Medical Marijuana

Vermont Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

On Thursday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed S. 16, a bill that will significantly improve patients’ access to Vermont’s medical marijuana program. The bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions. It also authorizes an additional dispensary (bringing the statewide total to five), and it allows existing dispensaries to open one additional location each. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, an additional dispensary will be authorized.

You can read a complete summary of the bill here.

In other news, the governor’s office, legislative leaders, and advocates are making progress on a marijuana legalization compromise bill that could pass this summer during the veto session that is scheduled to begin on June 21.

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Medical Marijuana

Vermont Medical Marijuana Improvements Moving Forward

The Vermont Legislature continues to make incremental progress on marijuana policy reform. The House Human Services Committee voted 10-0 to pass S. 16, a Senate-approved bill that would substantially improve the state’s medical cannabis program. As amended by the committee, S. 16 would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease as qualifying conditions, and it would allow patients to grow their own plants without forfeiting their ability to purchase from dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to open additional locations in order to better serve patients.

If you are a Vermont resident, please call the House Speaker’s office today and urge House leaders to schedule a vote on the marijuana legalization bill. Adjournment is expected May 6, so please also email and call your own representatives today, and urge them to take action.

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Medical Marijuana

Iowa CBD Program Improvement Bill Awaiting Approval From Governor

Last week, the Iowa Legislature approved HF 524, extending and expanding the state's existing cannabidiol program. Now, all the bill needs is a signature from the governor to become law.

Although the Senate approved a full medical marijuana bill that allowed as much THC as patients might need, the House has lagged behind. HF 524 includes a 3% cap on THC. We are disappointed at the limits of the final bill, but it is still an important step forward.

If passed, patients suffering from illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or terminal illness would be able to enroll in a program with their doctor's authorization. Patients must be permanent residents of Iowa and would apply for their ID cards through the Department of Transportation. Unlike Iowa’s existing CBD program, manufacturers would be licensed to produce the oil, and dispensaries would be established where patients could make actual purchases, thus allowing in-state access to this life-changing medication.

If you are an Iowa resident, please ask Gov. Terry Branstad to sign the measure into law without delay.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

[caption id="attachment_8771" align="alignright" width="300"]senateLarge PA Senate Chambers[/caption]

For the second time in a year, the Pennsylvania Senate has overwhelmingly voted to allow seriously ill patients to use and safely access medical cannabis. Gov. Tom Wolf has said he’d sign medical marijuana legislation, so only one piece of the puzzle remains: the House of Representatives.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call your state representative right now to ask him or her to support a compassionate, comprehensive medical marijuana bill.

It will take just a minute of your time to make a call, but it will make a huge impact. Legislators often mistakenly believe that supporting humane marijuana policies is politically risky. This couldn’t be further from the truth — voters overwhelmingly support medical marijuana protections.

SB 3 would allow registered patients to use medical cannabis and to safely access it from regulated dispensaries. To qualify, patients must have an approved medical condition, such as cancer, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, or chronic pain. The Senate approved adding vaporization to the bill, but only for cancer, seizures, and PTSD.

The bill is more limited than we would like in some areas, but it is a dramatic improvement over the status quo.

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General

Texas Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

Today, Texas State Rep. Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso filed HB 3785 — the comprehensive,Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 5.02.32 PM whole-plant medical marijuana bill that patients and advocates have been campaigning for. This marks a historical moment in Texas, as it is the first bill of its kind to be considered by the Texas Legislature.

HB 3785 proposes a far more comprehensive approach to protecting patients than the two other medical marijuana-related bills introduced in the Texas House this session. The bill establishes a framework for dispensaries, growers, and manufacturers to provide seriously ill patients with the medicine they need.

The qualifying conditions are far broader than other bills, and would include: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, Alzheimer's, PTSD, and conditions causing wasting, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe muscle spasms.

Registered patients (and their caregivers) would be free from fear of arrest and could legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. They’d also be permitted to grow up to six plants in their home, three of which could be mature plants estimated to yield four ounces each per year.

If you are a Texas resident, please take a moment to contact your Texas legislators about this important bill. We’ve set up a webpage that allows you to email them both in one shot. Supporters are encouraged to personalize the form letter provided if you or a loved one could benefit from legal access to medical marijuana.

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Research

Study: Marijuana May Achieve Complete Remission of Crohn’s Disease

Using marijuana may cause a “complete remission” of Crohn’s disease, a new study suggests.

Published in the medical journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology,AGA-CGH-pub1 the study examined the effects of regular marijuana consumption on the development of the severely debilitating Crohn’s disease. Researchers at Israel’s Meir Medical Center found that five of the 11 patients (or nearly half) who smoked twice per day for eight weeks achieved complete remission, compared to none of the patients who were given a placebo. Additionally, another five of the test subjects receiving marijuana saw their symptoms cut in half. And, unlike many of the drugs currently prescribed to treat the illness, there were no significant side effects.

The symptoms of severe Crohn’s disease make it a living nightmare for many patients, who can suffer from bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fevers.

This study is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to measure the impact of marijuana consumption on Crohn’s disease. While there is no cure for Crohn’s, scientists are working to keep the symptoms in check and prevent further progression of the disease.

The researchers were hesitant to label the findings a total success, but said that they merit further research.

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Medical Marijuana

Petition Filed to Allow Medical Marijuana in Florida

Last week, the grassroots organization People United for Medical Marijuana filed a petition to allow medical marijuana for seriously ill patients in Florida.

The petition proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would permit the cultivation, purchase, and use of marijuana to treat a number of specified and severe diseases, including cancer, AIDS, and Crohn’s disease. Petition-gatherers will need to collect 683, 149 signatures from registered voters in order to make it onto next year’s ballot. If the signatures are collected and approved on time, the measure would require 60% of the vote to become law.

Although the petition has yet to garner a significant vote count, the group is optimistic that the recent addition of a wealthy donor to the organization will aid their efforts.

[caption id="attachment_6678" align="alignright" width="157"]PastedGraphic-1 John Morgan[/caption]

John Morgan, a personal injury attorney and business owner whose father used cannabis to cope with the pain of esophageal cancer, recently joined the advocacy group. In addition to his position as a committee member, he donated $100,000 to the campaign. Morgan has said that he will contribute $1 million if necessary. “I’ve seen people in pain who end up on oxycodone,” Morgan said. “And 16,000 people die from that every year. It’s highly addictive. Legalizing marijuana is a no brainer.”

In a recent poll, 61% of Floridians supported medical marijuana. That number rose to 70% when ballot language listed specific qualifying diseases like cancer.

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Medical Marijuana||Research

Human Marijuana Trials Moving Forward to Determine Medical Benefits

Thousands of medical marijuana patients in the United States rely on the drug to alleviate a multitude of symptoms from cachexia to nerve pain; nevertheless, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still considers it a Schedule I controlled substance that has no accepted medical use.

Despite this law-enforcement-agency-approved “analysis,” doctors are conducting their own research. In Israel, the Meir Medical Center is recruiting Crohn's Disease sufferers for a study on the ability of marijuana to treat the inflammatory bowel disease, which affects 400,000-600,000 North Americans.

In San Francisco, for more than five years, doctors at California Pacific Medical Center have been studying the effects of the marijuana compound cannabidiol (CBD) on metastatic cancer cells (i.e., very aggressive tumor cells).  In their recently published large-scale animal trial, brain scans revealed the disruption of tumor cells after CBD was used to switch off a specific gene regulator.

These promising results left researchers optimistic and they believe that the findings warrant human trials. They will work to secure funding in the upcoming months for two trial groups, one for brain cancer and the other for breast cancer.

Will these and other studies finally convince our government that science, not myth, should dictate how we approach marijuana?

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