Tag Archives: Mississippi

Vaccine exemptions: California Senate overwhelmingly passes SB 277, abolishing most opt-outs

By Lisa M. Krieger

lkrieger@mercurynews.com

 

Image result for VACCINE

SACRAMENTO — A controversial bill that abolishes "personal belief exemptions" for vaccinations won overwhelming approval in the California Senate on Thursday, bolstering supporters’ hopes that it will also clear the Assembly and be signed into law.

The measure by Democratic Sens. Richard Pan, of Sacramento, and Ben Allen, of Santa Monica — introduced after a outbreak of measles in December at Disneyland sickened 136 Californians — passed 25-10 after the two senators agreed to compromises aimed at easing its passage.

"Vaccines are necessary to protect us. That protection has been eroding," Pan, a pediatrician, said in appealing for passage. "The science is clear: Vaccines are safe and efficacious."

 

The measure, SB 277, would require children to be vaccinated before entering kindergarten. Medical exemptions are permitted, but exemptions based on personal and religious objections are not. That would make California one of only three states — the others are Mississippi and West Virginia — that doesn’t allow personal or religious exemptions to vaccine laws.

In a compromise, the authors agreed to limit the number of required vaccines to 10 to address critics’ concerns of an ever-expanding list of shots. They also amended their bill to remove a requirement for schools to notify parents of immunization rates. That made it possible for SB277 to bypass the Senate Appropriations Committee.

 

But perhaps the most significant compromise was the authors’ pledge to "grandfather in" many public and private school students whose parents have claimed personal belief exemptions. That would mean that more than 13,000 children who have had no vaccinations by first grade won’t have to get their shots until they enter seventh grade. And nearly 10,000 seventh-graders who today aren’t fully vaccinated may be able to avoid future shots because the state does not always require them after that grade.

The move was aimed at mollifying hundreds of angry California parents who have staged rallies and jammed hearing rooms, citing their concerns over vaccine side effects and asserting their parental rights.

"By scaling back the bill’s reach, their chance of success becomes much greater," said Dan Schnur, director of the University of Southern California’s Unruh Institute of Politics.

Shannon Martinez, a spokeswoman for Pan, said Thursday the bill had not yet been amended to reflect the grandfather clause but that language will be written into the bill if attorneys agree that clarification is necessary.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signaled that he supports the bill, but there’s still a possibility he might urge legislators to include a religious exemption.

"I would be surprised if he didn’t sign it, because of the public health issues involved," said Jack Pitney, a politics and government professor at Claremont McKenna College. "I think the governor, on one hand, is sensitive to parental rights, but also sees public health as a major responsibility of his.

"The anti-vaccine folks are going to make a very hard push, but passage in the Senate is a good sign it will become law," Pitney said. "Sen. Pan made changes that made it more acceptable to some of the critics and that should greatly improve its changes in the Assembly."

Most Republicans — including Sen. Patricia C. Bates of San Juan Capistrano, Sen. Mike Morrell of Rancho Cucamonga, Sen. Joel Anderson of San Diego and Senate GOP leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar — voted against the measure.

"I am concerned about opportunities for equal education," because unvaccinated kindergarteners would require home schooling, Bates said. "We have 3- and 4-year-olds in the state that are anticipating their first day of kindergarten."

Added Morrell: "It tells deeply devout families that the government thinks it knows better."

But Thursday’s vote and debate often crossed party lines, with Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, endorsing the bill from his experience as a practicing pharmacist and denouncing what he said were myths that have led to false concerns.

Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, was one of two Democrats voting no. He still had concerns about the list of mandated vaccines. "I’m not sure there was a full explanation," he said.

Outside the Senate chamber, a group of vaccine opponents from the California Coalition for Health Choice thanked senators who voted no as they left. They said they would step up efforts in the Assembly to highlight the impact SB 277 would have on schools and the difficulty of acquiring a medical exemption for immunizations.

"The only thing we can do is continue to educate our officials" about the personal belief exemption, said Lisa Bakshi, a mother from Placer County. "The parents who do it now do it for very legitimate reasons. We don’t do it because we are uninformed."

The Associated Press and Sacramento Bee contributed to this report. Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 650-492-4098. Follow her at Twitter.com/Lisa M. Krieger.

CONTINUE READING…

Advertisements

Lexology Report: Congress temporarily de-funds US-DOJ medical marijuana prosecution but does not legalize medical marijuana

  • Littler Mendelson
  • Dale L. Deitchler

     

    • USA
    • December 30 2014

     

    Dale L. Deitchler Author page »

    In a few short paragraphs within the 1,603-page congressional spending bill signed into law on December 16, 2014, Congress prohibited the U.S. Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute users, growers and distributors of medical marijuana in states that have enacted medical marijuana statutes.  The full text of the de-funding rider barring the DOJ from the use of funds to “prevent. . . implementation” of state and local laws legalizing medical marijuana states:

    Sec. 538. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

    Sec. 539. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (“Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Several U.S. Supreme Court decisions have upheld prosecution of medical marijuana growers and users under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  Nevertheless, the Obama Administration, as a matter of policy, has directed the DOJ to take a relaxed approach to prosecution and the DOJ has done so, except for use that impacts the DOJ’s “enforcement priorities” (e.g., preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels).  This new de-funding measure now codifies that policy approach as law.  (Notably, the rider does not affect IRS or Treasury Department actions relating to payment of taxes by marijuana suppliers and online banking).

    The legislation, however, does not legalize medical marijuana.  Rather, the federal ban on marijuana continues – i.e., both medical and recreational marijuana continue to be illegal under CSA Schedule I.  And, though de-funding may affect enforcement of criminal laws in states with medical marijuana statutes, it has no effect in states that have not legalized marijuana, nor does it express any limitations on employer action on the basis of a positive marijuana test result administered under a workplace drug testing policy.  Finally, the rider expires on September 30, 2015, and may or may not be renewed heading into the heart of the presidential election campaign in the fall of 2015.  For all of these reasons, though significant in reflecting current legislators’ thinking at the national level regarding CSA enforcement, the mere enactment of the spending bill with this provision does not warrant adjustment to drug testing policies of employers choosing to continue to treat confirmed positive marijuana test results as positive even when the result was caused by medicinal use that is lawful under state or local law.

    CONTINUE READING…

  • Federal Spending Bill Blocks Funding For Medical Marijuana Raids, Legalization In D.C.

    The proposed congressional budget released Tuesday night prevents the Department of Justice from using funds to undermine state laws regarding medical marijuana.

    posted on Dec. 9, 2014, at 9:20 p.m.

    Michelle Broder Van Dyke BuzzFeed News Reporter

     

    The House budget passed Tuesday night prevents the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to interfere with state laws that legalize medical marijuana.

    The amendment was introduced by California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, and Sam Farr, a Democrat, and was approved by the House of Representatives in May. It implies that DEA raids on medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal will stop.

    The budget Senate proposal — which must still go back to the House for a full vote before it lands on President Obama’s desk — would keep all but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) operating normally through the end of the fiscal year in 2015.

    The compromise bill was approved with Republicans agreeing to put off a fight with Obama over his immigration policies until February, when funding for the DHS is slated to run out, the Associated Press reported.

    The bill’s Section 538, which addresses medical marijuana, reads:

    None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

    The bill also includes a section that protects industrial hemp cultivation.

    None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (”Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

    Marijuana advocates were pleased with the bill.

    Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, said in statement to BuzzFeed News: “Congressional leaders seem to have finally gotten the message that a supermajority of Americans wants states to be able to implement sensible marijuana reforms without federal interference.”

    Angell also urged the Obama administration to use this opportunity to “reschedule marijuana immediately.” Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it’s a dangerous narcotic with no accepted medical use. Heroin and LSD are also classified Schedule I, while cocaine and methamphetamine are Schedule II, a lower ranking.

    Advocates say reclassifying the drug would allow for state and federal laws to be in sync, and conserve law enforcement resources. It would also ease access to research of the drug and tension between banks and marijuana retailers.

    Erik Altieri, communication director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also released a statement that said: “By restricting these agencies in this manner, the nearly two dozen states that implemented medical marijuana programs can hopefully breathe easier knowing federal money won’t be spent to interfere with their progress. We hope this leads to further reforms at the federal level further enshrining this sentiment into law.”

    The bill also effectively blocks the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Washington, D.C., but preserves its decriminalization law.

    Voters in Washington, D.C., overwhelmingly passed a recreational marijuana referendum on the November ballot, which is now effectively blocked. The District passed a decriminalization bill in April that will remain intact.

    The proposed bill’s appropriations section, which allocates millions in funds to the district, states:

    “None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.”

    Unlike most states, Washington, D.C., doesn’t take in any local revenue that it can spend and receives all of its funding from the federal government, so the ban on using funds for legalization effectively blocks the referendum voters recently passed.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said of the rider: “I’m opposed to what the House is trying to do.”

    “If they put it in there, it’s going to be hard to take it out over here,” he added.

    Marijuana advocates in Washington D.C. and those who advocate for the district’s autonomy were not pleased. D.C. Cannabis Campaign, which sponsored the ballot measure to legalize weed, tweeted the following:

    CONTINUE READING…

    Medical Marijuana Research Hits Wall of U.S. Law

    By SERGE F. KOVALESKIAUG. 9, 2014

      Above: Suman Chandra checking marijuana plants at a federal marijuana facility at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Credit Lance Murphey for The New York Times

      Nearly four years ago, Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist at the University of Arizona, sought federal approval to study marijuana’s effectiveness in treating military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She had no idea how difficult it would be.

      The proposal, which has the support of veterans groups, was hung up at several regulatory stages, requiring the research’s private sponsor to resubmit multiple times. After the proposed study received final approval in March from federal health officials, the lone federal supplier of research marijuana said it did not have the strains the study needed and would have to grow more — potentially delaying the project until at least early next year.

      Then, in June, the university fired Dr. Sisley, later citing funding and reorganization issues. But Dr. Sisley is convinced the real reason was her outspoken support for marijuana research.

      “They could never get comfortable with the idea of this controversial, high-profile research happening on campus,” she said.

      Dr. Sue Sisley said the University of Arizona had fired her because of her outspoken support for marijuana research. Credit Laura Segall for The New York Times

      Dr. Sisley’s case is an extreme example of the obstacles and frustrations scientists face in trying to study the medical uses of marijuana. Dating back to 1999, the Department of Health and Human Services has indicated it does not see much potential for developing marijuana in smoked form into an approved prescription drug. In guidelines issued that year for research on medical marijuana, the agency quoted from an accompanying report that stated, “If there is any future for marijuana as a medicine, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives.”

      Scientists say this position has had a chilling effect on marijuana research.

      Though more than one million people are thought to use the drug to treat ailments ranging from cancer to seizures to hepatitis C and chronic pain, there are few rigorous studies showing whether the drug is a fruitful treatment for those or any other conditions.

      A major reason is this: The federal government categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive of five groups established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Drugs in this category — including heroin, LSD, peyote and Ecstasy — are considered to have no accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse, and are subject to tight restrictions on scientific study.

      CONTINUE READING ON NYT…