Vermont legislature approves recreational marijuana use

A measure legalizing marijuana use in Vermont cleared the state’s legislature on Wednesday.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has said the legislation is not “a priority for Vermont” and has not made a final decision as to whether he will sign it. The measure makes Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use among adults and the first to legalize through a legislative process. Other states have approved recreational marijuana use through ballot initiatives.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana policy group. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.” Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession and use of marijuana, though each state has its own rules and regulations. For example, in Washington — one of the first states to legalize pot — only individuals using the drug for medical purposes can grow it, though any adult is allowed to possess and use it.

In Washington, D.C., marijuana can be used and “gifted,” but not bought, sold or exchanged for other goods or services.

Marijuana use is illegal according to federal policy, and President Trump’s opposition to legalization has created uncertainty for some states seeking to regulate the industry.

If signed by the governor, the Vermont measure would remove civil penalties for possessing one ounce of marijuana or less and would allow adults to keep up to two mature pot plants. It would also create a commission to develop a plan for taxing and regulating the drug.

Pennsylvania – update on the stats of SB3

Q: What’s the status of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?
A: A bill to allow it, SB 3, was approved 40-7 in the state Senate. The bill moved to the state House, where it was sent to the health committee. The health committee chair, state Rep. Matt Baker, R-Tioga, opposes the bill, and says he won’t allow a vote. Meanwhile, some House members say the bill would easily pass if given the chance. Supporters in the House are exploring ways to “unlock” the bill. Gov. Tom Wolf says he’ll sign it if it reaches his desk. Medical marijuana has strong public support. A Quinnipiac University poll in March concluded 85 percent of residents favor allowing medical marijuana. It found overwhelming support in every age, gender and partisan group.

 Q: If there’s such strong support, why is there a delay in even holding a vote?

A: Opponents including Baker argue there is a lack of research showing benefits of marijuana. Baker also believes it will be a gateway to more drug addiction.

Q: It it true there’s a lack of research?

A: It depends who you ask. It’s fair to say there is a lack of studies that meet the standards commonly used in the approval of drugs in the United States. There’s good reason for that — the U.S. government lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medical benefit, high potential for abuse, and can’t be used safely even under a doctor’s supervision. That makes it hard to conduct marijuana research in the United States. Still, there’s widespread agreement marijuana doesn’t belong on Schedule I.  And about 20 years ago researchers discovered a system of receptors in the brain which respond to various chemicals in marijuana. (This is the endocannabinoid system.) That prompted a burst of research around the world.

Q: What exactly would SB 3 allow?

A: It would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana-derived substances to treat a dozen conditions, including cancer, epilepsy and seizures, ALS, multiple sclerosis, post traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS and glaucoma. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Health could authorize additional conditions.

Q: Would children being treated for seizures be given marijuana to smoke?

A: No. Smokable forms of marijuana aren’t allowed by SB 3. Marijuana-derived medications would largely take the form of oils and liquid extracts, which could be taken in the form of droplets, or vaporized, or consumed in several other approved methods.

Q: What would prevent medical marijuana from being used by people who aren’t sick and just want to get high?

A: People under the treatment of a doctor who believes medical marijuana is appropriate for them would obtain a medical cannabis card. Growers, processors and dispensers would be licensed, and their employees would be certified. Presumably, this would allow people who possess marijuana for non-approved purposes to be prosecuted.
Q: Where would the medical marijuana come from?

A: Pennsylvania. SB 3 calls for licensing 65 growers, 65 processors and 130 dispensaries.

Q: Would medical marijuana be taxed?

A: Yes. The Pennsylvania bill calls for a six percent “surcharge” which would be paid before the medical marijuana is purchased by the patient.

GA Bills Aimed at Legalizing Medical Marijuana 

On the table for state lawmakers this year: three different bills aimed at legalizing some form of medical marijuana and a resolution that could legalize recreational pot for adults 21 and older.

But, it seems Georgia Senators and House Representatives can’t agree on the scope of the law or who it should cover.

“Any legislator can introduce any legislation if they want. It sure doesn’t mean that it’s going to come close to becoming law,” State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) told 13WMAZ.

Peake’s been working on the issue for more than a year now, in an effort to bring relief to those suffering from various medical conditions.

His bill, HB 1, jumped its first hurdle last week with a 158-2 vote in the House.

It would legalize cannabis oil up to 5% THC for nine medical conditions and grant immunity for those bringing cannabis oil into Georgia. 

There’s some controversy over the THC limit, because the chemical in large doses can cause a high. 

“I have some real concerns that the Senate will try to remove the medical conditions that have been approved and try to change some aspects of the bill like the THC level or the amount that can be in possession,” Peake said. “I would be incredibly disappointed if we do not move forward with the medical conditions in HB 1, because I think we’d be leaving a lot of people behind.”

State Senator Curt Thompson proposed Senate Resolution 6, the first attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in Georgia.

There would be no restrictions on how much of the plant could be used, or whether it could be smoked.

It’d be limited to adults 21 and older, and taxes and fees from marijuana sales would be be divvied up to fund education and transportation needs.

But before recreational pot becomes reality in Georgia, it’d need a two-thirds majority in both chambers, and a public vote.

“I have no interest in supporting legislation that legalizes marijuana for recreational use. I don’t think our citizens want that and I don’t think our state is ready for that anytime soon,” Peake said.

Should SR 6 fail, Thompson also introduced SB 7, which lets doctors and other physicians to prescribe limited amounts of medical marijuana for certain conditions, including cancer and glaucoma.

It also sets up a way to grow and distribute medical cannabis in Georgia. That’s something Peake originally included in his bill, but says was knocked down by Governor Nathan Deal.

Then there’s Senate Bill 185, sponsored by State Senator Lindsey Tippins and co-sponsored by State Senator Renee Unterman.

It’d create a four-year clinical medical-cannabis trial at Georgia Regents University for people ages 18 and under, who suffer from “medication-resistant” seizures.

There’s already a small-scale trial going on in Augusta now. “Quite frankly, the bill introduced in the Senate last week does absolutely nothing,” Peake said. “It only ratifies an executive order already given by the Governor. It does not bring our medical refugees home. It does not provide access to thousands of citizens with seizures. and it leaves completely behind cancer and MS patients.” Supporters of HB 1 are concerned because Unterman chairs the health and human services committee. Last year, she attached the Senate autism bill to the medical marijuana bill.

But neither chamber could agree to the change and both bills ultimately died without coming up for another vote. “Last year was political games being played. You know, holding the medical cannabis bill hostage unless a Senate bill was passed in the House,” Peake said. “We’ve tried to make sure they’re not connected and that in any way, there’s not a quid pro quo, pass one for the other. Each bill needs to stand on its own merit.”

Georgia – support for medical marijuana increases

Nearly a year after the first medical marijuana bill failed in Georgia, those suffering and those fighting to relieve that pain are hopeful that won’t happen again.

As state lawmakers prepare for the next General Assembly in January, some things have changed.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 80 percent of Georgians support the legalization of medical marijuana.

Plus, in the recently passed federal spending bill, President Barack Obama and Congress blocked funding for the Department of Justice to penalize those with medical marijuana in states where it is already legal.

Congress approved, and President Barack Obama signed into law, a measure that eliminated funding for the Department of Justice to enforce federal laws blocking the use of medical marijuana in states that have their own laws on the books.
“Imagine, before you even have a thought in the morning, you wake up, just in agony,” Katie Crosby said.
She’s only 26, but for nearly half her life, Crosby has tried almost everything to stop the pain.

“The reality is, nothing’s working. Nothing.”

She calls her pain chronic, crippling.
“A living hell, a living nightmare to be honest.”

So in September, after testifying in front of a medical marijuana study committee led by state Representative Allen Peake, she started a Facebook group called Hope for Silent Sufferers.
It advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana in Georgia and has nearly 20,000 supporters.

That’s how she connected with people like Pamela Skinner, who’s felt that pain for decades.
“Day after day after day, it drains you,” Skinner said.

Doctors diagnosed Skinner with fibromyalgia in 1996, long-term pain that spreads throughout the body, plus degenerative disc disease.
“Anything physical poses a threat. I have grandbabies that weigh 30 pounds and I can’t pick them up,” Skinner said.

And though some research shows medical cannabis could help them, it’s illegal in Georgia.

“I don’t break laws. It needs to be passed so that people like me have access,” Skinner said.

And as 2015’s legislative session draws closer, they fear chronic pain might not be included in the medical marijuana bill.

“It’s just sad to me that you can live in one state and receive relief but not in another,” Crosby said.

Peake, who sponsored House Bill 1, says his committee’s been exploring a range of conditions that could be treated by medical cannabis.
“Seizure disorders, cancer, glaucoma, MS, ALS, autism, possibly chronic pain,” Peake said.

He says says likely only seven or eight of those conditions will be written into the bill, consistent with what’s been passed in other states.
He says that limited list is an effort to keep medical cannabis tightly regulated.

“It’s cannabis oil or an edible form, cannot be smoked, you cannot get high,” Peake said.
But he hopes there will be other options for those conditions that aren’t written into the bill.

“We’re looking at a provision where someone who has a condition that’s not on that list could appeal to the Department of Public Health,” he said.
It’s the relief Crosby hopes for, but she says it hinges on lawmakers, who research the benefits, and remember the afflicted.

“We may be suffering, but we’re no longer silent. Please don’t leave us behind,” Crosby said.
Peake says the idea is to have five or six growers, processors and retailers of medical marijuana across the state.
Those who can access it would receive a registration card, only after a diagnosis of a qualifying condition by a qualified doctor.
The General Assembly will gather starting January 12.

Congress Hands A Mixed Bag to Marijuana Movement

The year-end spending bill gives momentum to the marijuana movement, plus a painful setback

For the marijuana legalization movement, 2014 ends the way it began: with legal changes that showcase the movement’s momentum alongside its problems.

Tucked into the 1,603-page year-end spending bill Congress released Tuesday night were a pair of provisions that affect proponents of cannabis reform. Together they form a metaphor for the politics of legal cannabis—an issue that made major bipartisan strides this year, but whose progress is hampered by a tangle of local, state and federal statutes that have sown confusion and produced contradictory justice.

First the good news for reformers: the proposed budget would prohibit law enforcement officials from using federal funds to prosecute patients or legal dispensaries in the 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that passed some form of medical-marijuana legalization. The provision was crafted by a bipartisan group of representatives and passed the Republican-controlled House in May for the first time in seven tries. If passed into law, it would mark a milestone for the movement, restricting raids against dispensaries and inoculating patients from being punished for an activity that is legal where they live but in violation of federal law.

“The enactment of this legislation will mark the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana, and has instead taken an approach to respect the many states that have permitted the use of medical marijuana to some degree,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said in a statement to TIME. The California Republican’s work on the issue reflects the strange coalition that has sprung up to support cannabis reform as the GOP’s libertarian wing gains steam and voters’ views evolve.

At the same time, the House chose to overrule Washington, D.C., on the issue. Last month voters in the District chose to liberalize its marijuana laws, passing an initiative that legalized the possession, consumption and cultivation of recreational marijuana. The move, which was supported by about 70% of the capital’s voters, paved the way for D.C. to follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington State by establishing a tax-and-regulatory structure for cannabis sales in 2015.


Medical Cannabis Study – MMJnews for Georgia

Medical Cannabis Study Committee to Meet Wednesday At Georgia Regents University

Posted: Nov 12, 2014 8:30 AM PST
Updated: Nov 12, 2014 8:39 AM PST

By Randy Key, WJBF Web Content

Augusta, GA – The Joint Study Committee on Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions will hold its next meeting Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Georgia Regents University, which is located at 1459 Laney-Walker Boulevard.

At this meeting, the committee will hear testimony from representatives of GW Pharmaceuticals, researchers involved in the study of Epidiolex at Georgia Regents University, a neurologist from Colorado, as well as Georgia physician who moved his family to Colorado for medical cannabis.

The Joint Study Committee on Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions is co-chaired by State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) and State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford).

The committee is tasked with studying the effects of the extracts and compounds of cannabis as a medical treatment to determine if it is appropriate to enact legislation that will allow for the prescription of medical cannabis. The Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions Joint Study Committee was created by SR 981 following the 2014 legislative session.

Click here for a tentative meeting agenda, and for more information on SR 981, click here.

The committee is made up of:
State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon), Co-Chair
State Senator Renee Unterman (R–Buford), Co-Chair
State Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge)
State Senator Butch Miller (R–Gainesville)
State Senator Curt Thompson (D–Tucker)
State Representative Rich Golick (R–Smyrna)
State Representative Micah Gravley (R–Douglasville)
State Representative Margaret Kaiser (D–Atlanta)
Our Nicole Snyder will be at the meeting and she will provide more details during our Wednesday evening newscasts.

Georgia lawmakers are gearing up to re-introduce legalizing a form of medical cannabis for children next legislative session

13wmaz.Com – Local news

For Haleigh Cox, every small step and every smile is a gift.

“She celebrated her 5th birthday last Saturday, says mom Janea Cox, “and we were told by doctors that she more than likely wasn’t going to make it to her 5th birthday, so it was a pretty great celebration to be able to see her thriving more than she was when we were in Georgia. ”

After 4 months living in Colorado, Cox says a form of medical marijuana has brought Haleigh’s seizures down from hundreds a day to just 6 or 7 on a bad day.

Now the girl who at one point stopped breathing in January is becoming a new person.

“We were able to put her in a toddler swing for the first time, and she held herself up the entire time. I think she wanted to swing for about 30 minutes. My child’s being able to be a child again,” says Cox.

But for all her success, Colorado just isn’t the same as home.

Haleigh and Janea had hoped to come back to a Georgia where her cannabis oil treatment was legal.

But a bill sponsored by State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) failed to pass on the last day of this year’s General Assembly.

Peake says next year will be different, and says Georgia’s minds are changing on the issue of medical marijuana.

“We believe that polling has showed that they clearly want medical cannabis as an option in Georgia, so we need to figure out what’s the best structure, the best infrastructure that will work in our state,” says Peake.

They’re doing that by setting up five public hearings with everyone from law enforcement to the medical community to discuss how the cannabis oil would work in Georgia.

The first draft of Peake’s bill initially allowed the oil to be grown in Georgia.

The final version only allowed families to avoid prosecution if they bought it somewhere else.

Peake says that’s not enough. “Any legislation we draft that doesn’t provide a growing solution in Georgia, I think will be a failed piece of legislation,” Peake says.

The first public hearing is scheduled for August 27th in Atlanta. There will be a hearing in Macon on September 10th.

Atlanta entrepreneur has high hopes for medical marijuana

A new Atlanta company hopes to become the city’s first medical marijuana company even though pot — medicinal or recreational- is still illegal in Georgia.

If Georgia ever changes its law, Halcyon Organics LLC will manufacture and dispense medical marijuana products to Georgians.

“If the state of Georgia gave me a legal opportunity, I could provide manufactured non-smokable medical cannabis within a few weeks,” said Daniel Macris, CEO of Halcyon Organics, who studied chemical engineering at Georgia Tech. “We could have Georgia medically grown cannabis ready for consumption within four months.”

Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, although not Georgia. However, Gov. Nathan Deal announced April 10 that Georgia’s medical college plans to launch clinical trials that could lead to the legal medicinal use of oil derived from marijuana plants by children with epilepsy. The governor has consulted with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin moving toward conducting clinical trials at Georgia Regents University in Augusta.

Halcyon is planning to buy land in Georgia to set up greenhouses to grow herbs and produce that it will sell to restaurants until such time that it is legally allowed to grow medical marijuana.

“We are going to have our facilities built with compliance to the Good Manufacturing Practice and the Good Laboratory Practice, which is what the FDA requires for pharmaceutical grade botanicals,” Macris said. “Since we know regulations are going that way (toward the legalization of medical marijuana) we want to be ahead of the curve and develop a model other businesses can follow.”


Deal outlines two paths to medical marijuana in Georgia

By Greg Bluestein
Medical marijuana won’t be legalized in Georgia any time soon. But Gov. Nathan Deal outlined two plans to begin moving that way ahead of next year’s legislative session.
The first option would involve the expanded use of clinical trials for children with epileptic disorders through a private drugmaker, GW Pharmaceuticals, and Georgia Regents University. The second would bring a state clinical trial led by Georgia Regents using cannabis oil obtained from federal regulators in Mississippi.
Deal’s aides have been working with federal regulators for weeks after medical marijuana legislation failed to pass amid GOP infighting. You can find the backstory here, but Deal said he was confident from conversations with the federal Food and Drug Administration that both routes would be both legal and safe.
The governor also announced the start of a pilot program to study the privatization of Georgia’s foster care system. The program involves a limited study in two Georgia regions.
It’s part of a larger strategy of taking executive action where lawmakers failed, and the governor quipped that he was doing lawmakers a favor.
“I’m taking it out of their hands by acting now,” he said, adding: “I don’t think there’s jealousy over who gets credit. I just don’t think we need to wait until the next legislative session to get this done.”
Critics see an election-year conversion. The campaign of Democrat Jason Carter, his party’s nominee for governor, panned Deal for not more aggressively backing the plan during the session.
“It’s not leadership to wait around for election years to make token gestures,” said Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas.


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