Illinois has had a slow start with it's medical marijuana program, but the with each opening dispensary more patients will have access to the drugs they need. Seven Point opened it's doors last month in Oak Park, IL as the 41st dispensary in the state, and offering over one hundred products. Local patients with conditions like fibromyalgia and epilepsy voiced their thankfullness to have an alternative choice of medicine closeby. CEO of Seven Point is glad there are now active alternatives during such an opioid abuse crisis. "Traditionally, people relate it to cancer and end-stage terminal diseases, but now we know it can help a host of other conditions as well," said Dr. Lui. "With the opioid crisis, people die every day. So anything that can be done to help that, I think would be really beneficial," said Seven Point CEO Brad Zerman. "I think it lets us as a patient be able to decide, not just be cornered into making a decision," said Lopez.
Oklahoma may not get it's chance to vote on medical marijuana this year as a jumble of issues have held back advocates from reaching the ballot. State officials say that the signatures were not submitted soon enough for the Election's Board to mail ballots to military and overseas voters as well as not having met the 65,987 signatures needed. The Attorney General says there a flaws in the proposal such as not specifying the qualifying illnesses for medical marijuana, and the late submission just don't leave enough time to finish the process before the vote. While the Election's Board is on crunch time, the Oklahoma Supreme Court is verifying the official number of signatures. Even if everything gets approved this year, the timeline would force an expensive special vote, which would likely not happen given the state's budget. But state officials say it'll be delayed because supporters of State Question 788 didn't submit the required 65,987 voter signatures to qualify with enough buffer time for legal challenges and for the state's Election Board to print and send ballots to counties, military members and overseas voters. "We are dealing with processes established in both federal and state election law for initiatives proposed by the people that require specific procedures to be followed," Pruitt said in the Oklahoma case. "It's important for the people of Oklahoma to know — regardless of the substance of the state question — the signatures were not submitted with enough time to allow this process to be played out completely."
New Jersey's medical marijuana program has been playing catch-up compared to other medical states for as long as Governor Chris Christie feels he needs to hold back the program and it's patients. His worry of non-medical marijuana patients getting their hands on the drug has misguided the Governor to instead expand the program as slow as possible. 6 years into it's medical marijuana program, New Jersey's dispensaries will soon be adding cannabis lotions and lozenges, which are the first new products since marijuana buds. Edibles with cannabis oil were approved in 2013, but Christie only approved edibles for children. What about elderly patients or those who cannot smoke? CBD oils, which have gained praise around the country for significantly reducing seizures in epileptic children, caused parents to push for approval, but dispensaries and patients still wait. The marijuana oils that parents of sick children have lobbied for since 2013 have not yet been approved for sale. Compassionate Sciences' application to produce such oils, which are normally added to food, is "pending submission of additional manufacturing protocols," Donna Leusner, a Health Department spokeswoman, said in an email this week. She declined to elaborate. After the law went into effect in the fall of 2013, three of the state's five dispensaries, including Bellmawr, applied for approval to manufacture the oils. Two of the dispensaries dropped their plans because of delays in obtaining state approvals.
Until recently, the DEA has allowed a monopoly on federally sanctioned marijuana grows, but now they are opening the doors for marijuana research, potentially changing the future of marijuana forever - but not just anyone can get a license to grow federally legal cannabis. Nearly a dozen US agricultural Universities said they were not interested in the offer, including: Cornell, University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, University of Vermont, and more. Due to the extreme requirements the government wants for marijuana researchers, many universities and companies simply don't have the interest or the means to make it happen. It will likely take a multimillion dollar operation to afford the proper construction and security measures, as well as legally obtaining the first seeds to grow. And the only organizations with that much money and experience in the industry and willing to take such risks, are current marijuana cultivators, but the DEA has made it clear that those who have been in violation of the Controlled Substances Act will have a lesser chance when applying for a license. “I think everybody is just thinking about how to approach this,” said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego. “What will it really take to get one of these DEA licenses?” They made it very clear that if you have been in violation of the [Controlled Substances Act], that would be weighted heavily against you,” said Rachel Gillette, an attorney at Greenspoon Marder in Colorado who represents marijuana businesses. “The future of this industry definitely starts with research,” Bachtell said. “The opportunity to help progress the acceptance, the elevation, and the professionalism of the medical cannabis industry really starts with research.”
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco released a new ruling stemming from a 2011 incident where a woman was turned away while trying to purchase a gun due to her medical marijuana license. While shop owners can turn customers away for suspicious activity, that was not the case this time. Due to marijuana's illegal status, the federal government has decided that any illegal drug use "raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated." But on the other hand, there is no check to see how much alcohol a customer consumes regularly, a legal drug which is commonly associated with gun violence. Medical marijuana patients are being stripped of their Second Amendmend rights for the sole reason of benefiting in some way from the plant, while those who earned a spot on the no-fly list for suspicious activity are still able to walk into any gun store and purchase any weapon of their choice. "We live in a world where having a medical marijuana card is enough to say you don't get a gun, but if you're on the no-fly list, your constitutional right is still protected," he said. Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the idea that marijuana users were more prone to violence is a fallacy. "Responsible adults who use cannabis in a manner that is compliant with the laws of their states ought to receive the same legal rights and protections as other citizens," he said
Over the last few years a shocking shift has occured. The amount of people dying from heroin and prescription opiates has surpassed the number dying in automobile accidents, and according to the Center for Disease Control, at least half of all opiate deaths include a prescription. Those fighting to curb addiction and overdoses should welcome the new studies proving that states with medical marijuana laws show a significant decrease in painkiller and other prescriptions. While opiates are dangerously addictive, habit forming, and legal - a prescription in combination with medical marijuana has the potential to effectively treat pain in lower doses with much less chance of addiction. The DEA has recently omitted a chance to reschedule cannabis, allowing doctors to prescribe the drug like any other and remove the federal threat on state-legal marijuana businesses, but in the same gesture they allowed for extended research into the drug. After more studies are able to prove the benefits of marijuana, policy will have no choice but to follow science and reason. The United States is in the grips of a well-documented opiate epidemic. More people in the country now die from heroin and prescription opiates than they do from car accidents. In 2014, nearly 19,000 fatal overdoses were related to legal opiates like OxyContin and Vicodin, and according to the Center for Disease Control, at least half of all opiate deaths involve a prescription. Sales of OxyContin, which was initially marketed as non-addictive, alone generate roughly $3 billion each year. While the complete eradication of opiates is unlikely, treating pain with both substances in tandem is a promising area of exploration. “By using a combination of the opioids and the cannabinoids, one can really lower the doses of both quite substantially,” Piomelli says. “By lowering the doses, you of course decrease the risk of addiction and the risk of side effects from both classes of compounds.” He stresses that more research is needed to assess the possible risks of taking both substances at once. “The major cause of the delay we have is decades of misunderstanding, misconception and misinformation on cannabis that only now, after 20 years of work on the endocannabinoid system, we are finally starting to dispel,” Piomelli says
Tampa Bay, Florida opened it's first medical marijuana dispensary last week, Trulieve, located north of Sunset Point Road on US Highway 19, Clearwater. Trulieve's first location is in Tallahassee, and delivery is available for patients unable to make the trip. High and Low-dose THC cannabis products are available for patients registered on the Florida Department of Health's Compassionate Use Registr. Patients must see a doctor and suffer from epilepsy, seizures, muscle spasms, cancer, or other terminal conditions to be put on the state's registry. Some doctor's are very pleased with the state's medical marijuana program and allowing those with debilitating conditions to try other options. Bonnie’s doctor, Kathy Anderson weighed in, "As a physician I feel it is my duty to ensure patients are given all the options available, so I am very pleased that medical cannabis is now an industry recognized course of treatment I can recommend for my appropriate patients," she explained, “I think Florida is doing it right with a strict policy for dispensing the medicinal marijuana.”
New York's Department of Health released a progress report for the state's medical marijuana program recently with a recommendation to double the amount of allowed growers and dispensaries around the state within the next two years, giving more access where it's needed. Over half of the state's medical marijuana patient's and registered doctors are located in Long Island and New York City, making access scarce around the rest of the state. The Department of Health also recommended that nurse practitioners be given the ability to certify medical marijuana patients, just as they can prescribe other controlled substances. With easier access to medical professionals and dispensaries, more people will be able to seek out and find the relief they need from medical marijuana. Recommendations must be approved by state legislators and the governor before becoming law. Currently, the state allows five companies to operate one growing facility and four dispensaries each. The Department of Health recommends doubling that over the next two years, which the report says will help "meet additional patient demand and increase access to medical marijuana throughout New York State." "Allowing NPs to issue certifications for medical marijuana would allow them to properly treat patients suffering from severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions, particularly in many rural counties where there are fewer physicians available to treat such ailments," according to the report
Gov. Wolf of Pennsylvania signed the state's medical marijuana bill into law in April, and this week a draft of the regulations to grow, cultivate, and track the drug have been released for aspiring business owners' benefit. The market to grow and sell medical marijuana will be intensely competitive with only 25 licenses awarded, and businesses will have to move quickly to begin sales by the estimated open date of 2018. Growers will have a 30-day window to import seeds. but after the first crop, no out of state cannabis imports will be legal. The proposal has received praise from advocates for using the successful aspects and compensating for problems in other states' current programs. "These regulations take into account what other states have done successfully and what other states would have liked to have done better," Bronstein said, "but the Pennsylvania program is its own animal." No out-of-state marijuana plants can be brought into Pennsylvania at any time. Growers will have a 30-day window to import seeds for their first crops, but subsequent crops must be grown with seeds, clones, or grafts produced at in-state facilities
Marijuana opponents have stated for years how the lack of scientific studies on marijuana is plenty reason to keep it illegal and let prohibition continue to ruin innocent lives. But the more we're learning about marijuana, the more it's clear that thorough research needs to be done. Take it from Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a chairman at Columbia University's department of psychiatry, who points out with around 400 compounds making up marijuana, we only have limited knowledge on the two main cannabinoids, THC and CBD. Each compound has the potential to effect us in a different way, and it's time to find out what compound can be used for what purpose, medicinal or not. Until we take the time to fully study cannabis and each compound's full potential, we may never understand the drug that has caused so much controversy. "In terms of does cannabis hold any therapeutic potential, cannabis contains many constituents. It’s not just THC. And whether these have medicinal properties that can be used, the answer is very likely, and they should be studied,"Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, who is the chair of Columbia University's department of psychiatry and serves as the director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, told Business Insider. "Like many plants, marijuana has many different chemicals. There are specific components of the plant that can be developed for medical interventions," Hurd said.
A small study coming out of Columbia University Medical Center is showing that the pain relieving effects of marijuana could potentially be more effective in men compared to women. The double-blind study had both men and women soak a hand in nearly freezing temperature water until the pain became too much. While men experienced a significant increase in pain tolerance, the women only showed a small change. The findings are more than enough reason to perform more testing on cannabis for medical use to find out the best methods to treat symptoms in all patients. "These results indicate that in cannabis smokers, men exhibit greater cannabis-induced analgesia relative to women. As such, sex-dependent differences in cannabis's analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief."
Here we go again with legislators trying to fix a problem caused by prohibition. Ohio is now the 26th state to legalize medical marijuana, but due to marijuana being federally illegal, most banks will not work with the industry, forcing them to use cash for everything from payroll and taxes to bills. Ohio legislators aren't comfortable with the large amounts of cash being kept inside marijuana businesses, and instead of fixing the problem federally, their short term solution is a closed-loop system. It would resemble that of a pre-paid debit card system where users will have to fill an account with money via check, credit card or cash at a state agency or state licensed liquor store. The number of banks working with marijuana businesses has risen from 51 in 2014 to 301 in 2016, but with most banks shunning the industry it remains a cash business. Until lawmakers are willing to protect banks from persecution or reschedule cannabis, then banks will stay fearful of marijuana and the federal government. The state's proposal comes amid concerns with how money is handled at marijuana companies with almost all of them running with cash-only transactions. These companies turn around and use the cash to pay bills, taxes and their employees and are forced to keep the cash in unsafe places. This endangers employees and customers because most banks, credit unions and credit card companies are reluctant to do business with them because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.