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medical marijuana

Florida: First Gainesville Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Open

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Friday, May 19th, a Winter Garden-based medical marijuana firm, Knox Medical, will open a dispensary storefront in Gainesville, one of its first in Florida since the approval of a medical marijuana amendment in November.

“What we’re doing is changing people’s perception of what cannabis in Florida is all about,” said Bruce Knox, the company’s founder and chief operating officer. “Education is key to what will be our success in years to come,” he continued.

In Florida, a patient must have been treated by a qualified physician for at least three months before becoming eligible to receive medical marijuana treatments.

Before medical marijuana becomes an option, according to the state Health Department’s Office of Compassionate Use, a patient must have also tried other treatments without success.

“They’re coming in as the last option,” according to retail operations worker Daniel McVay. “We want to get on that patient’s level.”

Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment in November 2016 to legalize medical marijuana, broadening access to cannabis beyond the limited therapeutic uses approved two years ago by the Legislature.

Maryland: First Licensed Medical Marijuana Grow Operation Approved

Maryland Medical Marijuana

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Wednesday, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, the commission that oversees Maryland’s fledgling medical cannabis program, voted to approve the state’s first full license to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The Stage 2 license, which was awarded to ForwardGro LLC, is a final approval from regulators for the cultivation of plants. The approved business will have to wait for dispensaries to be inspected and licensed before it can sell cannabis products to approved patients to comply with state law.

Gail Rand, chief financial officer and patient advocate for ForwardGro, said: “The patients of Maryland will finally have an opportunity to try this medicine that could help tens of thousands of people.”

Rand, whose son suffers from epilepsy, became passionately involved in the Maryland legislature in 2013 as a parent advocate. She is the founder of a parental advocacy group for the legalization of medical cannabis in Maryland for children with epilepsy.

“A new industry in Maryland has been officially launched,” said Patrick Jameson, Executive Director of the commission, "They can start to grow immediately. Medical cannabis production will change the face of Maryland and will have a profound economic and health impact on the entire region.”

Israel: Medical Marijuana Restrictions Loosened, Public Use Of Cannabis Oil And Vapor Allowed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New medical marijuana rules in Israel will allow patients to consume cannabis as an oil or vapor in public and will reduce wait times for patients to receive authorization to use and possess medical marijuana, according to a report from Jerusalem Online. Israeli Health Minister Ya’akov Litzman

Israel is a leader in national marijuana policy reform, having decriminalized marijuana use in March. Non-medical users caught smoking cannabis in public are subject to a $271 fine for the first offense, and the fine is doubled on the second. A third offense leads to probation; criminal charges are imposed only on the fourth offense.

MK Tamar Zandbergm chair of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse said the policy “sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals.”

The Agriculture and Health Ministries plan to provide about $2.1 million in funding for 13 medical cannabis studies that will range from biochemical and medical research to improving crop yields.

The Multidisciplinary Center of Cannabinoid Research was launched last month at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It will coordinate and conduct research on marijuana's biological effects in an effort to determine potential commercial applications.

Florida: Lawmakers Fail To Reconcile Medical Marijuana Implementation Bills

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida lawmakers failed to enact legislation this legislative session establishing rules for the implementation of Amendment 2, a voter-initiated measure that legalizes the use, production, and dispensing of medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment was approved in November, passing with the support of more than 70 percent of voters.

Unless lawmakers convene a special legislative session to address the issue, Department of Health staff will be responsible for establishing regulations for the program. Those rules are due by July 3. The amendment calls for the program to be operational by October.

Mexico: Lawmakers Approve Legislation To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Mexico have approved the legalization of medical marijuana products. President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has spoken in favor of the measure, must sign it to make it official.

The measure authorizes the Health Ministry to design regulations for the use, importation, and production of pharmaceutical products derived from CBD-dominant/low-THC cannabis. Presently, CBD-infused products may be imported into the country on a case by case basis.

The personal possession of up to five grams of cannabis was decriminalized by Mexican lawmakers in 2009. President Nieto proposed legislation last year to increase this threshold to one ounce.

In 2015, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-drug laws should not trump individuals' rights to grow and consume marijuana for their own personal use.

Cayman Islands: Hospital Begins Dispensing Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hospital in the Cayman Islands has begun dispensing medical marijuana oils almost six months after Gov. Helen Kilpatrick signed the medical marijuana bill into law, according to a CNS Business report. Grand Cayman’s CTMH Doctors Hospital & Cayman Pharmacy Group will prescribe and dispense the cannabis oils for various serious, chronic medical conditions such as cancer and epilepsy, and as a pain reliever for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis symptoms.

The hospital is being supplied by Canada’s CanniMed Therapeutics Inc., since the law does not allow medical cannabis products to be cultivated or produced on the islands. Initially, cannabis oils will be dispensed to a small number of physician-selected patients as they seek to educate themselves and track patient progress.

“There will be follow-up phone calls from the pharmacists themselves to closely monitor each patient. The pharmacist will also provide feedback for the physicians and together they will work towards an individually tuned treatment plan,” the hospital said in a press release. “Professional Pharmacy will consider prescriptions for cannabis oil from all licensed prescribers. Patients are encouraged to seek medical advice on this therapy directly from their physicians.”

Texas: Slow Paperwork Prevents Medical Marijuana Vote

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Texas legislature failed to pass a medical marijuana regime before the end of session and the failure was due to the Calendars Committee not receiving paperwork for the bill on time, according to the Texas Cannabis Report.

The report says that the measure was not heard by the Public Health Committee until one week before the end of the legislative session. By the end of that hearing, 77 of the House’s 150 members had signed on in support — enough to pass the bill. The committee passed the bill on Friday.

Heather Fazio, a member of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, said that Health Committee Chair Rep. Four Price might have had “his heart and mind” opened by the testimony at the hearing.

“He still wasn’t ready to vote for the bill himself, but he was attentive during the hearing and demonstrated exceptional character when he allowed the bill to be voted on by the committee,” Fazio said in the report.

The Calendar Committee said the paperwork had not arrived on Monday, meaning they were unable to schedule the bill that day. The paperwork arrived Tuesday, but that was too late for the House to take it up. The next opportunity to revisit the legislation is 2019 as the Texas legislature meets every other year from January through May.

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: 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.”

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.

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.

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.

Colorado: Retail/Recreational Marijuana Licenses Increase, Medical Licenses Decrease

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The latest Colorado Marijuana Market Report finds that retail/recreational licenses are increasing in number while medical licenses are decreasing. Assistant Professor Paul Seaborn of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business is the producer of the quarterly Market Report.

“The total number of active marijuana business licenses issued by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division is at an all-­time record high of 2,971, up from 2,913 in December 2016,” says Seaborn. “52.5 percent of active licenses are for medical marijuana businesses, down from 54.5 percent in December 2016. 47.5 percent are for recreational/retail businesses, up from 45.5 percent.”

Retail dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all increased in number since December 2016, the report finds, while medical centers, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all decreased.

The Colorado Marijuana Market Report will be a quarterly publication by Seaborn analyzing the data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and other sources.

Montana: Medical Marijuana Sales Tax Bill Heads To Governor

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill imposing a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana sales in Montana passed in the House 68-31 and has moved to Governor Steve Bullock's desk. Sen. Mary Caferro, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure, which was amended from 6 percent, will help the state regulate the program.

“The 4 percent tax was an amendment in the Senate and I supported it, and the reason is because the 4 percent tax is enough to set up the system,” she said in the report. “And that’s common practice, industry pays for their regulation.”

The tax will drop to 2 percent in July 2018 and will help cover new regulations including a seed-to-sale tracking system, site and shop inspections, and lab testing.

“The point of the bill, again, is to make sure that Montana has a regulated system so the feds don’t come shut it down,” Caferro said.

Kari Boiter, co-founder of the Patient Rights Network said the sales tax - which was 6 percent at the time - would create undue burdens for those patients on limited incomes.

“We’re already dealing with exorbitant medical costs and debt that we’re trying to pay,” she said in an Associated Press report. “This is just one more thing that adds to the expenses we’re taking on as sick individuals.”

Bullock is expected to sign the measure which his spokesperson called “fair and modest” last month.

Greece: Health Officials Set To Introduce Medical Marijuana Proposal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Health officials in Greece are set to propose legislation that would allow the cultivation and use of medical marijuana, according to a report from Ekathimerini.com. The Health Ministry came to this decision following a scientific study on the effectiveness of medical marijuana for treating chronic illnesses.

Health Minister Andreas Xanthos, said that the agency is close to proposing the measure that would allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for a limited number of conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma.

The use of medical cannabis is legal in several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Spain, Finland, Italy, Portugal, and the Czech Republic.

A letter was sent to Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis last June from 36 members of Greek’s Parliament that outlined the benefits of medical cannabis legalization.

“The financial benefits of cultivation of our own cannabis in Greece for medicinal/pharmaceutical purposes and for use in research would be multi-faceted (rejuvenating our agricultural economy and processing, resumption of export of hemp products after many years of stagnation, strengthening insurance funds to escape the burden of expensive prescription pharmaceutical products.),” the letter states.

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