Ever since states started legalizing medical marijuana, the federal illegality of the drug has allowed DEA and police raids to continue with full federal authority. Raids can consist of authorities stealing cash, cars, computers, paperwork, and even marijuana products - ontop of owners or employees being arrested in the very state that legalized the drug. In California last week, a major medical marijuana dispensary, Care By Design, was the victim of a police raid, but public outcry and political connections have made an impact, releasing the owner and officially beating the federally legal police raid. Last week's raid involved 100 officers, and the owner was originally charged with running a 'meth lab-type operation' with a $5 million bail - certainly unjust for a state-legal company who provides medicine for tens of thousands of patients. A Care By Design spokesperson stated, “The company will work closely with government officials and law enforcement to swiftly resolve the investigation and address any and all concerns regarding our operations. We maintain our strong commitment to operating with full transparency. Our main focus is resuming operations and providing our thousands of patients with the medicine that they depend on. For some of our patients this is truly a matter of life or death.”
Arkansans for Compassionate Care is one of several groups with initiatives up for review to be on this November's voting ballot, but they may be one of the only with such strong numbers on their side. The pro-marijuana group gathered 117,469 signatures in support of their medical marijuana initiative and they only need 67,887 to make the ballot. Thousands of signatures are often dismissed for various reasons, but as long as over 75% are legitimate then another 30 days will be granted to gather the remaining signatures. There are opponent groups fighting each of the marijuana initiatives, still convinced there are no real patients using marijuana. But voters will have their chance to voice thei concerns and choose medical marijuana as a safer alternative. Arkansans for Compassionate Care submitted 117,469 signatures to the secretary of state’s office, which has 30 days to review the petitions and determine whether the group has the 67,887 needed from registered voters to get its proposed initiated act on the ballot. It would legalize medical marijuana for patients with qualifying medical conditions with a doctor’s recommendation.
Most Americans are well aware that legal marijuana businesses are operating in certain parts of the country, but most Americans may not know that banks will not work with these businesses due to fear of being charged with money laundering by federal regulators. While marijuana still floats in the federally illegal territory, banks will remain wary in how they conduct business. Without banks, cannabis businesses are left to run a cash business, pay payroll and taxes in cash, and even hire private security to guard safes full of cash. Not being able to work with credit card companies and banks has limited the industry's growth, but this week a bill passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee that would protect banks from being penalized by federal regulators when working with state approved marijuana businesses. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The amendment, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, would bar federal banking regulators from preventing or penalizing banks for providing financial services to state approved marijuana businesses. Currently, many marijuana businesses have trouble finding financial services. Although banks can serve marijuana businesses, they often choose not to because of fears that federal regulators will slap them with money laundering charges. That fear persists despite attempts to allay concerns by federal financial regulators and the U.S. Treasury.
Congress has had multiple chances to allow veterans and their doctors to discuss marijuana as treatment for PTSD, but it has continuously failed. New Jersey legislators voted 55-14 1in favor of pushing the bill forward, but with Governor Chris Christie's negative attitude about marijuana, he will take some convincing. When asked if he would support the bill, the governor ignored the question and moved on. Language in the bill only allows for marijuana if conventional therapy has not been able to treat the patient, Jim Miller, the co-founder of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey and an organizer of a weekly pro-marijuana podcast on the statehouse steps, said he has asked the governor at least four times previously to support the measure, but Christie has never answered him. "They shouldn't have to fight their government for the inherent right to health," Miller said. The legislation approves the disorder for treatment with marijuana only if it's not treatable with conventional therapy.
Rhode Island legislators approved of a state budget this week after making changes to the governor's amendments that would've given patients large fines for growing plants at home. The House Finance Committee reduced the fines making home growers buy $25 tags for each plant, with an exception for low-income patients. The amendments also remove the rule that patients can only purchase from a single caregiver, allowing access to all compassion centers. The Department of Business Regulation will also begin distributing growing licenses to manufacturers providing for compassion centers. In February, Gov. Gina Raimondo proposed an annual state budget that included several amendments to Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program, including hefty new fees that alarmed patient advocates. On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee approved a budget proposal with many of Gov. Raimondo’s medical marijuana amendments, but with far lower fees.
Medical marijuana is no longer such a radical subject in most states, but some are still appauled at the thought of giving medical marijuana to children. Parts of the cannabis plant have shown great promise in treating seizures, but a more common use for medical marijuana is to treat the side offects of chemotherapy for cancer patients. Children deserve the same access to medical marijuana for debilitating diseases as adults do. While 86% of surveyed nurses and physicians were aware of the legal marijuana system in their state, only 58% were familiar with the regulations for patient access, acknowledging that healthcare providers need to be more aware for the patient's best interest. “Awareness of state and federal regulations can be improved, and clinical trials are needed to better understand the benefits and side effects of medical marijuana in children with cancer,” Ananth said.
The DEA has held their stance with marijuana since the 1970's that marijuana is highly addictive and deserves the most heinous classification of drugs next to heroin. DEA officials seem to be the only ones unphased by modern science and medical testing showing that not only is cannabis shown to be one of the least addictive and recreational dangerous drugs, but that it can be a highly effective medicine for certain conditions. The public view of marijuana has changed drastically since the 70's and for good reason, but now it's the DEA's turn to publically label marijuana as medicine and dismiss the destructive war on drugs. Earlier this year, DEA officials announced they would consider rescheduling marijuana and announce their decision in the first 6 months of the year. Well here we are in June as Ohio becomes the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana - it's time for the DEA to stand up for whats right. The DEA is currently in the final stages of reviewing a petition to re-schedule marijuana and has told lawmakers it will have a final decision by July. Advocates of medical marijuana reforms say the petition represents a chance to bring the agency more in line with public opinion, scientific consensus, and the lived experience of millions of medical marijuana patients.
Israel released a new study recently at the International Jerusalem Conference showing that medical marijuana can be very effective for both cancer and non-cancer patients in relieving pain an nausea. This is the first study of it's kind to be conducted and spans over Israel's 22,000 medical marijuana patients. 99.6% of patients decided on medical marijuana after previous medications failed to treat their illnesses. Along the two year span the study has been conducted, medical marijuana's side effects include dry mouth, hunger, sleepiness, and fatigue. Israel's study was released the same day as another study in the US announced that teen use and problems associated with marijuana are declining, even as more states legalize pot. Lead researcher Prof. Pesach Shvartzman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Health Sciences Faculty said the vast majority of patients reported the drug helped relieve pain and nausea. Despite enjoying relief from pain and nausea, some patients suffered minor side effects. These included dry mouth, hunger, sleepiness and fatigue. Patients were observed for two years. Almost all – 99.6 percent – of the patients applied to use medical marijuana after all other conventional medicines proved ineffective.
Minnesota's limited medical marijuana program only allows for 8 total dispensaries in the state, one for each district, with the next one opening on June 18th. The new dispensary, Minnesota Medical Solutions (MinnMed), located in the city of Moorehead was orignally delayed it's grand opening after patient numbers were less than expected last year. After August 1st this year, intractable pain will be added as a qualifying condition for medica marijuana, opening the door for a larger amount of patients to access the drug. Minnmed will also be opening a second medical marijuana dispensary in Bloomington, also at the end of June. Minnesota patients are currently limited to non-smokable forms of cannabis only, sold in the form of capsules, oils, and liquids. "Soon many of our seriously ill patients will be able to get their treatments at a location that is closer to their homes than we've been able to offer in the past," Dr. Kyle Kingsley, MinnMed's chief executive officer, said in a statement. Patients approved for medical marijuana use in Minnesota do not use smokeable forms of the drug. MinnMed extracts and formulates medications in the form of capsules, oils and liquids. Doctors don't prescribe the medications, but determine patients who are eligible because of a qualifying illness or condition. The center will be staffed with a pharmacist, receptionist, and someone who can provide patient counseling, positions required by state law.
Many California residents have flocked to Siskiyou County for the purpose of growing medical marijuana, but some are concerned the number of illegal grows has gone too far, and now county voters have a chance to regulate the system. Two measures are up for vote that would ban outdoor growing, limit patients to 12 plants, ban cannabis delivery, and force anyone who wants to grow to get a license. While the restrictions are similar to some other counties, advocates are worried these restrictions will make things harder for the legitimate patients who have been following county rules all along. While marijuana policy continues to progress, Californians will also have their chance to vote and legalize recreational marijuana for adults over 21 later this year, which will ultimately effect current medical marijuana regulation in the state. "Other parts of the state have been dealing with the consequence of increasing marijuana grows for years and their new laws are pushing growers into Siskiyou County," supervisors said in an argument supporting the measure. Woolery said her group, too, doesn't want illegal grows in the county but the proposed ruling goes too far to restrict those growing medical marijuana for their own use who've thus far complied with county rules.
Illinois' medical marijuana program has been struggling since it's beginning in November of last year. The strict system has made it difficult for patients to register and qualify, leaving marijuana businesses with very few patients to treat. Governor Rauner has twice denied the medical cannabis panel's recommendation to expand the program, but he has finally had a change of heart and reversed his decision. Rauner has recently endorsed a bill expanding the the state's medical marijuana program by 2 years and adding PTSD and terminal illness. The expansion bill has passed the house and is currently moving through the senate, after which the governor will have his chance to sign the bill. Adding new conditions to the medical cannabis program would certainly come as welcome news to patients and dispensaries in the state. The added tax revenues coming from Illinois’ medical cannabis program may also come as good news to a number of other interests in the state, which has been embattled in a budget impasse for nearly a year.
West Virginia is facing a budget crisis and all options should be considered on how to increase funds, but what about medical marijuana? 6 lawmakers in WV have sponsored a bill that would decriminalize the possession, use, and growing of marijuana for adults over 21. While the bill's sponsors don't see it getting a fair vote, they do believe it's time to start the conversation, even if it leaves some legislators laughing. Colorado raised $56 million in tax revenue it's first year of recreational sales, and this year's projection shows the potential of $140 million. Though marijuana sales wouldn't immediately solve West Viriginia's $270 million deficit, it could be an important tool to help bring the state back in the green, financially speaking. Legislators know that West Virginians are already spending their money on marijuana in the black market, and with neighboring states legalizing it only makes sense to keep residents spending their money within their home state. “Whenever we bring [legalized marijuana] up here, people snicker and chuckle,” Pushkin said. “But nobody’s laughing at the people of Colorado, who are able to fully fund higher education and Medicaid. They’re not having the types of budget issues in Colorado that we’re having here.” “It’s not just the taxes,” Pushkin said. “It’s the amount the state would save by not arresting and incarcerating people.” “There are a lot of other [House members] who support it, but they’re not quite willing yet to say it out loud,” Pushkin said.