Medicinal Cannabis

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Maryland Will Become 19th Medical Marijuana State

(Illustration: Splice Today)Gov. Martin O'Malley Will Sign Bill Into Law On May 2; Program Could Take Until 2016 To Implement

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maryland will become the 19th state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's spokeswoman, Raquel Guillory, confirmed on Wednesday that the governor will sign a medical marijuana bill into law on Thursday, May 2, but it could be up to three years before the program is up and running, reports The Associated Press.

Supporters hope that some research centers will move faster now that they've seen how the program would work.

Some medical marijuana supporters, however, say the bill doesn't go far enough to help the seriously ill people who need cannabis medicinally.

The bill allows academic medical research centers to establish programs to dispense marijuana to patients who have a physician's authorization.

(Graphic: Medical Cannabis News)

Study: Marijuana Compound Appears To Weaken The HIV Virus

(Graphic: Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The chief psychoactive compound in marijuana appears to be able to damage and weaken the most common strain of the HIV virus, according to a recent study.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, more common known as THC, is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis; it's the chemical that gets you high. A synthetic form of THC was used to attack the HIV-1 virus, which represents more than 90 percent of all HIV types, reports Ian Steadman at Wired UK.

HIV interactions with the CB2 cannabinoid receptor in white blood cells, specifically in macrophages, one of the many types of white blood cells. While lymphocytes -- the main white blood cells -- do the bulk of the infection-fighting work by tracking down and destroying germs, macrophages are sort of a backup part of the immune system. Macrophages are attracted to damaged cells, which they surround and engulf.

Unfortunately, macrophages are also one of the first types of cells infected by HIV when it invades the body. HIV can live inside macrophages for months, infecting other cells.

Investigators and researching how to stop the HIV virus from infecting macrophages; doing so could dramatically reduce the speed at which infection progresses, giving time for other antiretrovirals to help keep it at bay, or even eliminate it.

New Mexico: Medical Marijuana Access For PTSD Patients Is Protected

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After months of deliberation, the New Mexico Department of Health on Tuesday upheld a recommendation by the Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board and announced that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will remain a qualifying condition for New Mexico’s medical marijuana program.

Patients’ access to medical marijuana under state law was threatened by a request to withdraw PTSD as a qualifying condition for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program after Dr. William Ulwelling, a retired psychiatrist in New Mexico, submitted a formal request to the state's Department of Health requesting PTSD be removed from the list of eligible medical conditions for enrollment in the state’s medical marijuana program.

During her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) vowed to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law.

“Although today patients suffering from PTSD can breathe a sigh of relief, we will not rest until the Martinez Administration continues to demonstrate, as they did yesterday, that they will not turn their backs on all medical marijuana patients, including veterans, patients with disabilities, and victims of trauma and violent crime,” said Emily Kaltenbach, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office.

Idaho: Marijuana Activists Fight Back After Police Take Their Children

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two medical marijuana activists continue to rally support for cannabis legalization after the search of their home and the seizure of their children last Tuesday.

Lindsey and Josh Rinehart, of Boise spoke in support of medical marijuana, carried signs, and talked to the media at Monday's rally on the Idaho Statehouse steps, reports KTVB.

About a dozen others, many of them Compassionate Idaho members, joined the Rineharts at the rally.

The event came six days after police searched the Rineharts' home, saying they found marijuana and "drug paraphernalia." The couple's two children were turned over to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Rinehart said she had the cannabis for medicinal reasons, and said taking her children away was wrong.

"I have multiple sclerosis," she told KTVB. "I am not a criminal because my kids were taken away."

Lindsey said that she should be able to use medical marijuana to treat her MS, and that she is fighting to get her boys back.

Connecticut: 300 Patients Approved For Medical Marijuana

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection says it has approved 300 patients for the state's medical marijuana program.

Another 150 patients are still being considered, according to DCP Commissioner William M. Rubenstein, reports Stephen Kalin of The Associated Press. Patients have, so far, received temporary registration certificates to legally use cannabis under the state's new medical marijuana law.

While the department finalizes regulations for the state's program, the temporary certification process is in place to let doctors authorize patients to possess and use medicinal cannabis.

Rubenstein said Connecticut's regulations are intended to "not attract federal attention" by creating a system like the regulation of other controlled pharmaceuticals and prevents the diversion of marijuana way from legal users.

DCP is set to send proposed regulations for the medical marijuana program to the state Attorney General this week, and then the regulations must be approved by the Connecticut General Assembly by July 1. Until then, entrepreneurs who want to grow and dispense medical marijuana cannot move forward.

The availability of medical marijuana has produced a profund change in his medical condition, said patient Robert Specht, 59, of Hamden.

California: Bill To Turn Medical Marijuana Over To Alcohol Beverage Control Passes Committee

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill to regulate California's medical marijuana industry by turning it over to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control cleared a hurdle on Tuesday when the Assembly's Public Safety Committee voted to move it forward.

AB 473, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), would require all cannabis-related businesses to follow rules created by Alcohol Beverage Control, reports Carly Schwartz at The Huffington Post.

Ammiano said medical marijuana in California is in a state of "chaos."

"It's never been regulated by the state as any other business," he said. "Cities and counties don't know what to do or what they can do. Police are unsure how to respond, and the federal actions are confusing."

Since California voters made the Golden State the first in the country to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996, the industry has exploded, generating more than $100 million in taxes annually. But the Obama Administration in late 2011 launched an aggressive crackdown on dispensaries, forcing hundreds of them to close and leaving thousands of workers unemployed.

According to former Ammiano spokesman Quentin Mecke, U.S. Attorneys "are using a lack of statewide regulation as justification."

Connecticut: Cancer Patient Battles Bureaucracy Over Medical Marijuana

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"I know I'm gonna die," says Tracey Fanning. "But I know I can still do this. I can make a difference."

Fanning, 42, appears to be a typical mom in suburban Connecticut, reports Jeff Glor at CBS News. But after being diagnosed in 2006 with terminal brain cancer, she spent much of her time in bed, racked by seizures and debilitating headaches -- until she discovered medical marijuana.

"The first time I ever did it, it gave me my life back," Fanning said.

"I use medicinal marijuana," Fanning said. "I am breaking the law right now because we don't have growers and distributors here in Connecticut."

The state passed a law legalizing medical marijuana last May, but there is still nowhere to legally buy it.

When diagnosed in 2006, Fanning was the mother of a four-year-old and an 18-month old, and medical marijuana was still illegal in Connecticut. But the suggestion to try it came from her doctor, Andrew Salner.

"It's always difficult for me because when I make a recommendation about trying marijuana, it is telling someone to put themselves in harm's way to go purchase an illegal drug," Dr. Salner said.

But both Fanning and Salner are speaking out now because of the lack of safe access to medical marijuana for Connecticut's legal patients.

U.S.: Marijuana Pill May Be Better For Pain Than Smoked Form, Study Finds

(Photo: DV Advertising)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study confirms what medical marijuana patients have known for years -- that ingesting cannabis through eating works longer than smoking -- while also possibly representing a further move by Big Pharma for a strategic takeover of the medicinal cannabis business.

The study found that a pill form of marijuana may work just as well to relieve pain as the smoked form of cannabis, but with fewer side effects and a longer duration, reports Rachael Rettner at MyHealthNewsDaily.

In the study, people who either smoked cannabis or took the pharmaceutical drug dronabinol (also known by the brand name Marinol) -- a pill containing a synthetic form of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- were able to hold their hands in ice water for longer than participants who took a placebo.

The pain-reducing effect of the dronabinol lasted longer than that of smoking marijuana, according to the researchers. While smoking pot reduced pain sensitivity for about 2.5 hours, taking the dronabinol pill continued to reduce pain for about 4.5 hours.

However, the analgesic effects of the pill took about an hour to kick in, while the pain-relieving effects of smoked marijuana start almost immediately. Patients also report they can control their dosage more precisely by titrating the dose with smoking.

California: San Diego City Council Set To Hear Mayor's Proposal For Medical Marijuana Rules

(Graphic: Green Drop Collective)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The San Diego City Council is set to hear Mayor Bob Filner's proposal for medical marijuana dispensary zoning regulations on Monday, April 22 at 2 p.m.

The mayor's proposal is based on the recommendations of the medical marijuana task force organized by City Council President Todd Gloria in 2010. It allows medicinal cannabis dispensaries to exist to designated commercial and industrial areas of the city with large buffers from "sensitive" areas including a 600-foot buffer from schools and parks, as well as between dispensaries.

The proposal also contains strict operating requirements including security systems, and restrictions on hours of operation and signage.

"We want there to be access in San Diego City," said Ken Cole, president of the United Patients' Alliance, a trade association of medical marijuana distributors. "However, we also want operators to behave in a responsible manner, where the patients and public can feel safe and respected.

"Mayor Filner's proposal provides both access to patients and enhanced safety to the community," Cole said.

"What the county enacted was a good start, but while it succeeded in creating oversight, it failed at the ultimate goal of giving patient access," said Bob Riedel, president of the United Patients' Alliance. "Mayor Filner's proposal achieves both -- patient access and public oversight."

Connecticut: Public Comments Being Accepted on Medical Marijuana Rules

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Starting on Monday, April 22, public comments are being accepted on regulations that would govern how medical marijuana is grown and distributed in Connecticut.

Seventy pages of "stringent" draft regulations have been prepared by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, reports Neil McNamara at the New Haven Register. The regulations are intended to mirror the controls over the distribution of such pharmaceuticals as Oxycontin.

The state's medical marijuana bill was signed into law last May by Governor Dannel P. Malloy; in October, the state began accepting patient applications for medical marijuana licenses. The state has, so far, gotten about 400 applications and has issued about 300 licenses, according to Consumer Protection Commissioner Phillip Rubenstein.

The department drafted the regulations in consultation with drug policy experts and legal experts, according to Rubenstein, and took into account regulations used in other medical marijuana states. They decided to follow a "stringent" model of regulation, similar to how prescription drugs are controlled, he said.

"The intent was really to use a controlled pharmaceutical substance model very directly," Rubenstein said. "I think we're the only state that has used that model as completely as we have."

New Jersey: State's Second Marijuana Dispensary To Open In September

(Photo of Compassionate Care Foundation chief executive William Thomas: Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A huge warehouse that once housed Donald Trump's surplus blackjack tables in an industrial park outside Atlantic City will be the site of South Jersey's first medical marijuana farm -- the second in the entire state -- where plants will be started next month and cannabis is scheduled to be sold starting on September 9.

The state's second "alternative treatment center" will be opening in Egg Harbor more than three years after the state's medical marijuana program became law, reports Jan Hefler at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Only force majeure could stop us... or acts of God," said William Thomas, chief executive at Compassionate Care Foundation, as he monitored the progress of his $1.7 million renovation project last week.

Although three previous launch dates have failed to materialize, the plan now has momentum, according to Thomas.

Once Compassionate Care gets the final go-ahead from New Jersey to begin cultivation, 2,000 marijuana seeds will be imported from Spain, which produces strains that target spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis, Thomas said. Lights are being installed in the 85,000-square-foot warehouse to grow the crop.

Arizona: Phoenix's First Licensed Marijuana Dispensary Opens

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona has opened its doors, but couldn't serve any customers at its 4/20 grand opening on Saturday.

A computer server run by the Arizona Department of Health Services was down on Saturday, affecting all of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries, said Bloom Sky Train executive director Lezli Engelking, reports The Associated Press.

The dispensary has rescheduled its grand opening for Wednesday.

Bloom Sky Train is next to the Phoenix's new Sky Train Terminal and the 44th Street light rail station.

Arizona voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana by about 4,300 votes in 2010, authorizing its use for certain medical conditions with a doctor's authorization.

The state Department of Health Services administers Arizona's medical marijuana program, regulating dispensaries where patients and caregivers can legally buy cannabis. More than 35,000 Arizonans have medical marijuana cards.

Rhode Island: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Rhode Island's first medical marijuana dispensary has opened in Providence.

The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center opened its doors on Friday to what a spokesman said was a "steady stream of patients," reports The Associated Press. The dispensary got its licensed from the Rhode Island Department of Health earlier this month.

The Slater Compassion Center is initially selling cannabis grown by patients participating in Rhode Island's medical marijuana program, but it will immediately begin growing its own medicine to sell.

"Finally, Rhode Islanders with serious illnesses who find relief from medical marijuana will be able to access it safely at a state-regulated nonprofit," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Fortunately, they will no longer have to put themselves at risk by purchasing it in an underground market."

Oregon: Senate Passes Bill To Allow Medical Marijuana For PTSD

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would allow people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to get a medical marijuana card.

The bill passed the Senate with a 19 to 11 vote, and now goes to the Oregon House, reports The Associated Press.

People suffering from PTSD should have access to medicine that can help their condition, according to supporters of the bill. Opponents claim there isn't clear research to prove that cannabis is an effective treatment for symptoms of the disorder; however, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence from people who actually suffer from PTSD regarding the usefulness of pot in treating it.

Veterans had told lawmakers at an earlier hearing on the bill that marijuana helped them cope with the physical and psychological trauma of war.

Oregon patients with certain conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer's qualify for medical marijuana when it is authorized by their doctor.

Marijuana is still illegal for any purpose under federal law.

Rhode Island: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Open Friday

(Graphic: Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center)Licensed and regulated business begins providing medical marijuana to residents with serious illnesses

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first licensed medical marijuana compassion center (dispensary) in Rhode Island is scheduled to open Friday, April 19. The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, located at 1 Corliss St., will open its doors at 10 a.m. EST to begin providing medical marijuana to licensed patients who have registered the dispensary as one of their caregivers.

"Finally, Rhode Islanders with serious illnesses who find relief from medical marijuana will be able to access it safely at a state-regulated nonprofit," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which spearheaded the advocacy effort in support of the dispensary legislation in partnership with the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. "Many patients find that marijuana is safer and more effective than a lot of the medications they have been prescribed. Fortunately, they will no longer have to put themselves at risk by purchasing it in an underground market."

California: San Diego Publishes Mayor's Proposal For Medical Marijuana Regulation

(Photo: Nuggetry)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The City of San Diego has published Mayor Bob Filner's proposal for medical cannabis regulation for public review, prior to its public hearing at City Council on Monday, April 22. The proposal is based on the recommendations of the medical marijuana task force organized by City Council President Todd Gloria in 2010.

It allows medical cannabis dispensaries to exist in designated commercial and industrial areas of the city with large buffers from sensitive areas, including a 600-foot buffer from schools and parks and a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries. The proposal also contains additional strict operating requirements including security systems, restriction on hours of operations and signage.

The response among many in the medical cannabis community has been positive. "We want there to be access in San Diego City," said Ken Cole, president of the United Patients’ Alliance, a trade association of medical cannabis distributors. "However, we also want operators to behave in a responsible manner, where the patients and public can feel safe and respected. Mayor Filner's proposal provides both access to patients and enhanced safety to the community. "

Bob Riedel, vice president of the United Patients' Alliance, who formerly operated the only licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the county of San Diego, agreed.

Illinois: House Approves Medical Marijuana Legislation

Illinois Lawmakers Continue Reefer Madness, Punish Farmers House Bill 1 would allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana and establish regulated system of distribution advances to Senate

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on a 61-57 vote legislation that would allow patients with serious illnesses, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes with their doctors’ approval. This marks the first time the House has approved such a measure.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate, which approved a less restrictive version of the bill in 2009.

“I have been diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable cancer that in all likelihood will someday take my life,” said Jessica Bauer, a 27-year-old Rockford resident with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “I would like to live out the rest of my days with dignity and enjoy what time I have left with my 5-year-old daughter.

“Medical marijuana allows me to do that,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to live in fear of arrest for using it or have to resort to the illicit market to obtain it.”

New York: Medical Marijuana Bill Likely To Pass House; Gov. Cuomo Still Says No

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates on Tuesday dialed up the pressure on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes.

A packed conference room of politicians, marijuana advocates and patients with debilitating illnesses gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to renew the push for a revised bill to protect patients and set up a medical marijuana production and distribution system in the state, reports Casey Seiler at the Albany Times Union.

The bill is gaining support among Democrats, according to state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), and now is the time to pass the bill, which has been around for years, reports Glenn Blain at the New York Daily News.

"Everyone knows this bill will likely pass the New York State Assembly fairly easily," Savino said. "The Senate has always been the stumbling block."

Meanwhile, the other major hurdle is Gov. Cuomo's desk. The Governor has said that while he's "looking" at the issue, he does not support legalizing marijuana for medical use "at this time."

Arkansas: Attorney General Again Rejects Wording of Medical Marijuana Measure

(Photo: Danny Johnston/AP)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The wording of a proposed initiative to legalize medical marijuana has again been rejected by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

McDaniel on Tuesday rejected the wording of the proposed measure by Arkansans for Compassionate Care, a pro-medical marijuana group which campaigned for a similar initiative which narrowly failed on the November 2012 ballot, reports The Associated Press.

The attorney general cited what he claimed were "several ambiguities" in the ballot measure.

McDaniel had already rejected the proposal for the first time last month. At that time, the attorney general said it contained "numerous ambiguities" and "numerous grammatical errors." He even suggested a "lack of focus" in the preparation of the proposal.

The proposal would legalize medicinal cannabis, allowing patients with qualifying conditions to buy it from nonprofit dispensaries with a doctor's authorization.

Unlike last year's ballot measure, this proposal unfortunately doesn't allow patients to grow their own medicine if they live more than five miles from a dispensary.

Illinois: Nearly 250 Physicians Across State Endorse Medical Marijuana

Photo - Illinois: Medical Marijuana Moves Forward In LegislatureBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group of doctors on Tuesday at a news conference announced the support of nearly 250 Illinois physicians for allowing patients with serious illnesses to get and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

"For many patients, the treatment can sometimes be worse than the disease," said Dr. Margaret Millar of Moline, one of the endorsing physicians. "Having seen the devastating, and all-too-often lethal tollthat legally prescribed narcotics can take, I support medical marijuana as a safer, milder treatment that carries no risk of fatal overdose."

The doctors specifically signed on the following statement:

"Licensed medical practitioners should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill people, and seriously ill people should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if their medical professionals have told them that such use is likely to be beneficial."

The Illinois House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on House Bill 1, which would make Illinois the 19th state the allow patients with certain conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians.

It would also establish a network of state-regulated cultivation centers and dispensaries to provide marijuana to qualified patients.

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