Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category

Blake Griffin Endorses Medical Marijuana Use in the NBA

April 16th, 2014
Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin, LA Clippers

In an interview with Rolling Stone yesterday, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers voiced his support of medical marijuana use to treat pain in the NBA.  Currently, the NBA has strict penalties for drug use, which typically lead to suspensions and fines. It was only in 2011 that the NBA stopped testing for marijuana use in the off-season, but now that marijuana is in the limelight, its place in the NBA, as a form of medical treatment for pain, has come into question.

Griffin was asked:

The NFL might let players use medical marijuana to treat pain. If you had a vote, would the NBA do the same?

It doesn’t really affect me, but so many guys would probably benefit from it and not take as many painkillers, which have worse long-term effects. So I would vote yes. I just think it makes sense.

 Griffin joins the chorus of other outspoken athletes like Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks, who said earlier this year, “I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it.”

Like any professional sport, the need for painkillers is a part of the game, and, as Griffin pointed out, the harmful long-term effects of some painkillers makes medical marijuana use an alluring alternative. Even the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UFC have begun by changing their thresholds of permissible amounts of marijuana.

Alabama Governor Signs Limited Medical Marijuana Law

April 15th, 2014
Governor-Robert-Bentley
Gov. Robert Bentley

Earlier this month, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed into law SB 174, known as Carly’s Law. This law creates an affirmative defense for patients suffering from debilitating epileptic conditions — or their caregivers — for the possession and use of marijuana extracts that are high in CBD (a component of marijuana). It is a strong endorsement by Alabama lawmakers of the medical benefits of marijuana. Unfortunately, the law suffers from several fatal flaws, rendering it ineffective.

Unfortunately, by being limited to low-THC extracts and patients with epilepsy, SB 174 leaves the vast majority of patients behind. Even patients with epilepsy are extremely unlikely to get relief. Carly’s Law requires a “prescription” for the legal use of medical marijuana. Yet “prescribing” a federally illegal substance may jeopardize a doctor’s federal license. Meanwhile, a “recommendation” is protected under the First Amendment.

By merely providing an affirmative defense, the law won’t protect patients from being arrested and dragged into court. Finally, this law relies on the University of Alabama at Birmingham to implement the medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, based on what we have already experienced in other states, this university hospital-based approach is extremely unlikely to ever get off the ground.

MN Health Committee Defers Vote Until Legislature Returns From Recess

April 15th, 2014
61Dibble
Sen. Scott Dibble

Last Thursday, the Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing took testimony on SF 1641, compassionate medical marijuana legislation introduced by Sen. Scott Dibble. Unfortunately, the hearing ran long, so the committee tabled the vote until they reconvene following this week’s spring recess.

Lawmakers will return to St. Paul on April 22, and they could remain in session as little as a few days before ending their work for the year. Medical marijuana legislation is overwhelmingly supported by the public and championed by a diverse and bipartisan group of lawmakers. Just yesterday, Maryland became the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana law.

The medical marijuana bill will need to move quickly once lawmakers return from the break.

Maryland Becomes 21st Medical Marijuana State, and 18th to Decriminalize

April 15th, 2014

Yesterday morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law both the medical marijuana bill and the decriminalization bill, making Maryland the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana program, and the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The medical marijuana bill expands a program that, while established last year, was unable to get off the ground. The previous law relied on the participation of teaching hospitals, which understandably did not want to be involved with a substance that is still federally illegal. The law signed today will allow registered cultivators to grow medical marijuana and up to 15 licensed cultivators to provide the medicine to patients and dispensaries. This new law will finally provide real access to seriously ill Marylanders.

The decriminalization law removes the criminal penalties for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, and replaces them with a civil fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program. The measure will officially go into effect on October 1.

This is incredible progress, but our work is not done yet. A September 2013 poll found that 53% of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and up, and taxing and regulating it like alcohol.

Florida Democrats Add Medical Marijuana to the Ballot to Boost Voter Turnout for the Midterm Election

April 14th, 2014

Florida Democrats are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would put medical marijuana on the state’s ballot this November. If the initiative passes, Florida would become the first southern state to legalize some form of marijuana usage. Recent Battleground polls have shown widespread support, especially among young voters.

In a previous MPP blog post, we discussed how about 70% of voters (nationwide) would be more likely to vote this fall if marijuana was on the ballot, and how midterm elections traditionally have lower voter turnout, especially with young voters and liberals. In the 2012 elections, Washington and Colorado both saw significant spikes in voter turnout, possibly due to marijuana being on the ballot. If Florida follows suit, it will be a testament to marijuana’s spillover effect.

Florida Democrats are hoping it “could have a marginal impact,” which doesn’t sound like much, but “a marginal impact in Florida could be the difference between winning and losing,” according to Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who managed Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008.

A recent Republican victory in a special House election last month typified the Democrats’ turnout problem. The St. Petersburg-area district has 2.4 percent more registered Republicans than Democrats, but GOP voters outnumbered Democrats by eight percentage points, according to election results.

Oklahomans for Health Files Ballot Initiative for Medical Marijuana

April 11th, 2014
Chris Benge, Oklahoma Secretary of State
Chris Benge, Oklahoma Secretary of State

Today, Oklahomans for Health submitted an application for petition with Oklahoma Secretary of State, Chris Benge, which proposes to add a question to the November ballot asking whether or not Oklahomans should legalize medical marijuana for serious conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

The initiative would call for the reclassification of marijuana as an herbal drug, which would be regulated by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. It would also create licensing and regulatory rules for cultivation and distribution through dispensaries. Patients wanting to use medical marijuana would need to pay a $125 application fee for a medical marijuana card and have an Oklahoma board-certified physician provide a recommendation.

The proposed initiative comes at a time when support for medical marijuana is growing in the state with a recent poll showing 71% approval rate for decriminalizing medical marijuana. A rally was held at the State Capital in February, where parents of epileptic children came to talk to their representatives. Even Josh Stanley of Strains of Hope, featured on WEEDS by Sanjay Gupta, showed up to support Oklahomans in their plight.

Although Oklahoma has some of the harshest marijuana laws, Chip Paul, Chairman of Oklahomans for Health, believes the “language in this initiative…should be a very easy thing for the state of Oklahoma to manage.”

Bill Would Loosen MMJ Restrictions in D.C.

April 8th, 2014

D.C. Council members introduced legislation Tuesday that would greatly expand the availability of medical marijuana to D.C. patients by doing away with the list of qualifying conditions that currently restrict access to the program.

A bill introduced by Council member Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Health, would eliminate a list of four conditions that currently allow a patient to seek a doctor’s referral to use medical marijuana. Instead the bill would amend the definition of “qualifying medical condition” to mean any condition that would benefit from medical marijuana treatment as determined by the patient’s physician.

The council’s 13 members unanimously sponsored the bill, virtually assuring its eventual passage.

Currently, the District’s tightly regulated program identifies only four illnesses as eligible for medical marijuana treatment — HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and conditions characterized by severe and persistent muscle spasms, such as multiple sclerosis. While officials believe as many as 40,000 of the District’s 640,000 residents could qualify for the city’s medical marijuana program under those conditions, only about 200 patients have been approved since the program got up and running in July.

“It has been made clear that this program is in need of a legislative improvement,” Ms. Alexander said as she introduced the legislation.

In March, the District’s Department of Health announced it would begin accepting petitions from individuals seeking to add new illnesses to the list of qualifying medical conditions, but medical marijuana advocates criticized the process as overly burdensome.

Health department Director Joxel Garcia has testified during prior council hearings that he supports leaving the decision up to doctors rather than government officials.

Ms. Alexander cited Dr. Garcia’s testimony, as well as that of current medical marijuana patients and others who hope to gain access to the drug, as the reason for her support.

“While we are able to legislate what conditions we think are best, it is clear that the medical opinion of a physician should take priority in determining who obtains access to medical marijuana,” Ms. Alexander said.

The legislation loosening the restrictions comes as D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray last week signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana.

Source: Washington Times (DC)
Author: Andrea Noble, The Washington Times
Published: April 8, 2014
Copyright: 2014 The Washington Times, LLC
Website: http://www.washtimes.com/
Contact: letters@washingtontimes.com

Study: Enactment Of Medical Cannabis Laws Not Associated With Higher Crime Rates

April 8th, 2014

The enactment of medicinal cannabis laws is not associated with any rise in statewide criminal activity and may even be related to reductions in incidences of violent crime, according to data published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas tracked crime rates across all 50 states between the years between 1990 and 2006, a time period during which 11 states legalized marijuana for medical use. Authors reviewed FBI data to determine whether there existed any association between the passage of medicinal cannabis laws and varying rates of statewide criminal activity, specifically reported crimes of homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.

Investigators reported that the passage of medical marijuana laws was not associated with an increase in any of the seven crime types assessed, but that liberalized laws were associated with decreases in certain types of violent crime.

“The central finding gleaned from the present study was that MML (medical marijuana legalization) is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault,” authors reported. “Interestingly, robbery and burglary rates were unaffected by medicinal marijuana legislation, which runs counter to the claim that dispensaries and grow houses lead to an increase in victimization due to the opportunity structures linked to the amount of drugs and cash that are present. Although, this is in line with prior research suggesting that medical marijuana dispensaries may actually reduce crime in the immediate vicinity.”

Researchers concluded: “Medical marijuana laws were not found to have a crime exacerbating effect on any of the seven crime types. On the contrary, our findings indicated that MML precedes a reduction in homicide and assault. … In sum, these findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.”

Full text of the study, “The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1990-2006,” appears online here.

Mississippi Assembly Passes Limited Medical Marijuana Bill

April 2nd, 2014

Last week, the Mississippi General Assembly overwhelmingly passed HB 1231, which would legalize certain, very limited medical marijuana extracts for patients suffering from seizure disorders. While this bill is a strong endorsement of the medical benefits of marijuana by the Mississippi legislature, it is extremely limited and does not even create a realistic way for patients to obtain the extracts.

MSBryant163

Gov. Phil Bryant

The bill, approved by the House 112-6 and the Senate 49-0, now heads to Gov. Phil Bryant, who is expected to sign it. If enacted, it would apply only to patients suffering from epileptic conditions, leaving the vast majority of patients behind. Furthermore, patients would only be able to use marijuana extracts that contain no more than 0.5% THC and more than 15% CBD.

The bill also only allows three specific medical research centers — the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, the Department of Pharmacy Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at Mississippi State University — to produce or possess the marijuana extracts for research. Given that federal law does not allow medical marijuana, it is extremely unlikely that universities will produce marijuana.

Minnesota Patients Air TV Ad Attacking Gov. Dayton for Opposing Medical Marijuana

April 2nd, 2014

A battle is underway in Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton is standing in the way of an otherwise widely supported medical marijuana bill because he does not want to upset his friends in law enforcement.

The governor is under intense pressure to support the bill, but time is running out in the legislative session, so we are cranking up the heat with an aggressive TV ad that will begin airing tonight throughout Minnesota. It features St. Paul mom Angela Garin and her five-year-old son, Paxton — who suffers from a rare condition that causes hundreds of seizures per day — calling on Gov. Dayton to stop blocking the legislation. It should make waves because the governor is currently under fire in the media fortelling patients and parents like Angela to just find medical marijuana on the street!