreakers and thought leaders. I feel honored to continue the legacy NORML has in place and a necessity to serve it well. I am eager to have the chance to represent NORML in the political sphere and to provide an even louder voice to the tens of millions of cannabis consumers from around the country.
While I have found a more permanent role in the marijuana policy debate, I challenge you to find yours. I challenge you to no longer offer ‘hushed support’ and instead proudly take action and responsibility to help reform the laws in your state. (If you aren’t sure what they look like, check it out here!)
I’m excited to open this new door and advocate for something I truly believe in: legalizing the responsible use of cannabis by adults around the country. So I invite you to join me as I embark on this new journey with NORML and hopefully I can encourage you to help me along the way and bring a voice to your own communities.
With enthusiasm and gratitude, I thank you for welcoming me into the NORML family.
A majority of the US House of Representatives voted today to reauthorize legislation limiting the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting are in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states.
House members voted 242 to 186 in favor of the amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV) as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. Sixty-seven Republicans joined 175 Democrats in favor of the provision; 176 Republicans and ten Democrats voted against it.
A similar amendment was signed into law last December. Because that language was included as an amendment to an annual spending bill, it must be reauthorized by Congress or else it will expire in September.
Representative Rohrabacher recently introduced similar stand-alone legislation, H.R. 1940: Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015, after Justice Department officials questioned the extent to which their actions may be curtailed by budgetary amendments.
House members narrowly failed to pass a separate, broader amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that sought to halt the Justice Department from interfering in states that have legalized the plant’s production and retail sale for adults. That measure failed by a vote of 206 to 222. (See how your US Representative voted here.)
The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill will now go before members of the US Senate for further debate.
Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, May 29, 2015
Here is the latest Weekend Wisconsin Cannabis News Briefs May 29-31 from Cannabadger.com