Testing It Up

Canada puts medical marijuana decisions into hands of doctors

A new rule that takes effect today puts the entire decision making process about who should receive a marijuana prescription on doctors’ shoulders in Canada. medical marijuana

Previously, patients wanting to get a prescription to marijuana had to get a licence from Health Canada by submitting an application form signed by their doctor, which indicated that the physician was aware the patient was using pot for medical purposes.

But under the new rules, users seek a medical document directly from their doctor — similar to a prescription –instead of applying through Health Canada.

However, this puts doctors in the uncomfortable position of being gatekeepers to medical marijuana for patients. The Canadian Medical Association has made its concerns clear, noting in a news release earlier this month it “remains adamant that it will not throw its support behind medical use of the drug until numerous questions about safety, efficacy, dosage and delivery have been answered.”

The new rules also stipulate that the roughly 40,000 people in the country that use medical marijuana can no longer grow their own, but must now purchase it from commercial distributors, although this is currently being challenged in court.

It is estimated that the new private-sector commercial marijuana production industry  could be worth more than $1 billion a year by 2024.

March 31, 2014 at 6:33 am Comments (0)

Doctors Aim to Study Marijuana More, Ask Feds to Make it Easier

The American Epilepsy Society has asked the federal government to strip the dangerous drug label from marijuana so it can be studied more easily. medical marijuana

The society noted that it has received several reports of cases of marijuana being effectively used to treat seizures, but that more scientific study is needed to ensure the drug actually works and is safe to use.

However, studying marijuana is difficult at the moment, as it is currently classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning the federal government considers it to be a dangerous, highly addictive drug with no known medical uses.

The Epilepsy Society has also reportedly softened its stance on using marijuana to combat seizures. It used to warn patients not to use marijuana for this purpose, but now advises careful consultation with epilepsy specialists in all treatments.

March 10, 2014 at 11:00 am Comments (0)

Colorado Employers Allegedly Discriminating Against Marijuana Users

Although marijuana is now legal in Colorado for recreational use, many employers still consider it a controlled substance (as it is classified federally) and discriminate against its users. drug testing Texas politiciansUrine drug tests are often used to screen potential employees by having them pass a pre-employment drug check or by screening employees by random drug testing on the job.

Drug testing business MCC, located in Grand Junction, said they’ve seen hundreds of jobs impacted by failed drug tests, particularly for marijuana, which is the drug most likely to show up in a urinalysis test.

“I want to say about 80% of our positives are for marijuana,” said MCC drug test collector Kyle Raaflaub. “THC stores in the fat cells so some people that aren’t very active… can have THC in their system up to 45 days. Vicodin, oxycontin, stuff like that, ecstacy, cocaine… those will only have a time table of 24 to 36 hours.”

Testing positive for any amount of marijuana is legal grounds to prevent employment or immediate termination.

Staffing agency Labor etc. says it must turn away potential employment candidates on a weekly basis for failing a drug test due to having THC, marijuana’s psychoactive substance, in their system.

“We get a percentage of our potential employees that have come up positive for THC that argue the fact that it’s legal in Colorado,” said Labor etc. Sales Director Kris Cox. “That they should be able to smoke marijuana and still be accepted for a position, but it is the employer right to say no.”

Current Colorado Law favors business owners banning all personal employee marijuana use on the basis that this is an at-will state.

“Employers can generally terminate employees at their will for no reason, or for any reason as long as it’s a lawful reason,” said employment attorney Anna Itenberg.

The recently enacted Amendment 64 also has a clause reserving employers right’s to drug test. But this seems to contradict Colorado Division of Regulatory Agency’s off-duty statute, which was put in place to protect employees from termination based on what they do in their time outside of work such as cigarette smoking.

The statute reads, “It shall be a discriminatory… for an employer to terminate… any employee due to that employee’s engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours…”

The Colorado National Organization Reforming Marijuana Laws (CO NORML) said urinalysis testing should not be allowed because it gives positive results for marijuana activity that could’ve occurred weeks ago.

“The reason why we don’t think drug testing should be used is because drug testing for marijuana does not show any type of impairment,” said CO NORML executive director Rachel Gillette.

The state government says it’s okay to smoke marijuana medically and recreationally, but employers seem to disagree.

March 3, 2014 at 7:54 am Comments (0)

Mothers Step to Forefront of Marijuana Legalization Debate

In past decades, it was the sad stories of mothers who claimed their children had been led astray by marijuana that helped keep the drug illegal. But now, mothers are on the other side of the debate, saying the controversial drug helps their children and should be legalized. marijuana children risk

Mothers of children with seizure disorders are especially adamant about legalizing marijuana, at least for medicinal purposes.

The specific drug many of these mothers want legalized is an extract that contains only trace amounts of the part of the plant responsible for the euphoric effect of the drug but is still high in cannabidiol, or CBD.  Scientists believe this substance may have an ability to quiet the electrical and chemical activity in the brain that causes seizures. Nothing is smoked. Instead, it is a liquid that is mixed in food or given to a child with a dropper.

Wisconsin legislators recently introduced a bipartisan bill giving parents of children with seizure disorders permission to use the marijuana extract on their children after hearing from several mothers with children who have seizure disorders, according to a news report.

However, some medical and anti-drug organizations say there is potential risk of treating children with the substance, as it hasn’t been properly tested or regulated yet.

That is slowly changing.

Heather Jackson, executive director of a foundation that is dedicated to research, education and advocacy for marijuana-derived medicines, said the organization has begun to communicate with partners about the possibility of starting clinical trials for the treatment.

“We know that, in order for the treatment to be accepted by the medical community, there has be more testing, but because it’s marijuana, there has been a lot of red tape,” she said.

British company GW Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval in December to begin clinical trials of a medicinal form of marijuana for children with epilepsy at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, the University of California at San Francisco and other locations.

However, because marijuana is still classified as a Class 1 drug federally, it is still illegal to cross state lines with it, making it difficult to study and causing a nightmare for parents who want the extract drug approved quickly.

The mothers are asking the FDA to speed up the approval process for drugs based on CBD, requesting that the National Institutes of Health dedicate more money to this type of research and urging the Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana so that it can be moved around more easily.

In March, the mothers will bring their fight to Washington, with dozens planning to fly in from across the country to meet with key legislators on Capitol Hill and hold a march across the city. They plan to bring their children, too.

March 3, 2014 at 7:34 am Comments (0)

Minnesota Police Agencies Stand in the Way of Medical Marijuana Legalization

Minnesota is considering legalizing the medical use of marijuana, but police agencies in the state are standing in the way of the measure. medical marijuana diabetes prevention

A bill in the state House of Representatives would legalize the possession and use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for people suffering from a range of medical conditions including: cancer, Tourette’s syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and any other medical condition approved by the state Commissioner of Health.

Patients would  need to obtain an ID card by getting written certification from a doctor, says measure HF 1818, which was introduced by Rep. Carly Melin (D-Hibbing) last spring.

A similar measure had passed through the Minnesota House and Senate in 2009 prior to being vetoed by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty (R).

Current Democratic Governor Mark Dayton says he’d sign a bill if it were passed, but only with the support of Minnesota law enforcement agencies, and that’s where the hang up is. Thus far, no agency has lent support to the bill.

Their opposition, according to a news report, is based on fears that marijuana’s medical benefits are still unproven, that any legalization effort will increase the drug’s availability to kids and that the bill is too broad in listing qualifying conditions.

But, as reported in Politics In Minnesota earlier this month,  the head of one police agency said he was worried legalizing marijuana for medical purposes might make it more difficult for police to get federal funding to combat the illicit drug trade. Minnesota receives millions in anti-drug money from the White House every year, plus, asset seizures from drug raids have become an integral part of state police budgets.

As a result, Melin has said she may draft a compromise bill to legalize marijuana extracts in pill or liquid form. Some law enforcement agencies have said they might be open to such a measure.

February 25, 2014 at 7:42 am Comments (0)

Ballot Initiative for Pot Legalization in California to Wait Until 2016

California voters who were looking forward to stating their decision about whether to legalize marijuana will have to wait until 2016. new hampshire medical marijuana bill

The coalition of investors and strategists, including the Drug Policy Alliance, who are pushing for the ballot initiative has decided to wait another couple of years so it can gather more funding and support.

The group was instrumental in legalizing recreational pot in Washington and Colorado and medical marijuana in Massachusetts in 2012, and it plans to support efforts in November of this year to pass a recreational pot measure in Oregon and a medical cannabis measure in Florida.

California, however, will have to wait.

The coalition had already drafted the Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act, registered it with the California secretary of state and was gathering signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.

However, with the April 18 deadline for gathering signatures fast approaching, the group decided it would be better to postpone its efforts and take its time to do things right. The group said it also needs about $10 million to run a successful campaign in California.

“We believe the best way to go forward with any state ballot initiative is to have a strong funding base in place before launching the campaign,” said Graham Boyd, a leader in working to legalize marijuana in California.

If passed, the measure would have allowed those 21 and older to possess, purchase and use less than an ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six plants for personal use. It also would have established a 25% tax on marijuana sales to be distributed in support of education, drug and alcohol treatment, local government, law enforcement and environmental restoration for the damage done by illegal pot growing.


February 18, 2014 at 7:35 am Comments (0)

From Sweets To Weed: Old Hershey’s Plant To Be Turned Into Medical Marijuana Hub

Willy Wonka on weed? An old Hershey’s production facility in Smiths Falls, Ontario is set to be converted into a medical marijuana facility, pending approval by Health Canada.

Credit: Adam Gerhard via FlickrTown mayor Dennis Staples revealed this information to the Ottawa Citizen September 25 about a medical marijuana production company by the name of Tweed Inc. planning to overhaul the old chocolate factory for its medical manufacturing operations. Tweed VP for community engagement and general counsel Mark Zekulin expressed his company’s enthusiasm in pursuing this project. “We’re excited to reinvigorate the former Hershey facility,” said Zekulin.

This particular Hershey’s factory closed shop in 2008, resulting to the loss of work of more than 1,500 people. For a town with a population below 9,000, this was hard-hitting news. The installation of a medical marijuana facility seems to provide hope for the small town of Smiths Falls. “It’s going to create jobs that we sorely need, and we hope that the remaining space continues to attract other tenants,” said Mayor Staples. Meanwhile, Zekulin added that once the approval is reached, “we’ll bring many jobs and hope to fill the rest of the space with other businesses that will in turn bring more potential employment to the community.”

Tweed has already purchased the dilapidated Hershey’s building, and already arranged the restructuring and revamping of the facility for its intended purpose.

This conversion is similar to a medical marijuana dispensary in South Carolina, which was once a KFC store.

September 30, 2013 at 1:00 am Comments (0)

Anti-Drug Activist Warns Against Medical Marijuana Initiative in Florida

Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs, says Florida could be overrun by marijuana dispensaries, much like its current problem with prescription drug “pill mills” if a medical marijuana initiative passes in 2014.cape_florida

“Floridians should definitely be aware that the medi-pot initiative that they could see on the Florida ballot next year would allow for dispensaries in our state,” Fay said. “These criminal enterprises, making millions and operating under the guise of non-profit businesses, are a severe threat to our communities, just like pill mills. Other problems with marijuana dispensaries include the level of accessibility and direct marketing of marijuana to children. This is very disturbing to me, especially since the Florida medi-pot initiative has no restrictions on age, nor does it require parental consent. Further, there is no accountability as to what’s in the marijuana being dispensed.”

September 25, 2013 at 11:33 am Comments (6)

High Times Medical Cannabis Cup Celebrates Industry’s Best

For its fourth year of awarding the best pot strains, the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup staged in the San Francisco Bay area is touted by its organizers as “the most successful, with three ‘medication’ areas packed with the top cannabis companies of California.”

high times bay area medical cannabis cup 2013A full crowd of marijuana enthusiasts and curious individuals bore witness to a wide selection of cannabis strains. The most prominent categories of marijuana strains include sativa, indica, and hybrids.

Meanwhile, the other cup categories were: concentrate, hash, edible cannabis products, high cannabidiol content, and non-edible medically-infused product. Awards were also given to the best overall product, best booth, and best glass.

Attendees were treated to information seminars about everything cannabis, from growing your own plant to formulating custom pot-based products and understanding the legalities. One of the highlights of the event was the emergence of more cannabis concentrates of varying textures and flavors.

The Medical Cannabis Cup aims to celebrate medical marijuana and assure the public of its safety. The event recognizes cannabis as “a gift of the earth” and “the earth’s best medicine”. The people behind the cup have fervent hope that advocacy and information drives like this event are no longer needed in the future.

This year’s event was held on June 22-23, 2013 at the Graneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA.

You can see a list of winners here.

June 27, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Mayo Clinic: Medical Marijuana Isn’t for Teens with Chronic Pain

Amidst ongoing debate about the therapeutic effects of cannabis, doctors at the Mayo Clinic have declared that they don’t think marijuana is an ideal treatment for teens with chronic pain.

medical marijuanaIn a commentary set to appear in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the physicians said there is no sufficient data that could prove marijuana’s benefits for teen pain patients. And even though medical marijuana may help in easing  the symptoms of certain medical conditions, the consequences of using it may be more severe for adolescents.

The researchers described the cases of three high school-age patients at Mayo Clinic’s pediatric chronic pain clinic who reported regular marijuana use. Despite using pot, their pain worsened and they experienced impaired functioning and difficulty becoming more socially active.

According to the report, excessive doses of marijuana may induce symptoms that many chronic pain patients already experience, including dizziness, anxiety, sedation, fatigue, decreased reflexes, confusion, difficulty concentrating and a lack of motivation. Teens under the age of 16 who use marijuana may also put themselves at greater risk of developing psychosis. Similarly, smoking marijuana once a week has been linked to persistent cognitive damage in adolescents, the researchers note.

Teen pain patients should be screened for marijuana use and be given alternative treatments, such as biofeedback, acupuncture and physical therapy, the authors recommend.

“If you’re a pain patient, and you’re using this drug or others, narcotics as well, one of the side effects is to be out of it, and out of it when the goal of a pain rehab program is actually to get you into it,” Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and co-author of the report, said in a news release. “The whole point is function restoration, not further functional decline.”

June 19, 2013 at 1:47 am Comments (0)

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