With more states opting to legalize the sale of medical marijuana, researchers are taking a closer look at the use of cannabis to treat chronic illnesses.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, recently sat down with the Medicine Hunter, Chris Kilham, to find out how it’s being studied.
Dr. Manny: Now from the medical marijuana perspective, as far as the treatment of chronic illnesses, what is it about cannabis that makes it that special?
Medicine Hunter: Well, it seems that there are primarily two things – there's the THC, that's what people associated with getting high. And that appears to have a saliatory effect on the eyes in case of glaucoma. For people who are suffering from chemotherapy and can't eat, it helps to get their appetite back. And we also know that it is a potent pain reliever – and science on that goes back to the 1890s.
But there’s another agent in cannabis that is getting more attention now, and that is called cannabidiol. And this is something that you can swallow by the bucket-full, and it won't get you high at all. But it appears to have profound nerve-protective and brain-enhancing properties. And interestingly enough, it also induces an anti-anxiety effect.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Of the thousands of laws that Oregon's attorney general enforces or interprets, the one allowing medical marijuana has lit up the campaign for that office more than any other.
In a Democratic primary where the candidates agree on many things, their differences over marijuana stand out.
It's anyone's guess whether the pot vote will be enough to tip the scales. But no Republicans are seeking the job, so Democrats alone will choose the state's top lawyer in the May 15 primary.
Former federal prosecutor Dwight Holton has called Oregon's marijuana law a "train wreck," and he was the U.S. Attorney for Oregon when federal agents raided marijuana farms that were legal under state law.
His rival, retired Court of Appeals judge Ellen Rosenblum, has staked out a mellower view, saying she'll make marijuana enforcement a low priority.
She's hammered Holton over the issue with the help of a political action committee that wants to legalize the drug.
"Mr. Holton is out of step with his own party on this issue," said Bob Wolfe, director of Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement. "He's trying to climb the career ladder on the backs of medical marijuana patients, and I don't find that acceptable."
Wolfe's committee was fined last week for allegedly violating initiative laws while gathering signatures for a ballot measure to legalize marijuana. He disputes the allegation.
HARTFORD, Conn. — Legislation that would allow Connecticut adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes continued Friday to move its way through the legislature, easily clearing a key committee.
The General Assembly's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee on Friday passed the proposal 36-14. It now moves to the House of Representatives for further action.
Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a vocal opponent of legalizing medical marijuana, expressed concerns that the proposed system will end up costing the state more money. She proposed several amendments on Friday that would create accounts to help pay for everything from enforcement to addiction programs, but all failed.
"We will need to reinvigorate and support our anti-drug education program and certainly add some funds to our addiction programs for adults as well," said Boucher, who added that other states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana have seen an uptick in drug addiction issues.
Boucher continued to voice concerns that the legislation sends the wrong message to children.
"I think that we can agree that Connecticut students already have so many barriers to success," she said.
"The Attorney General is the people's lawyer, and I have the depth and the range of experience to be a strong advocate for the people of Oregon." Ellen Rosenblum
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent
As Oregon moves closer toward marijuana legalization in November with the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 (OCTA 2012) and the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative 2012 (OMPI 2012) petition drives, the race for Oregon Attorney General on May 15th between Appeals Court Judge Ellen Rosenblum and former acting U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton will be crucial to the implementation of the cannabis legalization initiatives.
Earlier this month, in a debate at the Eugene City Club, Rosenblum said she supported the state’s current medical marijuana law as one that "provides vulnerable citizens with the medicine they needed to cope with their diagnoses."
On the other hand, Holton said the law is actually "a train wreck, putting marijuana in the hands of people, kids, who are not using it for pain management purposes. Of 50,000 card holders, 30,000 got them from 10 clinics. We’ve got a broken system."
Those who continue to debate the issue of marijuana legalization in support of its prohibition by using false propaganda created in the 1930's to manipulate voters by fear, only succeed in talking themselves deeper into a hole, because research has shown that propaganda to be mostly lies. By educating yourself on the merits of the cannabis plant for its medicinal and industrial properties, you will learn that all of the wasted money thrown into the war on drugs must stop, and as a global community we should be harnessing the benefits to our community and our economy by openly allowing the growth, use and sale of industrial hemp and medical and recreational cannabis.
According to Paul Stanford, Chief Petitioner of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 in the attached video from KATU Channel 2 News "Your Voice, Your Vote" debate, "We want to take the stigma out of marijuana and allow it to be a real medicine that doctors can prescribe through pharmacies." Taking the stigma from marijuana is a matter of education about cannabis and telling the truth rather than spouting propagandist lies.
MIAMI, FL - A South Florida man is setting out to promote the use of medical marijuana.
Billboards are popping up along Sample Road in Broward County that are targeting senior citizens.
The more ornate billboard says, 'Legalize Medical Marijuana. I'm a patient not a criminal' and another depicts an elderly person in a wheelchair.
Down the road, another billboard reads 'Reschedule Medical Marijuana, one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." CBS4's Cynthia Demos spoke with folks who drove by the billboard.
"For my family I don't like it," said Roseanne Alves.
"Marijuana is a gateway drug," said Zed Castro.
The billboards are the work of 69-year-old Robert Platshorn.
Platshorm said he spent 30 years in prison for smuggling marijuana, a substance he says can help people and shouldn't be illegal. He doesn't want others sent to prison for what he calls, 'not committing a crime', so he is trying to make it legal.
"The billboard is a way to bring attention to the cause," Platshorn said. In the four years he's been out of prison he started his cause, "The Silver Tour" to promote the legalization of marijuana for seniors.
"They have the time, the inclination and the need," he said.
Irvin Rosenfels, 59, is one of Platshorn's biggest supporters.
Twice in the past two years, Gary Storck has boarded Amtrak's Empire Builder outside his hometown of Madison, Wis., and headed west to Oregon. The trip takes about 40 hours and costs more then $1,000 – all for something that makes the illegal legal.
He pays a visit to one of the state's 15 or so medical marijuana clinics, fills out an application and sees a doctor. Storck walks out an hour later, the proud holder of an Oregon-issued medical marijuana card. It's a process he'll have to go through each year to keep the card.
Storck, 56, is one of hundreds of out-of-staters who each year make an unusual pilgrimage to Oregon – the only state in the country to issue medical marijuana cards to non-residents.
"It's not a bad place to visit," said Storck, who has used marijuana for four decades to treat glaucoma and other chronic ailments. "It lifts my spirits to be in a place where medical cannabis is legal and life goes on."
Some users of medical marijuana go through the effort to acquire an Oregon card because it allows them to use the drug legally when they're in the state. Others hope it provides some legal protection if they're arrested in a state where medical marijuana is outlawed. Many out-of-staters see an Oregon card as important recognition that their use of the drug is legally recognized somewhere in the United States.
JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A petition is circulating statewide to allow the sick and dying access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
The Arkansans for Compassionate Care, or ACC, are encouraging others to support the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, which would decriminalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
"It's common sense," said Ryan Denhem, campaign director. "It's time to have a policy like this in Arkansas."
Denham spoke to Region 8 News by phone Wednesday from Fayetteville, where the ACC is located. He says a growing number of volunteers has helped the group collect more than 20,000 signatures since May 2011, but that's a third of what's needed to get the issue on the ballot in November.
"If that passes, it will allow patients a safe environment, a tightly regulated, controlled environment, to purchase medical marijuana with a doctor's supervision," Denhem said.
PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - For the fourth year in a row, Senator Deborah Dawkins of Pass Christian is submitting another proposal in an effort to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Mississippi.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. On the flip side, experts say when used for medicinal purposes, the often frowned upon substance can be quite useful. That's why Senator Deborah Dawkins is working hard to legalize its medical use in our state.
"I think most people want their doctors to help them make their own decisions. And to me, we're taking something away from the patients and their physicians," Dawkins said.
A number of studies have shown that some attributes of the cannabis plant can relieve pain, control nausea, and help with a long list of other ailments. As of now, 16 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized the use of medical marijuana.
A Vermont lawmaker wants to let people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder be treated for the condition with legally prescribed medical marijuana.
The idea is to help sufferers sleep better if they're plagued by disturbing dreams brought on by PTSD, and calm themselves from feelings of panic and anxiety associated with the disorder.
That's the subject of today's Regional Report, when we take a look at stories of interest on-line and in newspapers around the state. The medical marijuana story is reported by Krista Langlois in the Valley News this week. Langois tells VPR's Mitch Wertlieb that the bill is being introduced in the House by Thetford State Representative Jim Masland.
Voters Could Decide Whether To Legalize Drug For Some Uses
CINCINNATI -- Backers of a ballot proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio have been cleared by the state attorney general to begin gathering the roughly 385,000 signatures needed to put it on the November ballot.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Friday that he has certified the first 1,000 valid signatures, and cleared summary petition language on the proposed Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment as fair and truthful.
The amendment to Ohio's constitution would allow those with a debilitating medical condition to use, possess, produce and acquire marijuana and paraphernalia.
Qualifying conditions include cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and Crohn's disease.
It would authorize vendors to make and distribute the otherwise illegal drug and set up a state oversight commission.
The proposal also would protect patients from violations of privacy, confidentiality and government interference.
BOISE - Medical marijuana legislation was introduced in the Idaho House, where Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, introduced HB 370 as a personal bill.
He proposed similar legislation last year; it got an informational hearing from the House Health & Welfare Committee, but didn’t proceed. HB 370 would permit patients with debilitating medical conditions to be dispensed up to 2 ounces of marijuana every 28 days; they’d have to get it from state-authorized “alternative treatment centers.”
The bill says, "Compassion dictates that a distinction be made between medical and nonmedical uses of marijuana. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to protect from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and criminal or other penalties those patients who use marijuana to alleviate suffering from debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians, primary care givers and those who are authorized to produce marijuana for medical purposes." Under the measure, only patients who’d registered with the state and received a registration card could legally possess medical marijuana.
An Idaho group currently is gathering signatures for a proposed initiative to legalize medical marijuana; Trail said last year that other states’ experience has shown that legislation with strict controls is preferable to a voter initiative.
Studies have already shown the benefits of marijuana for those suffering from PTSD, but can our government agencies be convinced?
By Martin Mulcahey, The Atlantic
Researchers are one bureaucratic hurdle away from gaining approval for the first clinical examination on the benefits of marijuana for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), working under the auspices of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, are preparing a three-month study of combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plan is on hold until the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Public Health Service (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) agrees to sell researchers the marijuana needed for research -- or until the marijuana can be legally imported. Social and political intrigue surrounding this research is far reaching, attracting opposing factions who must cede biases for the greater good and well-being of servicemen and servicewomen.
For the second year in a row, medical marijuana legislation has been filed in Florida, and for the first time ever, bills have been filed in both the House and the Senate. The bills, House Joint Resolution 353 and Senate Joint Resolution 1028, ask the legislature to approve a referendum on medical marijuana for the November ballot.
If the legislature approves the resolutions, the referendum must then win the approval of 60% of the voters. If 60% of the voters approve it, the state constitution would be amended to include medical marijuana language.
Under the resolutions, patients with a doctor's recommendation and his or her primary caregiver would have an affirmative defense if charged with a marijuana offense as long as the amount of marijuana was not greater than the amount set by the state and could still mount an affirmative defense if it was, provided that greater amount is "medically necessary." The amount is not set in the resolutions; instead, the legislature would be charged with setting quantity limits in the event the referendum passes.
Neither bill has been scheduled for a hearing. Still, Florida activists are happy to see them and will be present in Tallahassee to lobby for them.
Medical marijuana advocates are hoping state governments can succeed where their efforts have failed by asking federal authorities to reclassify pot as a drug with medical use.
Shortly before Christmas, Colorado became the fourth state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana as a narcotic in the same league as heavyweight painkillers including oxycodone. The governors of Washington and Rhode Island filed a formal petition with the agency in November, and Vermont signed onto that request shortly afterward.
Change would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana as a medical treatment
By Kristen Wyatt, AP
Colorado has become the fourth state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana in a way that allows doctors to prescribe it as a medical treatment.
The state asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana from Schedule 1, a category that includes heroin, to Schedule 2. The change would allow doctors to prescribe pot and pharmacies to fill marijuana prescriptions.
The governors of Rhode Island and Washington have made similar requests. The letter came from the head of Colorado's Department of Revenue, the agency that oversees the state's booming medical marijuana business.
"There is a lack of certainty necessary to provide safe access for patients with serious medical conditions," wrote Revenue Director Barbara Brohl in a letter sent Dec. 22. It wasn't released to the public until Wednesday because of the holiday.
Last month, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee sent similar letters to the DEA. They asked that the government list marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, meaning it would remain a controlled substance but could be prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA, which means the drug is considered to be without medicinal value and is illegal in all circumstances.