Colorado Governor Signs PTSD Bill


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Colorado just added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program.

The Cannabist reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The bill opens the doors for Colorado residents to receive a doctor’s OK to use medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD symptoms.

It’s the first new qualifying condition added under the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001. The state’s eight other qualifying conditions are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, and severe pain.

The inclusion of PTSD among Colorado’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions has been a hotly contested issue of recent years.

Coordinated bids led by veterans groups fell short as the Colorado Board of Health quashed requests for PTSD’s inclusion and legislative measures languished in the General Assembly. The Colorado Board of Health has not added any new qualifying conditions since the medical marijuana law’s inception, citing lack of “peer-reviewed published studies of randomized controlled trials or well-designed observational studies showing efficacy in humans,” officials have previously told The Cannabist.

After the Board of Health’s most recent denial of the proposed addition of PTSD, proponents filed suit against the state. That case is pending in Colorado Appeals Court.

Proponents have argued that it’s not cost-effective for PTSD patients and it’s a risk to military veterans’ benefits to purchase recreational marijuana as a potential treatment for their ailments. Additionally, they argue that there is limited availability of suitable marijuana products — heavy in the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — that have been claimed effective for symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares and pain.

Twenty-five of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs now allow patients with PTSD to qualify. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs have been approved and are now awaiting governors’ signatures in New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Colorado PTSD Legislation Awaiting Governor’s Signature


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The Colorado Legislature took an important step toward improving the state’s medical marijuana program last week by passing SB17-017, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. Twenty-four out of 29 states with medical marijuana programs allow patients with PTSD to qualify, but Colorado still does not.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has not yet indicated if he’s supportive. If you are a Colorado resident, please call him now at (303) 866-2471, and politely ask him to make this important treatment option available to patients! To make it easy, we have a sample script available here.

There are only two drugs that are FDA-approved to treat PTSD, and neither has been shown to be more effective than a placebo. Both of these drugs, and others commonly prescribed “off-label,” have dangerous side effects that cannabis does not. Many veterans suffer from PTSD, which has led to the tragically high suicide rate among returning veterans. Shouldn’t those who have served our country have access to any treatment that might help ease their suffering?

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Colorado GOP Senate Leader Downplays Federal Interference Fears


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Colorado Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg

In response to statements made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week, Colorado Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg said that he does not think the federal government will crack down the legal marijuana market in states where it is legal for adult consumption.

Denver Post reports:

“I’m not sure I’d put too much thought or too much credit into what he was saying,” Sonnenberg told reporters Monday morning. “This president has been all about federalism and giving the states more authority, this just flies in the face of that. So I would anticipate not much coming from that.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the suggestion a day earlier in a “Meet the Press” interview, affirming that he didn’t believe the federal government would target states like Colorado that legalized weed.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has suggested a change in federal policy toward states on marijuana is unlikely, but Sonnenberg’s comments are the most forceful Republican pushback against the White House on the issue since the announcement Thursday.

“Colorado has been the leader when it comes to marijuana and the regulation,” he said. “People look to us for leadership, and I don’t think our new president will turn his back on allowing states to do what they need to do, whether (marijuana) or anything else.”

MPP will continue to monitor the Dept. of Justice for more info on their intended policy going forward.

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Colorado Department of Revenue Reports $1.3 Billion in Regulated Marijuana Sales in 2016


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The Colorado Department of Revenue’s announcement that $1.3 billion in regulated marijuana sales took place in calendar year 2016, generating nearly $200 million in state tax revenue. These figures do not include millions of dollars in revenue generated by local taxes on marijuana.

The Cannabist reports:

To put the state’s third year of regulated recreational marijuana sales in perspective, Year One totaled $699.2 million (combined with medical sales) and Year Two jumped up to $996.2 million. The trend should continue in Year Four, but beyond that? It’s a murkier proposition.

2016 was the year in which the $100-million-month became a baseline and heralded a record-breaking summer: The combined sales for July, August and September were $376.6 million.

Monthly sales topped $100 million in eight of the 12 months. In December, which is typically a strong month for cannabis transactions, pot shops’ sales were a little more than $114.7 million, a 13 percent increase from the $101.3 million recorded in December 2015.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Annual Colorado Government Report on Marijuana-related Health Concerns Highlights Several ‘Encouraging Trends’


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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment highlighted several “encouraging trends” in its latest annual report on marijuana-related health concerns.

According to the report:

•    “For adults and adolescents, past-month marijuana use has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users.”

•    “Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average.”

•    “Daily or near-daily marijuana use among adults is much lower than daily or near-daily alcohol or tobacco use. Among adolescents, past month marijuana use is lower than past month alcohol use.”

•    “Marijuana exposure calls to the poison center appear to be decreasing since 2015, including unintentional exposures in children ages 0-8 years.”

•    “The overall rate of emergency department visits with marijuana-related billing codes dropped 27 percent from 2014 to 2015 (2016 data is not available yet).”

•    The estimated percentage of women in Colorado who used marijuana during pregnancy is “not statistically different” from the national average.  

Once again, Colorado continues to demonstrate that regulating marijuana works.

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Federal Survey Finds Teen Marijuana Use Remains Unchanged Following Legalization


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The federal government quietly published new national survey data in December that shows rates of teen marijuana use in Colorado and Washington — the first two states to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use — decreased more than the national average in 2014-2015. Fewer teens in the two states are reportedly using marijuana than in 2012-2013, just prior to the commencement of legal adult marijuana sales.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the results of the 2014-2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on Tuesday along with a press release that did not include any mention of marijuana.

According to the NSDUH:

–    In Colorado, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 1.43 percentage points from 12.56% in 2013-2014 to 11.13% in 2014-2015, compared to 11.16% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 2.46 percentage points from 20.81% in 2013-2014 to 18.35% in 2014-2015, compared to 18.76% in 2012-2013.

–    In Washington, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 0.89 percentage points from 10.06% in 2013-2014 to 9.17% in 2014-2015, compared to 9.81% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 1.92 percentage points from 17.53% in 2013-2014 to 15.61% in 2014-2015, compared to 16.48% in 2012-2013.

–    Nationwide, the rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds dropped 0.02 percentage points from 7.22% in 2013-2014 to 7.2% in 2014-2015, and the rate of past-year use dropped 0.42 percentage points from 13.28% to 12.86%.

The overall findings of the NSDUH are in line with those of the annual Monitoring the Future survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which were released last week and found little change in rates of teen marijuana use.

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Colorado Sees More Than $1 Billion in Marijuana Sales in 2016


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picstateflag_1Legal marijuana businesses in Colorado made more than a billion dollars in sales during the first 10 months of 2016, exceeding sales numbers from last year.

The Cannabist reports:

Recreational and medical cannabis shops in America’s first 420-legal state have sold nearly $1.1 billion of marijuana and related products in 2016, according to the new October data from the state’s Department of Revenue.

When 2015’s year-end marijuana tax data was finally released in February, Cannabist calculations showed $996,184,788 in sales at Colorado marijuana shops that year — spurring a leading industry attorney to tell us at the time, “I think it’s ethical to round that up to a billion.”

That same lawyer, Vicente Sederberg partner Christian Sederberg, celebrated the billion-dollar news on Monday by also pointing to the Colorado cannabis industry’s increasing economic impact and skyrocketing tax revenues for the state as well as numerous cities and counties throughout Colorado.

“We think we’ll see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year,” said Sederberg, “and so the economic impact of this industry — if we’re using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Group’s recent report, which is totally reasonable — it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.”

In addition to creating economic benefits, including state and local tax revenue and thousands of jobs, this legal market is on pace to continue stripping billions of dollars a year from the criminal market.

 

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Denver Approves Groundbreaking Social Use Initiative


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screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-10-53-11-amDenver voters have approved a ballot initiative to allow social cannabis use in certain private businesses. Initiated Ordinance 300 (I-300) was too close to call on Election Day, but once all the ballots were counted, it ended up receiving a solid 53.5% of the vote.

I-300 creates a pilot program for permitting private establishments to allow adult cannabis consumption in designated areas. The city will only issue permits to establishments that have received formal support from their officially recognized neighborhood organization or business-improvement district, and recipients will be required to follow a number of guidelines. A full description of I-300 is available on the Yes on 300 campaign’s website.

The passage of I-300 is generating a ton of media attention around the country and abroad.

Mashable reports:

“This is a groundbreaking law that reflects the shift taking place in the public attitudes toward marijuana,” Mason Tvert, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Mashable.

“By allowing adults to use marijuana in certain private establishments, we can reduce the chances that they are going to use it in public, like on the street or in the park. This is a community-focused measure that ensures neighborhoods will have the final say over what is and is not allowed,” Tvert said.

“We believe this will allow communities and businesses to test the waters to see what works, then move forward with the best plans possible. We are hopeful this will produce a system that can serve as a model for other cities and towns in Colorado and throughout the nation,” Tvert told Mashable.

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Study Shows No Increase in Colorado Teen Use After Legalization


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Rates of marijuana use among Colorado teens have NOT increased since the state made marijuana legal for adults, according to results of a statewide survey released Monday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado teens also continue to be lower than the national average.HKCSB1

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization,” according to a CDPHE press release.

The biannual Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) found that 21.2% of high school students in Colorado reported using marijuana within the past 30 days in 2015, down slightly from 22% in 2011, the year before Amendment 64 was approved and enacted, and 24.8% in 2009, the year hundreds of medical marijuana stores began opening throughout the state. The HKCS also found that the rate of lifetime use among Colorado high school students dropped from 42.6% in 2009 to 38% in 2015. The decreases do not represent statistically significant changes, and the state agencies that support the survey have reported, “The trend for current and lifetime marijuana use has remained stable since 2005.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Supreme Court Dismisses States’ Lawsuit Against Colorado


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Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Nebraska and Oklahoma’s lawsuit challenging Colorado’s marijuana regulation laws.

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The decision is available here.

The attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court in December 2014, arguing that the state’s decision to regulate the cultivation and distribution of marijuana was “placing stress on their criminal justice systems.” The Colorado and U.S. governments both filed briefs urging the court to dismiss the suit. Oklahoma Republicans also urged their attorney general to drop the suit. Read the rest of this entry »

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