The Arizona Supreme Court today issued two rulings banning courts and prosecutors from denying marijuana use as a term of probation if the convicted felons have valid medical marijuana cards. In one case, a man convicted of possessing marijuana for sale in Cochise County was forbidden from using marijuana by a probation officer after he was released from prison. In the second, a woman pleading guilty to DUI in Yavapai County refused to accept abstention from marijuana as a term of probation, prompting the prosecution to withdraw the plea agreement. Both had valid medical marijuana cards. The Supreme Court ruled that both had the right to use marijuana for their medical conditions and that prosecutors and courts could not block that right as a term of probation.
Iowans suffering from cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and many other ailments rallied at the Iowa Capitol today in support of medical marijuana as a crucial vote nears in the Iowa Senate. Lawmakers are expected to debate Senate File 484, which would legalize medical cannabis, in the coming days or weeks as advocates push for action on the issue. A crowd of about 75 people cheered as Maria La France of Des Moines said a solid vote on the legislation in the Democratic-led Senate would send a message to the Republican-controlled Iowa House that it should also take up the bill. The Senate bill would allow the use of medical marijuana for a host of conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other chronic and debilitating ailments. The proposal would allow up to four producers to grow marijuana in Iowa with oversight from state officials. It would also allow independent dispensaries to sell the drug. Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has repeatedly said he has no interest in debating medical marijuana this session. In addition, Gov. Terry Branstad, also a Republican, has opposed widespread availability of medical cannabis, saying he fears “unintended consequences” of such action.
Florida voters overwhelmingly support legalization of marijuana — for both medical and recreational use. Medical marijuana was supported by 84 percent and opposed by 14 percent in a Quinnipiac University Poll released yesterday. Recreational use of marijuana was supported by 55 percent of those surveyed and opposed by 42 percent. Support for medical marijuana spans the political spectrum: 92 percent among Democrats, 87 percent among independents and 73 percent among Republicans. There are big differences on legalizing recreational marijuana depending on political affiliation. Legalization for recreational use is supported by 70 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents — and opposed by 67 percent of Republicans.
Louisiana residents, for the most part, have a much more relaxed and tolerant approach toward marijuana than current state laws reflect, according to findings from a statewide survey conducted by LSU this winter. Most people surveyed (52 percent) still oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but the gap between those who don’t want to legalize recreational marijuana and those who support it (45 percent) is shrinking. In 2013 the gap was 14 points; now, that gap has shrunk to just a seven-point difference. A large number of Louisiana residents (60 percent) support legalizing medicinal marijuana, though that lead has shrunk significantly since last year, when 79 percent of people said they supported it. Two-thirds of Louisiana residents (67 percent) do not think people should go to jail for possessing a small amount of marijuana, as they do now under Louisiana law. LSU found that Louisiana’s state and local government spends around $7.5 million annually on putting people who possessed a small amount of marijuana behind bars.
Medical experts at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are stressing the dangers of using “spice,” a synthetic but very potent form of marijuana, after more than two dozen people were treated for adverse effects of the drug over the Easter weekend. About 26 people since Thursday night have been seen at UMMC’s Emergency Department for symptoms of spice overdose, and the drug is suspected of causing the death of another person, said Dr. Robert Galli, a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and executive director of TelEmergency. Those seen at UMMC’s Emergency Department displayed agitation, sweating, hyperactivity, hallucinations, acute psychosis, and in some situations, were in a comatose state. Some of them had prolonged symptoms and complications of rhabdomyolysis, or rapid breakdown of muscle tissue, requiring hospitalization. All are residents of the Jackson metropolitan area.