Posts Tagged ‘cannabis laws’

Colorado Approves Medical Cannabis for PTSD

medical-cannabisOn Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17, enabling physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans and patient advocates in Colorado have been working for years to get PTSD included on the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis.

There hasn’t been an addition to the list of conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana since 2001. The state Board of Health had rejected inclusion of PTSD at least four times in the past, with the most recent rejection in 2015, despite support from physicians and scientists.

The 2015 rejection led to a lawsuit filed by a group of veterans with PTSD. One of the plaintiffs, Larisa Bolivar, has been petitioning the state since 2006 to include the condition as eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

“It’s always been mired in politics. It’s always been an uphill battle,” Bolivar said. “But this is relieving. I know this is going to save a lot of lives and have open relationships with medical practitioners. Patients can talk about using cannabis for PTSD with them. Now we can have documentation about what used to be assumed was anecdotal.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Irene Aguilar and Representative Jonathan Singer. Colorado legislators approved the bill in the Senate in early February and the House on April 20.

Prior to Hickenlooper signing the bill, the state had eight qualifying conditions: HIV or AIDS, seizures, cachexia, muscle spasms, cancer, glaucoma, severe pain, and severe nausea.

Although Colorado was an early adopter of medical marijuana, the state has been alone in its failure to include it as a treatment for PTSD. Colorado joins 20 other states, plus the District of Columbia, in its inclusion of PTSD in state medical pot laws.

“I hope it opens a door so that physicians recommending marijuana are no longer considered pseudo-scientific or quacks for recommending marijuana,” Singer says. “We aren’t really a trailblazer in this — a number of other states already allow it — but when the next issue comes along, maybe we have a template now.”

As soon as application forms are updated, patients can apply for doctor recommendations as early as next week.

President Obama Talks Marijuana

obamaIn an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone, President Obama spoke about decriminalizing marijuana and treating cannabis as a public-health issue rather than a criminal one.

“Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse. And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it. Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”

Throughout his presidency, Obama has taken a hands-off approach to pot. In 2013, his administration announced that they wouldn’t sue to stop recreational marijuana in Colorado after voters passed Amendment 64. Soon after, the Justice Department followed suit. However, advocates in state’s that have some form of legal cannabis are nervous about what the Trump incoming administration means for the cannabis industry.

“If you survey the American people, including Trump voters, they’re…in favor, in large numbers, of decriminalizing marijuana,” Obama said.

It’s unclear what stance Trump will take on marijuana, but many advocates are concerned about the president-elect’s choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Sessions is a long-time opponent of cannabis, perhaps best known for his statements that, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and that he thought members of the Ku Klux Klan “were okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

Even if this new administration plans to shut down marijuana, it may be difficult to put the pot genie back in the bottle. After this year’s election, more than that half of U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana and seven states plus the District of Columbia have approved recreational marijuana.

“It is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a twenty-year prison sentence in another. So this is a debate that is now ripe, much in the same way that we ended up making progress on same-sex marriage,” said Obama.

Debunking Prohibitionists’ Cannabis Dosed Halloween Candy Fears

cannabis-candyAnti-marijuana group Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings are playing on parents’ fears by spreading the message that pot-infused candy will be handed out to children on Halloween.

“Officials came together today to warn that Florida children who go door to door for candy on Halloween may one day be at risk of receiving edible marijuana products if Amendment 2 comes to pass,” the group said on Monday. “This scary scenario isn’t the plot of an upcoming horror movie. According to medical and law enforcement officials, it’s a very real scenario playing out in states like California, Washington and Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized.”

Except that the horror scenario that Sheriff Demings and Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot claims is ravaging states where marijuana is legalized just isn’t true. There were zero cases cannabis edibles being handed to kids in Colorado or Washington on Halloween in 2014 or 2015. In fact, there have been no reported cases nationally, making the claim more akin to urban legends involving a razor blade hidden in an apple or piece of candy.

Of course, there have been cases around the country of children accidentally ingesting cannabis edibles, although the majority of exposure and ingestion cases are from pharmaceuticals and household products. For example, for every 1,000 emergency room visits for ingestion at Children’s Hospital Colorado from 2014 through 2015, only 6.4 were related to marijuana.

George Sam Wang, M.D., of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, examined the effect of the legalization of recreational marijuana on unintentional pediatric exposures. Data from the study concluded:

  • Colorado saw an average 34 percent increase in regional poison center cases per year compared with a 19 percent increase in the rest of the United States.
  • Sources of marijuana were a parent, grandparent, neighbor, friend, babysitter or other family member.
  • Most pediatric marijuana exposures involved infused edible products; many exposures happened because marijuana products weren’t in child-resistant containers, there was poor child supervision or product storage issues.

Along with Washington, Colorado has served as a testing-ground state for cannabis, defining and revising rules and regulations for a commodity that had never been sold legally before. In an effort to reduce the number children accidentally ingesting marijuana edibles, Colorado did a major regulation overhaul.

Colorado has revised regulations on edible marijuana products to make them look less appealing to kids and less like their non-intoxicating counterparts. As of October 1, edibles in Colorado must come with a diamond-shaped THC stamp, on both the child-resistant packaging and the edible itself. Cannabis-infused gummy bears and other marijuana edibles shaped like animals, fruits or humans are also banned.

Rather than playing on baseless fears, officials and special-interest groups would better serve their communities by working with the cannabis industry on solutions that safely and fairly regulate marijuana.

Medical Marijuana Debate Heats up in Florida

john-morganA proposed amendment that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida has become a central issue in the state this election. With voting only nineteen days away, voters have little time left to consider the issue.

In a heated Tuesday night debate, undecided voters had the opportunity to listen to the pros and cons of Amendment 2. Prominent marijuana advocate John Morgan, who also chairs United for Care, and anti-legalization critic and policy director for No on 2, Dr. Jessica Spencer, went head-to-head.

Much of the debate centered around whether the amendment would be a danger to communities and kids or help people with debilitating medical conditions.

“They’re not going to have gummy bears hanging on a rack next to a school with marijuana in it. It’s preposterous,” said Morgan. He believes that anti-marijuana advocates are using scare tactics rather than fact to strengthen their position.

“The zoning out for the dispensaries will be determined by the cities. What the edibles can be packaged in will be determined by the state,” Morgan added.

“This is de facto legalization of marijuana, simply by the way they wrote it,” Spencer retorted. “If you didn’t want them near schools, and you wanted to protect our communities, you should’ve written it in there. That language actually allows for any of the symptomology associated with those conditions to qualify someone for marijuana.”

Spencer maintains that there are no proven medical benefits to cannabis use. “There’s no conclusive evidence that marijuana as an entire plant works as medicine.”

If Amendment 2 passes in Florida, it will allow patients access to medical marijuana for certain medical conditions as determined by a qualified physician. The Florida Department of Health would regulate dispensaries and issue ID cards to patients and caregivers. The list of illnesses eligible for treatment with cannabis would include glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Amendment 2 requires 60 percent of voters’ support to pass. It failed with 57 percent in 2014.

Vote NO on Proposition B-1

This OCTOBER 4, support the fight to end cannabis prohibition by voting NO on Proposition B-1.

Prop. B-1 would prohibit all commercial cannabis activities in the ENTIRE Mat-Su Borough.

A NO vote on prohibition Prop. B-1 means:

  • Giving our Alaska veterans a safer alternative to dangerous prescription drugs
  • Creating local jobs and increasing economic growth
  • Increase in legal, taxable income for the Borough and the State
  • Shrinking the black market and reducing crime
  • Increased Property Values
  • A regulated market keeps cannabis out of the hands of your kids
  • Strictly regulated access to persons over 21 with ID
  • Ensuring safe and quality products, tested by a licensed state testing lab

A YES vote on prohibition, Prop. B-1 means:

  • NO decline in opioid use and continued fatalities
  • NO new job growth in a time of economic crisis
  • NO increase in taxable revenue
  • Unregulated black market sales continue
  • Unregulated sales and access to minors
  • Untested products

no-on-b1

Visit www.savethematsu.org and bring SAFE and LEGAL cannabis to Matanuska Borough: Say NO to Prop. B-1 on October 4th!

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