By Steve Elliott
Nevada lawmakers are finally taking steps to ensure medical marijuana patients have safe access to the medicine recommended by their doctors, 13 years after state voters legalized medicinal cannabis by amending the state constitution.
The Assembly passed SB 374, which establishes marijuana dispensaries, Monday on a 28-14 vote. The measure now goes to the Senate for approval; if the Senate approves, it will head to the desk of GOP Governor Brian Sandoval, who has said he would "consider" signing it.
The bill would establish a system of nonprofit, state-regulated dispensaries to make cannabis available to authorized medicinal cannabis patients, and sets up fees and requirements for growers, processors and dispensaries.
Nevada voters legalized medical marijuana in 2000; a year later, qualified patients started getting their ID cards. But there has been no legal way to actually acquire marijuana unless they grow it themselves -- presumably from seeds given to them by their Fairy Godmother, since there's no legal channel for those, either.
Patients who are registered with the state are allowed to grow three mature and four immature marijuana plants, and are allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. But many patients' health makes it hard or impossible to grow their own, and many are concerned about thieves. For them, dispensaries would be a good solution for safe access.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Silver Tour will convene a medical marijuana training session and lobby day in Washington D.C. to encourage Congress and the Obama Administration to allow states greater autonomy to create their own cannabis policies without political pressure from the federal government.
Lobby training session is scheduled for Sunday, June 16, with legislative lobbying all day Monday, June 17.
For more information about the schedule, speakers and activities, please visit here.
Joining SSDP is the senior citizen medical cannabis educational project The Silver Tour, which is looking for crowdsource funding to bring The Silver Tour bus to Washington, D.C.
According to their webpage they’ve already raised $5,500 of the $10,000 needed.
By Steve Elliott
Delegates at the Independence Party of Minnesota's state convention in St. Cloud on Monday adopted a party platform which calls for the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana.
"Party members spoke to allowing for personal choice and individual responsibility throughout the convention," said Kyle Lewis, executive director of the Independence Party, reports Tom Scheck at MPR News.
No cannabis law reform bills were introduced in this year's session of the Minnesota Legislature, but there is likely to be a push next year to allow marijuana for medical purposes, MPR reports.
The Independence Party has held major party status in Minnesota since IP candidate Jesse Ventura was elected governor in 1998.
(Photo: Cannabis Fantastic)
By Steve Elliott
Almost half of Americans say they've smoked marijuana, but only 12 percent said they've smoked pot within the past year, according to a recent survey.
According to the Pew Research Center survey, 48 percent of adults said they had tried cannabis, up from 40 percent just three years ago, reports Drew Desilver of Pew Research. But among those who had tried marijuana, only 12 percent said they had smoked pot within the past 12 months.
More than half, 53 percent, of marijuana smokers said they used cannabis at least partially to address medical issues. Among those who smoke pot, 47 percent said their use is "just for fun," while 30 percent said they use cannabis only for medical reasons; 23 percent said they use marijuana for both recreational and medical reasons.
A majority of young adults -- 56 percent -- said they've tried marijuana, and 27 percent said they've smoked pot in the past year, the, well, highest percentage in any category. Young adults are also the strongest supporters of legalizing pot, with 64 percent favoring legalization, compared to just more than half of 30- to 64-year-olds.
About half of people ages 30 to 49 (51 percent) have tried marijuana. Among Baby Boomers, more people ages 50 to 64 (54 percent) have tried pot than in the 30-49 age group, although only about one in 10 Boomers smoked pot last year.
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana advocates in Florida sense that 2014 will be the year they finally achieve their goal.
"Florida is ready to explode," said Jodi James, executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, reports Mary Wozniak at the News-Press. "We firmly believe that Florida patients will have legal access to cannabis by November 2014."
State lawmakers may be preempted by the people after a medical marijuana bill died in committee in the 2013 legislative session. Sponsor Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) said last week he plans to bring the measure back for another try next year; he said he could also propose a constitutional amendment to legalize medicinal cannabis.
But if the drive to collect just over 683,000 voter signatures takes off, the matter could be put on the ballot for the voters to decide. The effort had suffered from a lack of resources until political fundraiser John Morgan, who heads up the Morgan and Morgan law firm, recently joined the cause.
Morgan promised to contribute funds from his own pocket, as well as to raise money from other donors to pay for the signature-gathering drive, estimated to cost more than $3 million. Backers believe Morgan's political and financial influence could lead them to victory.
National Cannabis Industry Association to endorse taxation of adult-use marijuana proposal included in Senate Finance Committee’s “options paper,” while decrying an unfair existing tax provision
By Steve Elliott
More than 30 marijuana business leaders will travel to Washington, D.C., from across the country to take part in a two-day lobbying visit. Industry leaders will discuss the primary challenges facing business owners which could be solved by reconciling state and federal law, including a lack of access to financial services, unjust application of tax provisions, and ongoing interference from the federal government.
In additional to numerous lobbying meetings, participants will join Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Jared Polis (D-CO) at a press conference on Wednesday, June 5, to discuss Internal Revenue Code Section 280E, which prohibits state-legal businesses from taking standard business deductions when computing their federal taxes and results in regulated cannabis businesses paying two to three times the effective tax rate for most other small businesses.
Participants will also discuss a recently released Senate Finance Committee "options paper," which includes the taxation of marijuana as a possible means of raising tax revenue at the federal level.
Last week, the Oregon House of Representatives voted 36 to 23 in favor of Senate Bill 281, which adds Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition to the state’s medical marijuana program.
Speaking in favor of the bill, Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield) stated, “Each person who suffers has different levels of how they’re impacted and what it takes to recover. This is about providing a legal avenue for people suffering from PTSD.”
SB 281 was previously approved by the State Senate in April and now awaits Governor Kitzhaber’s signature.
You can read local media coverage here.
By Steve Elliott
If you get caught with a small amount of marijuana in St. Louis, you'll get a summons like a traffic ticket instead of being charged under the more severe state law.
The new law, which took effect on Saturday, was sponsored by Alderman Shane Cohn, who said he thinks smoking pot is a bad health decision, reports KMOX.
"I think my message is always 'Just say no," Cohn said. "I think I've made it perfectly clear that I've never even smoked cigarettes, let alone marijuana."
Cohn said the decriminalization law is just an attempt to "streamline city processes."
"This isn't something that's radical," Cohn said. "This is being done in other parts of the state of Missouri."
The ordinance doesn’t define "small amount," which will largely be left up to the interpretation of police officers, reports Nicholas J.C. Pistor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The police department is expected to have a written policy on handling such matters.
8th Ward Alderman Stephen Conway noted that offenders would now wind up with a ticket. In the past, he said, many of them were being let go without any formal legal charge at all. “In a way, this actually reintroduces a penalty,” Conway said in April.
By Steve Elliott
California lawmakers on Friday killed a bill which would have created a state agency to tax and regulate the state's medical marijuana industry.
Assembly Bill 473 would have established a Division of Medical Marijuana Regulation and Enforcement under the authority of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to set guidelines for the cultivation, sale and taxation of medicinal cannabis, reports The Sacramento Bee. Dispensaries would have been required to register with the agency.
"The answer to many of the problems that many of our communities are having with medical marijuana is this bill, because without this regulation the bad actors will proliferate and the violence will proliferate," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the bill's author.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) pointed out that lawmakers were not being asked to vote on the merits of medical marijuana, nothing that Proposition 215 is already law. Regardless of where legislators stand on the wisdom of that law, Skinner said, it has been applied in an uneven fashion. Some cities have no safe access for patients, while others have hundreds of dispensaries.
"It is necessary for us to have any kind of common-sense ability to deal with dispensaries in all our communities up and down the state," Skinner said.
By Steve Elliott
More and more people are using medical marijuana to treat their pets for all sorts of medical conditions, from separation anxiety and noise phobia to cancer, reports the Journal of the American Veterinary Association (JAVMA News). As more states are legalizing cannabis for humans, veterinarians and pet owners are calling for more studies into the use and safety of the drug in pets, reports Fox News.
From time to time, alarmist articles appear in the mainstream media which describe cannabis as supposedly "poisonous" to dogs or cats; this is patent nonsense, and any veterinarian who says so doesn't know what he or she is talking about. Cannabis is fundamentally non-toxic to all mammals. Rover and Fluffy have endocannabinoid systems just as humans do, and can similarly benefit from phytocannabinoid (plant-produced cannabinoid) supplementation.
After using medical marijuana to treat his own back pain, Ernest Misko, 77, of Chatsworth, California, decided to treat his pet cat, Borzo, who was having trouble walking. Misko gave the cat some glycerin cannabis tincture made specifically for pets, and within a few days, the cat appeared to be pain-free. (Similar tinctures can be found in medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and elsewhere.)
"I don't get high from (marijuana), but the pain goes away," Misko told the JAVMA News. "So I tried it on my cat, my 24-year-old cat, who's feeling better."