Imagine waking up in a cold sweat, ears still ringing from an all-too-familiar nightmare. It’s been years – or perhaps decades – since you’ve seen combat, yet the unsettling memories continue to haunt your dreams nearly every single night. This is what life is like for countless American veterans who are living with post-traumatic stress […]
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Ottawa – When he opened a medical marijuana shop in Kingston earlier this year, Trevor Hands had little idea who his customers would be, how much they would buy or how his business would grow simply through word of mouth. He does now. Business is booming for Hands, thanks in large part to an influx […]
Banning commercial marijuana in Pueblo County would have a debilitating effect on veterans who rely on cannabis to combat the effects of traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments. This was the message stressed during a joint press conference hosted Tuesday by Growing Pueblo’s Future and Grow for Vets. With the majestic Heroes […]
1 Jazmin Hupp & Amy Dannemiller (aka Jane West) Co-Founders Women Grow San Francisco, CA & Denver, CO AB Jazmin and Amy struck a nerve and mobilized the movement for female inclusion in the Green Rush when they launched Women Grow in 2014. Their idea blossomed into a multi-state, chapter driven, for-profit organization that today […]
Dr. Stephen Brown has become a believer in medical marijuana. Since registering as a certifying physician 15 months ago, Brown has seen about 700 patients, and he believes it has helped a majority of them. While certifying patients is required under state law for patients to buy medical marijuana, Brown takes pride in his physician’s […]
Bill Wright, 54, is an independent medical marijuana advocate who suffers from roughly 28 ailments, many of which are genetic. His heart has only two working valves and is kept beating by a defibrillator. He also suffers from Crohn’s disease, an incurable bowel condition. “I do have reason to be doing this,” he said. For […]
In roughly three weeks a petition calling on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to sign a bill adding post traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying medical cannabis condition has over 17,000 signatures. “On August 1st New Jersey’s full legislature gave approval to Assembly Bill 457 which would add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying medical cannabis condition. […]
“I couldn’t help but notice your Pain…. It runs deep, share it with me.” -Tupac Shakur, “Pain” What is Pain? Seems to be a straight up question, but can you describe it? I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time now, and I am still hung up. How does one interpret their own pain, […]
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n588/a05.htmlNewshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htmVotes: 0Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2016Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)Copyright: 2016 The Baltimore Sun CompanyContact: Website: http://www.baltimoresun.com/Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/37Author: Andrea K. McDaniels SCIENCE GIVES PSYCHEDELICS AS THERAPY A FRESH LOOK Hallucinogenics May Ease Addictions, Mental Disorders Gordon McGlothlin, who took his first puff at age 12 behind his family’s garage, tried to quit smoking for […]
I am writing in favor of the Nov. 8 initiated measure (5) for medical marijuana (cannabis), The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. I have informed and educated myself on the history, current issues and facts. I have attended conferences, listened to leading experts in the medical and scientific fields speaking about the mounting evidence of […]
Sauget, Ill. – Illinois’ largest marijuana dispensary is set to open next month in the Sauget area, but the public is getting a peek inside early. The Green Solution will sell different types of marijuana for medicinal purposes only. People can buy up to two and a half ounces every two weeks, but first their […]
Columbia, Mo. – Eapen Thampy, the founder of Heartland Priorities, spoke in front of the Columbia Pachyderm Club Friday. He spoke on a topic that only a decade and a half ago likely would have been taboo for any official party event – legalizing cannabis or marijuana for medical use. Thampy has advocated for drug […]
The Texas Public Safety Commission, which manages the DPS, will take a step today that few expected would be possible five years ago…it will begin to put together the regulations to govern the first legal production of marijuana in the state, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports. The Commission will begin work on a bill passed […]
The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners met Thursday night to vote on a one-year moratorium for all medical marijuana facilities within the county. The Stonegait Institute was out in front of this issue, informing the public of what was going on, and sending activists to the meeting to speak out against this infringement on […]
Cannabinoids and post-traumatic stress disorder: clinical and preclinical evidence for treatment and prevention.
There is substantial evidence from studies in humans and animal models for a role of the endocannabinoid system in the control of emotional states. Several studies have shown an association between exposure to trauma and substance use. Specifically, it has been shown that there is increased prevalence of cannabis use in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) […]
It’s been 20 years since California punched through pot prohibition and became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Now, 23 states have medical marijuana laws, and more than a dozen more have taken the half-step of legalizing the medicinal use of cannabidiol (CBD) only – not raw marijuana. While some of the […]
Live Oak – By 6 p.m. Monday, more than 100 U.S. veterans had lined up in the back parking lot of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7263. The group consisted of men and women from all branches and eras of the military. They chatted amiably or rested in folding camping chairs, waiting for […]
Will medical marijuana go four for four this year? It seems likely, but we’re going to have to wait for November 8 to know for sure. It’s been 20 years since California punched through pot prohibition and became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Now, 23 states have medical marijuana laws, and […]
New data from the state Department of Health confirms Hawaii County has nearly twice as many medical marijuana patients as Oahu, with about 11 percent living in Pahoa alone. On June 30, there were 6,101 patients residing on Hawaii Island, comprising 42 percent of the 14,492 patients statewide. The island has about 13 percent of […]
New data from the state Department of Health confirms Hawaii County has nearly twice as many medical marijuana patients as Oahu, with about 11 percent living in Pahoa alone. On June 30, there were 6,101 patients residing on Hawaii Island, comprising 42 percent of the 14,492 patients statewide. The island has about 13 percent of […]
Last year, Maricopa County (AZ) Attorney Bill Montgomery called Vietnam veteran Don Ream Sr. an “enemy” of our country because he had the nerve to admit using cannabis recreationally. Given that over half the country has legalized either medicinal or recreational cannabis, Mr. Montgomery’s comments demonstrate a frightening disconnect from reality. The laws he enforces are at their core, […]
Houston – The Texas Compassionate Use Program is about a year away from licensing dispensing organizations for medical cannabis. Thursday, state lawmakers, physicians and scientists met with Vyripharm Biopharmaceuticals at the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute. Elias Jackson of Vyripharm said his company has the technology to make sure high quality standards are maintained throughout […]
But some vets aren’t willing to wait for its official approval The Army’s top doctor is skeptical that the first-ever federally-approved study will show that marijuana can help U.S. veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s been found that using marijuana has a lot of adverse health effects,” Lieut. General Nadya West says. In April, […]
In the fall of 2013 I began working with Dr. Sue Sisley raising awareness and support for her research studying the safety and efficacy of cannabis when used to treat treatment-resistant post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When Dr. Sisley was fired from the University of Arizona we found ourselves abruptly going from a friendly, cooperative […]
On August 1st New Jersey’s full legislature gave approval to Assembly Bill 457 which would add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying medical cannabis condition. The vote in the Senate was 29 to 9; the vote in the Assembly was 56 to 13. Now, the measure sits on the desk of Governor Chris Christie, who […]
Charlestown County, SC – Jill Swing travels to Maine so her 8-year-old daughter Mary Louise can get the medical marijuana she needs for her epilepsy. “Maine has reciprocity with other states and guest certification filled out by doctor,” Swing said. “It definitely improves her quality of life.” At times Mary Louise has had 30-60 seizures […]
Atop economist spent the summer collecting information about the state’s medical cannabis market and says her study proves the health department’s strict 450-plant cap is responsible for an endless shortage of medication. Current demand for cannabis exceeds supply by 2.26 tons, and the deficiency is forecast to grow to 6.8 tons by the first quarter […]
Hawaii Medical Marijuana Program On December 28, 2000, Senate Bill 862 was approved in Hawaii (HI). This bill allows patients with certain debilitating conditions to legally possess, use, and cultivate medical marijuana. The Hawaii Medical Marijuana Program There are two medical marijuana programs in HI. One is called the Medical Marijuana Registry Program, and the […]
Visitors to The Clinic Effingham on Monday were inquisitive about how a medical cannabis dispensary would look and function – and found it to be a comfortable setting with a high-tech pharmacy feel. Diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Lora Heiden of Louisville said she’s had ongoing pain for nine years. “Just today, an Effingham doctor suggested I […]
Verified August 2016 by University of Washington Sponsor: Collaborator: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Information provided by (Responsible Party): Michele Bedard-Gilligan, University of Washington ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02874898 First received: August 16, 2016 Last updated: August 19, 2016 Last verified: August 2016 This study examines how marijuana use affects processes related to recovery from chronic […]
A bill currently on the desk of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s would add PTSD to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The measure passed both chambers of the state Legislature with broad bipartisan support, but Christie’s record on cannabis is so abysmal that the bill’s prospects are still up in the […]
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n552/a02.htmlNewshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htmVotes: 0Pubdate: Mon, 15 Aug 2016Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)Copyright: 2016 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.Contact: Website: Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/339Author: Jan Hefler WEED LIKE A WORD WITH YOU N.J. Pols, Vets Pressure Guv to OK Pot for PTSD MILITARY VETERANS and New Jersey lawmakers are lobbying Gov. Christie with new vigor to approve a bipartisan bill […]
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n551/a09.htmlNewshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htmVotes: 0Pubdate: Mon, 15 Aug 2016Source: New Haven Register (CT)Copyright: 2016 New Haven RegisterContact: Website: http://www.nhregister.comDetails: http://www.mapinc.org/media/292 THE MISSING SCIENTIFIC CASE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has just issued a helpful reminder to all Americans. In denying a petition to loosen restrictions on marijuana, the agency repeated that the drug […]
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) just announced that marijuana will remain listed as a Schedule I drug and it really doesn’t matter. Although patients and advocates are up-in-arms that the DEA has, again, demonstrated why it should be defunded by claiming there is still not enough research about medical cannabis, they are simply reinforcing the status […]
Sixteen years ago, Hawaii legalized medical marijuana but never made it easy for qualified patients to obtain it. That’s about to change: Eight companies are preparing to open stores statewide that will sell state-tested and regulated medical marijuana for roughly 14,000 registered patients. Here’s a look at the patients, doctors, businesspeople and others inside this […]
Budding Industry The People Behind Medical Marijuana August, 2016 Sixteen years ago, Hawaii legalized medical marijuana but never made it easy for qualified patients to obtain it. That’s about to change: Eight companies are preparing to open stores statewide that will sell state-tested and regulated medical marijuana for roughly 14,000 registered patients. Here’s a look […]
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n547/a09.htmlNewshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htmVotes: 0Pubdate: Sat, 13 Aug 2016Source: Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette (Fayetteville, AR)Copyright: 2016 Northwest Arkansas Newspapers LLC.Contact: http://www.nwaonline.com/submit/letter/Website: http://www.nwaonline.com/Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/828Note: Bloomberg View THE MISSING CASE The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has just issued a helpful reminder to all Americans. In denying a petition to loosen restrictions on marijuana, the agency repeated that the […]
He still sees them, more than three decades after the horrific crash wiped out 18 of his military brothers. He climbed all through the foggy night to find their battered bodies, still seated in the ripped-open hull of the cargo plane that they’d been ready to parachute from minutes before it slammed into a mountain […]
The Drug Enforcement Agency on Thursday announced it was still way behind the times after refusing to reschedule marijuana out of its strictest drug control category, despite the growing consensus among experts that it doesn’t belong there. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and a nurse from New Mexico named Bryan Krumm […]
“Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” — Hon. Francis Young (deceased), DEA Administrative Law Judge, 1988 After nearly a century of “reefer-madness”-inspired paternalistic federal obstructionism, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s announcement that it won’t reschedule cannabis should come as no surprise. Predictably, the agency announced plans […]
Marijuana dispensaries are popping up all over, making it pretty convenient for patients to get what they need. Now one dispensary wants to make the process even easier by adding a drive-thru. Not everyone’s excited about the idea of a drive-thru window for marijuana, but the owner said it’s not what you think. One big […]
Published: Aug 10, 2016, 6:34 pm • Updated: Aug 10, 2016, 6:34 pm By Alicia Wallace, The Cannabist Staff The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is expected to announce Thursday the removal of significant roadblocks to medical marijuana research, The New York Times reported late Wednesday. However, the DEA will leave marijuana as a Schedule I […]
A ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota has been certified for the November ballot, according to a report by the Minot Daily News. To qualify the measure for the 2016 general election, supporters had to collect 13,452 valid signatures by July 11, 2016. Supporters collected approximately 17,600 raw signatures. The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, if […]
Gunter – A cotton gin that sat empty for decades in this small North Texas town could be filled next year with the first cannabis plants legally grown in the state. The man investing in the old buildings plans to open a greenhouse and processing facility to make cannabis oil as a medical treatment for […]
There have been many healthcare delivery systems that run parallel to traditional healthcare in the U.S. They’re the businesses and practices selling homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, or natural childbirth. But one business has grown more rapidly and haphazardly than all the others: Medical marijuana. In little more than 20 years, the use of marijuana for medical […]
Tampa – It’s been two years since Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act into law, and patients are just now receiving the first medical marijuana doses. One of those medical marijuana prescriptions was delivered Monday to Richard Murphy, a Bay Area man who suffers from seizures. His wife, Pam, is calling the […]
How far would you go to help a loved one in your life? That is the question being asked by members of Oklahomans for Health. For someone who is suffering from the pain of lupus, or for someone who is dying from cancer, members of Oklahomans for Health say to get medical marijuana legislation on […]
A former Hells Angel is suing Ottawa police for false arrest, alleging he was charged with illegally possessing weed even after he showed officers a medical marijuana licence issued by Health Canada for treatment of his post-traumatic stress disorder. In a statement of claim filed in Ottawa court, Michael Clairoux says he injured himself when […]
Trenton – Medical marijuana advocates have been placing orange cones around the statehouse in an effort to get Gov. Chris Christie to sign legislation allowing medical marijuana to be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The advocates are calling it a “foot traffic study,” in reference to the fake traffic study supposedly conducted during the […]
New Jersey lawmakers have given final legislative approval to a measure that would allow medical marijuana to be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, a move heavily favored by military veterans. The bill, however, still faces a possible veto by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has often expressed his dislike for the legalization of medical […]
El Paso, Texas A petition is circulating that’s been sent out and paid for by Representative Beto O’Rourke’s Congress Committee. The goal is to send a message to congress that veterans should be allowed to discuss medical marijuana as an option for treatment with their VA doctors. “We’ve agreed that when these veterans come back […]
The pool in the front yard of Dr. Francis D’Ambrosio’s Hollywood Hills house is shady and filled with inflatable loungers that drift in the breeze. An empty energy drink can and full tray of butts rest on the table near the entrance. Just inside, in a home office to the side of his dining room, […]
U.S. News Updates Alaska A member and former chairman of the Alaska Marijuana Control Board, Bruce Schulte, has been ousted from his position by Gov. Bill Walker. The decision was made by the governor as a result of “less than satisfactory” approaches to staff and the administrative process. Schulte was appointed to the position last […]
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials posted new forms this week for doctors and patients in the state’s medical marijuana program to reflect changes in the law, and announced Wednesday that July retail sales reached a new high at $2.9 million. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation last month extending the pilot program until July 2020 and […]
He ha! I haven’t done what I call a “medical cannabis round-up” in a long while. That is what I refer to as exciting recent cannabis news items that I just have to share with you, dear readers. Those of you involved in Illinois’ medical cannabis program know how difficult it has been to get […]
Trenton – Republican Gov. Chris Christie will decide whether New Jersey residents with post-traumatic stress disorder can be treated with medical marijuana after lawmakers approved a measure Monday. The state Senate on Monday approved the measure previously approved by the Assembly that allows marijuana to be used to treat PTSD – if it’s not treatable […]
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Christie will decide whether New Jersey residents with post-traumatic stress disorder can be treated with medical marijuana after lawmakers approved a measure Monday. The state Senate on Monday approved the measure previously approved by the Assembly that allows cannabis to be used to treat PTSD — if it’s […]
The news is gloomy for Connecticut’s head-in-the-sand conservatives who scoffed at the 2012 legalization of marijuana for the treatment of debilitating ailments. That conjured image of a stoner paradise, with nodding-and-winking proprietors of state medical-cannabis dispensaries happily handing out bags of weed to anyone, has not panned out, to say the least. And the presumed […]
Q What kind of marijuana use has Ohio legalized? A On June 8, 2016, Gov. John Kasich signed legislation legalizing the use medical marijuana – in certain forms – for certain medical conditions. There is no Ohio law legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Q When does the medical marijuana law become effective? A Technically, the […]
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Judy Bjerke Severson wants to be normal — visit friends and family, go to the grocery store or even sleep in her own bed — but she says the crippling pain from fibromyalgia and back surgery complications, as well as a painkiller-induced fog, have made her a shell of her former self. […]
Factors associated with having a medical marijuana card among Veterans with recent substance use in VA outpatient treatment.
Psychiatric symptoms, somatic problems, and co-occurring substance use have been associated with medical marijuana consumption among civilian patients with substance use disorders. It is possible that these factors may impact Veterans’ ability to engage in or adhere to mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Therefore, we examined whether psychiatric functioning, substance use, and somatic […]
Rochester, Minn. – On Monday, nearly 500 people in Minnesota who suffer from unmanageable pain will have access to medical marijuana. But by this time next year, there could be even more conditions added to the program. Back on July 1st, the Commissioner of Health opened up a petition period where individuals can suggest conditions […]
By now, you may have heard about the passage of Ohio HB 523, which allows for the use of medical marijuana. The bill incorporated numerous employer-protective provisions to assure employers their drug-free workplace programs, rights under unemployment and workers’ compensation laws, and rights to hire and fire employees are unaffected by the legalization of medical […]
Within a month or two, Arizona researchers will accept applications for a small number of veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder to participate in a study in north Phoenix on medical marijuana’s effects on the disorder. The study is federally approved by the Food and Drug Administration and licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. It […]
N.A. Poe — Philadelphia iconoclast, comedian, media artist, and cannabis activist — has been everywhere in Philadelphia during this week’s Democratic National Convention. On Monday his hands hoisted one of the 51-foot joints that paraded through downtown. When Westboro Baptist Church members showed up to harass LGBT Democrats, Poe and fellow activist Rachel Friedmann mounted […]
Anneliese Clark’s house doesn’t stand out among her neighbors’ in her suburban neighborhood outside Jacksonville. Down the street and around the cul-de-sac, the two-story dwellings each have a manicured lawn, multiple cars in a long driveway and a shady tree. Inside Clark’s house, the mother of four has two dogs, a lively kitchen and a […]
Rumford – Several dozen people attended a seminar Thursday evening at the Rumford American Legion Hall to hear how cannabis oil can help fight heroin and opioid addiction. The seminar was organized by Don Hamann of Rumford, a state-licensed medical marijuana caregiver since 2011. He became embroiled in controversy after the River Valley Healthy Communities […]
In a ruling that could significantly expand the use of medical marijuana in Illinois, a judge has ordered state officials to reconsider adding migraine headaches to the list of conditions that qualify a patient to buy the drug. Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Rita Novak overturned Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirav […]
Published: Jul 22, 2016, 10:27 am • Updated: Jul 22, 2016, 10:34 am By Shay Castle, Daily Camera BOULDER — The nondescript building in east Boulder is like many other in the city; is, in fact, identical to several surrounding structures. Passing motorists and pedestrians wouldn’t know that there’s a multi-million dollar manufacturing operation inside. […]
P.E.I. military veterans now have a place to get medical marijuana advice and assistance after the Island’s first Marijuana Trauma Wellness Centre officially opened Wednesday in Charlottetown. “The main goal is to have a safe place for vets. First and foremost, that is what we do,” said Dennis MacKenzie, the volunteer head of the P.E.I. […]
Last week, UNM’s Integrative Medicine de Taos hosted a large and successful Taos Health Symposium at the Sagebrush Inn. A significant part of the agenda was devoted to a cannabis panel that discussed the restrictions on and effectiveness of the plant, also known as marijuana, and how it can best be used for health care […]
If you’ve ever taken a hiatus from your regular cannabis routine, you may have noticed one strange side effect once your eyes close for the night: your dreams change. They may become vivid, maybe even lucid, or they may increase in frequency. There’s also the possibility that stopping or starting cannabis doesn’t have a profound […]
At the Republican National Convention this week, Donald J. Trump will be officially crowned the party’s presidential candidate. With the possibility of a Trump presidency becoming very, very real, cannabis advocates are naturally curious about just what that would mean for legalization efforts. As with many of Trump’s policies, specifics are vexingly hard to come […]
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by Danielle Keane, NORML Political DirectorJuly 15, 2016 Members of Congress this week heard testimony on the state of marijuana research, and leading members of the US Senate introduced legislation to potentially reclassify CBD. A medical marijuana initiative in Montana qualified for the November ballot and Governors in three states signed marijuana related bills into […]
On Tuesday the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on novel psychoactive substances (NPS), focusing on synthetic cannabinoids (aka “Spice,” “K2,” etc.), cathinones (aka “Bath Salts”), and opioids (fentanyl). The hearing included testimony from two law enforcement representatives, the father of a teenager who died tragically from drug-related causes, and Professor David Nichols, a medicinal chemistry […]
U.S. News Updates Arizona Legalization opposition group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy filed a lawsuit to bar a leading legalization measure from the state’s November ballot. The suit was brought by 13 groups and individuals, including anti-cannabis crusaders Bill Montgomery, who is the Maricopa County attorney, and Sheila Polk, the Yavapai County attorney. Arizona’s Campaign […]
Forum: Medical Marijuana News Posted By: Katelyn Baker Post Time: 07-13-2016 at 02:12 PM
Post heavy consideration and consultation with family and friends — and after a serious life changing event recently — I’ve decided to resign as NORML’s executive director after some 25 years with the organization. In Malcolm Gladwell’s best selling 2008 book Outliers, he puts forward the premise that when humans focus intensely on a vocation […]
Over the weekend I was notified that another Brother took his own life. Former Marine Brandon Ketchum I didn’t know former Marine Brandon Ketchum, but I know his story. It’s the same story shared by countless Veterans across the United States, including myself. In 2005 I was in a pharmaceutical induced haze in “1W,” the psych […]
There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the legalization of marijuana, and we all know people incorporate cannabis into their lives for a variety of reasons. As many residents across the U.S. prepare to cast their votes come November, we figured we’d take to Instagram to ask our followers, “What’s your reason” behind legalizing […]
Contrary to stoner stereotypes, cannabis users are very interested in grown-up things like obtaining quality medical coverage, pursuing life insurance protections after they start families, or seeking “key man” coverage for their businesses.
That’s not always easy — or even possible, as evidenced by the recent experience of TerraTech CEO Derek Peterson. Peterson had applied for life insurance through Mutual of Omaha, but in June the company rejected his application, writing back that it could not accept premiums “from individuals or entities who are associated with the marijuana industry.” The company didn’t elaborate, and Peterson found himself, he quipped, “trying not to get hit by a car.”
The flap drew a lot of attention, and it made one thing evident: The insurance industry and cannabis community have some reconciling to do.
Now, Peterson was denied for his involvement in the industry, not anything to do with his personal use of cannabis. This raises an interesting question: If you’re a regular cannabis user, are insurance companies allowed to discriminate against you when you apply for insurance? Yes and no.
Let’s start with the good news — the no. Health insurance companies, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are prevented from denying coverage based on any preexisting condition. To this end, the ACA prevents them from actually asking for any information from applicants beyond the basics. And cannabis use, it seems, isn’t one of those basics just yet.
“Under the Affordable Care Act,” writes Jackson Holtz, a spokesperson for Seattle-area coverage provider Group Health Cooperative, “insurance companies including Group Health are allowed to ask for only certain information from qualified applicants including age, address and whether or not they use tobacco products.”
Your rates can, of course, go up for regular tobacco use, but that apparently doesn’t include other things Americans may be smoking. In a strange sense, the federal government’s inability to acknowledge the legitimate use of cannabis by its citizens works in your favor here. I mean, there’s still the possibility of being arrested and jailed for it, but hey, at least you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for your premiums!
That loophole closes when it comes to life insurance, however. Life insurance companies are permitted to ask a much wider range of questions about an applicant’s overall health and behavior. Indeed, 80 percent of the 148 underwriters surveyed at an Association of Home Office Underwriters conference in 2015 said that cannabis factors into their decisions on coverage, according to a Kaiser Health News report.
However, some more good news: That doesn’t always mean denial. While cannabis was long classified as a dangerous illegal drug, and its use was grounds for denial of coverage, attitudes have shifted and it’s more and more possible to find a company that works with cannabis consumers. MetLife, for example, does not deny applicants outright based on cannabis use. They’re far more concerned with frequency of use than whether or not an applicant partakes.
“If you don’t use cannabis every day, you’re not rated as a smoker,” said Megan Lantier, a spokesperson for the company. “It’s not really a policy, it’s just that you’re not considered a tobacco smoker. That’s the major thing that gets you [higher rates].”
In plainer terms, the company won’t deny you for smoking pot, even if you do consume more than once a week; being a Saturday smoker simply gets you a better rate. Judging from this report by Munich RE, a major international reinsurance company, that’s the direction the insurance industry in general seems to be leaning.
The insurance industry, though, is still leery of cannabis in a lot of ways. As the Munich RE report notes, “If abuse or multiple hazards associated with marijuana use are identified, the risk will likely be unacceptable.” However, as Lantier alluded to, the chief worry for insurance-seeking cannabis users these days isn’t complete denial, it’s smoker’s rates.
Jeff Zucker, CEO of Colorado cannabis consulting firm Green Lion Partners, said that his cannabis use definitely emerged as an issue during his quest for life insurance. A couple years back, before he was involved in the industry, he was working with a broker at Wells Fargo to consolidate some existing policies into a single better one when he got some bad news.
“They started asking me questions about my visits to a specific doctor,” he said. “I knew that it was a doctor I’d been sent to for cannabis — I thought confidentially.
“Within a week or two they told me I was being denied. They listed the reason for denial as ‘a twentysomething lifestyle.’”
Right, because medical cannabis users are totally partying 24/7, not battling cancer or wasting syndrome or PTSD or you name it. Also, Zucker is 28, so it’s kind of hard for him not to live a “twentysomething lifestyle.”
He was eventually offered a much higher smokers rate, but he balked at the cost and chose to stick with his previous situation.
“I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life,” he complained. “I was very upset, actually. I didn’t do anything about it then, but had this happened to me in the past year and a half, I would have pushed harder against it.” Especially vexing to him was the fact that he rarely even smokes cannabis, preferring to vaporize it.
Kyle Sherman, the CEO of cannabis inventory tracking software firm Flowhub, was able to find insurance, but he reported similar stigmatization of his cannabis use.
“This is going to be tough,” he remembered thinking. “A lot of places are going to deny me based on my cannabis use. But it’s not something I’m going to hide. I’m going to very willingly tell everyone that I use it.” The key, he said, was to shop around and find companies like MetLife that were more comfortable with cannabis.
“I searched for companies that support cannabis use, and what I found out was that there are actually a few out there,” he said. Unlike Zucker, however, Sherman went into the search already expecting to pay higher rates. What would have been a $20 per month policy, he said, went up to $150 per month based on his disclosure of cannabis use.
“It’s an extremely expensive premium to have, but for me it’s worth it,” he said. “It was important to me to disclose the use. As an advocate for legalization I want to make sure that everyone I work with knows I use it daily, because if I can live a normal life we can show them that.” However, he was still vexed at being lumped in with cigarette smokers, as he’s more of an edibles person.
“I have a higher premium because I’m eating food that’s infused,” he said. “It’s a joke.” His agent agreed with him, he said, but couldn’t do much to help him, as the company’s pot policy wasn’t quite there.
“They have to classify it as tobacco use, because there’s no other classification for it yet,” Sherman said.
Indeed, Lantier at MetLife didn’t know whether the insurer distinguishes between edible or vaporized forms of cannabis and consumption via combustion. She said she’d ask around within the company but didn’t reply by press time. The Munich RE report, coming from one of the world’s largest reinsurers, might be the best indication of where insurance companies are with cannabis — and it certainly makes no distinction between brownies and blunts.
Regardless of how you consume cannabis, if you’re applying for life insurance, the main thing is to disclose. For one, lying on your application is one of the only things that can void an already-issued life insurance policy. For two, as Sherman stressed, even if you have to pay more, you’re doing your part to fight cannabis stereotypes.
“We’ve all gotta be vocal about our use,” he said. “Be loud and proud. We’re professional stoners.”
I live in Arizona where, thanks to Proposition 203, medical cannabis has been legal since 2010. In 2014, after much legal back-and-forth, cannabis patients in Arizona celebrated the addition of a new qualifying condition to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).
What many still do not recognize is when the Director of the state’s Department of Health Services at that time, Will Humble (who is anything but humble), included post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he did so in a very specific, intentionally obstructive way.
Unlike any other qualifying condition within the AMMA, PTSD patients are forced to prove they are undergoing “conventional treatment” in conjunction with their use of cannabis. Basically the law requires you to become a patient somewhere else, then come back to pay the annual state fee and certification in order to become a state patient. Only after you’ve done so can you then legally access your medication.
The annual fee with certification is $300, private practice “conventional psychotherapy treatment” for PTSD ranges in cost, and a patient’s herbal medication in the dispensary will run on average around $300 per ounce of flower.
This process is repeated every year regardless of whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a long term illness, disease, or injury. The state wants their nut. In addition to the exorbitant and prohibitive cost, the barriers to navigate, and the lack of state operated cannabis therapy programs meeting their requirements leaves patients with little choice but to fend for themselves.
For many on disability or who are already struggling to get through the monthly bill cycle, this expense quickly becomes an insurmountable obstacle to their becoming a legal patient in Arizona. Essentially, the state is shutting the door on qualified individuals because they have the authority to do so, pushing those in need into the “black market” everyone says they’re trying to eliminate.
Veterans in the state who qualify to get their treatment from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) are also involved in this Mexican standoff, simply due to their inability to access cannabis treatment through the VHA.
Cannabis Inspires a Creative Response
In response to the state’s obstructionist tactics, and Inspired by Heidi Keys’ trend setting “Puff, Pass, & Paint” in Denver, CO, patients in Arizona have come together and developed a plan of action.
Being personally impacted by these laws and a card holder myself, I reached out to a friend of mine here in town who has a mobile painting business, now we’re starting a cannabis art therapy class in Tucson.
Buds & Brushes is the first of what will be a series of monthly cannabis art therapy classes across the state of Arizona. The intent of these classes is to create a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere where cannabis patients are given permission to embrace their creativity in a normal environment.
We want to attract as many people as possible who have been putting off getting legal. Certifying officials will be present at the event for patients to speak with, get additional information from and make appointments with to get evaluated & certified.
Patients need to know they’re able to work within the system, we’re here to help them do that. This is especially true for Arizona residents required to be participating in therapy as a condition of their becoming legal patients.
Eventually we will also be including yoga therapy to further bridge the gap between cannabis patients and the AMMA. Ideally, sharing this will result in similar sessions in other “legal” states across the country where Social Clubs are being organized.
Do you think art therapy is effective? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
The post Here’s Why Cannabis Patients Are Getting Creative In Arizona appeared first on #illegallyhealed.
Contrary to stoner stereotypes, cannabis users are very interested in grown-up things like obtaining quality medical coverage, pursuing life insurance protections after they start families, or seeking “key man” coverage for their businesses. That’s not always easy — or even possible, as evidenced by the recent experience of TerraTech CEO Derek Peterson. Peterson had applied […]
UPDATE 07/07/2016 11:00AM: The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office has validated 77,516 signatures. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act will be on the November 8th 2016 ballot. (Read the initiative here.) On Monday, June 24, Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) submitted 117,469 signatures—nearly double the required 67,887 to qualify medical cannabis for November’s ballot. The initiative, the […]
U.S. News Updates Alaska Although the applications for Alaska’s new recreational cannabis licenses were originally scheduled to have been processed by the end of May, so far just two licenses for testing facilities have been awarded. (CannTest, a testing facility, was awarded the first.) Countless other companies have secured zoning permits and moved forward with […]
I live in Arizona where, thanks to Proposition 203, medical cannabis has been legal since 2010. In 2014, after much legal back-and-forth, cannabis patients in Arizona celebrated the addition of a new qualifying condition to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). What many still do not recognize is when the Director of the state’s Department of Health Services at […]
Veterans from across the country are demanding access to cannabis through the Veterans Health Administration as a recognized medical alternative to pharmaceutical narcotics without facing discrimination and punishment. It is time for our government to acknowledge what has already been proven through rigorous scientific research conducted as far back as the 1960’s and paid for by the […]
U.S. Cannabis News Updates
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act has officially qualified for the November ballot, according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The legalization initiative has support from some major players, such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Facebook president and Napster founder Sean Parker, as well as the Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, California Cannabis Industry Association, and more. The measure would allow adults 21 and older to grow up to six plants for personal use and purchase up to an ounce of cannabis and infused products from licensed retailers, with a 15 percent excise tax on sales. Cities and counties would retain the right to ban cannabis businesses and impose additional taxes on sales. The latest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 60 percent of likely California voters are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.
A conservative Republican state senator and gubernatorial candidate shocked the legislature by calling for Delaware to formally legalize cannabis. Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover) helped pass House Bill 332, which would spare misdemeanor drug offenders in possession of small amounts of cannabis from criminal penalties, opting for probation instead. Bonini made waves after the bill’s passage by announcing his support for broader legalization. “The reality is we’ve legalized marijuana in Delaware and we’ve legalized it through backwards steps. I think incrementally pulling away restrictions and by default legalizing marijuana is not the best way to do it,” he said. “If we’re going to legalize marijuana, let’s legalize marijuana.” Bonini is one of two Republicans running for governor, although a Republican hasn’t won that race in Delaware since 1992.
A court has ordered Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. The decision was handed down by Cook County Judge Neil Cohen, who ruled in favor of an Iraq War veteran, Daniel Paul Jabs, in a lawsuit against the department. In a harshly-worded ruling, Cohen criticized Shah’s investigation and subsequent rejection of the many petitions seeking to add qualifying conditions, calling the actions “constitutionally inappropriate.” Not only did Shah deprive the plaintiff of his right to due process, the original rejection was also “contrary to the plain language of the Department’s rules.” Cohen gave the state 30 days to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions and has scheduled a follow-up hearing to ensure compliance. It’s the first of eight lawsuits seeking to expand qualifying conditions in the state.
Montana’s medical marijuana law was struck another blow when the state Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal challenging the 2011 law that limits cannabis providers to supplying a maximum of three patients. The ruling has essentially gutted Montana’s medical cannabis law for dispensaries and caregivers, but the Montana Cannabis Industry Association won’t take the decision lying down. Advocates asked for a delay in the enforcement date until August 31 and have sued to block the law. In the meantime, the group has an initiative that would reverse the policy, but it’s still awaiting word from the Secretary of State as to whether the submitted signatures have officially been validated for November’s ballot.
New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is now so clogged with unprocessed applications that desperate would-be patients are turning to the black market. Enrollment in the program has increased exponentially in the past year, and the New Mexico Department of Health can’t process applications up within the legally required 30-day period. Patients trying to apply or renew their cards now face waiting periods of up to 120 days. Meanwhile, dispensaries cannot sell cannabis to patients with an expired card, forcing patients either to go without medicine or seek illegal, black market alternatives. The Department of Health is under fire for the delays, but it says its limited staff is already working six days a week. It’s hoping to hire additional staff to get caught up this summer.
International Cannabis News Updates
Colombia’s first legal cannabis production may be getting help from an unexpected source: former members of the rebel guerrilla group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The Colombian government is nearing a peace deal with the armed militia group and hopes the medicinal marijuana venture will generate legal jobs and boost the rural economy. The Ministry of Health just granted its first license for the production and export of medicinal cannabis to Toronto-based Canadian-Colombian company PharmaCielo Ltd., a move that could create a global shift in developing the international cannabis industry.
Croatia quietly made history when the country received the first legal shipment of cannabis extract from North America. Croatia proved to be an incredibly progressive actor among the rest of the European Union by legalizing cannabinoid therapy and implementing a functional medical marijuana program in less than a year. The country’s officials approached the topic of medical cannabis pragmatically, using medical research, media coverage, and roundtable discussions to create a sustainable system for the use of medical cannabinoids. The program, which only allows oils and capsules, is still in its infancy, but the cooperation of the medical industry, foreign cannabis industry leaders, the government policymakers and, indeed, the Croatian public at large, has many optimistic.
While most people associate neurodegenerative disorders with diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson disease, there are actually hundreds of different neurodegenerative diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. As legalization continues to bring cannabis to the forefront, caregivers and loved ones of patients afflicted with neurodegenerative diseases are increasingly curious about whether medical marijuana can help alleviate symptoms. How might cannabis help the millions of patients diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disorder?
Can Cannabis Treat Neurodegenerative Disease?
Because cannabinoids have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory qualities, many speculate that cannabis could prove useful in preventing, halting, or reversing debilitating neurodegenerative disorder.
Juan Sanchez-Ramos, MD, PhD, a professor of molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida, is optimistic, noting that early laboratory studies have identified cannabinoids which, by virtue of their neuro-protective and anti-oxidative actions, have the potential to “slow the onset and progression of neurodegenerative conditions.”
Sanchez-Ramos cautions we need far more human trials, but the federal government’s long-standing position on cannabis as an illegal Schedule I drug with “no known medical use” has impeded progress of researchers who face unnecessary obstacles to conduct research, a point he argued in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed. The government’s position has “hampered clinical research on cannabis for nearly half a century.”
What are Neurodegenerative Diseases?
“Neurodegenerative disease” refers to a variety of conditions that affect neurons – or nerve cells – in the brain. Neurons comprise the building blocks of our nervous system, including our spinal cord and brain.
The Harvard Neurodiscovery Center put forth a chilling observation:
“If left unchecked, 30 years from now, more than 12 million Americans will suffer from neurodegenerative diseases.”
Another staggering statistic: In 2010, the global cost of Alzheimer’s disease was $604 billion, or 1% of global GDP.
For patients and their families, these incurable, debilitating diseases can be devastating, and given the far-reaching impact of these diseases, researching cost-effective solutions should be a top priority.
Most Common Forms of Neurodegenerative Disease
The most frequently diagnosed neurodegenerative disorders are:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Prion disease
- Spinal muscular atrophy
Remarkably, Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for possibly 60-80% of cases.
Causes and Symptoms of Neurodegenerative Disease
Many researchers believe a combination of factors may contribute to an increased risk of acquiring a neurodegenerative disease, including traumatic brain injury, genetic mutations and environmental factors (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides). The one consistent risk factor of developing a neurodegenerative disorder, particularly for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, is age.
Symptoms, which can be severe and can sometimes cause death, vary across the spectrum, but may include:
- Cognition and memory impairment
- Problems with movement
- Spasticity (tight muscles or exaggerated reflexes)
- Rigidity or tight muscles
- Breathing problems
- Impairment of heart function
Cannabis and Neurodegenerative Disease Research
Cochrane, the “gold standard” for systematic reviews of controlled trials, last published a review on the efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of neurodegenerative disease in 2009.
Their conclusion? No conclusion. Not enough data. Translation: there weren’t any good studies.
Fortunately, since publication, shifting public opinion and the legalization of medical marijuana in more than half the country has encouraged a resurgence of research despite the hurdles that continue to exist. There have been key findings from several reviews in which the authors review a body of evidence from various studies while weeding out poorly conducted studies.
In August 2015, the American Academy of Neurology published an evidence-based systematic review of randomized controlled trials using cannabis or cannabinoids to treat neurologic disorders. They found several cannabinoids demonstrated “effectiveness” or “probable effectiveness” to alleviate spasticity, painful spasms, and central pain commonly associated with multiple sclerosis. They went so far as stating medical insurance should pay for cannabinoid-derived medications such as dronabinol and nabilone for patients who could benefit.
The British Journal of Pharmacology published a review in March 2014 concluding that “modulating the endogenous cannabinoid system is emerging as a potentially viable option in the treatment of neurodegeneration.”
In a 2012 research review, Dr. Andras Bilkei-Gorzo made an observation that almost seems paradoxical: cannabis, which we think of as an impairment to cognitive function, could be the exact opposite of conventional wisdom:
“At first sight, it is striking that cannabinoid agonists, substances known to impair cognitive functions, could be beneficial in neurodegenerative cognitive disorders. However, [we found] cannabinoid receptor activation could reduce oxidative stress and excitotoxicity, suppress neuroinflammatory processes and thus alleviate the symptoms of neurodegenerative motor and cognitive diseases.”
Why Cannabis Research Should be Prioritized
Could cannabis play a role in helping solve what could become a major public health crisis? The research so far is promising, but clearly we still need far more. As a society we need to make research a top priority – it’s the compassionate and fiscally responsible thing to do.
Inevitably, the DEA will remove barriers to conducting the type of rigorous research scientists want (and need) to do, and soon we should have better answers to some important questions:
- Can cannabis or specific cannabinoids boost the endocannabinoid system (ECS) enough to slow down, halt, or reverse the progression of any of the neurodegenerative diseases?
- Can the neuroprotective or anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis or specific cannabinoids prevent onset of neurodegenerative disease or significantly decrease our risk for acquiring a disease?
As anyone who has had a family member with a neurodegenerative disease knows, watching a loved one’s health deteriorate before your very eyes can be one of the most painful experiences you’ll ever go through. We can hope that we continue making advancements in understanding not just the potential role of cannabis, but of the root causes of these diseases. Perhaps then we can alleviate the suffering that millions of families across the world experience.
Dude, where’s my car? Cheech & Chong. Jeff Spicoli. Harold & Kumar. Popular culture is littered with references to lovable – yet, usually forgetful – “stoners.” Cannabis and poor memory seem to go hand in hand, right? But, what does the science really say about cannabis and its effect on the ability to remember?
To better understand how cannabis affects memory, it’s important to first recognize that memory is not a construct that can be easily measured. Why? There are many different types of memory, each of which we test in different ways. Secondly, there are acute, or short-term, effects on memory (e.g., while under the influence), and possible long-term effects. And, finally, dosing, frequency, and strains play a big role in how cannabis affects memory.
What are the Short-Term Effects of Cannabis on Memory?
THC, the primary constituent in cannabis that gives users a euphoric effect, appears to impair memory in two significant ways:
Interestingly, studies show that frequent cannabis users may develop a tolerance to these effects. In other words, they become less sensitive to these effects and have less difficulty encoding memories or recalling events after use.
The good news is that in most consumers, memory impairments appear to be temporary. One study found that THC significantly impaired recall two hours after consumption, but no residual effects persisted after 24 to 48 hours. Also, cannabis doesn’t appear to affect one’s ability to recall existing memories. For example, even if you’re really stoned, you’re unlikely to forget your birth date, where you live, or what school you graduated from.
What are the Long-Term Effects of Cannabis on Memory?
Higher doses of cannabis taken frequently can have an adverse effect on long-term memory. In one study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers concluded that people who consume a lot of cannabis over a long period of time (five or more years) developed poorer verbal memory recall than people who consumed less or not at all.
But how much was their memory impacted?
Reto Auer, a professor at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and the study’s main author, said they looked at nearly 3,400 Americans over a 25-year period. Testing verbal recall, they found that users who smoked every day could, on average, recall 8.5 out of every 15 words. In contrast, those who smoked much less or didn’t consume at all could recall 9 out of every 15 words.
While the difference of half a word doesn’t seem like much, Auer suggested that the longer one consumed chronically, the worse their memory might get. But, of those who participated in the study, only 8 percent considered themselves frequent users.
Notably, they didn’t find that heavy users had other adversely impacted cognitive abilities, such as focus and processing speed.
Can Cannabis Protect Memory?
Some studies suggest that higher levels of CBD – a non-psychoactive cannabis constituent – may offset THC’s memory impairment. Better yet, CBD may have therapeutic potential to reverse or prevent certain cognitive impairments.
Early research shows that CBD could protect against brain damage caused by binge drinking or alcohol abuse. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that CBD reduced alcohol-induced cell death in the brain by up to 60 percent.
Other studies have shown that CBD could act as a neuroprotectant and help prevent the onset of diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia, or Alzheimer’s.
Cannabis May Help Fight Bad Memories
Generally, we don’t think of memory impairment as a good thing. However, when it comes to individuals with PTSD, it’s a different story. One of PTSD’s defining symptoms is the inability of sufferers to extinguish memories from the traumatic event (or events) that caused the PTSD such as abuse, sexual assault, or combat.
Veterans regularly complain that pharmaceutical treatments prescribed to them by doctors – such as the highly addictive anti-anxiety medications Xanax and Valium – don’t work well and sometimes worsen symptoms.
Many veterans turn to cannabis claiming it’s the only thing that works; preclinical research shows that THC and CBD can “disrupt the reconsolidation of negative memories.” Translation: as Dr. Mike Hart from Marijuana for Trauma explains, “Cannabis helps people forget painful and intrusive memories.”
Further Research is Needed
We’re just beginning to understand how cannabis use affects the brain and memory, but encouragingly, it seems the adverse effects are exaggerated. Yes, cannabis can make you forgetful while using (or shortly thereafter). And, yes, it can have a modest impact on verbal recall in chronic, long-term users. But, in most people, after a short period of abstinence, memory function returns to normal.
Moreover, we are discovering potential therapeutic benefits. Of course, the old cop-out rings true: further research is needed, especially when it comes to studying cannabis to treat disorders like PTSD, or to prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia that affect millions of people. However, we can hope that as public opinion shifts, the federal government will follow suit and ease restrictions that enable scientists to take research out of the lab and conduct more clinical studies on human subjects.
With election season heating up, a new poll has found that a majority of Americans support legalizing cannabis: 54 percent of registered voters favor legalization nationwide, according to a Quinnipiac University poll published Monday.
The attitudes split sharply along party lines: 65 percent of Democrats support legalization, while only 36 percent of Republicans do. Among independents — a coveted group, especially in the lead-up to a national election — 61 percent backed the idea. Men and women also differed in their responses; 60 percent of men said they support legalization, while women were almost equally divided. And while a majority of voters under 65 think cannabis should be legal, 57 percent of older voters oppose it.
Nearly every group, however, agreed on one thing: America’s veterans should have access to medical cannabis. At least 79 percent of every party, gender, age, or racial group agreed that Veterans Affairs doctors should be able to prescribe cannabis in pill form to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“That is the full-throated recommendation of Americans across the demographic spectrum, including voters in military households,” Tim Malloy, the poll’s assistant director, said in a statement.
“The response from voters should take political considerations out of the debate and allow doctors to do what’s best for veterans.”
Recent changes have allowed VA doctors to discuss cannabis treatment with veterans in states where medical use is legal, but more than half of states still bar possession or use for any purpose.
Attitudes on cannabis have changed rapidly in the U.S. during the past decade. In 2013, less than a year after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize adult use, a Gallup poll found that 58 percent of all Americans favored legalization — 10 points higher than a survey a year earlier and the first instance of majority support. (That number has since held steady; the Gallup’s most recent numbers still show 58 percent in favor of legalization.)
But while a majority of voters may favor legalization in concept, it’s harder to agree on the finer points. A number of voter initiatives have failed in recent years, and even efforts to legalize on the state level have split cannabis advocates into competing factions.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,561 voters nationwide on landline and mobile phones. It has a margin of error of ±2.5 percentage points. Participants were asked whether they thought “marijuana should be made legal in the United States,” with no other qualifications. Further results are available online.
On Tuesday the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on novel psychoactive substances (NPS), focusing on synthetic cannabinoids (aka “Spice,” “K2,” etc.), cathinones (aka “Bath Salts”), and opioids (fentanyl). The hearing included testimony from two law enforcement representatives, the father of a teenager who died tragically from drug-related causes, and Professor David Nichols, a medicinal chemistry researcher.
Though much of the opening testimony by Committee members and the perspectives echoed by law enforcement were reiterations of the same misinformed and proven to fail drug war ideology, even among them there was recognition that the system is broken. Dr. Nichols offered testimony grounded in science, as an expert with decades of experience studying different psychoactive compounds, but the committee failed to effectively make use of his expertise.
Issues around NPS highlight flaws in the prohibition approach to drug control, most notably the shortcomings of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s scheduling of drugs according to their perceived “abuse potential” and “lack of evidence for medical use.” The lengthy process has more to do with advancing through various bureaucratic hurdles than an actual practice in science-led policy, and often has resulted in disastrous and unintended consequences like mass incarceration and the stifling of legitimate research.
When committee hearings on new drug trends were held in the past, like for crack cocaine and later MDMA (aka “Ecstasy”) in the 1980’s, it was often a sign of impending legislative overreaction. While response was certainly needed, as there usually are genuine concerns raised by early indicators of potentially problematic trends in drug use, like sudden increases in emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers regarding previously unheard of substances.
But the response to crack saw the rollout of mandatory minimum sentencing and the disproportion of harsher penalties compared to powder cocaine, which clear racial disparities of overincarceration caused generations of harm to the black community that reformers have spent decades working to reverse. And the rush to criminalize MDMA almost permanently stunted efforts at developing what may soon become the first approved treatment for PTSD, and with at least 22 veterans committing suicide every day relief may have been available much sooner if MDMA were not already Schedule I.
We’ve seen this play out before and it’s happening again – hyped up media coverage of what are usually the most rare and extreme (and sometimes completely false) horror stories involving new drugs alerts law enforcement officials. They claim “limited options” to combat the new “epidemics” without immediate designation of these poorly understood compounds to Schedule I of the controlled substances act, the strictest classification for drugs that don’t belong on the street. Though merely placing drugs in Schedule I does little to nothing toward eradicating illicit drug supply.
Next month in New York City, a summit on NPS will take place to gather experts from science, healthcare, media, and policy to share and promote dialogue on how to look beyond the prohibition approach to dealing with what is most certainly the future of drug use trends in the U.S. and around the world.
Regulatory response to NPS is the next big issue for drug control. With the U.K set to enact the most overarching and unenforceable drug policy in response to NPS, here in the U.S. there’s still a chance to try something different.
Kevin Franciotti is a Program Associate at the Drug Policy Alliance.
Author: Kevin Franciotti
Date Published: May 19, 2016
Published by Drug Policy Alliance
Canada’s largest cannabis conference starts off in solemnity. The Lift Cannabis Expo will kick off Saturday at the Metro Toronto Convention Center with more than 130 exhibitors. The weekend’s festivities, however, will proceed in a somber manner, after the largest targeted mass crackdown on cannabis in Toronto in more than 20 years, with raids on more than 40 dispensaries, arrests of more than 90 dispensary employees and owners, and more than 200 charges laid out for the possession and trafficking of medicinal marijuana. The raids, dubbed “Project Claudia,” have drawn the ire of cannabis advocates across Canada, who descended upon Toronto police headquarters this morning in protest.
Federal cannabis smuggling hits an all-time low. The United States Sentencing Commission released data on the latest drug-trafficking statistics, which showed a remarkable decline in federal trafficking offenses. The sharp decline begins in 2012, when Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis, and continued on a steady downward trend.
A new study shows that those who protest legalization the loudest are worried about money, not children. A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that opponents of cannabis policy reform, particularly those who tend to spout rhetoric about “saving the children” are actually far more concerned about their own paychecks and contributions from lobbying groups dedicated to prohibition. “Think of the children?” More like “Think of my wallet!”
Ricky Williams of NFL fame joins the ganja-gym. Ricky Williams has had a storied past with cannabis use, having received multiple suspensions for it during his time as a star running back with the Miami Dolphins, but now he’s putting his sports and cannabis knowledge to good use. Williams is partnering with Power Plant Fitness, the new 420-friendly gym, and will be the official spokesman when the gym opens this fall.
Trans veteran credits cannabis for saving her life and helping her transition. Transgender Iraq War veteran Zooey Zachow suffered from PTSD upon returning from Iraq, but discovered that cannabis not only relieved symptoms of anxiety, but also helped with her “gender and sexual awakening.”
Swiss scientists jump on the vape train. Swiss chemists have formulated a cannabis e-cigarette for “therapeutic cannavaping,” using butane hash oil mixed with commercially available e-cigarette liquid at varying concentrations to deliver microdoses of cannabinoids as an alternative method for smoking medical cannabis. Vape contest on the Alps, anyone?
Sign in Maine stirs up controversy with cannabis slogans. An electronic sign outside the Frosty Delite ice cream shop in Mexico, Maine, startled ice cream patrons with some outspoken opinions in flashing fluorescent yellow: “WeedThePeople.com,” “Cannabis oil cures cancer” and “Natural cures.” The sign has been alight for months, but the proximity to the ice cream shop has sparked a debate amongst the townspeople.
And finally, a Texas toker gets his butt bit by a thunder-spooked pup. A Groesbeck man was smoking cannabis on his porch when a loud thunderclap spooked his dog so severely that the dog latched onto the owner’s left buttock, leading the man believed he’d been shot by a firearm. The man felt compelled to call police (who were likely doubled over laughing upon leaving the scene). He was treated and released by EMS, but not without one hell of a headline.
If Kasich signs, Ohio will become the 25th medical-marijuana state. After the ResponsibleOhio snafu of last year, Ohio voters have been wondering if the time is nigh for cannabis to take a spotlight in the Heart of It All. The Ohio Legislature has been debating, amending and ultimately approving a medical-marijuana initiative, which is headed to Republican Gov. John Kasich for a signature this week. The bill has been hotly debated—particularly among cannabis supporters—as it contains several controversial clauses, including a provision that allows employers to fire employees for legally using MMJ. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a competing campaign, is collecting signatures for a more comprehensive medical cannabis amendment to be on the ballot this November, but the group will need to collect 305,591 signatures before July for the amendment to have a fighting chance.
Oregon wants you to start low and slow with edibles. The new “Try 5” campaign from the Oregon Responsible Edibles Council encourages first-time cannabis consumers to start with a low dose of 5 milligrams of THC to prevent novice cannabis consumers from trying too much, too fast. The campaign begins just in time for Oregon to start rolling out edibles for purchase by adults, which will be available in Oregon’s dispensaries starting June 2.
Rick Steves wants to see Maine legalize. Rick Steves, everyone’s favorite travel guide—and NORML board member—will be matching any and all donations, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 to support Maine’s legalization initiative. He’s planning a tour in October to speak to Maine citizens about the benefits of legalization.
The VA refuses to let physician present lecture on cannabis. Dr. Sue Sisley is the only physician in the United States to have received a federal grant to study the effects of cannabis as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, but medical staff at the Phoenix Veteran Affairs Medical Center would not allow her to make a presentation, despite approval of her work from the Food and Drug Administration. The recent vote to allow VA doctors to discuss medical cannabis has not been signed into law yet, but if it does receive the go-ahead, the Phoenix VA said it would reconsider.
Federal cannabis-trafficking busts plunge since 2012. The number of people sentenced in federal court for moving cannabis has plunged since 2012, according to the United States Sentencing Commission. Christopher Ingraham has the story in The Washington Post.
Medical cannabis accounts for more than one-fifth of Canadian veterans’ drug reimbursements. Data from the Veteran Affairs Canada shows a sharp increase in the amount of money being reimbursed to veterans for prescribed drugs went to medical marijuana—of $91,557,485 in reimbursements, $20,583,153 was for cannabis for vets. America, please take note.
Teen cannabis problems dropping, study says. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report that the number of adolescents (age 12 to 17) who had problems related to cannabis—such as becoming dependent or having trouble in school or relationships—declined by 24 percent between 2002 and 2013. The number of kids who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months also dropped, by 10 percent in the same time period.
Is your property really returned if it’s destroyed? Pueblo County, Colorado, Sheriff Kirk Taylor is cracking down on suspected illegal cannabis farms, seizing hundreds of plants in the past few months. If those suspects are acquitted, the plants are returned—dead and desiccated. Now people are worried that exonerated suspects may sue over destroyed property, and cost the county a lot of money.
Toke up before you work out? A new 420-friendly gym is coming soon to San Francisco through Power Plant Fitness, and will allow members to experiment with cannabis consumption to enhance their workout in pursuit of optimal performance. The gym will incorporate a smoking deck, as well as other forms of cannabis consumption.
On Thursday, the
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has formally approved the first-ever randomized controlled trial of whole plant medical marijuana (cannabis) as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in U.S. veterans. The DEA’s approval marks the first time a clinical trial intended to develop smoked botanical marijuana into a legal prescription drug has received full approval from U.S. regulatory agencies, including the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study will test the safety and efficacy of botanical marijuana in 76 U.S. military veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD. The study is funded by a $2.156 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to the California-based non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is sponsoring the research.
The trial will gather safety and efficacy data on four potencies of smoked marijuana with varying ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). By exploring the effectiveness of a variety of marijuana strains, the study seeks to generate naturalistic data comparable to how many veterans in medical marijuana states currently use marijuana. Results will provide vital information on marijuana dosing, composition, side effects, and areas of benefit to clinicians and legislators considering marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.
Congratulations and thanks go to Dr. Sue Sisley, who has long been the foremost champion of studying the effects of marijuana on PTSD, and the rest of the staff at MAPS for working so diligently in this area.
The post DEA Approves Study on Treating PTSD With Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a major breakthrough earlier today that could change the way doctors treat military veterans when it comes to medical cannabis.
The House voted 233–189 in favor of approving the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which would allow doctors in the Veterans Administration to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal. The amendment is part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veteran Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.
The amendment was championed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and co-sponsored by Reps. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.).
Blumenauer has been a strong advocate for the adoption of this amendment and spoke on the enduring impact that this amendment could have on the lives of American veterans.
“One of the greatest tragedies of our time is our failure to adequately deal with the needs of our veterans returning home with wounds both visible and unseen,” Blumenauer said. “Giving them access to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option to deal with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions is critical at a time when our veterans are dying with a suicide rate 50 percent higher than civilians and opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average. Medical marijuana can be a safer, more effective alternative.”
Blumenauer praised his compatriots in Congress. “I commend my colleagues for showing compassion and supporting our wounded warriors,” he said. “Today’s vote is a win for these men and women who have done so much for us and deserve equal treatment in being able to consult with, and seek a recommendation from, their personal VA physician about medical marijuana.”
Brandon Wyatt, a disabled Iraq War veteran and national policy spokesman for the Weed for Warriors Project, applauded the measure as well as the support from Congress.
“This is a significant step forward for our cause,” he said. “We appreciate the support and efforts of all involved.” He cautioned supporters not to get too complacent, however. “The job is not finished, because this legislation does not allow all veterans to be provided with the quality healthcare they need in order to be free of the fear of having to self-medicate. Easier access doesn’t equate to equal access.”
Wyatt is referring to the fact that the amendment only applies to states where medical cannabis is already legal, and does not allow for VA clinics to distribute cannabis. Nor would the VA cover the costs.
Although the House vote is an incredible step forward and echoes the vote from the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which passed a similar amendment in April to the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veteran Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, the amendment is not quite out of the woods yet.
The Senate and House bills will need to be reconciled and passed by both chambers before being enacted into law.
The Shake: California Police and Prisons Fight Legalization, and Vets Can Talk to Docs About Cannabis
California police and prison guards are some of prohibition’s biggest backers. Roughly half the money raised to fight California’s upcoming adult-use legalization initiative has come from police and prison guard groups, which The Intercept sees as a sign they’re “terrified that they might lose the revenue streams to which they’ve become so deeply addicted.” What does law enforcement stand to lose? Huge government grants, asset seizures that siphon money to local police departments, and the massive private prison profits that come with keeping drug offenders behind bars. Gawker’s Andy Cush encourages Californians to consider the push as they decide which way to vote:
“The law enforcement community’s flailing to stop legalization also happens to show exactly why it’s a good idea to support it, even if you don’t smoke: Fewer people imprisoned, and less policing for policing’s (and profit’s) sake. Go out and vote for pot this November, California.”
Congress to give veterans (in some states) the right to talk about medical cannabis with doctors. Lawmakers are expected to pass a bill that would allow military vets in states where medical marijuana is legal to discuss it with their doctors as part of treatment. “The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who introduced the bill. “What I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids.”
Toronto dispensaries vow to fight mayor’s crackdown. The city’s Cannabis Friendly Business Association held a meeting Tuesday night at the Hotbox Café, The Globe and Mail reports. Many members felt Toronto Mayor John Tory, who’s threatened unlicensed dispensaries with $50,000 fines, simply doesn’t understand cannabis. “It’s not time to protest,” one attendee said. “It’s time to lobby.” But Tory doesn’t look all that receptive: Earlier today he postponed an effort to force a debate on licensing Toronto dispensaries, and he vowed to continue aggressive enforcement actions in the meantime.
The girl suspended for smelling like cannabis — even though she passed a drug test — is headed back to school. North Carolina school officials have reversed Tameka Johnson’s suspension, her mother says. Johnson was suspended after a school resource officer decided she smelled like cannabis despite a lack of evidence she consumed or possessed any at all.
The DEA is being dragged “kicking and screaming” into the world of legal cannabis. That’s the takeaway from Christopher Woody’s Business Insider piece, which takes a look at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s obstinate opposition in the face of new science, changing public perception, and state-by-state legalization.
Another example of the DEA being difficult: Agents raided one of Montana’s biggest medical dispensaries yesterday, taking Montana Buds and its neighbors by surprise. A DEA agent on the scene refused to answer observers’ questions, saying, “This is now a federal investigation.” Saying that probably makes you feel pretty badass as a narc, but what gives? The state Supreme Court ruled most dispensaries in their current form are illegal, but that ruling doesn’t take effect until August.
Cannabis could be coming to wine country. Napa city leaders are warming to the idea of allowing dispensaries among the valley’s vineyards. It’s part of a broader thawing of attitudes toward cannabis among some cities in the state, as the Orange County Register reports.
“Say Why to Drugs,” a U.K. newspaper urges. The Guardian is doing a series on the myths, harms, and benefits of various drugs (updated “fortnightly” because it’s a British publication). Today’s installment: cannabis.
A former DEA agent says there’s “real potential” for rescheduling this year. But don’t get your hopes up for more meaningful reform. “We are certainly preparing for the possibility of it moving from Schedule I to Schedule II,” Charles Feldmann, now a Colorado attorney, tells MJ Biz Daily, but “I don’t see it moving past that at this stage.”
Vermont cannabis entrepreneurs: “The market’s coming and we’re ready for it.” Forget that an ambitious legalization bill crashed and burned in the statehouse last month. As the Burlington Free Press reports, many are still bullish on the cannabis economy.
Florida legalization opponents launch first attack ad. Cannabis advocates, pushing to allow medical cannabis use for individuals with “debilitating” conditions like cancer, glaucoma, and HIV, describe the hit as “not a very accurate ad at all.” Surprised? Me neither.
Cannabis is changing the real estate game. Oregon writer Mohammed Alkhadher takes a look at what Washington and Colorado might show us about cannabis and location, location, location.
And finally, a Michigan man was busted for having a gun, some cannabis, and a box of baby squirrels. I’m not thrilled to see a headline tying medical cannabis to a lethal weapon, but I don’t mind the association with baby squirrels one bit. Squeeeee!
In a 25-page memo to Congress last month, the DEA quietly announced it would make a determination on whether to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I — drugs the DEA considers as having high potential for abuse and no medical value — to a lower schedule. Since the announcement, cannabis advocates have been celebrating at the prospect of the federal government finally acknowledging what the medical community and patients have known for years: cannabis has therapeutic value and should not be classified alongside heroin as one of the most dangerous drugs known to mankind.
The wild-eyed optimism, however, of many pro-cannabis advocates could use a reality check. First, given the fact this is hardly the first time we’ve been down this path with the DEA, how likely is it that the DEA will finally embrace science and popular support? Second, if the DEA does decide to reclassify cannabis, what impact will its decision possibly have?
How Likely is a Cannabis Rescheduling?
Contrary to what has been popularly reported in the media, the DEA memo gave no indication as to how likely it would be that it would reschedule cannabis. The administration only stated it had received the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) scheduling recommendation and that it “hopes to release [its] determination in the first half of 2016.”
And, if anything should give us pause for unbridled enthusiasm, it’s acting DEA head Chuck Rosenberg’s famous proclamation last November that “the notion marijuana is also medicinal” is a “joke.”
Despite the fact the DEA has ignored the advice of the medical and scientific communities, and even its own administrative judges, numerous times over the last 40 years, Wall Street analyst and managing director of GreenWave Advisors, Matt Karnes, is optimistic:
“I believe the current petition to reclassify cannabis stands a much better chance than previous efforts, because medicinal cannabis has overwhelming support, not only from the public, but from politicians on both sides of the aisle and the science and medical communities. There’s too much inertia for the DEA not to reschedule.”
Bill Piper, Senior Director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, is cautiously optimistic, and says, “I believe at the very least, the DEA will reschedule non-psychoactive CBD — if not remove it from scheduling altogether, and chances are good that they will also reschedule THC.” But, Piper cautions that while rescheduling would be a logical move on the part of the DEA, “it doesn’t solve the conflict between the states and federal government. De-scheduling would be ideal, but ultimately what we need is overall reform of the [antiquated], non-scientific scheduling system.”
What Impact Would Rescheduling Cannabis Have?
As Piper noted, ideally the DEA would de-schedule cannabis (like alcohol and tobacco), or reschedule at Schedule III or lower. However, given the DEA’s history, neither of those options are probable. If the DEA does move forward in the right direction, chances are it will proceed cautiously and move cannabis to Schedule II. Schedule II drugs are considered “dangerous” and having a “high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Basically, cannabis would join an elite group of substances that includes OxyContin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, which, while potentially “dangerous,” have “medical value.”
While classifying cannabis along with drugs that claim tens of thousands of lives every year in North America may seem absurd — and it is — it would be a step in the right direction. Below is what rescheduling likely would or would not do:
Cannabis research on human subjects would become easier. Currently, researchers must navigate an onerous bureaucratic system that since 2010 has approved on average just eight to nine cannabis studies per year. And, many people complain that the approval process is biased towards anti-cannabis studies.
Rescheduling, however, would not remove all barriers to research that are afforded to other clinical drug studies that would be required for cannabis products to become approved by the FDA. The DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have a monopoly on cannabis production. Critics argue that the monopoly limits supply; predictably, the DEA disagrees.
Contrary to popular belief, rescheduling doesn’t automatically ease federal criminal penalties, nor would it make the manufacture, possession, or distribution of marijuana legal. Patients and caregivers could still be prosecuted and their assets seized. However, according to attorney and drug policy reformer Luke Zimmerman, Esq., “If the DEA reschedules cannabis, it would send a powerful message to law enforcement and the courts in many of the more conservative municipalities, and that could result in more clemency and broader policy reform.”
Rescheduling cannabis would solve the tax and banking issues cannabis businesses face. Currently, IRS rule 280(e) prohibits business from deducting most expenses. Likewise, the banking industry has been reticent to work with cannabis businesses, compelling much of the industry to operate only in cash.
Arguably, one of the most significant changes — and one that has been rarely discussed in the media — is that physicians would be legally permitted to prescribe cannabis. Under current law, because Schedule I drugs “technically” have no medical value, doctors are prohibited from prescribing them. This is why doctors in states where medical marijuana is legal will only issue recommendations, rather than prescriptions.
Bottom line: rescheduling marijuana would be a step in the right direction towards adopting a more sensible regulatory framework while expanding safe access to cannabis for patients who can benefit. Further, that the federal government has finally officially acknowledged cannabis’s medical value would be a significant victory. However, rescheduling is simply an incremental step in the fight; ultimately, we need to take a hard look at our current drug laws and move towards broader and more comprehensive reforms.