Massachusetts Governor In Hot Seat To Speed Up Medical Marijuana Access

Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is being pressured to speed up access to medical marijuana. Advocates for medical marijuana rallied outside the Massachusetts statehouse Thursday as lawmakers held a hearing on a bill that would legalize marijuana in the state, according to the AP.

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Let The Truth Out About Medical Marijuana

The group describes themselves as a registered student organization at Central Michigan University that allows students with an interest in a marijuana-legalization movement to get involved. SAMRC is an active part of the CMU community; on Tuesday, April 22 the group held a Weed is In Tents event. Not surprisingly the event involved a tent pitched on the campus, some music and free information.

Group leader Ian Elliott has been active in actions beyond the campus borders, including interviews on the Planet Green Trees Internet Radio Show and a speaking appearance at this years Hash Bash celebration. SAMRCs Tell the Truth event was designed to give students interested in marijuana policy reform the opportunity to hear from, and interact with, those on the front lines of the movement, said Elliott.

While many students agree with reform, most don’t understand the facts behind the arguments being given from various perspectives of society. Understanding how medical, commercial and legal influences effect marijuana policies is important in understanding the movement itself. SAMRC has brought all of these vital components into one educational event. The discussion features notable panelists, including: Matthew Abel, attorney with the Detroit firm of Cannabis Counsel, PLLC and the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of NORML Adam Brook, entrepreneur and longtime emcee of Michigans annual marijuana festival Hash Bash & Heidi Parikh, President of the Michigan-based nonprofit organization My Compassion Anticipation has built for the panel discussion.

I look forward to participating tonight at CMU, as I get to share what I saw in Denver first hand, both sides of the coin for cannabis, medical and recreational, said Heidi Parikh. The educated youth will end the drug war as they get older and assume power,Adam Brook told The Compassion Chronicles. I savor the opportunity to mold the future minds of America.

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A Study Shows That Medical Marijuana Laws Do Not Increase Youth’s Use Of Marijuana

Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University assessed the impact of medical cannabis laws by examining trends in reported drug use by high-schoolers in a cohort of states before and after legalization. Researchers compared these trends to geographically matched states that had not adopted medical marijuana laws. Authors reported overall no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing, and acknowledged that some states that had adopted medical cannabis laws experienced a decrease in adolescents self-reported use of the plant.

In the regression analysis, we did not find an overall increased probability of marijuana use related to the policy change, they stated. Investigators concluded, This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization of medical marijuana. This suggests that concerns about sending the wrong message may have been overblown. Our study may provide some reassurance to policy makers who wish to balance compassion for individuals who have been unable to find relief from conventional medical therapies with the safety and well-being of youth.

A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health similarly concluded that the passage of medical marijuana laws in various states has had no statistically significant effect on the prevalence of either lifetime or 30-day marijuana use by adolescents residing in those states. A 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal reported: Passing MMLs (medical marijuana laws) decreased past-month use among adolescents and had no discernible effect on the perceived riskiness of monthly use. These estimates suggest that reported adolescent marijuana use may actually decrease following the passing of medical marijuana laws. Read the abstract of this latest study, The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Legislation on Adolescent Marijuana Use, online here .

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Medical Marijuana Advocates Continue Push In Minnesota Legislature

Parents of ailing children, doctors and clergy are intensifying their push to persuade legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton to legalize medical marijuana this year. Our leaders here in Minnesota have the opportunity to heal the sick and bind up the injured, said the Rev. Catherine Schuyler, of Duluth. They have the opportunity to make good medicine available to those who are in pain.

Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, the group leading their effort, held a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday to announce that 100 doctors and religious leaders from around the state support the measure, although no doctors attended the event. The proposal would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with a certain ailments, including children with seizure disorders.

Federal regulators do not consider marijuana to have a medical benefit, so doctors are barred from prescribing it. Dayton has resisted legalization, citing the strong objections of law enforcement and health officials, who say that legal access would make marijuana more readily available to underage and recreational users.

The governor has tried to seek a compromise, offering to have the state pay for a Mayo Clinic study that would allow at least 200 children with seizures to be part of trials, to determine whether marijuana has proved medical benefits. The study could provide new and potentially groundbreaking medical research in what has become a very political issue in Minnesota and around the country. Medical marijuana advocates have rejected the study proposal, saying there is no guarantee that Mayo Clinic could legally obtain marijuana for the trial.

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Medical Marijuana: Considerations For Plan Sponsors

There are emerging implications for plan sponsors that should be considered proactively. Health Canada has repealed the Marijuana Medical Access Program (MMAP) in favour of the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) whereby patients using medical marijuana will have to access their supply from one of 12 licensed growers (as of April 1, 2014) in Canada and can go through their own doctor for approval as opposed to having to apply to Health Canada.

The situation has been complicated by a March 21 injunction that was imposed by a federal court judge in British Columbia that will allow patients currently approved to grow their own supply at home to continue to do so. Recent estimates have suggested that up to 24,000 Canadians have licenses to grow their own medical marijuana supply. There has been a significant backlash to the new regulations from existing patients who grow their own supply who fear that they will no longer be able to afford the new commercial prices that are expected to range between $4 and $12 per gram. Its been estimated that patients growing for themselves can spend between $1 and $3 per gram to produce.

The use of medical marijuana in Canada has exploded since 2001 when Canadians were first able to legally acquire marijuana for HIV/AIDS and a handful of other conditions. As of 2014, the number of Canadians using medical marijuana has grown to approximately 40,000. according to Health Canada, and, according to the government, that number is expected to increase as much as tenfold in the next decade alone.

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State Senate Panel Advances Medical Cannabis Regulations

A California lawmaker has introduced legislation to regulate the state’s free-wheeling medical marijuana industry. Medical marijuana dispensaries in California would have to get state Public Health Department licenses, and doctors who recommend pot would face new standards for examining patients under legislation supported Monday by a state Senate panel.

The measure, supported by members of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, also clarifies the authority of cities and counties to prohibit pot shops within their borders. Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) said his bill is aimed at practices such as one in the Sacramento area where patients have been issued medical marijuana cards after a few minutes talking to a doctor via Skype and with no physical exam.

The implementation of medical marijuana laws has been marked by conflicting authorities, regulatory uncertainty, intermittent federal enforcement action and many, many lawsuits, Correa told the panel. California voters legalized medical marijuana in 1996. Correa’s bill would require dispensaries and cultivation sites to be licensed by the state Department of Public Health. His bill would require that physicians who recommend marijuana for patients first conduct an appropriate examination and periodically review the treatments efficacy, discuss side effects with patients and maintain records. For patients under age 21, a pediatrician would have to make the recommendation and the delivery method would be non-smoking.

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Health Insurance Won’t Cover Medical Marijuana?

But the resurgent Affordable Care Act, which has exceeded its original target for insurance exchange enrollments, offers no relief to patients who struggle to afford the cost of marijuana prescribed by their physicians. And the drug’s status, in the eyes of both the federal government and the insurance industry, appears to be caught in a catch-22 of legality and established effectiveness. On the question of the drug’s safety, Pew reports that, “by wide margins, the public views marijuana as less harmful than alcohol, both to personal health and to society more generally.”

That margin overall is almost five-to-one, and includes majorities of more than two-to-one in every demographic category. Regarding legality, Pew detects “a major shift in attitudes”: “As recently as four years ago, about half (52%) said they thought the use of marijuana should not be legal; 41% said marijuana use should be legal. Today those numbers are roughly reversed 54% favor marijuana legalization while 42% are opposed.”

Medicinal use of marijuana enjoys broad approval, with majorities saying it should be legal in almost every demographic and partisan group. Meanwhile, an unscientific survey conducted by WebMD set out to test doctors’ attitudes toward the drug and found that a majority say “medical marijuana should be legalized nationally and that it can deliver real benefits to patients.” Of 1,544 physicians surveyed, 69% said that cannabis “can help with certain treatments and conditions,” and 56% supported “making it legal nationwide.”

Support for medicinal marijuana varied by field, but even among the specialists who expressed the lowest level of approval — rheumatologists — a majority favored legalization (54%). Not surprisingly, since marijuana is often used to treat cancer pain and the side effects of chemotherapy, oncologists and hematologists expressed the highest level of support for the drug (82%). Though medicinal marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia , prohibition is still in force at the federal level. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means that in the government’s view it cannot be used safely even under medical supervision.

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Tinley Park Considering Marijuana As An Optional Medicine

The village is also considering limiting locations for dispensaries and cultivation to areas zoned ORI (Office and Restricted Industrial) or M-1, which are more manufacturing. Areas zoned ORI would include the area encompassed by the former Mental Health Center, some land west of the Brookside Marketplace and other locations, while M-1 districts include areas south of 183rd Street and west of 80th Avenue as well as some property around Duvan Drive, according to Mertens. “We’ve got more ORI per acreage than M-1,” Mertens said.

Mayor Ed Zabrocki said the village is reviewing its options but would not want to be in a position where medical marijuana is present in the village’s historic downtown along Oak Park Avenue. “It looks like there are medical benefits to marijuana, but I’m not sure that as a village we want to see marijuana shops up and down Oak Park Avenue,” Zabrocki said. Zabrocki said he thinks, as the years go by, mainstream pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens will sell medical marijuana in the store. Under state law, much of the area Oak Park Avenue wouldn’t be eligible for medical marijuana due to restrictions placed on distance from schools and churches, according to Mertens.

Cultivation centers cannot be located within 2,500 feet of the property line of a pre-existing public or private school or day care center, or an area zoned for residential use, according to a memo drafted by the village’s attorney. A dispensing organization may not be located within 1,000 feet of the property line of a pre-existing public or private school or day care center, either, nor can it be in an area zoned for residential use, according to the same memo. Special use permits can include mandates on a business’ hours of operation, lighting, security cameras and other items, Mertens said.

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Medical Marijuana Not Correlated With Crime

When medical cannabis programs are introduced into a state and the facts come to light, medical cannabis proponents are vindicated and patients receive the care they need. Colorado has had medical cannabis for fourteen years, but when the plant became fully legalized at the state level, the Denver police noticed a drop in crime. Even with recreational pot available to the Colorado public, police noted a 6.9 percent decrease in violent crime in the first quarter of 2014 when compared to the same period in the previous year.

Nonviolent crime did not see an increase, despite warnings from anti-pot activists who claimed that dispensaries would be constantly robbed. Speaking to a Denver television reporter, Mendocino California Sheriff Tom Allman stated, Thugs put on masks, they come to your house, they kick in your door. They point guns at you and say, “Give me your marijuana, give me your money.”

Allman’s 2012 attempt to scare voters away from legalizing marijuana for recreational use was not successful. Despite his colorful and terrifying warning, Denver did not see an increase in crime. Another study, perhaps the longest-term study of therapeutic cannabis and crime, published by PLOSone charted crime against medical marijuana from 1990 when California first legalized medical cannabis up to 2006. The study found no correlation with crime. In fact, there seems to be a negative correlation with crime when marijuana is approved for therapeutic use. The study correlated all of the data from every medical marijuana state to arrive at its findings.

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Illinois Medical Marijuana Update: Patient Card Valued At $100

Illinois regulators finalizing the state’s conditions for medical marijuana have removed a proposed rule that would have barred legal gun owners from becoming cannabis-using patients, a person close to the process told The Associated Press. The draft regulations aren’t expected to be published until Friday, April 18, 2014.

Lang, a Skokie Democrat, was a sponsor of the medical cannabis legislation and sits on the committee that will vote on the rules. He had said in February that he opposed the wording and would work to get the provision removed.

Illinois regulators crafting the first rules for the state’s new medical marijuana industry have lowered patient fees and deleted a section that had angered gun owners changes that are going down well with the law’s supporters. But would-be cannabis entrepreneurs say state-mandated financial obligations in the revised preliminary rules unveiled Friday are discouraging, if not prohibitive.

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