Action Needed: Marijuana Vote This Week In Congress

Generic 18 June 2019 | 0 Comments

This week, there will be a crucial vote on an amendment and it could be our biggest federal victory yet. We need your help to make sure we win.

Known as the Blumenauer-McClintock amendment after Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Tom McClintock (R-CA), this bipartisan language would restrict the Department of Justice from interfering in the 11 states that have legalized and regulate adult-use marijuana.

TELL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS TO VOTE YES!

Today, more than one in five Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of marijuana is legal under state statute. These programs are now wide open to DOJ raids and arrests since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded guidance known as the Cole Memo last year.

However, since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The existing language maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

It is time to expand similar protections to states that have also legalized the use and sale of marijuana to all adults.

This marks our first full vote by the House of Representatives on adult-use marijuana in this Congress, and it is critical that we make our voices heard. Send a message to your lawmaker in less than 20 seconds right now.

Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long failed experiment with marijuana prohibition. Now is our time to make our voices heard in the halls of Congress.

Tagged in ,

Gene linked to cannabis abuse

Did you know that? 18 June 2019 | 0 Comments

New research shows that a specific gene is associated with an increased risk of cannabis abuse. The gene is the source of a so-called nicotine receptor in the brain, and people with low amounts of this receptor have an increased risk of cannabis abuse.

Cincinnati: Council Members Vote to Eliminate Marijuana Possession Penalties

Generic 15 June 2019 | 0 Comments

Marijuana HempMembers of the Cincinnati City Council have voted in favor of a municipal measure eliminating criminal and civil penalties for marijuana possession. The new local law takes effect on July 12.

Under the ordinance, activities involving the possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana will no longer be subject to local penalties. Cincinnati is one of a growing number of Ohio municipalities, including Athens and Toledo, to eliminate marijuana possession penalties.

The Council is also expected to vote imminently on a separate ordinance facilitating the expungement of prior marijuana possession convictions.

Under state law, the possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis is classified as a minor misdemeanor offense.

Additional information is available in the NORML report, Local Decriminalization, online here.

Tagged in ,

Two Congressional Hearings Next Week On Marijuana

Generic 15 June 2019 | 0 Comments

Next week, the two key committees will hold hearings on various aspects of federal marijuana policy.

The first will be held on Wednesday, June 19th, in the Small Business Committee, entitled Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry. 

Currently, in the 10 states that have legalized adult use cannabis and the 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana programs, entrepreneurs and small businesses are unable to access the valuable programs and support of the Small Business Administration. Ultimately, this prohibition on access to resources hampers the potential to create a robust and competitive marketplace for consumers.

It is expected that members of the committee will soon introduce legislation to address this issue and this hearing will mark the first time that Congress has discussed the issue in a formal capacity.

 

The second hearing is to be held on Thursday, June 20th, in the Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss various bills that are pending regarding medical cannabis programs and veterans access. For years, NORML has supported legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, entitled The Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow veterans living in states that have a regulated medical marijuana program to discuss cannabis as part of their healthcare plan and allow VA doctors to fill out state-legal paperwork.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of either of these bills would lift this prohibition.

You can send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Veterans Equal Access Act by clicking here. 

In the 114th Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. Similar language was also included during the 115th Congress in the Senate yet stripped out by Republican leadership.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

A recently released poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

You can see a full list of pending federal efforts and contact your lawmakers in support at https://norml.org/act.

 

Tagged in , , ,

Pennsylvania could cap prices on medical marijuana

Generic 14 June 2019 | 0 Comments

Marijuana and MoneyAre you paying too much for medical marijuana?

Millions of Americans are legally replacing pharmaceuticals with cannabis and the question of affordability has become critical.

All of the state programs are independent and in various stages of maturity. Prices, even for closely similar products, have a wide range. Confused consumers are often paying $1000 per month at dispensaries, sometimes a lot more.

Pennsylvania’s closed-loop system of limited marijuana permit holders is not a competitive free market. Under similar structures around the country, like in New Jersey and New York, these licensed cannabis cartels set product costs independently from regulators. There hasn’t been much official critique on the impact.

Now, a single paragraph buried in Pa.’s medical marijuana law will start bringing some transparency to consumer-level prices. It could also have a profound influence on medical cannabis products nationwide.

Voila; Section 705 of Pa. Act 16:

Prices.
The department [of Health] and the Department of Revenue shall monitor the price of medical marijuana sold by grower/processors and by dispensaries, including a per-dose price. If the department and the Department of Revenue determine that the prices are unreasonable or excessive, the department may implement a cap on the price of medical marijuana being sold for a period of six months. The cap may be amended during the six-month period. If the department and the Department of Revenue determine that the prices become unreasonable or excessive following the expiration of a six-month cap, additional caps may be imposed for periods not to exceed six months.

These 105 words grant Pennsylvania the first statutory mandate in the country to directly affect the cost of cannabis. No other state gets a place at the table – with the permit holders – for the price fix.

This regulatory exercise could bring a new wave of relief to consumers. Many are having serious difficulty calculating and covering annual expenses for marijuana therapy.

The biggest reason price is such an issue is because there are no regular health insurance offsets for cannabis products. That means every sale is cash, directly out of consumers’ pockets.

Certain conditions require more cannabinoids than others. Thus, the worst impact of high retail pricing at dispensaries falls upon the most seriously ill residents; many of whom also live on a fixed income.

Operators fiercely defended premium retail prices. The corporate coyotes, howling around their latest stock offering or holding company acquisition, jab fingers towards eager investors seeking a quick return on the pure, liquid capital used for start-ups.

Price caps that could favor seriously ill patients/consumers will be an entirely new concept to the cannabis industry, but it’s no innovation. Americans enjoy stable costs on everyday essentials like gasoline, electricity, water, food, and basic drugs because of price controls on essentials.

Many of Pa. permit holders operate in multiple states, including New Jersey. So, this first-of-its-kind provision could also have an impact beyond the Commonwealth’s borders.

The most devilish detail in the provision is what the Pa. Department of Health considers to be a “dose” of medical marijuana. Labels on products from the. manufacturers have also included suggested doses, especially on the vape pens

The reality is that cannabinoids have very individualized effects on human beings. Patients need a vast array of possible dosing combinations, sometimes in the same day.

Epidiolex, the first cannabis-derived drug approved by the FDA, allows doses for children to be increased upwards of 200 times over the original amount during seizure episodes.

The rule is similar for medical cannabis: Patients working with a doctor determine their individual dose, increasing as needed.

Hopefully, regulators will focus on the real concern: Monthly and annual costs to consumers. Pa. Department of Revenue spokesperson Jeffrey Johnson confirmed that implementation of Section 705 is underway. Johnson says that Pa.’s operators have 12 months to submit their first price reports – the first started in February 2019 – and then quarterly thereafter.

State governments in the business of regulating medical marijuana are beginning to recognize a serious responsibility to institute fair prices.

The tasty underground flower I can buy and smoke today costs $5-$10 per gram. Legal options inside regulated dispensaries should cost less, not more.

Tagged in , , ,