Releaf Magazine
9Sep/160

An explanation of why MMJ patients can’t buy a gun

stockWhy medical marijuana patients can’t buy guns

The Washington Post - Christopher Ingraham - 09/07/2016

An appeals court ruled last week that a federal law prohibiting medical marijuana cardholders from purchasing guns does not violate their Second Amendment rights, because marijuana has been linked to "irrational or unpredictable behavior."

The ruling came in the case of a Nevada woman who attempted to purchase a handgun in 2011, but was denied when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder, according to court documents. S. Rowan Wilson maintained that she didn't actually use marijuana, but obtained a card to make a political statement in support of liberalizing marijuana law.

Federal law prohibits gun purchases by an "unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance." In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms clarified in a letterthat the law applies to marijuana users "regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes." Though a growing number of states are legalizing it for medical or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, which considers the drug to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the federal law passes muster with the Constitution, as "it is beyond dispute that illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely as a consequence of that use to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment and that can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior."

The court then concluded that it is reasonable to assume that a medical marijuana cardholder is a marijuana user, and hence reasonable to deny their gun purchase on those grounds.

From a legal standpoint, the nexus between marijuana use and violence was established by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Virginia, in the 2014 case of United States v. Carter. That case cited a number of studies suggesting "a significant link between drug use, including marijuana use, and violence," according to the 9th Circuit's summary.

In the words of the 4th Circuit, those studies found that:

The 4th Circuit argued that, on the link between drug use and violence, the question of correlation vs. causation doesn't matter: "Government need not prove a causal link between drug use and violence" to block firearms purchases by drug users. A simple link between drug use and violence, regardless of which way the causality runs, is grounds enough.

Still, the 9th Circuit did suggest causation was part of its decision, saying that irrational behavior can be "a consequence" of marijuana use.

This argument — that substance use increases risky behavior — applies to plenty of other drugs, too, and not just illegal ones. For instance, drug policy researchers Mark Kleiman, Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken have pointed out that tobacco users also are more likely to engage in crime relative to the general population.

"Compared with nonsmokers, cigarette smokers have a higher rate of criminality," they wrote in their 2011 bookDrugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know. "Smoking in and of itself does not lead to crime, but within the population of smokers we are more likely to findindividuals engaged in illicit behavior."

The authors also point out that there's a much stronger link between violent behavior and alcohol than there is for many illegal drugs: "There is a good deal of evidence showing an association between alcohol intoxication and pharmacologically induced violent crime," they write.

They added: "There is little direct association between marijuana or opiate use and violent crime. ... it is also possible that for some would-be offenders, the pharmacological effect of certain drugs (marijuana and heroin are often given as examples) may actually reduce violent tendencies."

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7Sep/160

The popular opinion on cannabis in America has definitely changed in favor

ABCMany Think Marijuana Causes Little to No Harm, Study Finds

ABC News - By. Catherine Thorbecke & Shailja Mehta - 9/5/2016

Marijuana use is going more mainstream, not only with more states allowing its use in some form -- including five more set to vote this November -- but also in the way Americans view the drug itself.

According to a new study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, substantially more people feel that using Marijuana causes little to no harm.

"Beginning in the 90s with medical marijuana laws, we have seen large amount of people using marijuana themselves and deciding themselves whether it was harmful to them," Roger A. Roffman, a professor emeritus at University of Washington, School of Social Work told ABC News.

"The idea that marijuana is harmless has been far too widely accepted by people," he said. "I want to see that pendulum switch back towards accuracy and for us to be more tuned in to what people need to make informed decisions."

This study looked back at 12 years of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, from 2002 to 2014, and found that more Americans reported they were using the drug and far fewer saw it as harmful.

The number of American adults who said they perceived smoking marijuana once or twice a week to be a great risk dropped from 50.4 percent to 33.3 percent, according to the study, reflecting a major shift in perception of harm.

Almost three times more adults said they felt there were absolutely no risks associated with using marijuana once or twice a week -- increasing from 5.6 percent of people seeing no harm to 15.1 percent seeing no risk.

Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in the same category as heroin and LSD, and is classified as even more severe than Schedule II drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine.

The general change in risk perception began around 2006 to 2007, according to the research -- around the same time that legislation surrounding marijuana began to change. Four states have legalized recreational marijuana use since 2012 and many more legalized medical marijuana use.

"The drum is beating and has been now for a number of years to remove criminal penalties for possession and make it legal to be grown and sold to adults," Roffman added. "With that movement comes some claims that marijuana is not dangerous enough to justify there being severe criminal penalties. For many people who hear these claims the message translates to them that 'there is nothing to worry about.'"

 

He believes the way that advertising, especially political advertising, depicts marijuana can also have an affect the public perception of its use. As campaigns have pushed to legalize marijuana across the country, the ads have reinforced the idea that it's a less harmful drug.

"In Colorado, the whole campaign to legalize was that marijuana is not as harmful as alcohol," Roffman noted. He said it's possible that, as a result, many people could "come to the conclusion that if attitudes change and laws change maybe there is nothing to worry about."

The changing public perception doesn't always align with medical opinion.

"That was a controversy from the very beginning," Dr. Patrick Fehling, an addiction psychiatrist at the University of Colorado Hospital Center for Dependency Addiction and Rehabilitation told ABC News. "Marijuana became legalized before a lot of its effect were fully understood."

Research on the drug has been limited and is now expanding, in part thanks to legalization and the tax dollars selling it has raised. But, so far, much of the research is actually "indicating potential for harm" from marijuana use, according to Fehling.

"There is a very big difference between recreational use and 'addictional' use," Fehling said. The "signs of addiction include tolerance and withdrawal, loss of control around your use, and consequences and problems in your life around your use."

"The use of medical marijuana is still highly controversial," he added, explaining that much of the research is still "anecdotal," based on what people self-report.

The number of American adults in the surveys who reported using marijuana increased from 10.4 percent to 13.3 percent over the 12-year period. The study, however, largely reflects self-reported data and may not account for how legalization has changed the way people report their marijuana use.

Research on marijuana use of any kind has proven difficult in the past because it remains illegal for recreational use in most states, which may hinder some people from openly admitting their true marijuana usage, if they feel they could face possible legal consequences.

As several recent studies have said, this study notes the need for more research on the drug's effects, how people are using it and that more education about the risks associated with marijuana are necessary.

 

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5Sep/160

Nov. 8 will be a historic day for cannabis in America

130814195816-01-marijuana-medium-plus-169From California to Maine, nine states to vote on marijuana Nov. 8

The Washington Post - By. Christopher Ingraham - 09/05/2016

This is a pivotal year for American drug policy. More states than ever will consider easing restrictions on marijuana use this November: Voters in five states will decide whether to fully legalize recreational use, while voters in four more will weigh in on whether to allow medical marijuana.

The outcome of these initiatives could set the tone for the national marijuana legalization discussion going forward. Big state victories for the pro-marijuana contingent -- recreational weed in California, medical marijuana in Florida -- could widen the gap between state and federal marijuana policies, ratcheting up pressure on Congress and the next presidential administration to provide a fix.

On the other hand, a string of defeats would signal public unease about condoning the use of an intoxicating substance that isn't tobacco or alcohol. Defeats would suggest that opponents' longstanding criticisms of the legal marijuana industry are making inroads among voters.

As campaigning shifts into high gear in the fall, here's a rundown of where marijuana will be on the ballot in November -- and how those contests are shaping up.

California — Recreational marijuana

A "yes" on weed in the world's sixth-largest economy would loom large in the marijuana debate, making marijuana legal along the entire West Coast.

California is home to nearly 40 million people and an existing $2.7 billion market in medical marijuana. Legalization of recreational marijuana could cause that industry to swell to $6 billion or more by 2020, according to ArcView Research, a marijuana industry research firm. That kind of money is already drawing the interest of businesses and investors, who could leverage their newfound legal lobbying clout to pressure Congress and other states to relax restrictions on marijuana sales and use.

Polls have shown the legalization measure drawing the support of 60 percent -- or more -- of voters, making it perhaps the marijuana initiative most likely to pass this fall. Legalization has been endorsed by some high-profile state and national politicians, as well as the California Democratic Party, the ACLU and NAACP of California, and the California Medical Association. It's opposed by a number of law enforcement groups and some politicians, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Supporters of the legalization measure also hold a huge fundraising advantage over opponents. According to Ballotpedia, supporters had roughly $11.5 million in cash on hand as of Aug. 16, compared to opponents' $186,000.

Nevada — Recreational marijuana

While home to only 2.8 million people, legal weed in Nevada could have outsize national impact due to Las Vegas's draw as a tourism destination -- 40 million visitors per year.

Still, there's a lot less money in play in Nevada than there is in California -- supporters of legalization have a little more than $1 million in cash on hand, while opponents have zero, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures.

That dynamic could change heading into the fall. Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has long opposed marijuana liberalization, and almost single-handedly bankrolled the campaign opposing Florida's medical marijuana initiative in 2014.

A late infusion of Adelson cash in Nevada could tip the scale of public support for the legalization measure there. A July poll found that 50 percent of Nevada voters supported the measure, while 41 percent opposed it.

Arizona — Recreational marijuana

Arizona is the third act of the marijuana legalization trilogy playing out in the West this November. It's also the state giving marijuana proponents their toughest fight -- a July poll found that only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure, while 53 percent oppose.

The measure is not fundamentally different from other legalization bills on November ballots. But Arizona has different demographics than its neighbors to the north and west. The state has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1996, and Republicans are less likely to support marijuana legalization than other Americans.

Massachusetts — Recreational marijuana

Massachusetts, on the other hand, is one of the deepest blue states in the nation, but voters there don't seem to be warming up to the legalization measure on their ballot this fall. Just 41 percent said they'd vote for it in July, down from the mid-to-high-50s a few months earlier.

Some elected officials have been campaigning fiercely against the state's marijuana measure, including Governor Charlie Baker. In March, he joined the state attorney general and Boston's mayor to pen an op-ed in the Boston Globe that was highly critical of legalization efforts. Soon after it published, a state Senate committee released a report detailing how lawmakers could blunt the measure's impact should it pass , such as requiring child-resistant packaging on marijuana products and putting strict limits on advertising.

Maine — Recreational marijuana

Marijuana appears to be on stronger footing in nearby Maine. Polls conducted there earlier this year suggest the state's legalization measure currently enjoys upwards of 50 percent support.

That initiative was nearly derailed when Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap invalidated tens of thousands of petition signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot. But a judge reversed Dunlap's decision on an appeal from the pro-legalization campaign, clearing the measure's way forward.

Maine has traditionally been at the forefront of marijuana change. The state was one of the first to decriminalize the use of small amounts of marijuana in the 1970s, and it was quick to follow California's lead in legalizing medical marijuana in 1999. In 2013, residents of Portland, the state's largest city, voted to legalize the possession of marijuana.

Florida — Medical marijuana

On the medical marijuana side of the ledger, Florida is the biggest fight. Supporters and opponents have poured close to $10 million into the contest there. It would make Florida the first state in the South with a robust medical marijuana law.

Florida voters narrowly rejected a constitutional amendment for a California-style medical marijuana market in 2014. While 58 percent of voters approved it, the measure failed to meet the 60-percent threshold necessary for a constitutional change.

This year's measure is similar to the failed 2014 initiative, but supporters hope that a more Democratic-leaning electorate in a presidential election year will tip the scales in their favor.

Florida's bill has garnered a number of high-profile endorsements from state and national political leaders, as well as groups like the NAACP, ACLU and some labor organizations. Most recent polls show support surpassing the 60 percent threshold needed for passage.

But the 2014 amendment also had blockbuster polling numbers in the summer leading up to the election, only to collapse going into the fall. This could have been due to a late infusion of Adelson cash for the anti-marijuana campaign and a growing unease among voters with the specifics of the marijuana law.

Arkansas — Medical marijuana

Arkansas is also making a play to be the first southern state allowing medical marijuana. The effort recently received a boost when the state Democratic party put a call for medical marijuana into their party platform.

Voters there narrowly rejected medical marijuana in 2012, but a June survey put support at 58 percent among likely voters.

That support may be stymied by the fact that there are going to be two competing medical pot measures on Arkansas' ballot: One of those is a simple state statute, while the other is a constitutional amendment.

The measures are similar, and voters are free to vote for both. If both pass with a simple majority vote, the measure with the most support will be enacted. But there's also a danger of "splitting the ticket," and diluting medical marijuana support between two measures.

North Dakota — Medical marijuana

In something of a surprise move, a medical marijuana measure recently qualified for the ballot in North Dakota. How this one will play out is anyone's guess. It appears the last polling on medical pot in the state was done in 2014, when 47 percent of voters approved of medical pot and 41 percent opposed it.

North Dakota's always been a bit of an odd man out when it comes to medical marijuana. Its neighbor to the west, Montana, approved medical pot by ballot in 2004. Its neighbor to the east, Minnesota, approved it via legislature in 2014.

But North Dakota is a notoriously conservative state. Authorities there have already been warning about the alleged cost to implement the measure. But backers dispute the official cost estimates.

Montana — Medical marijuana

Wait, doesn't Montana already have medical marijuana? Well, yes and no. Voters approved medical pot in 2004, but since then, state lawmakers have been working to undermine that measure. In 2011, they passed legislation that, among other things, prevented medical dispensaries from charging for their services beyond the cost of recouping a licensing fee. In the year following the law, the number of medical marijuana providers plummeted by 90 percent.

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30Aug/160

Doctors vs Government

marijuana-leaves_largeThe stark difference in how doctors and the government view marijuana

The Washington Post - By. Christopher Ingraham - 8/29/16

Nathaniel P. Morris is a resident physician at Stanford Hospital specializing in mental health. He recently penned a strongly worded op-ed for ScientificAmerican.com on the differences between how some in the medical community view marijuana and how the federal government regulates it.

"The federal government's scheduling of marijuana bears little relationship to actual patient care," he wrote in the essay published last week. "The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol (not scheduled), cocaine (Schedule II), methamphetamine (Schedule II), or prescription opioids (Schedules II, III, and IV) doesn't reflect what we see in clinical medicine."

Here's Morris' money quote:

For most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought.

We don't see cannabis overdoses. We don't order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses. We don't treat cannabis-induced heart attacks. In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.

He contrasts that with the terrible effects of alcohol he sees in the emergency room every day, like car crash victims and drunk patients choking on their own vomit. Morris points out that excessive drinking causes 88,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC.

The medical and research communities have known for some time that marijuana is one of the more benign substances you can put in your body relative to other illicit drugs. A recent longitudinal study found that chronic, long-term marijuana use is about as bad for your physical health as not flossing. Compared to alcohol, it'svirtually impossible to overdose on marijuana alone. On a per-user basis, marijuana sends fewer people to the emergency room than alcohol or other drugs.

The scientific consensus was best captured in a 2010 study in the Lancet, which polled several dozen researchers working in addiction and drug policy. The researchers rated commonly used recreational drugs according to the harm they pose to individuals who use them, as well as the harm they pose to society as a whole. Here's what their results looked like:

30Aug/160

Israel’s Progressive Stance on Cannabis

Marijuana-640x480Agriculture Minister: Israel To Begin Exporting Marijuana

Breitbart - By. Deborah Danan - 8/29/2016

TEL AVIV – Israel will begin exporting medical marijuana abroad, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said Sunday.

Earlier this month, the Health Ministry approved measures to make medical cannabis more accessible to patients, including training 100 additional doctors to dispense prescriptions.

“In two years, we will have protocols in place that will allow farmers to grow cannabis,” Ariel told Israel Radio over the weekend, according to Israel’s online Hebrew-language magazine Cannabis.

“The Agriculture Ministry has set up specific areas for the research and trial of growing cannabis, a plant whose foremost use is the medical treatment of patients around the world,” he said.

Though its use for medical purposes was once considered taboo, the term “medicalization of marijuana” is used more and more by the Health Ministry these days.

Some 23,000 patients currently benefit from cannabis but only 36 doctors are authorized to give prescriptions. The new measures could mean that thousands more people would be able to benefit from its use.

The new legislation also included lifting the restriction on the number of growers.

It will also be available in local pharmacies.

The Justice Ministry has recently begun exploring the possibility of decriminalizing recreational use of the drug in Israel. According to the new measures, those caught using soft drugs would be fined but not charged with a crime, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said.

Those caught in their own homes with up to 15 grams of cannabis – considered personal use – would be charged 300 NIS ($78), while those caught in public would be fined NIS 1,500 ($390).

Meanwhile, Israeli doctors are putting marijuana to use in a range of research projects. Dr. Adi Eran is leading the first ever formal clinical trial to see whether marijuana can improve the lives of children and teenagers with autism.

120 individuals with autism will take part in the trial, but participants will only be administered cannabis oil that is free of the psychoactive component that causes the “high.”

 

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27Aug/160

This epidemic needs cannabis to help

opiaOpiate Addiction Experts Turn to Marijuana as Safer Alternative to Pain Relief

LA Weekly - By. Katie Bain - 8/26/2016

The U.S. is in the grips of a well-documented opiate epidemic. More people in the country now die from heroin and prescription opiates than they do from car accidents. In 2014, nearly 19,000 fatal overdoses were related to legal opiates like Oxycontin and Vicodin, and according to theCenter for Disease Control, at least half of all opiate deaths involve a prescription. Sales of OxyContin, which was initially marketed as non-addictive, alone generate roughly $3 billion each year.

As doctors, law enforcement and policymakers scramble to slow the spread of addiction, marijuana continues showing great promise in the treatment of acute and chronic pain, issues that are currently treated primarily via opiates. Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the UC Irvine School of Medicine, has studied the pain management properties of marijuana and its derivative chemicals for the last 25 years, and is calling the use of marijuana in pain management an encouraging turning point in the opiate crisis.

“Despite what the DEA says, their scheduling creates an enormous difficulty to researchers using marijuana or its derivatives.” Piomelli says. “Even harmless derivatives that happen to be present in the plant have been subjected to the same limitations as marijuana.”

On August 11, the Drug Enforcement Administration formally turned down requests to reclassify marijuana from a schedule 1 to schedule 2 controlled substance, choosing to keep it in the category that also includes heroin and LSD.

“[Marijuana] does not have a currently accepted medical use in the United States,” DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg, (who was criticized last year after calling medical marijuana a “joke”), wrote in a statement. “There is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.”

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies including Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, have successfully lobbied to derail CDC prescription reform. Still, progress is being made. A 2015 study that found that the “use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence.” Another recent study found “moderate-quality evidence” to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain.

Marijuana is vastly less habit forming than opiates. Especially promising are cannabinoids (CBDs), which, along with THC, are one of the primary chemical derivatives of marijuana. CBDs mitigate pain by targeting the body's endocannabinoid system, which is involved in processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory. Dr. Piomelli, whose UC Irvine lab has studied the endocannabinoid system for more than two decades, notes that CBDs are particularly promising for researchers, as they don’t have the mind-altering or addictive effects of THC.

Opiates, on the other hand, function by reducing the perception of pain by binding to opioid receptors in the body. While effective, opiates are also massively addictive, especially as one’s tolerance grows and greater doses of the drug must be administered in order to maintain effectiveness. Many people, women in particular, spiral into opiate abuse and addiction after being prescribed opiates after routine procedures and surgeries.

"The mu opiate receptor," says Dr. Piomelli, referring to one of the three receptors activated by opiates, "is so fundamental to the painkilling effects that every opiate by its very definition will cause addiction."

While Piomelli is encouraged by recent marijuana-related studies, he emphasizes that it is not without risks. Although data regarding the long-term effects of marijuana use is limited, a large-scale study in New Zealand found that the primary long-term health effect of continued marijuana use is gum disease. The potential long-term mental effects require much more careful consideration and research, particularly with respect to teenagers and young adults.

While the complete eradication of opiates is unlikely, treating pain with both substances in tandem is a promising area of exploration. “By using a combination of the opioids and the cannabinoids, one can really lower the doses of both quite substantially,” Piomelli says. “By lowering the doses you of course decrease the risk of addiction and the risk of side effects from both classes of compounds.” He stresses that more research is needed to assess the possible risks of taking both substances at once.

Evidence shows that the increased availability of medical marijuana has decreased the use of opiate drugs in places including California. A 2016 study by researchers at the University of Georgia found that “in the 17 states with a medical marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs dropped significantly compared with states that did not legalize medical marijuana.” Despite these developments, current federal restrictions, along with limited funding for research and a longstanding cultural bias against marijuana, continue to tie the hands of researchers, although a recent development approved for some organizations to explore the possibilities of the plant. 

“The major cause of the delay we have is decades of misunderstanding, misconception, and misinformation on cannabis that only now after 20 years of work on the endocannabinoid system we are finally starting to dispel,” Piomelli says.

Piomelli believes that if California Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana in the state, passes this November, the government may be pushed to do certain things necessary for research on medicinal marijuana to really take off.

“This is one of the times I’ve felt the most hopeful in my life,” he says. “Things aren’t going to change immediately, but I think over the next five years we’re going to see some fundamental shifts.”

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26Aug/160

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Splitt family

Jack Splitt, the teenager who changed Colorado medical pot law, dies

The Denver Post - By. Monte Whaley & Ricardo Baca - 08/25/2016

Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with the Splitt family. Jack did so much for so many-UA

Jack Splitt was a charmer, a flirt and a fighter for the right to open Colorado school doors for medical marijuana treatments for eligible students.

But most of all, the 15-year-old, who died Wednesday, was a good son and a role model for his younger brother, Cooper, their mother said Thursday. Stacey Linn also said Jack, who battled cerebral palsy and the brutal pain that accompanied it, came to Cooper in a dream early Wednesday, hours before his death.

“He was standing tall and in a powerful voice told Cooper, ‘Please do not be sad. I am free,’ ” Linn said.

Later that day, Jack died. He left behind a legacy in state marijuana law and a huge gap in his family.

“He fought hard for children everywhere, there is no doubt,” Linn said, “but we’ll also remember his smile.”

Jack’s work in the state legislature to turn around perceptions of medical marijuana was nearly unmatched, say lawmakers and advocates. Splitt was the inspiration behind “Jack’s Law,” which requires schools to allow parents to provide medical marijuana treatment to their children on school grounds. The law became official this summer.

Splitt’s work at the legislature helped win the hearts and minds of all lawmakers, said the law’s sponsor, state Rep. Jonathan Singer.

“Anyone who knew him knew that he was charming, he was engaging. He changed more minds on the issue of medical marijuana than I think I ever did, and he finally put a human face to what most people perceive as a Cheech-and-Chong subject,” said Singer, a Democrat from Longmont. “But it’s not a Cheech-and-Chong subject. It’s kids’ lives and their well-being.”

Jack and his mom began to fight for a change after a school employee ripped a skin patch that was delivering cannabis-derived medication off his arm in February 2015. They helped get a law passed in 2015 to allow schools to create policies to permit a student’s use of medical marijuana, but none did.

This year, they lobbied for a state law requiring schools to allow a parent or caregiver to administer medical marijuana on campus. Teri Robnett, founder of Cannabis Patients Alliance, doubts “Jack’s Law” would be on the books today if not for the boy.

“Oftentimes we know that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, but when you have a sympathetic face that can really bring focus to the issue, you can really do amazing things,” Robnett said. “And that’s what Jack did.”

“Jack’s Law” was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in June.

“You watched how even his facial expressions can change liberal and conservative lawmakers’ minds,” Singer said. “The biggest case in point: When we passed Jack’s Amendment (in 2015), one of the conservative lawmakers came up to me a day after and said, ‘Jonathan, I came into this hearing expecting to vote against your bill, and tonight I’m talking to my constituents about why I voted for your bill.’

“This year when Jack came back to the same committee to help pass Jack’s Law, the very same lawmakers were so thrilled to see him, they couldn’t contain themselves. They all said on the record how glad they were to see him, and so many of them will be crushed. … I can’t change minds that quickly, but he could. And he didn’t even need to use his words to do it.”

Jack started classes at Wheat Ridge High School last week and was enjoying learning and being with his friends. But Wednesday, he stayed home because he wasn’t feeling well, Linn said.

Splitt suffered from debilitating muscle contractions and dealt with the pain by using cannabis-derived treatment. They worsened Wednesday, and he succumbed, his mother said.

“Jack had a tough life, but he was a trouper and a very, brave young man,” she said. “When he smiled at you, it changed your life. I’ve had people tell me that when Jack smiled at them a year ago, they can still remember his smile.”

Amber Wann is a family friend and a supporter of Linn’s Cannability Foundation, a major force behind “Jack’s Law.” Her son Benjamin, who turns 15 Friday, has epilepsy and they treat it with medical marijuana.

“At first meeting Jack, it’s his smile that speaks volumes,” Amber Wann said Thursday. “To talk with him and say hi to him and have him look you in the eye, it was his handshake to you, his way of welcoming you to his world, and as simple as that may seem, it honestly meant the world to have Jack smile at you. It meant the world to us.”

Jack’s only relief came through his daily medical marijuana treatments, which allowed him to relate better to his family and friends, some of whom he knew since elementary school, Linn said.

“He loved being around them and they loved being around him,” she said. “When he didn’t show up for school Wednesday, they all wanted to know where he was and how he was doing.”

“Jack’s Law” gives Colorado school districts the authority to write policies for where on campus the treatments can take place and what forms of cannabis can be administered. If a school district does not create a policy, parents and private caregivers have no limitations on where they can administer the treatment.

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24Aug/160

Oregon’s Whopping Cannabis Tax Revenue

Legal Cannabis Flowers and Packages. Legal cannabis and it's pacOregon’s Legal Marijuana Raised More Than $25 Million In Tax Revenue This Year

CNN - By. Kate Samuelson - 08/23/2016

According to Oregon’s Department of Revenue, the state has collected more than $25 million in taxes on marijuana in 2016 so far.

As KGW reports, the total revenue from January 1 to July 31 this year is far more than the $18.4 million the Oregon Liquor Control Commission anticipatedfor the two-year period starting in July 2015.

A statement on the Department of Revenue website explains that medical marijuana dispensaries started collecting a 25% tax on their recreational marijuana sales in January, which spokeswoman Joy Krawczyk told KGW has contributed to the high amount of tax, the revenue of which will pay for police, addiction programs and schools in the state.

In January alone, the state collected $3.48 million in taxes.

In 2014, Colorado brought in $76 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales when the state became one of just two (along with Washington) to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 or older. Figures from the state’s Department of Revenue in 2015 showed that itoutpaced revenue from alcohol taxes in the fiscal year ending on June 30.

By July 8 this year, Washington state’s treasury had taken in more than $250 million in excise tax since marijuana legalization began in July 2014.

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24Aug/160

MMJ Doctors Need To Be More Informed

130814195816-01-marijuana-medium-plus-169Doctors face medical marijuana knowledge gap

CNN - Shefali Luthra - 08/23/2016

Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine for almost 20 years. But Farmington physician Jean Antonucci says she continues to feel unprepared when counseling sick patients about whether the drug could benefit them.

Will it help my glaucoma? Or my chronic pain? My chemotherapy's making me nauseous, and nothing's helped. Is cannabis the solution? Patients hope Antonucci, 62, can answer those questions. But she said she is still "completely in the dark."

Antonucci doesn't know whether marijuana is the right way to treat an ailment, what amount is an appropriate dose, or whether a patient should smoke it, eat it, rub it through an oil or vaporize it. Like most doctors, she was never trained to have these discussions. And, because the topic still is not usually covered in medical school, seasoned doctors, as well as younger ones, often consider themselves ill-equipped.

Even though she tries to keep up with the scientific literature, Antonucci said, "it's very difficult to support patients but not know what you're saying."

As the number of states allowing medical marijuana grows -- the total has reached 25 plus the District of Columbia -- some are working to address this knowledge gap with physician training programs. States are beginning to require doctors to take continuing medical education courses that detail how marijuana interacts with the nervous system and other medications, as well as its side effects.

Though laws vary, they have common themes. They usually set up a process by which states establish marijuana dispensaries, where patients with qualifying medical conditions can obtain the drug. The conditions are specified on a state-approved list. And the role of doctors is often to certify that patients have one of those ailments. But many say that, without knowing cannabis' health effects, even writing a certification makes them uncomfortable.

"We just don't know what we don't know. And that's a concern," said Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a practicing doctor in Pennsylvania.
This medical uncertainty is complicated by confusion over how to navigate often contradictory laws. While states generally involve physicians in the process by which patients obtain marijuana, national drug policies have traditionally had a chilling effect on these conversations.

The Federation of State Medical Boards has tried to add clarity. In an Aug. 9 JAMA editorial, leaders noted that federal law technically prohibits prescribing marijuana, and tasks states that allow it for medical use to "implement strong and effective ... enforcement systems to address any threat those laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other interests." If state regulation is deemed insufficient, the federal government can step in.

That's why many doctors say they feel caught in the middle, not completely sure of where the line is now drawn between legal medical practice and what could get them in trouble.

In New York (PDF), which legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2014, the state health department rolled out a certification program last October. (The state's medical marijuana program itself launched in January 2016.) The course, which lasts about four hours and costs $249, is part of a larger physician registration process. So far, the state estimates 656 physicians have completed the required steps. Other states have contacted New York's Department of Health to learn how the training works.

Pennsylvania and Ohio are also developing similar programs. Meanwhile in Massachusetts, doctors who wish to participate in the state medical marijuana program are required to take courses approved by the American Medical Association. Maryland doesn't require training but encourages it through its Medical Cannabis Commission website, a policy also followed in some other states.

Physicians appear to welcome such direction. A 2013 study in Colorado (PDF), for instance, found more than 80 percent of family doctors thought physicians needed medical training before recommending marijuana.

But some advocates worry that doctors may find these requirements onerous and opt out, which would in turn thwart patients' access to the now-legal therapy, said Ellen Smith, a board member of the U.S. Pain Foundation, which favors expanded access to medical cannabis.
Education is essential, given the complexity of how marijuana interacts with the body and how little physicians know, said Stephen Corn, an associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Harvard Medical School. Corn also co-founded The Answer Page, a medical information website that provides educational content to the New York program, as well as a similar Florida initiative. The company, one of a few groups to offer teachings on medical marijuana, is also bidding to supply information for the Pennsylvania program, Corn said.
"You need a multi-hour course to learn where the medical cannabis works within the body," Corn said. "As a patient, would you want a doctor blindly recommending something without knowing how it's going to interact with your other medications? What to expect from it? What not to expect?"

But many say the science is too weak to answer these questions.

One reason: the federal Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug, the same level as heroin. This classification makes it more difficult for researchers to gain access to the drug and to gain approval for human subjects to participate in studies. The White House rejected a petition this past week to reclassify the drug in a less strict category, though federal authorities say they will start letting more facilities grow marijuana for the purpose of research. (Currently, only the University of Mississippi can produce it, which advocates say limits study.)

From a medical standpoint, the lack of information is troubling, Filer said.
"Typically, when we're going to prescribe something, you've got data that shows safety and efficacy," she said. With marijuana, the body of research doesn't match what many doctors are used to for prescription drugs.

Still, Corn said, doctors appear pleased with the state training sessions. More than 80 percent of New York doctors who have taken his course said they changed their practice in response to what they learned.

But even now, whenever Corn speaks with doctors about medical marijuana, people ask him how they can learn more about the drug's medical properties and about legal risks. Those two concerns, he said, likely reduce the number of doctors comfortable with and willing to discuss marijuana's place in medicine, even if it's allowed in their states.
Though others say this circumstance is starting to ease, doctors like Jean Antonucci in Maine continue to struggle to figure out how marijuana can fit into safe and compassionate medicine. "You just try and be careful — and learn as much as you can about a patient, and try to do no harm," she said.

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16Aug/160

Canada Allows MMJ Patients Plants Indoors

marijuana-leaves_largeCanadian Patients Will Soon Be Allowed To Grow Their Own Cannabis

Green Rush Daily - By. Chuck Ludley - 08/15/2016

Long Story Short

Canadian medical cannabis patients will soon be able to grow their own plants at home. The change is part of some new laws that are set to go into effect on August 24.

The Details

Earlier this year, the medical cannabis community in Canada won a big victory. On February 24 Federal Judge Michael Phelan struck down a law that made it illegal for medical cannabis patients to grow their own weed.

He said the restriction violated patients’ rights by forcing them to buy their medicine from a commercial supplier. Phelan went on to say that medical cannabis patients in Canada should have the right to grow their own medicine. He gave the Canadian government six months to come up with new laws about home growing medical cannabis.

And now, those new laws are about to change the medical marijuana scene in Canada. Under the new rules, registered patients can grow “a limited amount of cannabis” for their own medical uses. They can also have someone else grow it for them. In this case, the grower needs to pass a background check first.

“If an individual wants to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/her own medical purposes, he/she must submit an application to register with Health Canada,” the Canadian government said in a statement.

“An original medical document from the health-care practitioner must be provided and the application must include information such as the location of where cannabis will be produced and stored.”

And finally, they can continue buying medical cannabis from one of the 34 government approved growers and producers.

Canada Changing Cannabis Laws

The changes scheduled to take effect later this month are the latest in the ongoing evolution of Canada’s changing cannabis laws. Back when Judge Phelan made his decision, cannabis advocates called it “a complete victory.” And they’re hoping for even bigger victories in the near future.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has talked about legalizing cannabis ever since taking office. Last April, Health Minister Jane Philpott said that the government would take steps in that direction soon. She said that sometime by spring 2017 the federal government would put forth legislation that would start the legalization process.

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