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The latest in marijuana news, culture and politics
  • Medical Marijuana Posted Nov 2016

    Here’s how long it could take to recount the Maine marijuana ballot question

    Two ballot questions that narrowly passed in Maine this month will soon undergo a recount. The first is a ballot question that legalized recreational marijuana for adults, and the second is a public education tax on high earners. The recounts will likely start by next week, but the Maine Department of the Secretary of State will make an announcement on Monday. 2 recounts will be done simultaneously to ensure an accurate count, and the final numbers will likely take 4-6 weeks. The Maine Department of the Secretary of State says recounts of a pair of ballot questions will likely take four to six weeks. The department is getting ready to announce a schedule for the recounts. The recounts have been requested for ballot questions that legalized recreational marijuana and approved a tax on high earners to fund public education.

  • News Posted Nov 2016

    Teva to Market Medical Marijuana Inhaler in Israel

    Some medical marijuana patients have trouble keeping a consistent dose when smoking cannabis. Two Israeli companies are partnering up to design and market a medical cannabis inhaler in an effort to make consulting and using the drug easier. Looking similar to an asthma inhaler of the future, the device gives precise control over every dose. Doctors want to bring medical cannabis into a prescription standard with time and dose recommendations, though an incorrect marijuana dose does not pose the lethal threat that other household drugs like acetaminophen do. If the inhaler is approved by Israel's ministry, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. will be the exclusive distributor. Israel is expected to double it's current 26,000 medical marijuana patients by 2018. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA), a generic drugmaker headquartered outside of Tel Aviv, announced Monday that it will partner with another Israeli firm, Syqe Medical Ltd. (pronounced "psyche") to market a medical cannabis inhaler in the country. The product is designed to treat pain without getting patients high. The device, which is similar in appearance to a futuristic asthma inhaler, delivers precise doses, potentially resolving one of doctors' main complaints regarding medical marijuana: the lack of certainty about how much a patient should take, how often and in what form – not to mention how much they will consume in practice, when left to their own devices.

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Nov 2016

    Where Marijuana Is the Doctor’s Orders, Will Insurers Pay?

    This year quite a few states have legalized medical marijuana, bringing the total to 28 in the US. More people than ever are curious about the benefits of medical marijuana and wonder if it will be covered by insurance like the prescriptions it could potentially replace. Unfortunately, like every marijuana law it is left up to each individual state meaning different rules around the country. Some states have specifically exempted employer insurances from covering medical marijuana costs, while others like New Mexico will require workplace insurers to pay for medical marijuana as long as its recommended by a doctor. Employers allover the country will also retain their right to test for marijuana and keep a drug-free workplace.  Usually, patients pay for the drug themselves and several states have explicitly exempted workplace compensation insurers for covering such costs. But as a result of recent state court rulings in New Mexico, workplace insurers there are required to pay for marijuana-based treatments if they are recommended by a doctor. And lower courts in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Michigan have issued rulings directing workplace insurers to do so. The number of patients receiving such coverage is small. And because marijuana is illegal under federal law, insurers paying for the drug must use a financial workaround to avoid violations. One strategy is to reimburse patients for their costs rather than make a direct payment to a marijuana dispensary.

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    When Is Marijuana Officially Legal In Massachusetts?

    On election day, voters in Massachusetts legalized the use of marijuana by adults 21+, but the law does not go into effect until Dec. 15th of this year. With only a couple weeks left before legalization it's important to know what is changing. Users will be able to purchase, possess, process, or manufacture up to 1 ounce of marijuana buds, including no more than 5 grams of cannabis concentrates. Once the law goes into effect, adults will be able to grow up to 6 plants at a time in their private residence, so long as no more than 12 are cultivated at a time. With a limit of 10 ounces in a private residence, users in Massachusetts will have the highest home possession limit in the country. SECTION 12. This act shall take effect on December 15, 2016. (1) possessing, using, purchasing, processing or manufacturing 1 ounce or less of marijuana, except that not more than 5 grams of marijuana may be in the form of marijuana concentrate; (2) within the person’s primary residence, possessing up to 10 ounces of marijuana and any marijuana produced by marijuana plants cultivated on the premises and possessing, cultivating or processing not more than 6 marijuana plants for personal use so long as not more than 12 plants are cultivated on the premises at once;

  • News Posted Nov 2016

    A test for marijuana impairment? A UMass prof has an app for that

    Massachusetts is one of the several new states to legalize marijuana in some forms, but the state has yet to designate a legal limit comparable to a 0.08 blood alcohol content, or a way to to properly test for impairment in suspected stoned drivers. A psychology professor from the University of Massachusetts wants drug users to be able to track their impairment, so he designed an app called DRUID to put the user through a series of tasks. The professor hopes to get his app in the hands of law enforcement where they will have drivers they suspect to be impaired test their balance, sense of time and motor functions. An official at Hire Image, a drug testing service for employers, thinks chemical testing will come before an app is used by law enforcement and that she believes the chemical testing to be more accurate.  That’s why Michael Milburn, a psychology professor at University of Massachusetts Boston for 39 years, is trying to get his app that tests for marijuana impairment into the hands of law enforcement. He has created and self-funded DRUID, an acronym for for driving under the influence of drugs. It is a tablet-based app in which users are asked to perform a series of tasks in five minutes. The app tasks include asking users to tap the screen in certain places when they see different shapes; to stop a clock when 60 seconds have passed; to follow a moving circle on the screen with a finger as it randomly changes directions; and to stand on one leg for 30 seconds each with the iPad in one hand.

  • Fun Posted Nov 2016

    Local pot shop to offer free medical marijuana

    Thanksgiving and Black Friday own this holiday week, but today is Green Wednesday in Spokane, Washington where one local dispensary is giving away $36,000 of free buds! The shop, 4:20 Friendly, is giving out 1oz of free cannabis to each of it's first 180 medical marijuana card holders to visit today, thanks to a generous donation by BBB Farms,. Each ounce of medical marijuana usually costs about $150, which can be a hefty expense for low-income patients. The owner of BBB Farms, Robert Vernon, has been wanting to donate since he learned of the law and now hopes other retailers will follow suite and offer free marijuana to patients.  "You come in, show me your medical card, we verify that it's legit. We have to scan it by law, then we'll ring you up and you get to walk out with a free ounce," said Carol Ehrhart, owner of 4:20 Friendly. "There's also a lot of people that really need it that don't have the money to be able to afford it," said Ehrhart. "Not everybody growing is all about the greed. We know there's people who need it and we're here to give it," added Vernon. Vernon says he's about "the need, not the greed." He hopes after Wednesday, more marijuana retailers will follow their lead and offer medical patients free marijuana.  

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Nov 2016

    NFL Players Searching For Painkiller Choices Hope For Relaxed Marijuana Ban

    The federal government continues to hold firm on it's stance that cannabis is a schedule 1 dug, denying it's medical value and prohibiting it's use by anyone. Professional sports associations are no different in holding to their ban of the drug, but leagues like the NFL could benefit hugely from the drug with many players experiencing pain on a regular basis. A great example is former player Kyle Turley, who played 8 seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman. Even after his football career he is in pain and has been open about his addiction to prescription pain killers like Vicodin, Flexeril, Percocets, Vioxx, and morphine. After experiencing addition and thoughts of suicide, he decided to kick his prescription pain killers and started using marijuana for his pain. Since, Turley has helped start a group called the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition to advocate for marijuana as legal pain treatment in football. Legal pain killers like prescription opioids were responsible for 14,000 overdoses in 2014 according to the CDC, but a human simply cannot overdose on cannabinoids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids. "You can't directly die from taking a cannabinioid, the way tens of thousands of people are directly dying from opioids each year in the U.S.," says Dr. Clauw. Dr. Clauw published a study this year of about 250 people who said they'd used marijuana and opioids for chronic pain. The subjects said as marijuana use went up, opioid use went down. Significantly. "They noted on average a two-thirds decrease in their opioid dose," says Dr. Clauw, adding, "they also noted that they just felt a lot better overall with respect to side-effect profile when their pain was being controlled largely with cannabinoids."

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Nov 2016

    New Arizona medical marijuana proposal emerging for 2018

    Earlier this month Arizona voters showed they weren't ready to legalize recreational marijuana, but advocates are back already with an initiative to expand on the state's current medical marijuana program. The goal of the initiative is to expand on the list of qualifying conditions and to allow more patients to grow the plant at home. Advocates of the measure need to gather 150,642 signatures by July 5, 2018 to bring the question to the 2018 ballot. If passed, new conditions such as insomnia, psoriasis, Tourette’s syndrome, neuropathy and fibromyalgia, will all be added to the list of conditions to qualify a patient for medical marijuana.  The initiative crafted by operators of a medical marijuana dispensary would expand the list of conditions for which a doctor could recommend a patient be allowed to use the otherwise-illegal drug. And it also would make it easier and cheaper for patients to get their marijuana, including allowing a large percentage of them to grow their own plants.

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Nov 2016

    This blunder on new California marijuana law could cost state millions

    When California voters legalized recreational marijuana by ballot measure earlier this month, the bill's language depicted the new recreational marijuana program beginning on Jan. 1, 2018 with a 15% excise tax on cannabis products. The medical marijuana system was planned to have a tax break once the recreational program began, however due to a simple error in text, the medical marijuana tax break goes into effect immediately, meaning a long tax revenue dry 2017 is ahead. Writers of the law have made it clear it was not their intention to halt medical marijuana tax revenue immediately, but the state's Board of Equalization ruled to keep the language. Other than a slow year for medical marijuana tax revenue, officials fear that tax-free medical marijuana will attract more patients who might not transition into a more expensive recreational marijuana program when it arrives in 2018. As a result, tax-free medical marijuana sales will occur in California from now through the end of 2017. With recreational sales not set to begin until 2018, tax-free medical sales leave California facing a disappointing near-term marijuana tax revenue picture. The creators of the initiative have stated publicly that providing a 14-month tax holiday for marijuana was not their intention, but the state’s Board of Equalization ruled otherwise.

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Nov 2016

    Marijuana Appears to Benefit Mental Health: Study

    Marijuana is now legal in some forms in over half of US states, and medical marijuana patients can be recommended the drug for conditions like arthritis, cancer, PTSD, depression and anxiety. The drug's popularity has allowed voters to legalize through state ballot initiatives rather than through legislation. Studies are very limited on cannabis due to the harsh federal classification, but the effects of marijuana on mental and physical health are far more than anecdotal these days. Not only has marijuana legalization curbed opiate abuse in several states, but researchers are excited about the possibility of substituting marijuana to treat harmful opioid addictions. Researchers can all agree that marijuana needs more attention and should be studied for it's therapeutic potential. Though more research is needed, studies also suggested that cannabis may have a place in dealing with addiction. “We are really excited about the potential substitution effect,” says study author Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “If people use cannabis as a replacement for opioid medications, or to get off of opioids or cut back, we could see some pretty dramatic public health benefits. The level of opioid overdoses is so high right now.  

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Denver Is the First City to Allow Marijuana in Bars and Restaurants

    Advocates in Denver had hoped for pot clubs or 'coffee shops' on this years ballot, but instead voters passed a measure that allow bars and restaurants to create an outside smoking area for customers to enjoy cannabis alongside their meal or beverage. Before anyone can legally toke with their meal, a business would have to gain the support of the community and then a license from the state. But the businesses wouldn't be selling marijuana, they would simply allow their customers to bring their own product from home to enjoy out on the town. The new law also allows for non-service businesses like yoga studios or art galleries to serve marijuana alongside food and drink, as well as set up designated smoking areas. If voters and legislators don't reapprove or make permanent the incorporation of marijuana in local businesses, the measure will end itself in 2020. Legislators are expected to pot clubs again next year. “It’s the sensible thing to do,” said Emmett Reistroffer, a Denver marijuana consultant and campaign manager for the pot-in-bars measure. “This is about personal responsibility and respecting adults who want to have a place to enjoy cannabis.” Patrons at participating bars could use pot inside as long as it isn’t smoked. The law does provide for the possibility of outside smoking areas under restrictive circumstances. The law also allows for non-service establishments, such as yoga galleries or art galleries, to set up pot-smoking areas or hold events serving both pot and food and drink. “The entire goal of this initiative is to provide adults with private places where they can consume cannabis so they’re not consuming in public,” said Tvert, who said the initiative helps not just tourists but adults who may not want to use pot in front of their kids, or tenants whose landlords exercise their right to ban pot use.

  • News Posted Nov 2016

    Several NFL owners, execs eyeing marijuana discipline changes

    NFL team owners and executives have been weighing the option of lessing the penalty for marijuana use in the league. Currently, testing positive for trace amounts of marijuana is still enough for a player to be suspended for 4 games, but after the election, now over half of the country lives in a state with some form of legal marijuana. Is it really fair for a player in one state to be threatened with legal action over marijuana while another player can openly possess the drug? NFL officials are open to change, with the most recent change having loosened the restrictions on positive marijuana test results in 2014. Some executives think that the league should 'follow the country' as more states are legalizing and public opinion is shifting. The NFLPA is making strides by forming a committee to study if marijuana could be an effective pain treatment for players.  Several league executives said the NFL should "follow the country" in the changing attitudes about marijuana use. In addition, the high-profile suspensions of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory also has raised more awareness about the issue. Meanwhile, the NFLPA is forming a committee for a study that, among other things, will examine if marijuana can be an effective pain-management option for players. A league source said team owners seem open to revising pot restrictions as part of CBA discussions, although any changes would depend on many factors in negotiations. There is a consensus that changes to the policy must be made. The general feeling is that discipline standards need to be modified since marijuana use in many parts of the United States is no longer a crime.