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Updated: 7 weeks 3 hours ago

Study: CBD Effective As Adjunctive Therapy For Psychosis

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 21:47

The daily administration of CBD (cannabidiol) as an adjunctive therapy mitigates psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia, according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

British researchers assessed the adjunctive use of CBD compared to placebo over a six-week period in a randomized trial of 88 schizophrenic patients. Participants ingested 1000mg of plant-derived CBD per day.

Subjects in the CBD treatment group “had lower levels of positive psychotic symptoms and were more likely to have been rated as improved and as not severely unwell by the treating clinician” at the conclusion of the trial. CBD administration was also associated with “improvements in cognitive performance and in the level of overall functioning,” although these changes did not reach statistical significance.

“These findings suggest that CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia,” authors concluded. “As CBD’s effects do not appear to depend on dopamine receptor antagonism, this agent may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.”

Results of the prior clinical trial published in the journal Translational Psychiatry determined that CBD is superior to amisulpride, a potent anti-psychotic agent, in mitigating psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients.

An abstract of the study, “Cannabidiol (CBD) as an adjunctive therapy in schizophrenia: A multicenter randomized controlled trial,” appears online here.

NORML “Rolls Out” New Rolling Papers

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 14:04

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, NORML, announces a new partnership with Curved Papers, Inc. to produce branded rolling papers which are now available online and at select stores nationwide.

You can click HERE to purchase them online.

These 100% hemp papers feature a curved edge that results in a more evenly rolled end product.

A portion of the proceeds from the papers goes directly to NORML in order to sustain our efforts in promoting legalized adult use, expanded medical availability, and other related advocacy efforts in the cannabis community.

The NORML rolling papers debuted as part of Rolling Stones’ “Weed for the Holidays” gift giving guide.

Click here to get your NORML curved papers and support our critical advocacy. 

WHO Finalizes CBD Recommendations

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 19:15

The use of the naturally occurring cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) possesses no likely abuse potential and therefore should not be subject to international drug scheduling restrictions, according to recommendations finalized today by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.

Concludes WHO: “Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. Current evidence also shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids (such as Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC), for instance). The ECDD therefore concluded that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol and postponed a fuller review of cannabidiol preparations to May 2018, when the committee will undertake a comprehensive review of cannabis and cannabis related substances.”

A preliminary report issued by WHO in November affirmed, “[T]here is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

In September, NORML submitted written testimony to the US Food and Drug Administration in opposition to the imposition of new international restrictions regarding CBD access. The FDA is one of a number of agencies that advised the World Health Organization in their review.

Despite the international health agency’s acknowledgment that CBD is therapeutic, safe, and well-tolerated, it remains classified under US law as a schedule I controlled substance.

“The domestic classification and criminalization of cannabidiol as a schedule I controlled substance is out of step with both available science and common sense,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “It is yet another example of the US government placing ideology over evidence when it comes to issues related to the cannabis plant.”

Text of the WHO recommendations are online here.

Indigent Marijuana Defendants Will Be Covered Under Amended Contract Between Kansas City and Legal Aid of Western Missouri

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 19:57

On April 4, 2017, Kansas City residents decriminalized marijuana possession with an amazing 75% of voters supporting that move. The Initiative was led by NORML KC, the Kansas City Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The Petition decriminalized marijuana possession by eliminating arrests, eliminating the possibility of jail as a sentence, and requiring almost all such cases to be handled in municipal court which does not result in a criminal conviction. The previous range of punishment was up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. The new maximum fine is $25.

Prior to the election in April, certain public officials claimed they were concerned about the welfare of indigent marijuana defendants who would no longer be eligible for free legal services under the City’s contract with Legal Aid of Western Missouri (LAWMO). Supporters of the Initiative pointed out that this problem could easily be fixed by amending the City’s contract with LAWMO. Now, that has happened.

The previous KC/LAWMO contract limited free legal services to indigent defendants charged with offenses which carry possible jail sentences. The new amendment specifically allows for LAWMO to represent indigent defendants facing marijuana possession charges.

According to The Kansas City Star, April 4, 2017, LAWMO represented defendants in about 59% of municipal marijuana cases during the past fiscal year.  The Star reported that approximately 70% of marijuana defendants are black, in a city where the population is only 30% black.  Studies consistently show that marijuana use rates are virtually the same between black and white Americans.

“NORML KC is pleased that the City has chosen to do the right thing in protecting its most vulnerable population by amending the contract with LAWMO,” said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of NORML KC. “Prosecuting non-violent cannabis offenses should not be a priority in our city when over half of the nation has some form of safe and legal access.”

Attorney Dan Viets, Missouri NORML Coordinator and a member of the national NORML Board of Directors, said that the voters of Kansas City spoke loudly and clearly in getting the Initiative a landslide victory. “It was incredible that with no funding and only a small group of volunteers supporting the effort, this Initiative passed with the support of 75% of the voters!”

Further reform efforts are underway statewide. The New Approach Medical Cannabis Initiative campaign intends to place a measure legalizing medical cannabis on the November 2018 Missouri ballot. Missouri NORML Chapters, including NORML KC, are an important part of the coalition which is supporting this measure. The Initiative would provide funding for veterans’ services and regulate cultivation, processing and dispensing of cannabis to patients whose doctors have recommended such use. The campaign has gathered more than 125,000 signatures.  Nearly 170,000 valid signatures will be required to qualify for the ballot.

Study: Alcohol Sales Fall Following Cannabis Legalization

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 20:18

Sales of alcoholic beverages decline following the enactment of medical marijuana access laws, according to a working paper authored by a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

Authors evaluated the relationship between medical marijuana laws and retail alcohol sales for more than 2,000 US counties for the years 2006 to 2015. Alcohol sales trends in medical cannabis states were compared to sales trends in states where cannabis remained illegal. Researchers determined that counties located in medical cannabis states, on average, experienced a reduction in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

Researchers concluded: “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. … States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decreases in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short-lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law.”

Consumer trend data from California reports that those with legal access to cannabis frequently reduce their alcohol intake. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported that retail sales “collectively underperformed” in the years following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulation.

Full text of the study, “Helping settle the marijuana and alcohol debate: Evidence from scanner data,” appears online here.

Bipartisan Letter To Congressional Leadership Urges Continued Protections For Medical Marijuana Programs

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 20:24

Today, sixty-six members of Congress representing both Republicans and Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi, and Leader Schumer urging them to maintain the federal protections for the 46 states that have implemented some form of medical cannabis programs throughout the country.

This comes on the same day the Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference to discuss America’s opioid epidemic and made disparaging comments about marijuana.

“We’re working on that very hard right now,” Sessions said on Wednesday. “We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length. It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental and we should not give encouragement in any way to it. And it represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges that we face.”

From Rep. Rohrabacher’s press release:

Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) spearheaded a letter, signed by 64 other members of the House of Representatives, urging House and Senate leadership to ensure the inclusion of medical marijuana protections in any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 8, 2017. The provision, previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr,” and now “Rohrabacher-Blumenauer,” bars the Department of Justice from using appropriated funds to prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana laws. The provision was first signed into law in December 2014 as part of a larger spending package, and has been in force ever since.

Reps Rohrabacher and Blumenauer are both co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

In September, President Donald Trump reached an agreement with Congressional leadership to enact a three-month continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through December 8, 2017, which included the amendment that was passed in the previous session of Congress.

Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect. In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled.

It is imperative that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment remain the law of the land and AG Sessions not be given the green-light to enact a crackdown. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers and urge them to speak out about the need to protect the 2 million registered medical marijuana patients throughout the country.

Rick Steves Testifies In Illinois In Support Of Legalization

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:56

Rick Steves with Illinois NORML’s Ali Nagib

On Tuesday, travel radio and television host Rick Steves, a NORML Board Member, journeyed to Illinois to testify in support of marijuana legalization effort in the state legislature.

“When you legalize marijuana, use does not go up, teen use does not go up, crime does not go up, what goes up ix tax revenue, what goes down is the black market,” Steves said. “Seventy thousand people are locked up in our country every year, 700,000 people are arrested, for possession of marijuana, not violent crimes. They’re not rich white guys, they’re poor people and they’re black people. It’s amazing that it’s happening in our country right now and there is just a way out of this.”

Steves is well known for his public support of reform and has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy in support of outright legalization. During his press conference in Chicago, he was flanked by state lawmakers who have introduced the legislation. In their remarks, they laid out the economic realities of prohibition.

“It is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that by lifting cannabis restrictions we can encourage economic development in Illinois,” State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said. “We are carefully considering all aspects and potential impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis, including job growth.”

“Legalizing cannabis will spur the creation of new small businesses and much-needed jobs,” State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) said. “We are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity on the table by continuing the outdated status quo of prohibition.”

A recent poll of Illinois voters shows that 66% support the outright legalization of marijuana, and 74% support an end to arrests and penalties for simple possession.

You can watch the press conference by clicking here.

Make sure to follow Illinois NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website: https://illinoisnorml.org/

Double Your Impact on #GreenTuesday

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 16:22

#GivingTuesday is a day that unites us in generosity and celebration for all that we have accomplished. After the two most busiest shopping days of the year, #GivingTuesday gives us all a chance to give back. This year we’re going BIG, and the only way we can ensure that happens is with your help.

The holiday season is in full swing, and naturally we are forced to think about all we are thankful for. We at NORML could not be more grateful for YOU and all of your continuous, unconditional support as we work for our shared vision of a legalized nation.

During this joyous time of giving thanks, one of our generous supporters offered to match the first $5,000 in donations for #GivingTuesday.

Double your impact and make a donation to propel us to the finish line and end marijuana prohibition.

We’ve made so much progress over the last year, all thanks to you. But there is still so much to be done. We expect 2018 to be even more successful for the movement, and we need you to help continue our momentum by making a contribution in honor of #GivingTuesday. Now more than ever is when we need your support to ensure that we achieve a fair legalization and equitable marijuana market.

Donate today to have your contribution matched dollar for dollar!

Every act of generosity counts, and each means even more when we give together. Join NORML’s global giving movement where millions of people have come together to support and champion our cause of ending marijuana prohibition. Become one of those people today, on #GivingTuesday.

Many thanks,
The NORML Team

P.S. Shopping on Amazon for holiday gifts or just day to day expenses? Through the Amazon-smile program, you can have a portion of your costs be donated to NORML and our reform efforts.  

Canada: House Members Overwhelmingly Pass Adult Use Regulation Bill

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 12:34

Members of the Canadian House of Commons voted 200 to 82 to approve legislation that seeks to legalize and regulate the adult use cannabis market. Liberal Party members, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, back the measure, which now faces debate in the Senate.

The Cannabis Act, Bill C-45, amends the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so that those over the age of 18 may legally possess, purchase, and grow personal use quantities of cannabis. It further seeks to establish rules and regulations governing the commercial production of retail cannabis products. Proponents of the legislation hope to have the new law in place by July 1, 2018.

Health Canada is presently seeking public feedback regarding the regulations. Written comments will be accepted through January 20, 2018.

Additional information regarding C-45 is available from NORML Canada. Updates regarding the text and status of the legislation is available from the Library of Parliament here.

Setting The Record Straight

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 18:10

One of NORML’s primary missions is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults. One of the ways we successfully achieve this goal is by debunking marijuana myths and half-truths via the publication of timely op-eds in online and print media. Since the mainstream media seldom casts a critical eye toward many of the more over-the-top claims about cannabis, we take it upon ourselves to set the record straight.

The majority of NORML’s rebuttals are penned by Deputy Director Paul Armentano. In the past few weeks, he has published numerous op-eds highlighting the therapeutic effects of marijuana, the racial disparities in prohibitions’ enforcement, and the overall need for reform.

Below are links to a sampling of his recent columns:

“Cannabis has a record of safety, efficacy”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. November 23, 2017

“African Americans are disproportionately arrested for low-level marijuana violations — and the disparity is growing”
Alternet. November 21, 2017.

“Cannabis saves lives”
Santa Fe New Mexican. November 13, 2017

“Medical marijuana should be legal in Indiana”
Indianapolis Star. November 10, 2017

“How to heal our sick system for managing pain and fighting the opioid epidemic”
Los Angeles Times. November 3, 2017.

“American opinions have changed when it comes to marijuana, federal law should change too”
The Hill. October 28, 2017

For a broader sampling of NORML-centric columns and media hits, please visit NORML’s ‘In the Media’ archive here.

If you see the importance of NORML’s educational and media outreach efforts, please feel free to show your support by making a contribution here.

Talk About Marijuana At Thanksgiving This Year

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 21:29

We have much to be thankful for this year. Lawmakers in 26 states have passed legislation to advance cannabis reform, including New Hampshire becoming the 21nd state to decriminalize marijuana and West Virginia becoming the 30th state to pass a medical marijuana program.

This progress has come as a result of years of organizing and conversations with our fellow citizens about the role of government in relationship to a plant. Having the tough conversations about the scope of the government’s right to stop, search, and incarcerate individuals for possessing or consuming marijuana for either personal or medical benefits.

And now for the first time ever, Gallup polling recorded outright majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents supporting the legalization of marijuana. The only way to find out if this includes your aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives is if you bring it up.

So use us as a resource – NORML.org has FactsheetsTalking Points, and you can even pass your phone or computer around the table to have your friends and family contact their lawmakers right then and there to support reform in our Action Center.

As we look toward an uncertain future, we know we must work to both sustain our existing gains and to win future victories. With your continued financial support, we are confident that we can bring the era of marijuana prohibition to an end and usher in the new era of legalization. Together, we will be unstoppable. Together, we WILL legalize marijuana across this great country.

From all of us at NORML to all of you, we hope you have a hempy and happy Thanksgiving.

Onward.

 

Michigan: Legalization Coalition Turns in 360,000 Signatures to Place Issue on 2018 Ballot

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 19:42

Proponents of a Michigan voter initiative effort to legalize and regulate the personal use and retail sale of cannabis today turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. Advocates must possess a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters in order to place the initiative — the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act — on next year’s ballot.

The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

Proponents of the effort, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, include members of the Marijuana Policy Project, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML, MI Legalize, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, and lawyers from the State Bar of Michigan Marijuana Law Section. Today’s press conference is archived on the Coalition’s Facebook page here.

Advocates sought to place a similar measure on the Michigan ballot in 2016. That effort was ultimately turned back when lawmakers imposed and the courts upheld new rules limiting the time frame during which signatures could be collected.

Marijuana law reform advocates are presently gathering signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office. A statewide initiative legalizing the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma has already qualified for the 2018 electoral ballot.

Study: Medical Cannabis Registrants More Likely To Cease Using Opioids Compared To Non-Participants

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 18:20

Chronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical cannabis access program are significantly more likely to either reduce or cease their use of opioids as compared to non-enrolled patients suffering from similar pain conditions, according to data published online in the journal PLOS One.

A team of investigators at the University of New Mexico assessed opioid prescription use patterns over a 21-month period in 37 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medicinal cannabis program versus 29 non-enrolled patients.

Compared to non-users, medical cannabis enrollees “were more likely either to reduce daily opioid prescription dosages between the beginning and end of the sample period (83.8 percent versus 44.8 percent) or to cease filling opioid prescriptions altogether (40.5 percent versus 3.4 percent).” Enrollees were also more likely to report an improved quality of life.

Authors concluded, “The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain.”

Prior studies similarly report that patients enrolled in cannabis access programs are more likely to reduce their use of opioids and other prescription drugs.

Full text of the study, “Association between medical cannabis and prescription opioid use in chronic pain patients: A preliminary cohort study,” appears online here. NORML’s marijuana and opioids fact-sheet is online here.

Connecticut: NORML Affiliate To Co-Host Gubernatorial Debate

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 18:48

The Connecticut state chapter of NORML and the Yale University branch of the group Students for Sensible Drug Policy will co-host the inaugural gubernatorial candidate debate of the 2018 governor’s race. Candidates will be asked to weigh in on questions specific to adult use marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform, hemp production, and the state’s current medical marijuana program, among other issues.

Confirmed to appear at the event are: Middletown Mayor Dan Drew (D), former state Sen. Jonathan Harris (D) of West Hartford and Afghanistan war veteran Micah Welintukonis (R). Organizers are actively reaching out to additional candidates.

The debate is scheduled for Tuesday November 28, 2017, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm at Yale University’s Sheffield Sterling Strathcona, Room 114 at 1 Prospect Street in New Haven. The debate will be moderated Aaron J. Romano, legal advisor for Connecticut NORML and a member of NORML’s Legal Committee. The event will be live-streamed on the Connecticut NORML facebook page here.

Several legislative proposals to regulate the adult use and sale of cannabis in Connecticut were debated during the spring 2017 session. However, momentum for these efforts stalled after Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy publicly expressed his opposition to legalizing cannabis.

According to statewide polling, 63 percent of registered voters favor permitting adults to legally possess personal use quantities of cannabis. When considering new sources of tax revenue in Connecticut, 70 percent of voters support the idea of “legalizing and taxing marijuana.”

NORML France Conference: Think Change or Change The Bandage?

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 19:45

Fresh off of an organizational restructuring, NORML France will be hosting their conference entitled “Cannabis: Think Change or Change the Bandage?” about the failure of French cannabis prohibition at Université la Sorbonne in Paris.

Their credo is simple, to explain that reform will benefit everyone, not only cannabis consumers.

From their website:

The “NORML France” Organization is aiming to inform citizens and give support to cannabis users by facilitating the access to the defence of their rights and reach health programs, promote scientific researches and bring together civil society actors in favor of a more comprehensive drug policy reform. Evidence of the failure of the so called “war on drugs” is no longer needed. Together, we are building a fair and effective regulatory model that focuses on health, safety, employment, social justice and human rights, with an inclusive strategy based on the cross-expertise of the cannabis users and involved professionals.

 

Speakers include Viola Ridolfi, Secretary General of Ceryx; Geneviève Garrigos , Former President of Amnesty International France; Nathalie Latour, Delegate General of the Addiction Federation; Fabrice Olivet, Director General of the Self-Support of Drug Users; and Katia Dubreuil, Magistrate at the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris, National Secretary of the Union of Magistrates.

More information about their conference can be found HERE.

You can follow the efforts of NORML France on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.