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On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. The Mikulski Amendment is the Senate version of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with those abiding by their state medical cannabis law. The Committee approved the Mikulski Amendment last year by a vote of 21-9, but it must be reauthorized again each year.
The Mikulski Amendment has helped slow down DOJ’s efforts to interfere with state medical cannabis programs and the patients who rely upon them. The amendment has been shown to have real impact in protecting programs and patients. In October 2015, Federal District Judge Charles Breyer cited the amendment when ruling that the federal government may not interfere with a medical cannabis dispensary unless they are violating state law. Last week, DOJ dropped its appeal against the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, letting Judge Breyer’s ruling stand. This is why it is vital for us to pass the amendment again.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who chairs both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Drug Caucus, is holding a hearing on Tuesday, April 5th to discuss the harms of “recreational marijuana.” By holding this hearing, Senator Grassley is yet again delaying action on the CARERS Act while taking an opportunity to undermine the perception of THC’s medical value.
There will finally be a vote on Pennsylvania SB 3 on the floor of the PA House of Representatives this Tuesday, March 15. While ASA is not completely happy with many of the limitations that have been included added to the bill in its current form, we are encouraging patient advocates to urge their state representatives to vote yes on SB 3.
As you are probably aware, it has been a very difficult process to get a piece of medical cannabis legislation this far in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Despite the shortcomings in the bill, passage of SB 3 will enable the regulatory process to start as soon as possible, which is the one of the crucial components in making sure cultivators and dispensaries get licensed. Without these entities, there will be no medical cannabis access in Pennsylvania. It has taken anywhere between 18 and 36 months from passage a new state medical cannabis bill until dispensaries open up, therefore, get the process started is paramount. Other components of the program can be fixed with subsequent legislation while the regulatory and licensing process plays out.
Tuesday, the Virginia Senate passed SB701: Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and THC-A oil; permitting of pharmaceutical processors to manufacture and provide. Now, we need your help to get this passed in the House of Delegates.
State Representative Allen Peake has introduced a bill (HB 722) that would greatly improve the current medical cannabis law in Georgia by allowing for in state cultivation and dispensing, adding more qualifying conditions, and allowing access to full range of THC and CBD profiles. Unfortunately, there may be efforts by some state lawmakers to prevent these necessary improvements from happening. We urge you to email and call your state representative to support HB 722 without imposing additional burdens on patients.
California Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) has introduced SB 987, a bill that will assess an additional 15% excise tax on medical cannabis in the state. The new tax will be in addition to the ordinary state sales tax and any local tax patients already pay for their doctor-recommend medicine. SB 987 imposes an unnecessary and unfair burden on medical cannabis patients.
SB 987 is harmful for patients. Medical cannabis is already subject to ordinary sales and use tax of between 7.5 and 10%, depending on the jurisdiction. Additionally, some cities and counties already impose an additional local tax of up to 15% on medical cannabis.
Adding an additional 15% to the cost of medical cannabis, which is not covered by insurance, will be an economic hardship for legal patients – especially those who are already economically vulnerable.
As preparations begin for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drug policy (UNGASS 2016) we at Americans For Safe Access and the International Medical Cannabis Patients Coalition are calling on medical cannabis patients around the world to contact their UN Ambassador and encourage them to reconsider international drug policy and the outdated 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The UN must take action to address the clear disparity between their policy and the medical, scientific and legal realities. We've developed an example letter for folks to work from and made it simple to contact our UN Ambassodor via email. So please lend your name to support access for medical cannabis patients not only in the US but across the world.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued “Medical Marijuana Access in the US: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws,” this month. The annual report evaluates the array of differing state medical cannabis programs across the country from a perspective often overlooked in policy debates: the patients’ and provides policy makers with model legislation and regulations. With dozens of states already seeing legislative and regulatory proposals in 2016, this groundbreaking report will provide state lawmakers with timely tools they need to improve their medical cannabis programs to truly meet the needs of the patients they are meant to serve.
The report uses a point system to grade each medical marijuana law on: 1) patients' rights and protection from discrimination, 2) access to medicine, 3) ease of navigation, 4) functionality, and 5) product safety protocols. The report found that while many states have important elements helpful to patients, no state has yet established an ideal, comprehensive program.
Tell your state legislators how their MMJ program compares to other states
The California legislature adopted the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) last year. The bill will license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state, but it also contains a provision that affects patients and caregivers who cultivate their own medical cannabis.
The MMRSA requires a state and local license for individual patients who cultivate more than 100 square feet of medical cannabis or for primary caregivers who cultivate medical cannabis in more than 500 square feet (for up to five patients). The licensing requirements apply, even if all of the cannabis is for the patient’s personal medical cannabis use and not for sale.
AB 261 by Assembly Member Allen (R-Huntington Beach) would have prevented retailers from selling “drug paraphernalia,” including all of the tools that legal medical cannabis patients need to administer their medicine. Pipes, bongs, vaporizers, and more might have been illegal to sell if AB 261 passed. Fortunately, the bill has been withdrawn for the time being. ASA will continue to monitor new bills to see if a similar measure is introduced in the future.
Thanks to everyone who signed the petition!
Read more about AB 261 at http://www.safeaccessnow.org/2016_legislation