medical marijuana

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U.S.: State Leaders Challenging Marijuana Election Results

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Political leaders in several states are acting to challenge election results regarding regulation of marijuana.

"Voters spoke clearly on election day. They believe that cannabis should be legal and that its sale ought to be regulated accordingly," said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. "Politicians should respect these outcomes, not undermine them."

Massachusetts voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Lawmakers are trying to move the date on which adults can begin growing marijuana from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified later time. They also want to delay retail sales of pot until late 2018.

Although Maine voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law's implementation. Gov. LePage said that he "will be talking to Donald Trump" about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and said that he "will not put this (law) into play" unless the federal government signs off on it.

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Commission Awards Preliminary Dispensary Licenses

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has received 882 dispensary license applications, and has awarded licenses to 102 dispensaries so far, a WBAL-TV report states. Officials also said they were in the process of hiring a diversity consultant to address the lack of diversity claims in the licensing process.

“The commission is in the process and plans to hire an expert consultant who specializes in minority business affairs to do a disparity evaluation and provide future guidance on minority business enterprise initiatives and make recommendations to the commission,” Patrick Jameson, executive director of the commission, said in the report.

Members of the Black Legislative Caucus made allegations that the commission had “ignored race and ethnicity throughout the licensing process in clear contravention of its authorizing statute,” which led to the decision to add a diversity consultant.

The agency has met with members of the Black Legislative Caucus and the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs to discuss the concerns of stakeholders.

Commissioner Paul Davies says the program has experienced delays, but only because of its early success.

“This program has had more applications that we are aware of than any other state in the country,” he said.

Michigan: Police Say 3 Grand Rapids-area Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Operate Illegally

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Three medical marijuana dispensaries were searched by police in the Grand Rapids area because police say they are in violation of the state's Medical Marijuana Act.

The three businesses were investigated Monday, Nov. 28, by the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team, according to a news release. The dispensaries are Relief Hub dispensary at 4920 Plainfield Ave. NE, Third Day dispensary at 4981 Plainfield Ave. NE, and Red Jasper dispensary at 3926 West River Drive NE.

A new tax on dispensaries was signed into law by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in September.

Police say there is evidence the businesses continue to operate illegally despite the new law. The release states that officers purchased marijuana from the dispensaries, confirming their illegality.

Public tips helped to lead investigators to the dispensaries.

New York: NFL Suspends Player Who Uses Marijuana To Treat Chronic Illness

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Th NFL has suspended Buffalo Bills tackle Seantrel Henderson for 10 games for violating the league's substance abuse protocol, despite the fact that he was using medical marijuana to treat a chronic illness.

Henderson's agent, Brian Fettner, said that he had used marijuana to treat his pain from Chron's disease because he had no other option.

Chron's disease is an incurable, often painful ailment that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It caused Henderson to miss five games last season and he has had to have 2.5 feet of his colon removed.

Many football players use opioids to treat pain, an option Henderson doesn't have because those painkillers can damage the intestines -- damage that Henderson can't afford.

It's possible that Henderson could sue the NFL to get back in the game. He may have some legal recourse, since medical marijuana is legal in New York where the Bills play.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act in 2014, which says, in part, patients "shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner … by a business" just for taking medical marijuana.

Arkansas: Lawmakers Consider Launch Delay, Taxes For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Arkansas lawmakers are considering a delay in the launch of the state's medical marijuana program as well as a plan to impose additional taxes on the drug. These are some of the ideas being considered as they move to implement the medical marijuana measure approved by voters earlier this month.

The ideas are among several being discussed for next year's session.

Republican Rep. Doug House is working on legislation giving agencies until early May rather than early March to adopt rules for medical marijuana. He said it would also change the deadline for the state to begin accepting dispensary applications from June 1 to July 1.

Republican Sen. Bart Hester says he's looking at legislation to impose an additional tax on medical marijuana, a move he says will help with income taxes.

U.S.: Study Shows Medical Marijuana Associated With Improved Cognitive Performance, Reduced Opioid Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana use is associated with improved cognitive performance and lower levels of prescription drug use, according to data published online in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Medical marijuana patients' cognitive performance was observed over a three-month period by investigators from Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and McLean Hospital.

Participants in the study either were not cannabis users before or had not used the substance for at least 10 years. The patients' cognitive performances were evaluated before cannabis use, then again after treatment.

Researchers reported "no significant decrements in performance" following medical marijuana treatment. Instead, they determined, "[P]atients experienced some improvement on measures of executive functioning, including the Stroop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test, mostly reflected as increased speed in completing tasks without a loss of accuracy."

Participants in the study were less likely to experience depression during treatment, and many reduced their use of prescription drugs. "[D]ata revealed a notable decrease in weekly use across all medication classes, including reductions in use of opiates (-42.88 percent), antidepressants (-17.64 percent), mood stabilizers (-33.33 percent), and benzodiazepines (-38.89 percent)," authors reported

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bans Popping Up Across State

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida became the 26th state to legalize medical marijuana last week. Amendment 2 was on the ballot in 2014 but failed to pass, receiving 58% of the vote (Florida requires 60% or more for constitutional amendments). The second time it successfully passed, as the 2016 version of the initiative received 71% of the vote. Medical marijuana was so popular in 2016 that Amendment 2 won in county in Florida.

Some people still oppose medical marijuana in Florida, however. Bans and moratoriums have been popping up across Florida which will prevent medical marijuana businesses from opening where the bans and moratoriums exist. Per the Sun Sentinel:

Places like Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton have temporarily banned marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers until they can assess the effects on the community and establish zoning regulations.

Boca extended its temporary ban on Tuesday, the same day that more than 70 percent of Florida voters agreed to expand the use of medical marijuana. Boca’s freeze is one of at least a half-dozen across South Florida.

“We owe it to our residents and the people of our city to understand the implications of it,” said Christine Thrower, the manager for the village of Golf.

Australia: Providers Can Now Apply To Grow Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana providers may now apply to grow medical cannabis in Australia.

New legislation passed earlier this year licensed cultivation and production of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes. A vote on October 30 opened up the cultivation of medical marijuana in Australia.

“Until now, it has been difficult for patients to access medicinal cannabis products from overseas sources,” Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said.

New medical marijuana cultivators will have to comply with a set of legislations and classify their harvest with the Therapeutic Goods Administration. States and territories will also retain control over licensing and product output.

In order to qualify, cultivators must also pass “strict fit and proper persons requirements and other legislative tests relating to security.”

According to spokesman from an Australian investment group, “the [Australian] domestic medicinal cannabis market could be worth more than $75 million a year.”

“The US has a well established cannabis markets and there’s no reason to suppose consumer demand or product pricing in Australian will be any different relative to the two countries population difference,” he also said.

Arkansas: Medical Marijuana Legal In First Bible Belt State

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Arkansas officially legalized marijuana for qualifying medical patients on Tuesday in a vote of 53.2% to 46.8%, according to the New York Times, making it the first Bible Belt state to legalize the plant.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, or Issue 6, is an amendment to Arkansas' state constitution that officially legalizes the distribution and possession of medical marijuana. The new amendment is specifically meant for patients who have any of 17 qualifying conditions, which include cancer, Tourette's syndrome, Chrohn's disease, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder and HIV/AIDS. Patients with a written statement from a doctor certifying they have a qualifying condition will be able to purchase medical marijuana from dispensaries, and will not be permitted to grow their own marijuana plants.

Arkansas voted on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question in 2012, but it was struck down in a vote of 51.4% to 48.5%. A separate medical marijuana proposal, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, or Issue 7, was also initially slated to be on the ballot in 2016, but was later disqualified due to invalid signatures.

Australia: Medical Marijuana Cultivation Legalized

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Australia has allowed “fit and proper” individuals and entities to cultivate medicinal cannabis crops under strict government license and guidelines in an effort to substitute imports with “domestic supply.”

The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 took effect on October 30, 2016. The new regulations allow for the licensing of cannabis cultivation and the production of cannabis and cannabis resins for medicinal and scientific purposes.

“Until now, it has been difficult for patients to access medicinal cannabis products from overseas sources,” Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement released on Sunday.

“These new laws change that situation by providing for a domestic supply of medicinal cannabis products that are not readily available for import.”

While the new law favors pharmaceuticals, recreational smokers are not affected, as consuming marijuana remains a criminal activity.

“I want to emphasize that the changes to the Narcotic Drugs Act do not decriminalize cannabis for recreational use,” Ley said.

Florida: New Poll Says Majority Of Voters Support Legalizing Medical Marijauna

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Election Day 2016 is coming soon, now less than two weeks away. Nine statewide marijuana initiatives are on the ballot this year, five for recreational pot legalization and four for medical marijuana. Florida's Amendment 2 is one of these; it would legalize medical cannabis for those who receive a recommendation from a physician.

A similar measure failed to pass in 2014, when United For Care failed to pass into law despite receiving over 50% of the vote. This year’s initiative also requires 60% of voter support to pass.

New polling shows that well over 60% of voters support the constitutional amendment. The new shows that well over 60% of voters support the constitutional amendment. The new Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll found that 74% of voters in Florida are in favor of Amendment 2.

“Despite the No on 2 campaign spending millions of dollars in advertising, Amendment 2 support is still holding strong,” Kevin Akins says, a pollster for Anzalone Liszt Grove.

“Voters across racial, gender, and geographic divides support the Amendment 2 ballot language by a winning margin.”

Akins notes that; “Importantly, support today is +13% greater than internal surveys taken three weeks from the 2014 election. Amendment 2 looks poised to finish strong this year”.

Arkansas: Court Disqualifies Issue 7 Medical Marijuana Proposal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Arkansas Supreme Court has disqualified a medical marijuana proposal from the November ballot, but voters will still be able to consider a different plan.

The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, or Issue 7, was the disqualified proposal. Issue 6 remains on the ballot.

Issue 7 was invalidated because the court determined that supporters did not gather enough qualified signatures. The court disallowed more than 12,000 signatures, leaving 65,412 valid signatures. That was 2,465 short of the required number.

The court cited five reasons for five listed reasons:

1. Some of the petition gatherers did not comply with Arkansas laws on who can become a canvasser.
2. The signatures did not include an address, or included only a P.O. Box address.
3. The canvasser verified the petition before the voter signed it.
4. The canvasser checked an improper box.
5. Canvassers did not specifically witness the signatures.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care said Thursday it will fight the decision by the state Supreme Court to disqualify Issue 7. It was not clear how the group would fight the move since the decision took effect immediately.

Utah: Gubernatorial Candidate Unveils Medical Marijuana Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In the wake of his wife pleading guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana charge, Utah gubernatorial candidate Mike Weinholtz has rolled out a plan to legalize medical marijuana.

"There have been people suffering long enough, and we know this would help those people, so now is the time," Weinholtz said on Thursday.

His wife has said she uses marijuana to deal with chronic pain. Feds declined to prosecute her case and sent it to the Tooele County Attorney. On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor pot possession charge.

“It's bigger than just my wife and my family,” Weinholtz said. “There are thousands of Utahns that are struggling with these many different types of conditions.”

Weinholdts's plan includes: -Legalizing medical marijuana, with reasonable safeguards.

-Funding pain management programs, to cut down on opioid abuse.

-Expanding education and police department supply of Naloxone, used to save drug overdose patients.

"The increase in opioid addiction in the state has been dramatic, has been 400 percent since the year 2000, and medical cannabis would help with the reduction of opioids as well," Weinholtz said.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Doesn't Cause More Teenage Stoners

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Researchers say that legalizing medical marijuana doesn't make more teenagers into stoners.

The study was published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. It found that people over 25 were slightly more likely to have used marijuana in the past month after their state legalized it for medical purposes. That number grew to 7.15 percent from 5.87 percent of that group.

This is the first study to look at how medical marijuana laws have affected actual use. Columbia University researchers used annual survey data from people who responded to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health between 2004 and 2013. This includes data from over 50,000 people each year, in all 50 states, and asks if someone has used marijuana in the past month. It didn’t ask whether it was for recreational or medical purposes.

The study showed that legalizing medical marijuana didn’t make teens think the drug was more readily available. “Before medical marijuana laws changed there was a concern that this type of legislation could potentially increase recreational marijuana use in adolescents and adult populations,” said study co-author Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia, in a university statement. “At least for now, we do not see an increase in use among adolescents.”

Indiana: Large Majority Of Voters Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new WTHR/HPI Indiana Poll has found that a vast majority of likely Indiana voters are in support of legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The poll focused specifically on likely voters and strongly indicates that an initiative effort to legalize marijuana as a medicine would be approved with overwhelming support.

According to the poll, 73% of likely voters in the state are in support of medical marijuana. Only 25% are opposed to the move, and want to keep medical narijuana illegal.

Only 2% of likely voters were found to be undecided.

The survey found Democrats to be the most likely to support medical cannabis with 82%, support followed by independents at 77%. Support among Republicans was lower, but still a strong majority was in support at 59%.

There are lawmakers in the state who are working to make a change in the law. Last year Indiana State Senator filed Senate Bill 284, a proposal to legalize medical cannabis, including personal cultivation and dispensaries. Unfortunately the measure failed to advance, but the conversation is already underway.

Utah: State To File Marijuana Charges Against Wife Of Gubernatorial Candidate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Federal prosecutors will not file criminal charges against the wife of Mike Weinholtz, Democratic Candidate for Governor of Utah. A state prosecutor will take the case instead.

"We recieved a call from the U.S. Attorney's Office, asking us if we would take the case on a conflict," said Gary Searle, Chief Deputy Tooele County Attorney. "The district attorney in Salt Lake evidently is friends with the Weinholtz's or has a social relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Weinholtz."

Mike Weinholtz, currently running for Governor against incumbent Gary Herbert, made a surprising announcement during the state's Democratic Convention in April. He declared that his wife, Donna Weinholtz, was being investigated for using medical marijuana. A statement from his campaign said she "uses marijuana to seek relief from chronic neck, back and knee pain brought on by arthritis."

"I thought it was necessary to be open and honest with the delegates," he said at the time. "I thought it would be dishonest if I didn't disclose it."

On Wednesday a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office read: "After reviewing the case carefully and consulting with the Tooele County Attorney, we determined that the best venue for the case would be on the county level rather than pursuing a federal case."

Connecticut: Minors Can Now Become Medical Marijuana Patients

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Connecticut House Bill 5450, signed into law by Governor Dannel P. Malloy earlier this year, is now in full effect. This means that those under 18 with certain qualifying conditions can legally use medical marijuana if they receive a recommendation from a physician. Nurses are also now authorized to recommend medical marijuana to both adults and minors. Previously that authority was exclusive to physicians.

The new law was approved 152 to 24 by the state’s legislature. It means that children with a wide variety of ailments would be allowed to use non-smokeable forms of cannabis, such as tinctures, for medical use, so long as the minor has approval from their parent or guardian and receives a recommendation from a physician or registered nurse (under current Connecticut law medical cannabis is already legal for those 18 and older).

Qualifying conditions include terminal illness, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, irreversible spinal cord injury with intractable spasticity, severe epilepsy and intractable seizure disorders.

“We introduced this bill to support those who need it – this is a deeply emotional issue for many families,” says Chris Collibee, a spokesperson for Governor Malloy. “Delivering access to ease illness is something many states have passed. It’s the right thing to do.”

U.S.: Congress Extends Prohibition On Government Interfering With State Medical Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week, the federal government gave approval to a short-term spending bill that’s designed to prevent an October 1st governmental shutdown. Included in the bill is the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which is the landmark provision passed last year which limits the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce federal cannabis laws in states where’s it’s been legalized for medical purposes.

According to Nick Phillips of the Marijuana Times; “Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, the co-author of the historic legislation, recently made an unscheduled appearance at the State of Marijuana Conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. He sat on a panel where he wore a “Make Cannabis Great Again” hat in support of states’ rights and individual freedoms to consume and operate legal cannabis businesses.”

On stage, Rohrabacher stated that “the momentum is on our side”, and stressed the need for supporters of marijuana law reform to contact their lawmakers and let their voice be heard.

Wisconsin: Marijuana Harvest Festival Draws Big Crowd In Downtown Madison

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hundreds of protesters gathered on the steps of Wisconsin's capitol building over the weekend to rally in support of legalizing marijuana.

The protest was part of the 46th annual Madison Hemp Festival, where many pro-marijuana activists spoke, sending a message to Wisconsin lawmakers.

"I very much believe that marijuana is not the most dangerous thing that people are walking around in their pockets, but we're treating it as it is," said 48th District State Representative Melissa Sargent. "We need to change our laws so that people can take care of their illnesses in a way that they deserve to."

Sargent has proposed several bills to legislators that would legalize marijuana in Wisconsin for both medical and recreational purposes.

The movement has its opposition, however.

"Melissa and I have discussed her position on legalization on marijuana, and I disagree with her," said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, who says while he would consider supporting the legalization of medical marijuana, under no circumstances will he support recreational use. "I don't believe that we are at a point that we know that marijuana is not an entry drug and I don't think we are at the point that marijuana has no lasting effects."

So far, all of Sargent's proposed bills have been shut down by Wisconsin legislators.

New Jersey: State Sees Renewed Push To Make Marijuana Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Following Gov. Chris Christie's surprising reversal on expanding the medical marijuana program, a new batch of bills to allow recreational pot in New Jersey are being proposed.

Christie is not likely to change his strong opposition to legalizing marijuana, even though he signed a bill last month to add post-traumatic stress syndrome to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. It was the first time a mental-health condition had been added to the list.

But lawmakers say three legalization bills are being introduced this year to get discussions started, in anticipation of the end of Christie's term in 2018.

The newest proposal was introduced last month by Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R., Morris). It would allow cannabis to be sold the same way as tobacco, to anyone over 19. Carroll, a Libertarian, admits the measure is bold and more "far-reaching" than other marijuana bills.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a municipal prosecutor, introduced the state's first legalization bill in November.

His proposal called for cannabis to be regulated the same way as alcohol, sold by stores with a state license, and restricted to those 21 and over. The product would be taxed under his bill, and the revenues used for education and other public purposes.

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