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Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission meets for the first time

Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission meets for the first time

Alabama medical cannabis commission meets for the first time
A Dothan area oncologist was elected as the chairman of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The members of the newly formed Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission on Thursday met in a formal session for the first time for an organizational meeting in Alabama’s historic 1859 Capitol Building.

“You truly have a lot of work cut out for you,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey told the commission members. “It will be up to you, those who have been appointed by many elected leaders around the state, to establish a criteria for medical cannabis production in Alabama.”

“I can’t urge you strongly enough to keep transparency and efficacy foremost in your mind,” Ivey told the members of the new commission. “The task before you is providing legal use for medical cannabis,” Ivey said. “We simply have to get this right.”

The Alabama Legislature shocked many observers, on both sides of the marijuana debate; when legislators elected to jettison the hotly debated gambling bill and pass medical marijuana legalization in the 2021 legislative session instead. Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, had carried the legislation three years in a row, with it finally passing after an 11-hour debate on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives in May.

The members of the commission voted to make Dr. Steven Stokes the chairman of the commission. Rex Vaughn was voted in as co-chair of the Commission. Stokes then s appointed a subcommittee tasked with searching for an executive director of the commission.

“We have a long way to go and a short time to get there,” Stokes told the commission, quoting from the southern classic: ‘Smokey and the Bandit. The Commission must have a program in place to certify physicians to recommend medical marijuana in place by Jan 1, 2022. Stokes assigned a subcommittee to work on this task.

“We are going to have to meet at least once a month,” Stokes said. Meetings will be “the second Thursday of each month at least through the first of the year until we get organized and up and going.”

“Patient wants this,” Stokes said. “They campaigned for this; but there are also a lot of people who have a problem with this. They are concerned that this would be a gateway for more drug abuse.”“For a cancer patient there is a great benefit,” Stokes, an oncologist from Dothan, said. “But at least half of the homeless have an addiction problem. We don’t want to increase substance addictions.”

Wyoming medical cannabis ballot initiative clears first hurdle

Wyoming medical cannabis ballot initiative clears first hurdle

Wyoming medical marijuana bill clears first hurdle
Wyoming’s medical cannabis ballot initiative cleared its first major hurdle on Wednesday.

The Wyoming Secretary of State certified the required sponsor signatures to begin the process. Only 100 were needed, supporters of medical cannabis in Wyoming provided 250.

The Libertarian Party, which is backing the initiative, said it now allows supporters to start gathering 41,776 signatures from people across Wyoming. If that is successful, it would qualify to go before voters on the 2022 ballot. The initiative would legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize marijuana for personal use.

As FOX 13 reported earlier this year, one of those who worked on Utah’s medical cannabis ballot initiative is now in Wyoming to push that state toward legalization.

“The Wyoming advocates behind this effort have worked very hard to draft initiatives that will work for the people of Wyoming. We are excited to begin the signature gathering process to let everyone in Wyoming have a voice,” said Christine Stenquist of the group Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) in a statement.

Like Utah, medical cannabis advocates in Wyoming had tried to persuade their legislature to legalize it and create a program. When that failed, they launched the ballot initiative.

Missouri Medical Marijuana Sales Set Record in June

Missouri Medical Marijuana Sales Set Record in June

missouri medical marijuana sets new sales record

Missouri’s medical marijuana industry topped $70 million in cumulative sales, including nearly $16.4 million in June, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Eight months after the state’s first dispensary opened in October 2020, 126 dispensaries operate throughout the state. Those dispensaries, plus manufacturers, transporters, and laboratories, total 201 medical marijuana facilities in the state.

“This is essentially Missouri’s newest twenty-first century industry,” Alan Zagier, a representative from the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said. “Now we’re really at the moment when rubber hits the road, and we’re really starting to see the results of all this hard work our members have put in.”

Zaiger said the industry contributes to a post-COVID economy.

“The benefit extends to not just cannabis patients but also to the workforce,” he said. “This is a real shot in the arm for lots of communities across the state. These are real, tangible jobs.”

A total of 375 facilities have been licensed to handle medical marijuana by DHSS.

“We’re not just talking about dispensaries in our urban centers in St. Louis and Kansas City, and even there in mid-Missouri,” Zaiger said. “We’re talking about dispensaries in places like Hayti and Caruthersville.”

Shangri-La Dispensaries is one of those facilities, with dispensaries in Columbia and Jefferson City.

“Business is phenomenal,” Michael Lafrieda, the Chief Operating Officer for Shangri-La, said. The dispensary sees “several hundred [customers] a day. On some of the longer holiday weekends, a couple thousand people.”

Lafrieda said his customers range in age from teens to eighties. Zaiger said that nearly 121,000 Missourians have been approved as medical marijuana patients, with many more applications.

“For the sake of comparison,” Zaiger said. “Illinois has about 12.6 million residents, so that’s more than double of Missouri. And even now, several years into their program, they currently only have 55 licensed retail outlets open, so that’s less than half of the number that we have open in less than a year’s time.”

Texas Marijuana Concentrates and Psychedelics Bill Passed in Senate

Texas Marijuana Concentrates and Psychedelics Bill Passed in Senate

Texas marijuana concentrates and psychedelics got a big win in the state senate

The Texas Senate has approved House-passed bills to reduce criminal penalties for possessing marijuana concentrates and require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. But because senators amended both pieces of legislation, they must first head back to their originating chamber before they can be sent to the governor’s desk.

Meanwhile, advocates are closely monitoring a separate bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program, which cleared the House and was referred to a Senate committee on Thursday. But the fate of that proposal remains murky as a legislative deadline approaches. It must be acted on in the Senate State Affairs Committee in order to advance to the floor, and the end of the session is nearing.

Under HB 1802, which passed the Senate on Saturday in a 25-5 vote, the state would be required to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center. As amended by a House committee, it would also mandate a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on all three substances.

The Senate adopted a balanced budget amendment to the bill clarifying that the psychedelic studies wouldn’t be carried out unless there’s funding allocated the effort—a situation already accounted for by a contingent rider for the funds.

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R), who also served as U.S. energy secretary, has called on lawmakers to approve the psychedelics legislation.

The cannabis concentrates measure that also advanced through the Senate is a modest reform compared to another proposal to more broadly decriminalize marijuana possession that recently passed the House but has since stalled. But if enacted, HB 2593 would mark the first time that Texas has reduced penalties associated with marijuana since the 1970s.

Alabama governor signs medical marijuana legislation

Alabama governor signs medical marijuana legislation

Alabama medical marijuana signed by Governor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed medical marijuana legislation Monday as conservative opposition to the issue gradually faded after decades of debate.

The program will allow people with one of 16 qualifying medical conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness and depression, to purchase medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. The approval came eight years after a medical marijuana bill in 2013 won that year’s so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill of the year in the House of Representatives.

 

Ivey called signing the bill an “important first step” and thanked the sponsors, of the bill for their work. While the bill takes effect immediately, the bill sponsor estimated it will be about 15 months or so before medical marijuana is available in the state.

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied. On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days,” Ivey said.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, an anesthesiologist. It was handled in the House of Representatives by Republican Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator. The approval came after a number of lawmakers shared stories of loved ones and their illnesses.

“Hopefully, we are going to help some people,” Melson said Monday night.

Melson said for people who have tried other treatments without success, that people will have “another option to treat themselves and get some relief.” The state Senate approved the bill in February by a 21-8 vote after just 15 minutes of debate. But the House of Representatives had traditionally been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals and sent the bill through two committees before approving it 68-34.

The bill would allow the marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

The program authorizes use of medical marijuana to treat for conditions including cancer-related nausea or vomiting, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease; persistent nausea; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and Tourette’s syndrome.

Representatives voted to name the bill after the son of a state Democratic representative, Laura Hall. She had first introduced a medical marijuana bill over a decade ago after her son Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall had died of AIDS.

Ball, who shepherded the bill through the House, said last week that “hearts and minds” were slowly changed on the issue.

“I think we just educated them as much as anything. This wasn’t done on emotion. This was done on science,” Melson said.