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STEVE ELLIOTT

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2016 Voter Guide Names Medical Marijuana Champions in Congress, Provides Endorsements of Pro-Medical Cannabis Ballot Measures in Arkansas, Montana, Florida & North Dakota

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, on Thursday announced the launch of its 2016 Medical Marijuana Voting Guide designed to provide voters interested in improving access to medical cannabis with critical information on legalization efforts on the ballot this November.

The 2016 Medical Marijuana Voting Guide provides a state-by-state information scorecard grading Congressional candidates on their support for the legalization of medical cannabis as well as upcoming ballot measures in Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana, Florida that would guarantee patients with safe and legal access to marijuana for medicinal use.

Amongst the nine pro-cannabis legislation measures on the ballot across the country this year, Americans for Safe Access supports the following:

    • In North Dakota, ASA is urging support for Measure 5 which would create a comprehensive medical cannabis program for the patients of the state. The program would create access for patients at retail dispensaries, but would also allow patients to grow up to 8 plants if they live 40 or more miles away from the nearest dispensary. The program would one of the strictest in nation in that it would allow the ND Department of Health to conduct in-person patient interviews in order to determine eligibility. Despite this provision, Measure 5 would be a vast improvement upon the status quo.

 

    • In Montana, ASA is urging support for Initiative 182 which would largely restore the state’s medical cannabis program. Earlier this year, the program suffered a major setback for patients when SB 423 (2011) finally went into full effect. While the law scaling back the state program was passed in 2011, the state courts had prevented some of the provisions from taking effect. However, the court injunction was lifted in August 2016. Initiative 182 would restore dispensary access to medical cannabis, require state licensing for the manufacture of infused products, and bring lab testing to the Montana program. It would also add PTSD and lift hash restrictions regarding chronic pain as a qualifying condition. Home cultivation and the current possession limits would be retained.

 

    • In Arkansas, ASA is urging support for Issue 7, one of two ballot measures to legalize medical cannabis in the state, while remaining neutral on the other measure, Issue 6. According to ASA, the Issue 7 approach is superior to Issue 6 for patients for several reasons, including significantly better qualifying conditions language and home cultivation access for patients who live more than 20 miles from a dispensary. Issue 7 has better provisions for patients regarding the number of dispensaries and prevents localities from banning retail access for patients. “Simply put, patients would be better off under Issue 7 than under Issue 6,” according to ASA.

 

  • In Florida, ASA is urging support for Amendment 2. The 2016 version of Florida’s Amendment 2 is a slightly more scaled back version of the 2014 version that received more than 57 percent of the vote. However, since Florida requires that ballot amendments must receive more than 60 percent of the vote, the amendment was defeated that year. The key differences in the 2016 version of Amendment 2 are that it more explicitly states which qualifying conditions are eligible and it makes clear that parental consent is required for medical use by minors. The program created by Amendment 2 would be significantly more comprehensive and serve many more patients than the limited access that is currently provided under the current low-THC, CBD-focused program.

 

As part of the 2016 Medical Marijuana Voter Guide, Americans for Safe Access also named the 2016 medical cannabis champions in Congress.

While Americans for Safe Access is not endorsing candidates in the 2016 election, the named champions in the House of Representatives received an “A” grade or above, meaning that they voted for the CJS and Veterans medical cannabis amendments and signed onto the CARERS Act.

Given that the Senate has not had any floor votes on medical cannabis in the 2015-2016 session, only Senators on the Appropriations Committee who had the opportunity to vote on medical cannabis amendments have been scored. Those cited as champions have received an “A” grade or above as they have either been cosponsors of the CARERS Act or have a near perfect voting record on medical cannabis amendments in the Appropriations Committee.

FOR A FULL LIST OF CONGRESSIONAL CHAMPIONS, CLICK HERE: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/vote_mmj_2016

“In less than two weeks, voters will pick lawmakers at the local, state and federal level that will be making important decisions about medical cannabis that impacts millions of people across the country,” explained Steph Sherer, founder of ASA. “Cities and counties will decide whether to ban or regulate patient safe access and state legislatures will vote on commercial licensing and patient rights measures.

 

“The new Congress will even decide whether or not to continue paying for medical cannabis enforcement,” Sherer said. “With so much at stake for the future of medical cannabis this November, it is critical that voters know what ballot measures to support and which members of Congress have been champions for the legalization of medical cannabis.”

 

VIEW THE 2016 MEDICAL MARIJUANA VOTER GUIDE HERE:
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/vote_medical_marijuana

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