A Patient's Plea for Medical Marijuana in New York
Earlier this month, the New York State Assembly passed medical marijuana for the fourth time. Although this is good news, many New Yorkers living with debilitating illnesses, like myself, have learned to not get our hopes up. Unlike the 18 other states and the District of Columbia that have medical marijuana programs, New York does not provide compassionate medical care to its residents. It is completely unfair to allow people to suffer unnecessarily when there is a natural treatment which could potentially ease their pain.
The bill currently pending in Albany is one of the strictest and most tightly regulated medical marijuana bills in the country. It would allow patients living with an illness which their health care provider believes medical marijuana to be beneficial to access 2.5 ounces to alleviate their symptoms.
Research has shown marijuana to have a palliative and therapeutic effect in treating the symptoms from illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, Cancer, and multiple sclerosis (MS). As someone living with MS, I have a special interest in health care practitioners being allowed to recommend medical marijuana here in New York.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 34 years old; some of my symptoms include tingling, numbness, neuropathic pain, and fatigue. I have tried many of the prescribed pharmaceutical treatments, but none of them have had much of an impact, especially on the neuropathic pain.
I learned from my neurologist that my immune system was attacking something called myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system. The nerve fibers themselves are damaged. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a variety of symptoms.
As an attorney and leader in my community, I will not break the law. The risk of losing my license to practice law and the negative attention it would bring to my family is too much.
I want to continue serving my community as long as I am physically able to do so. I am convinced that using medical marijuana will enable me to continue to be productive and improve my quality of life.
New York should join the 18 states and the District of Columbia that believe health care is between a provider and patient, not the government. No one should face jail time for trying to cope with serious illness. With the passing of medical marijuana in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, I urge New York to do what is right, support compassionate medical care for its residents and pass bill A. 6357(Gottfried)/S.4406 (Savino).
Jamin Sewell is an attorney who works for the Advance Group, a political consulting firm. He is admitted to practice law in New York and lives in the Bronx.
Marijuana superstore opens in Seattle
by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News
Green Ambrosia opened last Saturday and is the city’s biggest medical marijuana dispensary.
The opening comes as Washington’s Liquor Control Board and lawmakers decide how to regulate recreational marijuana sales in the wake of Initative 502, which legalized the use and possession of small amounts of pot.
“This could be the face of what I-502 enabled pot looks like,” explained Green Ambrosia owner Dante Jones.
Jones’ business has operated since 2011, but only recently opened a storefront. Inside, behind a bamboo wall, is one large glass table loaded with jars of marijuana. There are restrictions on how much medical marijuana a business can have on sale.
While planning for whatever regulations may come from I-502, Jones said Saturday he is not sure how licensing will work.
“We’re preparing for it,” he said, “As a business owner, the only thing I can hope for is that they’re going to continue the same set of standards (included in the initative).”
Public forums are being held across the state on how to license recreational marijuana. No matter what the state decides, it is still possible the federal government could take action against Washington State since, according to federal law, marijuana is still illegal.
Obama Standing by the people of Colorado and Washington
President Barack Obama says the federal government won't go after recreational marijuana use in Washington state and Colorado, where voters have legalized it.
Obama was asked whether he supports making pot legal, in a Barbara Walters interview that aired Friday on ABC.
"I wouldn't go that far," Obama replied. "But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you've seen the voters speak on this issue."
But the president said he won't pursue the issue in the two states where voters legalized the use of marijuana in the November elections. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
"... as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions," Obama said. "It does not make sense, from a prioritization point of view, for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law, that's legal."
Marijuana officially became legal in Washington state and Colorado this month.
The Justice Department hasn't targeted recreational marijuana users for decades. With limited resources, its focus has been to go after major drug traffickers instead.
Nonetheless, the Justice Department has said repeatedly in recent weeks that it is reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington state. The states have expressed concern that the federal government might sue over the issue. Department officials have said they are waiting to see what regulations the two states adopt to implement the initiatives.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday the president believes there are "bigger fish to fry" in prioritizing law enforcement goals. Carney noted Obama's comments were similar to his remarks about the use of medical marijuana in states where it is legal.
"But the law is the law, and that is why he has directed the Department of Justice to review these ballot initiatives and make some assessments about how to proceed," Carney said.
In the department's most recent statement on the issue, the U.S. attorney for Colorado said Monday that the department's responsibility to enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act "remains unchanged."
"Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress," U.S. Attorney John Walsh said. "Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 10 in Colorado, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law."
Walsh added: "Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses."
- If you ask me they prob should have just sank it. -TG
The U.S. Coast Guard is boasting that one of its cutter crews seized 8,500 pounds marijuana off the coast of San Pedro this week.
That's a lot of weed headed for a region where it's essentially legal to sell it in storefronts. Makes you wonder.
Anyway, Coast Guard officials said the catch was worth ...
... a whopping $7.7 million. The haul means that our friendly USCG men and women of the sea have tallied "a 50-ton milestone for waterborne marijuana seizures in Southern California and the Pacific Southwest border region this fiscal year," according to a statement.
That's nearly $91 million worth of weed. Wow. Did we mention that it's basically legal to sell pot in California?
The Coast Guard says there has been an "increase" in, er, high-seas pot busts this year.
|U.S. Coast Guard|
The seizure was made Wednesday by the San Francisco-based Coast Guard Cutter Aspen about 160 miles offshore, according to the USCG. (The Aspen patrols the entire California coast).
Petty Officer Cory Mendenhall told the Weekly the pot was found on a 33-foot "panga" boat that likely came from Mexico.
Six people on the boat were detained as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigates.
Capt. James Jenkins, commander of the Coast Guard's Los Angeles/Long Beach area, says:
Stopping these drugs from reaching our streets is a great accomplishment, but it's just the tip of the iceberg with respect to the impact on the drug trafficking organizations.
Gosh, has anyone bought weed on "our streets" around here in the last five years?
Study: Marijuana Not Linked With Long Term Cognitive Impairment
The idea that “marijuana makes you dumb” has long been embodied in the stereotype of the slow, stupid stoner, seen in numerous Hollywood movies and TV comedies and going unquestioned by much of American culture. But a new study says no: the researchers followed nearly 2,000 young Australian adults for eight years and found that marijuana has little long-term effect on learning and memory— and any cognitive damage that does occur as a result of cannabis use is reversible.
Participants were aged 20-24 at the start of the study, which was part of a larger project on community health. Researchers categorized them as light, heavy, former or non-users of cannabis based on their answers to questions about marijuana habits.
Light use was defined as smoking monthly or less frequently; heavy use was weekly or more often. Former users had to have not smoked for at least a year. Fully 72% of the participants were non-users or former users; 18% were light users and 9% were heavy current users. Prior studies have found that drug users do accurately report their consumption levels in surveys like this as long as anonymity is guaranteed and there are no negative consequences for telling the truth.
Participants took tests of memory and intelligence three times over the eight year period the study. They were also asked about how their marijuana use had changed. When the results were at last tabulated, researchers found that there were large initial differences between the groups, with the current marijuana smokers performing worse on tests that required them to recall lists of words after various periods of time or remember numbers in the reverse order from the one in which they were presented.
However, when the investigators controlled for factors like education and gender, almost all of these differences disappeared. The lower education levels of the pot smokers — and their greater likelihood of being male — had made it look like marijuana had significantly affected their intelligence. In fact, men simply tend to do worse than women on tests of verbal intelligence, while women generally underperform on math tests. The relative weighting of the tests made the impact of pot look worse than it was.
Researchers then explored whether quitting cannabis would affect the one difference that remained, which was poorer performance by heavy users on a test that required immediate recall of a list of nouns. They found that heavy users who had quit by the end of the study were no longer distinguishable on this measure from those who had never used.
The authors, who were led by Robert Tait at the Centre for Mental Health Research at Australian National University, conclude:
[T]he adverse impacts of cannabis use on cognitive functions either appear to be related to pre-existing factors or are reversible in this community cohort even after potentially extended periods of use. These findings may be useful in motivating individuals to lower cannabis use, even after an extensive history of heavy intake.
But what about all the prior research linking cannabis with lasting negative effects on cognition? Those studies may have been confounded by the fact that in many cases, heavy users were tested after being abstinent for only one day — so their performance could have been affected either by residual marijuana in their systems or by irritability or other effects of withdrawal. Studies that have looked at heavy users after longer periods of abstinence generally concur with the new research, finding no lingering effect on cognition.
Other research concludes that the “stupid stoner” image itself can impair performance, with subjects essentially living down to what's expected of them. But the literature overall now suggests that those “I'm not as think as you stoned I am,” moments are likely limited to the high itself.
The research was published in the journal Addiction.