• DEA approves Synthetic Marijuana Drug for Schedule II Classification

    March 27, 2017

    A synthetic marijuana drug could soon be available for commercialization after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approved Syndros, an oral remedy containing THC produced by the Insys Therapeutics, as schedule II classification.

    Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company, on Thursday announced that the DEA has approved Syndros for Schedule II classification under the Controlled Substances Act, which would allow doctors to prescribe the drug.

     “Insys is looking forward to bringing this new drug product to chemotherapy patients to help alleviate their nausea and vomiting and AIDS patients with anorexia-associated weight loss, respectively,” Insys interim CEO Dr. Santosh Vetticaden said in a statement. “We look forward to interacting with the FDA to finalize the labeling and subsequent launch of Syndros in the second half of 2017.”

    Syndros is a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component in the marijuana plant. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  last summer to treat anorexia associated AIDS patients, and nausea and vomiting induced by cancer patients going through chemotherapy.

    The FDA had also approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution may lead to severe physical dependence. Based on the findings of the FDA, the DEA decided that Schedule II was an appropriate place for Dronabidiol, the active ingredient in Syndros .

    The DEA approval places Syndros and its generic formulations in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, indicating a “high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule II drugs include cocaine, morphine and many prescription painkillers.

    Notably, Insys has been active in marijuana policy for several years. It contributed $500,000 last summer to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, the group opposing marijuana legalization in Arizona.

     Insys was previously accused of off-label marketing of the opioid painkiller and has faced allegations of providing kickbacks to doctors to prescribe the highly addictive and potentially deadly drug.

  • West Virginia Senate Committee approves Medical Marijuana Bill

    March 27, 2017

    Members of the Senate Health and Human Resources committee passed a bill on Friday that would legalize medical marijuana in West Virginia.

    The bill SB386, also known as the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, was approved by 6-5 vote with several amendments. It now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration. After passing there, the measure would advance to the state Senate and then in the House of Delegates for a full vote.

    The bill would allow West Virginia doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for a list of diseases that are set out in the bill. It creates a system for growers to supply the drugs, doctors to apply to be able to prescribe it and gives oversight to a new commission within the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

    The committee gave the green light to the bill with two important amendments.

    The first amendment, offered by Senator Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, would allow anyone with a prescription for medical marijuana to grow two plants in his or her home for personal use. The other amendment, offered by Senator Ron Stollings, D-Boone, would allocate 10 percent of contracting proceeds to drug prevention and rehabilitation.

    “We have a massive problem with opiate addiction," Stollings said. "The physicians' hands are being tied by various regulations and I think this does give us another tool in the toolbox.”

    Those in favor of the bill say access to medical usage will result in few opioid deaths and less prescription painkiller abuse. However, opponents of the bill say more research needs to happen, it's too dangerous to use and it lacks approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    Currently, 28 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medical purposes though marijuana is illegal under the federal law.

  • Vermont Marijuana Bill advances to House Floor

    March 27, 2017

    The Vermont House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill with 8-3 vote, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use for adults 21 and older. The bill, H.170, moves next to the House of Floor for voting in next week.

    The measure would remove criminal and civil penalties to the residents for possession of one ounce of personal possession and home cultivation of up to two mature and four immature marijuana plants. Penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana would also be reduced.

    Director Laura Subin of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana appreciated the move by the House Committee.

    “We are very encouraged by the vote in the Judiciary Committee. The extra time they took to hold the vote gave them time to work with their colleagues and answer their questions. I think it is a very encouraging sign for the prospects of the bill on the floor”, Laura said in a statement.

    Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, the chairwoman of the committee, described the move as an incremental step. She believes legalization could improve community relationships with law enforcement and free up court resources.

    Grad also said that marijuana legalization is an issue of criminal justice because people of color are disproportionately incarcerated on marijuana charges, and people who grow marijuana are penalized even though marijuana has been decriminalized.

    Representatives who voted in support of H.170 include Rep. Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Rep. Chip Conquest (D-Wells River), Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland), Rep. Selene Colburn (P-Burlington), Rep. Kimberly Jessup (D-Middlesex), Rep. Martin LaLonde (D-So. Burlington), Rep. Kiah Morris (D-Bennington), and Rep. Barbara Rachelson (D-Burlington).

    On the other hand, Rep. Eileen Dickinson (R-St. Albans), Rep. Gary Viens (R-Newport) and Rep. Janssen Wilhoit (R-St. Johnsbury) voted against the measure.

  • Illinois Lawmakers introduce bill to legalize Recreational Marijuana

    March 27, 2017

    Taking a major step towards legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois, two Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation in both General Assembly chambers to end marijuana prohibition and raise tax on marijuana use for adults.

    Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 would allow residents to possess up to 28 grams of marijuana, grow five plants and permit facilities to sell marijuana products for anyone age 21 or older. The measure would also establish safety regulations such as testing and labeling requirements and levy tax on marijuana use.

    If the legislation is enacted, the state would impose a $50 per ounce tax at the wholesale level, while sales to the public would be subject to the state's 6.25 percent sales tax. It could make between $349 million and $699 million annually based on usage rates and prices in Colorado, according to advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project.

    Besides, recreational marijuana would be regulated the same as alcohol and buyers must show identification when purchasing marijuana. However, public smoking would remain illegal, and punishable by a fine of up to $100.

    State Representative Kelly Casidy, who introduced the House Bill 2353, says regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make the communities safer.

    "It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue for our state. Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not and should not solve all of our budget woes, but it should be a part of the conversation about resolving Illinois' worsening budget problems”, Heather Steans, who introduced the Senate Bill 316, said in a statement.

    In the U.S., marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but it has been legalized for recreational use in eight states and the District of Columbia.

  • Jeff Sessions: Marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than Heroin

    March 21, 2017

    In his ongoing war against marijuana, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the curious claim that marijuana is "only slightly less awful" than the heroin crisis in the country while speaking to a group of law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia on Wednesday.

    "I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful", Sessions said. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

    Sessions reiterated some of the points he made during a speech at the National Association of Attorneys General’s winter meeting address in February where he expressed doubt that we would be "a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store."

    The Attorney General also suggested that marijuana is a gateway drug that is helping to fuel the opioid addiction crisis in the country.  "We have too much tolerance for drug use psychologically, politically, morally. We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, 'Just say no. Don't do it’. There's no excuse for this. It's not recreational. It can be destructive and it consistently is destructive. Lives are at stake and we're not going to worry about being fashionable," he said.

    However, in the same speech, Session said that Obama-era policies led some states to legalize marijuana is ‘valid’ suggesting that he might not be prepping for a nationwide crackdown on marijuana shops or dispensaries as previously believed.

    Sessions has not been a fan of marijuana. Last year, he had stated that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

    In the U.S., medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and D.C., while eight states and Washington D.C. have legally allowed marijuana for recreational purpose.

  • Unclear whether Trump administration could stop legalizing marijuana: Hickenlooper

    March 21, 2017

    Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” told moderator Chuck Todd on Sunday that it is unclear whether the Trump administration could stop legalizing marijuana for recreational purpose.

    The Trump administration, just few days ago, said the department of justice was going to step up enforcement of marijuana laws.

    The Democratic governor is however optimistic that the White House will respect sovereignty of the states. He highlighted that U.S.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that marijuana will not be a top enforcement priority.

    However, if things change with the federal government, Hickenlooper is prepared to fight for the interest of Colorado. “I took a solemn oath to support our constitution,” he said.

    “I had opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado. I spoke openly against it, but it passed in Colorado by 55% to 45%. It is now part of our constitution”, he added. "It's never my choice to be in conflict with federal law, let's make that clear.”

    “Over 60 percent of American people are now in a state where either medical or recreational marijuana is legalized. This has become of the great social experiment of our time.” Hickenlooper stated. "I'm getting close. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but we have made a lot of progress. We didn't see a spike in teenage use, if anything, it's come down in the last year."

    In 2012, Colorado Amendment 64 legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes including private cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, with no more than three being mature. The legalization of marijuana sales and use brought the state tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue in 2015, and sales topped $1 billion in 2016.

  • English Actor Patrick Stewart reveals he uses Medical Marijuana Daily

    March 21, 2017

    English Patrick Stewart has revealed that he uses medical marijuana on a daily basis for two years in order to combat the symptoms of his severe arthritis.

    Seventy-six years old veteran actor, whose career has included roles on stage, television, and film in a career spanning almost six decades, made the admission supporting the UK’s first research initiative by Oxford University and Kingsley Capital Partners which aims to explore the benefits of marijuana-based medicines.

    In a statement, the X Men star explained that he uses the ointment at night and applies the spray to his fingers and joints several times each day. The marijuana medicines have reduced the pain and stiffness in his hands, Stewart admitted.

    “Two years ago, in Los Angeles, I was examined by a doctor and given a note which gave me legal permission to purchase, from a registered outlet, cannabis-based products, which I was advised might help the ortho-arthritis in both my hands,” Stewart said in the statement. “This, it would seem, is a genetically-based condition. My mother had badly distorted and painful hands."

    "As a result of this experience, I enthusiastically support the Oxford University Cannabis Research Plan," Stewart said. "This is an important step forward for Britain in a field of research that has, for too long, been held back by prejudice, fear and ignorance."

    Stewart believed the research initiative would help people like him as well as millions of others for certain health conditions.

    In the U.S., twenty-eight states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and eight of those have legalized marijuana for recreational use. However, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested that marijuana is a gateway drug that is helping to fuel the opioid addiction crisis in the country.