Mayor’s Claim that Medical Marijuana is “Hoax” Comes One Day after 600 New York Physicians Pledge Support for NY Medical Marijuana Bill
By Steve Elliott
Maybe New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg should stick to politics, and stay away from medicine.
Mayor Bloomberg on Friday ran afoul of medical science and the opinions of more than 600 New York physicians when he called medical marijuana “one the great hoaxes of all time." The statement came just one day after NY Physicians for Compassionate Care held a press conference announcing the support of more than 600 physicians from across New York for medical marijuana legislation pending in Albany.
The New York medical community has been pushing for the passage of the Compassionate Care Act – A.6357 (Gottfried) / S.4406 (Savino) – a bill that would allow healthcare practitioners to talk to their patients about medical marijuana and certify those with serious, debilitating illnesses so that they may have access to a small amount of medical marijuana to relieve their symptoms.
This week, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed two historic measures into law, making Colorado the first state in the country to officially authorize a legalized and regulated cannabis market.
These measures, House Bills 1317 and 1318, are the first-in-the nation regulations governing the statewide commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to those age 21 and older. HB 1317 establishes a regulatory framework for retail cannabis businesses, which are anticipated to begin operating in early 2014. House Bill 1318 proposes tax rates for commercial marijuana production and sales.
These regulations were drafted by the legislature with guidance from a task force, created at the request of the Governor. Colorado NORML served on this task force as a representative for marijuana consumer interests.
The Colorado Department of Revenue is anticipated to more details for the program in the coming weeks. The proposed tax rates in HB 1318 must be approved by a majority of state voters. They seem likely to do so, as recent polling revealed that 77% of Colorado voters support the 15% excise tax on cannabis sales (which is designated for school construction) and an additional 10% sales tax to cover the costs of regulating the industry.
The regulations in House Bill 1317 would require marijuana retail outlets to license with the state and for the first nine months, only currently operating medical marijuana dispensaries can apply. Owners must also be Colorado residents. Initially, these stores must sell marijuana that they cultivated themselves, but by October 2014 this restriction will be lifted to allow independent growers and retail outlets. State residents will be able to purchase up to one ounce of usable marijuana at a time, while out of state visitors will be capped at one quarter ounce per purchase. Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would be legalized for everyone over the age of 21, regardless of residency.
For more information on Colorado’s marijuana program, click here.
House Passes SB 281 on 36-23 Vote; Senate Approved Bill Last Month
By Steve Elliott
The Oregon House on Thursday passed SB 281, which adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of medical conditions which qualify patients for the protections of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. The bill now heads to Governor John Kitzhaber's desk.
The Oregon Senate had already approved the bill last month on a 19-11 vote.
If the bill is signed by the Governor, Oregon will join New Mexico, Connecticut and Delaware as the fourth state to specifically recognize PTSD as an eligible condition for medical marijuana. The bill had bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.
Numerous studies have found that marijuana can be an effective treatment for severe PTSD symptoms. At least 20 percent of soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, according to a 2008 RAND Corporation study, reports the Marijuana Policy Project.
Patients with PTSD, who often have trouble tolerating the side effects of pharmaceuticals prescribed for PTSD indications such as sleeplessness, anxiety, and social isolation, find that medical marijuana is a helpful alternative. There is also evidence that use of medical marijuana reduces the risk of accidentally overdosing from traditional prescription drug cocktails.
As more women are drawn to Humboldt County’s marijuana trade and off-grid lifestyle, a local battered-women’s shelter has noticed a growing trend of violent encounters. The Standard-Examiner reports that, “The bulk of… cases involve single young women aged 18 to 26, who may travel to the area and are lured to farms by promises of work, money and, often, romance. The women are hired for trim work, which involves cleaning freshly harvested pot and preparing it for sale.” Most women who survive violence are hesitant to seek help in general. The women in the pot-growing business however, are under even more pressure to keep quiet because they are part of a culture that promotes secrecy.
There is no doubt the pot-growing industry supports the local economy by pumping much-needed cash into the community. The problem is however, that because farm owners and managers (most of whom are male) are running illegal operations under federal law, standard employment regulations such as working conditions and sexual harassment laws do not apply. The Director of W.I.S.H (Women’s Crisis Center of Southern Humboldt), points out that, “Men managing the farms can be paranoid over the threat of raids or people stealing the plants. Women’s cell phones may be taken away and they may not be allowed to leave until season’s end. Some are forced off farms at gunpoint without being paid. Women may be beaten or psychologically controlled…”.
The cycle of violence is perpetuated by an underground, black market economy. This is just one more reason marijuana needs to be legalized and regulated. Moving the entire marijuana industry above ground will protect workers’ rights, hold employers accountable, and remove the culture of secrecy that continues to foster female exploitation.
By Steve Elliott
It's been known for some time that the cannabinoids in marijuana are neuroprotectants, that is, they help guard your brain cells from damage. Now, an Israeli researcher has uncovered more evidence that low doses of THC, the chief psychoactive component of marijuana, can protect the brain both before and after injury.
Professor Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University's Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine said he has discovered that low doses of THC protect the brain from long-term cognitive damage in the wake of injury from hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), seizures, or toxic drugs, reports American Friends of Tel Aviv University.
Previous studies had concentrated on injecting high doses of THC within a short time frame, usually within 30 minutes before or after the injury. But Prof. Sarne's current research shows that even extremely low doses of THC -- about 1,000 to 10,000 times less than in a joint -- administered from one to seven days before, or from one to three days after, a brain injury can boost biochemical processes which help protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.
This treatment could be applicable to many cases of brain injury, especially in light of the long time frame for administration and the low dosage, according to Prof. Sarne.
By Steve Elliott
Three of every four doctors responding to a survey about medical marijuana said they would approve its use to help ease pain in an older woman with advanced breast cancer.
Doctors had been presented with a scenario in a February issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as arguments for and against the use of medicinal cannabis, reports Serena Gordon at WebMD. They were then asked whether they would approve such a treatment for this patient.
The results, which appear in the May 30 issue of the Journal, show that 76 percent of the 1,446 doctors who responded said they would recommend that the woman use medical marijuana. Many said the possibility of alleviating the woman's symptoms was a reason for approving medicinal cannabis.
"The point of the vignette was to illustrate the kinds of patients that show up on our doorstep who need help," said Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, a professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "This issue is not one you can ignore, and some states have already taken matters into their own hands."
Bostwick wrote the"pro" side for the medical marijuana survey, but said he could have written the "con" side as well, because there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue.
Last week, NORML Founder/Legal Counsel Keith Stroup and NORML Communications Director, Erik Altieri, sat down with Bob Edwards (former host of NPR’s Morning Edition) on his SiriusXM talk radio program. The three discussed a wide range of issues, including the benefits of legalization, current pending legislation, industrial hemp, and more.
“You ask why legalize marijuana? In reality, why we should legalize marijuana is the same as most of the stated goals of the people who say they want prohibition. We want to decrease youth access, we want to create safer communities, we want to better prioritize our law enforcement resources and direct them towards violent crimes. Currently, there is a burglary in this country, a home invasion, at a staggering rate, almost every thirty seconds or so. Meanwhile, we are arresting marijuana smokers at a very similar rate. The difference is, most home burglaries, only about 10 percent of those people are ever caught.
If we can take the police and instead of focusing them on these non-violent crimes, focus them on where the police work should be, protecting their communities, focusing on violent crime like assault and burglary, then we can accomplish these goals that the prohibitionists claim they want, but have failed to achieve over 40 years.” – Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director
“There is absolutely no basis to treat [marijuana consumers] as criminals. We’re hard working people, we raise families, we pay taxes, we contribute in a positive way to our communities. Criminal prohibition of alcohol didn’t work and it hasn’t worked with marijuana. Finally, the country has come around to that position. We now enjoy the support of the majority of the American public.” – Keith Stroup, NORML Founder and Legal Counsel
You can listen to his interview with National NORML staff below:
For more on The Bob Edwards Show, including where and how you can listen to this and future episodes, click here.
By Steve Elliott
A measure to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults in Portland, Maine, is likely to be on the ballot this fall.
A coalition led by the Portland Green Party on Thursday morning handed in petitions with more than 3,200 signatures to city officials, the first step in getting the proposal on the November ballot, reports the Portland Press Herald. The city requires 1,500 valid signatures for citizen initiatives to qualify for the ballot.
The proposal would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, while prohibiting its use in public spaces such as parks, schools, and sidewalks.
The law is vague on how adults could actually get marijuana, but according to Tom MacMillan, chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee, it's "likely" to be available through existing medicinal cannabis dispensaries (which we don't see as likely at all, unless and until the law changes on a statewide level). Distribution would be left up to the Portland City Council if the ordinance passes, MacMillan said.
Legalizing pot could lead to less use by young people, because it could eliminate the black market and make buying cannabis subject to the same type of age checks as alcohol purchases, MacMillan said.
By Steve Elliott
An Oakland, California man has been handing out marijuana lollipops on the streets of New York City since April.
"Marijuana has had a bad rap for too many years, man," activist Judah Izsraael, 44, co-owner of Weed World Candies, said on Wednesday, reports Shane Dixon Kavanaugh of the New York Daily News. "Its time is now."
Izsraael, driving a Ford Econoline van painted with pot leaves and ganja babes, said he has handed out weed lollipops along St. Marks Place and West 4th Street, Times Square and Union Square for a month now. The candies have strain names such as White Widow, O.G. Kush and Blueberry Dream.
"We just set up wherever," Izsraael said. "We're all about educating people."
A handful of attractive women in denim shorts and tank tops working for Izsraael stood on 14th Street near University Place on Wednesday night, offering passersby handfuls of the pot-laced lollipops. While most ignored the spectacle, others were agape.
"Is this for real?" asked one wide-eyed woman. "How do you not get caught?"
"Izsraael claims his candies contain only a small, yet legal, amount of THC -- the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets you stoned," reports the Daily News, but of course that's nonsense, since there is no "legal amount" of THC under federal law.
"We're not giving out blunts," Izsraael said. "We can't guarantee that everyone is going to get high."
The nation’s so-called ‘drug czar’, Gil Kerlikowske, convened a press conference last week to release new government data on drug use in America. The major talking points for the presentation were two fold:
*Insist that cannabis is linked to crime
*The public sentiment in favor of legalization is an unfortunate attraction to ‘bumper sticker solutions’
One could write a doctoral thesis on Mr.Kerlikowske’s supposition and claims, but suffice for space and time, let’s let the now much more watchdog media on the issue of ending cannabis prohibition better describe what they’ve figured out about ONDCP propaganda, data and the intellectual crime of omission. (Boy, do I have a book recommendation for them…)
Slate reported on the ONDCP’s well established proclivity to throw out data and insinuate causality…using squishy terms like ‘linked’:
On Thursday, Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced the results of a study that—at least according to him—demonstrated a link between marijuana use and crime. The study analyzed data collected via the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program (ADAM II), which took urine samples from arrestees in five cities over a 21-day period last year. “Marijuana remained the drug most often detected in ADAM II arrestees in all five sites in 2012, ranging from 37 percent of ADAM II arrestees testing positive in Atlanta to 58 percent testing positive in Chicago,” the study reported. “In three of the five sites, over half of the adult male arrestees tested positive for marijuana.”
Kerlikowske, who opposes marijuana legalization, said in a speech Thursday that the study showed that America needs to “acknowledge and come to grips with the link between crime and substance use.” But correlation is not causation. Just because a high percentage of arrestees tested positive for marijuana does not mean that smoking marijuana made them commit crimes. Here are other things that over half of the adult male arrestees probably had in common: pants, food in their stomachs, a mother who loves them, an impoverished background, an affinity for one or more of the local sports teams.
Now, Kerlikowske only said that drug use and crime were linked, not that drug use causescrime. But still, the implications are obvious. Kerlikowske is not a stupid man, and he’s not actually a terrible drug czar. He has argued that drug abuse needs to be treated as a public health issue, not just a matter of criminal justice, and I couldn’t agree more. In his speech, Kerlikowske mentioned the need to move the drug policy reform debate beyond “bumper stickers.” One good way to do that is to move beyond studies that don’t necessarily say anything at all.
Reason’s Mike Riggs (a prolific and resourceful blogger about criminal justice matters) took the ONDCP to task one step further by busting the office for omitting alcohol related data and not informing the public more accurately about the most problematic and abused drug for incoming criminal defendants: alcohol
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy released a study last week that found the majority of arrestees in five metropolitan areas tested positive for marijuana at the time they were booked, and that many other arrestees tested positive for harder drugs. There was one drug missing from the report, however, and it appears it was omitted intentionally. That drug is alcohol.
When I wrote up the 2012 annual report on the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program II, I noticed that the methodology section contained a list of “data domains”; basically, a guide to the questions researchers asked each arrestee. Every question listed had a corresponding chart in the findings section of the report, save one: The data that researchers collected about alcohol consumption–how often arrestees had consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a single session over the last three, seven, and 30 days, as well as in the past 12 months–was omitted from the report.
By Steve Elliott
A California medical marijuana dispensary owner on Friday was sentenced to six years in prison on federal drug charges. Bryan Smith of Elk Grove owned and operated the R&R Wellness dispensary in Sacramento, and grew cannabis that was sold there.
Five of Smith's codefendants got prison terms of one to two years, reports Kathy Robertson at the Sacramento Business Journal.
When the Elk Grove Police Department searched Smith's home in February 2011, they discovered an indoor marijuana growing operation and processed cannabis. Raids of his residence, of R&R Wellness and of a warehouse in June 2011 -- after a four-month investigation -- claimed they found equipment for an electrical bypass to steal power for a growing operation, more marijuana, hash, cannabis-infused edibles, cash, a shotgun and a pistol, according to the cops.
The case resulted from an investigation by the Elk Grove Police Department, who, oddly, seem more interested in enforcing federal law rather than the California state law they are sworn to uphold. Perhaps tellingly, they got help from the federally funded Sacramento High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Bender and Olusere Olowoyeye prosecuted the casae.
Update: Watch the very interesting panel discussion—where the major take away point from the data and interpretation of it is that it unlikely that the country will return to a time when a majority of Americans support cannabis prohibition law enforcement.
Watch video here.
Also and maybe of far greater significance is the white paper by Brookings scholars William Galston and E.J. Dionne, Jr., The New Politics of Marijuana Legalization: Why Opinion is Changing’. It is an extraordinarily well researched and data-rich paper that well demonstrates a very large, and apparently sustainable shift in public attitude about cannabis, moving from one of great intolerance twenty-five years ago to one of seeking alternative public policies to prohibition, such as decriminalization and legalization.
I highly commend any one serious-minded about cannabis law reform to read and archive the paper.
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 29 from 2:00-3:30 PM (eastern), the Brookings Institute is holding its second in a series of public policy review panels examining the ever-evolving changes of cannabis laws—mainly at the state level, with little-to-no federal reforms—where state legislatures and/or voters have voted to replace prohibition laws with decriminalization, medical access to cannabis or outright legalization.
The first panel discussion in April co-sposored by Washington Office on Latin America and Brookings examined the stark changes in state law and if current federal laws allow states to in effect experiment with cannabis legalization. See Brookings white paper on state and federal conflict here.
This second panel in the series looks at the emerging public polling data, along with vote totals in states with binding initiatives, which strongly indicate a profound shift in public attitude about cannabis in favor of it’s reform and what are the political implication for federal lawmakers.
At no time in previous history is there greater public and political support for legalization than right now. This public policy series at Brookings reflects the need to cast sober and dispassionate policy analysis, coupled with acknowledgement of change in public sentiment, in the fast changing public policy realm that elected policy makers and their staff; media and academics need to be made fully aware as the country apparently morphs from seventy-five years of cannabis prohibition, to one of ‘tax-n-control’.
If you can’t attend in person, Brookings and WOLA are making this important public panel discussion on cannabis legalization available via webcast.
From Brookings’ press release:
Last November, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana, and they may not be the last: legalization now has the support of about half the country, up from 25 percent two decades ago. But legalization remains controversial among the public and contrary to federal law and policy. Is a new national consensus emerging, or a new stage of the culture war? Either way, what are the implications?
On May 29, Governance Studies at Brookings and the Washington Office on Latin America will host a public forum to discuss changing attitudes towards marijuana legalization. Brookings Senior Fellows William Galston and E.J. Dionne will present findings of a detailed study of evidence from opinion surveys, some of it newly available. Two experts on politics and public opinion will comment. After the program, speakers will take audience questions.
Panelists include: Senior Fellows at Brookings William Galston and E.J. Dionne, Jr.,; Pollster Anna Greenberg and RealClear Politics Sean Trend
Moderated by Senior Fellow at Brookings Jonathan Rauch
This event will be live webcast.
Register here for the live webcast.
Register here to attend the event in person.
Follow the conversation at #MJLegalization.
Study: Hemp Seed Oil Associated With Improved Clinical and Immunological Parameters In Multiple Sclerosis Patients
The consumption of legal hemp seed nutritional oil, in conjunction with the intake of evening primrose oils and a restricted diet high in Hot-natured foods (such as pepper) and low in saturated fats and sugars, is associated with “significant improvement” in symptom management and immunological characteristics in subjects with multiple sclerosis, according to clinical trial data published this month in the scientific journal BioImpacts.
Researchers at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran assessed the impact of hemp seed oil, evening primrose oils, and a restricted diet for a period of six months in 23 patients diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS. Researchers reported that participants at the study’s completion “were healthier in comparison to baseline,” concluding that “clinical and immunological parameters showed improvement in the patients after the intervention.” They noted that hemp seed oil possesses potent antioxidative properties and also likely acts on specific signaling pathways that regulate inflammatory responses — two characteristics that would presumably make it beneficial in the treatment of MS.
Authors concluded: “After 6 months, significant improvements in extended disability status score were found. … [O]ur study demonstrates for the first time in the literature a decrease in both clinical and pro- inflammatory disease activity in MS patients during periods of dietary intervention. Our data demonstrated that co-supplemented hemp seed and evening primrose oils with Hot-natured diet intervention may decrease the risk of developing MS.”
Previously published clinical trials assessing the impact of inhaled cannabis and extracted organic cannabinoids in patients with MS have demonstrated that plant cannabinoids can alleviate disease symptoms — such as involuntary spasticity, neuropathy, and bladder dysfunction — and, in some subjects, may actually moderate disease progression. Nonetheless, the National MS Society shares little enthusiasm for cannabis or cannabis-derived products as a therapeutic option for MS patients, stating on its website: “[B]ased on the studies to date — and the fact that long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant, serious side effects — it is the opinion of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Medical Advisory Board that there are currently insufficient data to recommend marijuana or its derivatives as a treatment for MS symptoms.”
DFW NORML proudly presents the Texas Regional NORML Conference at the Norris Conference Center (304 Houston St. Fort Worth, Texas 76102-7404) in downtown Fort Worth from June 7 – 9. This historic event includes over a dozen speakers such as Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, Judge Jim Gray, the 2012 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee, expert cultivation and concentrate tips, medicinal alternatives to smoking, an exclusive screening of the new documentary American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny, patient testimonials, a hemp fashion show, reception and live art show, two after parties, vendors, prizes and more than a few surprises.
The primary goals for the Texas Regional NORML Conference are:
1.) Give Texans an honest, entertaining and interactive cannabis education.
2.) Showcase the strength of the Texas effort to end prohibition.
3.) Call all Texans to action because now is the time to get involved!
This historic event includes over a dozen speakers including Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, an exclusive screening of the new documentary American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny, expert cultivation and concentrate tips, a hemp fashion show, reception and live art show, two after parties, vendors, prizes and more than a few surprises.
Get your 3 Day pass for a $100 donation which includes all days of the conference, the reception, both after parties and a swag bag full of goodies provided by our generous sponsors. Discounted pricing available for students, seniors, veterans, media and NORML chapters.REGISTRATION DEADLINE
The deadline for online registration of the Texas Regional NORML Conference is 6/7. Otherwise, you can register in person 6/7 – 6/9 for the same price!CONFIRMED SPEAKERS:
(Click the names with links to view short videos with the speakers)
- Judge Jim Gray, 2012 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee and author of“Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It”
- Keith Stroup, Founder & Legal Counsel at NORML
- “Radical” Russ Belville of 420radio.org
- Mike Hyde – Founder of the Cash Hyde Foundation and father of Cash Hyde
- Cheyanne Weldon, Executive Director of Texas NORML
- Shaun McAlister, Executive Director of DFW NORML
- Erik Altieri, Communications Director & Chapter Coordinator for NORML
- Jamie Balagia – Public Information Officer and Attorney at San Antonio NORML
- Joy Strickland – Founder of Mothers Against Teen Violence
- Clif Deuvall – Co-chair of Texas at US Marijuana Party of Texas, Chairman at Texas Cannabis Party and Founder Norml of Waco Inc. at NORML
- Leslie Burgoyne, DFW NORML Family Law Attorney
- Reverend Russell Elleven – Unitarian Universalist Minister
- Derek Cross – Author at Hemp Healthy Today
- Allen Patterson – Chairman of the Tarrant County Libertarian Party
- Larry Talley – Strategist for DFW NORML, speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and retired US Navy
- Terry Nelson – Executive Board Member at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), former Border Patrol agent and Homeland Security Supervisor
- Toni Ann Hanskett-Mills – Patient Advocate for Medical Cannabis Patients with 28 yrs experience in Direct Patient Care
- Stephen Betzen – Founder of the Texas Coalition for Compassionate Care
- Margarita McAuliffe – Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Texas Moms United
Hope to see you in Texas soon!
Senator Ron Wyden has introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 3240, the Senate version of this year’s federal farm bill, that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.
The amendment language mimics the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013,” which remains pending as stand-alone legislation in both the House and Senate but has yet to receive a legislative hearing. Senator Wyden’s provision to the Senate’s Farm Bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The measure grants state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.
“For me, what’s important is that people see, particularly in our state, there’s someone buying it at Costco in Oregon,” Senator Wyden previously stated in support of this Act, “I adopted what I think is a modest position, which is if you can buy it at a store in Oregon, our farmers ought to be able to make some money growing it.”
Eight states – Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production. Passage of this amendment would remove existing federal barriers and allow these states and others the authority to do so without running afoul of federal anti-drug laws.
Senator Wyden’s amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has also expressed his support for this proposal.
According to a Congressional Research Service report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.”
Click here to quickly and easily contact your Senator in support of industrial hemp.
By Steve Elliott
Republicans in the North Caroline Senate on Monday pushed through a bill that would take away food stamps and job training for people who fail a drug test. At the same time, they rejected an amendment offered by Democratic Senator Gladys Robinson which would have drug tested the governor, cabinet secretaries and the lawmakers themselves.
In a 35-15 vote almost completely along party lines, the senators passed SB 594. One lone Democrat voted for the bill, and no Republicans voted against it, reports David Edwards at The Raw Story.
The bill requires Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants to pay for their own suspicionless drug tests. Those who test negative would be eligible to have the cost of the tests reimbursed.
The policy could cost the state more than $2.1 million.
"We receive state funds, we represent the law, we institute policy," Sen. Robinson told the other senators on Monday night. "So, it should not be above any of us to submit to drug screening."
Republican Sen. Jim Davis claimed he didn't mind being tested, but said that he would vote against the amendment because it had no mechanism to reimburse him for the $100 test. He didn't seem overly concerned that welfare applicants -- who have far less money than Senator Davis -- will face the same problem.
By Steve Elliott
A new study confirms what medical marijuana patients have known for years -- that ingesting cannabis through eating works longer than smoking -- while also possibly representing a further move by Big Pharma for a strategic takeover of the medicinal cannabis business.
The study found that a pill form of marijuana may work just as well to relieve pain as the smoked form of cannabis, but with fewer side effects and a longer duration, reports Rachael Rettner at MyHealthNewsDaily.
In the study, people who either smoked cannabis or took the pharmaceutical drug dronabinol (also known by the brand name Marinol) -- a pill containing a synthetic form of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- were able to hold their hands in ice water for longer than participants who took a placebo.
The pain-reducing effect of the dronabinol lasted longer than that of smoking marijuana, according to the researchers. While smoking pot reduced pain sensitivity for about 2.5 hours, taking the dronabinol pill continued to reduce pain for about 4.5 hours.
However, the analgesic effects of the pill took about an hour to kick in, while the pain-relieving effects of smoked marijuana start almost immediately. Patients also report they can control their dosage more precisely by titrating the dose with smoking.
By Steve Elliott
The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a legal immigrant is not subject to deportation for being convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana.
The court voted 7-2 that Adrian Moncrieffe, a citizen of Jamaica, could not face mandatory deportation, because the basic possession of marijuana is not a federal felony, reports Lawrence Hurley of .
The federal government can deport legal immigrants when they are convicted of an aggravated felony.
Immigration officials tried to deport Moncrieffe after he was convicted under Georgia state law of possession and intent to distribute 1.3 grams of cannabis. The case is Moncrieffe v. Holder,, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-702.
A conviction for marijuana possession does not rise to the level of an aggravated felony if it's a small amount and the defendant was not being paid for it, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the majority in Tuesday's ruling.
Moncrieffe could still be subject to deportation, Justice Sotomayor wrote, but he and others would now be able to contest the decision in further immigration proceedings and the U.S. Department of Justice would be able to use its discretion.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito both wrote dissenting opinions.
By Steve Elliott
The San Diego City Council is set to hear Mayor Bob Filner's proposal for medical marijuana dispensary zoning regulations on Monday, April 22 at 2 p.m.
The mayor's proposal is based on the recommendations of the medical marijuana task force organized by City Council President Todd Gloria in 2010. It allows medicinal cannabis dispensaries to exist to designated commercial and industrial areas of the city with large buffers from "sensitive" areas including a 600-foot buffer from schools and parks, as well as between dispensaries.
The proposal also contains strict operating requirements including security systems, and restrictions on hours of operation and signage.
"We want there to be access in San Diego City," said Ken Cole, president of the United Patients' Alliance, a trade association of medical marijuana distributors. "However, we also want operators to behave in a responsible manner, where the patients and public can feel safe and respected.
"Mayor Filner's proposal provides both access to patients and enhanced safety to the community," Cole said.
"What the county enacted was a good start, but while it succeeded in creating oversight, it failed at the ultimate goal of giving patient access," said Bob Riedel, president of the United Patients' Alliance. "Mayor Filner's proposal achieves both -- patient access and public oversight."
By Steve Elliott
Starting on Monday, April 22, public comments are being accepted on regulations that would govern how medical marijuana is grown and distributed in Connecticut.
Seventy pages of "stringent" draft regulations have been prepared by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, reports Neil McNamara at the New Haven Register. The regulations are intended to mirror the controls over the distribution of such pharmaceuticals as Oxycontin.
The state's medical marijuana bill was signed into law last May by Governor Dannel P. Malloy; in October, the state began accepting patient applications for medical marijuana licenses. The state has, so far, gotten about 400 applications and has issued about 300 licenses, according to Consumer Protection Commissioner Phillip Rubenstein.
The department drafted the regulations in consultation with drug policy experts and legal experts, according to Rubenstein, and took into account regulations used in other medical marijuana states. They decided to follow a "stringent" model of regulation, similar to how prescription drugs are controlled, he said.
"The intent was really to use a controlled pharmaceutical substance model very directly," Rubenstein said. "I think we're the only state that has used that model as completely as we have."