Pages tagged "maryland"
Activist will be holding a rally for medical cannabis before the Anne Arundel County Council hearing tonight at 5:30pm. We need all the support we can get. If you are a medical cannabis patient in Anne Arundel County, please come out and testify this evening at the hearing. In order to testify you must sign up at 6:00PM at the County Council Chambers.
- Rally Date/Time:October 19th at 5:30pm to 6pm
- Hearing Time: October 19th - Sign up at 6pm, Hearing at 7pm
- Place: 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
This rally is very critical to patients in Anne Arundel County. There are currently two bills that need our attention. We ask that patients and activist support Bill 97-15, which would better serve and protect patients in the County and continue to rally against Bill 96-15.Read more
Maryland's Anne Arundel County Council saw two very different medical cannabis zoning ordinances introduced on Tuesday. As expected, Vice Chair Pete Smith introduced a drastic bill a behalf of County Executive Steve Schuh, that would effectively ban all medical cannabis businesses from operating in the county, which would patients to travel out of county to obtain their medicine. However, Councilmember Chris Trumbauer, Council Chair Jerry Walker, and Councilmember Chris Pruski introduced an alternative zoning ordinance that is far less harmful for patients.
Even before Monday's council hearing, members of the Maryland chapter of Americans for Safe Access and other patient advocates had already begun engaging the members of the council and County Executive Schuh. While the efforts were not able to prevent Schuh from getting Smith to introduce his plan to force onerous burdens on patients, they were successful in helping spur Trumbauer, Walker, and Pruski toward a plan that would be better for patients. There will be a hearing on the two bills on October 19th. ASA will be submitting testimony in support of the alternative ordinance, while seeking some changes to better serve patients.Read more
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has been selected to provide training for compliance inspectors operating under the authority of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. The auditors are charged with ensuring members of the state’s new medical cannabis industry comply with all applicable regulations, which were finalized by the Commission in August.
In addition to developing its own rigorous compliance protocols, Maryland has adopted the American Herbal Product Association’s (AHPA) Recommendations to Regulators in the areas of: cultivation, distribution and manufacturing. AHPA’s guidelines offer seed-to-consumption product safety and quality control measures that will ensure rigid oversight of the state’s medical cannabis industry.
Auditor training will be offered through the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, a project of ASA with extensive experience training members of the cannabis industry to meet strict regulatory compliance guidelines. PFC has trained thousands of employees of the medical cannabis industry and is currently under contract with the District of Columbia to train all medical cannabis staff to achieve comprehensive regulatory compliance.Read more
|Image Courtesy of Medical Jane.
Note: (Aug. 26, 2015) Corrections have been to reflect the vote outcome and application availability dates.
Earlier today, the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission voted to approve final regulations for Maryland's medical cannabis program. Today's vote was the culmination for 16 months worth of work since the Commission's inception in April 2014. Today's approval vote means that there were no substantive changes made to the regulations from the draft that was published in the June 26, 2015 edition of the Maryland Register (see page 812); however, several minor technical changes were made and will be available to the public shortly on the Commission website. The Commission vote to approve the regulations was near-unanimous with one vote against from the Maryland State's Attorney appointee.
The Commission also announced today the timetable for implementation is still on schedule. Applications for those seeking to become growers, processors and dispensaries will be available in September. Physicians and patient application forms will be available later in the year. Under the Maryland law, physicians must register with the Commission and be approved for the conditions that they can recommend for. However, the Commission is strongly encouraged to approve most types of conditions that a physicians seeks to recommend, and the Commission can approve any condition if they feel it is appropriate.Read more
Governor Martin O'Malley signed HB 881 into law today, making Maryland the 21st medical marijuana state. The Maryland House of Delegates voted 125-11 last week to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state, and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access a licensed dispensary.Read more
The Maryland House of Delegates voted 125-11 yesterday to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that improves upon the law that was adopted by the state last year. If signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, HB 881 will protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC), which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access an MMTC.
"We're excited to welcome Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state," said Mike Liszewski, Policy Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), who testified before House and Senate committees. "This bill is a vast improvement over the current law in Maryland and will provide patients with needed protection from arrest and prosecution, and give them a means to safely and legally obtain medical marijuana."Read more
ASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference is underway at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Washington, DC. More than two hundred and fifty patients, scientists, industry workers, and other stakeholders will meet for a second day today, before taking their message to the halls of Congress tomorrow afternoon.
The opening speaker yesterday morning acknowledged that the standing-room only crowd might be surprised to see someone like him at a conference like this. Jim Tozzi, PhD., who holds a Doctorate degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Florida, is a national expert in the politics and practice of government regulation. Dr. Tozzi is an influential player in Washington, DC. He worked for five consecutive Presidential Administrations, including service as the senior regulatory policy official at the White House Office of Budget and Management; and was appointed to the Administrative Conference of the United States, the administrative agency responsible for overseeing the federal regulatory process.
Dr. Tozzi is also the author of the Data Quality Act, a law that requires government regulation to be based on good science. ASA sued the Department of Health and Human Services using the Data Quality Act in 2004. Although that lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful, it marked an important milestone in our efforts to influence the administrative agencies in hopes of harmonizing federal policies with the laws of the states that already permit medical cannabis use. It was also the beginning of an important association between Dr. Tozzi and ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. Steph regards this unlikely ally as a mentor, and when a reporter asked Dr. Tozzi in 2004 what he thought of Steph’s work, he replied “She is doing God’s work.”
US Representative Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR) is sending a letter to President Obama asking him to follow his recent comments on cannabis and its classification under federal law with action. Will you call your US Representative today and ask him or her to support this effort by signing Representative Blumenhauer’s letter?
President Obama told a reporter that cannabis was no more dangerous than alcohol on January 27. When asked about that comment by a CNN reporter a few days later, the President said it was up to Congress to decide which drugs belong on Schedule I – a classification reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical value. It is encouraging to hear the President taking a relatively enlightened view of the safety of cannabis and raising the question about its classification under federal law. But we need him to go further.Read more
ASA relies on the strength of our grassroots activists to fight for medical cannabis at the local and state levels. The best way for new advocates to get involved is by joining or starting a chapter to work on local issues. If there are not any local resources near to you, consider starting your own official ASA Chapter or Action Group!
In spite of the bill's laudable intent, the approach is completely untested, and causing even greater concern, the program is almost certainly unimplementable for legal, financial and practical reasons. In fact, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services found that participation program is "expected to be low (or nonexistent)" and will "not likely to be able to comply with the bill’s requirement to set its fees at a level sufficient to offset program costs...unless it sets its fees at a level that would likely be prohibitively high."
Legal Reasons for Concern
HB 1101 would allow patients to obtain medical cannabis from "Academic Medical Centers" (AMCs), which are essentially teaching-hospitals that have federal approval to conduct trails on human subjects. While this is creative way to reinvent how medical cannabis is distributed to patients, only one potentially eligible AMC (Sinai Hospital in Baltimore) has expressed interest in becoming an AMC. However, by becoming an AMC, the hospital would likely be placing its credentials to conduct research on human subjects in jeopardy. Considering that federal interference is one of the reasons Maryland has been reticent to adopt a proven safe access model, it does not add up why Maryland would be encouraging its facilities to endanger the credentials.
But let's assume for a moment that this legal concern is not in fact an issue...
The DLS analysis points out that HB 1101 must be able to offset the financial costs incurred by the commission that will be set to implement it. While the DLS report mentions that the state might not be able to find any willing and eligible AMCs, it concludes that even if Sinai or another institution stepped forward and applied to be an AMC, the program would still be unable to offset its anticipated costs. Moreover, the state will have to bear the costs of establishing the administrative rules for the program, even if no AMCs ever apply to the state. It's rare feat for an essentially symbolic piece of legislation to come with a price tag, but that's what HB 1101 does, meaning Maryland taxpayers could be forced to pay for a program that may not serve any of the state's patient population.
But let's assume for a moment that the price tag issues are not a factor...
Dubious Practical Value
Absent concerns about the financial and legal viability of HB 1101, the program still contains practical flaws that would make it arguably the least patient-friendly bill in the country. The bill fails to grant physicians to right to recommend cannabis to their patients unless an eligible AMC has been approved by the state to recommend and distribute medical cannabis for certain conditions. In other words, if an AMC did not have foresight to include a patient's particular condition in its application to become an AMC, the patient would be shut out from the program. This would be particularly harmful to patients with rare conditions and conditions for which medical cannabis is an emerging therapeutic option. This also means that the Commission would have to approve conditions, and given the strong resemblance of the work group created by SB 308 (2011) that had difficulty meeting its statutory requirements, it would also require the state's patients to take a serious gamble that the Commission could meet its function.
Geography is another practical concern that should resonate with patients across the state. The most likely AMCs (Sinai, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the University of Maryland Hospital) are all in Baltimore. Patients who do not live along the I-95 corridor, such as combat veterans living with PTSD in Cumberland, or retirees with cancer living on the Eastern Shore, may have to drive 2-3 hours each way in order to access their AMC to obtain medicine. Even if a patient is fortunate to have a caregiver assist them, the potential 6-hour trip is a completely unnecessary burden to safe access.
So what are Maryland patients left to assume? As someone who lived in Maryland for over 30 years, and has most of my loved ones still residing in the state, there was no state in 2013 that I had more personal hope for than Maryland. I really wanted Maryland to be the next medical marijuana state, but HB 1101 simply falls short, and significantly so.
Maryland's new medical may make lawmakers feel better, but it remains extremely unlikely that it will do the same for the state's patient population.