Cancer is a word that conjures up many images. It is a varied disease that affects many people and can leave families distraught. There are fortunately treatments for a large number of these cancers, which work by restricting tumour growth and inducing cell death. However, there are cancers which pose more of a challenge, and so finding new drugs that can fight these ones becomes even more important.
The methods for discovering and developing new drugs, or chemotherapies, simply fall into two camps. The more recent approach has been the design of drugs with a particular molecular target in mind. This is arguably best exemplified by the drug imatinib, notably used to eat leukaemia. After scientists understood that the BCR-ABL hybrid gene was the cause of a certain type of leukaemia it allowed them to develop pharmacological ways to specifically counteract it – by inhibiting the signals inside the cancer cell used to grow and divide. The drug that was born to much fanfare and arguably revolutionised drug development.
Continued improvements in the understanding of the mechanisms inside cells that are hijacked by cancer have helped to improve the way that compounds are designed and then tested clinically. Those that are able to restore the normal function of the signalling pathways disrupted by cancer are an attractive target for drug development.
At least three major pharmaceutical players are in a fight to negate the cancer-supporting action of AKT, for example. This protein kinase – a key regulator of cell function – is a central player in determining cell proliferation and growth, and is intimately linked with a number of other cell communications systems that all work in unison to support a cancer developing. Its level is over-expressed in a number of cancers, and is linked to a poorer prognosis. Consequently, therapeutic interventions to counteract its effects are particularly attractive and potentially lucrative.
Isolating the compound
It was however, never like this. Before the mystery of cancer was opened up, drug discovery was empirical in nature. Through antiquity, a range of flora were said to cure ailments and, using these anecdotes as guides, active ingredients have been extracted, purified and improved. This has been successful, and a number of drugs now form normal members of the pharmacopeia, including aspirin, which was isolated from the white willow, and less familiar anti-cancer drugs such as etoposide, irinotecan and taxol, which were derived from mayapples, camptotheca trees and Pacific yews. There is no doubt of their value in treatment and they’ve been used successfully for over 40 years.
Then there is the cannabis plant. The putative medicinal property of cannabis has been known for some time; indeed, history records show they were used to ease symptoms of gout, malaria and even childbirth. However, the fundamental issue with using cannabis in its whole form as a medicine is its psychoactive properties, so it would make sense to identify the important anti-cancer parts and remove the psychoactive components. Cannabinoids are these. They number around 80, with cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the two lead medicinal candidates. However, unlike the mayapple and Pacific yew, their development has been seriously curtailed.
It’s likely that the widespread use of cannabis as a recreational drug has affected research into the potential in cannabis – and the result was death by association. I wonder how the early development of CBD and THC would have progressed if it was known by any other name.
Drugs with chequered pasts have found redemption; take the thalidomide story. This drug was infamously linked to babies born with deformations; however, serendipitous observations of improvements in leprosy in a patient taking thalidomide in 1965 led to the discovery that it also had important effects on the immune system. Refinements to the chemistry of the drug were made and the result was a new family of drugs that are valuable tools in anti-cancer research and treatment.
The story emphasises the point that medicinal potential of drugs should be seen objectively and guided scientifically. Cannabinoids and cannabis are not the same thing – it’s just that cannabinoids are derived from cannabis. Cannabinoids possess anti-cancer properties, which they achieve through their fundamental interactions with proteins embedded in the signalling pathways in cells that are now seen as particularly interesting for research.
In addition to this direct anti-cancer action, cannabinoids also have the capacity to disrupt the ability of cancer to feed itself by a process called angiogenesis as well as being able to modulate the immune system to make it more hostile towards cancer. Furthermore, CBD and THC appear to support the activity and efficacy of other chemotherapy drugs. Indeed, we recently showed that the cancer-killing property of radiotherapy was dramatically enhanced when cannabinoids were used in combination with this treatment – certain forms of brain cancer were reduced to sizes that were difficult to detect. Taken together, all of these features show a profile with great anti-cancer potential.
However slow things have been, a sea-change has been occurring; there is a palpable sense that legislators are becoming open to the scientific evidence that suggests cannabinoids may possess medicinal quality. Clinical trials using various forms of cannabinoids are now taking place in a number of countries, and we all await the results of these studies.
I hope to be able to change the answer that I give to patients who contact me to ask: “do you think I should be using cannabinoids for my cancer?” from the negative to the affirmative. My frustrating answer has always been it is too early to say, as promising laboratory data has not yet been confirmed by objective clinical studies. This is not a criticism of the drug development system, as convincing clinical trials are needed to ensure patients are given drugs that have been thoroughly tested to ensure the best chance of them fighting their disease.
The flip side of those who passionately shout for the “legalisation of cannabis” is that their call may inadvertently hamper the medical development of cannabinoids, which is a shame. My aim is to deliver a drug that can be used in patients with cancer. And for a headache, no one would suggest you chew on a white willow plant, especially when you could be taking an aspirin. The same is true of cannabis and cannabinoids.
VIA The News Minute
In the United States, about one in ten people live with some form of arthritis. Its damage to these 30 million sufferers makes this disease the number one cause of disability.
Those who think the treatment of arthritis, especially the rheumatoid variety, with cannabis is new age medicine should think again. As far back as 2,000 B.C., four thousand years ago, the Chinese called cannabis a treatment that “undoes rheumatism.”
During the 19th century, cannabis tinctures were common on pharmacy shelves throughout North America and administered as a pain killer (aspirin didn’t become common until the early part of the 20th century).
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when a person’s cartilage simply wears away. It can affect the knees, hips, lower back, hands, and neck. Osteoarthritis is basically a sign of aging and quite common. Unfortunately, no cure exists. Treatments like cannabis have been shown to reduce swelling in the joints and relieve pain for osteoarthritis sufferers.
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune condition that attacks the joints. Think of RA as a faulty immune system. The disease can cause severe debilitation for sufferers of all ages, as well as a slew of other immune system-related health problems.
Cannabinoids for Pain Relief
There are two cannabinoids found in marijuana that have especially profound efficacy for those with arthritis: CBD and THC. CBD, or cannabidiol, is responsible for immune system modulation, meaning it is helpful for an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol — and byproducts of its metabolism — has been found to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing). THC is also known to reduce the anxiety and depression that commonly accompany severe diseases, especially those that affect one’s mobility.
The efficacy of cannabis for a wide variety of autoimmune and neurological conditions is the core focus of the medical marijuana movement. However, the sheer number of arthritis sufferers makes the development of new drugs or therapies targeted at this specific condition of special interest to a variety of companies. One example is Cannabis Technologies, a company based in Vancouver that is in the process of developing a new cannabinoid-based therapy that will directly treat arthritis.
Reducing Pharmaceutical Drugs
Cannabis is especially useful for helping arthritis patients wean themselves off serious pharmaceutical drugs that, in the long term, may cause more problems than they solve. For patients who must continue with pharmaceutical treatments, marijuana often eases the negative side effects of these drugs.
Cannabis is useful for people with RA and other chronic pain conditions because it alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, and helps patients sleep. Loss of appetite is common among those who suffer chronic pain. Cannabis therapy shows the promise of not only alleviating pain, but also stimulating appetite and encouraging an otherwise ravaged body to at least nourish itself as it attempts to fight a potentially deadly disease.
Arthritis, especially the life-altering RA type, is one of a long list of conditions found to be treatable with cannabis. The utility of this medicinal herb becomes apparent when patients realize that they can reduce or even eliminate a slew of pharmaceutical drugs — including their negative side effects. If cannabis did nothing but reduce the pain associated with conditions like arthritis, it would be worthy of further investigation as a valid medical treatment. Fortunately, its ability to reduce things like anxiety, depression, and inflammation make it even more valuable.
Although sativa strains are usually credited for being better pain relievers, some indica strains can also provide relief from arthritis symptoms. Click this link to see which strains of cannabis rate best for providing relief from arthritis pain.
photo credit: herbmuseum.ca
(CNN) - A new study, funded in part by the federal government, suggests alcohol has a more extreme impact on drivers than marijuana.
Researchers said alcohol "significantly increased lane departures/minimum and maximum lateral acceleration; these measures were not sensitive to cannabis." Researchers also concluded Cannabis-influenced drivers "may attempt to drive more cautiously to compensate for impairing effects, whereas alcohol-influenced drivers often underestimate their impairment and take more risk."
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office on National Drug Control Policy, and federal safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funded the study.
The National Institute on Drug Abus says it used the "most sophisticated driving simulator of its kind to mirror real-life situations."
The participants drank alcohol to reach approximately 0.065% peak breath alcohol concentration, inhaled vaporized marijuana or had a placebo.
The test group consisted of 19 adults. Thirteen of them were men. Most of the participants consumed cannabis more than two times a month but less than 3 times a week. During the 45 minute driving session, inside the driving simulator in Iowa city, researchers zeroed in on how many times the car left the lane, weaving in the lane and the speed of the car. A 1996 Malibu sedan is mounted in a dome with a motion system. "Drivers experience acceleration, braking, steering cues, road conditions like gravel and realistic sounds."
Researchers said "alcohol, but not marijuana, increased the number of times the car actually left the lane and the speed of the weaving."
Although marijuana had a less dramatic effect than alcohol on drivers the study found it still impairs " one measure of driving performance." The drug reduced the drivers' peripheral vision giving them tunnel vision. People driving with blood concentrations of 13.1 µg/L THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, showed increased weaving within the lane, similar to those with 0.08 breath alcohol, the threshold for impaired driving in many states.
Drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana enhanced the effect, so that drivers using both substances weaved within lanes even if their blood THC and alcohol concentrations were below the impairment thresholds for each substance alone. Alcohol, but not marijuana, increased the number of times the car actually left the lane and the speed of weaving.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia approved medical marijuana; four states and Washington, D.C., legalized recreational cannabis for adults.
As states continue to loosen restrictions on marijuana safety regulators and law enforcement are struggling to figure out how to establish a legal limit for drivers, just as there is a .08 limit for alcohol.
This new study also presented the challenges in accurately testing drivers and developing a threshold of what's considered too high to drive.
"THC concentrations drop rapidly during the time required to collect a blood specimen in the U.S., generally within two to four hours." Oral tests using the drivers' saliva can be done roadside without a long wait but researchers found oral tests may not "be a precise measure of the level of impairment." The concern is that implementing concentration-based cannabis-driving legislation "will unfairly target individuals not acutely intoxicated, because residual THC can be detected in blood for up to a month of sustained abstinence in chronic frequent smokers."
The study concedes testing marijuana levels that reflect "driving impairment remain elusive."
By Kay Lazar and Virgie Hoban | GLOBE STAFF AND GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
SALEM — It was 40 minutes past 10 a.m., and already roughly two dozen patients waited in line. They had come for the start of business Wednesday at Alternative Therapies Group, the first dispensary to sell marijuana for medical use in Massachusetts. Patient number one was a gray-haired man with a walker.
Access to the dispensary is by appointment only. A police officer stood by the entrance to the old brick factory building, and a private security guard checked off patients’ names from a clipboard as they waited under crystal blue skies.
Voters in November 2012 overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in a statewide ballot initiative. But the awarding of dispensary licenses quickly became mired in controversy under the administration of Governor Deval Patrick, with questions about conflicts of interest and political favoritism. The system, stalled for months as patients grew increasingly frustrated, was recently revamped and streamlined by Governor Charlie Baker’s administration.
Now, nearly three years after the vote, medical marijuana is legally available to the 18,000 people who, according to state records, have the required physician certifications.
“We fought a long time for this,” said Peter Hayashi, a 59-year-old former neuropsychologist who was among the first to enter the dispensary.
Hayashi said he has a painful neurological condition — at times, cold air can make his skin hurt — and he has been getting medical marijuana from a Maine dispensary to ease his symptoms. Without the marijuana, he said, he has often spent hours in bed, his skin under covers to protect it against temperature changes.
“Marijuana has helped me be up and around more normally,” he said.
Wendy Atwood was waiting in line, too. The 53-year-old said she has used marijuana to ease knee and back pain from arthritis, depression, and anxiety. She also said she has long used the drug recreationally.
“I am a law-abiding citizen, a mom with two kids, and a day-care provider,” Atwood said. “It’s going to be very exciting” to walk into the dispensary, she added. “I’m happy that it’s not under wraps anymore.”
But the process was hardly speedy. Waves of patients waited up to an hour in line, and then, in small groups, were ushered inside.
They said they were shown a 10-minute video about marijuana and the types of strains the dispensary would be selling, although on Wednesday just two varieties were available.
Patients said they were not allowed to see or smell the products, and were instead shown pictures on a computer screen, using a system that staffers told patients they had learned to operate just the night before.
Patients said they placed their orders and then went to another area in the dispensary to pick them up.
Many said that the prices were higher than they had anticipated, and that the dispensary took only cash, but had an ATM for those who ran short.
Barry Levine, a 62-year-old self-employed lawyer from Marblehead, said he paid $372 for 1 ounce. Levine said marijuana helps ease his nausea from chronic gastritis.
Access to medical marijuana “is a panacea for everyone who uses it,” he said. “This for me is an old hippy’s fantasy land.”
About 120 patients had signed up for appointments Wednesday, according to the company’s security guard. Alternative Therapies executive director Christopher Edwards briefly stepped outside to speak with the guard, but declined a request for an interview.
Fourteen other dispensaries from Northampton to Boston have received preliminary state approval and are finalizing plans to open. At least two are expected to open this fall.
The executive director of a trade association for the dispensaries issued a statement saying the industry welcomes the opening of the first facility, but raised concerns the state’s testing standards for medical marijuana are too stringent.
“Massachusetts has the most conservative testing limits in the country,” Kevin Gilnack, executive director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, said in the statement.
Alternative Therapies was able to open after receiving a temporary waiver last week from the state that allows it to sell cannabis that has not been fully tested for pesticides and other contaminants.
The one-time waiver was granted because laboratories in Massachusetts are not yet able to complete the quality testing required under state health department rules, Baker’s office said last week.
But chemists at two labs poised to test dispensary products said the problem isn’t operations at the labs. The problem, they said, resides with the state’s guidelines, issued just six weeks ago, which set standards that are too stringent for lead.
The trade association said in its statement that the state made an errant assumption about how much marijuana patients might consume.
“A survey of available data showed that the heaviest users consume about 2 to 3 grams of cannabis per day,” Gilnack stated. “Connecticut assumed a patient might consume 2.33 grams per day while Nevada assumed a patient might consume 5 grams in a day,” he said, yet the Massachusetts Department of Public Health “based our testing limits on the assumption a patient could consume 28 grams — about six to 12 times more than what we’re seeing in other states.”
VIA The Boston Globe
People are flocking to buy weed, but they're not paying as much for it.
It's been a little over a year since Colorado began allowing stores to sell marijuana for recreational use and the market continues to grow rapidly. But there are clouds (ahem) on the horizon.
Nicholas Colas and his team at Convergex, a global brokerage company based in New York, surveyed a number of marijuana stores in Colorado last week to get a better picture of the state of the nascent market.
What they found was that prices are declining faster than some had expected, while the number of people visiting the stores has increased.
Here's more from the note:
Since last June, the average price of an 1/8th ounce of recreational cannabis has dropped from $50-$70 to $30-$45 currently; an ounce now sells for between $250 and $300 on average compared to $300-$400 last year. More competition and expansion of grow facilities contributed to this price decline, but it is also a natural result for any maturing industry as dispensaries try to find the market’s equilibrium price.
Even with the declining prices, sales are still exceeding those of last year for recreational marijuana.
According to the note, sales increased by 98 percent year-over-year in April. Taking that into account, Colas expects stores to gross up to $480 million this year, which would be a 50 percent increase over 2014.
One thing his team will be keeping an eye on is the average size of each transaction, as it appears to be decreasing -- perhaps as the novelty value of legally purchasing pot wears off -- as well as a key upcoming date:
Our contacts still report between 100 to 300 customers entering their stores each day, but they only spend about $50 per visit compared to $100 last June. About half of these customers are tourists in most stores we interviewed. ... The 10% sales tax on recreational cannabis will be repealed only on that day (September 16) due to a provision included in a bill Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law earlier this month. The bill also permanently cuts the 10% sales tax on recreational marijuana to 8% in 2017 in an effort to squeeze out the black market.
Meanwhile, the popularity of legal weed has sparked a fast-growing industry that Colas compares to Silicon Valley. The note talks about a camp called "CannaCamp Mountain Resort," where guests can "hike, zip line, and roast marshmallows, all the while smoking cannabis" (though they have to bring their own. Due to state laws, the camp can't sell to campers directly). The owners of CannaCamp also run two "Bud and Breakfasts."
Here's a look at the story count for "marijuana" going back to 2000 on the Bloomberg Terminal:
"I'd rather be illegally alive than legally dead" is the kind of badass quote you'd expect to hear from an outlaw biker. But thanks to federal law and the Drug Enforcement Administration, they're the words of a 15-year-old who has turned to medical marijuana to treat a chronic illness.
In 2011, Coltyn Turner's Crohn's disease (chronic inflammation of the digestive tract) was so severe that he stopped growing. But when Turner began regularly taking marijuana, designated a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA, he improved rapidly.
"We were completely against marijuana when we first started this situation," Coltyn's mother, Wendy Turner, told Mic. "We are probably the biggest hypocrites that you will ever meet. We listened to the propaganda, the stigmas ... Reefer Madness B.S. ... Then it became an option for Coltyn."
Finding a solution: As Turner and his family looked for solutions in typical medicine, he found continuous problems. One caused headaches, another led to drug-induced lupus and serum sickness. The anti-inflammatory drug Humira caused hives, swollen lymph nodes and triggered false scares for tuberculosis and cancer. Nothing worked, and Turner's Crohn's disease wouldn't go into remission.
Internet research led the Turners to a 2011 study that found evidence of "significant" improvement in Crohn's disease symptoms in 70% of human test subjects given medical marijuana. But pursuing this course of treatment turned the Turners into medical refugees. They had to relocate from Illinois to Colorado, where they could legally administer their son the THC-infused pills and baked goods that ended up saving him.
Turner told Mic it took seven months for the disease to enter complete remission, but "his pain subsided, his energy got better, he got healthier and better within just a couple of days." Not only did his condition improve rapidly, it stayed improved.
Today, Coltyn is a healthy 15-year-old, free of most medication. His mother says the side effects of his previous drug regime were "a billion times worse than the medication he takes with cannabis."
She added the only noticeable psychoactive effect of the medication is euphoria, which after years of suffering was a plus. "He was great. He was happy. And what's so wrong with that? Medicine should make you feel better, not just take away your symptoms. And that's what this does."
In fact, the biggest problem that came with the medication was uprooting their lives and moving three states away. The Turners' only lingering fear is that the THC could stop working.
Turner's case is just one case out of what pro-marijuana law reform group NORML says is a growing body of research suggesting weed could help treat ailments ranging from brain cancer and neuropathic pain to multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Out of the hundreds of studies documenting medical uses of weed, few have found evidence that medical marijuana is associated with significant risks to patients.
Perhaps that's why a 2013 CBS News survey found 76% of doctors support legalizing weed for medical purposes, and the substance is slowly but surely becoming more accepted in states across the country.
Gallup polling indicates a majority of Americans now agree with the Turners, favoring fully legalized marijuana by a four-point margin as of October. The vast majority of Americans support the kind of medical use that helped Coltyn.
It will take some time for everyone to get the message; as of March 2015, just 23 states allow medical marijuana.
VIA NY Times
By JULIE TURKEWITZ
DENVER — Some people who prosper in life choose to spend their hard-earned millions on private planes. Some buy a vineyard in Napa to indulge a love of wine. Some collect showpiece cars, or fulfill a dream of hiking Mount Everest.
Marc Paskin bought a radio station in Colorado and converted it to a marijuana-themed format.
“I was going to retire, and then I said: Wait a minute, that’s boring,” said Mr. Paskin, 66, a millionaire who made his money in real estate and has never been known as boring. In Hawaii, where he lived for a long time, he starred in a reality television show called “Uncle Kokua” in which he drove around Oahu in a van and distributed money to people in need. After his wife died, he searched for a girlfriend using a San Diego billboard. (It worked.)
And in May, he moved to Denver, bought a radio station for $875,000 and christened it Smokin 94.1, declaring it the state’s only pot-themed FM station. Yes, the Grateful Dead get heavy airplay, as do the Rolling Stones and several reggae artists. In addition to classic rock and music to get stoned by, the station plays marijuana-laced comedy bits. It made its debut on June 1.
“This is my million-dollar toy,” Mr. Paskin said.
He is not just the owner but also the on-air talent: As Gary Ganja, he is the regular afternoon D.J. In the studio, he wears flip-flops, a Bob Marley wig and a Rolex. At the mixing board, though, he’s cannabis-free. “I want to pay attention,” he said, “with all those controls and everything.”
Comedy bits include “Dead People Who Smoke Pot.” (Mr. Paskin to a fake James Brown: “James, how are things in that coffin?” Fake James Brown: “I smoke weed every day. I smoked it by the pound. That’s why I was so hot on stage.”)
Op-Ed Columnist: Now Playing in Denver: Reefer GladnessJAN. 25, 2014
“Stoner Dating Game” is a call-in stunt. And “Presidents on Weed” features phony conversations with leaders who have admitted to trying marijuana.
Other on-air hosts have also adopted station-appropriate pseudonyms: Ed Blaze, Mary Jane, Billy Blunt and Stoney Reynolds, who was recruited from a station in Chicago.
Internet-streamed programs focusing on pot have existed for years. But in starting a cannabis-themed FM radio station, Mr. Paskin is trying to succeed with a largely unexplored model. The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado has prompted a flurry of entrepreneurial activity — the marijuana critics, the pot-friendly hoteliers, and the founders of CannaCamp, a new “bud and breakfast,” among them — but few have dared to enter the AM and FM radio world.
“There’s a courage factor,” said Chuck Lontine, a former investment banker who advises corporations seeking to acquire radio stations in Colorado and beyond.
Several major companies have considered all-pot formats, Mr. Lontine said, and all have gone running once they heard the risks. Federal rules on marijuana-themed radio are “fifty shades of gray,” he said, and there’s always a chance that the Federal Communications Commission will revoke a license. All forms of marijuana use remain illegal under federal law. Attracting advertisers would be a challenge, he said, since anyone from a dental office to a Walmart might decide to stick with a safer option — like a top-40 station that plays Taylor Swift songs.
At least two other stations in Colorado experimented briefly with marijuana-centric formats, but quickly left the air. One, K-High, had a run this spring on AM 1580 out of Colorado Springs. But when the man leasing the station died, his children quickly dropped the radio license, said Len Williams, the station’s operations manager (though K-High continues to stream on the Internet).
But Mr. Paskin said his deep pockets free him from the need to turn a profit. He has already given away millions, both as “Uncle Kokua” and in an appearance on another TV show, “Secret Millionaire.”
For now, the station is commercial free. And he believes he’s in the legal clear.
“I’m bringing back the old days of radio,” Mr. Paskin said. “Radio has become boring, it’s corporate-controlled, every station sounds alike. If you tell a weird joke, they’ll fire you.”
Smokin 94.1’s studio, in east Denver, is decorated like a college dorm room, with pot-themed posters, the largest of which features Cheech and Chong. On a recent weekday, Mr. Paskin mixed rock hits — AC/DC, Van Halen — with recordings from his repertoire of funny bits.
Calls came streaming in. “Smokin 94.1,” he said, responding to a call from a man who identified himself as D.Y. “So answer the question of the day — what do you like to eat after you’ve smoked or you’re stoned or whatever?”
The answer: Chocolate.
Mr. Paskin has posted billboards around Denver that promise “4:20 news and big hits” — 4:20 is a reference to marijuana — and feature a cartoon character in dreadlocks with a large joint hanging from his lips. The station’s website displays similar imagery.
He has received both praise and criticism. Scott Greene, a former president of a cannabis legalization and advocacy group called Mile High Norml, said the station’s lazy-stoner vibe promotes an outdated notion of the state’s marijuana users, who include mothers, high-level executives and even children on medical treatment. Mr. Greene said he took particular offense to the station’s cartoon stoner.
“It’s ignorant stereotyping,” Mr. Greene said, calling the station’s hosts “so out of touch that they still think that image is O.K.”
Mr. Paskin responds to critics by urging them to relax.
“Some people want to be real sophisticated,” he said, after passing the microphone to the evening host. “But it’s like — big deal. You know what? This is comedy.”
VIA NY Times
WILMINGTON, Del. — Voting along party lines, the Delaware state Senate gave final approval Thursday to a measure that decriminalizes the possession and private use of small amounts of marijuana, and Gov. Jack Markell almost immediately signed the legislation into law.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a marijuana decriminalization bill Thursday after it passed the Democratic-controlled Senate. Republicans, who did not support the bill, argued that decriminalizing marijuana would encourage more young people to us USA TODAY
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Helene Keeley,, allows Delawareans to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and use the drug privately without facing criminal sanctions.
Criminal penalties for simple possession will be replaced with a civil $100 fine. The law takes effect in six months.
The decriminalization measure, which cleared the House earlier this month, passed despite significant opposition from police groups, and from Republicans.
Selling marijuana remains criminal under the law. No Republican voted in favor of the legislation in either the House or the Senate.
"This is a vote we're going to really, really regret," Republican Sen. Colin Bonini said. "Would you want your kid smoking weed. I think the answer is overwhelmingly no."
In a statement after Thursday's vote, Robert Capecchi, a lobbyist with the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, said "marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and most Americans now agree it should be treated that way. Delaware has taken an important step toward adopting a more sensible marijuana policy," Capecchi said.
Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have stopped charging citizens criminally for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In Delaware, like in other states, there is evidence that the law is disproportionately enforced along racial lines, which was a driving force behind the bill's passage.
Blacks in Delaware were three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, despite accounting for a much smaller portion of the population, according to a 2013 report from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Marijuana arrests previously threatened to saddle Delawareans with a criminal record, something the legislation's supporters believed was unnecessary for a drug that they say poses few risks.
"It's safer for me to choose cannabis over alcohol," Zoe Patchell, a Delaware marijuana activist with Cannabis Bureau of Delaware, said during committee testimony Wednesday.
The bill's supporters did give some ground to opponents, especially those in the law enforcement community. Language added by amendments strictly defines a public place where it will remain criminal to consume marijuana. Public places include any outdoor space within 10 feet of any window or sidewalk.
Delawareans under 21 also still face criminal penalties if caught with marijuana under an amendment added in the House. And it will remain criminal to consume marijuana in a moving vehicle under the current legislation.
Police groups remained concerned throughout legislative debate that decriminalizing marijuana possession could limit their ability to initiate searches that could lead to even more substantial charges for drug dealers and traffickers.
State Attorney General Matt Denn, the state's top law enforcement official, said Thursday that he supported the decriminalization measure. "I've said for some time that we're generally supportive of possession of small amounts being treated as a civil rather than a criminal offense," Denn said.
VIA USA Today
After more than a year of delays, the Florida Department of Health on Wednesday will begin accepting applications for five geographically distributed licenses to grow non-euphoric marijuana, process it into a concentrated oil and market it to epileptics and people with cancer.
It is a process that was expected to get underway last summer, but was prevented when various would-be applicants made legal challenges to the rules.
How many applicants there will be is unknown, but the number has likely dwindled from what it would have been a year ago.
At that time, companies were hooking up with Florida nurseries qualified under the law with the aim off getting a license in advance of the potential passage of the proposed medical marijuana amendment 2, which received 58 percent of the popular vote — 2 percentage points less than the 60 percent required for ratification.
The applications must be made by Florida nurseries that have been in existence for 30 years or longer and have 400,000 or more plants under cultivation.
“Ninety-two nurseries are eligible to apply,” said David Kotler, a Boca Raton attorney who specializes in medical marijuana legal consulting. “The scuttlebutt was 15 were probably capable of applying. Frankly I think the number is going to be a little less.”
The Southwest Florida license takes in a north-to-south strip of Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Collier counties.
The South Florida license covers the largest portion of Florida’s population. Using conservative estimates, Kotler and a client figured they should only count on 1,400 monthly clients. “The expected revenue was pretty good after ramp-up, but start-up costs were high,” he said.
Overall, it will cost each successful license winner more than $2 million just to set up shop. Submitting an application requires a $63,000 nonrefundable fee. If successful in winning a license, the enterprise must post a $5 million bond, which costs $50,000 to $300,000 per year to maintain. Building an indoor grow operation could cost $1.75 million or more. The processing plant and lab together would bring that total to a minimum of $2.25 million.
Officials at Sarasota County’s AltMed LLC, which in the past has described a working relationship with a qualified Sarasota County nursery, on Monday declined to comment on whether they would be part of an application by July 8, when the state’s narrow window will close.
The health department now claims it could have the extract in the hands of patients by the end of 2015, but potential suppliers say spring 2016 would be more likely.