By Steve Elliott
The much-talked-about proposed federally approved study about using marijuana to treat military veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) made headlines when it got a green light from the federal FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. It even passed the Arizona House of Representatives (the study would be done at the University of Arizona). But one Arizona State Senator, Kimberly Yee, a Republican from Phoenix, has stopped the study in its tracks.
The study, which organizers say is aimed at veterans suffering from PTSD who have not been helped by other treatments, would not be funded with state tax money, but rather through the sale of medical marijuana cards, reports Steve Krafft at Fox 10 News.
Senator Yee, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, the recipient of the bill, had a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, but Yee said she would not let them consider the study.
Yee is ignoring the testimony of veterans like Ricard Pereyda, who served as a military policeman in Iraq and now suffers from PTSD. He says cannabis helps him cope with the disorder.
"There are a hundred scenarios in my head at any time and using cannabis quiets that; it allows me to go through my day being productive," Pereyda said.
By Steve Elliott
Commissioners in Clark County, Nevada gave a victory to advocates on Wednesday, approving an ordinance to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.
The 4-2 vote is a long-sought milestone for medicinal cannabis proponents, who have long pushed for dispensaries so that patients could have safe access to marijuana, reports Ben Botkin at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The new change also allows marijuana cultivation and testing in the county.
Before approving the proposal, commissioners tweaked it, eliminating the proposed restriction requiring a 330-foot separation from residential properties. Special permit applications will now give commissioners broader discretion to grant permits if they deem them suitable for the surrounding area.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who as a state legislator drafted the Nevada bill legalizing marijuana back in 2001, said her "no" vote on the ordinance was more of a "protest vote" out of concerns over specific provisions of the ordinance. "I do fundamentally think we should try to do it right from the get-go," she said.
All the commissioners, in a separate vote before approving the overall ordinance, supported lifting the proposed 330-foot separation between dispensaries and residential property. Commissioner Tom Collins wasn't present for the vote.
By Steve Elliott
The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday issued draft rules to keep marijuana-infused foods and candies away from children.
The rules result from the passage of Senate Bill 1531, a measure which allows municipalities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, which were finally legalized last year after years of existing in a gray area of the law. The rules are controversial and opposed by many medicinal cannabis patients and advocates, since they ban many sweet marijuana-infused medibles popular with patients, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.
Dispensaries may not sell marijuana-infused products "manufactured in a form that resembles cake-like products, cookies, candy, or gum, or that otherwise may be attractive to minors because of its shape, color, or taste," the oddly written draft rules state.
Oregon Health Authority Officials drafted the rules (gee, could they have indulged in the treats first?), which according to agency spokeswoman Karynn Fish, will take effect next week. Dispensaries will not be able to legally sell cookies and candies after that point.
Fish said the health authority is accepting public comment on the draft rules. You can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Steve Elliott
The Alabama House early Thursday morning passed Carly's Law, which would authorize a study of marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil for the treatment of childhood seizures, on a unanimous 97-90 vote. CBD oil doesn't get users high, but strong anecdotal evidence indicates it is effective in quelling seizures.
SB 74, named Carly's Law after the three-year-old daughter of Dustin and Amy Chandler, authorizes a study of CBD oil through the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), including the limited use of the oil that advocates are hoping to use from a special strain of marijuana grown in Colorado which has given relief to children suffering from seizures when conventional prescription medications haven't helped, reports Martin J. Reed at Al.com.
UAB physicians would authorize certain patients to receive CBD oil under the study.
"When they got to Carly's Law and the Speaker introduced it, [Rep.] Allen Farley [a proponent of the bill] said he was ready to debate it or answer questions," Dustin Chandler said. "They started chanting, 'Vote, vote, vote!'" he said Farley told him. "He didn't even get one question from the floor."
By Steve Elliott
Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tim Carr said this week he supports the legalization of marijuana, and using the tax proceeds to help the homeless and the poor.
"I don't want that money siphoned off" for state programs because too much would go to paying for public employee pensions, Carr said, reports Harry Esteve at The Oregonian.
Carr, one of six Republicans vying for the nomination to take on incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber in November, is the only GOP candidate from the Portland area.
Carr's chief opponent is State Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point), who is seen as the front-runner in the primary. He has said he thinks Oregon's marijuana laws "should be changed," but he hasn't said how.
"What we have presently with Oregon's medical marijuana cards has failed," Richardson said. But he added that legalizing recreational use "isn't a good idea," either. "We would be wise to wait a year and watch what takes place in Colorado and Washington," he said. "We could learn from their mistakes or their successes."
By Steve Elliott
With voter-approved Amendment 64, recreational marijuana sales are now legal in Colorado. The law doesn't require stores to keep records on recreational customers, as medical marijuana dispensaries are required to do, but retail stores aren't prohibited from gathering information, either.
Store owners say they're taking a cautious approach, reports Eric Gorski at The Denver Post. Many of the shops are trying to balance customer privacy with their desire to know their customers, including, for instance, which strains of cannabis they enjoy.
"You have to find a healthy balance," said Brooke Gehring, of Bud Med, a chain of recreational and medical marijuana outlets in Colorado. "How do we capture information that is pertinent to the success of our new retail business, versus the privacy of adults who now have this right and are able to shop at our stores?
Customers punch their cellphone numbers or email addresses into tablet computers at the counter at Bud Med stores to receive promotional offers, according to Gehring.
The text of Amendment 64 forbids state officials from requiring customers to provide marijuana stores with any personal information other than a government-issued ID to confirm their age. Video cameras capture recreational marijuana customers; the required footage must be preserved for 40 days and can be inspected by state enforcement agents.
Vincent Mehdizadeh, the founder and chief operations officer of Medbox, Inc., which provides consulting services and medicine storage and dispensing systems to the medical and retail cannabis industries, on Monday announced that he has personally funded campaigns "aimed at educating the general public as to all aspects of cannabis" in medical and recreational states.
A public awareness campaign led by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an organization dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research, is designed to better inform the national dialogue on medical cannabis by first letting the public know that cannabis medicines can be regulated and secondly that the therapeutic experience of the over one million legal medical cannabis patients goes beyond "feeling better."
The campaign will include production of new materials and ads, new communication outreach, and grassroots education campaigns to empower citizen-advocates to participate in the effort nationwide.
ASA has created a groundbreaking third-party industry certification program to help promote and publicize best practices in medical cannabis that will serve as the platform for this education campaign.
Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs agrees with panel recommendation to make Michigan the eighth state to provide relief for those suffering from the effects of traumatic events
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has decided to accept the recommendation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel and add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state medical marijuana program. This is the first time a qualifying condition has been added in Michigan.
Residents in Michigan suffering from PTSD will now be allowed to treat their symptoms with medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it, starting immediately. The statement from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs can be read by clicking here.
"Individuals who are exposed to traumatic events can suffer from PTSD, including veterans and victims of domestic violence," said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "It can lead to severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, anger, or other symptoms.
"In many respects, it can kick a person when he or she is already down," Lindsey said. "Thousands of victims across the country have turned to medical marijuana for help, and several studies support marijuana’s effectiveness as a treatment option.
By Steve Elliott
After a woman who was arrested for having a joint in her pocket reported inappropriate groping, several more women in Odessa, Texas, now say that a local police officer there detained them and groped their breasts.
Local station CBS 7 reports warrants were issued for officer Salvador Becerra, who allegedly brought at least three and up to six women back to his patrol car, where he talked to them and then put his hands under their bras and felt their breasts, according to the Texas Cannabis Report.
While groping the women, Officer Becerra reportedly turned off audio on his squad car's recording equipment, but cameras corroborated the women's stories.
Becerra detained a woman on March 9 who admitted having a joint in her pocket. According to the affidavit, Officer Becerra told her that "if she made an exception then they would not go to jail." It was then that the woman reluctantly allowed him to touch her breasts, but she reported the incident on March 10.
That resulted in an internal affairs investigation headed by Chief Timothy Burton which found the claims held merit, after reviewing Officer Becerra's camera footage. Chief Burton ordered a concurrent criminal investigation and requested the Texas Rangers take the lead in the case.
By Steve Elliott
The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday overwhelmingly approved House Bill 881, whicht would allow specially licensed physicians in the state to authorize patients with debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana.
The bill, which was written in response to growing public support for the medicinal use of cannabis, now goes to the Maryland Senate, where supporters are optimistic about its chances, reports Michael Dresser at The Baltimore Sun.
The legislation, which passed the House on a 127-9 vote, would replace a medical marijuana system that is almost universally regarded as a complete failure, and which hasn't helped any patients at all. That system restricted medicinal cannabis use to patients seeking care at academic medical centers, but none of the centers agreed to participate (surprise, surprise, since they receive federal funding).
"This is a matter of life and death for our people," said Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore), whose medical marijuana bill was consolidated with one sponsored by Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), who is a physician.
The lead sponsor of the bill was changed from Morhaim to Glenn, because the state's medical marijuana commission is named after Glenn's late mother. "This was a real exercise of love and caring," Glenn said.
Legislation to end marijuana prohibition and establish a legal market for businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older amended by House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday
The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday adopted an amendment on HB 492, a bill that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The amendment, which would simplify the tax structure and improve regulations for the legal marijuana industry, was approved by a subcommittee earlier Tuesday morning in a 5-0 vote. The Ways and Means Committee voted 14-5 to adopt the subcommittee’s amendment, and then it voted 14-5 to recommend that the House not pass the bill.
The House of Representatives already approved HB 492 once, in January, after overturning a similarly negative recommendation from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. The bill will now return to the full House for a second vote. If approved, it will then be considered by the state Senate.
Rep. Frank Sapareto (R-Derry), a member of the subcommittee, said he was very pleased with the committee’s adoption of the amendment.
"We have developed what will be a workable and responsible system of regulating marijuana in New Hampshire," Sapareto said. "New Hampshire has effectively regulated the production and sale of alcohol, and there is no reason why we cannot capitalize on that experience to effectively regulate the production and sale of marijuana."
By Steve Elliott
A vast majority of Iowans support allowing doctors to authorize medical marijuana use for ailing patients, according to new poll results released on Monday.
A Quinnipiac University Poll found that a whopping 87 percent of state residents support medical marijuana, with just 17 percent opposed, according to the poll, reports James Q. Lynch at the Des Moines Bureau of the Sioux City Journal. Incredibly, every party, gender and age group measured had at least 68 percent support for medical marijuana in the poll.
What's more, that strong level of support is comparable to other states, according to Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"Iowans overwhelmingly think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes, but most voters oppose legalizing personal recreational use," Brown said. There was a big difference when it came to recreational use: "Opposition to personal marijuana is higher in Iowa than in any state we've surveyed so far on this subject," he said.
Efforts in the Iowa Legislature to legalize medical marijuana failed to gain traction in this year's session. Republican and Democratic lawmakers admit there is "more interest" about medical marijuana, but what we aren't seeing is the kind of tectonic shifts in public policy that would take place in a true representative democracy when an issue has 87 percent support.
By Steve Elliott
Michigan's top business group is urging the state appeals court to take unemployment benefits away from people who are fired for using medical marijuana.
The appeals court is looking at cases involving ex-employees who sought benefits after being fired for their medicinal cannabis use. Judges in Kent and Ingham counties have ruled in favor of the dismissed workers, reports the Associated Press.
Businesses are in a "no-win situation," claimed Rich Studley of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Eager to use any excuse to avoid paying out, he claimed employers would have to "ignore marijuana use" or else pay higher unemployment taxes if fired workers collect unemployment.
In Ingham County, Jenine Kemp was fired from her job as a CT scan technician at Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital after a drug test in 2011 revealed marijuana, reports Click On Detroit. Kemp, who has a Michigan medical marijuana card, said she uses marijuana edibles outside work hours to relieve chronic pain from lupus, which attacks her joints.
"She never showed signs of intoxication or being under the influence," said Kemp's attorney, Eric Misterovich. "There was no indication she was using marijuana on the job. The only complaints came when she talked about medical marijuana. That's what prompted the drug test."
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana advocates won a big victory on Friday when the Obama Administration opened the way for a University of Arizona scientist to research whether cannabis can help military veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The move could lead to more studies into the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis.
Scientists have for years been frustrated by the federal government's intransigence when it comes to approving marijuana research -- unless the study is designed to find harms, rather than benefits, of cannabis. The Arizona study had long ago been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but under federal rules, such studies can only use federally grown marijuana from the University of Mississippi, report Evan Halper and Cindy Carcamo at The Los Angeles Times. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which oversees that pot farm, is hostile to any studies aimed at examining the benefits of cannabis; NIDA normally only funds studies to find its hazards.
"This is a great day," said Suzanne A. Sisley, the Arizona researcher, who is clinical assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona's medical school. She has been trying for three years now to get the study approved.
"The merits of a rigorous scientific trial have finally trumped politics," Sisley said. "We never relented."
By Steve Elliott
Last year, the Maryland Legislature passed a completely useless medical marijuana law which limited distribution to a small number of approved academic medical centers. None of those centers, surprise surprise, were willing to participate, so patients were still left without any safe access. Now, legislators are looking to fix the law to help patients actually obtain cannabis. On Saturday, the House gave preliminary approval to a bill that would increase safe access to medical marijuana.
The House of Delegates on Monday plans to vote on a bill by Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) which would loosen its current law and replace the non-functional system created last year with one that works, reports Michael Dresser at The Baltimore Sun.
"The important thing to recognize is that there are thousands of Marylanders who could be helped in the short and long term," said Morhaim. "We're missing a tremendous economic opportunity to exploit this plant and use it in an intelligent, properly scientific, research way."
Lawmakers heard extensive testimony this year about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to patients with epilepsy, the side effects of chemotherapy, auto-immune disorders and other medical conditions. The bill would allow physicians to authorize patients to use medical marijuana outside the medical center setting.