Cannabis

U.S. Trump Reserves Right To Ignore Medical Marijuana Protections

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

President Trump signed his first major piece of legislation last Friday -- a $1 trillion spending bill that prevented a federal government shutdown -- but with his signature he included the reservation that he may ignore medical cannabis protections found in the bill.

“I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” President Trump wrote in his signing statement, according to a Summit Daily report.

Trump's statement has created confusion on how Trump is going to deal with marijuana. In one interview he said, “Legalized marijuana is always a very difficult question. For medicinal purposes and medical purposes, it’s fine.”

But since moving into the White House, he has seemed less open to the idea. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said there could be “greater enforcement” of federal cannabis laws.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions spoke out about cannabis in March, saying it is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. He also said that medical marijuana “had been hyped, maybe too much.”

However, Sessions suggested he would protect state’s rights to legalize medical marijuana.

Chile: Pharmacies Set To Dispense Medical Marijuana This Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pharmacies in Santiago, Chile will begin selling medical marijuana products this week, as the nation's legislature is considering allowing patients to grow small amounts at home, according to a report in Reuters. The products will be imported by Canadian licensed producer Tilray in partnership with Alef Biotechnology, which is licensed by the Chilean government.

The Tilray products, T100 and TC100, will cost about $310 per month for individuals with a prescription. Medical marijuana was made legal in Chile in 2015, but mmj therapies were only available through a limited number of dedicated farms set up by a charity.

“By importing Tilray’s medical cannabis products to Chile we intend to ease the suffering of those in need by offering pure, precise and predictable medical cannabis products,” Roberto Roizman, Alef board president, said in a statement.

Chile's first medical marijuana crop was harvested in April by Australia’s AusCann Holdings and Chile’s Fundacion Daya. Those establishments must complete successful clinical trials before being registered with the Chilean Institute of Public Health and made available for patients, however.

Canada: Labor Union Adds Medical Marijuana To Health Benefits Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A labor union in Windsor, Ontario, Canada is now offering medical marijuana coverage options through its health benefit plans in an effort to fight the use of opioid-based pharmaceuticals by its members, according to a report by the CBC.

The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) 625 will expand their benefits plan to cover full-plant medical cannabis for its retired or permanently injured members but will only cover reduced THC cannabis oils for members still on the job.

Members will have to pay out-of-pocket for the products and will be reimbursed.

Rob Petroni, business manager for LiUNA, said the “most important part” of the new plan is to “reduce the opioid use and/or abuse” and that because they are able to track the supply chain, “there’s no chance of manipulating the system.”

“Now that we’ve added this, we’re hoping more doctors … will move towards prescribing the cannabis oil as opposed to the opioids,” Petroni said in the report. “We’re able to keep an eye on exactly who’s prescribing (cannabis), how much is being prescribed.”

The union plans to monitor opioid prescriptions to track reduction as the medical marijuana benefits are rolled out June 15. Their data might help convince other benefits plans to offer their own program.

Georgia: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Patients suffering from AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette’s syndrome, and those in hospice care are now able to possess low-THC cannabis oil. There is no legal way to obtain it in the state, however.

The bill would have initially dropped the allowable THC content from 5 percent to 3 percent, but the chamber agreed to keep the 5 percent threshold intact after law enforcement and public health officials reported that there were no issues with the THC content.

State Rep. Allen Peake said the expansion offers patients “a ray of hope for a better quality of life.”

“My hope is that in 2018 we can fill the gaping hole that still remains, and provide legal access to medical cannabis oil here in our state with a safe, lab tested product produced within our own borders,” Peake said in a statement. “The job will not be finished until we accomplish this task.”

Peake, a Republican, has been supplying cannabis oils to some of the state’s registered patients and is the author of the House version of the newly-signed bill.

Georgia has 1,738 patients and 354 physicians registered with the medical marijuana program.

Vermont: Legislature First To Pass Marijuana Legalization Measure

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont's legislature has approved a bill that would legalize marijuana possession and small grows for adults and would create a Marijuana Regulation Commission that will draft legislation for a tax-and-regulate system.

The passage of this bill makes Vermont's legislature the first one to approve ending marijuana prohibition.

If Republican Governor Phil Scott signs the bill, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to two mature and four immature plants beginning on July 1, 2018.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a report from The Hill. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

The measure was a compromise between the House -- who passed their own bill last week to legalize possession and small grows -- and the Senate, who passed a tax-and-regulate measure last week.

The Hill reported that the governor has not indicated whether he will sign the measure and has previously said cannabis legalization was not “a priority.”

Vermont: Senate Passes Compromise Marijuana Bill, House Extends Session

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont's Senate passed a compromise bill on marijuana legalization Friday which could be taken up by the House on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. Two versions were passed last week-- the House version would allow adult possession and cultivation, while the Senate version would implement a taxed and regulated regime.

The legislature had planned to adjourn on Saturday, leaving both bills hanging, but Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said the chamber would reconvene on Wednesday. The compromise legislation would legalize possession of small amounts and limited home grows by adults beginning in July 2018, but at present it is not clear if the House will take the legislation up. A commission would develop a tax-and-regulate scheme and present it to the legislature next year.

Sen. Dick Sears, a Democrat who advocates legalization, said the compromise is “a way for Vermont to join two other New England states (Massachusetts and Maine) to have a legalized, regulated seed-to-sale system at some point in the hopefully near future.”

The measure passed the chamber 20-9. But Republican Governor Phil Scott has not supported any plan legalizing marijuana and there is no guarantee he will sign the measure if it makes it to his desk.

Germany: Study Shows Marijuana Could Help Reverse Brain Aging

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Researchers from Germany's University of Bonn report that low doses of THC can help reverse some of the effects of brain aging and assist in restoring memory. Colleagues from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel agree with them according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine. The researchers used mice in the studies, and found that old animals were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with prolonged low-dose THC treatments.

“The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” Andreas Zimmer, from the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation, said in a Neuroscience News report. “With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces. When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid aging in the brain.”

Vermont: House Passes Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill, Goes To Governor

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont's House has passed a measure that would double the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state and would expand the qualifying condition list. The measure passed the Senate in February and now goes to the desk of Governor Phil Scott.

The bill adds Chron's disease, Parkinson's disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana and increases the number of dispensaries in the state to eight.

The bill also eliminates some of the red tape that could prevent some patients from accessing the program. It removes language that requires an applicant to have their application notarized and requirements that a physician provide a statement that other medical efforts had been made “over a reasonable amount of time without success to relieve symptoms.” The bill also adds language to protect physicians, requiring that their recommendations to include a statement that they are not prescribing marijuana, but instead confirming the patient has the qualifying condition.

If Governor Scott signs the bill, the Department of Public Safety will begin accepting applications for the four additional dispensaries on July 1.

Kansas: Grandmother With Terminal Cancer Jailed For Prescribed Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Angela Kastner, a grandmother from Wichita, Kansas, was sentenced to 48 hours in jail this week for driving under the influence. There was no alcohol in her system, but she tested positive for traces of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes a "high."

However, the THC came from Marinol, a synthetic medical marijuana product approved by the FDA and prescribed to Kastner by her doctor to suppress nausea from chemotherapy. She is undergoing chemotherapy for what is likely terminal colorectal cancer. Kansas is one of only three states where medical marijuana remains completely illegal, but Marinol has been legal nationwide since 1985.

Kastner was locked up anyway. "I miss my chemo tomorrow and I miss my doctors appointment tomorrow," she said. "I feel sorry for the next cancer patient who has to go through anything I have had to go through. They shouldn't have to do this at the end of their life."

Colorado: NFL Players Fight Pain With Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine former professional football players, all members of the Denver Broncos Alumni Association, met recently at CW Hemp offices in Boulder, CO for a tour and a firsthand lesson on the potential benefits of the marijuana plant. They all suffer daily from aches and pains that are a result of the combined nearly 700 NFL games in which they have played.

“Every day, I wake up in pain, from my ankles to my neck,” said Ebenezer Ekuban, 40, who played defensive end for nine NFL seasons. “It’s part of the territory. I know what I signed up for.”

Football players have treated pain for years with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, powerful prescription painkillers, and alcohol. One study says that retired NFL players use opioids at four times the rate of the general population. Marijuana advocates say there's a safer, healthier alternative available.

“This pain is never going away. My body is damaged,” said Eugene Monroe, 30, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens last year just three weeks after becoming the first active player to publicly call on the NFL to permit medical marijuana. “I have to manage it somehow. Managing it with pills was slowly killing me. Now I’m able to function and be extremely efficient by figuring out how to use different formulations of cannabis.”

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Calls Marijuana Legalization 'Beyond Stupidity'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the push for cannabis legalization “beyond stupidity,” adding that it’s “not time for use to be cool and say, ‘Pot’s OK,’” during a forum on substance abuse hosted by the New Jersey Hospital Association, NJ.com reports.

“We are in the midst of the public health crisis on opiates,” Christie said during his remarks. “But people are saying pot’s OK. This is nothing more than crazy liberals who want to say everything’s OK. Baloney.”

Christie rallied against pro-legalization politicians, including Democrat Phil Murphy who is the favorite in this year’s gubernatorial campaign in the state.

“People like [Rep.] Nick Scutari and [Senate President] Steve Sweeney and Phil Murphy want to bring this poison, legalized, into this state under the premise that, well, it doesn’t matter because people can buy it illegally anyway,” Christie said in the report. “Then why not legalize heroin? I mean, their argument fails just on that basis. Let’s legalize cocaine. Let’s legalize angel dust. Let’s legalize all of it. What’s the difference? Let everybody choose.”

Democrat Scutari is the main sponsor of legalization legislation expected to be introduced in the legislature next year. Sweeney has indicated he would support the bill.

Mexico: President's Signature Will Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Mexico’s lower House of Congress passed a bill Friday that will legalize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes, according to a report from Reuters. The Senate approved the measure in December and now it goes to the desk of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is expected to sign it.

“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes,” the Lower House said in a statement posted to its website.

A bill that would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana in Mexico was introduced more than a year ago but has been stalled in the Senate.

Washington: Lawmakers Say Inflatable Tube Men Can't Sell Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On April 20, the unofficial cannabis holiday, Washington lawmakers voted to ban the use of "inflatable tube displays, persons in costume, or wearing, holding, or spinning a sign with a marijuana-related commercial message" by retail businesses selling cannabis products.

The marijuana bill also has some positive aspects as well, such as allowing Washington residents to share marijuana with other legal adults for the first time, and allowing cannabis retailers to operate five dispensaries. Presently they are limited to three dispensaries.

The stated purpose of this prohibition of marijuana-promoting blow-up ads is to protect children. Current regulations already prohibit marijuana advertisements from using cartoon characters, toys or other depictions deemed "especially appealing to children or other persons under legal age to consume marijuana."

But Washington legislators felt that a number of outdoor advertisements from recreational dispensaries were flouting the spirit, if not the letter of the law.

Images of a billboard put up by Clear Choice Cannabis in Tacoma were circulated around the Washington legislature as proof of cannabis businesses potentially targeting children. It featured a cat wearing a "thug life" collar along with text saying "I'm so high right meow."

Minnesota: Authorities Find $1.4 Million Worth Of Marijuana Smuggled In New Ford Fusions

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Police in the state of Minnesota have found approximately 1,100 pounds of marijuana hidden in the trunks of around 22 brand-new Ford Fusions manufactured and shipped from Mexico's Ford plant in February and March of this year, Alpha News reports. The total street value of the marijuana seized is around $1.4 million.

It began in February, when St. Paul authorities discovered 80 pounds of marijuana hidden in the spare tire wells of two Fusions ready for delivery in a railway vehicle holding lot. Authorities soon learned the cars were part of a larger group of 15 cars -- 13 of which had already been delivered to dealerships.

Police tracked down the remaining cars and found a 40-60 pound brick of marijuana in the spare tire well of each one. One of the Ford Fusions recovered had already been sold to an 86 year-old man. Police in Dillworth, Minnesota later found an additional 217 pounds of marijuana in seven more Ford Fusions after railroad employees discovered the drugs during a routine inspection.

Authorities believe the marijuana was placed in the cars by members of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel as they were loaded onto train cars for shipment to the US, and that the plan was to have someone break into the railway cars once they reached the US and recover the marijuana to be distributed.

Alaska: Feds Block Rainforest Farms From Paying Taxes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rainforest Farms, Juneau's first legal marijuana retailer, was turned away late last month by the U.S Postal Service when one of its owners attempted to mail a regularly scheduled tax payment to Anchorage. Anchorage is the only place in the state equipped to take cash deposits.

“Any proceeds from the selling of (marijuana) is considered drug proceeds under federal law, so you can’t mail that,” Postal inspector Aaron Behnen told the Empire from Anchorage.

Ken Alper, Alaska Department of Revenue Tax Division Director, said in an interview that the state needs to find a way for “these legitimate businesspeople to pay their taxes. We thought we had done that, and this throws a tremendous wrinkle into our processes.”

Even though eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, cannabis businesses remain mostly locked out of the banking system.

Marijuana is still illegal federally, so any business that deals with it is in violation of federal law. The U.S. Department of Justice stated in a 2013 memo that it would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, but that policy could change at any time.

Georgia: GOP Rep. Allen Peake Supplying Low-THC Oils To State's Registered Patients

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Republican Rep. Allen Peake is supplying low-THC cannabis oils to Georgia patients due to the state's limited laws that allow them to possess the products but offer no way for them to cultivate, import, or purchase them, the Associated Press reports. Peake, a major advocate for Georgia's medical marijuana law, has helped families move to Colorado in the past so they would have legal access to medical marijuana treatments.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to be able to help get product to these families, these citizens who have debilitating illnesses,” Peake said in the report. He added that he doesn’t know , and doesn’t ask, who delivers the boxes of cannabis oil to his Macon office.

He said that he makes a donation to a medical cannabis research foundation in Colorado each time a box is delivered, and that the donations total about $100,000 per year. Peake is allowed to legally possess the oil because he has obtained a medical marijuana card from the Georgia Department of Public Health, despite the fact that he is not considered a qualified patient under the state’s rules.

In Georgia, about 1,300 patients are enrolled in the state program and, aside from Peake, their only option to obtain the oil is online, which is against federal law.

Colorado: Gov. Hickenlooper Meets With AG Sessions, Hopeful Administration Will Maintain Status Quo

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and came away with the feeling that a federal crackdown on states with legalized marijuana is not likely, the Denver Post reports. Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Doug Friednash indicated that Sessions is more focused on other priorities, such as the proposed border wall, than he is with legal marijuana markets.

Friednash said that Sessions viewed the 2014 Cole memo as “not too far from good policy.” The Cole memo directs the Department of Justice to not interfere in state-sanctioned cannabis programs.

Hickenlooper pointed out to the attorney general that since legalization there has been no rise in teenage cannabis use in the state, and that emergency room visits have steadily decreased as officials have enacted laws to better regulate cannabis-infused edibles.

Colorado lawmakers backed off a plan earlier this month to legalize cannabis social clubs, after Hickenlooper indicated he did not support the plan due to fears that it could attract federal intervention.

Maryland: Governor Orders Medical Marijuana Industry Diversity Study

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has ordered a study into whether minorities are at a disadvantage when trying to obtain business licenses for the state's medical marijuana program. The study will be coordinated by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, and the Department of Transportation.

The governor wants the study to be completed as soon as possible, according to Jimmy H. Rhee, special secretary of minority affairs.

“As the issue of promoting diversity is of great importance to me and my administration, your office should begin this process immediately in order to ensure opportunities for minority participation in the industry,” Hogan wrote in the directive to Rhee.

Two lawsuits are currently pending against the MMCC by minority-led companies over denials of their business license applications.

Washington, DC: Garrett Announces Press Conference On Federal Marijuana Deregulation Legislation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A press release was issued today by 5th District Congressman Tom Garrett announcing details for a press conference highlighting H.R. 1227 - the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.

H.R. 1227 seeks specifically to remove marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols from the federal schedule of controlled substances, thereby leaving regulation up to the states.

In a February 27 press release, Garrett stated:

"I have long believed justice that isn't blind, isn't justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce. Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California."

The press conference will be held on May 17, 2017 at 2:00 PM at House Triangle, just outside the U.S. Capitol (back-up rain location to be determined).

Speakers planned for the conference are U.S. Congressman Tom Garrett, parents of Haley Smith, Sophia Miller, and Jennifer Collins (children with medical conditions such as epilepsy who are benefiting from medical marijuana), and several other bipartisan members of Congress that have cosponsored this legislation who have sent in tentative confirmations, such as U.S. Congressman Scott Taylor.

Georgia: Study Shows Medical Marijuana Legalization Leads To Lower Medicaid Costs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Patients use fewer prescription drugs in states where medical marijuana is legal, according to data published in the journal Health Affairs.

Investigators at the University of Georgia assessed the association between medical marijuana regulations and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries between the years 2007 and 2014.

Researchers reported, "[T]he use of prescription drugs in fee-for-service Medicaid was lower in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without such laws in five of the nine broad clinical areas we studied." They added, "If all states had had a medical marijuana law in 2014, we estimated that total savings for fee-for-service Medicaid could have been $1.01 billion."

The team previously published a report in 2016 that medical cannabis access was associated with significantly reduced spending by patients on Medicare Part D approved prescription drugs.

Other studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioids, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, migraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

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