Michigan Legalization Loses Hundreds of Thousands of Signatures
LANSING, Michigan (CRN) – Election officials in Michigan have determined that activists have not turned in enough recent signatures to qualify marijuana legalization for the ballot. Activists from MILegalize collected more than 354,000 signatures without any national funding or support. Almost 72 percent of those signatures would have to have been valid to meet the petition requirements of 252,523 signatures. But this year, the legislature made the petition process more difficult by requiring a strict 180-day window in which to gather signatures. Officials with the Bureau of Elections said only 146,413 signatures were collected in the past six months. MILegalize will file suit against the 180-day rule as unconstitutional, as well as pressing for modern computerized methods to validate older signatures. Other activists pressing an initiative to ban fracking are suing the state over the rule as well.
MONTPELIER, Vermont (AP) — Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed into law a bill expanding the medical conditions that can allow a Vermont patient to be prescribed marijuana for treatment of symptoms. Added to the list are patients with chronic pain, glaucoma and those in hospice care. Marijuana had been allowed for severe pain, but not pain that was less severe but chronic. Critics of that situation complained that patients could more easily obtain prescription opiates for pain treatment than marijuana. In signing the bill, Shumlin said opiate addiction has become a severe problem in Vermont and around the country. He says if much-less addictive marijuana can be used instead, that can address patients’ pain without the threat of severe addiction.
DENVER, Colorado (CRN) – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed a bill requiring schools to maintain a policy for students who need to use medical marijuana at school. The law does not allow for the smoking of marijuana. Hickenlooper signed a law in 2015 that allowed for school districts to voluntarily adopt such policies. None did, so the 2016 law now requires them to adopt a policy unless they can show they have lost federal funding over the marijuana issue or if the district opts-out with a prominent explanation on their website. Under the law, no school officials will administer any marijuana product, which will not remain on school grounds. The student’s primary caregiver must bring the marijuana product to the school, administer it to the student, then take the product away from the school.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — A survey of patients enrolled in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program shows the majority report significant benefits of participating. About half of the 435 patients that got a survey responded. Those with cancer reported the highest benefits of the program. Others surveyed have severe muscle spasms or seizures. About 66 percent of patients responding to the Minnesota Department of Health survey reported significant benefits. Another 24 percent reported mild to moderate benefits. One-fifth of the patients reported side effects such as feeling lightheaded, paranoid or sleepy. The state says about 1,300 people have been approved for the program since it launched last year.
JERUSALEM, Israel (CRN) – A new study of over 20,000 patients receiving medical marijuana in Israel show the program to be a success. Prof. Pesach Shvartzman of Ben-Gurion University, leader of the study, concluded that most marijuana patients enjoy significant improvement in pain and function. Users of medical marijuana cited almost unanimously that they turned to the herb after conventional medications did not work for them, with over half citing unpleasant side effects from pharmaceuticals as their reason for seeking medical marijuana. Three out of four patients smoked marijuana, with the remainder using cannabis oils or vaporization. More than three-quarters felt side effects from marijuana, most commonly dry mouth and hunger. Red eyes, fatigue, and sleepiness were cited by one-quarter to one-third of those suffering side effects. Most patients said their pain, nausea, anxiety, appetite and general feeling had improved.