Approximately three out of four Ohio voters support amending the state constitution to make medical cannabis legal for patients with terminal or debilitating conditions, according to Public Policy Polling which conducted the February 17-18 poll. The survey found 74% of voters in favor and only 22% opposed with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8%. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM), a committee that has been formed to support the forthcoming initiative, will need to collect at least 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
In February, the Montana Supreme Court reached a ruling that clamped down on commercial sales of cannabis by limiting providers to no more than three patients each. The court’s decision upheld other provisions of a 2011 state law that represents one of the most significant rollbacks attempted by states that have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. The law, meant to curb abuses that led to a flourishing cannabis industry in Montana five years ago, would have banned medical cannabis providers from receiving any compensation. The court said the sales ban would leave some patients with debilitating illnesses with no available source for the drug. However, the court upheld the requirement that marijuana providers can take on a maximum of three patients each. The justices also upheld provisions of the law that ban medical marijuana advertising and create an automatic review for doctors who recommend the drug for more than 25 patients.
Two marijuana policy bills passed the Oklahoma House in March, and will now move on to the Senate. HB 2479 would reduce Oklahoma’s penalties for marijuana possession from two years to one year, in turn, cutting the mandatory minimum sentence for a second or subsequent marijuana possession conviction within 10 years of the first. It would also reduce the maximum sentence for such a conviction from 10 years to five years. HB 2835 would add people with certain medical conditions to the list of patients given limited protections for possession of CBD oil. Although the bill still limits such oil to 0.3% THC and fails to provide in-state access, it is an acknowledgement by the legislature that cannabis can help patients with varying medical conditions.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved comprehensive medical cannabis legislation in late March. SB 3 will now return to the Senate, which approved the bill last May, to consider the House’s amendments. Gov. Tom Wolf has been a strong champion of the issue and will sign the legislation when it arrives at his desk. SB 3 allows patients with qualifying conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis with their physicians’ recommendations. As amended by the House, it allows up to 25 growers to produce medical cannabis, which would be dispensed by up to 50 dispensaries with up to three locations each.
Virginia lawmakers considered many cannabis-related bills this year, but only one — SB 701 — made it to the desk of Governor Terry McAuliffe. This limited bill allows the cultivation of cannabis for purposes of making cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Patients suffering from intractable epilepsy could receive the oil with a written certification from their doctor. While Gov. McAuliffe is expected to sign the legislation, epileptic patients won’t receive any benefit until at least 2017, as the bill requires a second passage next year.