Tag: medical marijuana

New Jersey Gov Signs Order to Expand Medical Marijuana Access

Exactly one week after taking office, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order expanding access to medical marijuana for patients who qualify for it under state law.

Murphy’s order instructs the state Health Department to review barriers to access for patients, and remove them.

Cannabis reform was near the top of Murphy’s policy agenda during last year’s campaign. The Democrat promised to sign legislation legalizing and regulating the adult use of cannabis. That bill is now working its way through the New Jersey Legislature. In the meantime, Murphy this morning signed an executive order aimed at cutting through the difficulties encountered by the state’s 15,000 registered patients who currently have access to only five dispensaries across New Jersey.

Murphy called the state’s medical marijuana program, which was enacted in 2010 and then slow-walked under previous Gov. Chris Christie, an MMJ program “in name only,” and declared that New Jersey’s patients will no longer be denied compassionate care.

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Murphy noted that New Jersey, with a population of 9 million, serves only 15,000 patients. Michigan, with a similar population, serves more than 218,000 patients, and Arizona, with a smaller population, serves more than 136,000 patients. “The need for medical marijuana in New Jersey currently far exceeds the supply that the existing licensed [dispensaries] are able to provide,” says the order. (The full text of Murphy’s executive order is reprinted below.)

“Our law is eight years old,” Murphy said. “Since it took effect, significant medical research has been conducted. Our goal is to modernize the program in New Jersey, bring it up to current standards, and put patients first.”

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Murphy says he’s asking state government to focus on expanding the medical marijuana program and proposing new rules or repealing those that hamper the program.

The advocacy group NJ Marijuana Reform posted this video of the governor at this morning’s ceremony:

Krystal Knapp, reporting for PlanetPrinceton, noted that:

Due to administrative barriers instituted by the Christie administration, Murphy said New Jersey’s highly stringent rules have means countless residents who could benefit from medical marijuana are left out of the program. More than 15,000 people currently enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program have access to only five dispensaries in operation in the state.

To combat lack of access, the executive order mandates that the New Jersey Department of Health and Board of Medical Examiners complete the review of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program within 60 days. The order also requires that the review’s findings are submitted along with recommendations for new rules and regulations – or for the elimination of existing ones.

Murphy himself tweeted that he’s “turning the page” on MMJ access in the Garden State:

Full Text of Murphy’s Executive Order

Executive Order 6:

WHEREAS, it is beyond dispute that patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions deserve to live in dignity with as little suffering as possible; and

WHEREAS, medical decisions must be based on science and health, not ideology or social policy; and

WHEREAS, scientific studies demonstrate that the medical use of marijuana has proven to be an effective treatment for patients suffering from painful, debilitating, and often chronic medical conditions; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey amended its state law to allow for the authorized medical use of marijuana with the passage of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in 2010; and

WHEREAS, 29 states have recently allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes; and

WHEREAS, even a Republican-controlled Congress has repeatedly renewed the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, prohibiting the U.S. Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws; and

WHEREAS, implementation of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was a lengthy process marked by significant delays, resulting in far fewer patients being served by the program than anticipated when the law was enacted; and

WHEREAS, there are currently five medical marijuana alternative treatment centers (ATCs) in operation in New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, only one additional ATC has been able to obtain a permit and is scheduled to begin operations in the foreseeable future; and

WHEREAS, of New Jersey’s nine million residents, only approximately 15,000 are able to participate in the State’s medical marijuana program; and

WHEREAS, in contrast, the medical marijuana program in Michigan, a state with a similar population to New Jersey, currently serves over 218,000 patients, and the program in Arizona, a state with a smaller population than New Jersey, serves over 136,000 patients; and

WHEREAS, the need for medical marijuana in New Jersey currently far exceeds the supply that the existing licensed ATCs in operation are able to provide; and

WHEREAS, giving patients a greater opportunity to obtain medical marijuana in accordance with State law will ensure that they are receiving a product tailored to their medical needs, and make them less likely to turn to potentially more harmful and less medically appropriate drugs such as opioids, the use of which was declared a public health crisis in Executive Order No. 219 (2017); and

WHEREAS, one study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center found that the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower in states where medical marijuana is legal than in states where it is illegal; and

WHEREAS, my administration is committed to fulfilling the intent, promise, and potential of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act by providing patients in New Jersey with a well-functioning and effectively administered medical marijuana program that best serves their medical needs;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, PHILIP D. MURPHY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

1.         The Department of Health (“Department”) and the Board of Medical Examiners (“Board”) shall undertake a review of all aspects of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, with a focus on ways to expand access to marijuana for medical purposes.  This review should include, but not be limited to:

a.          An evaluation of the current rules regulating the operations and siting of dispensaries and cultivation facilities, particularly focusing on whether the rules should be revised to remove unwarranted obstructions to expansion;

b.         A review of the current process for obtaining a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary, including recommendations to expedite that process;

c.          An examination of conditions for participating physicians in the program to ensure that any such requirements are not needlessly onerous;

d.         An analysis of the current list of debilitating medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be authorized pursuant to N.J.S.A. 24:61-3, and a recommendation as to whether doctors should be given flexibility to make these determinations on their own;

e.          An assessment of the methods through which patients or their primary caregivers are obtaining medical marijuana and a recommendation of whether rules should be amended to approve additional methods that could facilitate patient access;

f.          A review of regulations that govern the forms in which medical marijuana can be ingested, taking into consideration the needs for different methods for different patients; and

g.         Any other aspect of the program within the Department or the Board’s discretion that hinders or fails to effectively achieve the statutory objective of ensuring safe access to medical marijuana for patients in need.

2.         This review shall conclude within 60 days of this Order, at which time the Department and Board shall initiate the rule making process for appropriate regulatory reforms consistent with this Order.

3.         This Order shall take effect immediately.

GIVEN, under my hand and seal this 23rd day of January, Two Thousand and Eighteen and of the Independence of the United States the Two Hundred and Forty-Second.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Senate Revives Gov’t, and Medical Marijuana Protections, Until Feb. 8

Senate Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement to end the federal government shutdown on Monday afternoon. By a vote of 81-18 (60 votes were needed), the Senate passed a continuing resolution that keeps the government running for another 17 days.

The next budget vote will have to take place by the end of the day on Feb. 8, or another shutdown may ensue. Today’s deal secured six years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program, and rested on the promise that Congress will take up legislation regarding DACA, border security and related issues between now and Feb. 8.

Today’s vote keeps federal protections for medical marijuana patients and caregivers in effect until Feb. 8.

The House passed the continuing resolution late Monday afternoon, and President Trump is expected to sign the legislation this evening.

As part of that budget deal, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which protects medical cannabis patients and caregivers in legal medical states, is once again in effect—but only until Feb. 8.

“I expect that during this time period, we will be maneuvering on the cannabis issue and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) told Leafly earlier today, as Senate leaders were brokering a deal. “So this is a time for people to make sure that they contact their own member of Congress to make sure that they get behind the amendment for the final bill.”

Rorhabacher said that he hoped Congress won’t just pass another continuing resolution on Feb. 8. “I hope that we come up with an omnibus bill that will include an appropriations bill for the Department of Justice. At that point, then we are safe for eight or nine months. Then hopefully during those eight or nine months, we will pass a regular piece of legislation that will prevent us from jumping through all of these hoops every year.”

Rohrabacher: Looking for ‘Breathing Space’

Those eight or nine months will give legislators a “little bit of breathing space” to lay down the foundation for federal law, he said. “That law will then codify the position and keep it there as a matter of record. It will also allow for people to mobilize, to get behind one piece of legislation. Then everyone can go to their elected officials and say ‘Look. This is what we are demanding’, and actually have a major push.”

Rohrabacher is pushing his own bill, HR 975, “Respect State Marijuana Laws of 2017”, which was introduced nearly a year ago and now has 40 co-sponsors (with 16 new ones since January 8).

“That bill would be putting into law the idea that the states will be the ones that will make the decision, and everybody, not just the Department of Justice, but everybody, like the banking regulators and other regulators, will then have to deal with the cannabis issue just the way they would with any other commodity throughout the states that have designated it that way,” Rohrabacher told Leafly.

‘There is a new coalition out there. It’s not left or right. It’s a coalition of people who believe cannabis should be left up to the states.’

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, (R-CA)

Today’s action leaves the industry at an interesting crossroads. Prior to the Senate deal, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed into law the first legislature-created bill for recreational marijuana, making it the ninth adult-use state. New Jersey is poised to become the tenth, as their new cannabis-friendly governor takes office. And major pieces of federal cannabis legalization legislation are finally gaining serious traction.

“You now have people who are basing their political action today on political circumstances and coalitions and power dynamics that are decades old,” Rohrabacher told Leafly. “We’ve got to break through that, and get people to realize that there is a new coalition out there that is not Democrat and not Republican and not a left or a right coalition. It’s a coalition of people that have said that the issue of cannabis should be left up to the states, and that the reason why we are pushing for that is because we believe that there is some legitimate uses of cannabis at the very least for medical purposes but also for adults to make their own decision as to what they will consume.”

“We are going to have to create this new coalition,” he said, “and it’s very possible to do it.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

What the Federal Shutdown Means for Medical Marijuana

At midnight Friday, the federal government shut down.

What does that mean for medical marijuana? It’s not good.

Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protections are no longer in effect. But they will likely return.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which has protected medical cannabis patients and caregivers from federal interference since 2014, was part of the budget appropriations bill. So when the budget expired, so did those protections.

The protections are no longer operative—but that doesn’t mean federal officials are going to start arresting MMJ patients tomorrow.

With the federal government shut down, all non-essential government personnel are furloughed. Even if a federal prosecutor wanted to go after a medical marijuana target, they wouldn’t have the law enforcement personnel on hand to carry out the arrests.

Mind the Gap

In addition, the protections in the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment affect any cases that might be brought during this gap in coverage. In other words, if the next budget that Congress adopts includes the amendment, then federal authorities could not pursue any case that was brought during the lapse in coverage.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) reiterated on Thursday that he will continue working to maintain the provision in whatever funding bill Congress passes next.

Here’s the ‘Good Shutdown’

Even though President Trump said he wanted to avoid a shutdown, the uncertainty he caused through Thursday intensified on Friday. Trump has supported a government shutdown in the past, writing in a tweet last May when the government was in the same position: “Our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix mess!”

This time, Trump’s flip-flopping on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the so-called “Dreamers” immigration policy act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), providing low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money for Medicaid, accelerated the uncertainty in budget negotiations through the week, resulting in the shutdown on Friday.

Meanwhile, a Flurry of Cannabis Bills

The only upside to the chaos of the shutdown has been the quiet work on marijuana legalization that was happening at the same time on the Hill, much of it since the middle of January.

A new House bill introduced on January 17, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and about a dozen co-sponsors, is a companion bill to Sen. Cory Booker’s “Marijuana Justice Act”, S. 1689 that was introduced in August, 2017, and has languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

NORML reports that this is the first time that companion legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

On January 18th, Lee tweeted that her justice act bill “is a landmark bill to help us end the destructive, discriminatory #WarOnDrugs and rebuild the lives torn apart by these failed policies.”

Barbara Lee: The New Cannabis Champion

Congresswoman Lee is also the sponsor of “States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act” (HR 331), with Blumenauer as one of the six co-sponsors; a co-sponsor, along with both Rohrabacher and Blumenauer, of Colorado Rep. Jared Polis’ bill “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” (HR 1841), that saw a surge of six new co-sponsors since the beginning of the year for a total of 23;  a co-sponsor of Blumenauer’s bill “Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act” (HR 1823); and one of 66 co-sponsors (eight just since January 16) along with both Blumenauer and Rohrabacher, of “Safe and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE) of 2017” (HR 2215).

She is also a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, and is seen as a strong ally in Congress in any discussion of the continuation of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

Old Bills See New Life

Even older marijuana-related bills have been getting traction in January while Congress focused on the budget.

Both Blumenauer and Rohrabacher are co-sponsors of Rep. Tom Garrett’s (R-VA) bill “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” (HR 1227), introduced February 27, 2017, now with 25 co-sponsors – 10 since the beginning of 2018.

Also in February, 2017, Rohrabacher introduced the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017” (HR 975), now with 40 co-sponsors including both Blumenauer and Lee – 16 since the beginning of the year.

Now that work will potentially have to face renewed scrutiny because of the shutdown and the elimination of the amendment.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Lawsuit Aims to Halt Maine’s Medical Marijuana Inspections

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The owners of a medical marijuana shop and two medical marijuana users are suing to stop Maine from implementing new medical marijuana regulations next month.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court targets a new rule that allows the state to provide same-day inspections of medical cannabis providers and to inspect a user’s home with a day’s notice.

The lawsuit contends such warrantless searches violated the Constitution.

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The rules are due to go into effect on Feb. 1.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Ricker Hamilton are critical of the leeway granted to medical marijuana providers.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by Justin Olsen and Nancy Shaw of New World Organics in Belfast and two patients, a cancer victim and an injured military veteran.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Nebraska Proposal Would Put Medical Marijuana on 2018 Ballot

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska state senator is proposing a ballot measure that would give Nebraska voters the chance to legalize medical marijuana in November.

Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln introduced a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday after several previous legalization bills stalled in the Legislature.

Wishart says she believes voters should get the opportunity to establish protections for people with chronic conditions who use cannabis to ease pain. She says Nebraska state officials have failed to act.

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The proposal would refer the issue to voters in the November general election. Advocates for medical cannabis have tried to get the issue on the ballot before, but so far have not succeeded.

Opponents of medical marijuana have cast it as a slippery slope to recreational use.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Florida Supreme Court Disbars Medical Marijuana Lawyer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida lawyer was disbarred Thursday for telling clients it was OK to possess, use and grow marijuana for medical use — more than two years before Florida approved medical marijuana.

The Florida Supreme Court said in its order that some of Ian Christensen’s clients were arrested and some lost their jobs because of his bad advice. One client who was provided a “grow sign” to announce he was cultivating marijuana at home was arrested after someone saw the sign and called 911. Another client growing marijuana had a SWAT team storm his home.

The court said Christensen’s ‘Official Legal Certification’ certificates were legally meaningless and his incompetence caused his clients serious harm.

Christensen formed Health Law Services in Jacksonville within a year of being admitted to The Florida Bar in 2013. He referred clients to a doctor who would “prescribe” them marijuana and then issued “Official Legal Certifications” and identification cards saying they had a medical need for the drug and could legally possess use and grow it.

But none of it was legal and the doctor clients paid $799 to see wasn’t even licensed to practice in Florida.

“One of the clients lost her nursing license of twenty-five years and the other lost his engineering job of fifteen years,” the court wrote. “In addition, their landlord sued them for damages to the home during the raid and lost rent.”

Voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2016 to authorize medical use of marijuana, and lawmakers last year put rules in place for its use and cultivation. Homegrown marijuana and smokable forms of the drug aren’t authorized.

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Even so, Christensen was advising clients well before the amendment and subsequent law was passed.

The court said Christensen’s “Official Legal Certification” certificates were legally meaningless and his incompetence caused his clients serious harm.

“Several clients who relied upon (Christensen’s) erroneous advice were arrested and criminally prosecuted, and their lives were devastated,” the court wrote.

A message left for Christensen seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Report Supports Help for Minorities in Medical Cannabis Industry

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Data on discrimination in Maryland’s overall economy provides “a strong basis in evidence” to support helping businesses owned by women and minorities in the types of industries relevant to the state’s fledgling medical marijuana industry, a state report released Wednesday said.

The report, released by Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration, was conducted by Jon Wainwright, an economist and managing director of NERA Economic Consulting. Wainwright noted a state disparity study from last year that found discrimination continues to adversely affect minority- and women-owned firms throughout Maryland.

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The report noted that last year’s study found evidence to suggest that economy-wide state contracting disparities in Maryland’s relevant markets are “even greater than disparities in the public sector.” The report said the difference may be because the state has operated an assertive minority business enterprise program to remedy discrimination — a program that would tend to reduce, but not yet eliminate, the effects of discrimination in public procurement.

“Absent such affirmative remedial efforts by the State, I would expect to see evidence in the relevant markets in which the medical cannabis licensees will operate that is consistent with the continued presence of business discrimination,” Wainwright wrote in the report.

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The report supports efforts by lawmakers who are sponsoring legislation that would create five new medical marijuana cultivation licenses for minority-owned businesses. None of the 14 companies licensed to grow marijuana in the state has black owners, even though nearly one-third of the state’s population is black. A bill last year to add licenses failed to pass in the closing minutes of the session.

Maryland’s long-stalled medical marijuana program got off the ground last month, when some dispensaries began selling medical marijuana in the state. Companies have shown a strong interest in Maryland, because the market is expected to be lucrative. That’s because marijuana is available for any severe condition for which medical treatments have been ineffective. Nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists and nurse midwives can recommend its use, as well as doctors.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Illinois Pain Patients Must Have Medical Marijuana Access, Judge Rules

A Cook County judge has ordered the Illinois State Department of Health to add intractable pain to the department’s list of conditions that allow patients legal access to medical cannabis.

Health Department Director Dr. Nirav Shah had twice previously refused to add the condition to the list. In 2016, the now-defunct Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted 10-0 to add intractable pain to the state’s list of qualifying conditions. But Shah denied the addition, citing a “lack of high-quality data” as his reason. 

Judge Raymond Mitchell said the state’s decision to exclude chronic pain was ‘clearly erroneous.’

Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell ruled that Shah’s decision was “clearly erroneous,” noting that two medical journals had reviewed 45 clinical studies of cannabis used to treat pain. “The record shows that individuals with intractable pain would benefit from the medical use of cannabis,” the judge wrote.

The ruling could have profound implications for Illinois’ medical cannabis program. The state currently lists 40 debilitating conditions, but among patients nationwide, intractable pain is far and away the most frequently cited reason for the use of medical marijuana.

The judge’s ruling came as the result of a lawsuit filed by Ann Mednick, a Rolling Meadows woman who has taken opioid pills to cope with extreme pain caused by osteoarthritis but wants a treatment with fewer side effects.

“Illinois is years behind the times,” Mednick told the Chicago Tribune. “The state needs to get (it) together.”

A health department spokeswoman says Mitchell’s ruling will be appealed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Now Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Comment is Affecting Medical Marijuana

President Trump’s “shithole countries” comment last Thursday continued to rock Washington, DC, this week. The president’s outburst, made in the midst of negotiations over immigration reform, has affected everything from international relations to medical marijuana.

A deal on DACA is key to the passage of a federal budget. MMJ protections live inside that budget. And Trump’s comment blew up the DACA deal.

Yes, medical marijuana. Trump’s comments effectively blew up a fragile deal on DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that affects the immigration status of 800,000 people currently in the United States. The DACA deal was to be the linchpin of the entire federal omnibus budget bill, scheduled for a vote this coming Friday, Jan. 19.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prevents the Justice Department from prosecuting patients and caregivers in states that have legalized medical marijuana, depends on the passage of that same federal budget. It’s not a standalone law, it’s a spending measure—it prevents the Justice Department from spending any money on medical marijuana prosecutions.

Budget Set to Expire on Jan. 19

Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protections are written into the current federal budget, but that budget runs out of money on Jan. 19. If Congressional leaders can’t find agreement and pass a budget, the federal government may face a shutdown similar to the one forced by House Republicans in 2013. Congress has already passed several continuing resolutions, which keep the federal government open at 2017 budget levels, and leaders are considering yet another continuing resolution that would push the issue into late February.

The current protections will remain only as long as a continuing resolution is in place.

Republicans don’t have enough votes to do that without Democratic support. They need at least nine Senate Democrats to vote in favor of any funding measure. And those votes might not be there.

As the Washington Post reported earlier this morning, “GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants.”

Kicking It Down The Road, Again

If that continuing resolution is adopted, there will be no vote on the amendment itself, which would temporarily remain in place, according to sources in Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s office. The amendment is currently included in the broader funding bill that is currently in effect. It was maintained in December when Congress passed the last continuing resolution to extend the funding bill to January 19.

Currently there’s no consensus between Democrats and Republicans if the January 19 deadline will mean a continuing resolution for just a couple of months, or a longer term deal—perhaps even a yearlong continuing resolution—that funds the government for a year.

“Congressman Blumenauer is working to maintain R-B in whatever funding bill Congress votes on next,” a staffer in Blumenauer’s office wrote in a response to Leafly’s emailed questions. “At this rate, it’s likely that they will do another continuing resolution – though, who really knows.”

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Four Years of Protection

For four years, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment (formerly known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment before Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) retired) has kept patients and the medical cannabis industry in an uneasy but safe space mostly free from federal prosecution.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment must be re-authorized with every new federal budget.

Each time Congress has to renew the amendment, patient advocates and industry insiders hold their collective breath and hope for the best.

The vote to continue the amendment, even when passed, hasn’t always gone well. In June, 2015, when Representative Dana Rohrabacher presented the bill for discussion in the House (it passed 242-186 for only the second time in nine tries, with more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans voting for it), there were serious objections from other Congressmen who have yet to temper their beliefs on the issue.

“Let me say, first of all, this whole idea of medical marijuana is a big joke,” Rep. John Fleming (R-LA-04) said at the time (Fleming was recently appointed deputy assistant secretary for Health Information Technology Reform in 2017). “It is an end run around the laws.”

That comment was followed by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-06), the chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary: “Statistics show that 78 percent of the 2.4 million people who began using marijuana last year were aged 12 to 20,” he said. “There is little doubt that this drug poses a significant danger to our children, and I urge a ‘no’ vote on this amendment.”

Pete Sessions Blocked the House Version

So there are stalwart enemies fighting against the amendment and, well, anything could happen. Like it did on Sept. 6, 2017.

That was when the U.S. House Committee on Rules, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who is not related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, blocked a host of marijuana-related amendments from the federal appropriations bill, including the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. That sent a shockwave through the medical marijuana patient community.

According to an article in The Hill, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment was reportedly too divisive for the Republican-run House to come to a decision. “What we are doing now is avoiding the issue of legalization,” Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA-50) told The Hill at the time.

The amendment was then renewed on September 8 as part of an emergency aid package, renewed again through some spending bills on December 8 and December 22, leading up to a review and potential renewal on January 19.

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House Committee Blocks Medical Marijuana Protections

Cole Memo Move Lit a Fire

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is confident: “The [loss of the] Cole memo will actually mobilize us to win the day and carry on for at least a year.” (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP)

But even if nothing happens on the budget on January 19, Jeff Sessions’ recent rescission of the Cole memo has energized proponents of the amendment, who now want to expand it and rework it into a sort of de facto legalization law later this year.

During a Jan. 4 press conference about the loss of the Cole memo and its effect on the amendment, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said that the rescission of the memo doesn’t radically change what he and his colleagues are trying to do.

“We have a commitment to protect and expand the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment,” he said. “There are proposals to expand those protections.”

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said the Cole memo “will serve our purposes because it will mobilize us and people around the country who have taken the amendment language for granted.”

“Any continuing resolution will keep it here temporarily,” Rohrabacher added. “But then we need to make sure that it is included in any omnibus bill that will then carry on for about a year. During that year, we need to have a comprehensive bill that says not just medical marijuana, but that the fed government will respect all decisions of the states when it comes to cannabis. If they want to have adult use that is fine.”

“The Cole memo will actually mobilize us to win the day and carry on for at least a year,” Rohrabacher said. “But during the year we will know that we have got to make the fundamental changes, a greater version of this amendment, into public law so it doesn’t have to be replaced every year.”

Strong Senate Support

Blumenauer said that the current version of the amendment has good bipartisan support and is in good shape in the Senate. Although the House did not include the amendment in its omnibus budget proposal, the Senate version of the budget did contain the MMJ protections. The final outcome will be determined in a conference committee charged with reconciling the two versions.

“Congressman Rohrabacher and I are both confident that we are in a very strong position for the amendment to be renewed on the 19th,” Blumenauer said. “We have support in both parties to do this, and that will put a spotlight on it. With that broad bipartisan support and great support in the Senate, hopefully this will enable us allow us to ramp up and expand those protections offered in the amendment.”

Positive Signs in the Past Week

There are growing signs that a shift has taken place in not just the perception of the industry as an economic engine, but in the increased support in Congress and among state legislators.

A bill from Congressman Tom Garrett (R-VA-05) – “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” – now has 22 cosponsors, with seven signing on since the Cole memo rescission. Vermont just legalized recreational marijuana through state legislature, the first time that has happened and likely setting a precedent for other states to follow.

January 19th probably won’t be the last time that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment gets extended. But it may be one of the last times it’s presented in its current form, as bipartisan momentum to complete marijuana legalization picks up steam through 2018 and the language of the amendment comes to include protections for recreational marijuana as well as medical – or simply evolves into a standalone bill.

A Flurry of Action on Legalization

That process may have already begun. Just last week, on January 11, an update to the amendment by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO-02) and Tom McClintock (R-CA-04) proposes to remove the word “medical” from the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, effectively expanding the protections offered by the amendment to all states where recreational marijuana is sold. In a press release, Polis reported that 70 bipartisan members of Congress have signed a letter asking leadership to attach the amendment to the next government funding bill.

On Friday, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced a House bill that would effectively handcuff the federal government from enforcing the nation’s cannabis in states that adopt their own cannabis laws.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-NY) says she’s also working on legislation that would “roll back the changes” made by Sessions undoing of the Cole memo and allow states to “make their own determination about their marijuana laws and how they want to enforce them.”

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Pennsylvania MMJ Patients Face Choice: Cannabis or Guns?

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The federal government says grass and guns don’t mix, and that is putting gun owners who use medical marijuana — and the strongly pro-gun-rights administration of President Donald Trump — in a potentially uncomfortable position.

“They can have their guns or their marijuana, but not both.”

John T. Adams, PA District Attorneys Assn.

As gun-loving Pennsylvania becomes the latest state to operate a medical cannabis program, with the first dispensary on track to begin sales next month, authorities are warning patients that federal law bars marijuana users from having guns or ammunition.

“They’re going to have to make a choice,” said John T. Adams, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. “They can have their guns or their marijuana, but not both.”

That’s the official line, but the reality of how the policy might be enforced in Pennsylvania and other states is a little muddier. That includes the question of whether people who already own guns might have to surrender them, instead of just being prohibited from making new purchases.

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The political sensitivity was underscored Friday when Pennsylvania regulators reversed themselves and announced its registry of medical cannabis patients will not be available, as was previously planned, through the state’s law enforcement computer network.

Phil Gruver, a professional auto detailer from Emmaus who received a state medical marijuana card in mid-December, is weighing what to do with his .22-caliber rifle and a handgun he keeps for home defense.

“It’s a violation of my Second Amendment rights,” Gruver said. “I don’t know of any time anyone’s been using marijuana and going out and committing acts of violence with a gun. Most of the time they just sit on their couch and eat pizza.”

State laws allowing medical or, more recently, recreational use of cannabis have long been at odds with the federal prohibition on gun ownership by those using marijuana. But the government has traditionally taken a hands-off approach. Since 2014, Congress has forbidden the Department of Justice from spending money to prosecute people who grow, sell and use medical marijuana.

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The picture has become murkier under Trump, a Republican whose attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has long denounced the drug. Sessions recently rescinded a Barack Obama-era policy that was deferential to states’ permissive marijuana laws. Now, federal prosecutors in states that allow drug sales must decide whether to crack down on the marijuana trade.

It’s not clear what impact the new policy will have on gun owners who use cannabis as medicine, or even how many people fit the bill. Nor is it clear whether any people who use legally obtained medical marijuana have been prosecuted for owning a gun, although the existence of medical marijuana registries in some states, including Pennsylvania, has some patients concerned.

More than 800,000 guns are sold or transferred in Pennsylvania annually, and more than 10,000 people in the state have signed up for medical marijuana. The registry change on Friday makes it much less likely the state’s medical marijuana users will be flagged when going through a federal gun sales background check.

A spokeswoman for Dave Freed, the new U.S. attorney in Harrisburg, said only that criminal investigations and prosecutions “will be based on a fair and transparent fact-intensive inquiry of individual cases.” State police said it’s up to prosecutors to decide when to bring a case.

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The Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has left no doubt where it stands. Last year, the ATF spelled out the marijuana prohibition in boldface type on gun purchase forms.

People who drink heavily or use potent but legal drugs such as opioids or antidepressants can still own a gun.

“Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medical purposes … is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition,” ATF spokeswoman Janice L. Kemp said in an email to The Associated Press.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department referred questions about medical marijuana and guns enforcement to local federal prosecutors and a recent memo from Sessions that does not specifically address the issue.

In Ohio, which has authorized a medical marijuana program, the office of the U.S. attorney for the northern part of the state, Justin Herdman, has said Sessions’ guidance won’t change his case-by-case approach.

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The gun-ownership ban has withstood at least one legal challenge. An appeals court in San Francisco, rejecting a challenge on Second Amendment grounds, said in 2016 that Congress reasonably concluded marijuana and other drugs raise the risk of unpredictable behavior.

Meanwhile, some state and local officials, particularly in law enforcement, have sought to crack down.

William Bryson, chairman of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council, told state lawmakers in December that people who use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes should be required to have a designation on their driver’s licenses. That would make it easier, he said, for police to enforce the ban.

And last month, a police chief in Hawaii publicized and then quickly rescinded a directive that medical marijuana patients had to give up their handguns. Two people turned in their weapons.

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But marijuana activists predict a backlash should federal prosecutors begin going after gun owners who use legally obtained medical marijuana.

The issue has been largely theoretical, but there would be quick pushback if the federal government took a more aggressive stance, said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Between 1998 and 2014, nearly 100,000 prospective gun purchasers went home empty-handed because they were flagged as using illegal drugs, according to the ATF. But the agency could not say how many of those used medical or recreational marijuana.

Dean Hazen, an Urbana, Illinois, businessman who helps broker online gun purchases, said a 75-year-old client with a medical marijuana card was turned down when his state firearm-owner identification card was run through the federal background check system.

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“He’s got a collection of guns at home,” Hazen said, “and he’s a model citizen.”

Even before his administration took the medical marijuana registry off the Pennsylvania law-enforcement computer network, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, sought to assure people the state has no plans to take their guns. And last week, state House Republican Leader Dave Reed urged residents to call their congressional representative and “urge them to make gun ownership legal for medical marijuana card holders.”

Kim Stolfer, head of the Pennsylvania organization Firearms Owners Against Crime, pointed out that people who drink heavily or use potent but legal drugs such as opioids or antidepressants can still own a gun.

“You have people that are advancing up in age that need medical marijuana and might have, say, 50 firearms and just realized they sacrificed all of those,” Stolfer said. “Where are they going to turn them in and how are they going to get rid of them?”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.