MedicalMJ.org - News and Facts About Medical Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Puerto Rico Okays MedMJ, TX Pot Bills Killed, NV Harm Reduction Bill Moves (5/4/15)

The Supreme Court wants to know what the Obama administration thinks about that lawsuit over Colorado's pot law, a Hawaii dispensary bill is back from the dead and being considered today, a Nevada harm reduction bill advances, a federal drug defelonization bill is introduced, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Supreme Court Asks For Obama Administration Position on Suit Over Colorado Pot Law. The US Supreme Court today asked for the administration's views on the lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado's marijuana legalization law. This signals that the high court is taking an interest in the case.

Arkansas Attorney General Rejects Wording of Legalization Initiative. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge last Friday rejected the proposed popular name and ballot title of a proposed legalization initiative. "The Arkansas Industrial Hemp and Medical Cannabis Amendment" did not mention any limits on industrial hemp or medical marijuana use, Rutledge said. Petitioners can submit a revised initiative.

Puerto Rico Governor Signs Executive Order Legalizing Medical Marijuana. Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla Sunday signed an executive order legalizing medical marijuana. The move comes after years of discussion in the US island territory.

Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Dispensary Bill Back from the Dead. Negotiations over the dispensary bill, House Bill 321, collapsed last Friday, but after drama over the weekend, a Senate and House conference committee is set to reconsider the bill today. Sixteen of 25 senators had asked for reconsideration after conference committee chair Sen. Josh Green refused to agree to a final version of the bill. Senate President Donna Mercado then threw him off the committee, and Kim and House Speaker Joseph Souki sent out a letter late Friday saying the bill would be reconsidered today. Click on the link for all the juicy details.

Illinois Advisory Board Votes Against Adding Anxiety and Diabetes. The board has rejected adding anxiety and diabetes to the list of qualifying conditions and diseases, but is still considering whether to add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

ACLU to Sue Over Firing of Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Patient. The ACLU of Rhode Island says it plans to file a complaint against an employer who refuses to hire medical marijuana patients, even though it is legal in the state. Lawsuits challenging the firing of medical marijuana users have been turned away in California and Michigan.

Harm Reduction

Nevada Assembly Approves Bill With 911 Good Samaritan, Opiate Overdose Reversal Drug Provisions. The lower house voted last Friday to approve Senate Bill 459, a harm reduction bill containing both provisions allowing greater access to the opiate overdose reversal drug, naloxone, and provisions that would reduce -- but not remove -- penalties for those who report drug overdoses. The Senate has already approved it, but it needs one last vote there after changes in the Assembly. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) supports the bill.

Sentencing

Federal Drug Defelonization Bill Filed. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has filed HR 2153, which would make certain federal drug offenses misdemeanors and eliminate the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, the House Energy Committee, and the House Education and Workforce Committee.



Puerto Rico Governor Signs Executive Order Legalizing Medical Marijuana

[This story was written in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.]

Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla Sunday signed an executive order legalizing medical marijuana. The move comes after years of discussion in the US island territory.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Under the order, the Puerto Rico Health Department is enabled to authorize the use of marijuana and its derivatives for health reasons. The order directs the secretary of health to produce a report laying out rules and regulations for the new system within 90 days.

"We're taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life," Gov. Garcia said in a statement. "I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope."

The Puerto Rican legislature debated medical marijuana in 2013, but a final vote on that bill was never taken, and the issue was stalled until Garcia Padilla acted. He has the support of many, if not all, legislators.

"It's a step in the right direction. One of the benefits that patients say they receive the most is pain relief," said Jaime Perello, president of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives in remarks reported by the Associated Press.

Not everyone was on board, though.

Garcia Padilla's order leaves the island's drug laws in "judicial limbo," warned opposition legislator Jennifer Gonzalez.

But the Drug Policy Alliance liked what it was seeing.

"Gov. Garcia's executive order is exactly what was needed," said DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann. "It was the right and legal thing to do given both the absence of a ballot initiative process in Puerto Rico and the inability of the legislature to pass needed legislation."

"Gov. Garcia's action is a compassionate move, and demonstrates a regard for scientific evidence," says DPA Americas policy manager Hannah Hetzer. "This will alleviate the unnecessary suffering of thousands of patients in Puerto Rico, while also generating revenue and much-needed employment."

Puerto Rico becomes the second US territory to legalize medical marijuana, after Guam. Some 23 states and the District of Columbia have also legalized it, and the federal government has signaled it is not going to interfere.

It also becomes the second Caribbean entity to legalize it, after Jamaica. In Latin America, it is also legal in Uruguay, which has legalized recreational as well, and medical marijuana crops are being grown in Chile with government approval.



Chronicle AM: Reps Call for Better DEA Head, US Afghan Opium Boondoggle, Mexico Violence, More (5/1/15)

The House rejects medical marijuana for vets, Georgia's governor signs a CBD cannabis oil bill, Congressmembers call for a progressive DEA head, the US spent $8.4 billion to wipe out Afghan poppy crops and got squat, there's a new report on prohibition-related violence in Mexico, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Medical Marijuana

House Rejects Medical Marijuana Access for Vets by Three Votes. An amendment from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to allow Veterans Administration doctors to fill out state medical marijuana recommendation forms for veterans was defeated Thursday by a vote of 213-210. The amendment was to the spending bill to the Veterans Administration.

California Assembly Passes Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act. The Assembly approved Assembly Bill 258, filed by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). The bill bars anyone in the organ transplant process from using a patient's use of medical marijuana to deny them a transplant, unless that use is clinically significant to the transplant process. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

Georgia Governor Signs CBD Cannabis Oil Bill. Gov. Nathan Deal (R) Thursday signed into law House Bill 1, the "Hailey's Hope Act." The law will allow qualifying patients to use CBD cannabis oils containing less than 5% THC. Click on the link to see the list of qualifying conditions.

Drug Policy

Congressmembers Call for a More Progressive DEA Head. Eight members of Congress have sent a letter to the White House urging it to replace disgraced outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart with someone who will "reflect your administration's policies. Leonhart, they said, "leaves behind a legacy of strident opposition to efforts to reform our nation's drug policy." Click on either link for more.

International

Afghan Opium Production Jumps Despite $8.4 Billion US Effort. The US has dumped $8.4 billion into fighting opium production in Afghanistan since invading and occupying the country in late 2001, but has basically gotten squat for its efforts, according to the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Opium production is now at a 12-year high, the report says. "The US has provided $8.4 billion for counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, and the country is the global leader in illicit opium cultivation and production," the quarterly report concluded.

Italian Army Begins Growing Medical Marijuana. To address a shortage of medical marijuana in the country, the Italian Army has begun growing medical marijuana in a bunker inside a pharmaceutical plant in Florence. "The aim of this operation is to make available to a growing number of patients a medical product which isn't always readily available on the market, at a much better price for the user," Colonel Antonio Medica told Italian website Corriere della Sera. The operation is expected to produce about 220 pounds annually.

Mexico Drug Trafficking Violence Declines, But Still Deadly. An annual report from the University of San Diego's Justice in Mexico project finds that homicides have declined for the third year in a row and that cities such as Acapulco, Chihuahua, and Ciudad Juarez have seen dramatic reductions in violence, but that new areas of concern have emerged, including the states of Morelos and Jalisco. "Violence remains relatively high and the security situation remains problematic in certain parts of the country," said the report, Drug Violence in Mexico.

Mexican Gunmen Shoot Down Military Helicopter in Jalisco, Killing Three Soldiers. A military helicopter trailing carloads of suspected cartel gunmen was hit with gunfire from the convoy today, resulting in a crash landing that left three of the 11 troops on board dead. The attack came as violence roiled the state: More than a dozen trucks and buses were torched in Guadalajara, gunmen clashed with police in the town of Autlan, and five banks were torched in Ciudad Guzman. This is the turf of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which killed 20 police officers in the state in two ambushes in March and April.



Relative Addictive Properties of Various Commonly Used Drugs

relative dangers and addictive properties of various drugs
Source: Dr. Jack E. Henningfield, Ph.D. for NIDA. Reported by: Philip J. Hilts, New York Times, Aug. 2, 1994 "Is Nicotine Addictive? It Depends on Whose Criteria You Use."
Image courtesy of Drug War Facts.

Medical Marijuana News Update

Marijuana is medicine for millions of patients around the US. Click here for medical marijuana news. Federal opposition persists in spite of successful medical marijuana programs in several states. States, cities moving to allow medical use by those in need.

For more information on medical marijuana and other drug policy reform issues, check out the Common Sense for Drug Policy. For the facts about medical marijuana, check out Drug War Facts: Medical Marijuana, and this CSDP public service ad on medical cannabis to learn more.


For The Latest News Check Out:

Common Sense for Drug Policy

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Media Awareness Project

Drug Reform Coordination Network


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Get Active!

Help make sure that patients can access medical cannabis safely and legally. Americans for Safe Access maintains this terrific Take Action page on their site to help you decide what actions you can take. Common Sense for Drug Policy also maintains this organizers' toolkit on their website.


Meet The Patients

The US Justice Department continues to stand between patients and their medicine. Click here to meet some of the patients and read their stories, and learn why this issue is so important.


The drug war lies on a foundation of myth. Learn the truth. Get the facts. Drug War Facts is your premier information source, offering uptodate information with full citations to aid in further research. Individual sections as well as full edition available electronically at DrugWarFacts.org. Get the facts about medical marijuana, prisons, drug treatment, syringe exchange, and more.
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Marijuana Is Safe, Effective Medicine

Cannabis, or marijuana as it is often called when referring to the drug form of the plant, is an effective medicine that is relatively safer than many commonly-used pharmaceutical products. In the last several decades US doctors and patients have been denied legal access to this substance. Click here to read this well-researched article about the medical benefits of cannabis and learn more about its uses.


Get Informed!

Get the facts about medical cannabis from Drug War Facts.
NORML's website provides a great deal of useful medical cannabis information. California NORML maintains this list of CA medical cannabis resources. Access hundreds of articles on medical cannabis from the popular press.


The US Justice Department is pressing forward with an aggressive campaign to prosecute medical marijuana offenders in spite of California's medical marijuana law (Prop 215) and in defiance of efforts by local officials to support legal medicine for patients. Targets have included prominent medical marijuana patients groups, caregivers, and individual patients attempting to grow medicine for themselves.... Click here for more.


Top Stories On The Web

US NY: NY's Pot Lottery

New York Post, 03 May 2015 - 300 vying for five medical licenses The race is on to secure the five licenses to be granted under New York state's medical marijuana program, which takes effect in January. And the cash--crop lottery could bring in millions for the winners.

US NM: Column: Marijuana Still More Popular Than Politicians

The New Mexican, 03 May 2015 - Right after last November's general election, in this very column, I made the contention that marijuana was more popular than either gubernatorial candidate - Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Democrat Gary King - at least in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. I made that claim based on the number of votes that (nonbinding) marijuana-decriminalization initiatives received in Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties. In both counties, the pro-marijuana position got more votes than either of the candidates.

US NV: Growth Industry

Las Vegas Sun, 04 May 2015 - Nevada Lawmakers Get Up-Close View of Colorado's Pot Business With medical marijuana already here and full legalization on the ballot in 2016, a group of Nevada legislators took a trip to Denver last weekend to get an up close look at how the state is handling its booming cannabis market.

CN BC: B.C. Health Backs Dispensary Changes

Globe and Mail, 30 Apr 2015 - Minister Terry Lake says Vancouver is 'operating in the interests of their citizens' by overhauling regulations B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake is backing Vancouver over the federal government in the city's bid to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries over Ottawa's objections.

CN SN: Column: Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

The Observer, 01 May 2015 - SHOULD MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED? The other day as I scrolled through my Facebook the usual advertisements popped up, but I also saw numerous references to 420, April 20. Now I'm not sure how that time/day was chosen, but similar to people drinking and saying, "It's five o'clock somewhere," a 420 culture has developed surrounding marijuana.

CN ON: What's The Buzz?

Ottawa Sun, 03 May 2015 - Vapour lounge draws activists, medical marijuana users - and opinions The clock strikes 4:20 p.m. on a sun-baked Friday afternoon in the capital, and the patrons of Ottawa's most buzzworthy new establishment take notice.

US HI: Legislators' Unusual Steps Keep Pot Measure Alive

Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 03 May 2015 - The story of marijuana as medicine at the state Capitol this year was a story of careful preparation, dogged grass-roots politics and compassion for those who suffer from chronic illnesses. And don't forget the impact of money. Bills to establish marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii have stalled in the state Legislature for years, but dispensaries suddenly emerged this year as one of the most talked-about issues for lawmakers. It was an issue so important they refused to allow it to die.

CN BC: Victoria Considering Dispensary Overhaul

Globe and Mail, 01 May 2015 - Victoria's mayor says she is closely watching Vancouver's bid to regulate marijuana dispensaries because there may be lessons as the B.C. capital grapples with the "regulatory quagmire" associated with such operations. "Our staff are working very closely to figure out what they have done that we could also do," Lisa Helps said in an interview.

CN SN: Column: Legalize Pot? Perhaps Not...

The Observer, 01 May 2015 - LEGALIZE POT? PERHAPS NOT... This column is not an argument either for or against the use of marijuana. My middle-aged, mom-ish self is now part of a demographic that is more in tune with the use of pot medically, rather than recreationally, so I feel I would be spectacularily unqualified to make an emotional argument on either the pro or the con side on whether the use of pot is morally right or wrong.

Medical Marijuana

Courtesy of Drug War Facts, a project of Common Sense for Drug Policy.

  1. Since 1996, ten states have legalized medical marijuana use: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ME, NV, OR, VT and WA. Eight of the ten did so through the initiative process, Hawaii's law was enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor in 2000, and Vermont's was enacted by the legislature and passed into law without the governor's signature in May 2004.

    Source:  National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), from the web at http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3391, last accessed Oct. 9, 2004.

  2. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana stated, "The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  3. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana examined the question whether the medical use of marijuana would lead to an increase of marijuana use in the general population and concluded that, "At this point there are no convincing data to support this concern. The existing data are consistent with the idea that this would not be a problem if the medical use of marijuana were as closely regulated as other medications with abuse potential." The report also noted that, "this question is beyond the issues normally considered for medical uses of drugs, and should not be a factor in evaluating the therapeutic potential of marijuana or cannabinoids."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  4. In the Institute of Medicine's report on medical marijuana, the researchers examined the physiological risks of using marijuana and cautioned, "Marijuana is not a completely benign substance. It is a powerful drug with a variety of effects. However, except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  5. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana examined the question of whether marijuana could diminish patients' immune system - an important question when considering marijuana use by AIDS and cancer patients. The report concluded that, "the short-term immunosuppressive effects are not well established but, if they exist, are not likely great enough to preclude a legitimate medical use."

    Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

  6. "Conclusions: Smoked and oral cannabinoids did not seem to be unsafe in people with HIV infection with respect to HIV RNA levels, CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts, or protease inhibitor levels over a 21-day treatment."

    Source:  Abrams, Donald I., MD, et al., "Short-Term Effects of Cannabinoids in Patients with HIV-1 Infection - A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial," Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 19, 2003, Vol. 139, No. 4 (American College of Physicians), p. 258.

  7. "This study provides evidence that short-term use of cannabinoids, either oral or smoked, does not substantially elevate viral load in individuals with HIV infection who are receiving stable antiretroviral regimens containing nelfinavir or indinavir. Upper confidence bounds for all estimated effects of cannabinoids on HIV RNA level from all analyses were no greater than an increase of 0.23 log10 copies/mL compared with placebo. Because this study was randomized and analyses were controlled for all known potential confounders, it is very unlikely that chance imbalance on any known or unknown covariate masked a harmful effect of cannabinoids. Study participants in all groups may have been expected to benefit from the equivalent of directly observed antiretroviral therapy, as well as decreased stress and, for some, improved nutrition over the 25-day inpatient stay."

    Source: Abrams, Donald I., MD, et al., "Short-Term Effects of Cannabinoids in Patients with HIV-1 Infection - A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial," Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 19, 2003, Vol. 139, No. 4 (American College of Physicians), p. 264.

  8. "Nevertheless, when considering all 15 studies (i.e., those that met both strict and more relaxed criteria) we only noted that regular cannabis users performed worse on memory tests, but that the magnitude of the effect was very small. The small magnitude of effect sizes from observations of chronic users of cannabis suggests that cannabis compounds, if found to have therapeutic value, should have a good margin of safety from a neurocognitive standpoint under the more limited conditions of exposure that would likely obtain in a medical setting."

    Source:  Grant, Igor, et al., "Non-Acute (Residual) Neurocognitive Effects Of Cannabis Use: A Meta-Analytic Study," Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (Cambridge University Press: July 2003), 9, pp. 687-8.

  9. In spite of the established medical value of marijuana, doctors are presently permitted to prescribe cocaine and morphine - but not marijuana.

    Source: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.

  10. Organizations that have endorsed medical access to marijuana include: the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians; American Bar Association; American Public Health Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; AIDS Action Council; British Medical Association; California Academy of Family Physicians; California Legislative Council for Older Americans; California Medical Association; California Nurses Association; California Pharmacists Association; California Society of Addiction Medicine; California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; Colorado Nurses Association; Consumer Reports Magazine; Kaiser Permanente; Lymphoma Foundation of America; Multiple Sclerosis California Action Network; National Association of Attorneys General; National Association of People with AIDS; National Nurses Society on Addictions; New Mexico Nurses Association; New York State Nurses Association; New England Journal of Medicine; and Virginia Nurses Association.

  11. A few of the editorial boards that have endorsed medical access to marijuana include: Boston Globe; Chicago Tribune; Miami Herald; New York Times; Orange County Register; and USA Today.

  12. Many organizations have favorable positions (e.g., unimpeded research) on medical marijuana. These groups include: The Institute of Medicine, The American Cancer Society; American Medical Association; Australian Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health; California Medical Association; Federation of American Scientists; Florida Medical Association; and the National Academy of Sciences.

  13. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 established five categories, or "schedules," into which all illicit and prescription drugs were placed. Marijuana was placed in Schedule I, which defines the substance as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. To contrast, over 90 published reports and studies have shown marijuana has medical efficacy.

    Source: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.; Common Sense for Drug Policy, Compendium of Reports, Research and Articles Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Medical Marijuana, Vol. I & Vol. II (Falls Church, VA: Common Sense for Drug Policy, March 1997).

  14. The U.S. Penal Code states that any person can be imprisoned for up to one year for possession of one marijuana cigarette and imprisoned for up to five years for growing a single marijuana plant.

    Source: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.

  15. On September 6, 1988, the Drug Enforcement Administration's Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young, ruled:
    "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known....[T]he provisions of the [Controlled Substances] Act permit and require the transfer of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance."

    Source: US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition," [Docket #86-22] (September 6, 1988), p. 57.

  16. The DEA's Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young concluded: "In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care."

    Source: US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition," [Docket #86-22], (September 6, 1988), p. 57.

  17. Between 1978 and 1997, 35 states and the District of Columbia passed legislation recognizing marijuana's medicinal value.
    States include: AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IA, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WV, and WI.

For additional research on medical marijuana, see this excellent analysis of medical marijuana research by Common Sense for Drug Policy President Kevin B. Zeese and this update from Common Sense for Drug Policy, as well as the Drug War Facts section on marijuana.

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