Political

Pennsylvania: House Health Committee Unanimously Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

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Committee votes in favor of bill that would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to use marijuana to treat their medical conditions

The Pennsylvania State House Health Committee on Friday voted unanimously to approve SB 3, which would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to access medical marijuana with recommendations from their doctors. The bill will now go to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.

The vote follows the filing of a discharge petition by Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Ridley Park) that would have removed SB 3 from the Health Committee where it had stalled and put it before the full House for a vote.

“While it is a relief that SB 3 is no longer stalled in the Health Committee, it is imperative that it promptly moves to the floor,” said Dr. Jeffrey Fogel, a retired pediatrician who has a debilitating neurologic condition causing bouts of extreme pain. “It’s been over eight months since the Senate first passed a medical cannabis bill. Pennsylvanians have needlessly suffered for far too long. We need relief now.”

"I want to be thrilled by Baker's shocking reversal to move this bill out of his committee today, but after such fierce opposition to this bill I have to wonder if this is just another stall tactic being used to prevent us from getting medicine to our loved ones," said Lolly Bentch, member of Campaign 4 Compassion, whose daughter has intractable epilepsy.

Rhode Island: Lawmakers Fail To Act On Widely Supported Marijuana Legalization Bill

DanielHarropMDPsychiatrist[RegulateRI]

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act had bipartisan backing in both chambers, and an April poll found 57 percent of Rhode Island voters in favor of such a measure

Rhode Island state lawmakers late Thursday recessed the legislative session leaving hundreds of bills, including a widely supported proposal to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol, pending action. Legislative leaders have indicated they may call a special session in the fall to finish their agenda.

“Lawmakers’ decision to recess without voting on this widely supported legislation is disappointing, to say the least,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “We believe we have the votes needed to pass the measure this session, and we’re optimistic that we’ll still have the votes if and when they come back for a special session.

"We hope to work with leaders in both chambers over the summer to ensure lawmakers are given a chance to cast them,” Moffat said.

Global: New UN Report Exposes Failure Of War On Drugs But Ignores Causes, Solution

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Activists in 150 Cities Call for End to Drug War, Including D.C. March from State Department to White House

UN Will Review International Drug Control Policies in 2016

The United Nations 2015 World Drug Report, released Friday, details the failure of and harms caused by the war on drugs, but doesn't grapple with the fact that problems such as alarmingly high overdose rates, control of the trade by organized crime networks and illegal sales funding terrorism are caused by the very prohibition policies the international body still supports.

Also on Friday, activists in more than 150 cities around the world called attention to the failure of the war on drugs, including with a march from the U.S. State Department to the White House to demand that the Obama Administration do more to bring about an end to international prohibition policies and the human rights violations they cause.

The day of action, called "Support, Don't Punish," coincides with the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking -- which some governments use to focus on prevention and awareness, but which others have used to highlight large drug busts and seizures, or even to carry out executions. U.S.-based activists are particularly concerned that the Obama administration isn't doing enough to ensure that international aid isn't used to support the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses.

Pennsylvania: Patient Advocates Applaud Petition To Allow Medical Marijuana Vote

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Planned discharge petition would remove SB 3 from House Health Committee where it has stalled and permit a vote in the full House of Representatives

Pennsylvania State Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Ridley Park) filed a discharge petition in the House of Representatives on Friday to remove a medical marijuana bill from the House Health Committee and bring it to the full floor for a vote. SB 3 would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to access medical marijuana with recommendations from their doctors.

Rep. Matthew Baker (R-Wellsboro), who chairs the Health Committee, has stated that he will not call the bill for a vote there.

“There is no reason this compassionate legislation should not get a full vote,” said Christine Brann of Dauphin County, whose son has an intractable seizure condition called Dravet Syndrome. “SB 3 passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and is supported by the vast majority of Pennsylvania doctors as well as residents. We know this works. The time to allow our most vulnerable residents to access medical marijuana is now – not in the fall.”

Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Harrisburg) announced his plans to introduce a new medical marijuana bill in the coming weeks but details have not been finalized.

“Thousands of seriously ill Keystone State residents are depending on our representatives to support this discharge petition and SB 3,” said Mike Whiter, a combat veteran from Philadelphia who suffers from PTSD. “Chairman Marsico's proposal — that he write a bill that would not be considered until fall — is not a reasonable alternative.

California: Drug Policy Alliance Releases Videos of 3 Marijuana Symposia

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Top Experts in Policy, Science and Regulation Discuss the Public Health, Social Justice and Environmental Issues Related to Marijuana Legalization

In an effort to educate the public and discuss pressing issues related to the legalization of marijuana in California in 2016, the Drug Policy Alliance held three symposia, each focusing on a different aspect of marijuana regulation. Videos from those symposia are now available online to view for free.

The first symposia, held in Los Angeles, addressed issues related to marijuana use and public health. Speakers included Alison Holcomb from the ACLU, Tista Ghosh from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the environment, and Rep. Jonathan Singer from Colorado. The goal of this symposium was to address concerns related to how marijuana legalization might impact road safety, teen drug use and criminal activity. This symposium can be viewed in its entirety or by individual speaker here.

Oregon: House Approves Bill Setting Up Legal Marijuana Market

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon House lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill 52-4 setting up the state's legal marijuana market after voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November. The bill, HB 3400, now heads to the Oregon Senate.

The bill creates regulations for both medical and recreational cannabis, including a compromise allowing local jurisdictions to "opt out" of legalization, reports Sheila Kumar at the Associated Press. Members of a House joint committee charged with implementing Measure 91 had previously been unable to agree on the issue of local control, stalling the measure for weeks.

Counties or cities that voted against Measure 91 can choose to ban cannabis sales if at least 55 percent of their residents opposed the ballot measure in last November's election. Other counties would have to put banning pot sales to a vote.

"I did not support Measure 91," said clueless Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer). "I am voting for this bill because it allows local jurisdictions to prohibit the sale of this drug."

The bill also creates a marijuana tracking system, so bureaucrats can trace weed from seed to sale in order to keep it out of the black market. The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of creating and maintaining a database tracking the path of marijuana to market.

The bill requires grow sites to register and submit information on how much cannabis is processed and transferred every month.

D.C.: Activists To March Friday From State Dept. To White House To End War On Drugs

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U.N. Preparing to Reconsider International Drug Control Policies

Activists will march from the U.S. State Department to the White House on Friday morning, demanding that the Obama Administration do more to end the failed War On Drugs and the human rights violations it causes. The advocates especially want the U.S. to ensure that international aid it provides is not used to support the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses.

The march is part of a global day of action called "Support, Don't Punish," with events taking place in 150 cities around the world, including New York. It coincides with the annual United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which some governments use to focus on prevention and awareness, but which others have used to highlight large drug busts and seizures, or even to carry out executions.

WHO: Organizations that oppose the War On Drugs and support human rights

WHAT: March -- part of an international day of action in 150 cities -- featuring signs with slogans like "Prohibition => Crime + Violence," "No Drug Executions With Our Dollars" and “Drug Execution Agency"

WHEN: Friday, June 26 at 9:30 AM ET

WHERE: From the State Department (2201 C St NW) to the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW)

Global: June 26 Rally At UN In New York Part of Global Day of Action To End Drug War

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Actions To Take Place In Over 100 Cities Around The World

Events Offer Alternative Vision To United Nations’ Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

A rally will be held on Friday, June 26 at 1 pm in New York City in front of the United Nations Headquarters as part of the global Support. Don’t Punish campaign, where thousands of activists in over 100 cities around the world will make their voices heard.

The campaign calls on governments to put an end to the expensive and counter-productive War On Drugs. This war has failed to reduce drug use or supply, it costs in excess of $100 billion each year to enforce, it has led to the mass incarceration of the vulnerable and the poor, and it fuels human rights violations and HIV epidemics.

June 26 is the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which coincides with the release of the United Nations’ annual World Drug Report. It is also a day which has traditionally been used by governments to ‘celebrate’ drug arrests, seizures and even executions.

The Support. Don’t Punish “Global Day of Action” aims to change the narrative, and to highlight the need for a better approach.

U.S.: Senators Tell Federal Agencies To Remove Barriers To Medical Marijuana Research

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FDA and NIDA officials express support for ending NIDA’s DEA-mandated monopoly on marijuana available for research purposes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At a Wednesday hearing, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand pressed federal officials to eliminate political barriers that are preventing research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana. The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits,” was held by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) echoed the Senators’ concerns and expressed support for removing barriers to research that have been created by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

NIDA has a DEA-mandated monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research purposes, which is grown at the University of Mississippi. Researchers have repeatedly criticized the DEA for refusing to license additional marijuana producers, which they say is preventing the study of marijuana’s medical benefits and the development of marijuana-based medicines.

They have also criticized the poor quality and low potency of the scant marijuana that is currently available, which they say further hinders meaningful research. A DEA administrative law judge ruled that licensing additional producers would be in the public interest, but the DEA has refused to follow the non-binding ruling.

U.S.: Senate Members To Investigate Barriers To Researching Marijuana Extract CBD

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The U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana being used in the treatment of seizure disorders and other medical conditions, and federal obstacles to studying its efficacy.

The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits” will be led by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who have long been opponents of efforts to reform federal marijuana laws.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have been invited to participate. They are sponsors of the CARERS Act, bipartisan legislation that would resolve the tension between state and federal marijuana laws.

The hearing is expected to focus on the use of CBD in the treatment of seizure disorders rather than whole-plant medical marijuana and the many other medical conditions for which doctors frequently recommend it. It is also expected to focus on federally regulated distribution channels rather than state-regulated medical marijuana providers.

WHAT: Hearing on CBD research and efficacy

WHEN: Wednesday, June 24, 9:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226, Washington, D.C.

WHO: Dr. John Brad Ingram, child neurologist, University of Mississippi
Dr. Tom Minahan, emergency physician and parent of child with seizure disorder
Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
Dr. Kevin Sabet, anti-marijuana activist, Project SAM

California: Legislature Moves To End Transplant Discrimination Against Medical Marijuana Patients

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Bill Headed To Governor Jerry Brown's Desk

The California Senate on Monday approved AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, by an overwhelming margin of 33-1. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medical cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.

Medical cannabis patients in California are routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical cannabis. AB 258 was authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

“AB 258 is about fundamental fairness and compassion,” said Don Duncan, ASA’s California director. “Legal medical cannabis patients should never face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant.

"AB 258 will help the law catch up with science, which has shown that medical cannabis patients are just as likely to benefit from an organ transplant as other patients,” Duncan said.

On June 15, more than 200 patients and advocates participated in the ASA California Citizen Lobby Day, which focused on educating lawmakers about AB 258 and other medical cannabis legislation. During the lobby day, ASA began a postcard campaign to encourage Governor Jerry Brown to support AB 258.

Maine: State Lawmakers Choose Not To Place Marijuana Referendum On Ballot

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Maine state lawmakers on Monday decided they will not place a measure on the ballot to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. LD 1380, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), was defeated in the House 45-98 and in the Senate without a recorded vote.

State senators on Monday unanimously killed another pro-legalization bill, LD 1401, sponsored by another Portland Democrat, Rep. Mark Dion, reports Mario Moretto at the Bangor Daily News.

“The legislature’s failure to act should not be mistaken for waning public interest in marijuana policy reform," said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is in the process of placing a citizen initiative on the 2016 ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Maine. "Elected officials have always followed the citizens’ lead on this issue.

"Maine voters will still have the final say, and we expect they will say it’s time to end marijuana prohibition," Boyer said.

“Marijuana prohibition is a counterproductive and antiquated policy," Boyer said. "Most people are just fed up with it at this point. It’s time to regulate marijuana, tax it, and start treating it similarly to alcohol.”

For more information on The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.

Graphic: The Smoking Bud

New York: NYC Council Holds Hearing On Bill To Reorient Drug Policy Toward Health, Safety

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A new New York City drug policy agency would focus as much on health as on policing under a proposal a lawmaker has introduced to shift how the nation's biggest city approaches illegal drug use.

The proposed legislation would create an office to coordinate drug strategy between dozens of city agencies and the community. It emphasizes evidence-based policy making to promote health and public safety and reduce the negative impact of past or current policies.

The drug strategy office would advise city leaders on lowering drug-related deaths and disease along with crime, reports Jennifer Peltz at ABC News. It also would coordinate answers to a problem that sometimes seems to pit one set of government objectives against another, supporters say.

WHAT: Press conference and rally in support of Intro 748, which would create an Office of Drug Strategy, to be immediately followed by a NYC Council hearing on the bill.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 23, 9:00 am EST

WHERE: Steps of New York City Hall

WHO: NYC elected officials and community groups representing public health, drug treatment, mental health, and legal aid providers, and individuals directly affected by current NYC drug policy.

Pennsylvania: Doctors, Veterans Call On Lawmakers To Approve Medical Marijuana Bill

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A group of medical doctors will visit Pennsylvania state lawmakers on Tuesday and urge them to support legislation that would allow seriously ill residents to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

They will join a group of local combat veterans and their loved ones at 1:30 p.m. ET for a news conference outside the Lt. Governor’s Office.

Participants in the event will include Dr. Sue Sisley, a nationally recognized authority on treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with medical marijuana; Dr. Sanjay Gupta of Philadelphia, a prominent pain management specialist; Dr. Scott Mueller of Mechanicsburg, a family medicine physician; combat veterans Mike Whiter and Barrett Thompson of Philadelphia, both of whom suffer from PTSD; and Donnamarie Freedman of Cumberland County, the mother of a veteran who committed suicide after struggling with PTSD.

The Senate approved SB 3 40-7 on May 12, and the issue is awaiting consideration in the House. SB 3 would allow patients with serious medical conditions to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state.

Smoking would not be permitted, but patients would be allowed to consume marijuana in edible form, and patients with certain conditions would be allowed to consume it through vaporization. To qualify, patients would need recommendations from their doctors.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has said he would sign a medical marijuana bill into law.

U.S.: Susan Burton Is A Voice From The Front Lines Of The Drug War

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After her son was killed by the Los Angeles Police Department, Susan Burton medicated her grief with alcohol and drugs. Instead of receiving the support and services she needed, she cycled in an out of the criminal justice system for nearly 15 years.

In 1998, Susan gained her freedom and sobriety and founded A New Way of Life Reentry Project. Named a CNN Hero in 2010, Susan’s organization provides support and resources for women recently released from prison.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) works to end the Drug War by supporting organizations like A New Way of Life. Susan’s video is the second installment of a new video series, "Voices from the Front Lines of the Drug War," chronicling the people and organizations addressing the worst harms of the Drug War and creating new policies based in science, compassion, health and human rights.

Here is the direct link to the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UjR_8nAURA

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