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More than half of American Adults have used Marijuana, says Survey

April 22, 2017

Marijuana has been federally classified as a dangerous Schedule 1 drug in the United States, but a majority of American adults have tried marijuana at least once in their lives, according to a new survey conducted by Yahoo News and Marist Poll.

The survey, titled Weed and the American Family, was conducted from March 1 to March 7 involving 1,122 adult respondents. It found that 52 percent of Americans over 18 have tried marijuana at some point in their lives, and more importantly, 44 percent of those who tried it once still use it today.

The study also observed that 49 percent of American adults support legalization of marijuana for medical purpose while around 47 percent oppose it.

Dr. Donald Abrams, an oncologist at University of California San Francisco who has studied marijuana, stated that the overwhelming support for medicinal marijuana in the U.S. is inevitable.

Many "have had family members or friends who have benefited from the use medicinally," Abrams said. "I hear it all the time."

The study also shows that moms and dads are being more open about using marijuana with their children and even with their own parents.

More adults are talking to their parents about consuming marijuana, according to the study. More than seven in 10 adults who use marijuana say they have told their parents about their use.

“And more than one in four users say they’ve consumed marijuana in front of or with their own parents,” the report states.

However, a social stigma is still involved with the marijuana consumption.

Around 70 percent of poll respondents believe their parents would be unhappy to learn they were using marijuana recreationally while nearly 58 percent of the parents also think that their children would not approve if they know that their parent consume marijuana for recreational purpose.

The survey was conducted about evolving social attitudes towards marijuana use. It examined at everything from family views on marijuana use to regulation, entertainment, social acceptability, and more.

Source:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/half-american-adults-marijuana-poll-finds/story?id=46786923

Michigan creates Medical Marijuana Agency

April 22, 2017

Michigan has created the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to centralize all aspects of medical marijuana regulation, according to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The bureau will house the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP), the state patient and caregivers.

 The new agency will be responsible for regulating marijuana business including issuing licenses to growers, processors, distributors, retailers and patients in the state. In addition, it will take responsibility for the enforcement of secure transporters, provisioning centers and safety compliance facilities.

Andrew Brisbo, who has served as LARA’s licensing division director, has been named as the director of the newly created Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. He will be in charge of the department that could grow to nearly 100 employees who investigate all license applicants and ultimately regulate the medical marijuana business in the state.

 “Our function as an agency is to ensure safe product is available for the patients in Michigan, and that we create a regulatory structure that allows for the growth of business”, says Andrew Brisbo. “The number of patients is increasing yearly, so the need is obviously there in that regard.”

LARA Director Shelly Edgerton said, centralized services will enhance patient protections and make regulations more efficient for business customers in the state.

Currently, more than 240,000 medical marijuana patients are registered in MMMP, and 40,000 care givers are licensed to distribute medical marijuana in the state.

In Michigan, the medical marijuana business is projected to generate revenues of more than $700 million, and if a ballot proposal goes to voters in 2018 and the market is opened for recreational use, too, those revenues will easily surpass $1 billion.

Michigan will start issuing the new marijuana licenses in 2018.

Marijuana 'not a factor' in Drug War, say DHS chief John Kelly

April 22, 2017

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said that marijuana is "not a factor" in the war on drugs  in the Trump Administration despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions'  tough talk on state movements to legalize the marijuana either medicinal or recreational or for both purposes in recent past.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press", on Sunday Kelly was asked whether legalizing marijuana would help or hurt his work to stop the flow of drugs into the United States from Central America and Mexico.

"Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war," Kelly answered. "It's three things. Methamphetamine, almost all produced in Mexico; Heroin, virtually all produced in Mexico, and cocaine that comes up from further south."

Kelly said that in 2015 those three drugs, plus opiates, were responsible for the deaths of 52,000 people in the United States and cost the country $250 billion.

Importantly, Kelly considered that solving the nation's drug problem does not involve merely cracking down on marijuana dealers, users, addiction, and marijuana related crime in the U.S. Instead, he said the solution is to lower the drug demand in the country.

"The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill. And then rehabilitation, and then law enforcement, and then getting at the poppy fields and the coca fields in the south”, Kelly stated.

Ironically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has expressed different views in case of marijuana legalization. He argues "good people don't smoke marijuana" and has long taken an enthusiastic hard-line stance on federal marijuana prohibition in particular and the drug war in general.

However, Kelly's de-legitimizing of marijuana as "not a factor in the drug world" seems to fuel recent criticism of inconsistencies in the Trump administration in case of marijuana legalization.

Oregon Lawmakers introduce Bill to protect Recreational Marijuana Industries

April 01, 2017

Amidst uncertainty over the Trump administration’s stand towards federal crackdown of marijuana legislation, Oregon lawmakers are taking proactive steps to protect recreational marijuana industries in the state.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Ron Wyden on Thursday announced a legislative package- "Path to Marijuana Reform" to protect legal marijuana even as the US attorney general has heavily criticized marijuana legislation in various states of the country.

"What the two of us are here today to say is: Voters in Oregon and others states have chosen to legalize marijuana, and their votes shouldn't just be casually thrown in the trash can by this administration", Sen. Wyden and Rep. Blumenauer said in a statement. "More than 20 percent of Americans live in states that permit adult use of marijuana."

Both the Democratic legislators said, they will preserve the integrity of state marijuana laws and provide a path for responsible federal legalization and regulation of the marijuana industry.

In this new package of bills, Wyden for the first time supports removing federal criminal penalties for all users, both recreational and medicinal. He is also now in favor of completely removing marijuana from the federal list of controlled drugs.

The move came at a time when marijuana has been garnering support nationally while White House press secretary Sean Spicer last month indicated that the Trump administration may enforce federal marijuana laws in states where recreational marijuana is legal.

Marijuana analytics firm New Frontier Data expects the national legal marijuana market to grow to more than $24 billion by 2025. It projects Oregon's recreational marijuana market will be worth roughly $502 million by the end of this year and about $827 million by the end of 2025.

Though marijuana remains illegal under the federal law, Oregon has already legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational purpose.

Georgia Senate passes expansion of limited Medical Marijuana Bill

April 01, 2017

The Georgia state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would expand the medical marijuana program of the state by adding six new diagnoses to the list of qualifying conditions.

The Senators on Thursday passed a revised version of “Senate Bill 16” with 45-6 votes and sent the bill to Governor Nathan Deal in order to sign into law of the state. The bill was approved by Georgia's House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, sponsored the bill and called on the federal government to "tear down the wall" to additional research by changing the classification of marijuana.

The new measure would make six conditions eligible for treatment with a limited form of marijuana oil allowed across the state. Those are Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. Patients in hospice care also could possess the oil.

According to the bill, marijuana Users must be registered with the state health officials and prove to be under a physician's care for the conditions allowed in state medical marijuana program.

Georgia's limited medical marijuana law was enacted in 2015. If the Governor signs the bill into law, the marijuana program of the state will include people with 15 medical conditions, up from nine currently.

Current conditions allowed to use medical marijuana in the state include cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Crohn's disease.

“Today we’re going to provide more access to Georgians with very specific illnesses,” said Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan. “And we’ll provide doctors more treatment options for patients.”

Brass also said that he supported the expansion because he wanted those with autism to be allowed to be use cannabis oil after obtaining a doctor's approval.

In Georgia, around 1,300 people are approved to use low-THC marijuana oil l for the initial nine conditions.

West Virginia Senate approves Medical Marijuana Bill

March 30, 2017

The West Virginia Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would permit marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes in the state. The lawmakers voted 28-6 to pass the Senate Bill 386, also known as the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act.

The Senate Bill 386, sponsored by Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, will advance to the House of Delegates for consideration.

According to the measure, the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Commission will be created to establish and oversee a state medical marijuana program. The Cannabis Commission will consist of sixteen members including medical professionals, law enforcement officials, and government agency representatives.

The Commission will be responsible for setting the requirements to phase medical marijuana into the state, including certification and applications for physicians to become eligible to prescribe medical marijuana. It would also establish standards, licensing processes, and databases for medical marijuana dispensaries, physicians and cultivators.

"We applaud the Senate for standing up for seriously ill West Virginians and giving them hopes with this much-needed legislation,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project in a statement. “For many patients, medical marijuana is a far safer alternative to opioids and other prescription drugs. Any delegates who are serious about addressing the opiate crisis in West Virginia need to consider the substantial benefits this law could have on that front. We hope Speaker Armstead will review the facts and give this bill a fair shake in the House.”

If the Bill becomes law, residents with certain medical conditions could be prescribed marijuana treatment. Those conditions include anorexia or wasting syndrome; a chronic disease or condition that produces cachexia; end-of-life or hospice care; severe or chronic pain that isn't relieved through standard pain medication; severe nausea; seizures; severe or persistent muscle spasms; refractory generalized anxiety disorder; and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the U.S., as many as twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have already enacted effective medical marijuana legislation.

Georgia House approves bill to expand Medical Marijuana Program

March 30, 2017

In a major development, Georgia House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation expanding eligibility conditions for treatment under the state’s medical marijuana program.

The Senate Bill 16, which was passed with 167-4 Vote, needs Senate approval to send the bill to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for his review and signature.

The new measure adds six additional conditions to the list of diseases that qualify patients with a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana treatment. The conditions include Tourette's syndrome, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS and peripheral neuropathy.

A total of eight diseases are now eligible for treatment with low-THC cannabis oil across the state. In addition, anyone in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, will be allowed access to marijuana oil that’s low on THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high.

The Senate passed a bill earlier in this year's session reducing the allowable THC content to 3 percent. THC is the chemical in marijuana that gets users high. The House amended the bill to put the allowable level of THC back at 5 percent, the content permitted by current law.

"I’m grateful we’ve moved the bill," said Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who has sponsored medical marijuana bills the last several sessions.  "We’re not there yet. We still have a huge issue of, where do we access the product. And until we deal with that we’re still going to be shortchanging our citizens in some respects."

“More than 1,300 Georgia patients have benefit from cannabis oil since medical marijuana was legalized in Georgia two years ago”, he said. "It is changing people's lives, making life bearable, giving our citizens hope.”

Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, authored the original Senate Bill 16. He said that he was pleased with the outcome.

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Canada to legalize Recreational Marijuana by 2018, says CBC Report

March 30, 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will introduce legislation in this April to legalize the recreational use of marijuana across the country by July 2018, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reports said on Monday.

The CBC said the new regulations would broadly follow recommendations of the federally appointed ‘Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation’ led by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.

In December, the task force had issued a report that recommended some key issues in terms of nationwide marijuana regulation for recreational purpose.

Those recommendations included proposals that Canada should permit the sale of recreational marijuana to people over age 18 and tax pot products based on potency. The adult would be allowed possess up to 30 grams of dried marijuana while  producers would be licensed, and residents who want to grow their own marijuana would be limited to four plants per household.

According to the proposals, the federal government will oversee the supply of marijuana and continue to license producers, while the provinces would determine the price and distribution of recreational marijuana.

The Liberals have said they want to impose strict laws to keep marijuana away from young Canadians and take away revenue from illegal pot sales from organized crime.

"This will legalize access to cannabis, but at the same time will regulate and control access," Health Minister Jane Philpott said. "We want to make sure the profits are kept out of the hands of criminal organizations."

If marijuana is legalized for recreational purpose in Canada, the government will fulfill a campaign promise made by Mr Trudeau's Liberal Party during the 2015 general election.

Since 2001, medical marijuana has been legal in Canada and is grown by 40 federally licensed producers.

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.

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