Currently, 23 states and Washington D.C. have valid medical marijuana laws in effect. As of Janurary 6, 2016, Missouri is looking to jump on board with this initiative and put an end to cannabis prohibition. The New Approach Missouri Medical Marijuana initiative has been approved for circulation and will require 160,000 valid signatures to ensure that this measure makes it on the ballot. There is a tremendous amount of support from the people for this initiative and it is time to start putting plans into action. Hundreds of businesses and other local establishments have agreed to serve as permanent signing locations so be on the look out for this to sign the petition! “Whether you live in Missouri or not, what happens in the Show-Me State reverberates across the nation. If a majority of voters in the Heartland support medical cannabis, we will add more federal officials fighting for sensible cannabis laws in Congress and more states, such as neighboring Arkansas, will soon follow Missouri’s example. Please spread the word and consider donating to this important campaign.”
A blood alcohol content level of .08 is the standard for impairment from alcohol, but now with marijuana legal in so many places the limit for marijuana impairment is very foggy. Maine is considering following Colorado, Washington and Montana who all have legal THC limits set at 5 nanograms. The problem is that research is slim and so far points out that 5 nanograms is so low, that a frequent marijuana smoker can have over 5 nanograms in their system, while not having smoked at all that day. Some say having the limit at 5 nanograms will be a good start, while others are worried about non-impaired drivers being wrongly convicted. David Boyer, a group member and marijuana legalization advocate leading the push for a 2016 legalization vote in Maine, said it is worth noting that the group did agree on many aspects of the recommendations, but there wasn’t consensus when it came to the science behind determining impairment. He said some group members are concerned that regular marijuana users could be falsely convicted for driving while impaired because they build up a tolerance to THC. A heavy medical marijuana user, for example, could carry a THC level of 5 nanograms per milliliter and show no signs of impairment, he said.
Michigan has many medical marijuana dispensaries, but current state law only allows for caregivers to grow a limited number of plants for a limited number of patients. Dispensaries in the state are not exactly legal, and while many have been forcibly shut down, some are left to operate under local officials discretion. A bill with some traction has the potential to gain current and future dispensaries state licenses to grow and sell marijuana, but legislators don't see anything happening this year before christmas break. Dispensary legislation also passed the House in 2013 but died in the Senate amidst opposition from law enforcement groups, who are not activity fighting the stricter regulatory framework proposed in the new bills. The Michigan Responsibility Council, headed by two GOP political operatives in Oakland County, has said it may pursue a 2016 ballot proposal if state lawmakers again fail to finalize medical marijuana regulations.
Tennessee's medical marijuana program is new and restricted to CBD oil while only a few conditions qualify for treatment. A legislator in the state has taken time to meet with many veterans who plead that medical marijuana just may be the best treatment for their PTSD. Some doctors who treat PTSD have been leery to trust in this previously taboo plant, but skeptics are becoming believers after time and time again that patients claim it works wonders compared to side-effect-riddled prescription pills. "I've spoken with many veterans who have fought for our country who have looked and know the side effects of prescription drugs. They know the side effects of alcohol, and they desperately want to be able to use the cannabis plant," Faison said. We spoke to physician Suzanne Sisley, who is a leading researcher studying the effects of marijuana on PTSD patients in Arizona. She said initially she was skeptical and judgmental when some of her PTSD patients revealed to her they used marijuana to combat their symptoms. She was persuaded to consider it after hearing how adamant they are about its superiority. "That's what's so fascinating about cannabis is the cannabis plant is so complex that it seems to target all these different symptoms just with a single plant," Dr. Sisley said.
Chicago's first marijuana dispensary began selling cannabis on Wednesday, December 9th in Andersonville. This is the first dispensary open in the area but a store in Logan Square is not far behind. Dispensary 33 is currently selling medical marrijuana to patients with registered medical marijuana cards. While the store is currently only selling marijuana, it is said that they will have edibles and concentrates for sale in the upcoming months. Zises said the store is sleek and kind of looks like an Apple store. “It’s a sort of a wide-open retail [store] with a lot of non-cannabis products under glass and really beautiful displays,” he said. “We worked really hard to make it as user-friendly as possible. We want people to spend as little time as they possibly can.”
Before Colorado legalized marijuana, there were many opponents making various claims of the damage it would cause, and the lives it would end, but after only a few years researchers are showing some highly unexpected statistics. The study comes from the journal, Health Economics, and it shows that states passing Medical Marijuana Laws (MML) developed a 2-6% decline in obesity. For a drug that is known for it's munchy symptoms, a decline in obesity was not on anyones mind, but after some analysis it's not improbable. Researchers are finding that marijuana's pain-relief it brings to many adults and elderly can account for increased physical activity and calorie burning. In younger tokers, it is shown to reduce the intake of alcohol, giving young people less calories and less hangovers. This so-called substitution effect is often cited in arguments for legalizing marijuana: If you legalize weed, some people will opt for pot over alcohol. Alcohol consumption will fall as a result. And since researchers agree that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, the net effect of such a change for individuals and society would be positive.
As marijuana policy is slowly changing, medical marijuana is still sometimes not treated as medicine at all. One family in New Jersey was experiencing trouble within their local high school for not allowing their child with epilepsy and autism to possess her medical marijuana treatment on school grounds. Without the proper dose of cannabis, 16 year old Genny can become easily upset and possibly hurt herself. Due to the school's restrictions, Genny was forced to take half days so she could go home and take her medicine. After lobbying and pushing the issue, Governor Christie signed a new bill allowing minors to bring their medical marijuana to school, but at the moment the school nurse is not allowed to administer the medicine, only the parents. Until medical marijuana is treated fairly like other legal drugs, Genny's mother is forced to bring her medicine to school each and everyday to give Genny her dose personally. Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill – inspired by Genny – that authorizes parents or primary caregivers to administer edible medical marijuana to sick or disabled children at school, while protecting school districts from liability. This means Genny, 16, will be able to go back to school full-time – she's been going for half-days so that she can get the dosage she needs.
The country of Colombia has been an ally with the US in the war on drugs, but President Juan Manuel Santos decided it's time to try something new. The president will soon sign an executive decree that will make the commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana legal for medicinal and scientific purposes. Officials defend that Colombia does not want to further recreational use, but only for medicine and science. The country has been under a unique drug policy for 20 years that has allowed for possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. Colombians for two decades have been allowed to possess small quantities of any narcotic for personal use thanks to a series of Constitutional Court rulings guaranteeing the “free development of one’s personality.” “Our phones are ringing off the hook as we get ready for the next chapter,” said a statement from John Campo, president of the parent of the U.S.-owned Sannabis company, which is developing cannabis-based oils, creams and other products on a self-governed indigenous reservation in southern Colombia.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe were the first eager Native American tribe to legalize marijuana in South Dakota, but this week have decided to pull the plug on their own operation. After having many more upset South Dakotans than expected, the tribe wants to wait until federal law agrees with their program and can regulate it. The tribe has since destroyed the large amount of crops they have been preparing. With large facilities and plans, the tribe will be eager to continue their cannabis operation as soon as they have the government's backing. Seth Pearman said the suspension is pivotal to the continued success of the marijuana venture and that tribal leadership is confident that after getting clarification from the U.S. Department of Justice, "it will be better suited to succeed." "The tribe will continue to consult with the federal and state government and hopes to be granted parity with states that have legalized marijuana," Pearman said in the news release. Pearman said despite suspending the current plan, the tribe intends to be a participant in the marijuana industry
Only a day after Veteran's Day, the Senate approved a new part of a military budget bill that wouuld allow Veteran Administration doctors to discuss and prescribe medical marijuana to patients in states where it's been legalized. The fight for vets to have access to medical marijuana is not a new one, and the data strongly shows that marijuana can indeed help treat the serious symptoms of PTSD. 22 military veterans kill themselves everyday from treatable depression. About 30% of vietnam vets suffer from PTSD and nearly 11% from the Gulf and Afghanistan wars. This is not the first time that Congress has tried to gain medical cannabis access for veterans. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) of the House of Representatives has introduced the Veterans Equal Access Act not once, but twice in the past two years, only for the bill to stall in the Subcommittee on Health.
This week marks a special occassion for many residents in Illinois as the state's 2-year-in-the-making medical marijuana program finally begins. Illinois's medical marijuana bill has received criticism for it's strict rules, and the level of difficulty to aquire for legitimate patients. Even after waiting 2 years since the bill passed, some patients were turned away on opening day due to incomplete registration. The stringent medical pot system in Illinois will surely make changes within it's 4 year pilot-program, but more patients are expected as well as more shops now that the long-awaited program has begun. Some patients were turned away because they had not yet registered online with one dispensary, as required. Some said they didn't have time to register since receiving their IDs as recently as Friday or Saturday. Many of the patients said they hoped marijuana would allow them to reduce their use of painkillers and other prescription drugs and the side effects they produce. One recent study found that states permitting medical marijuana had a relative decrease in opiate addictions and overdose deaths compared to states that do not
As the presidential campaigns continue, candidates are forced to take an official stance on the future of the marijuan industry. Hilary Clinton has tiptoed around the topic but has finally addressed the issue and wants to loosen restrictions. Clinton still does not support marijuana legalization, but with medical programs in nearly half the US states she recognizes the need for federal research. Clinton's temporary solution is to reschedule marijuana down to Schedule 2 with cocaine. This does not address the ability to arrest and jail youth for simple possession, but would allow for research to further legalize and regulate. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defines Schedule 1 drugs as those "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." But if it were lowered to a Schedule II classification, it would open the door for more legal research. "Researchers at universities, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), could start researching what's the best way to use it, how much of a dose does somebody need, how does it interact with other medications," she said