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Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

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  • Marijuana and The Brain Very often we hear on the News new medical studies that confirm what was already known for thousands of years among herbalists. Cannabis seems to have an underestimated medical value. Researchers at the University of Bonn have ... Read more › The post Marijuana and The Brain appeared first on MedicalMarijuanaBlog.com....
  • Study: CBD Administration Reduces Blood Pressure Oral CBD administration is associated with reduced blood pressure in healthy volunteers, according to clinical trial data published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Investigators from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom assessed the effects of a single oral dose of 600 mg of CBD extract versus placebo in nine male subjects. Cannabidiol administration reduced resting systolic blood pressure and stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped by the left ventricle of the heart in one contraction). Compared to placebo, CBD intake was associated with reduced BP levels following exercise and in response to stress. Increased heart rate was observed following CBD administration, but no “adverse events” were reported by participants either during or following the study sessions. Authors concluded: “Our data show that a single dose of CBD reduces resting blood pressure and the blood pressure response to stress, particularly cold stress, and especially in the post-test periods. This may reflect the anxiolytic and analgesic effects of CBD, as well as any potential direct cardiovascular effects. … Further research is also required to establish whether CBD has any role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders such as a hypertension.” Full text of the study, “A single dose of cannabisiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study,” is online here....
  • Two Major Victories For Student Rights In Federal Courts Dan Viets speaking at a NORML conference Federal courts have recently rejected the actions of university and college administrators who sought to inflict suspicionless drug tests on students at a public college and to restrict the First Amendment rights of marijuana law reformers at a public university. Both decisions have important national implications. Linn Tech Student Drug Testing Case In 2011, Linn State Technical College administrators declared that they intended to drug test every student who applied for admission to the small, state-funded college located in Osage County, Missouri, a short distance east of Jefferson City. No other public college or university in America had pursued such a program. It seemed clear to those who follow such matters that college and university students have the same rights as other adults to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. While private institutions are not bound by the restraints of the Fourth Amendment, public tax-supported institutions are. Nonetheless, Linn Tech seemed determined to pursue inflicting random, suspicionless drug testing on their students. Tony Rothert, the Legal Director of the ACLU of Missouri, filed suit against Linn Tech. I filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, working with Alex Kreit, a law professor from San Diego. U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey, sitting in Jefferson City, subsequently issued a decision prohibiting such testing, with a few narrowly-drawn exceptions for those participating in training programs involving heavy machinery or high-voltage electricity. Linn Tech appealed that decision to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Legal scholars were shocked when a three-judge panel of that Court later sided with Linn Tech. In a decision which many believed ignored legal precedent and logic, two of three judges on the panel which initially heard the case sided with Linn Tech. Mr. Rothert then filed for a rehearing of the case by the full 11-judge Court. Such hearings are rarely granted, but in this case, the Motion was granted. Following that rehearing, all but two of the judges on the full Court sided with the students and the ACLU, overturning the decision of the three-judge panel. Still not satisfied, Linn Tech squandered more public tax money pursuing a Petition for Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. Civil libertarians were concerned that the current high Court might indeed overturn the Eighth Circuit if it had accepted that Petition for review. However, on June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied further review in this matter. Therefore, the decision of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court is now the final decision in this matter. Linn Tech administrators have reluctantly acknowledged that they must now follow the Constitution and abandon their effort to impose suspicionless drug testing on their students. Iowa State University NORML Censorship Case In another important case closely watched by many across the nation, members of the NORML Chapter at Iowa State University in 2012 applied for approval to print t-shirts which contained the name of the university-recognized organization and included an image of the school’s mascot, “Cy, the Cyclone”. University administrators first approved those t-shirts, but when the ISU NORML Chapter asked to reprint them, the university caved in to pressure from legislative staff people who had complained that it appeared the university was supporting marijuana legalization. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed suit on behalf of the officers of the Iowa State University NORML Chapter, alleging content and viewpoint discrimination. The lawsuit sought to prevent university administrators from treating the NORML Chapter differently from other university-recognized student organizations. The federal district court in Iowa sided with the students and against the university. The university appealed to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, which issued a decision in February of this year upholding the federal district judge’s ruling. Iowa State University administrators then asked the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court to reconsider its decision. The Court did so, which caused many to fear that they might change their minds. However, on June 13, 2017, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court reaffirmed its earlier decision and went even further, holding that university administrators who prevented the ISU NORML Chapter from using the university’s trademarked images were individually liable for their actions and could, therefore, be ordered to pay damages from their own pockets! Administrators at the University of Missouri in Columbia have taken similar actions in regard to the MU NORML Chapter. It is hoped that the decision of the Eighth U.S. Circuit will encourage MU administrators to reconsider their position. The federal appellate court sent a loud and clear message to university administrators that they are required to respect the Constitutional rights of students, including those who advocate for reform of the marijuana laws. While Iowa State could do as Linn Tech administrators did and continue to squander more public tax money pursuing an ill-considered position, it is not at all likely the U.S. Supreme Court would grant further review in this matter. Administrators at the University of Missouri in Columbia have taken similar actions in regard to the MU NORML Chapter. It is hoped that the decision of the Eighth U.S. Circuit will encourage MU administrators to reconsider their position. These two decisions have reaffirmed the rights of college and university students to be free from random, suspicionless drug testing and to speak out for drug law reform without censorship by administrators.....
  • Weekly Legislative Update 6/17/17 Welcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup! At the Federal level, the biggest news this week was two-fold. First, in a letter made public by Tom Angell of Marijuana Moment, it was revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a private message to Congressional leadership requesting that they lift restrictions on the Department of Justice’s ability to prosecute medical marijuana in states that have legalized. This would overturn years of precedent and could result in the shutdown of lawful state medical programs, depriving patients of the ability to make healthcare decisions with their doctor. This revelation came the day before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified before Congress and stated “The question of whether it’s legal under federal law is resolved because Congress has passed a law — it’s illegal. Scientists have found that there’s no accepted medical use for it.” Which rolls us right into the second biggest Federal development: the reintroduction of the CARERS Act, which would codify protections for lawful state medical programs. Passage of CARERS 2017 would exempt from federal prosecution those who are engaged in the “production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing, recommending use, or delivery of medical marijuana” in instances where these activities comport with state law. At the state level, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed HB 157 into law on June 16. The law adds “moderate to severe chronic pain” as a qualifying illness for medical cannabis. The new law takes effect in 60 days. Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state. Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level. Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,Justin Priority Alerts FederalJoin The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) earlier this year formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws. Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the Congressional Cannabis Caucus Protecting Patients: Legislation has been reintroduced in the Senate, The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2017, to strengthen protections for those compliant with their state’s medical marijuana laws and to impose various changes to federal law. Passage of CARERS 2017 exempts from federal prosecution those who are engaged in the “production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing, recommending use, or delivery of medical marijuana” in instances where these activities comport with state law. Separate provisions in Act exclude cannabdiol from the federal definition of marijuana, permit VA doctors to authorize medical cannabis access to qualified patients, and remove undue federal barriers to clinical trial research to better assess the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis. Click here to send a message to your Senators urging them to support and possible co-sponsor the CARERS Act of 2017 MaineLegislation (LD 764) is before Gov. Paul LePage that will prohibit medical cannabis patients from being denied organ transplants. The measure “prohibits a transplant evaluator from determining a qualifying patient to be unsuitable to receive an anatomical gift solely because the qualifying patient uses medical marijuana.” ME resident? Click here to send a message to Gov. LePage urging him to sign the bill. MassachusettsMembers of the House put forward amendments to The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Among proposed changes to the law would more than double taxes on retail cannabis sales, from 12 percent to as much as 28 percent, strip local control away from municipal voters and unilaterally give local government officials the power to decide whether or not to ban marijuana facilities in their communities, and restrict the kinds of marijuana edibles products that may be sold and purchased by adults. MA resident? Send a message to your lawmakers telling them to enact Question 4 as passed in a timely manner. ...
  • First Meeting Of Trump’s Opioid Commission: Will It Be Effective? Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy convened it’s first meeting of President Trump’s “Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.” The Commission is tasked with making recommendations for improving the Federal response to opioid misuse and abuse. Best evidence informs us that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced levels of opioid-related abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Nonetheless, this administration continues to express skepticism with regard to the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana. Today in The Hill newspaper, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano writes: With opioid overdose deaths having risen four-fold since 1999, it is imperative that lawmakers and public health experts approach this issue with an open mind and remain willing to entertain all potential alternatives. For many patients, cannabis provides a safe and effective substitute for the use of opioids and other potentially harmful substances. Committee members should set their political ideologies aside and give strong consideration to this rapidly growing body of scientific evidence. You can read the full piece in The Hill by clicking here. It is crucial that our government hear from us. Click here to send a message to the Commission urging them to include medical marijuana as part of any national response to the opioid crisis....

Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

June 10
14:32 2017

Weekly Legislative Update 6/10/17

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director
    June 10, 2017
    Comments

    revolutionbumperWelcome to this week’s edition of the NORML legislative roundup!

    First off, apologies to weekly readers for skipping last week’s update. We held a NORML Legal Committee seminar in Colorado about tactics to continue the fight against prohibition and protect those facing jail and other adverse ramifications of prohibition. You can watch NORML’s Executive Director give the opening welcome HERE and click here to read a write up on it in The Denver Post’s Cannabist HERE.

    In the last two weeks, four pieces of legislation that we are supportive of went into law:

    Colorado
    Senate Bill 17 adds “stress disorders” (PTSD) to the list of debilitating conditions for which a physician may recommend cannabis.

    Maryland
    House Bill 379 / Senate Bill 949 went into effect May 27 to permit those who received a criminal marijuana possession conviction prior to October 1, 2014, to seek expungement of their records.

    Often minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, face the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with having a record, even when the state no longer considers simple possession to be a crime.

    Nevada
    Assembly Bill 135 eliminates statutes criminalizing the operation of a motor vehicle if a driver has detectable levels of carboxy THC in his/her urine. Carboxy-THC is an non-psychoactive waste product of THC that may be present for days or even weeks post-abstinence. It’s presence in urine is not correlated with psychomotor impairment.

    While passage of AB 135 is a step in the right direction, further legislation will continue to be necessary in order to amend Nevada’s traffic safety laws in a manner that no longer inadvertently criminalize responsible adult marijuana consumers in regards to blood testing.

    Vermont
    SB 16 permits physicians for the first time to recommend medical marijuana to patients with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease. The measure also allows physicians to immediately issue medical cannabis recommendations for patients suffering from cancer, a terminal illness, or under hospice care supervision.

    Unfortunately, in Montana, SB 333, was signed into law to amend the state’s medical cannabis program, I-182, which voters passed in November.

    The measure establishes various rules and regulations regarding the operation of cannabis dispensaries, production facilities, and testing labs. It does not amend the expanded list of qualifying conditions enacted by I-182. However, SB 333 does impose new taxes on medical marijuana gross sales. NORML opposes taxes of medical cannabis. It also reduces the number of seedlings qualified patients are permitted to possess at home from 12 to no more than four. It also imposes limits regarding the total harvest of cannabis permitted per patient.

    Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

    Thanks for all you do and keep fighting,
    Justin

    Priority Alerts
    Federal
    Join The Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) earlier this year formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your Member of Congress to urge them to join the Congressional Cannabis Caucus

    California
    Legislation is pending, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

    The bill states, “This bill would prohibit a state or local agency, as defined, from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

    The majority of Californians desire a legally regulated marijuana market. Passage of this act will limit state or local agencies from working with the federal government to undermine these regulations.

    Update: AB 1578 passed the Assembly on June 1 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

    CA resident? Click here to send a message to your state Senator in support of this effort.

    Louisiana
    SB 35 provides explicit exemptions from arrest and prosecution for persons lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.

    Presently, state regulators are finalizing rules and regulations governing its nascent medical cannabis program, which seeks to permit the production, dispensing, and use of non-herbal preparations of cannabis for qualified patients. Passage of SB 36 amends various criminal statutes to assure that those involved in the program are not inadvertently subject to criminal liability.

    Specifically, it provides immunity from arrest for those enrolled in the program who engage in activities related to the purchase or transportation of medical marijuana related products or paraphernalia. It provides further legal protections for pharmacies, producers, and testing laboratories engaged in medical cannabis related activities.

    Update: House members amended and passed SB 35 by a vote of 74 to 21 on June 5. Senate members approved the House changes on June 6. The reconciled bill was transmitted to the Governor.

    LA resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor in support of SB 35.

    New Hampshire
    After nearly a decade of frustration, 2017 is finally the year that New Hampshire voters successfully see marijuana possession decriminalized.

    HB 640, will amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession is pending in the House, where lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported such efforts for eight years in a row. However, legislators this year are hopeful that, for the first time, they also have sufficient votes to also clear the Senate.

    Update: The House concurred with the amended Senate bill on June 1 and the bill will soon be transmitted to the Governor.

    NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor thanking him for his support of decriminalization.

    Rhode Island
    Sponsors have announced plans to amend their legislation in a manner that would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, effective July 1, 2018. The amended legislation would also establish an advisory committee to issue a report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2018 with recommendations regarding how best to establish a system for taxing and regulating marijuana in Rhode Island. Sen. Miller said, “We are prepared to compromise in a significant way, but there must be progress on the issue this year. Our proposal balances the will of the majority of voters who want marijuana to be legal for adults while respecting colleagues who want to slow things down and get the regulations right.”

    RI resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort.

    Other Actions to Take

    Massachusetts
    Legislation is pending before the House, H 113, to prohibit employers from discriminating against patients who legally consume marijuana during non-work hours. Additional legislation, H 2385, would expand protections for medical marijuana patients so that they may not be discriminated against with regard to housing, higher education, and child custody issues.

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana has not been associated with any adverse changes in workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that legalization is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

    MA resident? Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of this effort.

    New Hampshire
    Legislation is pending in the New Hampshire House, HB 215, to establish a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

    Police in New Hampshire arrest some 2,900 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of New Hampshire adults, 62 percent of whom now endorse legalizing and regulating cannabis, according to a 2016 WMUR Granite State Poll.

    Update: The House has adopted the Senate changes. The bill is expected to be transmitted to the Governor imminently.

    NH resident? Click here to send a message to the Governor urging him to sign HB 215

    Additionally, multiple bills are pending to expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical marijuana therapy.

    In particular, these measures would permit patients with conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress to obtain legal access to marijuana.

    NH resident? Click here to contact your elected officials to support patients.

    New York
    A pair of bills are pending in the Senate to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis.

    Senate Bill 6092 expands the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis access to include those with Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other debilitating diseases. It also removes arbitrary caps imposed on the amount of THC permitted in oral products.

    Senate Bill 6308 allows for additional cannabis providers to operate in the state in order to improve patients’ access.

    NY resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of these bills.

    Rhode Island
    SB 176 is currently pending in the Rhode Island Senate. It amends the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, which currently only permits three medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the entire state, to permit regulators to license up to six total dispensaries.

    In recent years, the total number of registered medical cannabis patients in Rhode Island has nearly doubled to more than 17,000 people. It is necessary for regulators to license additional dispensaries in order to keep up with this increased demand.

    RI resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of this effort.

    Posted in : ACTIVISM, Legislative Update
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