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Presence Of THC In Blood is Not Associated With Crash Culpability, Finds Study

12 hours 6 min ago
According to a new study, drivers who test positive for THC do not possess a significantly increased risk of being responsible for a non-fatal motor vehicle accident.

For the study, researchers at the University of British Columbia compared the likelihood of crash responsibility in drivers testing positive for THC and/or other substances as compared to drug-free drivers over a six-year period (2010 to 2016).

As reported on by NORML, the state found that, “In this multi-site observational study of non-fatally injured drivers, we found no increase in crash risk, after adjustment for age, sex, and use of other impairing substances, in drivers with THC<5ng/ml. For drivers with THC>5ngml there may be an increased risk of crash responsibility, but this result was statistically non-significant and further study is required. … Our findings … suggest that the impact of cannabis on road safety is relatively small at present time.”

By contrast, authors reported, “There was a significantly increased risk for drivers who used alcohol, sedating medications, or recreational drugs others than cannabis.” Drivers who tested positive for the concurrent use of cannabis and alcohol possessed a higher risk of accident as compared to drivers who tested positive for alcohol alone – a finding that is consistent with other studies.

The full text of the study, titled “Cannabis use as a risk factor for causing motor vehicle crashes: A prospective study,” has been published in the journal Addiction.

The full abstract of the study can be found below:

AIM:

We conducted a responsibility analysis to determine whether drivers injured in motor vehicle collisions who test positive for Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or other drugs are more likely to have contributed to the crash than those who test negative.

DESIGN:

Prospective case-control study.

SETTING:

Trauma centres in British Columbia, Canada.

PARTICIPANTS:

Injured drivers who required blood tests for clinical purposes following a motor vehicle collision.

MEASUREMENTS:

Excess whole blood remaining after clinical use was obtained and broad spectrum toxicology testing performed. The analysis quantified alcohol and THCand gave semi-quantitative levels of other impairing drugs and medications. Police crash reports were analyzed to determine which drivers contributed to the crash (responsible) and which were “innocently involved” (non-responsible). We used unconditional logistic regression to determine the likelihood (Odds Ratio) of crash responsibility in drivers with 0<THC<2ng/mL, 2ng/mL≤THC<5ng/mL, and THC≥5 ng/mL (all versus THC=0 ng/mL). Risk estimates were adjusted for age, sex, and presence of other impairing substances.

FINDINGS:

We obtained toxicology results on 3005 injured drivers and police reports on 2318. Alcohol was detected in 14.4% of drivers, THC in 8.3%, other drugs in 8.9% and sedating medications in 19.8%. There was no increased risk of crash responsibility in drivers with THC<2ng/mL or 2≤THC<5ng/mL. In drivers with THC≥5ng/mL, the adjusted OR was 1.74 (95%CI=0.59-6.36;p=0.35). There was significantly increased risk of crash responsibility in drivers with BAC≥0.08% (OR=6.00;95%CI=3.87-9.75;p<0.01), other recreational drugs detected (OR=1.82;95%CI=1.21-2.80;p<0.01), or sedating medications detected (OR=1.45;95%CI=1.11-1.91;p<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

In this sample of non-fatally injured motor vehicle drivers in British Columbia, Canada, there was no evidence of increased crash risk in drivers with THC<5ng/mL and a statistically non-significant increased risk of crash responsibility (OR=1.74) in drivers with THC≥5ng/mL.

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Study: Medical Marijuana Legalization Associated With Lower Opioid Prescription Rates

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 03:01
According to a new study published by the journal Preventive Medicine, medical marijuana legalization is associated with reduced opioid prescription rates.

The study, titled “Association between cannabis laws and opioid prescriptions among privately insured adults in the US,” analyzed how different cannabis laws influenced the rate of opioid prescriptions among adults from different age groups in 2016.

According to High Times, who first reported on the study, researchers examined the relationships between a few different variables. First, age, breaking it up into five groups, 18-25, 26-35, 36-45, 46-55, and 56-64 years. Second, changes in state cannabis law, whether decriminalization, medical legalization, or adult-use legalization. And third, the pattern and rate of opioid prescriptions, broken down into greater than 30-day and greater than 90-day prescriptions.

Examining how those three variables interact with each other, researchers made some important findings. Overall, they noticed “a significant interaction between age and cannabis law on opioid prescriptions.” But those interactions changed depending on age and the type of cannabis law.

For the oldest age group, 56-64, researchers found no significant interactions between age, marijuana law and opioid prescriptions. But for everyone else aged 18-55, researchers say the interactions were significant. According to their results, those age groups showed lower opioid prescription rates, but only in states with medical cannabis laws. In short, patients aged 18-55 were prescribed fewer and shorter opioid prescriptions in states with legal medical marijuana.

When it comes to other categories of cannabis law, such as adult use and decriminalization, however, researchers did not find any significant reduction in opioid prescriptions among any of the age groups. It was just in medical marijuana-only states that researchers observed the decrease in opioid prescriptions.

“So, medical marijuana legalization can help reduce patients’ opioid use, at least for those aged 18-55”, states High Times. “It’s a finding that resonates with similar studies that have looked at the relationships between cannabis legalization and opioid use.

In 2015, for example, researchers found that states with legal access to dispensaries experienced a decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths. Then, in 2018, another study found an association between the implementation of medical cannabis laws and lower rates of opioid prescription among Medicaid recipients. That same year, another study found that among Medicare recipients aged 65 and above, opioid prescriptions also decreased where medical cannabis laws were in effect.”

The present study “attempts to tease out how those associations play out among different age groups of people who have private medical insurance.”Previous studies found a reduction in opioid prescriptions among seniors where medical marijuana was available. This study did not see a similar reduction among its oldest cohort, aged 56-64. Why the difference? Are doctors quicker to prescribe dangerous opioids to patients on Medicare and/or Medicaid than they are to those with private insurance?”

In short, “there are a ton of socio-economic factors at play here, in addition to the medical variables. And for that reason, the authors of the present study caution against viewing the correlation their data shows as causation.”

They also caution against the “potential dangers related to careless substitution of cannabis for opioids.” And to back up that claim, they cite the controversial and often-rebuked studiesthat say cannabis use can cause psychosis or act as a “reverse gateway” to addictive drug abuse.

Still, as High Times notes, “this study’s data, regardless of the views of its authors, merits further and deeper investigation. If cannabis can be a safe alternative to addictive and harmful opioid painkillers, it stands to save tens of thousands of lives.”

The full study can be found by clicking here.

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Illinois Senate Approves Bill to Legalize Marijuana

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 02:42
Legislation to legalize marijuana for everyone 21 and older has been passed in an overwhelming vote by the Illinois Senate.

The Illinois Senate voted Wednesday to pass the bill, sending it to the House for consideration with just a couple days left in the legislative session. The vote was 38 to 17, with just two Republicans voting in favor, reports the Associated Press.

“This bill is going to set the model, I believe, the gold standard for how to approach social equity issues, relating (to) cannabis legalization,” Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, the bill’s chief sponsor, said in her closing statement on the Senate floor.

The action Wednesday came just hours after a new, revised version of the bill was made public, and it is substantially different from the one Steans introduced on May 3, a proposal that sparked strong resistance from law enforcement, business groups and some local governments.

Like the original draft, the new bill, an amended version of House Bill 1438, provides that starting Jan. 1, 2020, Illinois residents could possess up to 30 grams, or roughly one ounce, of marijuana flower, 5 grams of THC concentrate and 5 grams of THC in a marijuana-infused product. It also authorizes the state to issue a limited number of licenses for cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries, and to charge excise taxes on the retail sale of marijuana products.

But other major provisions in the 622-page bill are substantially different from the original version, and those changes appeared to be key to gaining support and quelling some opposition.

For example, instead of enacting blanket, mass expungements of previous criminal records for minor marijuana-related violations, the new bill allows for expungement through the governor’s clemency process if the case involves less than 30 grams of marijuana. For cases involving amounts greater than that, up to 500 grams, individuals and state’s attorneys would be allowed to petition a court to vacate a conviction.

“Moving that off the table, I think, paved the way for us to resolve a bunch of other issues that were very important that weren’t resolved initially,” Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, told reporters after a committee hearing on the bill Wednesday.

Among those other issues was a provision allowing people to grow up to five marijuana plants in their own homes, under certain conditions. While the original bill would have extended that right to all adults, the new bill limits it only to people who have been approved to use marijuana for medical purposes.

The new bill also preserves the right of employers to maintain “zero tolerance” policies on drug use and to establish drug-free workplaces. And it allows local governments to prohibit cannabis businesses in their communities, or to enact zoning regulations to control where they are located.

It also preserves the right of landlords to prohibit marijuana possession and use on their properties.

Among the senators from the suburbs, Democrats Melinda Bush of Grayslake, Cristina Castro of Elgin, Thomas Cullerton of Villa Park, Laura Ellman of Naperville, Ann Gillespie of Arlington Heights, Linda Holmes of Aurora, Julie A. Morrison of Deerfield and Laura M. Murphy of Des Plaines voted yes, while Republicans John F. Curran of Downers Grove, Donald P. DeWitte of St. Charles, Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods and Craig Wilcox of McHenry voted no.

Last week, a number of Northwest suburban Democrats had balked or wavered on the legislation, led by Rep. Marty Moylan of Des Plaines. The Daily Herald had reached out to 24 suburban Democrats; 12 responded, and of those, eight were uncommitted or disagreed with the legislation before it was revised.

Illinoisans cultivating their own weed was a deal-breaker for Murphy, who said last week she was worried about “the availability of roadside detection, and the current allocation of funding for local law enforcement.”

For many supporters of legalization, the most important issues other than expungement involved what they called “social justice and equity” provisions. Among those are provisions that earmark 25 percent of the revenue generated to a grant program for reinvestment in low-income, high-minority neighborhoods.

It also gives preference in license applications to people who live in or have connections to neighborhoods characterized by high arrest rates for marijuana and other drug-related offenses.

Some opponents of the measure, however, said that provision was one of the reasons they voted against the bill.

“There is a limited number of licenses and we’re going to give preference to vendors who are going to be in the poorest ZIP codes in Illinois,” said Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. “We’re going to give preference to keeping poor people stoned.”

In addition to funding community reinvestment grants, the bill calls for dedicating 35 percent of the revenue to the state general revenue fund, 20 percent for substance abuse prevention and mental health services, 10 percent to pay down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills; 8 percent for local law enforcement, and 2 percent for public education and safety campaigns.

The post Illinois Senate Approves Bill to Legalize Marijuana appeared first on TheJointBlog.

Why Treating Epileptic Seizures With CBD Oil Is A Good Idea?

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 22:45

The year 2018 witnessed a landmark decision on the cannabis front. Various states joined hands in legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis. This decision was based on a number of positive research that supported cannabis to be a potential drug that can effectively treat various diseases. Today cannabis doctors across these states and countries prescribe cannabis-based treatments to ease various ailments and discomfort associated with them.

 

Cannabis and Epileptic Seizures

 One such ailment that has been facing a tough front in terms of medication is Epilepsy. Caused due to abnormal activities in the central nervous system, Epilepsy causes periodic seizures and sensations in individuals who tend to lose a sense of awareness. The length, intensity and other symptoms of these seizures vary from one patient to the other. Currently, there are surgery and other medication based treatments that aim to control brain activity and thus reduce seizures. Yet, none of these medications have been the breakthrough that patients have been looking forward to.

 

Cannabis to the rescue

 Cannabis, in fact, could be the miracle that Epilepsy patients have been hoping for. And the truth about the efficiency of Cannabis to treat Epilepsy can be backed by the FDI who recently approved the use of Cannabis or CBD based solution called Epidiolex. This approval offers treatment for 2 types of rare forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome using CBD or Cannabidiol using Epidiolex. Medical cannabis is now available at authorized dispensaries as well as on online platforms which means more patients can experience the true potential of Cannabis.

 

What makes cannabidiol so special?

CBD has been the interest of research across the world as a potential medication. CBD is the non-psychoactive substance present in cannabis that comes with various health benefits. This means patients can undergo the treatment without having to worry about the intoxication. The case of Trysten Pearson who suffers from epilepsy is a typical example of how CBD can be effectively used to treat the symptoms associated with epilepsy. The use of CBD oil helped reduce seizures in his case. Today CBD oil is available to treat various such patients across the states who are suffering from the effects of Epilepsy.

  1. CBD can reduce the intensity and frequency of occurrence of seizures:

One of the most commonly mentioned cases where CBD effectively helped Epilepsy is the case of Charlotte Figi suffering from Dravet syndrome. After many failed attempts to treat the condition, the use of CBD helped reduce the frequency of seizures from over 300 a week to  2-3 per month.

A study conducted in early 2015 in the University Colorado revealed that over 47 percent of patients who moved into Colorado seeking treatment for Epilepsy witnessed a positive change in their condition. Another study that offers conclusive proof of CBD`s effectiveness was published in the Journal of Epilepsy research. The study involved the use of 3 therapy trails with CBD on patients suffering from different forms of epilepsy. The conclusions offer class-1 evidence that use of CBD can improve seizure control in patients suffering from certain forms of epilepsy.

  1. CBD can enhance the effects of other medications

 A study published by Langone Medical center aimed to cumulate results from various cannabis-based treatment studies from multiple research centers. The study involved 162 patients treated with 99 percent cannabidiol and monitored over a period of 12 weeks. Cannabidiol was offered as an add-on to existing medications to these. The observations suggest that the use of cannabidiol reduced motor seizures by about 36.5 percent and in fact, 2 percent of patients became seizure free. Similar evidence suggests that cannabidiol can help enhance the effectiveness of existing medications and anabolic steroids. Yet, this effect may vary for different types of medications.

  1. CBD has less or no-side effects:

In both plant and oil form, Cannabis is not a fail-proof drug. Yet the types of side-effects observed in patients suffering from Epilepsy were mild and easily curable when exposed to CBD. These symptoms include sleepiness, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite, etc, as compared to drastic symptoms in case of existing medications. This makes CBD a safer choice of treatment. You should always purchase CBD and related products from

 

The right grade of medical marijuana

 Medical marijuana is a collective term and not everything that comes under it serves the same purpose. Pharmaceutical grade CBD is well purified and is effective for treatment whereas there are various other strains that are also available with different levels of CBD and THC. Species such as Indica have higher THC content whereas Sativa has higher CBD content. Proper knowledge of the species you use is important to achieve the expected results from this form of treatment.

Doses of up to 10-25 mg/kg initially were effective in treating different forms of epilepsy. More lab trails and patient feedback can be an effective measure of CBD`s efficiency towards treating epilepsy. Although CBD is not a miracle cure that can eradicate Epilepsy, it can help improve the quality of life of patients suffering from Epilepsy.

The post Why Treating Epileptic Seizures With CBD Oil Is A Good Idea? appeared first on TheJointBlog.

Over 150 Athletes Sign Letter to World Anti-Doping Agency Asking for Removal of Marijuana from Prohibited List

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 04:08
Over 150 current and former athletes have signed a letter that’s been sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency, asking them to remove marijuana from its list of prohibited substances.

Mike Tyson (Photo: Biography.com).

Retired NFL players Jake Plummer and Ricky Williams, famed boxer Mike Tyson and cyclist Floyd Landis are among the athletes who submitted the letter through Athletes for CARE, a nonprofit organization that advocates for marijuana research to treat a variety of ailments.

“Athletes for CARE is proud to have such a strong network of respected athletes campaigning for the removal of cannabis from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited substance list,” Anna Symonds, a rugby player and Athletes for CARE representative, said in a statement. “We’re also calling on fans to show their support online via our Change.org petition.”

The letter specifically asks for THC, the main active ingredient of cannabis, to be removed from the list.

“We have found an improved quality of life through cannabis and natural cannabinoids, including significant therapeutic and wellness benefits, and these positives should be freely available to all other athletes,” the letter reads.

The release of the letter comes two days after recently retired NFL defensive end Chris Long said in a radio interview that he used marijuana throughout his career.

“Listen, if not for that, I’m not as capable of coping with the stressors of day-to-day NFL life,” Long said. “A lot of guys get a lot of pain management out of it.”

In 2017 the World Anti-Doping Agency removed cannabidiol (CBD) from their 2018 list of prohibited substances.

“Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited”, said the WADA. “Synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic; however, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance,”.

WADA’s threshold for THC is 150 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

The post Over 150 Athletes Sign Letter to World Anti-Doping Agency Asking for Removal of Marijuana from Prohibited List appeared first on TheJointBlog.

California is Moving Forward With a Plan to Establish Marijuana Banks

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 06:50
The Associated Press is reporting that California is quickly moving forward with a plan to establish a system of banks to work with the marijuana industry which is legal under state law, but illegal under federal law.

Given that legal marijuana businesses are shut out of the traditional banking system by federal laws, proponents of the new push argue that they would benefit if the state approves a measure creating a special class of banks to handle pot money.

The state Senate voted 35 to 1 on Tuesday to pass a bill that would allow people to start banks and credit unions that could accept cash deposits from marijuana retailers.

Those banks could issue special checks to the retailers that could only be used for certain purposes, including paying taxes and California-based vendors.

State lawmakers also say such banks would make it easier for licensed pot retailers to pay their taxes, which fell far short of expectations in the first year after legalization.

“This is as close as we can get until the federal government changes its policy,” said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Van Nuys Democrat and the author of the bill that now goes to the Assembly.

Marijuana has been legal in California since January 2018, but it’s still illegal under federal law.

U.S. statutes also prohibit banks from handling money that comes from criminal activity. Banks that knowingly accept money from licensed marijuana retailers haven’t been able to get federal deposit insurance.

Meanwhile, pot businesses can’t get debit or credit cards or use checks, according to a report by legislative staffers.

The result, according to Hertzberg, is “millions of dollars buried in barrels.” He called it a public safety issue, putting retailers at risk of robbery.

Marijuana tax collections were $100 million short of expectations in August. Earlier this month, marijuana revenue projections by the state through June 2020 were cut by $223 million.

Republican Sen. Jeff Stone said the state is losing “probably hundreds of millions” of dollars in taxes each year because marijuana retailers can’t write a check to the state.

“They’ve got to come in with wheelbarrows to carry in all the cash,” he said.

Retailers have also blamed low tax collections on sluggish sales due to a still flourishing black market.

Last week, lawmakers rejected a bill that would have temporarily lowered taxes on growers in an effort to help licensed retailers compete with the illegal sellers.

The post California is Moving Forward With a Plan to Establish Marijuana Banks appeared first on TheJointBlog.

Vermont and New Hampshire May Delay Votes on Marijuana Proposals

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 05:16
Marijuana legalization measures in both Vermont and New Hampshire have hit a roadblock, reports the Associated Press.

In Vermont, marijuana has been legal since July 1, 2018, when a lawmaker-approved measure took effect. However, the law established no legal means of actually purchasing marijuana (they are the only state to legalize marijuana without allowing marijuana retail outlets).

The Vermont Senate passed a tax and regulate proposal earlier this session, as noted by the AP, but it won’t be acted upon in the House before January. Meanwhile, a legalization bill in New Hampshire could end up similarly delayed.

“We need to get a tax and regulated system as soon as possible, not necessarily for the money, but to at least regulate what people are using for a drug,”  State Senator Dick Sears (D) said on Friday. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) has said the chamber doesn’t have time to deal with the issue before adjournment, expected within the next few days.

Governor Phil Scott (R), who supported the legalization proposal last year, has said he’s concerned about highway safety, and he’d like to see some effective way to measure impairment of drivers who use marijuana. He hasn’t said whether he would sign a bill setting up a tax and regulation system if one reaches his desk.

Under the Vermont law that took effect July 1 with little fanfare, adults over age 21 are allowed to possess up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana, two mature marijuana plants and four immature plants. With no provisions in the law for pot shops, users must grow it themselves or buy it from illicit dealers.

In New Hampshire, the House passed a bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana last month, but without enough votes to override Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s promised veto. A Senate committee recently recommended delaying action on the bill until late December or early next year, though the full Senate has yet to vote on the recommendation.

“I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done before we even begin to consider legalizing marijuana,” Sen. Sharon Carson (R), a Judiciary Committee member and legalization opponent, told the Concord Monitor. She raised concerns about how to limit advertising to children and testing drivers impaired by smoking marijuana.

“I think for me the biggest issue is the federal side,” said Carson. “New Hampshire is legalizing something that is federally illegal.”

The House-passed bill would legalize possession up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. Adults would be allowed to grow up to six plants, and a commission would be set up to license and regulate an industry supporters said could produce $33 million per year.

Ten states have legalized recreational marijuana, Maine and Massachusetts, while New York, New Jersey and others are considering it this year. Last year, California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, Massachusetts opened the first recreational shops on the East Coast, Canada legalized it in most provinces, and Mexico’s Supreme Court recognized the rights of individuals to use marijuana, moving the country closer to broad legalization.

Efforts to legalize marijuana in both New Jersey and New York fizzled out this year as well.

“It’s frustrating that the prohibitionists have succeeded in delaying the inevitable for yet another session, but we will continue working to help the legislatures in both states achieve consensus on a responsible set of cannabis policies,” Matt Simon, the regional representative of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an email.

The post Vermont and New Hampshire May Delay Votes on Marijuana Proposals appeared first on TheJointBlog.

First-ever First Nation cannabis outdoor grow operation; First Nation cannabis inventor and entrepreneur featured in second edition of “Growth and Prosperity” Magazine

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:06

(Serpent River First Nation, May 16, 2019) The second edition of “Growth and Prosperity: Indigenous Cannabis and Hemp Magazine” is now online at https://bimaadzwin.ca/growth-and-prosperity-spring-summer-2019/. Feature stories include the fact that Health Canada has given Wiisag, a First Nation company, approval to pursue the next step towards growing cannabis outdoors this summer; while Justin Valmont is the inventor of an automated cannabis growing system.

“The purpose of this magazine is to highlight the fact that Indigenous peoples are and will continue to become key players in Canada’s cannabis industry,” said publisher Isadore Day. “Growth and Prosperity not only highlights successes but provides information on how our Peoples and communities can become involved in the industry, which includes the production and sale of both medical and recreational cannabis.

“The following is an excerpt from my message in the latest edition: When we look across the country, we see many hard-fought assertions to participate in Canada’s cannabis industry – but it’s not an easy, cut and dried task to unpack where First Nations stand in today’s industry.

“The mishmash of views and approaches to First Nation jurisdictional issues as perceived by Canada is a result of the neglect of not only Canada and the provinces, but due to the political paralysis of some of our own First Nation leaders on the issue – but that’s another story for another day.

“Without getting too far into the weeds – we know that there are three central concerns from Indigenous Peoples regarding Canada’s laws on cannabis. First, respecting the Nationhood rights of Indigenous communities on cannabis means a formal recognition of First Nation industry interests.

 

“Secondly, consultation laws that Canada is legally bound to simply were not respected in the accelerated manner that the federal government advanced the legislative agenda.  Finally, Canada’s claims to reconciliation – at least from the economic perspective, are clearly of no significant consequence.

 

“First Nations today that wish to assert their interests in this industry are faced with persecution and labeling of being a grey market, or as having ties with a black market. It is being suggested that what First Nations are developing, despite colonial incursion on their cannabis rights, is the Red Market.

 

“Intrigue has been sparked by the determination in approach by Indigenous entrepreneurs, and the impact that First Nations who are not prepared to allow a colonial narrative to be perpetuated are having on the industry. You will also notice, if you look closely, that First Nation cannabis entrepreneurs who are succeeding, are well empowered with expertise, innovative ideas, investment capacity, and are sought by non-Indigenous investors because of the edge that Indigenous Nationhood rightfully maintains.

“At the end of the day, every single Indigenous individual or community who wants to either invest or become directly involved in the cannabis industry, has the potential to grow and prosper for many years to come,” concluded Day. “That economic potential must also be respected, accepted, even celebrated by mainstream governments who realize that our Peoples have every right to grow their economies, locally, regionally, nationally and globally.”

This edition of the Growth and Prosperity magazine focuses on the positive momentum that is being cultivated in the cannabis field by Indigenous entrepreneurs. In our next edition, which will be released in the fall of 2019, we will take a more in-depth look at cannabis regulations, policies, and First Nation laws. And, in the spirit of nationhood, we will extend meaningful discussions on international perspectives and how other Indigenous Peoples are coming into their own when it comes to the cannabis economy.

For more information, contact Bryan Hendry, Director of Marketing and Communications at bhendry@bimaadzwin.ca or 613-863-1764

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Wiisag Receives Confirmation of Readiness for Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 15:59

(Toronto, May 8, 2019) Wiisag Corporation, an integrated indigenous cannabis company, headquartered at Neyaashiinigmiing, ON, First Nation, is pleased to announce it has received a letter from Health Canada stating that Wiisag is at the Confirmation of Readiness stage, effective immediately.

“We are thrilled to receive this notice from Health Canada. Now we can truly begin our journey in the cannabis industry,” said Jake Linklater, Executive Chairman of Wiisag. “We continue to persevere through the rigorous process, diligently working to address and comply with the Cannabis Act and regulations. It is very rewarding to achieve this major milestone in time to get a crop in the ground this year.”

“This is a big step towards building an Indigenous company that can compete in the global cannabis industry” added Joel Strickland, Wiisag CEO. “We have listened carefully to Chiefs, Councillors, Elders, and Youth to hear community concerns and hopes for cannabis and we have incorporated a lot of these teachings into our plans. We have also listened carefully to capital providers and other industry stakeholders. The harmonization of different perspectives into an actionable plan is one of the many things that make Wiisag unique.”

“From Day One, we have been committed to executing a scalable outdoor grow plan on reserve. We have assembled an exceptionally technical team to execute our business plan and we are grateful for their efforts to get us to this stage,” Linklater concluded. “We now look forward to working with First Nations communities and indigenous entrepreneurs as we execute our plan and create good jobs and opportunity as we grow.”

“This confirmation from Health Canada demonstrates that there are formal inroads for First Nations to get involved in Canada’s cannabis industry. We need to keep collaborating toward these types of successes”, says Isadore Day, Director of Community and Government Relations. “This is a solid step toward economic reconciliation.”

 

For more information on Wiisag, contact Joel Strickland, CEO, at jstrickland@wiisag.ca

For media inquiries, please contact Bryan Hendry, Director of Marketing and Communications, at bhendry@wiisag.ca or 613-863-1764

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Arkansas First Ever Medical Marijuana Dispensary Now Open

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 01:26
The first legal medical marijuana dispensary in state history is now open in Arkansas.

It took 2.5 years after voters legalized the medicine, but Arkansas’ first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors on Saturday, reports the Associated Press.

Doctor’s Orders RX in Hot Springs was the first dispensary to be officially licensed by the state, and it is currently the only one operating. It sold marijuana to a patient Friday to test its software and officially opened Saturday.

Two and a half years after Arkansans voted to legalize medical marijuana, qualifying patients could begin buying the product Saturday morning when the state’s first dispensary opened, though the celebratory mood was dampened by confusion about operating hours and fears the dispensary wouldn’t be able to serve all the patients by closing time, states the AP.

Doctor’s Orders RX in Hot Springs was the first dispensary to be officially licensed by the state and is currently the only one operating. It sold marijuana to a patient Friday to test its software and officially opened Saturday.

As of Thursday, the Arkansas Health Department had approved medical marijuana cards for more than 11,700 residents.

Doctor’s Orders RX owner Don Sears said in a statement Friday that “processing schedules are unpredictable and out of our control,” and warned patients to expect long lines and limited product.

Eventually, employees allowed in, one at a time, patients who had been at the dispensary Friday and had been registered in the system. Those who’d camped out since before sunrise expressed frustration.

At about 9:20 a.m., people cheered as an employee let in Gerard Wimer, a 38-year-old construction worker from Jacksonville who takes hydrocodone for back pain and arthritis and who was first in line. After he saw on the Friday night news the dispensary was opening, he drove down with a tent to camp out, though he ended up sleeping in his truck. Behind him stood his retired mother, 67-year-old Gena Hunter, whose spot he saved.

After around 10 minutes, Wimer left the facility carrying a paper bag that contained half an ounce of medical marijuana, which cost $220, he said.

Hunter, who followed her son out, said the employees were courteous and helped her choose strains good for her neuropathy and arthritis. She got a quarter ounce each of “Blue Dream” and “Cookies and Chem.”

“I have no idea what that means,” she said.

Wimer said his experience was “pretty easy,” but that he would try Green Springs Medical next time, when he hopes prices come down. Still, he was glad he came.

“It means maybe I won’t have to be taking pain pills,” Wimer said. “I’m excited. I’m very excited.”

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Medical Marijuana vs. Recreational Marijuana

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 16:01

By Kathy T. Cooley

With new ailments making their way to the ‘list of deadly diseases’, the inclination towards alternative medicine has increased. People are ready to take the risk and are exploring alternatives, rather than sticking to good old allopathy. Cannabis shrouded in mystery and skepticism for years has now resurfaced as more than just a recreational drug. As the lines between medical and recreational cannabis begin to blur, drug abuse is at an all-time high.

Reason? Many of us do not understand the workings of this complicated drug. In an attempt to clarify the general misconceptions surrounding marijuana, we bring you the differences between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

 

Medical Marijuana vs Recreational Marijuana :

While the legalization of Marijuana is still a subject of taboo, many states across the world have decided to give it a shot, owing to its medical benefits.

 

Medical Marijuana :

Medical Marijuana is usually referred to the unprocessed cannabis itself. The focus is mainly on the two out of 100 chemicals known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol(CBD).  The former being a psychoactive compound responsible for the ‘high’, while the later doesn’t carry any psychoactive effects.

So what makes it different from its recreational cousin? Medical marijuana usually offers a high content of CBD, cutting out on the euphoric effects.

 

Recreational Marijuana :

Microdosing psychedelics is nothing but cannabis or other psychedelic substances consumed without any medical advice or justification. Recreational marijuana comes with a higher level of THC and is meant to provide consumers with the ‘high’ which comes as a side effect to its consumption. For the budget-conscious cannabis consumer budget buds are a great option!

 

History of Recreational Marijuana Vs Medical Marijuana :

The Marijuana that you find in drug stores is usually labeled and marketed as hemp oil or hemp seeds. An excellent source of protein and fiber, medical marijuana seeds have come a long way from being used by ancient Chinese pharmacologists in 2737 BC to being listed as an ‘acceptable medical product’ in the U.S in the 1940s.

Contrary to popular belief, recreational marijuana is not comparatively a recent concept. Though the fashion of using marijuana for recreation caught up late, it has always been there with human civilization. The 1920s saw Mexican immigrants bringing with them the Marijuana Cult. Consumers increased exponentially, up until it faced a ban in 29 states across the U.S. With the advent of the 21st Century, many states took a softer approach toward the subject and voted to decriminalize the use of marijuana. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis.

 

Major differences between Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana :

  1. This is one basic difference. Medical cannabis contains a higher concentration of CBD, unlike its recreational counterpart. So you don’t necessarily feel ‘the high’.

 

  1. Medical marijuana is strictly prescription based and consumed under doctor’s advice. Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, doesn’t need a qualifying condition for purchase.

 

  1. If you live in the states and are looking for medical marijuana, you have to be over 18 years of age, to get it from a dispensary. Whereas if you want some good old pot a.k.a recreational marijuana, the qualifying age to buy legal marijuana is set at 21 years. If you are a total beginner, try Weed Vaporizer instead of digging all into cannabis rolls.

 

  1. Indica Vs Sativa :

Indica and the sativa are the two major types of cannabis plant containing different levels of THC and CBD. Indica Contains more CBD which makes one feel heavy. It has a short dense plant structure, synthesized for medicinal purpose. Whereas Sativa has a higher THC content and gives you the desired euphoria. The plant structure is rather skinny and tall.

Now that we know the basic differences between Medical and Recreational Marijuana, let’s shift the focus to – why use such a complicated, unpredictable plant for a medicinal purpose at all?

 

  1. Medical Marijuana treats diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s, Glaucoma and sclerosis. It is also used in the treatment of Eating disorders, Muscle spasms and even (shockingly) Cancer.

 

  1. Although the results aren’t guaranteed and the treatment often shady, marijuana is also used to provide relief in case of chronic pain and nausea resulting from chemotherapy.

 

  1. It has also been proven to help with the treatment of nausea in AIDS patients. Research at St. John’s Hospital, Tulsa claimed that around 38 percent of patients consuming five mg of Marinol (synthesized marijuana used for the medicinal purpose) felt a drastic reduction in nausea over a six week period.

 

  1. Medical marijuana is useful for patients suffering from diabetes and spinal cord injuries and provides relief from nerve pain.

 

  1. Marijuana, rich in CBD, also assists in the treatment of epilepsy and schizophrenia in children

 

Getting your hands on Medical Marijuana Vs Recreational Marijuana :

For obtaining medical marijuana, you need to get a physician’s recommendation in a Marijuana-legalized state. Your disease/condition must qualify for the weed-based treatment and you should ideally carry a medical pot ID card duly authorized and renewed. Getting your hands on recreational marijuana is easier, provided you live in a place where weed is legalized. All you need is to be 21 and a little adventurous.

 

Researches on medical marijuana seem promising but are yet to yield safer and guaranteed results. With many people opting for this little bad guy over conventional alternatives, could Marijuana, in its safest, best and cherubic form, prove to be the cure of the century?

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How Does Medicare Cover Arthritis?

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 14:39
According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the U.S. It’s estimated that roughly 54 million adults have been doctor-diagnosed with arthritis.

Click to enlarge.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis – roughly 31 million Americans are affected by this type. Although the second type, rheumatoid arthritis, is less common, the number of women affected by this form of arthritis far outnumbers men.

Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between the joints to deteriorate. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the lining of the joint to grow inflamed and swollen. Symptoms of arthritis may vary depending on what form of arthritis you have, but common symptoms include joint stiffness, pain, swelling in the joints and decreased body mobility.

Not only is living with arthritis physically painful, managing your arthritis can also be a pain and financial burden to your bank account, especially if you are retired or about to retire. Good news for those Americans with arthritis about to retire – Medicare does, in fact, help cover the cost to treat and manage your arthritis.

How will Medicare cover an arthritis diagnosis?

Diagnosing arthritis can be done by a variety of tests and doctor visits. Some of these tests may include x-rays, blood work, MRIs and CT scans. If you go to get tested either by a primary physician or a specialist such as a rheumatologist, these tests and doctor’s visits are considered “outpatient medical services.”

Medicare Part B covers medically necessary outpatient care for arthritis.  According to Medicare, a medical service is considered medically necessary if it is “needed to diagnose or treat an illness, injury, condition, disease, or its symptoms and that meet accepted standards of medicine.”

Although most people qualify for premium-free Part A, Medicare Part B is not premium-free. In 2019, most people pay $135.50 in monthly premiums for their Medicare Part B coverage. Once you meet the Part B annual deductible of $185, Part B covers 80% of expenses for outpatient medical services and you pay 20%.

It’s important to know that Medicare Part B doesn’t have an out-of-pocket spending cap, so you will have to continue to pay 20% of costs every time you use your Medicare Part B insurance. If you buy a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as a Medigap plan, you’ll have secondary insurance that pays your 20% after Medicare pays its share.

How will Medicare cover arthritis treatment?

Treatment for arthritis depends heavily on the type of arthritis you have. However, treatments for both types come in forms of surgery, medication and alternative medicine.

If your treatment plan requires surgery, Medicare Part A covers your in-patient hospital services such as your room, meals, and recovery. Part B pays for doctor services related to your surgery.

Medicare Part D covers most prescription drugs you take at home, but always confirm that the prescriptions you need are listed on the formulary. Common prescriptions for treating arthritis are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, analgesics, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Most Part D plans used a tiered copayment system; generic drugs are in the bottom tier and cost less out of pocket. DMARDs, biologics, and other specialty drugs are typically at a higher tier, so you’ll have a larger copayment.

Medical marijuana treatment

Currently, there are 23 states that have legalized medical marijuana to be used for certain medical conditions. Of those 23 states, only some have legalized it to be used for paint treatment in arthritis patients. Other countries whose legalization on medical marijuana are less strict such as Canada and Australia, have said that more than 1/3 of medical marijuana users use it for arthritis.

However, because the FDA hasn’t approved medical marijuana as a safe and effective medical treatment, Medicare will not cover it. On the other hand, the FDA has begun to recognized the potential of cannabis products. So, perhaps we will see a change in the future.

Is physical therapy covered under Medicare?

Yes! As long as physical therapy is medically necessary to treat your arthritis, Part B covers it. There are no spending caps for physical therapy services as of 2019. Before 2019, Medicare only paid about $2,000 for physical therapy services, but you don’t have to worry about that going forward.

Even though Original Medicare pays many costs associated with diagnosing and treating arthritis, you still have financial exposure. If you’re concerned about your out-of-pocket costs under Part A and Part B, you may want to consider a Medicare Supplement Plan.

Alternatively, you may find you come out ahead financially with a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans usually have lower copayments and coinsurance amounts, and your Part D prescription drug coverage is usually included. Plus, you’ll generally have just one deductible as opposed to separate deductibles for Part A and Part B. Many arthritis sufferers find that a Medicare Advantage plan makes more financial sense for them.

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Florida Legislature Approves Bill to Establish Agricultural Hemp Program

Sat, 05/11/2019 - 21:46
Florida’s full legislature has passed a bill to establish a program for hemp as an agricultural commodity.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill, which has already passed the full House of Representatives. It now goes to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law – he also has the option of allowing it to become law without his signature, or vetoing it (though there’s enough support to override a veto).

“Today is an exciting, historic and bipartisan day for our agriculture community,” said Senator Rob Bradley (R). “There has been a lot of struggles in our agriculture community over the last several years, from citrus greening to the hurricanes, and they’ve had a devastating effect on many of our farmers. This is a lifeline. This is an emerging agricultural crop that can make all the difference.”

As noted by the Associated Press, a federal farm bill passed in 2018 gave states the opportunity to develop a hemp-growing program that can be submitted to the U.S. Agriculture Department for approval.

“It opened up a window for states to act. Florida is going to be a pioneer, one of the first states to act in this emerging space,” Bradley said.

Hemp is related to marijuana but only has trace amounts of THC, the chemical that makes people high. The plant has a wide range of uses, from ropes and clothing to building materials and animal feed.

The bill was a top priority for Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who was on the Senate floor for its final passage. Afterward, she said citrus will remain the state’s top crop, but growers will be able to supplement their groves with hemp.

Growers have been plagued by two diseases: citrus canker and citrus greening. Canker causes blemishes on the fruit and greening kills the trees. Combined they’ve cost citrus growers billions of dollars in losses.

“We are known for citrus, so we’re definitely going to continue encouraging our citrus industry,” Fried said. “If they need to utilize some of their property for hemp production, this gives them another option as we’re figuring out and finding a solution to citrus greening.”

Fried said Florida’s ability to grow hemp year-round and its large number of ports position the state to lead in production and exportation.

“We have the right environment, we have the right conditions and we’ve got the right members of the agriculture community, who are some of the most strong-willed” people in the state. “They’re going to utilize this to be prosperous,” she said.

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Study: Most Health Professionals (Doctors, Pharmacists and Nurses) Support Medical Marijuana

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 06:01
According to a new study published in the journal PLoS One, the majority of health professionals, which includes pharmacists, nurses and doctors, support the use of medical cannabis in clinical practice.

For the study researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Australia and the University of Auckland in New Zeland reviewed over 100 studies assessing health professionals’ opinions with regard to medical cannabis.

Reseacrehrs found that in the most recent studies support for medical marijuana has grown substantially among health professionals. The study states that “health professionals [are] relatively supportive of the use of medicinal cannabis in clinical practice.” it continues; “This notion was consistent across the three predominant professional populations of medicine, pharmacy, and nursing.”

The full study, titled Health professional beliefs, knowledge, and concerns surrounding medicinal cannabis — A systematic review, can be found by clicking here. The full abstract of the study can be found below:

 

BACKGROUND:

The number of jurisdictions allowing access to medicinal cannabis has been steadily increasing since the state of California introduced legislation in 1996. Although there is a high degree of legislative heterogeneity across jurisdictions, the involvement of a health professional is common among all. This places health professionals at the forefront of therapy, yet no systematic review of literature has offered insight into the beliefs, knowledge, and concerns of health professionals regarding medicinal cannabis.

METHODS:

Using a predetermined study protocol, PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Scopus databases were searched for studies indexed up to the 1st August 2018. Pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied uniformly. Screening for relevancy, full-text review, data extraction, and risk of bias were completed by two independent investigators. Risk of bias was assessed using CASP criteria (qualitative) and a modified domain-based risk assessment tool (quantitative).

RESULTS:

Of the 15,775 studies retrieved, 106 underwent full-text review and of these, 26 were included. The overall risk of bias was considered low across all included studies. The general impression was that health professionals supported the use of medicinal cannabis in practice; however, there was a unanimous lack of self-perceived knowledge surrounding all aspects of medicinal cannabis. Health professionals also voiced concern regarding direct patient harms and indirect societal harms.

CONCLUSION:

This systematic review has offered a lens through which to view the existing literature surrounding the beliefs, knowledge, and concerns of health professionals regarding medicinal cannabis. These results are limited, however, by the implicit common-sense models of behaviour utilised by the included studies. Before strategies can be developed and implemented to change health professional behaviour, a more thorough understanding of the factors that underpin the delivery of medicinal cannabis is necessary.

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Canada: Marijuana Body Gives Recommendations to Boost Industry

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 20:39
According to Reuters, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) on Thursday made several recommendations that address issues affecting the Canadian province’s booming marijuana industry, including having a common excise stamp to help cannabis makers ship their products smoothly.

The industry body also recommended bolstering Health Canada, the country’s health regulator, so that it can issue licenses to facilities at an “accelerated rate” without compromising the inspection process.

Ontario is home to more than half the licensed producers of recreational cannabis in Canada and a majority of employment, said Michelle Eaton, vice president of communications and government relations of the OCC.

Last year, Canada became one of the first major economies to legalize recreational marijuana, a move that has led to the creation of a multi-billion dollar industry. In its report on Thursday, the industry body backed a merit-based licensing system and allowing consumers to buy directly online from licensed producers.

Later this year, Canada will allow sales of new classes of cannabis products, namely edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals, and the OCC believes the government needs to strike a balance between prioritizing public safety and eradicating the illegal market.

The body also recommended working with Ontario’s higher education institutions to highlight employment opportunities related to the sector.

Canada’s parliament approved Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, in June. It created an overarching national regulatory framework and enables each province to establish its own system of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. Adults are allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, which they can purchase online or through a brick-and-mortar storefront.

Canada is one of only two countries to legalize marijuana for adults at the national level. The first was Uruguay, where legislation was signed into law in December 2013 and a limited number of pharmacies began selling marijuana to adults in July 2017. Nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory, the Northern Mariana Islands, have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. Eight of those states and the Northern Marianas have also established systems for regulating commercial cultivation and sales.

“Canada is setting a strong example for how to end marijuana prohibition at the national level and replace it with a system of regulated production and sales that is largely governed at the local level” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, following Canada’s passage of the law. “The U.S. and other countries grappling with the complexities of such a significant policy shift will have an excellent opportunity to learn from the Canadian experience.”

Hawkins continues; “The Canadian model is rather similar to what many envision for the U.S., and in many ways it mirrors what is happening here, as states have taken the lead in regulating commercial cannabis activity. The big difference—and it is a critical difference—is the blessing provincial governments have received from their federal government. It is time for Congress to step up and take similar action to harmonize our nation’s state and federal marijuana policies.

“As just the second country and the first G7 nation to end marijuana prohibition, Canada has positioned itself as a global leader for cannabis business and development. As the U.S. continues to face federal road blocks to cannabis-related medical research, Canada could very well become the world leader in discovering new cannabis-based medicines. The country has already begun to experience some of the economic benefits that come with being one of the first nations to establish a legal marijuana market for adult use. It won’t be long before it begins to see the public health and safety benefits that stem from replacing an illegal market with a regulated one. Canada is going to generate significant revenue, create all sorts of jobs and business opportunities, and become the world leader for cannabis-related research and development. Hopefully Congress will take notice quickly and that competitive American spirit will kick in sooner rather than later.”

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Illinois Bill Would Legalize Marijuana

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:45
Legislation that would make Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana has been officially introduced.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and several state lawmakers have introduced a long-awaited bill that would legalize and regulate the use and sale of recreational marijuana in the state next year, reports the Associated Press.

Under the measure – which can be found by clicking here – was announced by Pritzker on Saturday and is expected to be introduced today. It would allow adults 21 and over tolegally purchase marijuana for recreational use from licensed retailers. Those 21+ would also be allowed to grow up to five plants for personal use, and would expunge the records of people with minor cannabis convictions and direct funding to communities most affected by the prohibition of the drug.

The measure is expected to pass the Illinois General Assembly’s House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats. If approved, the state would become the 11th in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The measure would take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, but the state would not begin licensing retailers until that spring.

The bill’s framework was decided on by six working groups led by the governor’s office.

“This bill stems from an inclusive process that entailed community meetings, town halls, and legislative working groups,” state Sen. Heather Steans, a Democrat, said in a statement. “In spite of having a wide variety of views, most of us wanted the same basic things – social justice, safety for our kids, and revenue for our state. I think we’ve done a good job of balancing these three goals.”

The measure focuses heavily on social justice. It would establish a $20 million low-interest loan program for cannabis start-ups owned by residents of areas disproportionately affected by marijuana laws and those with cannabis convictions. It would also bar a single person or entity from holding an interest in more than three cultivation centers or 10 dispensaries.

“This bill advances equity by providing resources and second chances to people and communities that have been harmed by policies such as the failed ‘war on drugs.’ I’m very proud that we’re working in the right direction,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said.

The governor’s office estimates that the cost to administer the law would be roughly $20 million annually, but it did not estimate the tax revenue the program is expected to generate.

Marijuana products would be taxed at different rates depending on the level of THC, the psychoactive compound found in the drug: Cannabis with THC levels at or below 35% would be taxed at 10%, while cannabis with THC levels above that would be taxed at 25%. All cannabis-infused products would be slapped with a 20% tax under the measure.

Pritzker, a Democrat who campaigned on a legalization platform, is banking on the passage of the measure and the revenue it will generate – $170 million in marijuana licensing fee revenue is included in Pritzer’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, according to the Associated Press.

Critics of the measure include the Illinois NAACP and others who argue that legalization will lead to more addiction and harm minority communities, according to the AP.

The state’s already-legal medical marijuana program will not be affected.

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Marijuana Use Not Associated with Psychosis in Young People Finds Study

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 23:35
A history of marijuana use in young people is not independently associated with an increased risk of psychosis, according to a new study published in the journal Adicciones, and published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health.

“The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between psychotic-like experiences and cannabis use in a representative sample of adolescents from the general population”, states the study’s abstract. “A total of 1,588 students (M=16.13 years, SD = 1.36), 739 men (46.5%), selected by stratified random sampling by conglomerates from 98 classes in 34 schools participated in the survey.”

For the study, researchers with the University of La Rioja in Spain explored the relationship between psychotic-like experiences and cannabis use in a representative sample of over 1,500 Spanish adolescents.

According to NORML, they reported that initially identified associations between cannabis use and psychosis were no longer present once researchers controlled for confounding variables, such as socioeconomic status, alcohol use, tobacco smoking, and comorbid psychopathology.

Authors concluded, “In this study, it was found that after controlling for the effect of the multiple relevant co-variables, the use of cannabis was not related to the frequency and distress associated with psychotic experiences reported by adolescents. … These results suggest that the relationships established between psychotic-like experiences and cannabis are complex and mediated by relevant variables.”

The full abstract of the study can be found below:

The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between psychotic-like experiences and cannabis use in a representative sample of adolescents from the general population. A total of 1,588 students (M=16.13 years, SD = 1.36), 739 men (46.5%), selected by stratified random sampling by conglomerates from 98 classes in 34 schools participated in the survey. The instruments used were the Prodromal Questionnaire-Brief, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, the Modified Substance Use Questionnaire, the Penn Matrix Reasoning Test, the Family Affluence Scale-II, and the Oviedo Infrequency Scale. Results showed that a percentage of adolescents reported psychotic-like experiences and/or cannabis use. Prior to controlling for multiple confounders (gender, age, socio-economic level, smoking, alcohol use, emotional and behavioral problems, and IQ), cannabis use was associated with psychotic-like experiences. After adjustment for confounders, psychotic-like experiences were not seen to be associated with cannabis use. Mediational analyses showed that emotional and behavioral problems mediate the relationship between cannabis use and risk of psychosis. It seems that once the effect of multiple confounding variables is controlled for, the use of cannabis increases the risk of comorbid psychopathology and this, in turn, increases the risk of psychosis. These results suggest that the relationships established between psychotic-like experiences and cannabis are complex and mediated by relevant variables. Further studies should examine this relationship in follow-up studies and gene-environmental designs.

The full text of the study, titled “Psychotic-like experiences and cannabis use in adolescents from the general population,” appears in the journal Adicciones.

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New York City Council Votes to Ban Pre-Hire Marijuana Tests for Most Jobs

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 05:12
The New York City Council has passed landmark legislation that would allow most job-hunters to avoid a drug test for marijuana.

The City Council passed the measure, which would ban pre-employment testing for marijuana, on Tuesday, reports the Associated Press. The measure now moves to the desk of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

According to supporters of the measure , which would be the first proposal of its kind to be passed into law, would knock down a barrier that blocks people from jobs because of private behavior, not professional ability. Supports also note that marijuana can show up  on a drug test days, or sometimes longer, after the high wears off.

“If you ingest weed in whatever manner a month ago, I’m not sure how that prevents you from doing your job now,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a Democrat who sponsored the proposal, told the council.

But, as noted by the AP, some council members and business groups object to what they see as municipal meddling with a valid employment concern.

“Private businesses should have the power to determine their own hiring practices — not just in deciding what skills and experience are relevant to certain positions, but also whether the use of a specific drug could have an adverse impact on a prospective employee’s ability to perform,” Council Republican Leader Steven Matteo said in a statement.

The measure is awaiting action from Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat. A spokeswoman told The New York Times that City Hall supports the legislation; The Associated Press sent an inquiry Friday seeking to confirm the mayor’s position.

“Drug-testing job applicants became common in the U.S. in the late 1980s, but marijuana screening is getting some reconsideration as the drug has gained legal ground”, states the AP. “Most states, including New York, now have legal medicinal marijuana programs, and 10 states and the District of Columbia allow recreational pot use. New York is considering it.

Medical marijuana users in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have won lawsuits in recent years against companies that rescinded job offers or fired workers because of positive tests for pot. A number of businesses around the country have simply stopped marijuana-testing applicants .”

Michael Clarkson, a Boston-based employment lawyer who specializes in drug-testing issues. says: “In this environment where unemployment is pretty low and where marijuana is becoming ever more socially acceptable … employers are either philosophically or practically having to take a long, hard look at whether they’re even going to screen for pot,”.

Some officials also have taken a look at whether businesses should do so. Washington, D.C. prohibits marijuana testing before a job offer is extended (some states apply this standard to all drug testing). Lawmakers in Nevada, where recreational marijuana use is legal, have been considering a proposal that would ban companies from disqualifying job candidates for testing positive for pot.

The New York City measure appears to go further by barring businesses from making applicants take marijuana tests at any point before hiring.  Exceptions include commercial drivers, child care workers, police, and construction workers.

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Police Haven’t Seen an Uptick in Those Driving High on Marijuana Post-Legalization

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 17:14
According to Canadian law enforcement agencies, there has been no noticeable increase in arrests for driving under the influence of marijuana since the nation legalized the plant for everyone 18 and older.

A survey by the Canadian Press of the country’s police forces  has  found that most have seen no rise in DUI cannabis arrests, reports High Times.

“[M]ost police departments are still really focusing on the drugs that we know that are killing people, the opiates and methamphetamines that are causing major concerns across the country,” says Chief Constable Mike Serr, who is co-chairperson of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police’s drug advisory committee.

Many departments which took part in the survey said they had actually recommended less charges for driving while under the influence of marijuana, although Alberta police did report 58 such charges since federal legalization, in comparison to 32 charges levied during the same six months last year.

Many agencies are reporting the prioritization of driver education around proper storage of cannabis while driving, emphasizing that it should be kept safely in the trunk as one would with alcohol containers.

“The news comes at the same time as the Canadian government’s announcement that it may approve a roadside THC saliva testing system for use by roadside officers”, says High Times. “The Abbot SoToxa costs $6,000 Canadian dollars per device, but yields results in five minutes as opposed to other, considerably more delayed methods of testing for the presence of THC in a driver’s body. As is usually the case with these things, it does not test impairment in a driver. It wouldn’t be admissible as the basis for criminal charges — only for grounds to to arrest an individual.”

A $62.5 million five year plan was announced in July of last year to train officers in new cannabis legislation, including how to handle those driving after consumption.

As noted by High Times, across the U.S. and Canada, governments have been mulling over options for policing driving while stoned. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker has introduced a bill based on a report from a special committee that recommended police be able to demand biological testing from drivers they suspect to be under the influence after a 12-step coordination and reflex test — and that drivers should have their license revoked for six months if they refuse the evaluation.

That plan has its own challenges to face, however. “Marijuana can stay in your system for over three days,” Boston College professor and drug expert Richard Gowan told The Huntington News. “So you could easily say as an excuse, ‘Well, I smoked this joint three days ago, I’m not under the influence anymore.’ Legally, this is going to be incredibly difficult.”

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Louisiana House Advances Measure to Legalize Hemp

Sun, 04/28/2019 - 05:13
Legislation to legalize hemp has been advanced by Louisiana’s House of Representatives, reports the Associated Press.

The measure, which was filed by Representative Clay Schexnayder (R), would legalize growing and processing of industrial hemp in Louisiana, in line with what’s allowed under the 2018 federal Farm Bill for the relative of the marijuana plant. On Thursday it was passed by the House Agriculture Committee.

As noted by the AP, “hemp is a member of the cannabis plant family but contains only traces of the THC chemical compound that causes a high for marijuana users. Hemp is used for textiles, fuels, rope and chemical absorbents, among other products.”

Congressional research shows that hemp is used to make at least 25,000 various products.

Representative Schexnayder said hemp production would help Louisiana’s struggling farmers and create new jobs. He described the measure as an economic development tool.

“The idea is to grow and take advantage of a crop we haven’t been growing since 1938,” said Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, who helped craft the legislation and would have regulatory authority over the program.

Growing hemp for individual use would be prohibited under the bill.

Representative Dustin Miller (D) questioned the level of regulatory control that Strain would have, saying he wanted to ensure the agriculture commissioner encouraged farmers to participate. Schexnayder stressed that lawmakers would oversee the rules developed to administer the industrial hemp program.

“I’m OK with you regulating this. It’s your job,” Miller told Strain. “But everyone should have an opportunity to grow this.”

The Farm Bill approved by Congress last year legalized industrial hemp by removing it from the list of federally controlled substances. It gives states the opportunity to develop a hemp-growing program, if the U.S. Agriculture Department approves it.

Schexnayder’s proposal would require a hemp growing and production regulatory plan be submitted to the USDA by Nov. 1. Strain said he hopes Louisiana farmers could begin production of hemp by 2020, using seeds from growers in Europe or Africa who have been in the hemp business for years.

“We’re looking to get seeds from overseas, because there’s such a limited supply of seed in the United States,” Strain said.

Those who grow, process or transport hemp or sell hemp seeds would have to get an annual license from the agriculture department after passing a criminal background check. No one convicted of a felony or a drug-related misdemeanor within the last 10 years would be eligible. The agriculture department would test the crops and could randomly inspect the operations, to ensure the hemp contains only traces of THC.

The LSU and Southern University agricultural centers would be able to conduct research with hemp and develop new varieties.

The legislation doesn’t address the legality of CBD, a non-intoxicating molecule found in cannabis that many believe is beneficial to their health. Some state officials have suggested CBD products and sales are illegal in Louisiana.

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