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.

To read more, visit http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-cal-senate-panel-advances-medical-marijuana-regulations-20140421,0,6251226.story?track=rss

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.

To read more, visit http://www.thestreet.com/story/12676155/1/why-wont-health-insurance-cover-medical-marijuana.html

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.

To read more, visit http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/tinley_park/ct-tinley-park-medical-marijuana-tl-s-0424-20140422,0,1422268.story

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.

To read more, visit http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/medical-cannabis-not-correlated-with-crime/

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.

To read more, visit http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Illinois-medical-marijuana-100-for-patient-card-5412414.php

Health Benefits Of Marijuana

A recent study in the journal Cerebral Cortex showed that in mice, marijuana lessened the bruising of the brain and helped with healing mechanisms after a traumatic injury. Harvard professor emeritus of psychiatry and marijuana advocate Lester Grinspoon recently wrote an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying the NFL should stop testing players for marijuana, and that the league should start funding research into the plant’s ability to protect the brain.

“Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data,” he writes. Goodell recently said that he’d consider permitting athletes to use marijuana if medical research shows that it’s an effective neuroprotective agent. It can help eliminate nightmares. AP This is a complicated one, because it involves effects that can be both positive and negative.

To read more, visit http://www.businessinsider.com/health-benefits-of-medical-marijuana-2014-4

Florida Medical Marijuana Supporters Mobilize For Initiative

To Makris, it’s all about the medicinal benefits. “There are people who really need it,” he said. “There are so many prescription drugs and so forth that people sue that really are so dangerous and cause so many side effects that if they can do something that’s less harmful and less addictive than that’s a good option.”

To Kadel, it’s all about the dangers of marijuana. “Basically what this amendment is doing is legalizing pot. Really it’s a facade to say it’s medical marijuana. That’s not the end game of this movement,” he said. “Marijuana use is harmful, addictive and is a gateway drug.”

To read more, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/19/florida-medical-marijuana_n_5171242.html

Illinois: Gun Language Scraped From Medical Marijuana Program Rules

According to the Associated Press, regulators working on the final draft for the program have removed such language. The original program draft contained the following section that prohibited gun possession by those who would legally use medical cannabis in Illinois: That the applicant understands that a qualifying patient or designated caregiver with a current Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) or a Concealed Carry Weapons Permit (CCW) who is approved for a registry identification card shall be in violation of and may not possess firearms under relevant state and federal law.

As such, registered qualifying patients and designated caregivers are not eligible for a Firearm Owners Identification Card or a Firearm Concealed Carry License and may be subject to administrative proceedings by the Illinois State Police if they do not voluntarily surrender such card or license. By requiring that the FOID card be turned over, for which it is illegal to possess a modern firearm in Illinois without, it would have placed participants and their caregivers in violation of the law to have a gun along with their prescription cannabis.

As such, the program created the dilemma: one could either turn in ones gun to receive legal treatment, opt to keep an illegal gun while and participate in the program or keep ones legal gun and self-medicate with illegal marijuana. The move to drop the gun requirements in the final version of the program was championed by proponents of medical cannabis. Anything that makes it less burdensome for the patients is always a good thing, said Julie Falco of Chicago, who speaks openly about how she has used cannabis to control her pain from multiple sclerosis.

To read more, visit http://www.guns.com/2014/04/17/illinois-gun-language-scrubbed-medical-marijuana-program-rules/

Vaporizer Pens Hide Marijuana Use

Esquibel says she almost fainted when she tried her first hit. Those high THC levels worry Allen St. Pierre , executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, a nonprofit lobbying group working to broadly legalize marijuana use. Marijuana May Hurt The Developing Teen Brain “Between the fact that you can potentially pass out with a single inhalation, or you can have such property damage and potential bodily harm just producing it … these [issues of the vape pen] definitely need to be addressed,” he says. “This is a screaming call for regulation if there ever was one.”

Most states, such as California, that allow the sale and use of medical marijuana don’t have rules on the books about marijuana concentrates or about vaping the substance. California is considering a ban on concentrates, while Colorado and Washington allow them. The sale and use of vape pens is legal in every state.

To read more, visit http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/18/302992602/pot-smoke-and-mirrors-vaporizer-pens-hide-marijuana-use

Michigan Solons To Debate On Roadside Saliva Tests For Marijuana Use

“This kind of testing has been approved in California”, Dan Lauwers, a Republican from Brockway Township near Port Huron, said. The saliva tests have not been approved throughout California but are being used in field trials by Los Angeles police to see if results can qualify as court-admissible evidence, said Don Targowski, a Santa Monica defense attorney who is active in marijuana cases.

Targowski has offices in both suburban Los Angeles and Grand Rapids. Under the Michigan proposal, motorists would not be arrested simply for failing the saliva test but only after being pulled over for erratic driving. Then the saliva test would add confirming evidence, just as portable breath testers do in cases of drunken drivers to justify an arrest, Lauwers said. What were really after is repeat offenders, he said.

The spur for the bill was a double-fatal crash last year in St. Clair County in which a repeat offender drove under the influence of pain killers not marijuana, he said.

To read more, visit http://www.freep.com/article/20140417/NEWS06/304170032/medical-marijuana-THC-saliva-testing-drugged-driving