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By Steve Elliott
One common refrain from those opposed to medical marijuana is that its legalization would increase use among adolescents, but a new study indicates that's just not true.
According to the study from Rhode Island Hospital, which compared 20 years of data from states with and without medical marijuana laws, legalizing cannabis for medicinal use did not lead to any increased use among adolescents, reports ScienceDaily. The study is published online and will be in the upcoming print issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Any time a state considers legalizing medical marijuana, there are concerns from the public about an increase in drug use among teens," said Esther Choo, M.D., attending physician in the department of emergency medicine at Rhode Island Hospital. "In this study, we examined 20 years' worth of data, comparing trends in self-reported adolescent marijuana use between states with medical marijuana laws and neighboring states without the laws, and found no increase in marijuana use that could be attributed to the law."
"This adds to a growing body of literature published over the past three years that is remarkably consistent in demonstrating that state medical marijuana policies do not have a downstream effect on adolescent drug use, and we feared they might," Choo said.
The Arizona Supreme Court this week rejected a 1990 state law that classified the presence of inert THC metabolites in blood or urine as a per se traffic safety violation.
Carboxy-THC, the primary metabolite (breakdown product) of THC is not psychoactive. Because it is lipid soluble, the metabolite may remain detectable in blood or urine for periods of time that extend well beyond any suspected period of impairment. As a result, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges, “It is … currently impossible to predict specific effects based on THC-COOH concentrations.”
Nonetheless, under Arizona law, the mere presence of carboxy THC — absent any evidence of behavioral impairment — was considered to be a criminal violation of the state’s traffic safety laws. (Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Utah impose similar statutes.) On Wednesday, the Court struck down the provision.
Writing for the majority, Justice Robert Brutinel opined: “The State’s interpretation that ‘its metabolite’ includes any byproduct of a drug listed in § 13-3401 found in a driver’s system leads to absurd results. … Most notably, this interpretation would create criminal liability regardless of how long the metabolite remains in the driver’s system or whether it has any impairing effect. For example, at oral argument the State acknowledged that, under its reading of the statute, if a metabolite could be detected five years after ingesting a proscribed drug, a driver who tested positive for trace elements of a non-impairing substance could be prosecuted.”
He added: “Additionally, this interpretation would criminalize otherwise legal conduct. In 2010, Arizona voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”), legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Despite the legality of such use, and because § 28-1381(A)(3) does not require the State to prove that the marijuana was illegally ingested, prosecutors can charge legal users under the (A)(3) provision. Because carboxy-THC can remain in the body for as many as twenty-eight to thirty days after ingestion, the State’s position suggests that a medical-marijuana user could face prosecution for driving any time nearly a month after they had legally ingested marijuana.”
The Court concluded: “Because the legislature intended to prevent impaired driving, we hold that the ‘metabolite’ reference in § 28-1381(A)(3) is limited to any of a proscribed substance’s metabolites that are capable of causing impairment. Accordingly, … drivers cannot be convicted of the (A)(3) offense based merely on the presence of a non-impairing metabolite that may reflect the prior usage of marijuana.”
The Court did not address provisions in the state’s per se DUI law outlawing the operation of a motor vehicle with any presence of THC in one’s blood even though, according to NHTSA, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects.”
New Colombia Resources, Inc., a U.S.-based company with assets in Colombia, plans to gain approval to legally research and market cannabis-based pharmaceutical products in Colombia and other Latin American countries. As part of that effort, the company has announced the appointment of Dr. Robert J. Melamede, Ph.D., president of Cannabis Science, Inc., as a scientific advisor.
Dr. Melamede, retired chairman of the biology department at the University of Colorado and Colorado Springs, is a world renowned cannabis researcher who has spent years investigating the human endocannabinoid system.
"I am thrilled to finally start this project in Colombia given its history and rising economic standing on the world stage," Melamede said. "Many patients in Latin America will benefit from the research done in Colombia."
New Colombia Resources plans to form a joint venture to include U.S. and Colombian investors, universities, and pharmaceutical partners. The company is also exploring a future collaborative effort with Cannabis Science, Inc.
The company, in a prepared statement, said it will work closely with government agencies to get permission to conduct research on cannabis based formulations, and plans to hire a law firm to handle government approvals, lobbying, and public relations.
The joint venture will conduct studies in different regions of Colombia with high incidences of the specific illnesses for which treatment is being researched, without regard to socioeconomic status, according to New Colombia Resources.
By Steve Elliott
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant last week signed into law a bill allowing marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil for medical purposes.
"The bill I signed into law will help children who suffer from severe seizures disorders," Gov. Bryant told 16 WAPT News. "Throughout the legislative process, I insisted on the tightest controls and regulations for this measure, and I have been assured by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics that CBD oil (cannabidiol) is not an intoxicant," the tremulous governor said.
"The outcome is a bill that allows this substance to be used therapeutically, as is the case for other controlled prescription medication," he said, emphasizing that he remains opposed to any effort to legalize marijuana or its derivatives other than CBD oil only.
The bill was named for Harper Grace Durval, two turned 2 years old last Friday, usually the age when Dravet's syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, starts resulting in an increased number of seizures. "She has them every day, but they are not grand mal seizures, and they are very short," said Ashley Durval, Harper's mother.
"Hopefully, this will lead the way to some groundbreaking insight into, not only children with epilepsy, but any other neurological disorder," said Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood), who pushed the measure.
Joint Committee on the Judiciary to consider H. 1632, which would establish a legal market for businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older
The Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing Thursday on a bill that would make possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET in Room A-2 of the Massachusetts State House.
H. 1632 would eliminate criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age and older if they possess or cultivate marijuana for personal use. It would also create a Cannabis Control Authority, which would establish licenses, collect taxes, and regulate the production, processing, and sale of marijuana to adults.
"Marijuana prohibition has been just as colossal a failure as alcohol prohibition," said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who is scheduled to testify during the hearing. "Marijuana is less toxic than alcohol, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violent or reckless behavior.
"Most voters think it's time to stop punishing adults who make the safer choice, and we hope their elected officials will agree," Simon said.
A majority of Massachusetts voters likely to vote in the November 2014 midterm election (53 percent) support making marijuana legal, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll released in February. Just 37 percent were opposed.
By Robert Bergman Sea of Green, usually abbreviated “SOG,” is a method of growing marijuana that forces flowering at a young age. The plants will have only been in vegetative state for about two weeks. This method allows you to harvest much earlier than growing your plants normally. So, what are the benefits of the [...]
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director Alaska voters will decide this November on a proposed initiative to regulate the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Although the measure was initially scheduled to go before voters during the state’s primary election in August, state officials this week decided to push back the vote to the November [...]
The Washington State Marijuana Retail Licenses Lottery begins today with a total of 334 retail licenses to be awarded. Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center will be conducting the lottery for the state’s liquor control board, which oversees the marijuana retailers once they become licensed. Approximately 1,500 applicants are in the lottery pool. With [...]
By John Payne As of this past Monday, April 15, motorists traveling east on Interstate 70 from Kansas City near the mile marker 63 encounter a billboard featuring Jeff Mizanskey. As you likely know, Jeff is serving life without parole for a non-violent cannabis offense. The billboard is located about 17 miles west of the junction [...]
The enactment of state laws legalizing the physician-recommended use of cannabis therapy is not associated with increased levels of marijuana use by young people, according to data published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University assessed the impact of medical cannabis laws by examining trends in reported drug use by high-schoolers in a cohort of states before and after legalization. Researchers compared these trends to geographically matched states that had not adopted medical marijuana laws.
Authors reported overall “no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing,” and acknowledged that some states that had adopted medical cannabis laws experienced a decrease in adolescent’s self-reported use of the plant. “In the regression analysis, we did not find an overall increased probability of marijuana use related to the policy change,” they stated.
Investigators concluded, “This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization of medical marijuana. … This suggests that concerns about ‘sending the wrong message’ may have been overblown. … Our study … may provide some reassurance to policy makers who wish to balance compassion for individuals who have been unable to find relief from conventional medical therapies with the safety and well-being of youth.”
A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health similarly concluded that the passage of medical marijuana laws in various states has had no “statistically significant … effect on the prevalence of either lifetime or 30-day marijuana use” by adolescents residing in those states.
A 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal reported: “[P]assing MMLs (medical marijuana laws) decreased past-month use among adolescents … and had no discernible effect on the perceived riskiness of monthly use. … [These] estimates suggest that reported adolescent marijuana use may actually decrease following the passing of medical marijuana laws.”
Read the abstract of this latest study, “The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Legislation on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” online here.
By Steve Elliott
The Florida House Judiciary Committee on Monday approved a plan to allow doctors to authorize patients to use a non-psychoactive marijuana extract which provides relief from seizures and pain.
HB 843, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar), passed on a 15-3 vote over some determined opposition, reports Health News Florida. Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong opposed the bill, and warned the committee that it is "unwise" for the Legislature to allow untested drugs to market rather than going through the lengthy process of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
"We must be wary of unintended consequences and remember that first we must do no harm," said Armstrong, who also heads the Florida Department of Health. Anecdotal reports have indicated that cannabidiol (CBD) oil is quite effective in quelling seizures, and parents like it because it doesn't get their children high, as would THC, the other major medicinal cannabinoid in marijuana.
The bill would set up four regional organizations around Florida that could grow, test and dispense CBD oil. It wouldn't have enough THC in it to get you high, but would be rich in CBD, which appears to have anti-seizure effects.
Health Professionals Call For Medical Care and Treatment Instead of Imprisonment and Punishment
The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday issued a 8-1 decision in Ex Parte Hicks upholding the conviction of Sara Hicks, who gave birth to a healthy baby who tested positive for cocaine in 2008. This decision affirmed the Court's prior ruling in Ex Parte Ankrom, holding that that the plain meaning of the word "child" in the Alabama law unambiguously includes fertilized eggs and that pregnant women may be arrested for using a controlled substance while pregnant.
The chemical endangerment law was passed in 2006 to deter people from bringing children to places where controlled substances are produced or distributed, such as methamphetamine laboratories. Since 2006, more than 100 women who became pregnant and tested positive for a controlled substance have been arrested. Some have experienced pregnancy losses, but the majority – like Sara Hicks – have continued their pregnancies to term and given birth to healthy children.
Alaska voters will decide this November on a proposed initiative to regulate the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults.
Although the measure was initially scheduled to go before voters during the state’s primary election in August, state officials this week decided to push back the vote to the November general election. The postponement was required because lawmakers failed to adjourn this year’s legislative session within 90 days, the standard time allotted under state rules. Under Alaska law, ballot initiatives must go to voters no less than 120 days after the end of that year’s legislative session.
If enacted by voters this November, the ballot measure would legalize the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six-plants (three flowering) for personal consumption. It would also allow for the establishment of licensed, commercial cannabis production and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products to those over the age of 21. Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis would be subject to taxation, but no taxes would be imposed upon those who choose to engage in non-commercial activities (e.g., growing small quantities of marijuana for personal use and/or engaging in not-for-profit transfers of limited quantities of cannabis.) Public consumption of cannabis would be subject to a civil fine.
The measure neither amends the state’s existing medical marijuana law, which was approved by voters in 1998, nor does it diminish any privacy rights established by the state’s Supreme Court in its 1975 ruling Ravin v State.
Under present state law, the possession of marijuana not in one’s residence is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90-days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
According to the results of a statewide Public Policy Polling survey, released in February, 55 percent of registered voters “think (that) marijuana should be legally allowed for recreational use, that stores should be allowed to sell it, and that its sales should be taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.” Only 39 percent of respondents oppose the idea. The survey possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.
If enacted, Alaska will be the third US state to regulate the legal retail production and sale of cannabis to adults.
Also this November, voters in Florida will decide on a constitutional amendment to allow for the physician-approved use and retail distribution of cannabis for medical purposes.
Minnesota: Doctors, Nurses, Union Leaders, Clergy Express Support For Legal Access To Medical Marijuana
Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota AIDS Project, AFL-CIO, and UFCW urge state lawmakers to adopt HF 1818/SF 1641, which would allow people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it
Minnesotans for Compassionate Care announced at a Tuesday news conference that more than 100 doctors and clergy throughout Minnesota have formally expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana. During the event, Duluth pastor Rev. Catherine Schuyler and representatives from the Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota AIDS Project, AFL-CIO, and UFCW urged state lawmakers to adopt medical marijuana legislation that is currently pending in the Minnesota Legislature.
HF 1818/SF 1641 would allow people suffering from conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, and severe, debilitating pain to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The Minnesota Department of Health would issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients and establish a tightly regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and quality control labs.
Both bills have the maximum number of sponsors allowed — five in the Senate, including two committee chairs, and 35 in the House, including 12 committee chairs. Six additional House members have signed copies of the bill in order to demonstrate their support.
Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee fails to pass bill that would allow limited home cultivation until patients have state-legal access through dispensaries
The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee on Tuesday morning failed to take decisive action on a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated cultivation and distribution. Instead, the committee voted 3-1 to refer the bill for "interim study."
Sponsored by Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and 12 immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.
HB 1622 passed the House in a 227-73 vote March 6. If the Senate upholds the committee recommendation of interim study, patients will likely continue to have no legal protection until alternative treatment centers open, which could take another year and a half or more.
An amendment proposed by Rep. Wright would have added a sunset provision, repealing the home-grow option when the fourth alternative treatment center opened. Senators decided against this option in a 3-1 vote, with Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield) the lone dissenting vote.
By Robert Bergman All living things on earth need water (H2O) to survive. Plants (just like humans) require water and are made up of about 2/3 water. It’s important to have a good understanding of the type of water that your plants receive in the same way that it’s important to know how different foods [...]
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession offenses in Minnesota at a rate that is more than six-times higher than that of Caucasians, according to an analysis of 2011 FBI arrest data released today by the nonpartisan think-tank Minnesota 2020 and commissioned in part by Minnesota NORML. Although African Americans comprise less than six [...]
A White House official told Yahoo that President Obama is prepared to use his pardon power to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of people who have been jailed for nonviolent drug crimes. The report said that the administration is making moves that will help it handle the increase in petitions that Mr. Obama is planning to [...]
Greenleaf Medicinals of British Columbia, is voluntarily recalling one batch (Purple Kush, Batch PK-10-20-13) of marijuana for medical purposes. The recall is due to issues with the company’s production practices which were identified during an inspection by Health Canada and may impact the product. Greenleaf Medicinals is instructing clients to immediately discontinue use of any [...]
Thousands Expected to Rally to End Marijuana Prohibition Join us on Saturday, May 3, 2014, as nearly three hundred cities worldwide, including Portland, will participate in the fifteenth annual Global Cannabis March. Portland participants will gather in Pioneer Courthouse Square to march at high noon through downtown Portland, accompanied by a police escort. Oregon NORML, [...]