It Is Time To Start Looking At Cannabis Differently

We all get involved with the community for different reasons.  We watch a loved one suffer through horrific pain, see injustice done to another, are a victim of the system or just realize that the harm and cost done to our nation is not worth it.  Whether it is from personal strife or in memory of a loved one we all feel the passion.  It is sometimes unfortunate that it takes a tragic event for people to become aware and get involved.  Our hope is that we can prevent tragedies while still making people aware of all the damage done by the War on Drugs.

Some activists like Jack Herer died before he was able to see the results of his work.  Although they live on in the community isn’t it sad that even with today’s vast knowledge of the medical value possessed by cannabis compounds some patients are still treated like criminals?  Some patients die with the label of a criminal even though their only crime was using a plant when they were at their weakest.

This past week in Oakland, CA we witnessed the federal government yet again demonstrate its over-reaching intimidation tactics against a well known cannabis activist  Richard Lee.  Mr Lee bankrolled Prop 19, owned Blue Sky dispensary as well as industry trade school Oaksterdam University.  Federal agents raided those locations as well as Mr. Lee’s personal residence on Monday.

Backlash and outrage from the city as well as the community were immediate.  Protesters, blogs, news outlets as well as city officials spoke out against the U.S. Attorney General Melinda Haag’s office and other federal agents condemning their actions.  One message seemed to be that although federal law may consider cannabis illegal it’s legal for medical use in California, so stay out of state and city business.  Supervisor David Campos showed support saying “San Francisco stands firm against the federal government on the issue of medical cannabis”.  Fellow Supervisor Christina Olague called the federal threats to dispensary landlords to either evict the dispensaries or face legal action “absurd” and criticized the “ignorance coming out of Washington right now.”

The cannabis community in California and across the nation are once more betrayed by the current administration.  Yet again federal agents are attacking Californians, who for the past 15 years, have approved of cannabis for medical use.  In 2011 we saw several large scale raids carried out against our own citizens.  They have nothing left but to go after citizens for obscure tax laws and threaten any land owner with forfeiture of property if they lease to a legally operated dispensary.  These kinds of stories surely can’t be the United States of America who’s very objective is to protect its citizens from such types of theft?

If a dispensary or other cannabis industry related business is in complete compliance with state, county and city regulations and is actually a benefit to the community why would the federal government feel the need to stomp all over our home bringing terror into the community?  Why do they feel the need to aggressively barge in with their intimidation tactics and leave destruction in their path?  Why must patients who are otherwise law abiding citizens be treated in the same manner as terrorists or drug cartel members?  If Californians, the people who actually have to live with any repercussions of legalizing cannabis approve why then can’t the federal agents respect that and at the very least give some dignity back to the patients when dealing with them?

After presidential promises and memo reassurances proved to be completely empty many feel lied to and betrayed and rightfully so.  People further are disrespected when the President and his administration continue to address the issue in a laughing manner as if it is a bunch of frat boys asking the question.  They seem to forget the single mother cancer patient who must choose between keeping custody of her children and relieving pain and other side effects.  They forget the families who have lost loved ones to police incompetence in their endless fight in the War on Drugs.  Or the millions of people who have been directly effected and the whole nation who ends up paying for it.

Trillions of dollars have been wasted.  Schools are in disrepair, cities are going bankrupt, crime is going up and yet our priorities are going after patients.  It is time to demand an end to this costly war!  50,000 Mexicans have died, some violently, all in the name of the War on Drugs.  Top South American leaders see it is time for a different approach  and have already started looking for alternatives.  Meanwhile our leaders continue their archaic thinking taking a hardened stance against legalization or decriminalization.

With the economy on life support, people in desperate need of jobs and the government spending an obscene amount of tax-payer money on prohibition it is time to start looking at cannabis differently.  Cannabis is one of America’s biggest cash crop and California’s largest cash crop.  It can be regulated and taxed in the same manner as alcohol which would also address the restrictions for minors.  By responsibly regulating cannabis, communities across the nation can benefit.

After the events that took place this week it is obvious that the time is now to speak up.  We should not tolerate these attacks on citizens, on patients, on our loved ones.  We should not wait for a tragic event to strike us we should get involved now and stop these aggressive tactics from our own government.  Write, email or call your representative and urge them to demand a stop to these attacks.  Call the White house and let your voice be heard.    How far are we willing to let them intrude into our communities?

Individualized Treatments: Key To Cannabis’ Success

With so many new scientific discoveries published for the world to see many patients are now gaining a better understanding of how cannabis actually helps them.  Millions of patients have found relief in cannabis for a wide range of afflictions with millions more that have found relaxation.  Cannabis has been used for medicinal, religious and recreation purposes for thousands of years.  But it wasn’t until the 60s when the endocannabinoid system was discovered that we really began to understand the effects.  In 2011 the genetics of the cannabis plant was mapped with that we found that it was not just a plant but a complex world filled with compounds that have many applications.

Patients now have the option of learning what compounds exist in the cannabis plant and how that can help them personally.  Currently there are companies one in particular, GW Pharmaceuticalsthat is seeking FDA approval of a new drug that contains actual cannabinoids, not synthetic, which is currently approved and on the market.  Their mouth spray contains a blend of cannabinoids that they have found to commonly bring relief.

The problem is now that patients are armed with more in-dept information of not only their illness but of cannabis and its compounds they are no longer happy with a “one size fits all” treatment.  Why and how cannabis interacts with our system is becoming more widely known.  With this comes the knowledge that when using cannabis the key to its success is using the right mix of compounds.  Many studies point to the fact that you can not just isolate THC or just CBD but  that its the correct balance of multiple compounds that achieves the desired effect.  This is important to keep in mind when researching your ailment.  Looking for strains that match up with your needs can be very tricky so it is recommended that you seek help when undertaking this.

This is just one more reason why legalization is important.  In states that have legalized medical use of cannabis, dispensaries have flourished.  This allows first-time patients to be guided through the process with experienced patients and experts.  This also allows for supervision of a professional doctor instead of just yourself.  Dispensaries offer a wide array of strain choices within sativa, indica and hybrid varieties.  Professionals also help with choosing the right delivery method for you.

Cannabis use has come a long way since the casual days of the 60s.  Today patients are faced with many choices from natural buds,concentrates, tinctures, edibles and more.  In the states that have passed medical use laws patients standards have been raised.  Gone are the days when people were satisfied with whatever the guy on the corner had that day, no questions asked.  Today patients can inquire about anything from if a bud is organic to what the percentage of THC, CBD or CBN a product contains.

Many dispensaries are now testing their products to not only raise industry standards but to educate patients and promote their best buds.  In today’s market we see dispensaries competing for business giving patients the best selection.  Patients are becoming more educated on the differences between not only the strains but the major compound contents.  With the database of knowledge on individual strains and their compounds becoming not only ever increasing but more accessible it is only a matter of time before we have a better grasp to really start helping patients.

One of the largest shortfalls of today’s medical community is individualized care.  Many times patients are quickly shuffled through their appointment with their doctor trying out different therapies that have worked for other patients.  We do not have the availability of affordable technology to scan or sequence every patients illness or cancer.  Someday we will have wide-spread use of technology that allows doctors to give patients exactly what their bodies need.  Gone will be the days when doctors guess if a medication will work or kill you.  We know today that the technology exists to DNA sequence a cancerous tumor.  We already know that if we have the right combination of cannabis compounds it can shrink a tumor.  Think of all the loved ones that we could save with the right individualized care.

Today’s medications can cause many side effects including respiratory failure, liver damage and even death.  Many times patients are left with the option of doctors guessing which medication will be most helpful with the least damage and many times are prescribed more medication later on to combat damaged caused by previous treatments.  Cannabis has been praised for its forgiving window for patients in regards to damage from side effects.  Common knowledge of no reported overdoses or deaths from cannabis is another appealing factor.  Many have discovered that the benefits of cannabis outweigh the non-lethal side effects and have stopped taking all other medications.

With patients today educated on not only their illness but the available treatment options it is no wonder that they no longer want to accept only what the industry is willing to provide.  Many have taken their health into their own hands.  We have discovered how vital individualized care is when dealing with cannabis and hopefully have sparked interest into other avenues where this can be applied.  It is no longer in the best interest of the nation to rely so heavily on the current industries but instead look for not only natural options but ones that will not do harm.  We can look to the future for the technologies that can one day save us but for today we need to keep our option of being able to choose our own strain combination for ourselves until we all can have individualized care.  To do this we must continue in our fight for legalization.

How the Government is Setting The Cannabis Community Up for Failure and How We Can Stop It

The U.S. has seen the cannabis industry booming in recent years much to the government’s dismay.  They have spread Reefer Madness, raided patients and dispensaries, threatened state government officials and much more.  In 2011 we saw the issue of medical marijuana and cannabis in general covered quite extensively in the mainstream media as well as online.

Federal law has put doctors, patients and state government officials in the middle of a chaotic mess.  Currently federal law dictates that marijuana is as harmful and addictive as heroin with no medical benefits. It is listed in the schedule 1 category from the Controlled Substance Act which is above other drugs like cocaine.  With the current federal law along with the aggressive actions of the D.O.J. towards California’s state medical marijuana program, the federal government has set the community up for failure.  State and city officials have been reluctant to stand up due to legal threats from the D.O.J.  Many have been too afraid to be caught in the middle of a legal mess.  This has left patients with an unregulated system.

Unfortunately the cannabis industry is still dealing with the black market, which brings along with it many problems.  One is that with the proliferation of legitimate dispensaries and business we also saw some that were just a cover for selling drugs.  In California, which has had a medical marijuana law on the books for over 15 years, we saw a large number of dispensaries open up in cities across the state.  Even smaller towns were not spared resulting in multiple shops opening up.

I personally visited several locations last year all over California and out of all my experiences more often than not they were uneducated pot peddlers, who rushed you in and out, instead of the informed caregivers many Californians had envisioned when they passed their compassion law.  I, thankfully, did find locations that were not only knowledgeable but had no problem in explaining to me each strain, how it could help my symptoms as well as any other questions I had.  I loved that they actually cared about what they were doing not only for me but the whole community.  The general public unfortunately does not see this side and that is a truly sad.

To those that were not involved in the cannabis industry or even had a clue one existed, were shocked to suddenly see so many shops pop up.  Along with the number inevitably came location issues.   There were reports of dispensaries opening up next door to daycares and schools were the smell of marijuana could be detected.  This of course put a black mark on the cannabis community as well in some cases shut it down all together.  In CA over 200 cities have banned dispensaries altogether.

What we saw first as our way to legalization has quickly gotten out of control and has threatened to destroy what many have worked so hard to achieve.  The government saw the opportunity to use the fear of people along with their lack of true knowledge about cannabis to shut down many cities across the state of California as well as other states.  As of today the D.O.J. has sent out many letters across the nation to city and state officials warning of aggressive actions to be taken.

Colorado has demonstrated forward thinking with the regulations they put in place.  Colorado’s system went a different route than California in saying that cannabis could be sold for profit.  What Colorado did was innovative in that they did not set up a guise of non-profit like California but heavily regulated the industry instead.  Now with local law enforcement and the state Medical Marijuana Enforcement division teamed up they can now weed out the legitimate businesses from the black market therefore avoiding harassment.  Many cannabis supporters welcomed it because as we have seen no regulations has led to chaos.

In 2010 there were 809 dispensaries, 321 infused product manufacturers and 1230 cultivators registered with the state of Colorado.  The state collected $7.34 million in licensing fees alone.  Although problems exist in the current laws and ideally we would like it legal for anyone this type of regulations, for now, is better than the alternative we see in CA.

With the booming cannabis industry we also saw the emergence of testing labs.  We not only got to see how much THC and CBD content a strain had but we also learned about important things like mold, disease and pest contaminates.  We quickly realized that although we love the freedom we currently have to run the cannabis industry it obviously needs regulations.  We need healthy, medical-grade (pest, disease and mold free) and a system that helps patients feel confident in their purchase.

If we can get responsible regulations, constructed by a partnership of the cannabis community and government, we will see a successful cannabis industry that could very well help save the budget in those states.  Most people today recognize that there are medical benefits to cannabis as well as it not being as harmful as those drugs it is currently listed with.  There is proposed legislation that has wide support calling for a rescheduling of cannabis so that states, and more importantly doctors and patients, can decided what is right for them.

Each of us, as citizens and as a person, have a duty to right wrongs.  For over 74 years we have seen the government tell us we cannot have safe access to a natural drug, one that has been used for thousands of years for hundreds of uses.  We each need to make a difference and stand up and say we will no longer stand for prohibition!  We need to reschedule cannabis and allow the states to decide.  This issue is a state issue and the 10th amendment should be respected.  Tell you representative today!

How Cannabis Prohibition Effects All of Us

Unraveling the web of lies and corruption tied to cannabis can be a very daunting task.  Its no wonder that the government has taken a sweeping action all across the board.  Political, racial, economic  status or geography can all play a role when the government attacks.  Many do not realize how they are impacted by the administrations view on cannabis.  Prohibition does not create a safer world, ironically it creates the opposite.

Americans love their vices with cannabis being a favorite choice for many but prohibition has made it tougher to obtain as well as intimidating with its stiff punishments.  The cost of the judicial process, incarceration, loss of jobs and all other residual effects is astounding!  These costs come at the taxpayer’s expense.

Americans instead have turned to prescription drugs many that have serious side effects. They say that sham doctors give out recommendations for cannabis to anyone but that is exactly what is happening with prescription drugs.  Americans consume 80% of the worlds pain killers.  These drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone are just as addictive as heroin and they are legally prescribed.  In 2008 15,000 Americans died from legal pain killers.

After learning about the benefits of cannabis many Americans have switched from prescription drugs to medical cannabis with improvements to their quality of life.  Its not just switching one addiction for another but rather finding a natural option for pain relief.  It can help with not only the pain but possibly help in curing the source.  Many are finding that their condition improves with cannabis use and they can stop taking multiple prescriptions.

Cannabis can be used in many ways.  Ingesting cannabis can be used for spiritual, social, or medical purposes.  Sharing a pipe with friends can be a very enjoyable experience and can bond people together.  Tribes have used it for thousands of years spiritually and socially.  For thousands of years the cannabis plant has been used to treat many illnesses.  The hemp seed also has nutritional  value and is some of the best protein you can consume; a great option for vegetarians.

The cannabis plant itself has many ecological benefits as well.  It can be grown Eco-friendly with all parts of the plant being used; some of which provide material for clothes, rope and paper.  It would be a good replacement for a paper source with cannabis yielding more paper from the same acreage as one would from trees. It also can be regrown in 6 months with no harm done to the earth.

The social and economic impacts reverberate throughout our communities.  We all suffer from the effects of cannabis prohibition even if you do not consume it.   When law enforcement is more focused on a plant they are less focused on more serious crimes. When a loved one is suffering from pain and they are faced with the choice of relief from cannabis or constant pain it will effect you.  Cannabis patients are not just hippies getting high all day.  They are someones son, daughter, mother, father, grandmother, someone’s loved one.  They are a free American citizen, some of which are faced everyday with pain.  We all deserve a choice in our treatment without fear from the government. Imagine instead a world where we would be free to grow our own Eco-friendly source of medicine, clothing material, paper, spiritual and social aid.  One where law enforcement and the judicial system were prosecuting actual criminals.

How the law is used to destroy equality and protect the powerful
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NCoR1YEGgY&feature=share

A Call To Action:Your Local Government

In California medical cannabis patients are under attack from not only the federal government but local governments as well.  City after city has pushed for ordinances against medical marijuana.  Some baring dispensaries and some banning growing.  Some do this out of ignorance of medical cannabis and the industry and others in fear of repercussions from the federal government.   At the local level we need to work together to create a system that will regulate medical marijuana in a fair safe manner. Below is a letter to our local city council.  I share it in hopes to spark conversations in other cities where patients are being oppressed.

To Our Local Government:

We are standing at a unique point in time.  When you look back which side will you be on?  Will it be the ignorant, stubborn side that wishes to cling to yesteryear where fear and misinformation oppressed citizens or will it be on the side that is enlightened and will one day be vindicated?  We can no longer ignore science.  We can no longer let this be a political game with innocent patients as the chips.

It is time that you step up and start fighting FOR the patient instead of against.  It is time that you team up with the patients and create a peaceful business environment.  You were elected to SERVE the people not rule.  Minority groups need to be heard too. There is too much proof out there, both in personal stories and medical science to say medical marijuana doesn’t have medicinal purposes.

We can no longer allow the federal government to dictate how the state, county or city conducts business with medical cannabis with bullying tatics.  We can no longer allow the federal government to ignore science.  We can no longer allow government, instead of science, medicine and our own judgment, to dictate what we put in our bodies and how we treat our illnesses.

These laws are turning innocent patients into criminals.  The actions taken in the form of raids, arrests, threats, monetarily and in court have destroyed lives and caused many to be condemned to a life of lower standards.  These laws and by extension all of you enforcing these laws are oppressing people.

There needs to be regulation.  There needs to be a partnership between law enforcement, the City and patients.  We need sanity back in government.  People need to be educated before swinging the mighty gavel. As a patient I want to be able to walk into a dispensary and know I am safe from criminals and the government.  I want to know that if I grow a few plants my family wont have their door knocked down and have a gun in their face.  I want to know that the officials that we elect are held to the standard of being level headed, fair and just.  I want to know that they would give consideration to 1 person the same as they would 10,000.

Prohibition and reefer madness has been going on for over 74 years.  People have been hearing lies for a long time and that has bred a lot of misconceptions, greed, violent black markets and many other things that scare people.  What they don’t realize is that prohibition has caused this.  Its going to take all of us to fix this.  Its going to take all of us taking a fair balanced look at cannabis and seeing how we can improve things.  We need to be the ones changing it together.  We will never have progress if there is fighting. It is ridiculous for innocent, lawful patients and caregivers to be punished because of misuse of federal power and the actions of criminals.  We should be allowed safe access to our voter and Dr approved medicine.

Now Is the Time To Act! Medical Marijuana On the Defense

With all the protests and grumbling from the every day American I know that we are at a pivotal point in history that we are at a point where they could go either way.  I believe we are at that point with Medical Marijuana.  It has been state legal in CA since 1996 but only in the past few years has it really exploded.  A quick search on weedmaps or any other like website and you will see thousands of dispensaries dotted all over California.  While for cannabis consumers its a dream come true for officials its a nightmare.

With their experience only while the black market still exists, law enforcement and like minded people’s point of view on the violence and corruption that seems to follow I can see how they can be fearful of the whole industry. But just like with like with prohibition, not all of us are Al Capone.  There will always be criminals but it is wrong to punish us all for a few and in turn create more criminals.

Cannabis patients truly are an oppressed people.  The government has sought after marijuana with the same vivaciousness of a murderer manhunt. It has been unrelenting in its pursuit of even simple possession.  They wasted billions of hard earned taxpayer’s money at the drop of a hat over a simple plant.

There are hundreds of other top priority issues that are being negleted to go after this plant and its consumers.  It makes me angry to see stories where domestic violence is decriminalized because they ran out of money to prosecute but they have plenty of money to go after medical marijuana patients.

Thankfully the Alcohol Prohibition Era lasted a relatively short time but it still gives us a great look into a failed policy that applies to us today.  We saw how crime and general chaos ensued after prohibition took place.  We also saw crime organized for the first time on a larger scale.  Mass murders took place with bodies being dumped in the streets.  Even with the it being illegal people still drank.

We are at a time in history with some of the same things taking place.  We have dispensaries and patients being robbed.  We have gang violence still trying to control whats left of the black market.  We have Mexican cartels taking over our forests and killing thousands in their country.  We have decapitated heads being found on children’s school playgrounds.

The underground black market for Marijuana is organized.  It has its roots deep throughout the country.  Here in California especially it has spilled out into almost every county.  The gang violence can be seen in the streets as well as the size of the prison population.  It has been a very lucrative business for them.  The sad thing is that some marijuana patients are forced to fuel this economy.

With regulation and legislation passed we have seen the legal medical marijuana population rise to the top and be on display for the world to see.  They have shown how dispensaries can be run responsibly and in the compassionate manner originally intended.  We have seen the standards of cannabis rise not only with potency but in growing and quality.

We have heard thousands of success stories from patients living a better life thanks to cannabis.  When pulled into the light and operated legally we see a change.  I have visited locations that are similar to a doctor’s office with a staff that are professional and knowledgeable.  They pay taxes, bring revenue into the county and provide jobs.

In Colorado, where the medical marijuana industry is for-profit, we have seen the amount collected in business licenses and the like in the millions.  We see how even in a bad economy that is one industry that is booming.  It is exploding right in the face of the federal government and they’re not happy about it.

Today we saw a crack down in California from the federal government.  They put it under the guise of criminal activity but in their eyes all of it is illegal.  The Attorney General’s office sent out letters to property owners bullying them by saying they would lose their property if they continued to allow a dispensary to operate.  By doing this they are strong arming the entire industry.

Not everyone can grow their own medicine but they still need it.  Even when the government says they are not going after the sick, by attacking the source of our medicine, they are attacking patients.  Once again they are reacting towards everyone instead of the problem.  Somehow they still do not seem to get that while a black market exists, while the unsuccessful and costly drug war exists, while prohibition exists we will always have these issues.

If it was not illegal you would not have mass amounts of undocumented marijuana transferred between states but instead a regulated system that would generate billions if not trillions in revenue.  The Mexican cartels, US gangs and the black market would not have the funding nor the power it currently does.

Instead license fees, taxes and other revenue would be pumped into the local, state and federal governments.  Patients would have access to quality medicine without fear.  With a law enforcement that back the marijuana industry and instead targets only true criminal activity I believe we would see an industry much like alcohol or tobacco.

With over 70 years of failed policy and crime stats supporting the evidence its time to repeal the prohibition of marijuana is it not time to act?  One can not be heard but many they will take notice.  How much longer can we stand by while the government attacks patients?

Even if you can’t actively participate educating and informing people of the benefits of cannabis is one way to be active.  There are hundreds of medical studies, thousands of survivor stories and millions of consumers.  There is mounting evidence of the powers of cannabis.  It is time for us to educate the government and others so that all can be free to medicate.

If you can be active get involved and contact your representitive and the presidential hotline.  Supporters are urged to call on the President to respect state marijuana laws – White House Hotline:202 -456-1111  show your support for a bill to let states regulate medical marijuana legally, H.R. 2306, has been introduced by Rep. Barney Frank and has several co-sponsors from California.

And in the great words of Thomas Jefferson:
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?-Thomas Jefferson

POT-TAX

Medical Marijuana Strain and Effects Chart

Strain Type Medical Effects Medical Condition
Strong Indica Pain relief,  relief from insomnia, calming, appetite,  anti-anxiety Cancer, Aids, high anxiety, panic attacks, pain, fibromyalgia
Indica Relaxing, moderate pain relief, soothes anxiety symptoms Mild anxiety, stomach ailments, insomnia, appetite
Indica Dominant Some pain relief, mildly awake, moderate anti-anxiety Mild pain, slight insomnia, anxiety
Sativa Dominant Mildly uplifting, moderately relaxing, migraine relief Some depression, stomach ailments, MS symptoms, appetite
Sativa Awake, busy, mind clearing, happy, upbeat Mild depression, stomach ailments, mild MS, appetite
Strong Sativa Uplifting, motivating, brainy, euphoric,  anti-depressant Chronic migraines, depression, multiple sclerosis
CBD is a known active ingredient in marijuana.  It is known to have pain relief effects without the psychoactive properties of THC.  Meaning that you can get the pain relief you’re looking for without the high feeling.

Dr. Recommendations

If you are lucky to live in one of the states that has passed a Medical Marijuana Law you can go to your Dr. and get an evaluation for recommendation for Medical Cannabis Usage.

If you do not live in a state that is compassionate or your Dr. refuses to write the recommendation you can still have them document your chart.  Let him know how you feel it helps you.  Then each time you meet make sure you bring up your medical marijuana usage and have the Dr. write it into you medical records. By doing this they are legally monitoring your medical marijuana usage and  it can help to protect you and enable you to use a medical necessity defense in a Court of Law.

Below are the states that have enacted a Medical Marijuana Programs

Washington Oregon California Nevada Colorado Alaska Hawaii Maine Vermont Montana Washington, DC New Jersey Rhode Island Michigan New Mexico Arizona

Alaska

SUMMARY: Fifty-eight percent of voters approved Ballot Measure #8 on November 3, 1998. The law took effect on March 4, 1999. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physician advising that they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.” Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than one ounce of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than six marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients.

The medical use provisions in Alaska do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: Yes.

Senate Bill 94, which took effect on June 2, 1999, mandates all patients seeking legal protection under this act to enroll in the state patient registry and possess a valid identification card. Patients not enrolled in the registry will no longer be able to argue the “affirmative defense of medical necessity” if they are arrested on marijuana charges.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Alaska Stat. §§ 17.37.10 – 17.37.80 (2007).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older. The caregiver can never have been convicted of a felony controlled substances offense. The caregiver must be listed by the patient as either the primary caregiver or an alternate caregiver. Only one primary caregiver and one alternate caregiver may be listed in the registry for a patient. A person may be a primary caregiver or alternate caregiver for only one patient at a time, unless the primary caregiver or alternate caregiver is simultaneously caring for two or more patients who are related to the caregiver by at least the fourth degree of kinship by blood or marriage. Alaska Stat. §17.37.010 (2007).

CONTACT INFORMATION: For more information on Alaska’s medical marijuana law, please contact:

Alaskans for Medical Rights
P.O. Box 102320
Anchorage, AK 99510
(907) 277-AKMR (2567)

Application information for the Alaska medical marijuana registry is available by writing or calling:

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
P.O. Box 110699
Juneau, AK 99811-0699
(907) 465-5423
Attention: Terry Ahrens
terry_ahrens@health.state.ak.us

Top Arizona

SUMMARY: Just over 50 percent of voters (50.13 percent) approved Proposition 203 on November 2, 2010. The law removes state-level criminal penalties on the use and possession of marijuana by patients who have “written certification” from their physician that marijuana may alleviate his or her condition. The law took effect on April 14, 2011. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cancer; glaucoma; positive status for HIV or AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease or any chronic or debilitating medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis, persistent muscle spasms or seizures, severe nausea or pain. Other conditions will be subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than two and one-half ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than twelve marijuana plants in an “enclosed, locked facility.” The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. State-licensed nonprofit dispensaries may produce and dispense marijuana to authorized patients on a not-for-profit basis. Qualified patients who reside within 25 miles of a state-licensed dispensary facility will not be permitted to cultivate marijuana at home. Final rules for the program, physician certification forms, and a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page are all available online at the website of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program here. http://www.azdhs.gov/prop203/

UPDATE: On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer announced that the state attorney general would be seeking a declaratory judgment in federal court regarding the implementation of some aspects of the state’s medical marijuana law. Specifically, the state is seeking clarification regarding the provisions pertaining to the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries. At this time, the Arizona Department of Health Services indicates that the agency will “continue to issue Qualifying Patient and Designated Caregiver Registry Cards.” The DOH statement appears here: http://directorsblog.health.azdhs.gov/?p=1454.

RECIPROCITY: Yes. The act defines a ‘visiting qualifying patient’ as a person ‘who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition by a person who is licensed with authority to prescribe drugs to humans in the state of the person’s residence.’

Top California

SUMMARY: Fifty-six percent of voters approved Proposition 215 on November 5, 1996. The law took effect the following day. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a “written or oral recommendation” from their physician that he or she “would benefit from medical marijuana.” Patients diagnosed with any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician” are afforded legal protection under this act. Conditions typically covered by the law include but are not limited to: arthritis; cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; migraine; and multiple sclerosis. No set limits regarding the amount of marijuana patients may possess and/or cultivate were provided by this act, though the California Legislature adopted guidelines in 2003.

The medical use provisions in California do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: Yes. Senate Bill 420, which was signed into law in October 2003 and took effect on January 1, 2004, imposes statewide guidelines outlining how much medicinal marijuana patients may grow and possess. Under the guidelines, qualified patients and/or their primary caregivers may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana and/or six mature (or 12 immature) marijuana plants. However, S.B. 420 allows patients to possess larger amounts of marijuana when such quantities are recommended by a physician. The legislation also allows counties and municipalities to approve and/or maintain local ordinances permitting patients to possess larger quantities of medicinal pot than allowed under the new state guidelines.

Senate Bill 420 also mandates the California Department of State Health Services to establish a voluntary medicinal marijuana patient registry, and issue identification cards to qualified patients. To date, however, no such registry has been established.

Senate Bill 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state’s medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating, “Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients … who associate within the state of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions.”

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: California Compassionate Use Act 1996, Cal. Health & Saf. Code, § 11362.5 (1996) (codifying voter initiative Prop. 215).

Cal. Health & Saf. Code, §§ 11362.7 – 11362.83 (2003) (codifying SB 420).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary caregiver is the individual, designated by a qualified patient or by a person with an identification card, who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that patient or person. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older (unless the primary caregiver is the parent of a minor child who is a qualified patient or a person with an identification card). Cal. Health & Saf. Code, §11362.7 (2003).

CONTACT INFORMATION: For more information on California’s medical marijuana law, please contact:

California NORML
2215-R Market Street #278
San Francisco, CA 94144
(415) 563-5858
http://www.canorml.org/

For detailed information on county or municipal medical marijuana
guidelines, please visit: http://www.canorml.org/prop/local215policies.html

For a list of California doctors who recommend medical cannabis, please
visit:
www.canorml.org/prop/215physicians.html

For a list of California medical cannabis providers, please visit:
www.canorml.org/prop/cbclist.html

http://www.canorml.org/prop/local215policies.html

Top Colorado

SUMMARY: Fifty-four percent of voters approved Amendment 20 on November 7, 2000, which amends the state’s constitution to recognize the medical use of marijuana. The law took effect on June 1, 2001. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and advising that they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.” (Patients must possess this documentation prior to an arrest.) Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; chronic nervous system disorders; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Colorado Board of Health. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than two ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than six marijuana plants. The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. Patients who do not join the registry or possess greater amounts of marijuana than allowed by law may argue the “affirmative defense of medical necessity” if they are arrested on marijuana charges.

The medical use provisions in Colorado do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: Yes. House Bill 1284, signed into law on June 7, 2010, establishes state provisions regulating medical cannabis dispensaries. The law requires medical marijuana dispensing facilities to obtain state and local licensing approval and to be in compliance with all local zoning codes. Dispensaries must pay a state licensing fee, shall be located no closer than 1,000 feet from a school or daycare (municipalities have the authority to issue exemptions to this rule), and operators must oversee the cultivation at least 70 percent of the marijuana dispensed at the center. Licensed dispensary owners will be required to undergo criminal background checks by the state.

House Bill 1284 imposes a statewide moratorium on the establishment of new dispensaries, beginning in July 2010. HB 1284 also grants local municipalities the authority to prohibit the establishment of dispensaries in their community. Individual caregivers are legally permitted to provide medical cannabis for up to five patients in localities that have formally banned dispensaries.

Full text of the law is available here.

AMENDMENTS: Yes. Senate Bill 109, signed into law on June 7, 2010, limits the authority of physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to patients with which the doctor has had a prior counseling relationship.

Full text of the law is available here.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: C.O. Const. art. XVIII, §14 (2001) (codified as §0-4-287 art. XVIII).

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-18-406.3 (2001) (interpreting the provisions of the ballot initiative and constitutional amendment).

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-1.5-106 (2003) (originally enacted as § 25-1-107(1)(jj) (2001)) (describing the powers and duties of the Colorado Department of Public Health).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary caregiver is a person other than the patient or the patient’s physician. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. A patient can only have one primary caregiver at a time. A patient who has designated a primary caregiver for himself or herself may not be designated as a primary caregiver for another patient. A primary caregiver may be listed on the medical marijuana registry for no more than 5 patients. Colo. Rev. Stat. §25-1.5-106 (2), (10) (2001).

CONTACT INFORMATION: Application information for the Colorado medical marijuana registry is available online or by writing:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
HSVR-ADM2-A1
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246-1530
Phone: 303-692-2184
http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/hs/medicalmarijuana/fullpacket.pdf

Top Delaware

SUMMARY: Governor Jack Markell signed legislation — Senate Bill 17, The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act — into law on May 13, 2011. State regulators have up to one-year to draft regulations to formally govern the program. The law removes state-level criminal penalties on the use and possession of cannabis obtained from state-licensed facilities for patients with an authorized “debilitating medical condition.” The measure provides for the establishment of at least one non-profit ‘compassion center’ per county that would be licensed by the state to produce and dispense medical cannabis. Recommending physicians must have “bona fide physician-patient relationship” with a person before recommending the use of medical cannabis. Medical conditions that may qualify for cannabis under this act include: cancer, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as cachexia, chronic pain (if the condition has not responded to previously prescribed medications), severe nausea, seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis. Patients may legally possess up to 6 ounces of usable marijuana, if the marijuana is obtained from a state-licensed facility. Home cultivation of marijuana is not allowed under this act. The law establishes a mandatory, confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. The act also provides medical marijuana patients who are not registered with the state to raise an ‘affirmative defense’ motion to dismiss at trial. This act includes reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

Top District of Columbia

SUMMARY: D.C. Council Members enacted legislation in May 2010 authorizing the establishment of regulated medical marijuana dispensaries in the District of Columbia. On Monday, July 26, members of Congress allowed the measure to become law without federal interference.

The law amends the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative, a 1998 municipal ballot measure which garnered 69 percent of the vote yet was never implemented. Until 2010, D.C. city lawmakers had been barred from instituting the measure because of a Congressional ban on the issue. Congress finally lifted the ban in 2009.

Under the law, D.C. Health Department officials will oversee the creation of as many as eight facilities to dispense medical cannabis to authorized patients. Medical dispensaries would be limited to growing no more than 95 plants on site at any one time.

Both non-profit and for-profit organizations will be eligible to operate the dispensaries.

Qualifying D.C. patients will be able to obtain medical cannabis at these facilities, but will not be permitted under the law to grow their own medicine. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: HIV or AIDS; glaucoma; conditions characterized by severe and persistent muscle spasms, such as multiple sclerosis; cancer; or any other condition, as determined by rulemaking, that is: “(i) chronic or long-lasting; “(ii) debilitating or interferes with the basic functions of life; and (iii) A serious medical condition for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial: (I) That cannot be effectively treated by any ordinary medical or surgical measure; “(II) For which there is scientific evidence that the use of medical marijuana is likely to be significantly less addictive than the ordinary medical treatment for that condition. The maximum amount of medical marijuana that any qualifying patient may possess at any moment is 2 ounces of dried medical marijuana, though this limit is subject to revision by the Mayor.

A separate provision enacted as part of the 2011 D.C. budget calls for the retail sales of medical cannabis to be subject to the District’s six percent sales tax rate. Low-income will be allowed to purchase medical marijuana at a greatly reduced cost under the plan.

It will likely be several months before Health officials establish a patient registry and/or begin accepting applications from the public to operate the City’s medical marijuana production and distribution centers.

The medical use provisions in the District of Columbia do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Caregiver is a person designated by a qualifying patient as the person authorized to possess, obtain from a dispensary, dispense, and assist in the administration of medical marijuana. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. The caregiver must be registered with the Department as the qualifying patient’s caregiver. A caregiver may only serve one qualifying patient at a time. D.C. Act 13-138 §2 (3) (2010).

CONTACT INFORMATION: DC City Council Committee on Health or DC Department of Health

Top Hawaii

SUMMARY: Governor Ben Cayetano signed Senate Bill 862 into law on June 14, 2000. The law took effect on December 28, 2000. The law removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a signed statement from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and that the “potential benefits of medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks.” Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Hawaii Department of Health. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess up to 3 ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. The law establishes a mandatory, confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients.

The medical use provisions in Hawaii do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: No, although Hawaii has a separate statute allowing patients arrested on marijuana charges to present a “choice of evils” defense arguing that their use of marijuana is medically necessary.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 329-121 to 329-128 (2008).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary caregiver is a person who has the responsibility for managing the well-being of the qualifying patient with respect to the medical use of marijuana. Primary caregiver is a person other than the qualifying patient, or the patient’s physician. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. Qualifying patients shall have only one primary caregiver an any given time. Primary caregiver shall be responsible for the care of only one qualifying patient at any given time. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§329-121; 329-123 (b),(c) (2008).

CONTACT INFORMATION: Administrative rules for Hawaii’s medical marijuana program are available online from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii website at: http://www.dpfhi.org/

Application information for the Hawaii medical marijuana registry is available by writing or calling:

Hawaii Department of Public Safety
919 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 594-0150

Top Maine

SUMMARY: Sixty-one percent of voters approved Question 2 on November 2, 1999. The law took effect on December 22, 1999. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess an oral or written “professional opinion” from their physician that he or she “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.” Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea or vomiting as a result of AIDS or cancer chemotherapy. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than one and one-quarter ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than six marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. Those patients who possess greater amounts of marijuana than allowed by law are afforded a “simple defense” to a charge of marijuana possession. The law does not establish a state-run patient registry.

RECIPROCITY: Yes. Authorizes visiting qualifying patient with valid registry identification card (or its equivalent), to engage in conduct authorized for the registered patient (the medical use of marijuana) for 30 days after entering the State, without having to obtain a Maine registry identification card. Visiting qualifying patients are not authorized to obtain in Maine marijuana for medical use. Me. Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, §2423-D (2010).

AMENDMENTS: Yes. Senate Bill 611, which was signed into law on April 2, 2002, increases the amount of useable marijuana a person may possess from one and one-quarter ounces to two and one-half ounces. Question 5, approved by 59 percent of voters on November 3, 2009, mandates the Department of Health to enact rules within 120 days establishing a confidential patient registry and identification card system, and allowing for the dispensing of medicinal cannabis via state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries. The act also expands the list of qualifying illnesses for which a physician may recommend medical cannabis to include: “A. cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail-patella syndrome or the treatment of these conditions; B. a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medical or surgical measures for more than 6 months; C. a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; or D. any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department as provided.” Read the full text.

ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS: Yes.

LD. 1811, signed into law on April 9, 2010, authorizes the creation of up to eight nonprofit medical cannabis dispensaries – one for each of the state’s public health districts. Under the measure, dispensaries may legally “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply or dispenses marijuana or related supplies and educational materials” to state-authorized medical marijuana patients. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services will oversee the licensing of these facilities.

The law also requires, for the first time, that authorized patients join a confidentially state registry. Cardholding patients will not be subject to “arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, including but not limited to a civil penalty or disciplinary action by any business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, or denied any right or privilege,” for their possession, use, or cultivation of authorized amounts of medical cannabis (2 and one-half ounces and/or six plants).

Full text of the law is available here.

ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS: Yes.

LD 1296, signed into law on July 24, 2011, eliminates the 2010 legislative mandate requiring medical marijuana patients to be registered with the state in order to receive legal protection under state law. It also eliminates language requiring physician’s to disclose a patient’s specific medical condition with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, LD 1296 limits the ability of law enforcement to seize cannabis from lawful patients, and mandates for the return of any seized property within seven days.

The new law takes effect in approximately 90 days.

Full text of the measure is available here.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 22, § 2383-B(5), (6) (1999) (amended 2001).

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 22, § 2383-B(3)(e) (amended 2001) (increasing amount of marijuana a patient may posses to two and one-half ounces).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary caregiver is a person providing care for the registered patient. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older. The caregiver can never have been convicted of a disqualifying drug offense. Patients can name one or two primary caregivers. (only one person may be allowed to cultivate marijuana for a registered patient) Me. Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, §§2422; 2425 (2010).

STATE REGULATIONS: Statement of Maine’s Medicinal Marijuana Law [PDF]

CONTACT INFORMATION: Brochures outlining Maine’s medical marijuana law are available from:

www.mainecommonsense.org

Maine Citizens for Patients Rights
PO Box 1074
Lewiston, ME 04243

Top Maryland

SUMMARY: Maryland’s legislature passed a medical marijuana affirmative defense law in 2003. This law requires the court to consider a defendant’s use of medical marijuana to be a mitigating factor in marijuana-related state prosecution. If the patient, post-arrest, successfully makes the case at trial that his or her use of marijuana is one of medical necessity, then the maximum penalty allowed by law would be a $100 fine.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Maryland Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act, Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §5-601(c)(3)(II) (2003).

AMENDMENTS: Yes.

Senate Bill 308, signed into law on May 10, 2011, removes fines and criminal penalties for citizens who successfully raise an ‘affirmative defense’ in court establishing that they possessed limited amounts (one ounce or less) of marijuana for medical purposes. Citizens who cultivate cannabis or who possess larger amounts of marijuana may still raise an affirmative defense at trial and, if successful, will have their sentence mitigated.

Top Michigan

SUMMARY: Sixty-three percent of voters approved Proposal 1 on November 4, 2008. The law took effect on December 4, 2008. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physicians authorizing the medical use of marijuana. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail patella, or the treatment of these conditions. Patients are also offered legal protection if they have a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or treatment of said condition that produces 1 or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may possess no more than 12 marijuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility or 2.5 ounces of usable marihuana. The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. The state officially began accepting applications for the program on April 6, 2009.

RECIPROCITY: Yes. Authorizes visiting qualifying patient with registry identification card (or its equivalent) from a State that also allows the medical use of marijuana by visiting qualifying patients, to engage in the medical use of marijuana. Also authorizes a person to assist with a visiting qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana. Mich. Comp. Law § 333.26424(j) (2008).

(other state, district, territory, commonwealth, or insular possession of the U.S. must offer reciprocity to have reciprocity in Michigan)

AMMENDMENTS: Yes

Administrative rules for the program took effect on April 4, 2009. A copy of the regulations is available here.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, Mich. Comp. Law §§ 333.26421 – 333.26430 (2008).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary caregiver is a person who has agreed to assist with a patient’s medical use of marihuana. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older. The caregiver can never have been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs. Each patient can only have one primary caregiver. The primary caregiver may assist no more than 5 qualifying patients with their medical use of marihuana. Mich. Comp. Law §§ 333.26423; 333.26426(d) (2008).

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP)
Michigan.gov/mmp

Michigan Medical Marijuana Association
http://michiganmedicalmarijuana.org/

Top Montana

SUMMARY: Sixty-two percent of voters approved Initiative 148 on November 2, 2004. The law took effect that same day. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physicians authorizing the medical use of marijuana. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to seizures caused by epilepsy; or severe or persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to spasms caused by multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may possess no more than six marijuana plants. The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients.

Valid medical marijuana registry cards from other medical marijuana states are recognized in this state, so long as the cardholder is in compliance with the possession limits imposed on cardholders in this state.

RECIPROCITY: Yes. Authorizes qualifying patient with registry identification card (or its equivalent) to engage in the medical use of marijuana. Also authorizes a person to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana. Mont. Code Ann. §50-46-201(8) (2009).

AMENDMENTS: Yes

Senate Bill 423, which became law on May 14, 2011, amends the state’s medical marijuana law. The act is due to go into effect on July 1, 2011. Among the changes mandated by this act:

  • Chronic pain patients will face more stringent requirements to qualify under the law, and in some cases may require a recommendation from two separate physicians;
  • Patients found guilty of marijuana DUI will have their medical marijuana privileges revoked;
  • Advising physicians will be reported to the Board of Medical Examiners if they recommend for more than 25 patients per year; Physician will be responsible for the costs of this investigation;
  • Caregivers may accept no monetary compensation for providing cannabis to qualified patients.

A comprehensive summary of the primary provisions of SB 423 may be found here. Full text of the measure is online here.

Several provisions of SB 423 are presently being litigated in court.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Montana Medical Marijuana Act, Mont. Code Ann. §§ 50-46-1 to 50-46-2 (2007).

CONTACT INFORMATION: www.dphhs.mt.gov/medicalmarijuana/

Top Nevada

SUMMARY: Sixty-five percent of voters approved Question 9 on November 7, 2000, which amends the states’ constitution to recognize the medical use of marijuana. The law took effect on October 1, 2001. The law removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who have “written documentation” from their physician that marijuana may alleviate his or her condition. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: AIDS; cancer; glaucoma; and any medical condition or treatment to a medical condition that produces cachexia, persistent muscle spasms or seizures, severe nausea or pain. Other conditions are subject to approval by the health division of the state Department of Human Resources. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than one ounce of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. Patients who do not join the registry or possess greater amounts of marijuana than allowed by law may argue the “affirmative defense of medical necessity” if they are arrested on marijuana charges.

The medical use provisions in Nevada do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: No.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 453A.010 – 453A.240 (2008).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Designated primary caregiver is a person who has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating medical condition. Caregiver does not include the attending physician. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. Patients may only have one designated primary caregiver. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§435A.080(1)(a), (2); 435A.250(2) (2008).

CONTACT INFORMATION: Application information for the Nevada medical marijuana registry is available by writing or calling:

Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Nevada State Health Division
4150 Technology Way, Suite 104
Carson City, Nevada 89706
Phone: 775-687-7594
Fax: 775-684-4156
health.nv.gov/MedicalMarijuana.htm

Top New Jersey

SUMMARY: Governor Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act into law on January 18, 2010. As initially passed, the law was scheduled to take effect in July 2010. However, lawmakers in June amended the legislation at the behest of Republican Gov. Chris Christie to delay the enactment of the law until October 1, 2010. The law mandates the state to promulgate rules governing the distribution of medical cannabis to state-authorized patients. These rules shall address the creation of up to six state-licensed “alternative treatment centers.” Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cancer, glaucoma, seizure and/or spasticity disorders (including epilepsy), Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease), any terminal illness if a doctor has determined the patient will die within a year. Other conditions are subject to approval by the state Department of Health. Patients authorized to use marijuana under this act will not be permitted to cultivate their own cannabis, and are limited to the possession of two ounces of marijuana per month. Additional information on this measure is available here.

The medical use provisions in New Jersey do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary Caregiver is a person who has agreed to assist with a registered qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana. Primary caregiver cannot be the patient’s physician. Primary caregiver must be a resident of New Jersey. The primary caregiver can never have been convicted of a felony drug offense. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. The caregiver may only have one qualifying patient at any one time. N.J. Stat. Ann. §24:6I-3 (2010).

  • (Registration process for caregivers has not yet been determined.)

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

New Jersey NORML
http://www.normlnj.org

Coalition for Medical Marijuana — New Jersey
http://www.cmmnj.org/

Top New Mexico

SUMMARY: Governor Bill Richardson signed Senate Bill 523, “Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act,” into law on April 2, 2007. The new law took effect on July 1, 2007. The law mandates the state Department of Health by October 1, 2007, to promulgate rules governing the use and distribution of medical cannabis to state-authorized patients. These rules shall address the creation of state-licensed “cannabis production facilities,” the development of a confidential patient registry and a state-authorized marijuana distribution system, and “define the amount of cannabis that is necessary to constitute an adequate supply” for qualified patients.

The medical use provisions in New Mexico do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: Yes. In January 2009, the New Mexico Department of Health finalized rules governing the production, distribution, and use of medicinal cannabis under state law. Patients registered with the state Department of Health and who are diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under these rules:

  • Arthritis
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Painful peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable nausea/vomiting
  • Severe anorexia/cachexia
  • Hepatitis C infection currently receiving antiviral treatment
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hospice patients

Other conditions are subject to approval by the Department of Health. Patients may legally possess six ounces of medical cannabis (or more if authorized by their physician) and/or 16 plants (four mature, 12 immature) under this act.

State regulations also authorize non-profit facilities to apply with the state to produce and dispense medical cannabis. State licensed producers may grow up to 95 mature plants at one time. (UPDATE! The New Mexico Department of Health finalized revised regulations in December 2010 increasing the number of plants that may be produced at one time from 95 to 150. The updated regulations also allow licensed producers to obtain plants, seeds, and/or usable cannabis from other non-profit producers. The licensing fee for producers is: $5,000 for producers licensed less than one year, $10,000 for more than one year, $20,000 for more than two years and $30,000 for more than three years. For further information, please see: http://nmhealth.org/idb/medical_cannabis.shtml)

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-31C-1 (2007).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary caregiver is designated by patient’s practitioner as necessary to take responsibility for managing the well-being of a qualified patient with respect to the medical use of cannabis. Primary caregiver must be a resident of New Mexico. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. N.M. Stat. Ann. §26-2B-3(F) (2007).

CONTACT INFORMATION: Please contact the Medical Cannabis Program Coordinator at (505) 827-2321 or medical.cannabis@state.nm.us or visit www.nmhealth.org/marijuanahtml for more information.

Top Oregon

SUMMARY: Fifty-five percent of voters approved Measure 67 on November 3, 1998. The law took effect on December 3, 1998. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a signed recommendation from their physician stating that marijuana “may mitigate” his or her debilitating symptoms. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Resources. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than three ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. Patients who do not join the registry or possess greater amounts of marijuana than allowed by law may argue the “affirmative defense of medical necessity” if they are arrested on marijuana charges.

The Oregon law does not include a reciprocity provision. However, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled (and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program has confirmed) that patients from out of state are permitted to register with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to obtain a registry identification card, the same as an Oregon resident, which will protect them from arrest or prosecution while in Oregon. These out of state patients are required to obtain a recommendation for the medical use of marijuana from an Oregon licensed physician. State v. Berringer, 229 P3d 615 (2010).

AMENDMENTS: Yes.

House Bill 3052, which took effect on July 21, 1999, mandates that patients (or their caregivers) may only cultivate marijuana in one location, and requires that patients must be diagnosed by their physicians at least 12 months prior to an arrest in order to present an “affirmative defense.” This bill also states that law enforcement officials who seize marijuana from a patient pending trial do not have to keep those plants alive. Last year the Oregon Board of Health approved agitation due to Alzheimer’s disease to the list of debilitating conditions qualifying for legal protection.

In August 2001, program administrators filed established temporary procedures further defining the relationship between physicians and patients. The new rule defines attending physician as “a physician who has established a physician/patient relationship with the patient; … is primarily responsible for the care and treatment of the patients; … has reviewed a patient’s medical records at the patient’s request, has conducted a thorough physical examination of the patient, has provided a treatment plan and/or follow-up care, and has documented these activities in a patient file.”

Also, Senate Bill 1085, which took effect on January 1, 2006, raises the quantity of cannabis that authorized patients may possess from seven plants (with no more than three mature) and three ounces of cannabis to six mature cannabis plants, 18 immature seedlings, and 24 ounces of usable cannabis. However, those state-qualified patients who possess cannabis in amounts exceeding the new state guidelines will no longer retain the ability to argue an “affirmative defense” of medical necessity at trial. Patients who fail to register with the state, but who possess medical cannabis in amounts compliant with state law, still retain the ability to raise an “affirmative defense” at trial.

Other amendments to Oregon’s medical marijuana law redefine “mature plants” to include only those cannabis plants that are more than 12 inches in height and diameter, and establish a state-registry for those authorized to produce medical cannabis to qualified patients.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES:Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, Or. Rev. Stat. § 475.300 (2007).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Designated primary caregiver is the person that has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition. Primary caregiver does not include the patient’s physician. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. A patient may only have one primary caregiver. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 475.302(5); 475.312(2) (2007).

CONTACT INFORMATION: Application information for the Oregon medical marijuana registry is available online or by writing:

Oregon Department of Human Services
800 NE Oregon St.
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 731-4000
http://egov.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/ommp/index.shtml

Oregon Cannabis Patients registry: 1 (877) 600-6767

Oregon NORML Medical Marijuana Act Handbook (PDF)

Top Rhode Island

SUMMARY: The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act took effect immediately upon passage on January 3, 2006. The law removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess “written certification” from their physician stating, “In the practitioner’s professional opinion, the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient.” Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia; cancer; glaucoma; Hepatitis C; severe, debilitating, chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s Disease; or agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Rhode Island Department of Health. Patients (and/or their primary caregivers) may legally possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and/or 12 plants, and their cannabis must be stored in an indoor facility. The law establishes a mandatory, confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. Patients who do not register with the Department of Health, but have received certification from their physician to use medicinal cannabis, may raise an affirmative defense at trial.

RECIPROCITY: Yes. Authorizes a patient with a debilitating medical condition, with a registry identification card (or its equivalent), to engage in the medical use of marijuana. Also authorizes a person to assist with the medical use of marijuana by a patient with a debilitating medical condition. R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28.6-4(k) (2006).

AMENDMENTS: Yes.

In June 2007, the Rhode Island House and Senate enacted legislation eliminating the sunset clause of the The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, making the provisional program permanent

ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS: Yes.

In 2009, lawmakers enacted legislation authorizing the establishment of state-licensed not-for-profit ‘compassion centers’ to “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, supply or dispense marijuana, or related supplies and educational materials, to registered qualifying patients and their registered primary caregivers.” The Rhode Island Department of Health will oversee the licensing and regulating of these facilities. Copies of the regulations are available for public inspection in the Cannon Building, Room #201, Rhode Island Department of Health, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, Rhode Island, on the Department’s website: http://www.health.ri.gov/ or the Secretary of State’s website: http://www.sos.ri.gov/rules/, by calling 401-222-7767 or by e-mail to Bill.Dundulis@health.ri.gov.

ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS: Yes.

In 2010, lawmakers enacted legislation, House Bill 8172, ensuring the confidentiality of medical marijuana patients’ records. The law states, in part, “Applications and supporting information submitted by qualifying patients, including information regarding their primary caregivers and practitioners, are confidential and protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and shall be exempt from the provisions of the RIGL chapter 38-2 et seq. the Rhode Island access to public records act and not subject to disclosure, except to authorized employees of the department as necessary to perform official duties of the department.”

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28.6 (2006).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older. Primary caregiver may assist no more than 5 qualifying patients with their medical use of marijuana. R.I. Gen. Laws 1956, §21-28.6-3 (9) (2006).

CONTACT INFORMATION: http://www.health.state.ri.us/
Application Forms are available at www.health.ri.gov/hsr/mmp/index.php or by visiting room 104 at the Health Department, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence.

More helpful information can be found here: http://ripatients.org/.

Top Vermont

SUMMARY: Senate Bill 76 became law without Gov. James Douglas’ signature on May 26, 2004. The law takes effect on July 1, 2004. The law removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition.” Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: HIV or AIDS, cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis. Patients (or their primary caregiver) may legally possess no more than two ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than three marijuana plants, of which no more than one may be mature. The law establishes a mandatory, confidential state-run registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients.

The medical use provisions in Vermont do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: Yes.

Senate Bill 7, which took effect on July 1, 2007, expands the definition of “debilitating medical condition” to include: “(A) cancer, multiple sclerosis, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or the treatment of these conditions, if the disease or the treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms; or (B) a disease, medical condition, or its treatment that is chronic, debilitating, and produces severe, persistent, and one or more of the following intractable symptoms: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; or seizures.”

The measure also raises the quantity of medical cannabis patients may legally possess under state law from one mature and/or two immature plants to two mature and/or seven immature plants. Senate Bill 7 also amends state law so that licensed physicians in neighboring states can legally recommend cannabis to Vermont patients.

ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS: Yes.

Senate Bill 17, which was signed into law on June 2, 2011, allows up to four state-licensed facilities to dispense marijuana to medically authorized patients. Each dispensary will be licensed by the state Department of Public Safety and will be permitted to serve up to 1,000 registered patients. The Department is in the process of developing rules to carry out the new law. The Department is anticipated to begin issuing licenses within six or seven months and must begin doing so within one year.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Therapeutic Use of Cannabis, Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, §§ 4471- 4474d (2003).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Registered caregiver is a person who has agreed to undertake responsibility for managing the well-being of a registered patient with respect to the use of marijuana for symptom relief. The registered caregiver can never have been convicted of a drug-related crime. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older. Patients may only have one registered caregiver at a time. Registered caregiver may serve only one registered patient at a time. Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. 18, §4472(6); 4474(1),(2)(c) (2003).

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Marijuana Registry
Department of Public Safety
03 South Main Street
Waterbury, Vermont 05671
802-241-5115
www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=2012

Top Washington

SUMMARY: Fifty-nine percent of voters approved Measure 692 on November 3, 1998. The law took effect on that day. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess “valid documentation” from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and that the “potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks.” Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia; cancer; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; glaucoma; intractable pain (defined as pain unrelieved by standard treatment or medications); and multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Washington Board of Health. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess or cultivate no more than a 60-day supply of marijuana. The law does not establish a state-run patient registry.

The medical use provisions in Washington do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

AMENDMENTS: Yes.

Senate Bill 6032, mandated the Department of Health to “adopt rules defining the quantity of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be a sixty-day supply for qualifying patients.” In October 2008, the department finalized guidelines allowing patients to cultivate up to 15 cannabis plants and/or possess up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana. The new limits took effect on November 2, 2008.

Patients who possess larger quantities of cannabis than those approved by the Department will continue to receive legal protection under the law if they present evidence indicating that they require such amounts to adequately treat their qualifying medical condition.

Senate Bill 6032 also affirmed changes previously recommended by the state’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission to expand the state’s list of qualifying conditions to include Crohn’s disease, hepatitis c, and any “diseases, including anorexia, which results in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, and/or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.”

It also limits the ability of police to seize medicinal cannabis that is “determined … [to be] possessed lawfully [by an authorized patients] under the … law.”

ADDITIONAL AMMENDMENTS: Yes.

Senate Bill 5798 allows additional health care professionals including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients. The new law will take effect on June 10, 2010.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Wash. Rev. Code §§ 69.51A – 69.51A.901 (2007).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Designated provider is a person who has been designated in writing by a patient to serve as a designated provider. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. The designated provider is prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use of the patient for whom the individual is acting as designated provider. The designated provider may be the primary caregiver for only one patient at any one time. Wash. Rev. Code §§69.51A.010, 69.51A.040 (2007).

CONTACT INFORMATION: Fact sheets outlining Washington’s medical marijuana law are available from:

Washington State Department of Health
101 Israel Road SE
Tumwater, WA 98501
(800) 525-0127
Attention: Glenda Moore
http://www.doh.wa.gov/

ACLU of Washington, Drug Reform Project
(206) 624-2184
http://www.aclu-wa.org/detail.cfm?id=182