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Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Rules Require Lab Testing for Patient Safety

May 10th

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BOSTON, MA – Independent labs will test marijuana for contaminants before it can be sold for medical purposes, Massachusetts health officials have decided.

That change is among dozens of revisions to rules dealing with the sale and consumption of medical marijuana drafted in March by the Department of Public Health.

The revisions resulted from more than 190 written comments submitted to the department by advocates on both sides of the issue, said Cheryl Bartlett, interim deputy health commissioner, before the final vote to adopt the regulations.

Few labs are expected to test marijuana products out of concern they might lose contracts with the federal government, the Globe reported last month. Medical marijuana is illegal under federal law.

To provide some legal protection, the new rules require the labs to register with the state.

Families will also find it easier to buy marijuana for their sick children under the changes. Patients less than 18 years of age with a “debilitating medical condition” no longer have to also have a “life-limiting” illness to be able to get a prescription for medical marijuana.

Remaining unchan. . . . . READ MORE

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Vermont Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Passes Final Senate Vote

May 9th

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MONTPELIER, VT – A bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana passed a third, and final, reading in the Vermont Senate on Wednesday.  The bill, which as previously passed in the House, will be sent to the House of Representatives to sign off on amendments made by the Senate before sending it to Gov. Peter Shumlin for his signature.

The bill, House Bill 200introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, will remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening.

Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.

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Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Regulations Approved

May 9th

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BOSTON, MA — The Massachusetts Public Health Council voted Wednesday to approve the final regulations issued by the Department of Public Health (DPH) for the implementation of the state’s first medical marijuana program.

Wednesday’s approved regulations are the work of weeks of deliberation, during which DPH sought input from medical marijuana patients and other stakeholders, which allowed the patient community to successfully voice its concerns.

Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) in coalition with Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA) and the ACLU have been working with DPH to offer guidance and recommendations regarding the proposed regulations.

“We applaud the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for continuing to work expeditiously to implement the state medical marijuana law,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “We are pleased that many of the issues patients expressed concern about were improved from the draft regulations.”

The approved final regulations establish the framework for the Massachusetts medical marijuana program, or Question 3, which was ushered in last November by 63 percent of the state’s voters.

The law allows qualifying patients with serio. . . . . READ MORE

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Vermont Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

May 8th

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MONTPELIER, VT – The Vermont Senate Committee on Judiciary approved a bill 4-1 on Tuesday that would decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana.

It will now be considered by the full Senate. The House of Representatives gave final approval to the bill on April 16.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn testified in favor of the bill, and Gov. Peter Shumlin has also expressed support for such a proposal.

“Vermont is another step closer to a more sensible marijuana policy, and the change cannot come soon enough,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “People should not be branded as criminals simply for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and there are certainly more serious crimes for law enforcement officials to address.

“I hope the Senate will join their colleagues in the House, the state’s top law enforcement officials, and the people of Vermont in supporting this com. . . . . READ MORE

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Vermont Senate Votes to Approve Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

May 8th

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MONTPELIER, VT – The Vermont Senate voted 24-6 Tuesday to give initial approval to a bill that would decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana. After the Senate gives its final approval, which could happen as early as today, it will be sent to the House of Representatives to sign off on the amended bill before sending it to Gov. Peter Shumlin for his signature.

The House of Representatives gave its initial approval to the bill on April 16, and Gov. Shumlin has expressed support for the proposal. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn testified in favor of the bill.

“We are pleased to see the Senate has joined their colleagues in the House and given their initial approval to this important legislation,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “There is exceptionally strong support for this proposal among the voters and the legislature has really stepped up and delivered.

“The public’s attitude toward marijuana is changing in Vermont and around the nation,” Simon said. “Most people agree that simply possessing a substance less . . . . . READ MORE

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Home Grow, PTSD Removed from New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Proposal

May 8th

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CONCORD, NH —  A Senate committee voted to pass a proposal to make New Hampshire the final New England state to allow the medical use of marijuana Monday, but not until the bill was amended to appease Governor Maggie Hassan.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education & Human Services voted 5-0 to recommend the full Senate prove House Bill 573,  which has already been passed by the House with over 80% support.

Two key elements were removed from the House-approved bill.  Under the Senate-amended bill, patients will now longer be allowed to grow their own medical marijuana, and PTSD was removed from the list of qualifying conditions.

Other changes to the bill reduced the number of authorized dispensaries allowed statewide from five to four, added a requirement that patients get written permission from a property owner before using medical marijuana on privately owned land, and eliminated protections for out of state medical marijuana patients traveling with marijuana in  New Hampshire.

The changes were made at the request of Gov. Maggie Hassan, who called severa. . . . . READ MORE

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