• Florida officials begin Medical Marijuana Rules Process

    January 18, 2017

    Florida health officials have started the rules-making process that will allow eligible residents to receive and purchase medical marijuana. The Department of Health on Tuesday published the proposed rules for a statewide medical marijuana program and announced that public hearings will be held in five cities Feb. 6-9 in this regard.

    According to the proposed rule, only patients with one of 10 specific medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis would have access to the medical marijuana, unless the Florida Board of Medicine specifically identifies additional debilitating conditions to use the drug.

    However, the Amendment 2, which was passed by the Florida voters during November ballot, allows doctors to recommend marijuana to patients with any debilitating condition if "a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks."

    The proposed rule would not allow any new growers or dispensaries to distribute medical marijuana in Florida. Currently, there are seven licensed dispensing organizations to grow, process and sell marijuana in the state.

    The rule also maintains most of the regulations put in place by the Legislature and the health department in creating the low-THC marijuana program, including requirements that doctors take an eight-hour training course and be registered with the state. It also states that a statewide database of patients and ID cards to those patients would be created.

    “We look forward to receiving input from all interested stakeholders through the open and transparent rule-making process.” Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambinieri said.  "That's why we're having the five public meetings, supplemented by the ability to provide comments online.

    The state legislature and Department of Health have to revise current rules until July and implement them by September.

  • Washington Lawmakers consider allowing Medical Marijuana at Schools

    January 18, 2017

    In a major development of the medical marijuana system in Washington, the state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow parents to administer medical marijuana to their children on school grounds.

    The House Committee on Health Care & Wellness considered the bill “HB 1060” on Tuesday during a public hearing. The bill has bi-partisan support and would ensure medical marijuana qualified children could stay in their respective school.

    If the bill passes, a school district must permit a student who meets the 9 requirements of RCW 69.51A.220 to consume marijuana for medical purposes on school grounds, aboard a school bus, or while attending a school-sponsored event in accordance with the school district's policy adopted pursuant to this section.

    However, the medical marijuana use must be in accordance with school policy relating to medication use on school grounds.

    The new law would also prohibit the medical marijuana administration to a student in the form of smoking or other methods involving inhalation. It would establish protocols for verifying the inclusion of the student in the medical marijuana authorization database.

    The board of directors of each school district would adopt a policy by September 1, if the bill passed.

    Meanwhile, John Barclay currently has to pull his daughter, River, out of school to administer CBD oil to control her severe epilepsy. He says the bill would help keep his daughter in class. About a year and a half ago, River was put on an FDA trial for medical marijuana.

    Notably, the legislature amended the law in 2015 to create the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which states that marijuana remains a Schedule I illegal substance under federal law which could jeopardize federal funding for agencies or schools that accommodate this law.

  • Marijuana relieves pain, may raise numerous Health Risks: Report

    January 18, 2017

    Marijuana can almost certainly ease chronic pain in adults and might help some people sleep, but it may also raise the risk of getting schizophrenia, worsen respiratory problems, and trigger heart attacks. This is the conclusion of a new report by a federal advisory panel regarding marijuana use and its effects released last week.

    The report, published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, analyzed over 10,000 scientific studies that examined marijuana’s association with a number of health issues, including cancer and mental conditions as well as car accidents across the nation.

    Out of the hundreds of purported medical benefits, only three are concretely supported by scientific evidence: treating chronic pain, nausea after chemotherapy, and symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

    "There is conclusive or substantial evidence that medical marijuana use is effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults," the team, led by Marie McCormick of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote. “Medical marijuana can also help prevent and ease nausea caused by chemotherapy.”

    On the other hand, the report outlined numerous risks and harms of marijuana use.

    The report says marijuana use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, other psychoses, and social anxiety disorders. It can also raise the risk of depression. It may worsen respiratory problems, such as chronic bronchitis episodes. Besides, marijuana use may raise the risk of testicular cancer as well as trigger a heart attack.

    McCormick also said that the lack of any aggregated knowledge of marijuana related health effects has led to uncertainty about what, if any, are the harms or benefits from its use.

    The report revealed that over 22 million Americans age 12 and older said they had used marijuana in the past month. Ninety percent say they use for recreational purpose.

    As many as twenty-eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana and marijuana-derived products for medical uses, while eight of those states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized it for recreational use.

  • Georgia House forms Medical Marijuana Study Group

    January 18, 2017

    With a view to expand the medical marijuana system in Georgia, a new medical marijuana study group will start work  this legislation session to connect qualified Georgians with marijuana based medicine in order to  get relieve from various health problems.

    Georgia House Speaker David Ralson, R-Blue Ridge, has recently announced formation of the study group that will be headed by Macon Republican state Rep. Allen Peake, author of the state’s medical cannabis possession law. The new group will hold hearings, and its members will be able to file bills regarding medical marijuana.

    “I think the naming of this committee just reinforces that this is a real priority for the House, a real priority for Speaker Ralston. And I think that’s a good thing for a lot of Georgia citizens who could potentially benefit,” Peake stated.

    Last week, a new legislation known as “House Resolution 36” was filed in the state House. If passed, the new law authored and filed by Peake, would be placed on the ballot in 2018. The legislation would allow Georgia voters to decide on a measure that would allow growing medical marijuana, establishing dispensaries, and distributing medical marijuana within state lines.

    The new measure would also expand the restricted list of illnesses to include AIDS, Alzheimer’s, autism, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Tourette’s syndrome.

    Under the existing Georgia marijuana law, the qualified patients are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of medicinal marijuana to treat eight specific illnesses, which include cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Mitochondrial disease.

    Meanwhile, Republican Governor Nathan Deal has declined to comment on whether or not he supports the initiative.  He has been an opponent of in-state growing of marijuana.

  • US Air Force relaxes marijuana restrictions to boost new recruits

    January 17, 2017

    In an effort to attract more youth to serve as the airmen and women, the US Air Force has decided to remove marijuana restrictions along with several other changes to recruiting policy, which will come into effect on Feb. 1, 2017.

    “The Air Force will remove any prescribed limits on prior use of marijuana in determining accession qualifications. Subordinate commands and agencies are prohibited from developing separate criteria with respect to pre-service use of marijuana,” the policy memo stated.

    Under the new policy, the Air Force has removed limitations on prior prescribed marijuana use while determining a recruit's qualifications. The new order extends to all sectors of the Air Force recruitment apparatus; as such, individual commands or recruiters will not be allowed to go rogue in their recruitment criteria in regards to prior marijuana use, according to a statement released by the U.S. Air Force.

    "As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified Airmen as possible we periodically review our accessions policies," said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. "In this instance, we identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality."

    Under the current policy, the Air Force disqualified prospective airmen and women who acknowledge using marijuana a certain number of times within a definite period of time, although the exact criteria differed depending on where applicants were trying to enlist for qualified conditions.

    However, the memo stated that marijuana addiction as well as legal proceedings in connection with marijuana use will disqualify the eligibility criteria for the recruits.

    The recent changes come less than three months after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a wide-ranging review of policies concerning marijuana use as well as tattoos, parenthood status and fitness standards while recruiting for air force services.

  • 192 Marijuana Offenders get pardons in Vermont

    January 15, 2017

    Former Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin issued pardons to as many as 192 people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana just before the end of his six year tenure on Thursday.

    In December, Shumlin, a Democrat, had announced that he would consider pardons for those with minor marijuana possession charges who did not have violent criminal histories.

    The Governor’s office received requests for the pardons from nearly 400 people who were found guilty for marijuana related violations before decriminalization in 2013. However, only 192 people met the conditions for being pardoned. The majority of convicts who received pardons are under the age of 40.

    “While attitudes and laws about marijuana use are rapidly changing, there is still a harmful stigma associated with it,” Shumlin said in a statement.  “My hope was to help as many individuals as I could overcome that stigma and the very real struggles that too often go along with it.”

    Shumlin has considered that marijuana convictions can often be an impediment, especially for young people, to their future college and career aspirations. New Governor Phil Scott, a Republican also maintained that he will support the marijuana pardons and be open to future legalization of marijuana use.

    Notably, the former Governor of Vermont had signed a bill decriminalizing possession of less than one ounce of marijuana across the state in 2013. Last January, Shumlin used his final State of the State address to call upon the legislature to legalize marijuana. In an historic vote, the Senate voted in February to pass a legalization bill that ultimately died in the House.

    In his six years of office as the Governor, Shumlin has issued 208 pardons, more than any governor in the history of Vermont, according to the Governor’s office.

    As of now, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C. while seven states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use of marijuana.

  • Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to issue 32 Dispensaries Licenses

    January 15, 2017

    The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission decided Tuesday to issue 32 medical marijuana dispensary licenses, which will be evenly distributed among the four congressional districts of the state.

    Initially the commission had decided to approve just 28 licenses for dispensaries across Arkansas, but eventually opted to have 32 licenses in the interest of increasing access to medical marijuana patients in the state.

    Congressional districts are considered according to the population, leaving some districts with less than a dozen heavily populated counties and others covering large expanses with relatively fewer people.

    The commission has also set dispensary license application fees at $7,500. However, Applicants who are unsuccessful will have half of their fee refunded to them. Dispensaries that choose not to grow medical marijuana will be charged a $2,500 initial license fee and a $10,000 yearly fee.

    However, Dispensaries that do grow their own medical marijuana plants would be charged a $25,000 license fee and a $32,500 annual fee.

    “Opening it up for more people in the beginning will let people know that there’s an opportunity for them to be part of this business,” commission chairman Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman said. The commission will have a final draft of regulations completed by Jan. 23.

    The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commissioners that include Dr. Carlos Roman of Little Rock, Dr. Rhonda Henry-Tillman of Little Rock, Dr. Stephen Carroll of Benton, Travis Story of Fayetteville and James Miller of Bryantis, are responsible for creating the regulations required to medical marijuana license , cultivation facilities and dispensaries in the state.

    According to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, which was approved by the voters in November 2016, the residents of the state with a qualifying medical condition can purchase 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days from dispensaries stocked from in-state cultivation facilities.