A poorly drafted proposal that simply goes too far, and will have far reaching, unintended consequences harming Colorado’s medical marijuana patients, public safety, and economy
The Colorado Health Research Council (CHRC) on Friday announced that it has formed to oppose Amendment 139, a constitutional amendment that would order the Legislature to set a limit of no more than 16 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of any cannabis product sold at a state-licensed retail store, while also putting packaging and labeling requirements that already exist directly into the state Constitution.
"While likely well-intended, proponents of the hastily drafted measure are suggesting that we amend our constitution in a way that would have devastating unintended consequences to the citizens and economy of Colorado," the group announced in a prepared statement.
Many Coloradans, including veterans suffering from PTSD, rely on cannabis as an effective and safe medicine. This bill would directly impact those using medical cannabis, including Jack Splitt, according to the CHRC.
The results of an annual survey of U.S. middle and high school students released Wednesday refute claims that reforming marijuana laws and debating legalization will lead to increased marijuana use among teens.
According to the Monitoring the Future Survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
· Rates of daily marijuana use by 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, as well as monthly use by 12th-graders, did not change from 2014 to 2015 and have remained unchanged since 2010.
· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 8th-graders did not change in the past year, but has dropped significantly since 2010.
· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 10th-graders appears to have dropped significantly from 2014 (and 2010) to 2015.
The survey also found a decline in the number of teens who perceive "great risk" in marijuana use, negating the theory that softening perceptions of harm will result in more teens using marijuana.
“Many young people recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and other drugs," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "But they also understand that it is not okay for them to use it.
"For decades, teens had an artificially high perception of risk that stemmed from exaggerations and scare tactics," Tvert said. "Now that there is more information out there and it's not limited to horror stories and propaganda, they are developing a more realistic view.
Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona on Monday launched a Halloween-themed billboard that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.
The orange and black ad, which satirizes “Reefer Madness”-style anti-marijuana propaganda, comes as opponents of the proposed initiative are ramping up efforts to scare voters into keeping marijuana illegal for adults. It features a screaming face and reads, “MARIJUANA: LESS toxic! LESS addictive! LESS scary than ALCOHOL!”
“Marijuana is illegal thanks to decades of anti-marijuana propaganda and fear mongering,” said campaign chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Once people find out it is actually safer than alcohol, they tend to agree it should not be a crime for adults to use it responsibly.
“Over the next 12 months, our opponents are going to do everything they can to scare Arizonans into keeping marijuana illegal,” Holyoak said. “We just want voters to remember that we’re talking about a substance that is proven to be less harmful than alcohol.”
Marijuana dependence is significantly less likely and less severe than than alcohol dependence, according to researchers at the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute more than 2,000 U.S. deaths per year to alcohol poisoning, whereas there has never been a confirmed marijuana poisoning death in history.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday hosted a Congressional Briefing with Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on federal barriers faced by researchers working to understand the medical uses of marijuana.
The briefing provided expert insights on how federal policy has undermined medical marijuana research and the state of contemporary medical marijuana research from Dr. Sue Sisley and Dr. David Casarett. Brooking Institute Fellow John Hudak discussed the practical impact of reform proposals.
“ASA put together this briefing so Congress could hear, directly from top researchers, how to make increased medical marijuana research a reality,” said Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. “These experts can tell us firsthand how the federal government’s policies undermine research and how reforms like the CARERS Act can move this essential medical research forward.”
Dr. Sisley will present insights on how federal barriers have directly blocked her research on using marijuana to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including the adverse impacts of the Drug Enforcement Agency licensing only one entity (National Institute on Drug Abuse) to grow the federal research supply of marijuana. Dr. Casarett, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and author of the recently published book, Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana, will discuss contemporary medical marijuana research.
FDA and NIDA officials express support for ending NIDA’s DEA-mandated monopoly on marijuana available for research purposes
By Steve Elliott
At a Wednesday hearing, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand pressed federal officials to eliminate political barriers that are preventing research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana. The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits,” was held by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.
Officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) echoed the Senators’ concerns and expressed support for removing barriers to research that have been created by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
NIDA has a DEA-mandated monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research purposes, which is grown at the University of Mississippi. Researchers have repeatedly criticized the DEA for refusing to license additional marijuana producers, which they say is preventing the study of marijuana’s medical benefits and the development of marijuana-based medicines.
They have also criticized the poor quality and low potency of the scant marijuana that is currently available, which they say further hinders meaningful research. A DEA administrative law judge ruled that licensing additional producers would be in the public interest, but the DEA has refused to follow the non-binding ruling.
Big Win for Marijuana Reform Advocates but More Has to Be Done
Senate Hearing on Medical Marijuana Scheduled for Wednesday
By Steve Elliott
In a long-sought move anticipated by many marijuana reform advocates, the White House on Monday announced that it was removing a major obstacle to marijuana research – the Public Health Service (PHS) Review.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) welcomed the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to eliminate its Public Health Service (PHS) Review Committee for non-federally funded medical marijuana research – an additional review process not applied to other Schedule I substances. Last year, Rep. Blumenauer led a letter, signed by 29 other members of Congress, to the Secretary of HHS Sylvia Mathews Burwell requesting that this PHS process be eliminated.
“Today’s decision by HHS is a significant step toward improving an antiquated system that unfairly targets marijuana above and beyond other substances in research," Congressman Bluemanuer said. "I applaud the Administration in heeding our request and the request of many to eliminate this barrier.
"I hope this action will facilitate easier access to marijuana for medical researchers,” Rep. Blumenauer said. “Considering the widespread use of medical marijuana, it is absolutely essential that we allow doctors and scientists to research the therapeutic benefits and risks of its use.
In a sadly predictable development, the mortally wounded but still dangerous War On Cannabis has produced a new book from former drug czar William Bennett. Bennett's new nonsense-filled tome is called Going To Pot, and anyone who enjoys right wing moralizing, pseudo-scientific scare-mongering, and patent nonsense can certainly have a hell of a time with this piece of trash.
Bennett served as director of national drug control policy (drug czar) under President George H.W. Bush, and he's long been known for his obnoxious pronouncements and conservative backwardness, as well as tiresomely moralizing and practically unreadable volumes such as The Book of Virtues.
In Going To Pot, Bennett and coauthor Robert White, managing partner in an international law firm and former assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, examine current efforts to legalize pot. "Marijuana, once considered worthy of condemnation, has in recent years become a 'medicine' legalized fully in four states, with others expected to follow," they write.
Here's a handy rule of thumb, folks, and so far, it's reliably worked 100 percent of the time for me. Whenever you're reading something and they put "medicine" in quotes when speaking of cannabis, you're wasting your time; read something else, preferably something where the author isn't suffering from advanced cranial-rectal inversion.
A national survey released on Tuesday found teen marijuana usage rates decreased from 2013 to 2014 — a period marked by heightened national debate regarding marijuana policy and implementation of the nation’s first marijuana legalization laws.
Teens’ perception of ‘great risk’ in marijuana use also decreased among students in all three grades, contradicting the often-heard claim that public dialogue about the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition — including discussion of the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and other substances — will result in more teens using marijuana.
In August, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among the state’s high school students has dropped since marijuana became legal for adults. More information is available at http://mppne.ws/1BSbM17.
“The survey’s findings and recent polls demonstrate that Americans of all ages are wising up when it comes to marijuana," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Support for ending marijuana prohibition is growing among adults, and marijuana use is dropping among teens.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Monday said it needs hundreds of pounds of marijuana for research this year, more than 30 times the amount of cannabis it originally ordered for 2014.
The DEA accordingly adjusted its annual production quota of marijuana for the U.S. government, which is grown on The University of Mississippi's campus at Oxford, reports Pete Kasperowicz at The Blaze.
Ole Miss pot is used exclusively by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct research on marijuana, but don't expect any studies on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. The NIDA, by definition, refuses to fund any studies looking for medical uses, but instead will only authorize studies which look for the harms of marijuana.
Despite what The Blaze reported -- that the NIDA pot was for "medical marijuana research" -- the agency "does not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana," an NIDA spokesperson told The New York Times in 2010. "As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use," NIDA spokeswoman told the Times.
Marijuana Policy Project urges Gov. Cuomo and state legislators to adopt pending legislation that would actually allow people with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday during his State of the State address that he will be issuing an executive order to initiate the establishment of a medical marijuana program in New York. The proposal will likely be unworkable because it is expected to rely on federal agencies’ cooperation and/or hospitals violating federal law, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the nation's largest marijuana policy organization.
"We're pleased to learn Gov. Cuomo is among the 77 percent of Americans who recognize the legitimate medical benefits of marijuana," said MPP Director of State Policies Karen O'Keefe. "Unfortunately, his plan will not allow New Yorkers to access or use medical marijuana anytime soon."
"Twenty states and our nation's capital have enacted laws that protect patients from arrest and provide them with a legal means of acquiring their medicine," O'Keefe said. "If the governor and legislators agree that medical marijuana can help people battle serious illnesses, they can and should adopt a system that will actually allow them to use it."
Following Release of Federal Report on Drug Use, the Marijuana Policy Project Calls on NIDA to Investigate Whether Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol and Cigarettes Could Produce Similar Reductions in Use Among Teens
NIDA-sponsored Monitoring the Future Survey Shows Drop in Current Alcohol and Cigarette Use Among 8th-, 10th-, and 12-graders; Slight Increase in Current Marijuana Use Among 8th- and 10th-Graders and Slight Decrease Among 12th-Graders
Following the Wednesday release of a national survey on teen drug use, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) called on the agency to investigate whether regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could produce similar reductions in use among teens.
Cigarette and alcohol use continued their long-term decline, reaching the lowest point since the survey began polling teenagers in 1975. Also notable is the decline in "synthetic marijuana" use (that garbage actually has nothing to do with cannabis) in 2013.
According to the annual "Monitoring the Future" national survey on drug use, the current use of alcohol and tobacco has dropped among teens in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Current marijuana use increased slightly among 8th- and 10th-graders and decreased slightly among 12th-graders. Current use is defined as use within the past 30 days.
NIDA-sponsored 'Monitoring the Future' survey, which will be released Wednesday, underscores the benefits of regulation versus prohibition — teen alcohol and tobacco use have declined again while there has been no significant change in teen marijuana use
The Monitoring the Future national survey on drug use scheduled to be released Wednesday by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is expected to show that changes in state marijuana laws and the escalating marijuana legalization debate have not resulted in increased teen marijuana use. It also found that teen alcohol and cigarette use declined significantly while teen marijuana use remained relatively consistent, underscoring the benefits of regulation compared to prohibition.
A summary of the report released last week to members of the media indicates that marijuana use did not increase among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in 2013 despite the passage of laws making marijuana legal for adults in Colorado and Washington in November 2012. The findings undermine the argument often made by marijuana policy reform opponents that passage of such laws and heightened public debate about the benefits of legalizing marijuana will result in more teens using the substance.
One can kill you; the other doesn't. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?
Well, it seems nothing is simple when it comes to federal bureaucrats, who demonstrated their tenuous grip on reality this week. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a statement refuting a claim in a recent ad by the Marijuana Policy Project that described cannabis as being "less toxic" than alcohol. NIDA is part of the National Institute of Health, a federal agency.
"Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual," the agency lied.
Not surprisingly, MPP quickly fired back, rightly calling NIDA's statement "preposterous," reports David Knowles at the New York Daily News.
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report no marijuana-use-only deaths each year and there has never been a marijuana overdose death in history," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the MPP. "It reports tens of thousands of people die from alcohol alone each year and hundreds die from acute overdose."
Citing statistics from the CDC, PolitiFact noted that there were 41,682 deaths attributed to alco0hol in 2010, while cannabis wasn't listed as the cause of any deaths.
But Can Patients Trust This Notoriously Anti-Marijuana Federal Agency?
By Steve Elliott
Does medical marijuana really help patients? A federal study, funded to the tune of $2.2 million, will soon take a look at that question. But can medical marijuana patients really trust the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has until now always refused to study the medicinal benefits of cannabis, instead concentrating on trying to find negative aspects to its use?
A grant from the NIDA will fund a four-year project that already began this month at the University of Michigan, reports Robin Erb at the Detroit Free Press. Researchers will track the progress of 800 medical marijuana patients.
A spokesperson for the NIDA told The New York Times in 2010 that the agency "does not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana."
"As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use," said NIDA spokeswoman Shirley Simson.
In any event, Michigan, which has more than 135,000 patients enrolled in its four-year-old medical marijuana program, will be the site of the study. It is one of 19 (or 20, counting Maryland's weak law) states which allow the use of medicinal cannabis to treat pain, nausea, and symptoms from cancer, AIDS and other conditions.
Mayor Vincent Gray and the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday launched D.C.'s first campaign against "synthetic marijuana" use among District youth. The zombie-themed campaign will highlight the negative side effects and dangers of the illegal drug, which really shouldn't be called "marijuana" at all, since -- unlike cannabis -- it can be dangerous.
Synthetic smoking mixes go by a variety of different names such as Spice, Spice Gold, K2, Zombie World, Scooby Snax, and Potpourri. They are often packaged in bright, colorful three-ounce plastic pouches decorated with designs, graphic imagery, quotes from cartoon characters and popular movies, and other recognizable mainstream logos.
Public health and law enforcement officials have traced the sale of the drug to many D.C. tobacco shops and smoke shops, gas stations, convenience stores and over the Internet.
"One of my top priorities is to ensure that District youth have an opportunity to learn, live, and grow in a city that takes a proactive approach to ensure their right to a healthy, safe and drug-free life," Mayor Gray said. "The new campaign designed to create awareness of the extreme dangers and negative effects of synthetic marijuana is remarkable and very necessary.
The federal National Institutes for Health and the National Institute for Drug Abuse are waving around $2 million, hoping researchers will try to find negative impacts of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington.
"In November 2012, voters passed ballot initiatives in the states of Washington and Colorado to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use," reads the so-called "funding opportunity" at NIH.gov, reports Mike Riggs at Reason.com.
"We know little about the impact this shifting marijuana policy environment has had or will have on epidemiology, prevention and treatment of substance use, misuse, and related health outcomes such as HIV and other risk behavior (i.e. drugged driving)," the "funding opportunity" reads.
The NIDA officially considers all marijuana use to be "abuse."
The NIH and NIDA will begin accepting applications on April 30.
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.
EUGENE, Ore. - You might call it her morning routine.
With her lighter in hand, 72-year-old Elvy Musikka gets a cannabis buzz every day, courtesy of the federal government.
"It does give you a push. The high is nothing but feeling good about things," she said sitting on her couch in her South Eugene apartment.
The grandmother, who uses cannabis for her glaucoma, is part of a very unique club.
Since 1988, Musikka has been getting more than three and a half pounds of pot every year from the federal government.
"These are the tins that the federal government sends to the University of Miami," she said pointing to her rolled joints. "I have to go there and see my doctor and pick up a prescription. I call them my green Pall Malls."
She's part of the "Compassionate New Drug Access Program."
It started in 1976 after a man sued the government, claiming only pot helped his glaucoma.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse or "NIDA" provided rolled joints for sick people until the first Bush Administration halted it in 1992.
"Every single one of us had to have reliable doctors that they would count on, extensive medical records, and had to prove to FDA, DEA and NIDA," Musikka said. "I eventually became the first woman to join the two men who were smoking legally at the time."