After much deliberation, Arkansas lawmakers have sent several medical marijuana bills back for more consideration, but they also sent 4 bills detailing the medical marijuana industry to the Governor for final approval. One particularly unhelpful bill heading to the Governor's desk would prohibit members of the U.S. military and National Guard from participating in the state's medical marijuana program, patient or caregiver. Another bill would allow regulatory organizations to determine if certain felonies can be excluded when considering employees for marijuana businesses. An amendment also filed would require marijuana tax revenue to be reconsidered in 2019. House Bill 1451, which was sent to the governor’s desk earlier this month, was signed into law as Act 479 of the 91st General Assembly on Thursday. That bill prohibits members of the Arkansas National Guard or U.S. military from participating in the state’s medical marijuana program as either a patient or a registered caregiver. All four of the bills forward to the governor’s office originated in the House of the Representatives and received Senate approval last week.
Massachusetts voters said Yes on Question 4 last year and passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana and regulating it like alcohol. Regulation and sales will be coming by the summer of 2018 putting the pressure on lawmakers to finish regulating the entire industry properly before it can begin. Legal marijuana is a great source of tax revenue awaiting to benefit the state and local governments, but some are worried about people being allowed to grow too much at home. When passed, the recreational referendum had the support of 54% of the state, but any cities wishing to opt out of retail marijuana sales would be able to with a majority vote in a community. State officials say this new industry could yield up to $1.3 billion in revenue once legal pot gets up and running. That’s a big jackpot, but before they can cash in on it, they have to sort out a big regulatory mess. For the advocates, the intrusion of pols and bureaucrats is worrisome. “The citizens did pass a legalization of marijuana, and we’re just concerned that they don’t regulate it to death,” said Kathryn Rifkin, a legal-pot advocate.
New Hampshire's Medical Marijuana program is a vote closer to expanding it's qualifying conditions after a committee unanimously passed a bill that would add Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Patients with EDS testified recently of the painful surgeries and symptoms that accompany the disease, including chronic back, joint, and neck pain that never goes away, Opioids can be prescribed for EDS, however some patients are concernced about the highly addictive properties of many prescription pain killers. Some patients also think medical marijuana could help treat suicidal thoughts. The bill awaits final Senate approval before being considered by The House. Committee chairman Sen. Jeb Bradley called the testimony extremely compelling, as people with EDS testified about the often severe that pain they experience. "Chronic back, joint and neck pain, vision problems, congenital heart valve defects, congenital kidney structure defects," said Lena Zerbinopoulos, who has EDS. "I've had 16 surgeries because of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome," Lynette Stebbins said in her testimony. "I have pins and plates and screws in my body because of all of the dislocations and torn ligaments and tendons." EDS attacks the body's connective tissues, and those who testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee said the pain associated with it never goes away. The committee considered a bill that would allow those with EDS to use medical marijuana. Although opioids can be prescribed, Stebbins told the committee that she is afraid to use them.
The NFL has been a dominant sports league in the US for years but some think football could go the route of horse racing and boxing, losing popularity by creating too much concern over health issues. Marijuana, though banned from the NFL, could greatly improve the health and recovery of professional football players' injuries. Specifically, researchers believe cannabidiol, 1 of the 100 chemicals in marijuana is able to stabilize the brain after injury. Former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer is leading a campaign to raise money for studies of cannabidiol and how they can treat common football related brain injuries like CTE. Plummer claims cannabis is healthier and many players have smoked through their careers using primarily cannabis instead of addictive prescription drugs. More and more reports are saying that marijuana can — in a healthy way — help alleviate the pain that so many current and former football players experience. Not only can it help take away the pain from the daily nicks, bruises and bumps that players suffer from an opposing player’s helmet off the shin or a facemask in the forearm, it is also becoming increasingly clear that it can help treat CTE, a progressive degenerative disease in the brain caused by trauma. “I’d say 80-90 percent of NFL players are on some kind of drug to get them through the pain and the stress and the anxiety of playing a full football season,” Plummer told Metro. “And when these players are done playing, I’d say 80-90 percent of them continue on high priced meds for most of the rest of their lives. Whether it’s cannabis or Percocets or whatever — there’s a lot of drugs in the league.” Plummer is convinced that marijuana is infinitely more safe than the other pain relievers that players put into their bodies.
If Virginia's Governor signs several new medical marijuana bills like expected soon, the state will become the second in the US to allow pharmacies to manufacture and sell medical marijuana oil to patients with intractable epilepsy. While this is progress, Virginia has a long way to go before it has a full medical marijuana program able to benefit a wide enough range of patients. Current state law calls for the automatic suspension of a person's driver's license if caught possessing even a small amount of marijuana, but a new bill seeks to give judges discretion over each ruling. Lawmakers seem to be listening to the voters as public opinion is showing in polls that Virginians want marijuana policy reform. “We are optimistic,” she said. “The polling shows that Virginians desperately want their marijuana policy changed and laws reformed in some capacity, and I think that lawmakers are starting to hear the call in Virginia as well as throughout the U.S.” “It has no psychotropic effects, and no one is dealing it on the illicit market. For the people that are sick and really wanted the bill to pass, it was heartbreaking,” Vogel said. “I think this is a little bit of bias and a little bit of lack of education … The overwhelming majority of the voting public believes having access to that kind of medication is very helpful.”
A recent study published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior showed that of all the Australian patients with epilepsy, 14% are using medical marijuana to treat their condition. The remarkable part is that 90% of those adult patients and 74% of child patients reported succesful results when trying to manage their epileptic seizures. Patients seeking out medical cannabis are hoping to try this new treatment in hopes of more favorable side effects. Though more research is needed followed by clinical trials, it's undeniable that these patients hold great value in marijuana to treat their epilepsy. The main reason given for trying cannabis products was to seek a treatment with “more favourable” side-effects compared with standard antiepileptic drugs. “Despite the limitations of a retrospective online survey, we cannot ignore that a significant proportion of adults and children with epilepsy are using cannabis-based products in Australia, and many are self-reporting considerable benefits to their condition,” Suraeve said. “More systematic clinical studies are urgently needed to help us better understand the role of cannabinoids in epilepsy,” she said
Georgia lawmakers are pushing a medical marijuana bill that would bring many current policies more in line with other medical marijuana states. If passed, House Bill 65 would nearly double the list of qualifying conditions for patients to be elible for medical marijuana, adding conditions such as: AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, epidermolysis bullosa, HIV, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. The bill would also remove the one-year residency requirement as well as allow registered patients from other medical marijuana states to legally possess their medicine in Georgia. One feature of the bill not supported by advocates is lowering the max THC limit in cannabis oil from 5% to 3%. Under Georgia’s 2015 law, patients and, in the case of children, families who register with the state are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight specific illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. The oil can have no more than 5 percent THC, the component in the drug that makes people high. The House vote comes two weeks after the state Senate passed a medical marijuana measure that would add autism to the list of eligible conditions, but also reduce the allowable maximum THC level in the oil to 3 percent — a mandate unpopular with many of the law’s advocates.
Legislators in Iowa are hoping to pass new legislation to expand on the state's currently limited medical marijuana program. While it's legal in Iowa at the moment to possess medical marijuana for epilepsy, it's not legal to grow or sell the drug, leaving patients in the dark without help. House Bill 132 would legalize the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis oil to patients with epilepsy, but new qualifying conditions can be recommended by the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine. Though an expansion on the current program, the new medical marijuana program would ban any smoking or vaping of cannabis oils. The public approval of medical marijuana has risen allover the country including in Iowa from 58% in 2013 to 80% approval this year. "This is medicine," said Rep. Jarad Klein, a Republican from Keota who led the three-person subcommittee. "This is about helping folks.” Currently, Iowans are allowed to possess cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy. However, a separate law currently makes it illegal to manufacture or distribute that oil in the state, and federal law prohibits its transportation across state lines. In practice, that makes it illegal for Iowans to obtain the product. Legislators said they wanted to be clear with Iowans: This is not recreational marijuana. The bill bans smoking and vaping of medical cannabis oil, and it creates criminal penalties for patients and producers who intentionally violate the law.
Starting this week the future growers and dispensaries of Pennsylvania are able to apply for a license to grow and sell medical marijuana. Licenses will be accepted until March 20 and limited to 12 growers and 27 dispensaries to be spread around the state. There are 17 conditions that currently qualify a patient for medical marijuana including ALS, cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease and HIV/AIDs. The Department of Health will continue to write the state's medical marijuana regulations. Both patients and doctors must be registered with the state before seeking treatment. The first phase of the rollout will see the issuance of 12 permits for growers and processors of cannabis and 27 permits for dispensaries to distribute medicine to registered patients. Pennsylvania will accept applications from prospective growers/processors and dispensaries until March 20. For more information, visit the state Medical Marijuana Program website. Under Pennsylvania's new law, doctors and patients must first register with the state before participating in a treatment program. Patients can qualify to use medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with one of 17 conditions, including ALS, cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease and HIV/AIDs
A House of Representatives panel in South Carolina has passed a bill with bipartisan support that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. After hearing patients and family members plead that marijuana is able to relieve those suffering from chronic pain, severe epilepsy, PTSD, and more, the panel voted 3-0 in favor of the bill. Law enforcement agencies have voiced their opposition to the bill calling marijuana a 'street drug', but they seem to forget that drugs on the street are purely a symptom of prohibition. It was less than 100 years ago that alcohol was considered a street drug after legislators signed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, establishing the prohibition of alcohol. It wasn't long before the underground market was born inciting violence alongside illegal alcohol. After signing the 21st Amendment once again legalizing the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of alcohol, it was easy to see that regulating the drug, despite it's health concerns, was a far better solution. The patients that would benefit from medical marijuana are not gangsters, they are not associated with street drugs, they need medical treatment and marijuana has the ability to give them that relief. A House panel voted 3-0 on Tuesday to after listening to dozens of patients and their family members tell how marijuana can relieve their suffering from chronic pain, severe epilepsy, PTSD and other ailments. Supporters argue the government shouldn’t prevent people from getting relief from a plant, while the synthetic opioids they’re otherwise prescribed are killing people. The bill’s opponents include law enforcement agencies. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says the proposal essentially asks the state to endorse a street drug to treat nearly everything. He asked legislators not to “be swayed by those who play upon your sympathies.”
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission approved it's final rules this week for the state's new marijuana business licenses. 32 dispensaries around the state will be awarded licenses as well as 5 cultivation facilities. Applications for a dispensary license will cost $7,500, and the culivation licenses will cost $15,000, with both offering a 50% refund to applicants not chosen. A hearing will be held March 31 at the University of Arkansas where public feedback will be heard. Legislators have until May 8 to approve the rules. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday approved its final draft rules for awarding licenses to operate dispensaries and cultivation facilities. The commission will initially award 32 dispensary licenses to be divided evenly across eight geographic regions. It will also award five cultivation facility licenses, which do not have any geographic restrictions. Cultivation facility licensees will be selected based on the merits of their application. An application costs would-be growers $15,000, with half that amount being refunded if the applicant is not awarded a license. Successful applicants will pay a $100,000 yearly licensing fee.
After hearing from desperate parents of sick children, Kansas lawmakers are considering adopting a medical marijuana program, joining 28 other states with some type of legal marijuana. The medical marijuana program would benefit patients with many different illnesses including epileptic seizures, who may not find relief in available treatments.The program would also provide more options for treatment outside of prescription narcotics that can be dangerous and addictive. Some are worried about regulating the program and believe marijuana should undergo the same vetting process as prescription drugs. Supporters say medical marijuana could help patients who have exhausted available medicine options. Melissa Ragsdale, whose 7-year-old son suffers from seizures, told the committee industrial hemp cannabidiol helped her son but it only stops certain seizures and that broader access could help. Supporters also say marijuana would be better than potentially harmful prescription narcotics.