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Worth the wait? Medical marijuana in MO and IL

By the end of 2019 you may be able to get medical marijuana in the state of Missouri if you are certified by a doctor.

Seems simple enough, but looks can be deceiving. Illinois has been in the medical marijuana business for five years and has much to teach its neighbor about the promise and the pitfalls of pot.

After high school, Jeff Ashworth learned the art of furniture repair. He was successful at his new career but these days he finds himself just vacuuming around furniture.

At age 48, Jeff is unemployed, on disability, and living with his parents in East Cape Girardeau. He knows he’ll be here for a while. More than 20 years of health problems including cancer, epilepsy and chronic pain left Jeff unable to work.

“At its worst, I was taking 30 pills a day. I was wasted,” Jeff recalled.

Broke and sick, Jeff returned home not only for support, but also for the promise of medical marijuana.

Swallowing more than 6,000 pills a year, many of them powerful opioids, Jeff knew he had to find another way. Medical marijuana was legalized in Illinois in 2014. Jeff was one of the first in southern Illinois to sign up for the program, receiving his medical marijuana license two months before he could buy the stuff.

“Two months after being on marijuana, I realized that I could get off all the opioids,” Jeff remembered.

Shortly after he wakes up, Jeff starts taking marijuana. He uses every couple of hours. The drug also helps him sleep at night and after battling throat cancer, marijuana gives Jeff the desire to eat again. Modern marijuana is a versatile medicine. Jeff can smoke it, vape it, even chew his way to relaxation and less pain.

Once a week Jeff drives the 20 miles to Anna and Thrive Dispensary.

Illinois is one of the most regulated states when it comes to medical marijuana. It controls the drug from seed to sale.

“Missouri is going to open it up. There are only 55 dispensaries in all of Illinois. Missouri will have lots of competition,” remarked Rosie Naumovski, owner of Thrive.

The state only awarded two medical marijuana licenses in southern Illinois. Rosie and her husband got two of them: the dispensary in Anna and one in Harrisburg.

Anna sees about 400 clients. The average age of their clients is 55 and older. The tight regulations have limited sales in Illinois as only Illinois residents enrolled in the medical marijuana program can legally buy marijuana in the state.

Missouri, a state that just approved medical marijuana three months ago, will allow residents from other states to buy there.

To qualify for medical marijuana, a doctor must certify that a person has one of the 41 qualifying conditions such as cancer, PTSD and rheumatoid arthritis. A patient takes that certification, along with other information, to a dispensary and applies for a license. It can take weeks to get one and they typically last for three years before they must be renewed. Patients are required to have an ongoing relationship with their doctor to stay in the program.

In Illinois, there’s been a resistance to certify among doctors and hospital groups.

Jeff Ashworth had no problem getting prescriptions for opioids, but finding a doctor to certify him for medical marijuana was tough.

“A lot of doctors could certify me but they either can’t, or they won’t,» he said. «Maybe they’re worried about how it will look.”

Rosie Naumovski agreed. Doctors and hospitals in southern Illinois are hesitant to certify patients for medical marijuana. Liability, legality, and stigma are three reasons why.

Dr. Bert Fasnacht has been practicing medicine in southern Illinois for more than 30 years. He’s had patients ask about medical marijuana, but he’s never certified a patient to get it.

“There are so many other modalities that we can use that are highly effective,» he said. «Marijuana isn’t FDA researched or approved. Why get involved? The liability is too great.”

In fact, Dr. Fasnacht said he couldn’t afford the malpractice insurance he’d have to carry if he certified patients.

Another sticking point is that although 33 states along with the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, the drug is still illegal on the federal level. Federal law says you can’t be in possession of drugs and own a firearm. This means if you want to be in the medical marijuana program, you’ll have to surrender any firearms you might have.

Dr. Fasnacht believes that it’s a matter of time before medical marijuana is no longer “medical,” and is just “marijuana.”

“I tell my patients to wait,» he said. «In a couple of years I believe recreational marijuana will be legal. There will be no need for certification. That’ll take the doctor of it.”

Dr. Fasnacht, who ends a lot of his patient’s appointments admonishing them to “stop smoking,” is also opposed to the smoking component of medical marijuana. Finally, even in our “woke” state these days, marijuana still carries a stigma. A doctor doesn’t want to get a reputation as the “pot doctor.”

In East Cape Girardeau, Jeff knows that his furniture repair days are over. Still, he’s content. With medical marijuana he’s able to do things, like help around the house and mow the yard. When he was on opioids, all he wanted to do was sleep.

His family, once opposed to medical marijuana, now sees its benefits. Jeff does too, “It’s given me my life back. A life I had forgotten existed.”

Missouri dispensaries will be open for business by the year’s end or even early 2020. Getting doctors up to speed may be a slower process.

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Florida lawmakers want to honor medical marijuana ID cards from other states

Florida lawmakers are pushing a bipartisan measure that would honor medical marijuana identification cards from other states. 

HB 557 and SB 1328 would provide «reciprocity» for qualified patients and caregivers who are not residents. The House measure was filed earlier in January by Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, and Rep. David Silvers, D-Lake Clarke Shores, while the Senate version was filed last week by Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula. 

The bill would allow the use of qualified patient or caregiver identification cards issued by other states or U.S. territories to get medical marijuana in Florida. 

The out-of-state identifications would have «the same force and effect as a medical marijuana use registry identification card issued by the Department of Health,» according to the measure. 

The proposal requires that for each non-resident who qualifies as a patient or caregiver, the state Health Department shall enter into the medical marijuana use registry a certification or its equivalent from a physician who has physically examined the patient and is licensed to practice. 

The certification must specify «the amount and the type of marijuana or marijuana delivery device recommended for medical use by such non-resident patient,» according to the bill.

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Tensions escalate over Utah’s “compromise” medical marijuana bill

Tensions continue to escalate in an ongoing lawsuit between medical marijuana advocates and the state of Utah. Most recently, the lawyer in charge of a key lawsuit circulated a detailed letter. In it, he described Utah’s current medical marijuana bill as unconstitutional and illegal. Ultimately, the lawsuit calls for a return to the state’s previous medical marijuana program, which was approved by voters last November but overwritten by lawmakers in December.

Fighting House Bill 3001

In December 2018, Attorney Rocky Anderson filed a lawsuit against the state of Utah. The suit was a response to House Bill 3001, which lawmakers passed in a legislative special session earlier that month.

Lawmakers bill H.B. as a “compromise bill.” But critics of the bill say that H.B. 3001 actually functions as a replacement to Proposition 2, the medical marijuana initiative approved by voters in November 2018.

Importantly, many medical marijuana advocates throughout the state claim that H.B. 3001 fundamentally alters the bill put into place by voters. And they want to see H.B. 3001 repealed so that Proposition 2 can be reinstated.

Currently, the state is facing two separate lawsuits. The first was filed by Anderson on behalf of multiple plaintiffs, including Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) and The Epilepsy Association of Utah.

Additionally, another group called The Peoples’ Right filed its own lawsuit. Both suits were filed in December 2018.

With both suits still in the works, Anderson and the advocates he represents have ratcheted up their campaign against H.B. 3001. Last week, Anderson sent a letter to county commissioners and city council members across Utah.

In it, he claimed that H.B. 3001 is fundamentally illegal and unconstitutional. As such, he warned local officials against complying with the bill. Additionally, he invited commissioners and city council members to join the fight against H.B. 3001.

Lawyer and Advocates: Utah’s “Compromise Bill” is Illegal

In the letter, Anderson explained that H.B. 3001’s “central fill” program illegally requires state and local health departments to break federal cannabis laws.

“Under H.B. 3001, the health departments are to participate in arranging for the purchase, distribution, transportation, storage, and sale of a Schedule 1 controlled substance—all of which is absolutely forbidden by the federal Controlled Substances Act,” Anderson’s letter said.

According to Anderson, the sticking point in H.B. 3001 is that it specifically requires health departments in Utah to participate. In making this requirement, Anderson claimed, H.B. 3001 effectively creates a “felonious, full-service drug cartel.”

“Laws in other states, which have been upheld, do not compel anybody to violate federal law. They simply say that the state will not go after you for whatever’s allowed under that state’s cannabis laws” Anderson told High Times. “How Utah is different from every other state is the distribution scheme in which they’re requiring health departments to purchase, store, transport, distribute, and sell cannabis.”

He added: “That is blatantly prohibited under federal law. It’s an almost certain way of legally defeating this replacement bill, or at least that portion of it.”

Building the Case Against Utah

With this most recent letter, Anderson and the advocates he’s representing in the lawsuit, appear to be scaling up their case against the state. Specifically, the letter articulates a third primary complaint. Prior to this letter, the lawsuit focused on two primary issues.

First, Anderson and his clients argued that when lawmakers replaced the voter-approved Proposition 2 with H.B. 3001, they violated the public’s right to create laws through the initiative process.

Second, the original lawsuit claims that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormon Church, wrongfully interfered in the state’s lawmaking process.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, the LDS Church is generally recognized as having significant influence over its members, who make up almost 63 percent of Utah’s population. Additionally, a large proportion of Utah lawmakers are also Mormon. Even more, the LDS Church maintains a strong lobbying presence in the state.

Importantly, the LDS Church was very active in campaigns against Prop 2. For example, it sent a letter to all members encouraging them to vote against the proposition. Additionally, the church’s lobbyists consistently urged lawmakers to work to defeat or replace Prop 2.

As a result, Anderson and his clients claim that the Mormon Church exerted illegal influence over the legislation process.

“They’re [the LDS Church] playing too heavily in Utah politics,” Christine Stenquist, President of TRUCE, told High Times.”This issue crossed party lines and religious lines, and has affected people in a really profound way. A lot of people are saying they want their church to stay out of politics, and what the church is doing makes them uncomfortable.”

Anderson said he plans to amend the original lawsuit. In particular, he plans to add to the suit the additional argument regarding H.B. 3001’s mandatory “central fill” system. Additionally, he hopes to add new plaintiffs.

Timeline: Utah’s Ongoing Medical Marijuana Drama

Anderson’s new letter and his intent to amend the lawsuit represents the newest chapter in what has become a long and drawn-out drama. The following timeline maps out key moments in the controversy surrounding H.B. 3001:

  • June 2018: LDS lobbyist Marty Stephens organizes a closed-door meeting to craft alternatives to Proposition 2.
  • August 2018: LDS Church officially announces its opposition to Prop 2. On August 23, a church spokesperson said “we urge the voters of Utah to vote no on Proposition 2.” The LDS Church also sent a letter to its members, encouraging them to vote against the proposition.
  • November 6, 2018: Voters in Utah approve Prop 2, making medical marijuana legal.
  • December 1, 2018: Prop 2 officially goes into effect.
  • December 3, 2018: At urging from the LDS Church representatives, lawmakers hold a “special session” in which they replace Prop 2 with H.B. 3001.
  • December 5, 2018: Rocky Anderson files a lawsuit against Utah on behalf of a group of medical marijuana patients and advocacy groups.
  • December 10, 2018: The Peoples’ Right files its own separate lawsuit.
  • February 20, 2019: Rocky Anderson sends letter to county commissioners and city council members in Utah, arguing that H.B. 3001’s central fill system is illegal.

For now, the battle over H.B. 3001 and Prop 2 is ongoing. For many in the state, the outcome of the suit has long-term implications—both for Utah and the nation at large.

“This is the fight that has to happen,” Stenquist told High Times. “To get de-scheduling at some point in the future, it’s got to start with a conservative state like Utah. It will take a place like Utah to adopt cannabis to get the federal government to start looking at this seriously.”

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Why is Ohio’s medical marijuana so pricey?

Ohio’s medical marijuana program is often praised for being highly regulated.

But longtime cannabis activist Amy Wolfinbarger said Tuesday the regulations governing Ohio’s newest industry may not be helping the people who need marijuana the most.

«A lot of our patients are disabled,» Wolfinbarger said. «They’re living on fixed incomes and the cost for their medication is very difficult for them to obtain. … Nothing is covered by medical insurance, not even your doctor’s visit.»

New numbers from the state show the average price for a pound of cannabis is $7,528 or $470 an ounce, not including tax.

«It is disappointing for a program that was supposed to be designed for the patients of Ohio,» Wolfinbarger said.

«One word, outrageous,» Rob Ryan said. «Outrageously expensive.»

Ryan runs the Ohio Patient Network. He doubts the current price of legal marijuana is doing anything to diminish the black market, where an ounce of pot costs a lot less than $470.

«It can range from anywhere from about a $100 to $300 an ounce,» Ryan said.

Still, Ryan is hopeful prices at Ohio dispensaries will eventually come down.

«Right now it’s a matter of supply and demand,» he said. «Demand is high. Supply is very low.»

Also, building large scale cultivation sites isn’t free. Licensed growers also have to spend money to comply with the state’s strict packaging rules and marijuana testing guidelines, which are used to control quality.

«I think a lot of us need to realize, too, that a lot of these owners are not activists,» Wolfinbarger said. «The way the program was set up in the state, we have people that have put up hundreds of thousands of dollars into these facilities that are now just beginning to up and run. I’m sure they would like to recoup some of their money, so I think that’s part of the problem (of) why the prices are so high in the beginning.»

WLWT investigator Todd Dykes spoke to an industry insider Tuesday who said medical marijuana prices in Ohio are actually in line with other regulated states, like Pennsylvania, and cautioned against expecting a drastic price drop in the future, though he did say the price should adjust to whatever the marketplace supports.

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Rescued Mountain Lions and Bear in Arizona Use Phyto Animal Health CBD Products

An elderly, one-eyed mountain lion is among the wildlife being given Phyto Animal Health CBD products at wildlife sanctuary.

The same CBD oil that is making waves as the latest worldwide wellness trend is currently being used for mountain lions and a bear at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Arizona to assist their care and to boost their quality of life.

Phyto Animal Health products are created with the same top quality CBD oil as all Medical Marijuana, Inc. products and formulated specifically to meet the needs of animals like pets and livestock animals. Now, they are being used to support some of the world’s largest land mammals at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.

Since last fall, Phyto Animal Health has been donating its Vitality-X™, Vitality™ 500, and Vitality™ 1700 Oral Concentrate CBD products to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center to give to the animals under the organization’s care. This donation is part of the company’s new sponsorship program, providing CBD education and CBD products to animal rescues and similar organizations.

Since 1994, the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, has rescued and rehabilitated wildlife that have been injured, displaced, or orphaned, returning the animals back to the wild when possible and providing long term care when necessary. Animals rescued by their team include bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, tortoises, and more. The organization also educates their community about the importance of conservation and coexisting with native animals and ecosystems.

The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center has so far administered Vitality-X™ daily to a trio of animals in their care, including an aging black bear, and two mountain lions, including an 18 year old one-eyed mountain lion named Cascabel.

CBD mountain lion

After poor Cascabel was orphaned by a poacher who killed her mother, she was taken to live in a cage in someone’s backyard. By the time she was brought to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, Cascabel was suffering from malnutrition due to an improper diet. A punctured eye that was allowed to get infected by her previous owners had to be removed shortly after arriving at the wildlife rescue.

Thanks to the care of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, Cascabel has lived to the age of 18, already 5 years longer than the top most life expectancy of mountain lions in the wild. With many health issues and her advanced age, Phyto Animal Health saw Cascabel as a perfect candidate for CBD.

Although full recovery for Cascabel was never expected, within weeks of beginning use, she started showing improved comfort and mobility. The staff at the sanctuary have expressed their joy over seeing this cherished member of their family experience an improvement in her quality of life.

rescue animals CBD

Phyto Animal Health’s mission is to use sustainable hemp to enhance the health of the planet and the health of the animals that live on it. If you run an animal rescue or similar organization and would like to inquire about Phyto Animal Health’s sponsorship program, contact the company at (619) 344-0462 or aorona@accesscbd.com.

You can learn more about Phyto Animal Health here, or follow the Medical Marijuana, Inc. news feed for the latest from our family of companies. You can shop for Phyto Animal Health CBD products in our online store.

The post Rescued Mountain Lions and Bear in Arizona Use Phyto Animal Health CBD Products appeared first on Medical Marijuana, Inc..

DECLARACIÓN DE FUNDACIÓN DAYA Y MAMÁ CULTIVA ANTE DESINFORMADAS DECLARACIONES DEL DIRECTOR DE SENDA

Fundación Daya y Mamá Cultiva rechazan absolutamente las desinformadas  declaraciones del director del Senda, Carlos Charme, al afirmar, en diversos medios de comunicación, que no hay evidencia que respalde los beneficios terapéuticos del cannabis. Sus dichos no solamente son absolutamente falsos, sino que además recuerdan las afirmaciones que se hacían en la época más dura  del prohibicionismo, desechando toda evidencia y sosteniendo un discurso exagerado, atemorizante y alejado de la realidad. De hecho, uno de los efectos de casi 60 años de prohibición sobre el cannabis, incluida en la lista I de drogas desde la Convención Única de 1961 de Estupefacientes, fue retrasar de manera significativa los avances en su investigación, quedando desfasada en relación al avance del uso clínico del cannabis y los cannabinoides en el mundo entero. A pesar de lo anterior, para muchas patologías dicha evidencia ya es suficientemente sólida, para muchas otras se encuentra actualmente en construcción, y Chile juega un rol pionero en dichas investigaciones. Hoy el mundo está cambiando y son muchos los organismos internacionales que reconocen los beneficios terapéuticos del cannabis. La Organización Mundial de la Salud cambió su posición sobre el cannabis y recomendó a la ONU sacarlo de la lista de las drogas más peligrosas y sin propiedades medicinales.  Asimismo, pidió reclasificar los extractos y tinturas de Cannabis a la lista III, donde se encuentran las preparaciones farmacéuticas con baja probabilidad de abuso. Con este informe se acaba la discusión sobre si es o no medicinal el cannabis, duda que se intenta instalar en Chile con el fin de frenar el avance de la Ley Cultivo Seguro. Al parecer en nuestro país algunos pretenden olvidar que el Estado chileno ya ha reconocido oficialmente el año 2015 el uso médico del Cannabis al modificar los DS 404 y 405 del Reglamento de Estupefacientes y Psicotrópicos, respectivamente, con el objeto de facilitar el acceso a tratamientos y medicamentos derivados de la especie vegetal cannabis sativa. El Instituto de Salud Pública podrá autorizar y controlar el uso de cannabis, resina de cannabis, extractos y tinturas de cannabis para la elaboración de productos farmacéuticos de uso humano.    “Las especialidades farmacéuticas que contengan cannabis, resina de cannabis, extractos y tinturas de cannabis podrán expenderse al público en farmacias o laboratorios mediante receta médica retenida con control de existencia.”, señala dicha modificación. Esto se armoniza y complementa con la ley 20.000, que permite el cultivo de Cannabis para “uso personal exclusivo y próximo en el tiempo”, incluyendo su uso medicinal. El Parlamento Europeo también ha reconocido el el uso medicinal del cannabis, pidiéndole a los Estados miembros que desarrollen una estrategia global para garantizar la investigación, el desarrollo, la autorización, la comercialización y la vigilancia de productos derivados del cannabis. Además, la reciente revisión realizada por las Academia Nacional de Ciencias, Ingeniería y Medicina de EEUU, de más de 10.000 resúmenes de artículos publicados, concluye que “existe evidencia conclusiva o sustancial de que el cannabis y/o cannabinoides son efectivos en el tratamiento del dolor crónico en adultos, como antiemético para náuseas y vómitos inducidos por quimioterapia y en el tratamiento de la espasticidad experimentada por pacientes con esclerosis múltiple.” La evidencia es contundente para afirmar que el cannabis sí tiene propiedades terapéuticas y medicinales. Hoy son más de 35.000 los pacientes que se benefician de estos tratamientos a diario, acompañados por sus médicos, ya sea comprando fitofármacos estandarizados y de calidad o cultivando en casa. El autocultivo ha permitido, a su vez, alejar a los pacientes del…

La entrada DECLARACIÓN DE FUNDACIÓN DAYA Y MAMÁ CULTIVA ANTE DESINFORMADAS DECLARACIONES DEL DIRECTOR DE SENDA aparece primero en Fundación Daya.

Lyte Clinic looks to bolster patient engagement, clinic efficiency with Strainprint subscription

Strainprint Technologies Ltd. has announced its subscribers now include Lyte Clinic, a medical cannabis telehealth clinic, that is seeking to enhance understanding among clinic patients, educators and physicians.

“Leveraging Strainprint’s highly intuitive, real-time data and analytics aligns with our commitment to using top-notch technology to provide our patients with optimal treatment guidance and a highly efficient and convenient user experience,” Ali Mohamad, president and CEO of Lyte Clinic, says in a press release from Strainprint, a Toronto-based, demand-side cannabis data and analytics company.

A virtual cannabis clinic able to see patients across nine provinces, “Lyte educates patients about medical cannabis and how to access it safely in Canada, helping patients acquire their medical cannabis authorization and gain access to licensed producers as a same-day service,” it explains.

As part of the subscription, a Lyte-branded version of the Strainprint’s mobile app will be available for free (accessible through an activation code) to clinic members so they can track treatment sessions in real time to help achieve the best results for symptoms. The app also includes loyalty tools that will help drive engagement through redeemable discounts on merchandise, the press release adds.

Lyte further gains access to the Strainprint Analytics web platform—which has more than 1.1 million anonymized, patient-reported medical cannabis outcomes and 50 million-plus data points on strain efficacy—to monitor patient performance and offer better treatment experience.

“We’re looking forward to working with Lyte to serve their physicians and thousands of patients. We share the same philosophy and passion for improving lives through the education and fact-based treatment,” says Strainprint CEO Andrew Muroff.

The Strainprint app is free to patients and can be downloaded from both the iOS App store and GooglePlay store.

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Sen. Jon Erpenbach: Wisconsin is ready for medical marijuana

Over a decade ago, I was introduced to a woman named Jacki Rickert. She wasn’t the first person to come into my office advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana — that was Gary Storck — but she made a lasting impression. By the end of the meeting she was in terrible pain. Unable to walk or sit comfortably in a wheelchair, her friends and fellow advocates actually lifted her out the window of my ground-floor office into a vehicle waiting to take her home.

She was a pioneer in the movement to advance the cause of medical marijuana.

Jacki had been diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlo Syndrome. At one point, in a tremendous amount of pain, and down to a mere 68 pounds, she discovered that marijuana brought her appetite back and alleviated her pain. Seeing these results, in 1990, in Mondovi, Wisconsin, a physician wrote a prescription for Jacki to obtain marijuana, and enrolled her in a small federal program allowing its use for medical purposes. The trouble was, she was never able to legally access that medicine, so she and others started an advocacy and awareness campaign called “Is My Medicine Legal Yet?”

Along the way, politicians from both sides of the aisle have taken up the mantle of medical use. Frank Boyle, D-Phillips, introduced a bill back in 1997, and Republicans like Greg Underheim, R-Oshkosh, and Rick Skinrud, R-Mount Horeb, were also among the first to introduce medical marijuana bills. Tammy Baldwin and Mark Pocan, state legislators at the time, were also early champions and it was Rep. Pocan who brought me on board in 2007.

When I introduced the first Senate companion with Pocan in 2009 as chairman of the Senate Health Committee, we held a public hearing and people from across Wisconsin came to tell their heartbreaking stories. We heard from people with debilitating conditions who had found that opiates and other narcotics prescribed by physicians did little to alleviate their symptoms, and the side effects of those legal drugs were more than they could bear. Marijuana, however, had given them relief. Unfortunately, that is when they had to reluctantly break the law, becoming criminals for trying to obtain the one thing working to help them.

Back then, and even today, there are legislators who are not ready to allow medical marijuana to go forward, giving in to the many myths surrounding marijuana. However, as usual, the public is way ahead of the politicians. Last fall, nearly a million voters in 16 counties and two cities answered yes on nonbinding referendums asking if marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use; and in my office the folder of contacts from people who support medical marijuana has grown so large it needs its own drawer in the file cabinet. Nationwide polling from Quinnipiac in the spring of 2018 showed 93 percent of Americans support medical marijuana and no state that has passed a medical marijuana program has ever repealed it.

Jacki Rickert succumbed to her long illness the day after Christmas in 2017. She did not live long enough to see her medicine become legal. People like Jacki and Gary Storck, and veterans like Steve Acheson and the other members of Wisconsin Veterans for Compassionate Care — they are the reason I have continued to introduce bills to legalize medical marijuana every session since 2009. They are the reason I support Gov. Evers’ budget proposal and they are the reason I will continue to reach across the aisle and work with my Republican colleagues to get Wisconsin to join the 30 other states that allow their citizens to access marijuana to alleviate conditions like glaucoma, cancer, ALS, chronic pain, PTSD, and, of course, Ehlers-Danlo.

Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, represents District 27 in the Wisconsin Senate.

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Two New Mexico committees passed Bills to legalize marijuana

In New Mexico, recreational cannabis is coming closer to reality. Two separate bills—one sponsored by House Democrats, the other by Senate Republicans—were recently approved by committees. The variations between the two pieces of legislature serve to illustrate a growing divide on how marijuana legalization should proceed.

Having passed the House Judiciary Committee on Saturday, House Bill 356 is currently the closest to become law in the state, which has had a medicinal marijuana program since 2007. Among its regulations is the permission for individuals to possess up to two grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants for personal use. It would also clear the records of New Mexico residents with some low-level cannabis convictions.

“The House will probably vote for it,” one of its five co-sponsors Senator Jerry Ortíz y Pino told the media last month. “The Senate is going to be its usual thirty-years-behind-the-times self.”

But the Senate’s Republicans have recently accepted that recreational marijuana is an impending fact in their state, and have become more agile on cannabis issues. Last month, Senator Candace Gould proposed a bill to allow New Mexico school children to use doctor recommended medical marijuana in school. And now, New Mexico Republicans have introduced their own plan for recreational marijuana.

“We came to the conclusion that legalization is coming,” said Senator Cliff Pirtle in media reports. “How can we do it in a way that’s more responsible, so we don’t have the negative social impacts that Colorado and other states have had? So we wanted to sit down at the table and give our solution, as Republicans, to how we would like to see the regulation of cannabis.”

Significantly, the Republicans’ proposed legislation, Senate Bill 577, would not allow home grow operations, opting instead for complete control by a state cannabis control commission. Sales would be limited to government-operated retailers. That bill unanimously passed the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Home grow bans and their possible political motivation have been in the news of late. Last week, it was revealed that major for-profit cannabis companies including MedMen, Columbia Care, Etain, PharmaCann, The Botanist and Acreage NY, and Vireo Health had sent a communication to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo lobbying against home grow being included in the state’s impending cannabis regulation. The report sent to Cuomo stated that home grows protect the unregulated market, can produce contaminated and untested cannabis, and cost state’s money in tax revenue.

A fiscal impact report issued by the Legislative Finance Committee on the House bill, which would go into effect on July 1 if passed by both of the state’s legislative bodies, estimates that recreational marijuana would bring in an annual revenue total of $33.9 million by 2023. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is a proponent of widening access to marijuana—most recently, she announced that she would be encouraging the state to add opioid addiction to the list of qualifying conditions for its medical marijuana program.

New Mexico is far from the only state where cannabis legislation has recently passed out of committee. As Marijuana Moment founder Tom Angell pointed out, similar victories have been won in Vermont, Hawaii, and New Hampshire over the past few weeks.

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