Medical Marijuana

Gov. Markell Signs Bill Allowing Seriously Ill Minors to Access Medical Marijuana Program

On Tuesday,  Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed SB 90 — Rylie’s Law — into law. Gov. Markell’s approval is yet another sign of Delaware lawmakers understanding the benefits that medical marijuana holds for seriously ill patients of all ages. Not one lawmaker opposed this new law

[caption id="attachment_8923" align="alignright" width="200"]Lopez_Ernie_AMG_3615 Sen. Ernesto Lopez[/caption]

Introduced by Sen. Ernesto Lopez (R), SB 90 is now Delaware law. Doctors may now recommend medical marijuana oils to certain patients under the age of 18. To qualify, the young patients must suffer from intractable epilepsy or a medical condition that has not responded to other treatments and that involves wasting, intractable nausea, or severe, painful, and persistent muscle spasms. This compassionate proposal recognizes the sad truth that kids face serious illnesses, too, and it gives doctors one more legal option to help them find relief.

The governor and the General Assembly have joined respected organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognizing that medical cannabis may be appropriate for minors in certain circumstances. The compassion shown by lawmakers from across the state in enacting this bill means many seriously ill children and their families have one more legal option to help ease their symptoms. But it would not have been possible without the compassion of all Delawareans who wrote to their elected officials in support of this bill.

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Research

Guide to American Academy of Pediatrics Decriminalization Study

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatricsaap_logo-1 published an article called The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research, and Legal Update. While the report failed to recognize the benefits of regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol, it did  support decriminalizing marijuana because of the harms caused by arrests and their aftermath.

We put together this handy guide to highlight the most important points. Please share it with anyone who still thinks arresting and prosecuting marijuana consumers is good for young people.

The AAP also recently published a study suggesting that random drug testing and zero tolerance policies in schools can actually harm teens.

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General

American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Rescheduling, Decriminalizing Marijuana

In a report released Monday, the American Academy of PediatricsAAP suggested removing marijuana from Schedule 1 in order to make further research easier to accomplish.

From the Associated Press:

To make it easier to study and develop marijuana-based treatments, the group recommends removing marijuana from the government’s most restrictive drug category, which includes heroin, LSD and other narcotics with no accepted medical use, and switching it to the category which includes methadone and oxycodone.

The recommended switch “could help make a big difference in promoting more research,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman, the policy’s lead author and a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Stanford University.

The report also recommended removing criminal penalties for simple possession:

Citing the lifelong negative effects of a criminal record on adolescents, the AAP strongly supported reducing penalties for marijuana possession and use to misdemeanors. This policy statement, The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research and Legal Update is a recent revision to its previous 2004 report about the drug.

"The illegality of marijuana has resulted in the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of adolescents, with overrepresentation of minority youth," wrote Seth D. Ammerman, MD, FAAP, of the 2014-2015 AAP Committee on Substance Abuse, and colleagues. Effects of marijuana-related felony charges include "ineligibility for college loans, housing, financial aid, and certain kinds of jobs," they said. The report also recommended pediatricians get involved and "advocate for laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties" for possession or use of marijuana.
The authors state in an accompanying technical report that studies have not shown decriminalization results in an overall increase in marijuana use by adolescents, which is a chief concern of those opposed to decriminalizing the drug. In fact, states with decriminalization laws experience similar rates of marijuana use as those with tougher penalties. However, the authors cite "significant savings in criminal justice cost and resources" in states with decriminalization laws.

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