May 042015

Today the United States Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General’s office for its opinion in a lawsuit involving three states about the commercial sales of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado. The lawsuit was brought by the state of Nebraska and Oklahoma last December, when their attorneys general asked the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the Colorado’s legalized marijuana law, in an original jurisdiction case. Nebraska and Oklahoma aren’t asking that Colorado now stop personal marijuana use or to go back to its previous laws that prosecuted marijuana use as a crime in the state. Instead, the two states wants Colorado’s plan disallowed by the Supreme Court that allows for commercial growing and distribution of marijuana with the state. The Court typically takes its time with original jurisdiction cases and at least four Justices will need to vote to accept the case for arguments, once the Solicitor General’s opinion is filed.

The governor of Puerto Rico signed an executive order yesterday to permit the use of medical marijuana in the U.S. territory. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the island’s health secretary has three months to issue a report detailing how the executive order will be implemented, the impact it will have and what future steps could be taken. The order went into immediate effect. Garcia said the government also will soon outline the specific authorized uses of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes. He noted that medical marijuana is used in the U.S. mainland and elsewhere to treat pain associated with migraines and illnesses including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaica recently passed a law that partially decriminalized small amounts of pot and paved the way for a lawful medical marijuana sector.

Post-traumatic stress, along with migraines and irritable bowel syndrome, have been recommended as additions to the list of conditions that can be treated by medical marijuana in Illinois. Also receiving a recommendation for approval today were osteoarthritis and two forms of nerve damage, including diabetic neuropathy. But diabetes itself, as well as anxiety, did not receive endorsements by a state panel in Chicago. The Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board met today to consider a number of new disorders to add to the list of conditions that qualify someone to get access to medical marijuana. Its recommendations will be passed on to the Illinois Department of Public Health, which will ultimately decide which conditions are added to the list. The recommending board also voted against marijuana to treat the blood disorder essential thrombocythemia, which commonly causes headaches in sufferers. The panel said those who have the disorder would be better served under the migraine category.

Proponents of medical marijuana in Florida said they’ll be back crisscrossing the state with petitions to put the issue on the 2016 ballot. People United for Medical Marijuana, which is conducting the citizen’s initiative, landed a 58 percent majority in the November election, coming up just short of the 60 percent needed for a constitutional amendment. Proponents felt that might provide momentum for legislative action, but not one of the bills addressing wider use of medical marijuana even received a committee hearing in the 2015 Florida legislature. The group said it has addressed some of the “loopholes” cited by opponents in last year’s campaign. The new amendment specifically requires parental consent and states that those eligible for medical marijuana must have debilitating conditions. It requires the Department of Health to establish qualifications and standards for caregivers, who will undergo background checks. People United submitted its petition and received approval by the secretary of state’s office in January.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council recently commissioned a series of focus groups, where 48 men and women representing a cross-section of Californians filed into rooms with one-way mirrors to share their opinions. The research is aimed at shaping an expected legalization initiative for the 2016 ballot. Though public polls show a growing majority of state voters back the concept of legalizing marijuana, the data underscore the challenges to crafting a measure that can withstand the scrutiny of a multimillion-dollar opposition campaign. While other groups already have submitted initiatives for the 2016 ballot, a coalition led by DPA, MPP, and former Prop 19 campaigners is viewed as having the best chance of passing a measure. A recent statewide survey found that likely voter support for legalizing recreational marijuana use has grown to 55 percent, up 6 points since 2010.