By Steve Elliott
Israel's Health Ministry, attempting to deal with a heavy load on pain clinics, has announced that family doctors will temporarily be allowed to write medical marijuana prescriptions for their patients.
The new rules will allow family physicians to write the medicinal cannabis prescriptions under two conditions, reports Ido Efrati at Haaretz: when it is an extension of an existing treatment, and keeping to an existing dosage.
About 18,000 Israelis hold permits for using medical marijuana, with this number expected to grow to 40,000 by 2018. Demand for cannabis in Israel has been growing steadily, and the list of conditions for which it is authorized has also been growing.
Medical marijuana was recently authorized for the treatment of certain types of pediatric epilepsy, as well as in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), along with the other diseases and conditions for which patients are allowed to use cannabis.
Israeli health authorities have suggested before that family doctors -- who work in health maintenance organization (HMO) clinics -- should be able to write cannabis prescriptions. But the idea has met with fierce opposition in the past, both from some of the doctors themselves and from the HMOs.
Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) Propose Legislation to Reform Pentagon Military Transfer Program that Fuels the Drug War
Legislation is a Response to Alarming Images of Militarized Law Enforcement in Ferguson and other parts of the Country
By Steve Elliott
Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) on Tuesday introduced legislation to reform the Pentagon program which transfers military equipment to law enforcement. The program has come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers after images from Ferguson, Missouri, showed law enforcement dressed like combat soldiers, using military equipment to deal with protestors.
The Pentagon program has its roots in the Drug War, coming to fruition in the early 90s as the U.S. government militarized its approach to drug policy. Just last week, Senators held a hearing on the issue of militarization in our law enforcement, where they critical of the Pentagon program.
By Steve Elliott
The Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Illinois NORML) on Tuesday announced they are "appalled" that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner wants to delay the application process for the dispensary and cultivation center licenses of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist, on Tuesday called for transparency in the awarding of the licenses, and he wants the Illinois Legislature to pass a new law regarding transparency and bidding in the application process. Medical marijuana patients have already waited for years for the original bill to pass, according to Illinois NORML, "and have now had to wait months for the agencies to adopt rules and regulations that would guarantee a professional program to help ensure that program will eventually be made permanent."
"My message to Pat Quinn is this: Governor, the jig is up," Rauner said on Tuesday. "Stop this rigged process before it moves forward any further. The application process for medical marijuana should not be held in secret where insiders win and taxpayers lose; it should be open and transparent."
Twenty-two licenses will be issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture for cultivation centers to grow medical cannabis. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, meanwhile, will issue 60 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.
By Steve Elliott
Dozens of medical marijuana supporters on Monday converged on the Pennsylvania's State Capitol as lawmakers returned from their summer recess.
Parents of ailing children and patients with serious medical conditions spoke at the rally about the need for safe access to cannabis, reports the Associated Press. Many in the crowd held up signs with slogans like "Pills Kill" and "Campaign 4 Compassion."
The demonstration was in support of Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis act, whose prime sponsors Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) expect to be sent from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the floor of the state Senate next week.
"We are so close," Sen. Leach said, reports Kendra Nichols at ABC 27. "We are closer than we have ever been. If this runs in the Senate, we get more than 40 votes, and we are promised it will run next week in the Senate."
"We have counted in the House," Leach said. "There are 203 members. We have counted about 160 yes votes." However, Leach added, there is concern that the House "leadership" may block the bill from ever reaching the floor for a vote.
By Steve Elliott
With less than 60 days until the general election, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign has announced two new slogans that will be used in their effort to legalize marijuana in the nation's capital.
District voters will soon see "Vote to Refocus Police Priorities" and "Legalization Ends Discrimination" in the push to convince them to vote yes on Initiative 71, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.
The new slogans weren't tested with focus groups or polled for impact, accordindg to D.C. Cannabis Campaign chairman Adam Eidinger, but he said he's confident they will resonate with voters.
The police slogan hints at an idea that was popular with 57,000 voters whgo signed petitions to put the legalization measure on the November 4 ballot, according to Eidinger: "The one thing that really turns people is the idea that police can be doing more important things," he said. "'Refocus police priorities' is a nice way of saying 'Get the police off our back.'"
The second slogan, "Legalization Ends Discrimination," refers to the studies showing enormous racial disparities in marijuana enforcement; those studies helped convince the D.C. Council this year to decriminalize cannabis, reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts to $25.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated, and the tax revenues should fund treatment programs for harder drugs, the police chief in Madison, Wisconsin, said on Wednesday.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval endorsed marijuana legalization during an interview with the State Journal about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana at about 12 times the rate for whites in the city.
Efforts to enforce the marijuana laws are an "abject failure," Chief Koval said, adding the same is true of the broader War On Drugs. "We've done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it's time to reorder and triage the necessities of what's more important now," he said.
Koval said it's time for Wisconsin to consider doing as Colorado and Washington did in legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis.
The police chief said he would like to see Wisconsin "acknowledge the failure" of marijuana prohibition and focus instead on the "infinite amount of challenges" posed by harder drugs such as heroin. Taxes from marijuana sales, Koval said, would create revenue for the state which could be used to fund drug treatment programs and expand the capacity of drug courts which divert users from the criminal justice system.
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana should be grown and distributed in Iowa, a committee of state lawmakers narrowly recommended on Thursday.
The 10-member bipartisan panel of senators and representatives also backed changing state law to reclassify cannabis to make it easier to obtain as medicine, reports Tony Leys at The Des Moines Register.
The committee was formed to examine the complications and logjams in a new law that was supposed to have helped people with severe epilepsy get marijuana extract containing only cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.
The Iowa Legislature voted in May to let patients with severe epilepsy possess CBD oil to treat their seizures, but the limited law provides no method for producing or distributing the oil in the state.
Reports from other states have suggested that many seizure patients can gain significant relief from CBD oil, which doesn't produce a high.
But the same parents who lobbied for the CBD bill have now told legislators that the law is unworkable. Several of them testified on Thursday that most states where medical marijuana is legal don't allow sales to nonresidents; besides, any Iowans buying it would have to break federal law if they brought it back home.
By Steve Elliott
Pennsylvania lawmakers will begin discussing a medical marijuana bill when the Legislature convenes next week, according to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
Pileggi, a Republican from Chester, Pennsylvania, said on Wednesday that he plans to caucus a medical marijuana bill after lawmakers return for the fall session, reports Christina Kauffman at The Patriot-News.
Senate Bill 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County), passed 11-0 from the Senate Law and Justice Committee in June.
Pileggi said the medical marijuana bill has "broad support" in the Senate, and next week's discussion will decide whether to go forward with a vote of the full chamber.
Folmer on Wednesday said he believes he has the votes of 45 of the state's 50 senators, but the bill could face tougher going in the House of Representatives and with Governor Tom Corbett, who must sign it before it becomes law.
The final document is expected to be broader than a version the Governor previously said he would support, according to Pileggi.
Pharmaceutical companies are among the bill's strongest opposition, according to Folmer (no surprise there, medical marijuana threatens their profits), but Folmer said cannabis-derived treatments come without the life-threatening side-effects of many prescribed pharmaceuticals.
By Steve Elliott
Georgia lawmakers on Wednesday held a hearing at Mercer University in Macon to gather information about medical marijuana and help decide whether to legalize it in the state.
Efforts failed last year to pass a CBD-only bill which would have allowed the medicinal use of cannabidiol oil (which doesn't produce a high), but parents are determined to fight for a different outcome, reports 11Alive. Legislators heard story after story from parents who are desperate for effective medical treatments for their children.
The Calloways were one of the families who told their stories to the legislative committee at Mercer University. They are spending their last weeks together as a family before Beth Calloway and her daughter Maggie move to Colorado so that Maggie can get cannabis oil treatment for her daily epileptic seizures.
Aaron Klepinger already moved his family to Colorado to get effective treatment for his son Hunter; he said it's had a dramatic effect. "In Georgia we got an average of one or two EMS calls every month, saying that the school was calling EMS for a seizure that lasted beyond five or 10 minutes," he said. "In Colorado, not one."
By Steve Elliott
Cannabis advocates in the United Kingdom plan to openly smoke marijuana during a protest picnic in Exeter later month.
The Devon Cannabis Club plans its annual Harvest Picnic at Flowerpot Playing Fields in Exeter on Saturday, September 27, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., reports the Exeter Express & Echo.
Last year's protest in Exeter was attended by about 60 activists.
This year's event is being promoted on Facebook, where the page states, "Come and join us for a picnic and to consume herb to lift the blanket of stigma and these ridiculous laws." So far, 92 people have indicated on the Facebook event page that they will be attending.
"Our aim is to raise awareness of the benefits of cannabis and to address the bias and misinformation so often seen in the mainstream media," said Daryl Sullivan, South West regional admin for The United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs. "To this end we have, for the past two years, been holding public 'protest picnics' around the country."
By Steve Elliott
A Maryland state panel on Tuesday worked on the final details to create a medical marijuana system from scratch, but a few points remain unresolved as the commission moves toward next week's deadline.
The Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission on Wednesday released a second draft of regulations to create the program, reports Erin Cox at The Baltimore Sun. The 81 pages of rules were reworked after the first draft came under fire at a public hearing last month.
Among the many changes in the second draft was removal of a provision that would have effectively banned medical marijuana growers or dispensaries within Baltimore city limits.
The panel also decided to create a digital registry of medical marijuana patients, in an effort to assure only patients receive cannabis. It also tweaked the rules about how patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can access the herb.
But still missing from the revisions are details about how much patients and distributors will pay to participate in the program.
The Maryland Legislature passed a medical marijuana law earlier this year which allows for up to 15 growers and about 100 dispensaries across the state. It is up to the Medical Marijuana Commission to decide how to implement that law.
By Steve Elliott
Mayor Michael Nutter and City Councilman James Kenney have reached a compromise on a bill which will make Philadelphia the largest city in America to decriminalize marijuana.
People caught with fewer than 30 grams of marijuana, just over an ounce, would only be issued a citation and fined $25 under the plan, reports Chris Hepp at Philly.com. They would face no criminal charge or arrest.
The compromise calls for a separate offense and penalty for public use of cannabis. Those caught using marijuana in public would be charged with a noncriminal summary offense, and would face a $100 fine or up to nine hours of community service, according to Kenney.
The compromise ends a conflict between Councilman Kenney and Mayor Nutter which began following the Philadelphia City Council's 13-to-3 vote in June to pass Kenney's marijuana decrim bill.
Kenney argued that cannabis arrests are disproportionately affecting African Americans. Philly police arrested 4,336 people for marijuana possession last year, 83 percent of them black.
But Mayor Nutter called the legislation "simplistic" and declined to immediately sign it. This week, with the deadline for his signature approaching, Kenney and and mayor began meeting to work out a compromise.
In the wake of tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, that focused the public’s attention on the increasing militarization of police, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday held a hearing on police militarization. Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who oversaw and now regrets his role in the militaristic response to the Seattle WTO protests in 1999, has been in consultation with the Committee and has submitted written testimony which appears in its entirety below.
Meanwhile, in New York City, a group of dignitaries including former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the former presidents or prime ministers of Brazil, Switzerland, Colombia, Chile, Portugal, Poland, Greece and Mexico, and a long list of other top leaders are meeting this morning to release a new report calling for putting public health and safety first through the decriminalization of drug use and possession and the institution of legalized regulation of drug markets.
“The drug war is inextricably linked to most major issues of our time, from immigration to police militarization,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officers opposed to the War On Drugs. "It’s the cause of much of the violence on our streets and in communities worldwide.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy on Tuesday released a new, groundbreaking report at a press conference in New York City. The event was live-streamed and speakers included Richard Branson, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Colombian President César Gaviria, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss and others.
The report reflects a new evolution in the thinking of the Commissioners, who reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches – and now also call for permitting the legal regulation of psychoactive substances. The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes.
“When the Commission released its initial report just three years ago, few expected its recommendations to be embraced anytime soon by current presidents," said Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann. "But that’s exactly what happened, with Colombian President Santos and Guatemala President Perez-Molina speaking out boldly, former Mexican President Calderon calling on the United Nations to reassess the prohibitionist approach to drugs, and Uruguayan President Mujica approving the first national law to legally regulate cannabis.
"Meanwhile, one Commission member, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has opened up the drug policy debate in West Africa, recruiting some of the region’s most distinguished figures," Nadelmann said.
Activist Alan Gordon Claims Deliberate Crown Non-Intervention in Known Large Religious/Medical Grow Operation Sets “Unacceptable and Unconstitutional” Precedent Which Tramples Others’ Racial and Religious Rights
Cannabis activist Alan Gordon of Bermuda told Hemp News on Monday that an unconstitutional double standard has occurred, in that the Crown is prosecuting Black Rastafarian and atheist cannabis defendants, despite turning a deliberately blind eye to a Gordon’s own Hebrew religious large-scale cultivation and Christian medical-religious distribution of the plant.
Gordon said that in a medical/religious context, he cultivated more than 80 plants this year, approximating 10 pounds of finished cannabis, and distributed it with the Bermuda Police Services’ full prior knowledge. Gordon provided corroborating correspondence, and said the Public Safety Ministry was also told ahead of time -- and yet no apparent action was taken by either agency to effectively stop the cultivation and distribution of the cannabis before it found its way into the community.
“When the Ministry and Police opted not to interfere with my attempt to make Hebrew Biblical medicinal anointing oil (from the recipe in Exodus 30:23) this past grow season, they did so because they assumed Parliament would bring reform so quickly that dealing with it was not worth the trouble and expense,” said Gordon. “But how is prosecuting Black Rastafarians in the public interest, if prosecuting me isn’t?”