Medical Marijuana Update
Ohio becomes the newest MM (medical marijuana) state, but you cannot smoke it; a pair of contending Arkansas initiatives are coming up on a signature turn-in deadline; DPA identifies problems with New York’s medical marijuana program, and more.
As of Wednesday, a pair of medical marijuana initiative campaigns are facing a ticking clock. Two separate MM initiative campaigns have until July 8 to get enough voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. TheArkansas Medical Cannabis Act of 2016 campaign says it has gathered some 70,000 signatures so far. It needs 67,000 valid ones to qualify. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 says it has 40,000 signatures; because it is a constitutional amendment, it needs 85,000 valid signatures to qualify.
Last Wednesday, Ohio became the newest medical marijuana state. Gov. John Kasich (R) last Wednesday signed into law a MM bill that allows use of full plant material, but not in smokeable form. Under the new law, it should take up to two years for Ohioans to see the first medical marijuana dispensaries.
On Tuesday, the Drug Policy Alliance scorched the state’s medical marijuana program. In a new report, Assessing New York’s Medical Marijuana Program: Problems of Patient Access and Affordability, the Drug Policy Alliance finds severe problems with patient and caregiver access under the program. The report, which relied on patient surveys, finds that more than half of patients and caregivers had not yet found a doctor to certify them and 60% of those had been looking for three to four months for a physicians. Also, more than three-quarters (77%) said they could not afford their medicine. DPA recommends further legislation to improve the program and urges the Health Department to provide more information about the implementation and performance of the program.
On Tuesday, a lawsuit challenging the state’s folding of medical marijuana into the recreational sales system was filed. Seattle attorney and marijuana activist Douglas Hiatt has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to block the July 1 implementation of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, arguing that the law’s folding of MM into the recreational marijuana market will cause harm to patients.
[For extensive information about the MM debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]
By Phillip Smith
Paul Ebeling, Editor
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.