Report Recommends Sweeping Reforms, Including Decriminalizing All Drugs
Momentum for Reform Accelerates as California Introduces Bills to Aid Non-Citizen Defendants Arrested for Drug Possession
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday released a first-of-its-kind report showing that tens of thousands of people are deported from the United States each year for minor drug law violations.
The report, "A Price Too High: U.S. Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses," documents how deportations of non-citizens for minor drug possession offenses have spiked in recent years, increasing by 43 percent from 2007 to 2012. In total, more than a quarter of a million people (roughly 266,000) have been deported for drug offenses since 2007, most commonly for minor drug possession offenses.
Under current immigration laws that focus on targeting “threats to public safety and national security,” decades-old offenses and/or pardoned drug convictions can lead to mandatory detention and deportation. However, Human Rights Watch found that most non-citizens deported for criminal convictions had only committed minor, nonviolent offenses.
The damning new report provides another example of how the war on drugs has become a war against migrant communities, fueling racism, violence, and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. Roughly 40,000 people (or more) have been deported every year since 2008 due to drug law violations.
Wana Products on Tuesday announced the launch of WanaCaps XR, a family of extended release cannabis capsules that provide medicinal benefits for up to 12 hours.
Wana Products partnered with Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Inc., a United States-based Drug Development Company with research and development in Israel, that developed the proprietary technology behind the extended release formulation.
WanaCaps XR will be offered in three different formulations: capsules with a 10:1 CBD to THC ratio (WanaCaps XR High CBD Capsules), a 10:1 THC to CBD ratio (WanaCaps XR High THC Capsules), and a balanced formulation with 1:1 THC:CBD ratio (WanaCaps XR THC/CBD Balanced Capsules).
“WanaCaps XR represents the next generation in the evolution of marijuana for the medical community,” said Nancy Whiteman, co-owner of Wana Products. “The extended release formulation enables patients to dose once or twice daily so they can get on with their lives without the constant need to be thinking about re-dosing. Additionally, WanaCaps XR are formulated to be highly bio-available so patients feel the therapeutic impact quickly.”
“The new capsules also address one of the major concerns of cannabis patients, which is that the initial high peak of cannabinoid activity soon after administration which can cause uncomfortable side effects such as disorientation and dizziness,” Whiteman said. “Instead, with WanaCaps XR, patients experience a long-lasting, stable effect for up to 10 hours without the ups and downs. Overall, it’s just a much better experience for patients.”
By Steve Elliott
A pair of Australian grandparents on Friday made the biggest-ever donation to medical marijuana research to investigate its use in treating childhood epilepsy and other diseases.
Barry and Joy Lambert's granddaughter Katelyn suffers up to 1,400 seizures a day, and medicinal cannabis could save her life, reports Alicia Wood at The Daily Telegraph. Lambert said he and his wife made the $33.7 million gift after seeing Katelyn respond to cannabis treatments for her debilitating condition, Dravet syndrome.
"Our vision is to make Australia a world leader in researching how to realize the powerful medicinal potential of the cannabis plant," Lambert said. "The experience of our granddaughter, who suffers debilitating epilepsy, has opened our eyes to the extraordinary possibility of cannabinoids treating not only her condition but a range of chronic illnesses that often don’t respond to conventional treatments.
“We believe this investment in the future of Australian science and medicine will provide the much-needed evidence to rapidly advance the use of medicinal cannabinoids in the treatment of childhood epilepsy and other serious illnesses,” Lambert said.
As the possibilities for cannabis-based treatments continue to make headlines in the medical world, One World Cannabis, a medical-cannabis research company, has announced that the initial results of its landmark study on treating multiple myeloma with cannabis-based solutions were extremely promising. After a series of tests using cannabis-based treatments, researchers were able to eradicate 60 percent of multiple myeloma cells.
The disease is one of the most deadly hematologic cancers and individuals diagnosed with the disease often have about a 50 percent survival rate.
OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp. on Wednesday announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, One World Cannabis Ltd., an Israel-based developer of cannabinoid-based therapies targeting a variety of different indications, has received the first basic science study (lab) results on the effect of several combination of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on multiple myeloma cell line RPMI8226.
Based on the results, One World Cannabis will submit the clinical trial protocol to the IRB (Helsinki committee). The company expects to receive institutional review board approval for the study within 6-9 weeks.
The OWC multiple myeloma study was done by three repetitive tests on the effect of cannabis extract with various combination ratios of THC/CBD and pure THC and CBD (50 percent concentration). The results present more than 60 percent malignant cell death. More results of pure THC and CBD are under further analysis.
Lancet Study Dismantles Main Argument of Opponents of Medical Marijuana
A new Columbia University study published in Lancet Psychiatry shows that teen marijuana use does not increase after the passage of medical marijuana laws. The study, led by Dr. Debra Hasin, looked at past-30-day marijuana use among over one million adolescents over a 24-month period.
While rates of use were higher to begin with in medical marijuana states, rates of use did not change after laws went into effect.
This is not the first study to find that medical marijuana laws do not have an impact on teen use – but this study is the most comprehensive and valid, given the large sample size, the long study period and adjusting results for other factors that might contribute to marijuana use, such as gender, age and geographic location. Additionally, the study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has been critical of the impact of medical marijuana laws on teen use.
“Medical marijuana relieves pain and suffering for millions and does not lead to an increase in teen marijuana use,” said Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and professor at UC Berkeley. “This should end the ‘What About The Kids’ argument used by opponents who try prevent access to marijuana for the sick and dying.”
Representatives of Regulate Rhode Island will be joined by legislative supporters at a Wednesday news conference at 11 a.m. ET in front of the Rhode Island State House to call on House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston) and Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Newport) to support the bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol and allow House and Senate members to vote on it before the session ends this month.
Immediately following the news conference, the group will deliver nearly 500 postcards to Speaker Mattiello’s office. Each postcard is signed by one of his constituents and urges the speaker to support the bill.
“We hope the House Speaker and Senate President will agree with the majority of voters that it’s time to start regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol in Rhode Island,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “At the very least, they should allow a vote on the bill before the session ends.”
A record-high 57 percent of Rhode Island voters support changing state law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, according to a survey conducted in April by Public Policy Polling. Only 35 percent were opposed. The full results are available at http://bit.ly/1IiFCNt.
Frustrated with Inaction, Patients and Families Demand Governor Sign the Bill into Law Immediately
In an unusual show of bipartisan support, the New York Senate on Monday night voted 50 to 12 in favor of a bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo, that directs the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible.
The Assembly version, sponsored by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, passed last week by an overwhelming majority (130-18). The bill now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature or veto.
The passage of this bill comes almost exactly one year after the Legislature passed New York’s medical marijuana law and almost 10 months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.
To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least four children, who might have benefitted from medical marijuana, have died since the governor signed the bill last year.
“Even though we worked tirelessly to pass New York’s medical marijuana law, for the past year, my family and I have continued to watch Oliver suffer relentless, damaging seizures, all the while knowing that there is a medicine that could help him,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach, whose son Oliver suffers from life-threatening seizures. “Every day we go without this medicine is a day that Oliver loses ground, every day we live with the risk of him dying from these seizures.
Thousands of families in the United States have been torn apart in recent years by detention and deportation for drug offenses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday. Disproportionately harsh laws and policies relating to drug offenses can lead to deportation for lawful permanent residents and unauthorized immigrants alike.
The 93-page report, “A Price Too High: US Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses,” documents how the United States regularly places legal residents and other immigrants with strong ties to American families into deportation proceedings for drug offenses. Often, those offenses are decades old or so minor they resulted in little or no prison time.
Deportations after convictions for drug possession in particular have spiked, increasing 43 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to U.S. government data obtained by Human Rights Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Even as many U.S. states are legalizing and decriminalizing some drugs, or reducing sentences for drug offenses, federal immigration policy too often imposes exile for the same offenses,” said Grace Meng, senior U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “Americans believe the punishment should fit the crime, but that is not what is happening to immigrants convicted of what are often relatively minor drug offenses.”
DigiPath Labs of Las Vegas, the cannabis testing subsidiary of DigiPath, Inc., on Thursday announced that it has successfully completed its first commercial test of cannabis material.
In the short time it's been open, the company said it has already proven that it has the equipment and knowledge needed to reliably test medical cannabis for safety and potency.
"We are open for business," said Todd Denkin, president of DigiPath Labs. "It's been a very long and arduous process, but we jumped through all the hoops and cleared all the obstacles, and now we're testing cannabis products and generating revenue, an important milestone to our shareholders."
As one of only two labs currently operating in Southern Nevada, DigiPath Labs is positioned at the forefront of what is anticipated to become a rapidly growing industry in the Silver State. According to ArcView, the legal cannabis market exploded from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2014—a 74 percent increase in just one year.
Greenwave Advisors estimates that the market could reach $35 billion by 2020 if marijuana is fully legalized across the country, or $21 billion under the more likely scenario of 12 states legalizing recreational use and 37 states legalizing medical use.
Advocates Call for State and Federal Reform Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients and Legal Adult Users of Marijuana
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday affirmed lower court decisions allowing employers to fire employees for marijuana use while off-duty. The decision hinged on the state’s lawful off-duty activities statute.
The Court held that in order for the off-duty conduct to be considered “lawful,” it must be legal under both state and federal law. The unanimous decision was not a surprise to advocates working to reform marijuana law and policy in Colorado.
The case involved Brandon Coats, a 34-year-old quadriplegic, who uses marijuana to help with spasms and seizures due to a debilitating car accident. Coats worked as a customer service representative for Dish Network for three years until he was randomly drug tested and subsequently fired for testing positive for THC.
The highest court in the state has now firmly sided with employers on this issue, giving advocates a clear message that state protections are needed, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
The case and many others like it highlight the gray areas and legal fixes needed in Colorado and other states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Given that the substance remains illegal under federal law, any rights bestowed upon civilians by state law fall far short of fully protecting medical marijuana patients and legal adult users of marijuana.
The problem is most apparent in the areas of employment, housing and parental rights.
Announcement Followed By First Conference In Central America On Medical Marijuana
Marijuana Reform Initiative Finally Brings Central America Into The Regional Debate
Earlier this month, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health outlined the details for the implementation of a pending bill to research and regulate marijuana for medical and industrial purposes. The bill was introduced by ruling Citizen Action Party legislator Marvin Atencio last year to tax marijuana products and regulate the use of medical marijuana through registration cards for patients provided by the Ministry of Health.
Ten months after Atencios’s proposal, the Ministry of Health released its criteria for the implementation of the bill.
“By taking this issue seriously, Costa Rica is demonstrating compassion for those whose suffering could be alleviated with medical marijuana,” said Hannah Hetzer, policy manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “With so much momentum for drug policy reform building in the Americas, Costa Rica’s medical marijuana initiative brings Central America into a debate that is already strongly underway elsewhere in the region.”
Among the conditions specified by the Ministry are that medical marijuana must be used as a last resort and that recreational use of marijuana will continue to be illegal. Medical marijuana will be distributed through conventional drug stores and will follow the same prescription rules outlined by the Costa Rican Social Security System.
By Steve Elliott
It's apparently not enough for California police to simply raid medical marijuana dispensaries. Security camera footage from a police raid on a Santa Ana dispensary shows officers eating cannabis edibles and joking about abusing an amputee.
Footage posted to YouTube from the May 27 raid at Sky High Collective shows officers disabling security cameras and video monitors in the business -- but the dumb cops missed some equipment that continued to record their bad behavior inside the medical pot shop, reports Ben Hooper at UPI.
An officer can be seen in the video consuming something from a bag and sharing it with another cop, who asks him, "What flavor?" The officers then laugh.
Sky High workers said the officers were snacking on the store's medical marijuana edibles. The officers were sure they'd get away with their churlish behavior, unaware they hadn't located some secret cameras.
The video shows store volunteer Maria James -- an amputee who uses a wheelchair and is legally blind -- being escorted out the back of the dispensary by officers.
After James is out of the store, an officer asks a female colleague, "Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?"
"I was about to kick her in the fucking nub," the female officer replies.
Researchers to share information about Colorado-funded research and the state of knowledge about medical marijuana
Researchers from around Colorado and the nation will gather at National Jewish Health to describe their research and current knowledge about marijuana as a medical therapy during the Marijuana and Health Symposium, 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 13.
The symposium will feature presentations by researchers funded by the state of Colorado to study the safety and effectiveness of marijuana as a treatment for medical conditions ranging from pain to epilepsy, post-traumatic stress syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and insomnia.
“As more and more states legalize medical marijuana, there is an urgent need for reliable scientific research to understand what marijuana can and cannot do as a medical treatment,” said Russell Bowler, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and co-organizer of the symposium. “This symposium will provide a forum for researchers to discuss existing knowledge about medical marijuana and their ongoing work to learn more about its potential benefits and hazards.”
"There are studies that suggest that many marijuana users use marijuana for sleep," Dr. Bowler said, adding that it makes sense, reports CBS4. "There are receptors for the active ingredient in marijuana in the region of the brain that has been associated with the control of sleep."
By Steve Elliott
Two competing Michigan marijuana legalization petitions were approved on Thursday by the Board of State Canvassers. Both are aiming for the 2016 ballot.
The petitions are from the Michigan Cannabis Coalition (MCC) and the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MCCLRC), reports Jonathan Oosting at MLive.com. Both can immediately begin circulating petitions, attempting to collect the 252,523 signatures required to qualify for the 2016 ballot.
MCCLRC, a group led by cannabis activists and attorneys, faced some criticism for canvassers for squeezing the proposed initiative language onto the back of a single petition sheet, which some said made it difficult to read.
"I think this is a terrible disservice to people reading this petition," said Julie Matuzak, a Democrat appointed to the four-member Board of State Canvassers, who nonetheless voted to approve the petition because it technically met current rules.
But Jeffrey Hank, a Lansing-based attorney and chairman of the ballot committee, downplayed that critique, saying MCCLRC will begin collecting signatures in the coming weeks.
"We think it's perfectly readable," Hank said. "Our language is publicly available and has been for some time. We're confident the voters will understand the options we provide."
By Steve Elliott
After the District of Columbia's voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana, Republicans in Congress flirted with the idea of limiting D.C.'s ability to implement the law, although it was ultimately put into place. Now they're taking another try at blocking legalization: The GOP-controlled House on Thursday advanced a budget resolution saying cannabis can't be sold for two more years in D.C.
The House budget resolution seeks to delay implementation of the measure approved by D.C. voters, reports Clark Mindock at International Business Times.
Voters approved cannabis legalization last November; under the law, residents can grow and possess marijuana, but can't smoke it in public.
Advocates for legal pot said the fact that an outright ban did not appear to be an early budget priority added to other signs that a GOP-controlled Congress may be softening its opposition to marijuana, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.