After hearing from desperate parents of sick children, Kansas lawmakers are considering adopting a medical marijuana program, joining 28 other states with some type of legal marijuana. The medical marijuana program would benefit patients with many different illnesses including epileptic seizures, who may not find relief in available treatments.The program would also provide more options for treatment outside of prescription narcotics that can be dangerous and addictive. Some are worried about regulating the program and believe marijuana should undergo the same vetting process as prescription drugs. Supporters say medical marijuana could help patients who have exhausted available medicine options. Melissa Ragsdale, whose 7-year-old son suffers from seizures, told the committee industrial hemp cannabidiol helped her son but it only stops certain seizures and that broader access could help. Supporters also say marijuana would be better than potentially harmful prescription narcotics.
Georgia lawmakers passed a plan last week making some changes to the state's current medical marijuana law, but while some of these changes are helpful, advocates are saying other changes will negatively impact patients in need. Ontop of adding autism to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, the state also lowered the legal limit of THC allowed in cannabis oill from 5% down to 3%. This change seems unwarranted considering the lack of complaints within the medical marijuana program, but some lawmakers are concerned about the THC levels, despite some patients responding better to the higher THC dose. The Georgia Senate also has several other bills in the works that would expand the medical marijuana program. The Georgia Senate passed a plan Thursday to downsize a key part of Georgia’s medical marijuana law, despite warnings from advocates that it will alienate dozens of families and children who use cannabis oil to help treat debilitating conditions. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, would add one additional condition — autism — to the state’s list of those eligible for use of the oil. However, it would also reduce the maximum THC level in the cannabis oil now allowed here from 5 percent to 3 percent, which backers of the plan said would bring the state more in line with others that also allow limited forms of the oil.
After over 70% of Florida voters approved the latest medical marijuana amendment expanding the list of qualifying conditions and including higher strength medicine, the state legislature has suggested changes to the amendment, heavily restricting the program's qualifying patients, where to buy it, and how long it takes. The proposed changes sparked outrage allover the state leading to overflowing public hearings where patients and advocates pleaded with lawmakers about high prices, limited availability, and doctor's prescription requirements. After reviewing the public's concerns, officials will propose follow up changes which will also be subject to public comment. The Florida House and Senate are also planning on releasing medical marijuana proposals before next month's session begins. State officials have recommended restrictions on what type of patients can qualify for medical marijuana, and where they can obtain it. Their suggestions, however, have prompted a wave of opposition across the state, with nearly 1,300 residents attending what are normally low-key bureaucratic hearings to press for less restricted access to marijuana. Amendment 2, which was approved by 71 percent of voters last November, was enacted on Jan. 3. It allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments than what was currently allowed in state law. The rules have become a flashpoint because the amendment requires the state to adopt them by July 3 and have them in place by September
This week Pueblo County, Colorado officials created the “world’s first cannabis-funded scholarship" which is made up of $425,000 directly from the state's cannabis excise tax revenue. $1,000 of aid will be available to all qualifying graduating students with more available for those in need. This scholarship fund is expected to grow dramatically over the next several years as the tax rate on marijuana is set to grow 1 percent each year until it reaches 5%. The current tax rate is 2%. County commisioners are happy to see this money being used to educate youth in need rather than be funneled through black market marijuana. The scholarship fund is expected to grow in the next several years, as both marijuana cultivation and the taxation rate increase. “It will grow annually because the excise tax increases annually,” Pace told The Huffington Post. “We also expect many new farms to come online this year. Only roughly half of the licensed farms were operational in 2016.” “It is so critically important to make college affordable for our youth if we want to provide long-term economic opportunity to our community,” she said. “Too many kids can’t afford to go to college, with this program we are taking cannabis-tax revenue and using it to provide for a brighter future in Pueblo.”
This week the state of Hawaii granted a notice to proceed growing and cultivating marijuana for the dispensary Pono Life Sciences Maiui, making them the fourth grow-ready dispensary in the state and the second in Maui. Pono Life Sciences will soon begin planting cannabis seeds and clones to be used in the treatment of patients registered with the Medical Marijuana Registry Program. Patients can be recommended marijuana by their doctor if they have conditions like cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, seizures and other debilitating medical conditions. One marijuana dispensary license allows the owner two production facilities, limited to 3,000 plants each, and two retail stores making for a total of 16 each in Hawaii. The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health today issued a Notice to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC for their production center on Maui. Pono Life Sciences Maui is the fourth licensee to receive notice from the state and the second Maui licensee to meet all requirements to begin growing marijuana. Pono Life Sciences Maui is now authorized to acquire and grow marijuana seeds, clones and plants, for the purpose of providing marijuana and marijuana products to qualified patients registered with the department’s Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Program.
One dedicated Tennessee lawmaker, Jeremy Faison, has worked hard to bring a thorough medical marijuana proposal to the legislature this year. After visiting succesful marijuana grows in Colorado, his 52-page bill covers all the regulations needed for the program from seed to sale. Patients with conditions like PTSD, cancer, and depression, would be able to get a prescription from their doctor, followed by receiving a medical marijuana card the department of health. The bill would allow for 50 growers total in the state, with the first 15 to be focused in rural areas. The bill will be put to a vote at the end of this month. A Tennessee lawmaker has been hoping to change some minds about the use of medical marijuana in the state. Representative Jeremy Faison has been working for three years gathering information and even visiting grow operations in Colorado. He has now drafted an extensive 52-page bill that covers everything from seed to delivery.
Last week the first participant used cannabis during a new study on how different strains of marijuana work in treatment of veterans with PTSD. Half of the participants will be studied at the University of Arizona while the other half with be at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Researchers say it's taken nearly 7 years to get to this point in the research process with the study being approved by the DEA in April of last year. 20% of Vietnam veterans and 15% of Iraq war veterans are effected by PTSD according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, whom coincidentally will not allow the new PTSD and marijuana study to be advertised within their government owned buildings. Advocates of the research believe it can lead to the FDA approval of whole-plant marijuana for use with PTSD. Over the next two years, the study will "evaluate the safety and efficacy of four different potencies of marijuana to manage symptoms of PTSD in 76 U.S. veterans," a MAPS news release states. The study requires 17 clinic visits over 12 weeks and a six-month follow-up visit, plus drug screenings to determine the THC levels in the vets' bloodstreams. "We're just so grateful to finally enroll patients," Sisley told New Times on Friday. "This has been our dream that started seven years ago, to study whole-plant cannabis in this most-deserving population of veterans ... The government thought they could stonewall us until we got tired or walked away. But we're committed to doing this."
This past election Florida voters passed the state's proposed medical marijuana initiative with 71% of the vote, yet lawmakers are trying to cripple the initiative's language by restricting access to the drug. A public hearing about the bill brought in hundreds of concerned citizens hoping to make positive change to the state's medical program. A proposed limit on cannabis distributors would also limit product and number of strains for patients as well as inflate the price on the limited products. These restrictions cause patients in need to spend thousands of dollars on their medicine, forcing many to either not get treatment or resort to using the black market. Doctors are also concerned about a political body trying to limit the qualifying conditions for the drug rather than allowing medicine to dictate medical value. A first draft issued last month by the health department would largely squeeze the broad program contemplated by Amendment 2, which passed in November with 71 percent support, into an existing system created in 2014 to legalize cannabis use for a small number of patients. ▪ Rules limiting the cultivation and distribution of cannabis to the current seven licensed companies would restrict the number of strains and products available to patients, and inflate the price of products that remain illegal under federal law and therefore aren’t covered by insurance. Heidi Handford, a local consultant in the industry, said some patients have told her they’re paying up to $5,000 a year for legal medicine, making it much cheaper to simply buy pot illegally.
A review of previous research concludes that compounds in marijuana are effective at suppressing withdrawal symptoms like cravings in those addicted to opioids. Marijuana remains difficult to gain access to for research, but it's become abundantly clear that more research is needed after seeing even small success curbing the problems arising from the country's opioid epidemic. Opioids include legal pharmaceuticals like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and the illegal drug, heroin, all of which can be extremely addicting. The review featured a study on rats in which the they learned to administer their own heroin, and a study in humans, both of which showed that the cannabinoid CBD helped effectively reduce cravings of heroin addiction for about 1 week. In her review, Hurd looked at previous animal and human studies examining the potential of one particular marijuana compound — called cannabidiol, or CBD — for treating opioid addiction. For example, a study in rats published in 2009 in the Journal of Neuroscience found that CBD decreased heroin cravings in rats that had previously been trained to self-administer heroin. And a small study conducted in humans, published in August 2015 in the journal Neurotherapeutics, showed that taking CBD seemed to help reduce cravings in people addicted to heroin. This effect lasted for a week after the CBD was administered, Hurd noted in the new review. One advantage of cannabidiol is that, unlike another marijuana compound —tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — it does not give users a high, and therefore, its use does not involve a significant risk of misuse, according to the new review. The compound is also generally safe to use in adults and possibly in children, as suggested by tests of the compound in young patients with epilepsy, according to the review
During this past election many states passed new marijuana laws including North Dakota who passed a medical marijuana bill with 64% of voter approval. It will take nearly 2 years for the program to become fully regulated and operational, and the North Dakota Department of Health has named a leader to bring the program to fruition. With 33 years experience in the Health Department, and a background in licensing, regulation, and lab management, Kenan Bullinger was named the director of the state's medical marijuana program last week. The Senate has introduced a bill to amend the voter-passed law, which advocates say changes too much of the original bill, and will hold it's first hearing this week. “Kenan’s background in licensing, regulation and lab management all make him an ideal person for the job. He has also been in discussions and provided valuable input regarding the measure, and now law, since the beginning,” Arvy Smith, interim co-director of the health department, said in a Friday release. The first hearing on SB2344 is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Wednesday in the Brynhild Haugland Room. Lawmakers and state officials say the changes are needed to run a viable program. Measure 5 proponents plan to lodge their complaints, claiming the bill overrides the intent of the law as passed. The new division will oversee the issuance of medical marijuana cards, licensing and regulation of manufacturing and dispensary facilities, and regulation of medical marijuana products.
With Texas being a historically conservative state, it's no surprise that marijuana law reform has taken a back seat to most issues, however advocates are proud of any progress being made towards medical marijuana's truly compassionate cause. In 2015 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the state's first medical marijuana bill, a very strict low-THC only program that allows patients with epilepsy, often children, to use the drug after being approved through two qualified doctors. The legislation was originally written to allow 12 grow facilities in Texas with licenses costing $6,000 each, but legislators have decided to weigh down the bill by skyrocketing the license price up to $1.3 million and instead only issue 3 marijuana licenses. Luckily advocates have made a slight compromise by bringing the license price down to nearly $500,000, but the final numbers are still up for discussion for the last regulation meeting on Feb. 22. On Feb. 23 the Department of Public safety will begin accepting marijuana dispensing applications. “They removed a trooper presence,” she said, “but they replaced it with some kind of an inspector. I wasn’t really sure what the purpose of the inspector is supposed to be. They’re supposed to have more than one inspection per week. What are they looking for? Week to week somebody isn’t going to be growing THC weed. I don’t get it.” “I think we have a shot,” she said. “I think it’s a long shot, but we do have a shot. There is very guarded optimism. When we set out to get 339 (the CUA) passed, most of the people said ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ Everybody was really shocked when it happened, and I think it happened because people like me — conservative Christian moms — flooded the building with our kids. We’re not hippies! Nobody is trying to get high. We’re trying to help our children.”
This past election voters in Arizona did not pass their recreational marijuana initiative like many other states, however the state's medical marijuana program is thriving and showing continuous growth. In 2016 Arizona sold 52% more medical marijuana than in 2015, thats over 29 tons of cannabis or over 3 gargabe trucks full! Patients are currently able to be recommended medical marijuana by their doctor for glaucoma, nausea, and post traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. The average price of 1oz of medical pot in Arizona is around $300, with sales totaling $281 million in 2016 alone. Patients are cleared to use the drug for glaucoma, nausea, and post traumatic stress disorder, but the majority of prescriptions were approved for chronic pain. An average price for an ounce of marijuana is about $300, totaling $281 million last year. That is enough money to buy nearly 2,000 of those garbage trucks.