A poll released by the Siena Research Institute released today found that 82% of New York voters support allowing seriously and terminally ill people to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if recommended by a doctor.
Archive for the ‘medical marijuana’ category
Poll: 82% of New York Voters – Including 81% of Republicans and Democrats – Support Medical MarijuanaMay 20th, 2013
After “only” 10 years of lobbying in Springfield, MPP has finally succeeded at persuading the Illinois Legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate approved the measure 35-21 Friday, and it received approval from the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-57 on April 17.
If Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th or 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. (New Hampshire is also on the verge of passing MPP’s medical marijuana legislation, so it’s a race to see which state will be first!)
If the Illinois bill becomes law, as many as 60 retail establishments will be licensed to sell medical marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses.
Gov. Quinn has made some positive comments about our bill, but we still don’t know whether he’ll sign it. Over the next few months, we must focus on ensuring that the governor sides with the forces of compassion and fiscal prudence, rather than the forces of fear and fiscal waste.
My 9-year-old daughter has Aicardi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes extremely hard-to-control seizures, debilitation, disability and early mortality. She began having seizures at three months of age, and since that time has had multiple seizures every day, with rare exception — probably to the tune of nearly 200,000 seizures in her lifetime.
For most families, even one such day would be an emergency. For ours, it is the norm.
My daughter is a beautiful, loving girl who goes to school, enjoys music and parks, loves to be read to and adores looking at big, modern art in museums. She cannot walk independently, cannot talk and wears diapers. Every day she is at risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, or SUDEP, which accounts for 34 percent of all sudden deaths in children.
She is one of the 3 million Americans who have epilepsy, and one of the 40 percent whose seizures cannot be controlled by anti-seizure drugs. She has tried 10 anti-seizure medications as well as a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet called the ketogenic diet; she takes three anti-seizure medications at once and has a vagus nerve stimulator implant that sends mild electrical pulses to the brain. These drugs help her, but she nonetheless experiences an average of three seizures every day. Moreover, the medications cause persistent side effects that negatively impact her quality of life, particularly her gastrointestinal, bone, dental, cognitive and mental health.
The Illinois Senate Executive Committee recently voted, 10-5, to move the House-passed medical marijuana legislation to the Senate for a vote. The bill is expected to pass, and though Gov. Pat Quinn has not committed to signing it, the general expectation is that the bill will become law. This should be received as great news for the many people with “debilitating” conditions that the bill is supposed to help — people for whom medical science has documented real, measurable and safe outcomes of the controlled use of cannabis or its component of chemical compounds.
It’s too bad that the legislature has ignored the medical needs of some of the most debilitated, and most vulnerable, patients in the state: children with epilepsy.
Imagine her father’s and my reaction upon learning that the legislature, in its concern not to send a “message” to kids that it is safe to smoke marijuana, decided that kids like ours, for whom medical cannabis has the potential to be as safe and effective as typical anti-seizure drugs, should be excluded from the benefits of this new law.
They have done so, I hope, only out of ignorance. Take, for instance, the parent survey conducted by Stanford University neurology researcher Dr. Catherine Jacobson. These parents had children with some of the most difficult-to-treat syndromes of epilepsy found in children: Dravet syndrome, Doose syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. All of the kids were being treated with a nonpsychoactive compound made from cannabis — cannabidiol. Their parents report remarkable results — 83 percent noted that their children’s seizure frequency had been reduced.
Two-thirds of these children achieved a greater than 80 percent reduction in seizure incidence. Seventy-five percent of the parents reported success in weaning their kids from other ASDs; a similar proportion noted improved sleep, mood and alertness in their children. Most important, the survey’s author notes that common negative side effects reported on other ASDs were notably absent on cannabidiol, including rash, vomiting, nausea, confusion, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, dizziness and aggressive behavior.
There is no likelihood that my daughter will become a drug addict from using a compound within cannabis in a medically controlled setting. There is, however, a good chance that participation in a controlled study of these compounds could open the door to new treatments for her, and the many children like her, who desperately need medical innovation to save or improve their lives.
I urge the bill’s chief sponsors, Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, and Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, to reconsider and amend the bill to allow for the medically controlled and regulated use of cannabis for pediatric and adult patients with uncontrolled epilepsy. And to all Illinoisans who know or love someone with epilepsy, please let your legislators hear your voice on this matter.
Margaret Storey lives in Evanston.
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Author: Margaret Storey
Published: May 15, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC
According the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll, 78% of Kentuckians support the legalization of medical marijuana, and 25% say they would be okay with regulating recreational use as well. Only 38% oppose any form of legalization.
Proponents were split when it came to legislative action. Almost half thought the decision should be left up to voters, 23% thought state legislators should change the law, and another 23% believed ending prohibition was the job of the federal government.
Citizens of Kentucky will be happy to know that State Senator Perry Clark (D-Louisville) has been tireless in his push to introduce medical marijuana legislation; unfortunately, his bill has yet to receive a hearing.
Let’s hope more Kentucky lawmakers start listening to the people they claim to represent.
Last week, legislators in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services heard compelling testimony on Assembly Bill 351. This modest and sensible bill would exempt Nevada’s medical marijuana patients from the state’s unscientific limit on how much THC they can have in their systems while driving.
For medical marijuana patients – who can legally consume marijuana – prohibiting small amounts of THC from showing up in blood tests is patently unfair. Active THC can remain in the bloodstream for days after consumption, even when it does not affect a person’s ability to drive. In effect, many medical marijuana patients are prohibited from driving because of this unfair law. Assemblyman William Horne aims to change this in his bill.
Nevada’s patients should not be prohibited from driving simply because they benefit from the use of medical marijuana. DUI’s should be based on impairment – not whether drivers have a legal substance in their bloodstream.
If you are a Nevada resident, please send a message to members of the Senate committee and voice your support for this bill!
Inhaling cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn’s disease compared to placebo in patients non-responsive to traditional therapies, according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Researchers at the Meir Medical Center, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Israel assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis versus placebo in 21 subjects with Crohn’s disease who were nonresponsive to conventional treatments.
Eleven participants smoked standardized cannabis cigarettes containing 23 percent THC and 0.5 percent CBD (cannabidiol) twice daily over a period of eight weeks. The other ten subjects smoked placebo cigarettes containing no active cannabinoids.
Investigators reported, “Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn’s Disease and activity index) scores.” (The CDIA is a research tool used to quantify the symptoms of Crohn’s disease patients.) Five of the eleven patients in the study group also reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient CDAI score by more than 150 points).
Researchers also reported that “no significant side effects” were associated with cannabis inhalation. Subjects in the study group reported improvements in appetite and sleep compared to those in the placebo group. Cannabis inhalation was also associated with “significantly less pain” among the participants.
The study is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the consumption of cannabis for the treatment of Crohn’s.
Israeli researchers had previously published observational trial data reporting that Crohn’s patients require fewer disease-related surgeries following their use of cannabis.
According to survey data published in 2011 in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, some one-half of Crohn’s disease patients acknowledge having used cannabis to mitigate their disease symptoms.
If American society’s tolerance for marijuana is now growing, then what happened in Montana illustrates just what can happen when the government decides things have gone too far. Pot advocates were running caravans, helping hundreds of residents in a day get medical marijuana user cards. Some doctors who conducted cursory exams on scores of people were fined. As the number of users quickly grew, so did a retail industry that led some to dub the state “Big High Country.”
Today, thousands of medical pot providers have gone out of business, and a health department survey showed that the number of registered users have fallen to less than a quarter of their 2011 numbers.
The drop was driven in part by a tougher 2011 law on medical marijuana use and distribution. But more than anything, marijuana advocates say, the demise of the once-booming medical pot industry was the result of the largest federal drug-trafficking investigation in the state’s industry.
The three-year investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies wrapped up last week when the last of 33 convicted defendants was sentenced. That allowed its architect, U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter, to speak publicly for the first time on the crackdown.
“For a long time, we were hearing complaints from local law enforcement and from citizens … that they were tired of marijuana and they were tired of it next to schools, to churches, people smoking it openly on the streets,” Cotter said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“It was just something that had to be done,” he said. “And the result of doing it the way that we did, it was a strong statement that marijuana wasn’t going to be tolerated in Montana.”
Cotter said he believes he is on the right side of history, regardless of what is happening in the country. Last fall, voters in Colorado and Washington state passed laws to legalize recreational pot use, and a Pew Research Center poll released last month found 52 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legal.
The Justice Department has yet to decide whether to sue in federal court to block Colorado and Washington’s laws under the legal argument that federal laws outlawing any use, possession or distribution of marijuana prevail over state laws.
In Montana, what started out as a system to provide marijuana to those with health problems turned the state into a source for drug trafficking, Cotter said. The industry had ballooned so much and so quickly that drug traffickers were operating under the guise of medicinal caregivers, and the pot was being sent to users in New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado and other states, he said.
Now, marijuana is still in Montana, but it’s manageable, he said.
The investigations were split geographically into three parts: Operation Smokejumper, Operation Weed Be Gone and Operation Noxious Weed. They targeted medical marijuana providers dealing in more than 100 plants and came away with 34 indictments, from a longtime state lobbyist to a former University of Montana quarterback.
Most of those arrested argued at first that they were following the state’s medical marijuana law. When federal prosecutors, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard, successfully squelched that argument in court, all but three of the providers made plea deals.
The federal Controlled Substances Act, which bans any distribution or use of marijuana, trumps state law, Thaggard said. Besides, the investigation found that none of the defendants was following state law, he added.
“I think that we were confident that if we had to go down that road, we would show just how out of compliance these people were,” Thaggard said.
The final scorecard: 33 convictions. Thirty-one made plea deals, two went to trial and lost and the case against the accountant of a provider was dismissed.
Federal prosecutors in other states watched closely as the probe unfolded in Montana, and was widely seen as a success and possibly a model for others, Cotter said.
“Speaking through enforcement action does have the deterrent effect that is needed,” Cotter said. “It had the effect that we were looking for, and that was to deter the trafficking of marijuana.”
Montana Cannabis Information Association spokesman and Marijuana Policy Project lobbyist Chris Lindsey — who also was one of the 33 providers convicted in the probe — agreed the federal investigation was the main driver in changing the shape of the industry.
But a federal crackdown won’t stem the tide of the public will, he said.
Montana residents are increasingly in favor of improving the medical marijuana laws so there is better regulation and better access for those who need it, Lindsey said. “In Montana, it seems our options have only been the wild, wild West or no activity at all. Ultimately, we will be in the middle,” Lindsey said.
Cotter and DEA Agent in Charge Brady MacKay, who led much of the investigation, dispute that medical marijuana is beneficial for the seriously ill. They say patients who need the relief that marijuana provides should get it from Marinol, a prescription drug that contains some of the properties of marijuana.
“I think it’s Madison Avenue marketing, the person who dreamed up tying medical and marijuana together,” Cotter said. “It’s a powerful marketing tool. But the fact of the matter remains that marijuana is a dangerous drug and it’s harmful to people,” Cotter said.
Regular marijuana use does not increase one’s chances of developing lung cancer, reported UCLA’s Dr. Li Rita Zhang during the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research.
Dr. Zhang dually analyzed data from six case-control studies conducted from 1999 to 2012 in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, which, when combined, tallied a subject pool of 2,159 lung cancer cases and 2,985 controls.
Dr. Zhang’s examination found that when compared with marijuana smokers who also used tobacco, habitual users (i.e., individuals who smoked one joint a day per year) had no notable increase in cancer risk. There were also no significant differences among marijuana-only smokers.
Pulmonologist and chief medical officer of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. Dr. Michael Alberts stated that although other published studies have shown a correlation between smoking marijuana and lung cancer “the conventional wisdom is that cannabis smoking is not as dangerous as cigarette smoking.”
He then argued that while smoking anything is not ideal for the respiratory system, when it came to medical marijuana, the benefits could outweigh the risk, a sentiment supported by multiple studies such as those conducted by the Temple University School of Pharmacy, researchers at Harvard, and the California Pacific Medical Center.
We are pleased that the Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee unanimously voted Tuesday to approve HB 573 and send it forward to the Senate floor. However, we were sad to watch as the bill was compromised by several amendments that were insisted upon by Gov. Hassan.
The worst was the removal of the home cultivation provision. If no patient or caregiver in the state is allowed to cultivate, patients will likely have to wait two or more years for safe, legal access through alternative treatment centers. Another offensive amendment requires patients to secure written permission before using marijuana on private property.
Senators felt they had little choice but to accept these mandates, because to do otherwise would be to risk having the bill vetoed. MPP held a press conference following the Senate vote, and our concerns were reported by media outlets including NHPR, The Union-Leader, The Concord Monitor, and The Nashua Telegraph.
Please share this news and add your voice to the voices of patients like Clayton Holton, who published this excellent letter in The Portsmouth Herald, and Hardy Macia, a cancer patient who recorded a sad, compelling video message for Gov. Hassan from his hospital bed.
A Senate committee yesterday endorsed medical marijuana legislation that passed the House earlier this year, but removed a provision opposed by Gov. Maggie Hassan that would have allowed patients to grow their own cannabis.
Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican and chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee, said she met Monday with Hassan’s legal counsel, Lucy Hodder, and eliminated elements of the bill Hassan won’t support.
“I think the important thing in this process is to get legislation moved forward so that we can begin to help our citizens that are critically ill, and start out with a small process that can be expanded later on if we find that it’s not meeting all of the needs,” Stiles said.
After an hour of discussion, the committee voted, 5-0, to recommend the full Senate pass the amended bill, which would allow seriously ill or terminal patients with cancer and other specified conditions to acquire marijuana from special dispensaries to treat symptoms including pain and weight loss.
The bill next heads to the Senate floor for a vote.
Medical marijuana advocates are unhappy with the removal of the home-grow option. Matt Simon, a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project, said dispensaries could take at least two years to get up and running, and New Hampshire patients in the meantime would be left without a legal option to acquire marijuana.
Simon said supporters are open to some sort of compromise, such as attaching a “sunset” clause to a home-grow option that would repeal it after three years.
“That is the sticking point, politically, in this bill,” Simon said. “Let’s let patients grow their own for two or three years while dispensaries can get up and running.”
But Rep. Donna Schlachman, an Exeter Democrat and the legislation’s prime sponsor, said supporters don’t want to scuttle the bill even if they don’t like everything in the final version.
“We know we’re going to pass something,” she told reporters following the committee’s vote yesterday. “Right now, our biggest concern is whether we’re passing something that meets the needs of patients immediately who . . . have been waiting a long time for legal access to something that is critically important to their health and well-being, given the medical challenges that they face.”
Hassan’s spokesman, Marc Goldberg, said the Senate committee’s changes “represent significant improvements and help address the governor’s concerns” about the bill as it was approved March 20 by the House on a 286-64 vote.
He didn’t rule out additional changes.
“Gov. Hassan looks forward to continuing the dialogue with legislators and all stakeholders as the legislation moves forward, and she is always willing to listen to constructive ideas, while keeping in mind the goal of appropriately regulated use of medical marijuana with controlled dispensing,” Goldberg said.
The Senate committee yesterday made a number of changes to the bill, in addition to eliminating the home-grow option. Among other things, the panel:
* Eliminated post-traumatic stress disorder from the list of conditions making a patient eligible for marijuana use.
* Added a requirement that patients get written permission from a property owner before using marijuana on privately owned land.
* Reduced the maximum number of marijuana dispensaries, called “alternative treatment centers,” from five to four.
* Required the alternative treatment centers to obtain liability insurance.
* Limited the bill’s provision for an “affirmative defense” in court against marijuana-related charges to patients with a valid state-issued registry card or their card-issued designated caregivers.
“This is very tight and very regulated,” said Sen. Molly Kelly, a Keene Democrat.
Assuming the bill passes the Senate in its current form, Schlachman said negotiators from the House and Senate will hammer out a final version in a committee of conference.
“We will definitely provide something that the governor can support,” she said.
Medical marijuana bills have passed the Legislature twice in the last four years, but both times were vetoed by then-Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat.
By contrast, Hassan, also a Democrat, supports enacting a medical marijuana law in New Hampshire.
“I want to emphasize how grateful I am to have a governor who has gone on record in support of the use of therapeutic cannabis. I think that’s critically important,” Schlachman said.
Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana since 1996, including the other five New England states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Source: Concord Monitor (NH)
Author: Ben Leubsdorf, Monitor Staff
Published: May 7, 2012
Copyright: 2013 Monitor Publishing Company