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Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill (SB 158) Approved By Kansas House of Representatives

Members of the Kansas House of Representatives voted to approve a bill on Thursday that would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. The measure, Senate Bill 158 (SB 158), was passed in the House by a vote of 79 to 42.The Kansas Senate approved SB 158 on March 25 and then sent the measure to the House, where it was amended by lawmakers. The bill will now head back to the upper chamber so that senators can consider the changes made in the House.“The state of Kansas is finally catching up to the twenty-first century,” said Rep. Louis Ruiz, the ranking Democrat on the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. “Kansans need to have access to all possible health options available to them, especially if they are experiencing chronic illnesses. This bill will do exactly that. Many of our neighboring states have passed similar legislation. It’s time for us to do the same.”Under SB 158, registered patients and caregivers would be permitted to buy up to a 90-day supply of medicinal cannabis products at a time. Patients would not be permitted to smoke or vape medical marijuana. The specific amount of cannabis would be determined by state officials, who would be tasked with drafting the rules and regulations for the medical marijuana program by July 1, 2023.Rep. Adam Thomas said that he saw the issue as an opportunity for lawmakers to be responsive to their constituents.“Kansans are tired of Kansas falling behind on major issues like legalizing medical marijuana and we can prove we can do it better,” the Republican lawmaker told his colleagues in the House.Republican House Majority Whip Blake Carpenter said on Thursday morning that he believed that lawmakers could come together and reach a compromise on the measure before the end of the current legislative session.“I think we have high expectations for this type of bill and we can work on it jointly, together to stay out of the weeds,” Carpenter said.Senate Approval for SB 158 Seems UnlikelyHowever, the bill is unlikely to be taken up again by the state Senate before the session ends, according to reports in local media. For activists including Lisa Sublett, who would like to use medicinal cannabis to treat an autoimmune disorder, it will probably be at least another year of waiting. Nonetheless, she is happy with the progress made in the legislature this year.“It’s been a long haul, a long fight,” said Sublett, who has been campaigning for cannabis policy reform for 10 years. “Even though it’s not everything I would want, it’s a starting place.”Public opinion polling has shown that more than 65% of Kansas residents support legalizing medical marijuana. House Democratic Minority Leader Tom Sawyer said that his party would continue to deliver what the people have said they want.“Kansas has needed this for a long time,” said Sawyer. “This is well overdue, but we’re not finished yet. We will continue to put the pressure on to make sure this bill becomes a reality. The bipartisan coalition led by Democrats that stepped up in committee and on the House floor to pass this bill worked extremely hard to ensure the majority of Kansans’ voices are heard. I’m really proud of the work they’ve done here.”If SB 158 is taken up by the Senate and passed during the current legislative session, the measure would head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who is in favor of legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis.“Legalizing medical marijuana is commonsense, broadly popular policy that would improve Kansas’ overall health and economy while we recover from COVID-19 and beyond,” Kelly said in a statement on Thursday.

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Eastern Cherokee Tribal Council Votes To Approve And Legalize Medical Marijuana

The tribal council for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians voted on Thursday to approve an ordinance that legalizes medical marijuana on tribal lands. The vote applies to the tribe’s lands known as the Qualla Boundary, which covers 100 square miles over five counties in western North Carolina.Cannabis is still illegal in North Carolina, although possession of less than one ounce is punishable by only a fine. The move by the council will make the tribe’s sovereign lands the only place within the state’s borders where marijuana can be legally possessed.Before the council’s vote, Principal Chief Richard Sneed said that the new ordinance is the first of several steps to fully legalize medical marijuana.“There’s so much science now supporting cannabis as a medicine,” Sneed told the tribal council. “This really is a quality of life issue as well for folks who have debilitating diseases, chronic pain, chronic back pain, cancer.”“This is really just the first step, or kind of the cornerstone of moving toward medicinal. We have to have this in place first,” he added.The council voted to remove a provision of the ordinance that would have allowed tribal members to give away but not sell small quantities of cannabis. Albert Rose, a member of the council who voted in favor of the ordinance, said that cannabis is already present on tribal land.“Go out and visit with some of the elders, it’s their medicine,” said Rose.Cherokee Tribe Plans More ReformsJeremy Wilson, the tribe’s government affairs liaison, said that “the people want cannabis, the world is changing, society is changing.” With possession of cannabis for medicinal use now legal on tribal lands, the next piece of the puzzle will be to draft and implement regulations for the production, manufacturing, and sale of medical marijuana products.“We want to have dispensaries here on the Qualla Boundary and to be able to sell, but we have to start with this phase first,” Wilson said.Council member Richard French said that legalizing medicinal cannabis could help stem the opioid epidemic in the area, saying at the meeting that “it’s for the betterment of our people.”“All of us have been affected by opioids,” he said. “All of us have lost someone.”After a meeting to consider the ordinance last month, Wilson said that legalizing medical marijuana would be a victory against addiction.“What we’re doing here is trying to find a pathway to finally doing something about the opioid crisis that we’ve dealt with for so long,” he said. “A lot of people would want to use marijuana for their ailments versus resorting to a higher dose of prescription medication. There’s multiple stories out there that those things do lead to addiction.”A Years-Long ProcessIn 2015, tribal leaders voted to begin drafting a medical cannabis ordinance. Since that time, the issue has steadily gained support from members of the tribe.“Over the course of three years that I’ve been working on this, we’ve gained a good momentum of support in the public and more and more people are starting to grasp the idea of cannabis, marijuana to be exact, to be our next game-changer,” Wilson said earlier this year.Currently, much of the economic opportunity for the Eastern Cherokee lies in the casino it operates on tribal lands. But some of that revenue could be jeopardized by a casino being developed by the Catawba Nation outside Charlotte at Kings Mountain. A newly legal medical marijuana industry on the Qualla Boundary could establish a new source of income for the Cherokee. “Getting us to a place and a legal framework to where we can have a dispensary here to supply the medical marijuana that the public would need and create a new revenue line for us,” Wilson said.

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Idaho Senate Passes Bill (SB 1218) To Ban Marijuana Advertising

In a move that could limit the options of advocates promoting cannabis legalization initiatives, the Idaho Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that would ban advertising for marijuana in the state. The Senate passed the measure, SB 1218, with a vote of 21 to 14, sending the legislation to the state House of Representatives for consideration.During debate on the bill, Sen. Scott Grow, the sponsor of the measure, said that billboards in western Idaho advertise cannabis businesses just over the border in Oregon, where recreational marijuana is legal for adults.“People are being encouraged to violate the law,” Grow said. “They’re being encouraged to go over and get something they know is illegal in Idaho.”Earlier on Wednesday, the bill had been placed on a fast track for approval, receiving a committee hearing with little notice for the public to participate. Nonetheless, four citizens appeared at the meeting to oppose the measure, while no one showed up to speak in favor of the bill. Their efforts were in vain, however, with the panel’s Republican majority approving the bill with a vote of 7 to 2 along party lines.Serra Frank, a cannabis activist and the organizer of Boise Hempfest, told High Times that anti-cannabis lawmakers are going to extreme measures to thwart reform.“They introduced this bill late in the evening, without even posting it online for the citizens of Idaho to have a chance to read and respond. Then passed it the next morning, despite unanimous opposition in the audience,” Frank wrote in an email. “Their shady tactics and immoral attacks on the rights of Idaho citizens simply continues to expose them for what they really are– terrified of the inevitability of the legalization of marijuana in Idaho.”“The Idaho prohibitionists are fighting tooth and nail this session to pass anything they can that will make it almost impossible to reform Idaho’s harmful marijuana laws; from choking the life out of our initiative process to a proposed amendment to the constitution that would have forever banned the legalization of any drug that is currently illegal in Idaho,” she added. SB 1218 Could Limit Legalization EffortsFrank and other activists are worried that the rushed legislation will do more than prevent the advertising of marijuana businesses and could be used to quash efforts to promote cannabis reform in Idaho.“The latest attack on Idaho citizens is an affront to the 1st Amendment protections of freedom of speech, of the press, and of the ability of all Idahoans to petition the government for a redress of our grievances,” Frank said. “The words of SB 1218 are so vague and poorly crafted that it would essentially punish anyone in Idaho for promoting even the legalization of marijuana through a t-shirt, a flyer, an initiative such as the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act, or even through an event like Boise Hempfest.”After the committee meeting, Grow said that he did not know how  SB 1218 would affect attempts to gather signatures for cannabis legalization initiatives.“That would take a legal opinion,” Grow said.Republican Sen. Regina Bayer expressed reservations about the measure, saying that she receives health supplement magazines with advertisements for CBD oil that contains THC, which is illegal in Idaho. She wondered if the bill would subject people who have such materials to a misdemeanor criminal charge.“It’s in my mailbox. It’s on my front door. It’s on my kitchen counter. It’s advertising,” she said. “I really wonder how this bill addresses that and if there are any concerns to be had there.”Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne opposed the bill, noting that the state’s residents have already been subject to advertising for activities illegal in Idaho without action from the legislature.“There’s been a casino in Jackpot, Nevada that has been wanting me to ride a fun bus to Nevada to do something in Nevada that I can’t do here in Idaho except on an Indian reservation because it is illegal to do it in Idaho,” Burgoyne said. “That’s gambling.”With Wednesday’s approval of SB 1218 in the Idaho Senate, the measure heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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Tennessee Congress Passes SB 118, Sending Limited Medical Cannabis Bill To Governor’s Desk

The Tennessee Senate passed a bill on Tuesday, SB 118, that establishes a strictly limited medicinal cannabis program for patients with certain qualifying conditions. The move comes following a compromise reached between senators and members of the Tennessee House of Representatives, where a bill to establish a more extensive medical cannabis program was voted down last week. Wednesday afternoon, the Tennessee House voted in favor of SB 118.The Details of SB 118Under SB 118, patients with one or more debilitating illnesses would be permitted to use CBD oil medications containing no more than 0.9% THC. Under current state law, only patients with epilepsy are permitted to use such medications. The bill allows for slightly more THC than the federal limit established for legal hemp products under the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill does not allow for the production or sale of cannabis medications in Tennessee, leaving patients with no options for legally obtaining their medicine in the state.In order to use the low-THC CBD oil, patients would have to obtain a letter from a physician stating that they have one of the qualifying medical conditions and that conventional medical treatments have already been tried. Recommendations from physicians to use medical cannabis would only be valid for six months, at which time a new letter would have to be issued.The qualifying medical conditions listed in the bill include Alzheimer’s disease; ALS; cancer diagnosed as end-stage; inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; epilepsy or seizures; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; HIV or AIDS; and sickle cell disease.The measure also establishes a commission to study medical marijuana in advance of a possible rescheduling of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act by the federal government. The nine members of the commission will be appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee and the speakers of the House and Senate.The bill was put on a fast track for consideration by the legislature and was cleared by six House committees and another in the Senate on Tuesday, one of the final days of the current legislative session. The Tennessee Senate passed the bill later in the day with a vote of 19 to 12, with some of the senators opposed to the measure rejecting any bid to reform cannabis policy and others calling for more wide-reaching legislation. The bill was ultimately passed by the House today, with a vote of 74 to 17.Less Restrictive Bill Rejected Last WeekPassage of the measure came only a week after lawmakers in the Tennessee House of Representatives voted against a bill that would have decriminalized the medical use of cannabis. The measure was rejected by the House criminal justice committee on April 27 with a vote of 9 to 8.The bill would not have allowed for legal sales of medicinal marijuana products nor would it have permitted doctors to write prescriptions for medical cannabis. But it would have given patients using cannabis as medicine some protection from criminal prosecution.Republican Sen. Ferrell Haile, the sponsor of the bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday, said that the measure rejected by the House committee last week was the starting point for the compromise reached by lawmakers.“We pared that down as much as we could,” said Haile, referring to a small portion of the more wide-reaching bill.“Not everybody is happy with the compromise,” Haile acknowledged during a meeting of the Senate finance committee.  But he added that he strongly believes that the state should create a study commission to have a plan in place in case federal marijuana regulations change.SB 118 now heads to the desk of Tennessee governor Bill Lee for final consideration. Lee is expected to approve the limited legislation after recently saying he has “removed his philosophical flag” against cannabis reform.

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