The group Citizens for a Safer Maine on Monday will launch campaigns in support of local ballot initiatives that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults in Lewiston, South Portland, and York.
Supporters of the Lewiston measure, including former Maine state Rep. Stavros Mendros (R-Lewiston) and Lewiston Republican Committee Vice Chair Luke Jensen, will hold a news conference at noon in Kennedy Park, at the corner of Park Street and Pine Street, across from Lewiston City Hall, to discuss the initiatives and the initiative processes.
"Adults should not be punished simply for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol," said David Boyer, Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "If voters approve these measures, law enforcement officials can use their discretion to stop arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana possession."
Mendros and Jensen are two of 10 Lewiston residents who initiated the petition, along with Lewiston City Council Member Leslie Dubois and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy.
"Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol," Roy said. "It's time to rely on facts and not conjecture."
WHAT: Launch of campaigns in support of ballot initiatives that would make marijuana possession legal for adults in Lewiston, South Portland, and York
Arizona On the Road to Becoming 12th State to Provide PTSD Patients Access to Medical Marijuana
Veterans, Medical Professionals and Advocates Winning in Three Year Quest To Change Arizona Law and Acknowledge Medical Marijuana’s Benefit for PTSD
After years of hard-fought efforts a coalition of patients, medical professionals, and advocates succeeded in demonstrating the medical safety and efficacy of marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Administrative Law Judge who heard the case. The Arizona Dept. of Health has denied all petitions submitted previously.
On Wednesday, June 4, Judge Thomas Shedden issued his ruling saying that “a preponderance of evidence shows medical marijuana provides palliative benefit to those suffering from PTSD.” The decision is now in the hands of Will Humble, director of Arizona Dept. of Health Services; Humble has until July 9 to accept or appeal Judge Shedden’s decision.
The Drug Policy Alliance’s Freedom to Choose campaign, which advocates for veterans’ access to medical marijuana contributed a compilation of published studies and personal testimony from psychiatrists in New Mexico and veterans who use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms of PTSD.
By Steve Elliott
"Don't be shy," says Amish Parikh, vice president of My Compassion, a Michigan-based nonprofit hosting a medical marijuana conference this weekend in Chicago. "It's OK to talk about marijuana -- cannabis."
As Illinois' medicinal cannabis rules are being finalized, the Chicago Cannabis Conference 2014 is being held this weekend, June 7-8 at Navy Pier. It will feature experts, advocates and businesspeople speaking about issues from the medicinal uses of cannabis to how to cook with pot.
According to Parikh, his group includes a consultant, a doctor and a nonprofit executive. They plan to use the conference to boost awareness of the medical benefits of marijuana, and to boost its image.
"If you respect the law, the law will stay," Parikh said. "We're trying to teach that as well."
Dr. Herman Toney, a medical marijuana advocate, will be joined at the conference by medical and scientific experts including naturopath Dr. Rob Streisfold, pediatrician Dr. Roberet Hicks, and cannabis researcher Dr. David Ostrow, reports Will Schutt at Medill Reports.
Panels will also be included where patients with brain cancer, leukemia, Crohn's, epilepsy and other conditions will speak about their experiences with medical marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
Alternaturals, Inc., on Thursday announced that it has chosen Kush Creams, a Washington-based medical marijuana grower and distributor, to manufacture and distribute what it is calling its new medicinal cannabis product, 5 Hour High.
According to the company, 5 Hour High is a shot-style drink, similar to the energy drinks found in convenience stores -- with one big difference. This juice-like drink delivers a dose of THC, marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient, that it says "has been specially formulated to improve mood and maintain energy levels."
The company said it expects non-smoking methods of ingesting THC to become more popular now that "many states have decriminalized the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry."
Alternaturals said it wants 5 Hour High to be sold in "most" medical marijuana dispensaries where medicinal consumption of cannabis is legal.
"We are extremely excited to be working with Kush Creams on this project because in an emerging market, you really have to go with the best if you want to have a long term stake in this industry," said Emmanual Gyamfi, CEO at Alternaturals. "We haven't found another company like them, and we are confident that we will both be very successful with this product line."
By Steve Elliott
Washington state loves coffee and cannabis. And Washingtonians are about to be able to enjoy both things together -- and I'm not talking about smoking a joint with your morning cuppa joe. I'm talking about getting a two-way buzz -- caffeine and THC -- from cannabis-infused coffee.
Marijuana coffee has already been available for years in Washington state's medical marijuana dispensaries, but it's set to hit the now-legal mass market this summer. The cold-brewed cannabis-infused coffee, called Legal, is expected to debut in early July, according to product developer Adam Stites of Longview, Wash., reports Ron Dicker at The Huffington Post.
"It's an alert, creative high," Stites said, calling it "the wake and bake drink," reports Josh Kerns at My Northwest.
Each bottle will contain about 20 milligrams of THC, according to Stites. He says that small dose is enough to make it similar to having "a nice IPA or glass of wine," he claimed. "We don't want to pack so much THC into every one of our drinks that it's unpleasant, especially for people that are just getting into marijuana," he said.
By Steve Elliott
South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley on Monday signed into law a bill to allow limited access to marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
Senate Bill 1035 is written to allow children with severe epilepsy-related seizures to use CBD oil, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, to quell their seizures if authorized by a doctor, reports Celeste Stiles at The Daily Chronic.
The new law establishes a clinical trial at the Medical University of South Carolina to assess the effectiveness of CBD in controlling seizures. MUSC will also be responsible for supplying all the CBD oil for the program.
It is unclear when, if ever, CBD oil will actually become available to sick kids.
The bill passed unanimously in the South Carolina Senate, and by a lopsided 92-5 vote in the House; these vote totals show what low political risk CBD bills have become, even in conservative states. CBD is politically safe because, as a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, it doesn't get anyone high, and better yet, it helps to quell seizures of the kind often found in pediatric epilepsy.
So the combination of "helping kids" and "it doesn't get you high" has proven an "in" for medical marijuana in what would otherwise have been quite forbidding places, such as the halls of power in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and now South Carolina.
By Steve Elliott
South Africa's Dagga Party has called for the Cape Town High Court to postpone all marijuana cases, as the party challenges the ban on cannabis.
A number of cases have been put on hold over the past year as the government is called upon to justify the laws banning marijuana (known as "dagga" in South Africa), according to party leader Jeremy Acton, reports Nicole McCain at the People's Post.
Acton believes a precedent has been set and a temporary stay on marijuana prosecutions must be offered across South Africa until the cases which challenge the constitutionality of marijuana prohibition are settled.
The application doesn't seek to prevent marijuana arrests, according to Acton; it just seeks to put the prosecutions on hold, since the cannabis laws haven't yet been changed.
"This will grant ordinary people equal rights to those who have been given the right to stay their prosecutions, thus citizens' rights are upheld," Acton explained. "It will instantly reduce the massive costs of prosecutions in the courts, but may -- if the prohibition is not overturned -- lead to a backlog which may have to be caught up with later."
"It will affect the court roll," said Jacques Sibomana, spokesman for the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders. "People will be kept in limbo, not knowing whether or not the prosecution will continue.
By Steve Elliott
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a very limited, CBD-only, medical marijuana "study" bill into law last Friday. Sadly, the bill may not ever result in relief for any patients at all.
Senate Bill 2531 creates a four-year study on the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, reports the Marijuana Policy Project. The bill specifies that Vanderbilt University will conduct the study, and Tennessee Tech will theoretically grow the cannabis.
As has been the case with similarly weak "CBD-only" legislation passed in other conservative states recently, the many limitations of the bill mean it won't result in relief for patients; Tennessee hasn't become a "medical marijuana state" by any stretch of the imagination.
The law foolishly depends on the cooperation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in authorizing the cultivation of marijuana in Tennessee for the study; it's as if those who wrote the bill haven't bothered to inform themselves of the fact that the DEA has never authorized anyone except The University of Mississippi to grow cannabis for the past 50 years.
CBD-only laws leave most potential medical marijuana patients to suffer. CBD has been found effective in quelling seizures, but those treating seizure disorders with medical marijuana are only a small percentage of total patients who could benefit from cannabis.
Patient advocates are producing ads in an effort to educate public, hold federal policymakers accountable
The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is running 30-second TV advertisements on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida over the next few days to draw attention to Members of Congress who opposed medical marijuana reform in last week's House vote.
One of the ads focuses on Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who spoke out on the House floor against a measure that restricts Justice Department funds spent on medical marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized its use. Despite the recent passage of a medical marijuana law in his State of Maryland, Rep. Harris made the claim Friday that "Marijuana is neither safe nor legal."
The other ad focuses on Democratic National Committee Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who was one of only 18 House Democrats to vote against the medical marijuana measure last week. Notably, Rep. Wasserman Schultz voted contrary to several other Democrats in her South Florida delegation.
Family’s Lawsuit Against School District Highlights Cruelty and Ineffectiveness of Undercover Narcotics Operations in Schools
Jesse Snodgrass, the teenage special needs student arrested in an undercover police operation, will receive his high school diploma at the Chaparral High School graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m.
The February 2014 Rolling Stone article, “The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass” details how Jesse, who suffers from a range of disabilities, was falsely befriended by a police officer who repeatedly asked the boy to provide him drugs. After more than three weeks, 60 text messages and repeated hounding by the officer, Jesse was able to buy half a joint from a homeless man he then gave to his new -– and only –- “friend,” who had given him 20 dollars weeks before.
Jesse did it once again before finally refusing to accommodate the officer, at which point the officer broke off all ties with the child. Shortly thereafter, Jesse was arrested at Chaparral High School in front of his classmates as part of a sting that nabbed 22 students in all, many of them children with special needs.
Two Northern California medical marijuana dispensaries have announced they will be giving away free high-CBD tincture medication for children suffering from seizure disorders.
In the wake of the recent death of 6-year old Charlee Nelson in Utah after she was denied cannabis extract known to help control seizures caused by a neurological disorder, Dave Spradlin, co-director of Magnolia Wellness in Oakland and River City Phoenix in Sacramento, has announced that he will provide for free the expensive extract to any patients with a similar ailment.
The medicine is a scientifically produced liquid made from marijuana plants and used to treat people with severe seizure disorders. The tincture is rich in a chemical called cannabidiol, or CBD, but low in THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
CBD is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that is known to possess a wide range of therapeutic benefits. It has proven to be especially effective in the treatment of seizures brought on by neurological conditions such as Batten disease, which was blamed in the death of Charlee Nelson.
“People are really suffering and this product has been known to cut seizures from hundreds a day to just a few a week or none at all,” said Spradlin.
Many in the medical community feel this is an effective alternative to conventional pharmaceuticals and can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life.
Senate Leadership is Holding Up a Vote on the Bill, Leaving Sick New Yorkers to Needlessly Suffer
Senate Refuses to Act on Bill Supported by More Than 80% of New York Voters and Thousands of New York Patients, Doctors and Caregivers
Parents of children with epilepsy and patients living with multiple sclerosis and other serious, debilitating medical conditions will rally on Wednesday at the Rockville Centre LIRR station across from Senate Co-president Dean Skelos’ office to demand a vote on the Compassionate Care Act in the New York Senate.
The bill (S.4406-B/Savino and A.6357-B), which would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, would allow seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
Earlier this month, the Assembly passed the bill for the fifth time with broad bipartisan support. The bill has also passed through the Senate Health Committee and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee.
The Senate bill sponsor, Senator Diane Savino, has said she has more than enough votes to pass the bill if it comes to the floor for a vote. But thus far, the Senate Majority Coalition Leaders -- Senator Skelos and Senator Klein –- have not allowed the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
If the vote does not take place before the session ends on June 19, patients and caregivers will be forced to wait another year for legal relief.
What: Rally with caregivers and patients to support the Compassionate Care Act
By Steve Elliott
Americans believe it's worse to drive after drinking than after smoking marijuana, according to a new survey.
Querying 1,000 Internet users nationwide in a Google Survey during the month of April, just over 84 percent of those polled answered "alcohol" to the question, "Which is worse, driving after drinking or driving after smoking marijuana?"
"What's interesting about these findings is that despite the public's wide acceptance of drinking alcohol, especially wine and beer, there's a conflict in attitudes about how it impacts behavior," said international performance and learning trainer Shawn Lock, who conducted the survey. "While there's little stigma towards drinking in public versus smoking marijuana in public, there's a very different opinion when it comes to alcohol versus marijuana."
An avid wine enthusiast and president of winecraftsman.com, Lock focuses on how certain choices impact human behavior. He said he's been fascinated by the public's debate on issues surrounding alcohol versus marijuana.
Attitudes toward marijuana and driving were related to age, according to the survey. Nearly twice as many respondents over 65 felt marijuana was worse than did respondents in the 18 to 24 age range. "These findings are interesting in that states with younger populations might be more accepting towards legalizing marijuana whereas states with older populations might have a challenge," Lock said.
New York: Medical Marijuana Patients, Physicians Outraged; Governor Proposes Leaving Patients BehindSubmitted by steveelliott on Tue, 06/03/2014 - 16:48
Comprehensive Legislation is Needed to Relieve Suffering in New York; Research Should Augment, Not Replace, Legislative Solution
Strong Statements from Patients, Caregivers and Physicians Calling on Governor to Support Compassionate Care Act
The Buffalo News on Tuesday reported on an agreement with Britain-based GW Pharmaceuticals to pursue clinical trials in New York for Epidiolex, a investigational new marijuana-derived drug that is intended for children with severe seizure disorders. The proposal is limited to research studies only, must go through the lengthy FDA-approval process, and would be focused solely on children under 18 years of age with severe seizure disorders who have not responded to other medications.
The research study is not the same thing as a patient access system for medical marijuana, such as the one as outlined in the Compassionate Care Act (S.4406B-Savino/A.6357B-Gottfried). The research trials would not allow eligible patients in New York to access medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
Rather, only a very small, select group patients -- likely limited to a few dozen -- who qualify for the research trial would be allowed access into the study.
Patients, caregivers and physicians, frustrated with Gov. Cuomo’s failure to support real solutions, reacted strongly to the proposed "trials."
By Steve Elliott
More than 18,000 U.S. prisoners completed electronic surveys last month to apply for reduced sentences under President Barack Obama's new program designed to clear federal prisons of nonviolent offenders.
The federal Department of Justice in April announced a major new initiative that solicits petitions from inmates who have served more than 10 years for a nonviolent crime; most of these crimes are drug-related, reports Lis Goodwin at Yahoo News.
Federal prisoners are always able to petition the President to have their sentences commuted, but the new program is intended to give a break to those who were sentenced under the draconian mandatory minimums of now-defunct drug laws that increased the federal prison population by 800 percent since they were passed in the Reagan Administration.
Before the new program, about 18,000 federal prisoners had applied for commuted sentences over the previous 12 years combined. The clemency program is part of Obama's transformation from granting the fewest pardons of any modern President, in his first term, to potentially commuting the sentences of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders in his second.
Such a potentially large grant of clemency hasn't been seen since President Gerald Ford offered amnesty to Vietnam-era draft dodgers back in 1974.