Earlier this month after President Juan Manuel Santos signed the bill, Colombia legalized marijuana for medical use. The bill has been drafted over again since 2014, and medical use has been permitted since 1986, but the country is now ready to thrive on a legal and regulated market. Colombia marijuana businesses will be able to import and export the drug and collaborate with markets around the world. The climate in Colombia is perfect for growing marijuana and now patients will be able to take full advantage of the safe and quality access to medical cannabis. Advocates in Colombia hope to quickly move passed the negative stigma that follows marijuana use and welcome the image of a patient finding relief. "From the flower, we make a concentrated extract that can be diluted into oral products or topical medication. Topical agents such as creams, oils or soaps can have higher concentrations of marijuana," said Cruz. "Fortunately, we have seen many patients almost completely reduce their episodes of epilepsy, and where Alzheimer's sufferers have not lost their minds. We have over 1,500 patients in our database, presenting various conditions but being treated with cannabis in various medical centers," he claims.
After working with legislators over the last year, Governor Rauner has finally signed legislation this week that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana, allowing Illinois adults caught with 10 grams or less to be issued a fine up to $200 instead of jail time. The legislation also defines a standard of intoxication for drivers at 5 nanograms of THC, following several other states despite the lengthy time cannabis can stay in someone's system after impairment. According to the law, citation records will also be thrown out every six months unless local government decides against it. Decriminalizing marijuana not only gives smokers a peace of mind, but it takes an unnecessary burden off of the local law enforcement and legal system. The new law, which takes effect immediately, makes having 10 grams or less of marijuana will be a civil offense, punishable with a fine of up to $200. The Republican governor had been expected to sign the bill because it included language he requested after vetoing similar legislation last year. In his message to lawmakers at the time, Rauner said that existing penalties for petty marijuana offenses were too severe and that "criminal prosecution of cannabis possession is also a drain on public resources."
The first medical marijuana dispensary in Florida opened this week in Tallahassee with more locations not far behind. Trulieve has picked a location and received zoning verification for a place in Pensacola, and the website also suggests more locations coming in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Bradenton. The Pensacola location is currently awaiting word back from the Department of Health and further security renovations to meet dispensary requirements and plan to open the store as quickly as possible. With the ability to deliver around the state, Trulieve currently offers only low-THC dose treatments, but expects high-strength THC meds in August. Floridans will also have a chance to pass an amendmend on this November's ballot that would expand the medical marijuana program to more ailments. "I'm sure it will be a well-run organization, so I've got no problem with it," Armour said. "It's something that's coming around so we need it in Pensacola like they do anywhere else. Quite frankly, I welcome a good business to the area." "These dispensaries are for medical purposes only, so I see no reason to be opposed," Spencer said. With an amendment on the November ballot that would open up medical marijuana treatments to a much wider range of patients, the dispensary that can grab the biggest market early stands to make a considerable profit. Trulieve already offers statewide delivery and, in addition to Pensacola, its website lists "coming soon" locations in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Bradenton.
Ohio was the 26th state to legalize marijuana for medical use, but yet so many still avoid using their only medicine for fear of testing positive during a workplace drugtest. It is well known and scientifically proven that THC, the primary compound in marijuana, stays in the user's body far after the drug's effects have worn off. So why are patients still being fired from their jobs for using their state legalized medicine? While marijuana remains under Schedule I, the federal government doesn't condone it's use medically, no matter how many patients use it for treatment, and this allows employers to continue testing and firing employees despite prior work ethic. Until the DEA pushes to reschedule from Schedule I, it will take state government's interference to protect it's patients similar to other states like, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island. With these state governments refusing to take action, it may be up to the federal government to establish protection for employed patients. Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it is federally illegal and considered to have no medicinal value. As a result, federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, which are ideally situated for protecting patients, do not apply to medical marijuana.
Florida lawmakers gave approval for a limited medical marijuana program back in 2014, but experienced many delays throughout 2015. Finally, this weekend in 2016 held the first home delivery of medical marijuana in Florida to a patient with dystonia, a muscle spasm and seizure condition. Trulieve was happy to deliver one of the many low THC, high CBD products they have in stock, and they expect to have high THC cannabis soon for patients with terminal conditions. The store located in Tallahassee will be opening it's doors for the first time in a few days. Patients with cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures, and chronic muscle spasms can get medical marijuana relief through their doctor, but at the moment only 15 doctors are in the state's registry. Patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and chronic muscle spasms can order medical marijuana by contacting their physician, as long as both are listed in a state registry. Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said only 15 doctors are currently in the state's registry. Trulieve will have medical marijuana initially available in a concentrated oil, tinctures, gel capsules and vape cartridges. By law, the marijuana must be low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces the euphoric state for users, but is high in cannabidiol (CBD) which has been effective in preventing seizures.
Cannabis has long been part of the Rastafarian and Jamaican culture, but only recently has the country legalized the possession of small amounts of the drug. Legalized for medical and sacramental purposes, locals and tourists alike will be able to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana purchased from one of the conveniently located airport/seaport kiosks. Medical professionals will man the kiosks and help visiting patients purchase a local permit to carry the drug. For those visiting without an established medical marijuana card, they will be able to 'self-declare' and carry up to 2 ounces. To those living on the island, each house will be limited to growing 5 or fewer cannabis plants. “It would primarily be for people who have a prescription and, in effect, you're doing it for medicinal purposes with a permit from the Ministry of Health. If they don't have a prescription, then they can do what we call 'self-declare', and this will allow them to have the two ounces while they are here,” Mr Lightbourne said.
Coalinga, California City Council passed a bill allowing the immediate cultivation of medical marijuana within city limits. The company Ocean Grow Extracts has been approved to begin hiring it's 100 local workers, and has already received over 200 applications. The city of Coalinga found itself nearly $3.5 million in debt before it allowed Ocean Grow Extracts to purchase a local grow location, a dormant prison, for $4.1 million, covering the city's debt. The original proposed deal also included Ocean Grow Extracts paying around $2 million in rent/fees for the prison per year. Though some members of the community needed convincing of it's legitimacy, medical marijuana has finally been accepted in Coalinga and the city will likely vote on dispensing and delivering the drug in the future. The council also approved the sale of the city’s dormant prison, Claremont Custody Center, to Ocean Grown Extracts for $4.1 million. Ocean Grown will transform the prison into a medical cannabis oil extraction manufacturing plant. “We listened to the citizens and created a package that was reflective of our population.” Keough believes that the dozens of hours spent educating the community on the medical marijuana industry has changed the small town’s way of thinking. “You can never do anything that satisfies everyone,” Keough said, “but we were pretty darn close to doing that.”
An accusation by many marijuana opponents is that medical marijuana is only a front for recreational marijuana users, but how can we be sure that patients are using the drug medically? In the first study of it's kind, researchers found that states with legalized medical marijuana have experienced a decline in Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat the same conditions as marijuana. The same decline was not found in drugs used to treat other illnesses not associated with medical marijuana. In 2013, the medical marijuana industry saved Medicare about $165 million in public healthcare costs, and a separate unreleased study has found that Medicaid has experienced an even bigger drop in prescription drug payments. Medical marijuana programs have also dramatically dropped the prescription rate of opioid painkillers by about 1,800 daily doses per doctor per year. Because the prescriptions for drugs like opioid painkillers and antidepressants — and associated Medicare spending on those drugs — fell in states where marijuana could feasibly be used as a replacement, the researchers said it appears likely legalization led to a drop in prescriptions. That point, they said, is strengthened because prescriptions didn't drop for medicines such as blood-thinners, for which marijuana isn't an alternative. Medical marijuana saved Medicare about $165 million in 2013, the researchers concluded. They estimated that, if medical marijuana were available nationwide, Medicare Part D spending would have declined in the same year by about $470 million. That's about half a percent of the program's total expenditures. The researchers found that in states with medical marijuana laws on the books, the number of prescriptions dropped for drugs to treat anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity. Those are all conditions for which marijuana is sometimes recommended. Marijuana is unlike other drugs, such as opioids, in which overdoses are fatal, said Deepak D'Souza, a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, who has researched marijuana. "That doesn't happen with marijuana," he added.
Florida passed it's first medical marijuana law 2 years ago allowing low-THC cannabis to be grown and sold in the state for seizure patients. 2 years later and there is still no such system set in place, leaving seizure patients, many of them children, to suffer and wait. As many state's have experienced, legal issues and debates have held back implementation of the medical marijuana program, but Florida has seen another setback this year after passing a law allowing growers to challenge other growers for their license. The state had hoped to have oil ready for patients by January 1, 2015, but now the Department of Health's Office of Compassionate Use is confident that the drug will be ready this fall. "We were told January 1, 2015, oil would be available to patients," Moseley said. After two years -- nothing. The state licensed five growers originally, but things have been tangled in a web of legal issues, causing a change in state law where a grower could challenge for a license if they weren't originally granted one. "It's entirely likely that product will be available before September," said Christian Bax, of the Office of Compassionate Use.
After having previously resisted the expansion of Illinois' medical marijuana program, Governor Rauner has decided to sign the bill extending the state's program until atleast 2020. Ontop of allowing the medical marijuana businesses to grow and patients' continued access to the drug, PTSD and terminal illnesses are now qualyfing conditions for medical marijuana. Terminal illnesses are defined as those with less than 6 months to live. The Illinois Department of Public Health is working to update the registration system, but currently those with PTSD or a terminal illness are not able to sign up for the program. A state law allows people to petition to add new illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, and currently the conditions being debated in lawsuits are: osteoarthritis, autism, chronic post-operative pain, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, polycystic kidney disease and intractable pain. The new law also streamlines how doctors approve patients and gives the governor the ability to reappoint members of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. State Rep. Lou Lang, the Skokie Democrat who has sponsored medical marijuana proposals, said the extension and technical changes are crucial to gauging the program's success. "They won't have to revert to purchasing cannabis illegally or consider moving to another state that has a medical cannabis program," Morgan said.
Marijuana has shown promising results in treating many illnesses from epilepsy to PTSD, but now researchers have reason to believe THC could help breakdown protein buildup and relieve inflammation in the brain - problems associated with Alzheimer's. When the brain's neurons are inflamed they cannot communicate properly. The lab grown neurons were altered to create a buildup of the protein beta-amyloid, simulating a cause of Alzheimers, and the THC and other cannabis compounds were able to engage the body's naturally occuring endocannabinoid receptors to treat the protein buildup. Scientists have previously discovered that physical activity helps engage the endocannabinoid receptors and slow the progression of Alzheimer's. "Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells," says Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper said in a statement. The researchers believe that the THC was able to reduce the protein buildup and inflammation by working in the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors, which are naturally occurring in the body. Scientists had already known that exercise engages these receptors, and physical activity can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
In 2004, Montana voters approved a medical marijuana program that would lead to dozens of dispensaries serving 13,000 licensed patients in the state. In 2011, lawmakers went against the voter's choice and passed new regulations to heavily restrict the system, but it wasn't until February of this year that the Montana Supreme Court upheld parts of the law that would destroy the program. The bill is set to become law in August and would only allow for caregivers to provide for 3 patients total, rendering the program useless. The bill would also cause problems for doctors who refer more than 25 patients to marijuana. To fight the decision, advocates filed for a 'stay' on the decision in district court, which would allow the new regulations to be postponed until voters have a chance to choose to continue or end medical marijuana in the state. The group is sponsoring an initiative which would rewrite state policy for the program, but at the same time another initiative may have it's chance to end the program. In the end, the voters will have their chance to decide. "It means a provider can provide for no more than 3 patients, which right there takes the whole thing down and makes it an impossible endeavor to provide. It would trigger penalties for physicians who write more than 25 referrals. It implements the measures that were passed in 2011 that had the intention to shut the program down, and that is exactly what it will do." Cholewa and the MTCIA want to wait as long as possible before the 2011 law goes into effect, because they’re sponsoring a ballot initiative that could again re-write state policy on marijuana. Initiative I-182 would expand access to medical marijuana, if backers have enough signatures to put it on the ballot, and voters then approve it in November. Sponsors of both ballot initiatives think they have enough signatures to qualify. If so, voters this November could have the choice to expand or remove access to medical marijuana.