Schumer to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

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By Sophie Tatum and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN)   Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to propose legislation decriminalizing marijuana on a federal level.

While Schumer, who was elected to the Senate two decades ago, has been supportive of medicinal marijuana, he has now “evolved” his thinking on recreational marijuana.

“The time has come to decriminalize marijuana,” the New York Democrat said in a statement Friday announcing his plans to introduce a new bill in the Senate.

“My thinking — as well as the general population’s views — on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do,” he said.

    Schumer announced the proposed legislation Thursday in an interview with “Vice News Tonight.”

    The senator told Vice News he had “seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long.”

    Trump promises GOP lawmaker to protect states’ marijuana rights

    Schumer further explained his decision in a Medium post Friday.

    “A staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African American and Latino, continue to be arrested every day for something that most Americans agree should not be a crime,” Schumer wrote. “Meanwhile, those who are entering into the marijuana market in states that have legalized are set to make a fortune. This is not only misguided, but it undermines the basic principles of fairness and equal opportunity that are foundational to the American way of life.”

    According to Schumer’s office, under the new bill, marijuana would be removed from the list of substances classified under the Controlled Substances Act.

    Schumer’s legislation would leave in place decisions by states on how to regulate marijuana, the authority of federal law enforcement to penalize trafficking from states that have legalized the drug to those that have not, and federal regulation of marijuana advertising so children aren’t targeted.

    The bill also seeks to allocate funds for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses and public health research regarding the effects of THC, the main active chemical in marijuana.

    CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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    Georgia lawmakers face seven marijuana bills

    6:32 p.m. EST January 19, 2016

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    Macon Republican Allen Peake isn’t the only state lawmaker pushing marijuana bills during this year’s legislative session.

    Peake’s proposal, HB-722, would allow the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in Georgia. But Georgia lawmakers also face six other drug related proposals ranging from making marijuana possession a misdemeanor to outright legalization of marijuana use in the state.

    Senate Bill 254, sponsored by Lowndes County Republican John Colbert, would reduce a possession of marijuana charge from a felony to a misdemeanor for first-time offenders. It also removes the current provision that makes possession of less than ounce of marijuana a misdemeanor.

    Under Colbert’s bill, a first-time offender could be sentenced to not more than 12 months in jail, fined $1,000 or both.

    House Bill 704, sponsored by Republican John Pezold of Columbus and has Macon Democrat James Beverly as one of the co-sponsors, would allow the cultivation of industrial hemp.

    Under current law, a person could lose his or her drivers license if convicted of marijuana possession. But House Bill 283, sponsored by Republican Stephen Allison of Blairsville,would eliminate the license suspension.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Curt Thompson, a Gwinnett County Republican, has proposed three marijuana provisions. Senate Bill 7 would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for an expanded number of conditions.Senate Bill 198 would permit the cultivation, production and retail sale of marijuana throughout the state.

    Thompson also offered Senate Resolution 6, a proposed state constitutional amendment that would legalize, regulate and manage marijuana for everyone age 21 and over in Georgia. If the House and Senate approve Thompson’s amendment, voters would decide the issue in a general election.

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    Tennessee House version of bill up for health subcommittee vote next week

    Just days after being featured in a Leaf-Chronicle article, Dravet Syndrome sufferer Lexy Harris was in the ICU at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital following a series of severe seizures.

    CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Her mother, Felicia Harris, calls her, “a new face of the medical marijuana debate,” referring to Lexy Harris, 6, who suffers from intractable epileptic seizures as a result of Dravet Syndrome, currently being treated with other drugs.

    The other anti-convulsant drugs the Harris family has tried – including experimental and non-FDA approved Stiripentol, which costs $2,000 a month – have a host of possible side effects, including damage to major organs and developmental delays, that parents of children with severe forms of pediatric epilepsy, along with many doctors, say are nearly as bad long-term as the disorders their children suffer from daily.

    Recently, a derivative of marijuana called cannibidiol, or CBD, has shown promise as an alternative for treating seizures with fewer side effects, advocated for by renowned physicians, including Dr. Sanjay Gupta, formerly a steadfast opponent of medical marijuana use. However, though CBD does not cause a euphoric high like THC (tetrahydrocannibinol), the best-known and psycho-active component of marijuana, it is illegal in Tennessee.

    Until very recently, Felicia had called Stiripentol her “miracle drug,” since it controlled Lexy’s seizures better than other prescriptions. Following a hellish week, she is no longer so sure. Now she intends to testify on behalf of medical marijuana before legislators next week on Tuesday, before the House health subcommittee votes on whether to allow H.B. 1385 before the full committee for another vote.

    Hell week

    Just days after a Leaf-Chronicle article about the medical marijuana debate in which Lexy’s situation was profiled, she was diagnosed as needing a wheelchair because her legs have become progressively weaker. Lab results showed that medications that Lexy was taking were harming her liver, requiring another medication to control the side effects. Her lowered metabolism, another side effect, required yet another prescription.

    On the heels of that, Lexy experienced what Felicia called her most violent seizures ever. Lexy was rushed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, where a day after being admitted, she was placed in the intensive care unit (ICU).

    “She started having more violent seizures,” said Felicia. “She had a six-hour seizure in her sleep, very high fever and a tube in her nose to suction this crud from her lungs.”

    Lexy was put on a feeding tube through her nose, and her medications were increased. Then she caught a common cold.

    “The seizures multiplied,” Felicia said. “She aspirated on her own saliva, which brought on pneumonia and her lungs shut down. They had her on 20 liters of oxygen, the most ever, and her stats were still dropping.”

    Lexy had previously been in intensive care due to her seizures and hospitalized repeatedly, but never longer than four days, said Felicia. As of Tuesday, Lexy had been in the ICU for seven days, eight days total at Vanderbilt.

    On Tuesday, she woke up and began to seem better. Felicia is hopeful of being able to take her home by Thursday or Friday, but she is more afraid to take her home than at any previous time. And though CBD, which comes in an oil form and is not smoked, remains unproven through clinical testing, Felicia intends to fight for it in Tennessee, while contemplating a move to Colorado, as other Tennessee families of children with pediatric epilepsy have already done. She says she has had enough.

    ‘Enough is enough’

    Penn Mattison, Tennessee father of a 2-year-old girl with an intractable pediatric epileptic condition, hit the wall along with his wife, Nicole, several months ago. The Mattisons are among several families that have already made the move to Colorado, where a high CBD-low THC strain of marijuana known as “Charlotte’s Web” is available.

    Mattison was in Nashville on Wednesday, testifying before legislators once again, though he no longer lives in the state and is currently unemployed, as is his wife. He flew back using donations. He says he returns because of families like the Harrises who, being a military family, don’t have the ability to leave the state.

    “Our hearts go out to the Harrises,” Mattison said in a phone interview on Wednesday after testifying before the full House committee on health. “It’s a tough situation, as my wife and I know only too well.”

    The Mattison’s daughter, Millie, was diagnosed with infantile spasms at 3-months-old.

    “She was having 300 seizures a day,” said Penn. “As she got older, she began having myoclonic (cluster) seizures along with the infantile spasms. We sought treatment at Vanderbilt, then Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, with some of the top specialists in pediatrics, genetics and neurology in the country.

    “Name the treatment, we tried it. Nothing seemed to help. Last summer, Millie nearly died. Her kidneys shut down from the diet they had her on. After her last EEG (electroencephalogram, used to measure brain activity), the doctors wanted to up her pharmaceuticals, and we said, ‘Enough is enough.’

    “We heard about the medical marijuana in Colorado, talked to the families using it there and we thought it was just time. Millie was not getting any better, and we had nothing to lose. In a matter of three weeks, we sold our business and we were gone.”

    ‘Whole-plant’ vs. CBD-only controversy

    While Felicia Harris is considering asking Tennessee legislators to support CBD-only legislation to fast-track help for her daughter, like others have done in various states with pending medical marijuana legislation, Mattison rejects the idea.

    “What we’re finding in pediatric epilepsy is that THC is needed in some cases more than previously thought,” Mattison said.

    “That’s why I’m looking at states like Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky that are introducing CBD-only legislation where the CBD oil can only have three-tenths of one percent THC in it, and the fact is, that’s only going to help two percent of the patients they’re trying to help, and probably only a quarter of one percent of the total population that can be helped with medical cannabis.

    “I think ‘whole-plant’ legislation is what is needed. I do realize that certain patients can be helped right away with a CBD-only bill, but it’s not fair to leave all the other patients out. I firmly believe that.”

    Prognosis: Not good

    Neither Mattison nor his friend, Doak Patton of the Tennessee chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) has much hope that H.B. 1385, the Koozman-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, is going anywhere in 2014.

    H.B. 1385 original sponsor Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) agrees the measure is a long way from passage, though she has some hope that it will emerge from the health subcommittee next week for a later vote of the full committee. But she said that a wholly negative image of marijuana is stuck in the heads of many of her fellow legislators in the House and Senate.

    “They still think a 2 year-old is going to be smoking a joint,” she said in a phone interview late Wednesday evening.

    She said that she is going to try to talk to three of the Republicans on the health subcommittee (the committee members are five Republican, three Democrat with a Republican chair) to see where they stand on the bill before they leave Nashville on Thursday evening.

    “Right now,” said Jones, “I have three Democrats who are all for it and one Republican – but I can’t say his name – who could be number four. But he doesn’t want to be four, he would rather be number five. So I have to convince one of these other Republicans to help us get this out of the subcommittee.

    “Then it goes to the full committe, and then it gets worse. They don’t understand. They don’t have a good reason. They want to talk about ‘dosing’ and kids smoking, but it’s not about any of that…”

    ‘Maybe next year’

    Ten patients with various conditions ranging from epilepsy to cancer and traumatic brain injury/post-traumatic stress suffered in combat testified on Wednesday before the full committee. Next week’s presentation will be smaller prior to the subcommittee vote.

    Jones said there were few questions asked, and that health subcommittee chair Barrett Rich (R-Somerville), who she said was definitely opposed, did not ask a single question.

    “It was so sad to sit there and listen to all those people testify,” Jones said, “and know that there were legislators sitting there thinking they’re a bunch of terrible people because they want to use medical marijuana.”

    Repeated attempts by The Leaf-Chronicle to contact Rich regarding H.B. 1385 went unanswered.

    Said Jones, “I’m hopeful for the subcommittee anyway, but after that, we’ll see.

    “If the Republicans would just poll their constituents, they would find at least 60 percent support this (the medical marijuana bill). But I expect them to maybe come back next year when one of them will sponsor it and maybe pass it then.”

    A bill to legalize CBD oil passed out of a Kentucky State Senate subcommittee last week.

    Philip Grey, 245-0719
    Military affairs reporter
    [email protected]
    Twitter: @PhilipGrey_Leaf

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    HERE ARE A FEW LINKS ON KENTUCKY’S CURRENT MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILLS!

     

    February 27, 2014
    3:10 p.m.

    Medical marijuana bill passes House committee

    A bill that would allow the use of medical marijuana by Kentuckians with certain medical conditions has cleared the House Health and Welfare Committee on a 9-5 vote.

    If House Bill 350 becomes law, the use, distribution, and cultivation of medical marijuana would be permitted under Kentucky law to alleviate the symptoms of patients diagnosed by a medical provider with a debilitating medical condition. A licensing and registration system to allow the use, growth, and distribution of the drug would be established through protocols set out in HB 350, which is sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.

    To read more, click here.

     

    Cannabis oil bill passes Senate committee

    A measure that would legalize limited medical use of cannabis oil was approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee today.

    Senate Bill 124, sponsored by Committee Chair Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would allow doctors at the state’s two university research hospitals to prescribe cannabis oil to patients.

    Advocates of cannabis oil use say it is effective at treating certain health conditions, including epilepsy.

    “This is going to open the door for some first steps on this issue,” Denton said.

    SB 124 now goes to the full Senate for further action.

    READ MORE HERE…

    MORE IN DETAIL INFORMATION HERE…  (use search term:  medical marijuana)

    KENTUCKY HOUSE BILL 350 *

    KENTUCKY SENATE BILL 124 *

    Please input the BILL number in the search on the website link and it will bring it up.

    Alabama: Medical Marijuana Activist Is Democratic Nominee For State Senate

     

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    By Steve Elliott
    Hemp News

    Alabama isn’t the first place most folks think of when they think of marijuana policy reform, but the Heart of Dixie has been experiencing a groundswell of public support for medical marijuana — and now a medical marijuana activist has qualified as a Democratic nominee for the state Senate.

    "On Tuesday, I qualified to appear on the Alabama Democratic Party’s primary ballot, and I am proud to announce that at 5 p.m. [Central] today, I became the Democratic Party’s nominee for Alabama State Senate in District 11," Crumpton said.

    Crumpton will be facing the winner of the Republican primary, either Sen. Jerry Fielding (R-Sylacauga) or Rep. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) in November.

    "Both of my opponents have been in politics for more than a decade," Crumpton told Hemp News Friday afternoon. "Alabamians need to ask themselves if they believe we are on the right track. If the answer is no, then they should vote for me, because my opponents intend to continue the same tired policies that have brought us to where we are now."

    Crumpton, who leads the medical marijuana advocacy group Alabama Safe Access Project (ASAP), isn’t kidding about his opponents. Sitting Senator Jerry Fielding’s political priorities (and, perhaps, level of mental activity) can be roughly sketched out by noting that he sponsored a Senate resolution to support Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson after Robertson created controversy with homophobic statements.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Jim McClendon is chairman of the House Health Committee, and, according to Crumpton, is "the biggest obstacle of medical marijuana in the Alabama Legislature."

    "The Republican supermajority in Montgomery believes that it can solve the fiscal issues facing our state with the same old policies of tax cuts for the rich and repressed wages for the poor that has brought us to the financial woes we now face," Crumpton said. "An economy cannot grow if the middle class has no disposable income to buy the products produced by business.

    "The reason Alabama is always last in everything is that we refuse to move forward," Crumpton said. "We need to raise the minimum wage and look to new sources of revenue, and quit letting the moral or political objections of some prevent us from doing what is best for the people of Alabama.

    "I have faced criticism in our own community because of my decision to run for office," Crumpton said, "but this is how you effect change. "What could be better for our cause than having one of the state’s biggest advocates in the Alabama State Senate?"

    "When I first talked about running for office 5 years ago, people told me I didn’t have a chance, because I was a marijuana activist," Crumpton told Hemp News. "Last year, it was called ‘gutsy;’ now I am a nominee for state Senate in Ala-freakin’-bama!," he said.

    "If that doesn’t tell you how far we have come — I don’t know what does," Crumpton said.

    Ron Crumpton 2014 – Facebook page

    Ron Crumpton 2014 – Website

    – See more at: http://www.hemp.org/news/content/alabama-medical-marijuana-activist-democratic-nominee-state-senate#sthash.THB74ldy.3eCUT6L2.dpuf

    Senate to hold hearing on marijuana policy

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    By Steve Goldstein

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing early next year on federal marijuana policy, the head of the committee said Thursday. Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy said he intends to hold a hearing in light of recently passed state laws legalizing personal marijuana use. Given the fiscal constraints of federal law enforcement, Leahy asked in a letter to Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske how the administration plans to use federal resources in light of new laws in Colorado and Washington State, as well as what recommendations the agency is making to the Department of Justice. He also asked the ONDCP director what assurances the administration can give to state officials to ensure they will face no criminal penalties for carrying out their duties under those state laws.

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    Action Alert: Legalize Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

     

     

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    SENATE BILL 129

    The Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act

    Legalize Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

    · Changes Marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II

    · Allows qualified patients to possess 5 ounces and to grow 5 plants

    · Requires State Pharmacy board to set up rules for distribution

    · Allows Physicians to prescribe without penalty

     

    What to do

    1) Find and Email your State Senator at www.lrc.ky.gov

    Example: Dear Senator _______, I’m writing you today to ask you to support Senate Bill 129, The Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act. Marijuana is clearly not a dangerous drug and it definitely has Medical value. Kentucky doctors and patients should decide appropriate medical care, not Washington Bureaucrats . Sixteen other states have passed similar legislation and I believe that Kentucky should join those states and protect citizens with illnesses from legal sanctions. Our veterans returning from war especially deserve access to marijuana for the physical and emotional trauma they’ve suffered. It’s the Christian thing to do! Note: Personalize your email and include examples of people who are in need.

    2) Follow up with a call to the Legislature Message line @ 1 (800) 372-7181

    You can also call your State Senator directly. Their contact Information is available on their webpage on the lrc website. You can use the above example, but be sure to personalize your call and include examples of people you know who have a medical need. Ask them to co-sponsor the legislation.

    3) Repeat the above two steps with your State Representative

    You have both a State Senator and a State Representative. This is a Senate bill. Ask your representative to write and sponsor a companion bill for the House of Representatives.

    4) Make an appointment to meet them in Frankfort to discuss the bill

    They are your voice in government. They can’t refuse to meet with you. If you have the courage to speak to them in person, be sure to dress and conduct yourself professionally. You will probably only get 15 minutes with them, so be prepared and bring this flyer or some other document that supports your position. You will enjoy the trip to Frankfort, it’s a beautiful place.

    5) Copy this Flyer and share/post it everywhere!!!

    Send a quick email to [email protected] so that I can get information to you rapidly. We will have to act quickly when the bill goes before committee. Please let me know your story and if you wish to testify before the committee (anyone can). It’s your government!!!

    LINKS:

    SB129 Ky Legislature

    The Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Act of 2012

    Kentucky Medical Marijuana/Cannabis Act

    The White House – Resources