On the Floor of the House on Tuesday, Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Reps. Warren Petersen, Kelli Butler, Isela Blanc and I had a rousing debate over Bowers’ HCR2045.
You may remember that I mentioned this bill a few weeks ago in a blog post about Reefer Madness. HCR2045 has been amended. The worst part of it is gone, but it’s still bad.
HCR2045 is the bill in which Bowers wanted to artificially lower the amount of THC in products sold in Arizona to 2%. This is a politically motivated, artificial limit on a chemical compound found in a plant that has been used as an herbal remedy for CENTURIES and has never killed anyone. HCR2045 would destroy successful small businesses by eliminating their products from the market, hurt patients, cripple the medical marijuana program, and revive the black market.
Feb. 20 was another very long Thursday with the House Health and Human Services Committee starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m., with no lunch and a few hours in between for floor action and introductions. Thank goodness I had time to eat a yogurt cup and apple slices that were in my refrigerator. I had other food, but I never had time to sit down and eat it.￼ (Thank goodness I ate a hearty breakfast.￼)
Thursday’s low point was in the afternoon when the Republicans passed more than $300 million in tax giveaways in two bills. There are more than a dozen additional tax breaks in the House queue, alone. What the Republicans are doing with these tax giveaways is so incredibly irresponsible… but I digress.
Anyway, today’s video is about the high point of the day (no pun intended) when four marijuana bills passed the health committee, including my bill HB 2840, giving medical marijuana patients the choice between electronic medical marijuana cards and physical cards.
￼There are four medical marijuana bills (not all good) on the House Health and Human Services Committee agenda for tomorrow, Thursday, February 20.
One of them is my bill, HB 2840. This and my other 2020 medical marijuana bill HB2838 are patient choice legislation. If you have been following my healthcare bills this year, you know that I have proposed several patient choice bills. I believe in patient choice across the healthcare spectrum from reproductive choice to death with dignity and everything in between. ￼￼
Beginning in December 2019, the Arizona Department of Health Services switched all medical marijuana patients from a plastic identification card to an electronic ID. In my opinion, the patients were not adequately notified, and furthermore, they were not given a choice regarding plastic or electronic. Thousands of medical marijuana patients are over 80 years old. Thousands are over 60. Thousands more live in rural areas with limited Internet access.
HB2840 simply says that patients should be able to choose between a physical medical marijuana card and an electronic card.
Thirty-four states have some form of legal marijuana. Arizona is the only state that has no quality control testing for contaminants (like pesticides) or for make-up (how much THC, CBDs, etc.)
Cannabis testing died at the end of the session in 2018 during a flurry of negotiations regarding several marijuana reform bills. It is back in 2019 as SB1494, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee last week. This is a clean cannabis testing bill with no other issues attached.
Arizona has 200,000 medical marijuana patients who purchased 61 tons of marijuana and related marijuana products, like edibles and concentrates, in 2018. Ours is the third largest program in the country… and the only one with no quality control testing.
In committee, the governmental liaison for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Shannon Whitaker said that they don’t know how to do quality control testing for marijuana and want more specifics on what to do. I asked if anyone at ADHS had looked at the testing standards and programs from the other 33 states, and she said, “No”. Looking at how other health departments are testing samples of marijuana could be very helpful in setting up the Arizona program. Just sayin’.
Before I voted “yes” on SB 1494, I talked with the lobbyists on both sides of the issue, medical marijuana patient and NORML representative Mikel Weisser, and former ADHS Director and current Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association Will Humble. Humble, who wrote the current medical marijuana rules, said that testing is in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). He had planned to write testing rules back in 2011, but he was pressed for time with a 120 day window to write all of the rules. He added that he “was getting beat up from all sides” during the process. (I confessed that I was blogging about the card costs, which are the highest in the country.) Humble supports SB1494 but adds that ADHS has the authority to write rules on testing, even without SB1494.
ADHS is sitting on $60 million in card fees that can be spent only on the medical marijuana program. It’s time to protect patients. It’s time for Arizona to spend some of those AMMA funds to write the rules and set up testing.
SB1494 was debated at length in the House Health and Human Services Committee last Friday and passed unanimously. Since almost everything we do is on video, you can watch the debate on the AZLeg website. Click on Archived Meetings and scroll down to House Health and Human Services on March 29, 2018. You have time to voice your opinion on Request to Speak.
Look for amendments and a rousing debate on this in the coming weeks.
Activist county attorneys and judges are jailing medical marijuana patients in rural Arizona. They are using a disconnect between the criminal code and the Medical Marijuana Act to jail patients.
Why isn’t the Arizona House hearing bills that would protect patients who are legally buying cannabis concentrates?
Recently, a stage 4 cancer patient was jailed in Yavapai County for two weeks because he had a cannabis concentrate on his person. He missed his chemotherapy because he possessed a medicine that he purchased legally! The case of Rodney Jones, who was jailed for 2+ years for possession of a vape pen with cannabis concentrate, will be heard by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Overall, across the state of Arizona, marijuana laws are being enforced differently. You’re much more likely to get arrested and charged for possession in certain counties than you are in other counties. That’s not fair. Your rights should not depend on your ZIP Code, but they often do.
In the middle of each Legislative Session, there is a frenetic time period called “crossover week”. It is characterized by a flurry of debates and votes in a compressed timeframe. The purpose is to pass on as many wacky bills as possible in each chamber of the Legislature before successful bills are passed to the other chamber. (Hence, the name “crossover week”).
In the last two weeks, the Arizona House has voted on more than 100 bills. I think the House is up to ~250 bills that we have sent to the Senate. Of course, this list includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Below the fold are a few of the recent votes on gun violence, tax giveaways, mandatory sentencing, and drugs. All of these bills are still alive and have been sent to the Arizona Senate. If you don’t like these bills, tell your Senators and Representatives. (On the voting below, green = yes, red = no, purple = excused absence, yellow = absent.)
Senator David Farnsworth and Rep. Vince Leach want more regulation of small businesses in the cannabis industry and increased law enforcement against citizens who use a plant that never killed anyone. (The specter of the Nanny State rises again in the text of these regulation bills.)
Reps. Mark Cadenas and Pamela Powers Hannley (me) want decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and want to make medical marijuana cards more affordable.
Senator Sonny Borrelli is bringing back industrial hemp bill, which passed with flying colors in 2017, only to be vetoed by Governor Ducey.
Two of Leach’s bills will be heard in committee this week– HB2064 in Commerce and HB2067 in Health. Details on all 15 below.
HB2064: medical marijuana; packaging;labeling. HB2064 goes after the evil THC gummy bears. Republicans are afraid that irresponsible parents will leave THC gummy bears on the kitchen table where children can get them. I think the gun on the kitchen table is more dangerous than the cannabis. Parents should keep all harmful drugs and objects out of their children’s reach. This is another Nanny State law.)
HB2067 dictates felony charges for certification clinics that certify someone for a medical marijuana card who is not eligible. This bill is particularly bad because it says if a MMJ certification doctor breaks any law while certifying someone form medical marijuana, the doctor would be charged with a felony. If this is interpreted in include federal law (under which marijuana use is illegal), this could shut down the whole medical marijuana program.
HB2063 makes any active or inactive cannabis metabolites grounds for a DUI conviction. Cannabis metabolites can stay in your body for days; the presence of metatolites in the blood stream doesn’t constitute impairment. Inactive metatolites are inactive.
HB2068 revokes a patient’s medical marijuana card if they get a DUI.
HB2066 spends the millions of dollars in excess medical marijuana card fees on law enforcement. This doesn’t comply with the Citizens’ Initiative that created the MMJ card.
HB2284 blocks citizens’ initiatives that challenge legislation and requires monthly campaign finance reports. This sounds like unnecessary paperwork; it would burden everyone who wants to do a Citizen’s Initiative.
Jim and I attended the Pima Democratic Party Unity Party at Brother John’s Beer, Burbon & BBQ. Once Jim entered the place and smelled BBQ, he decided he had to try some. We were in the dining room off to the side of the big party, when one of my stalwart supporters came into the dining room and said, “You’re WINNING! You need to get in there.”
I went into the party room to see that I was 2000 votes ahead of Matt Kopec as soon as the early ballots were reported, and my lead increased to roughly 2200 as the night went on. (The final updated figures show that I beat Kopec by 2651 votes, and Friese beat me by 3364.)
Tuesday night, I won the second slot on the LD9 Democratic Party ticket with 33% of the vote in LD9. Rep. Randy Friese and I will advance to the general election on November 8, 2016.
My race is the only Southern Arizona race in which a challenger took down an incumbent. Although this is the third time that a Pima County Supervisors’ appointee has been defeated by a challenger, many in the news media and the party establishment are scratching their heads in amazement at my win. One local writer said that “maybe voters knew and loved Pamela Powers Hannley” but suggested that the likely reason that I won is that “Women have an edge in ‘low-information’ races”. So– more 11,630 people voted for me just because they didn’t know any better? If people were doing eenie meenie miney moe in the voting booth, the vote would have been closer.
I’m not buying the idea that the LD9 race was a “low information” race. My website stats show that people were researching my ideas and my background throughout the month of August and particularly on August 30. Also, LD9 voters many opportunities to hear us answer the same questions in the same venue. We had one Clean Elections debate, one candidate forum, radio interviews by Bill Buckmaster, television interviews by Jim Nintzel, and a sets of interviews by the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Weekly– plus all of the social media and events. This would have been a low information race if there had not been a primary challenge. In fact, the very last person I called on August 30 in a GOTV effort was a woman who had not voted yet. She complained that too many down-ballot candidates didn’t have any (or enough) information on the Internet, and she wasn’t voting for anyone she couldn’t learn more about. (Of course, I referred her to this website.)
Not only did I beat Kopec, I beat him with Clean Elections funding. Kopec raised ~$31,000 and spent ~$28,000 of it. With my seed money + family money + Clean Elections money, I had ~$20,000, and I spent ~$19,000. I was outspent– but not by a lot. For the general election, I will receive another installment from Clean Elections.
Friese and I will face Republican Ana Henderson in the general election. Henderson is a political newcomer, a right wing activist, and a Clean Elections candidate.
The primary differences between Henderson and me are that she is anti-choice (when it comes to women’s bodies) but pro-choice (when it comes to schools and vouchers). She’s also so against marijuana legalization that it borders on Reefer Madness. (I posted this story about Spice in reaction to Henderson’s Facebook post mixing up Spice and marijuana.) In addition, she also speaks out against the Affordable Care Act and wants “greater competition in the insurance marketplace so that you have more options and better prices.” (This is right-wing dog whistle lingo for dumping the the Affordable Care Act and going back to the good old days of denial of care based upon pre-existing conditions, increased medical bankruptcy, and cheap insurance that doesn’t actually pay for anything.)
I don’t know about you, but I think there are already too many anti-choice, pro-privatization, Reefer Maddness Republicans in the Arizona Legislature.
I am indebted to my supporters who signed my petition, gave me $5 for Clean Elections, hosted or helped with events, canvassed, phone banked, mailed postcards… and voted for me. Thank you all so much.
We can do this! Onward to victory in November.
UPDATE, SEPT 7: The Final figures from the Secretary of State’s office show: Friese 14,994 (42%); Powers Hannley 11,630 (33%); and Kopec 8979 (25%). Looking at the precinct data, I beat Kopec in all be four precincts (mostly located in the same general area of the Foothills. I beat Friese in seven precincts (three in poorer areas and four in the Foothills). Friese and I were within a few votes of each other in many precincts. I won 2651 more votes than Kopec, and Friese got 3364 more votes than me. (For the record, Ana Henderson got 15,640 votes, running unchallenged in the primary.)
People (particularly politicians) who are opposed to marijuana legalization are quoting Spice arrest and death rates in an attempt to confuse and scare the public and cast shade on marijuana (a plant that never killed anyone). Spice is not marijuana. Period.
Spice–also known as “synthetic marijuana”– is a big pharma drug gone wrong. Yes, in an attempt to create a marijuana pill, big pharma invented the chemical that is sprayed on plant matter and sold as Spice. According to the American Journal of Medicine, that big pharma formula was stolen by the Chinese and is being marketed as Spice. When law enforcement tries to crack down on Spice, but the makers keep changing the formula– thus staying ahead of the game.
Primary races are good for the Democratic Party because they allow different opinions to be heard. Last night while watching the Democratic National Convention (DNC), the value of the Clinton vs Sanders primary was evident. As a progressive, I heartened to hear Senator Bernie Sanders say that the two camps came together on the platform and came to agreement regarding debt-free college, busting up the banks, making society more equitable, ending Citizens United, and other populist agenda items. (They also added the Equal Rights Amendment – ERA – to the platform, but no one mentioned it.)
Mission accomplished, Bernie. Thanks for your service to the 99%. Bernie pushed Hillary and other establishment Democrats to the left and opened their eyes to the inequities of our current economic policies which offer largesse for the 1% and austerity for the 99%. They balance tax cuts and giveaways for big corporations with budget cuts, layoffs and tax increases for the rest of us– Robin Hood in Reverse.
I am by far the most progressive candidate running in Tucson and the only Tucson Democrat running clean. I have often quip that I am the Bernie Sanders of Tucson– with Hillary Clinton’s gender issues. I am pushing the local political discussion out of the safety zone of politics as usual and toward a more progressive direction– particularly in the area of economic reform, wages, and money in politics. Back in September 2015, when I started campaigning, no one else was talking about the $4 billion in unaffordable corporate tax cuts, $400 million in tax credits (half of which go to private businesses), $312 million in interest on our debt to Wall Street, or God knows how many millions in unnecessary lawsuits. And no one else was talking about income inequality or the living wage.
Listen to the answers. You’ll hear little progressive hints from the other two, and you’ll learn where we stand on the issues. The Zona show is the only venue where we were all asked about gun control, marijuana legalization, and raising the minimum wage, among other things. There are differences between the three of us; it’s worth the 30 minutes. (My segment is around 19:49.)