Testing It Up

Majority of Seniors Support Medical Marijuana Legalization in Florida: Report

The senior population in Florida is overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted this past spring.cape_florida

About 84% of Florida voters who support the initiative are older than 65, the survey found. Among all voters, support was at 88%. Among voters 50- to 64-years-old, 62% admitted smoking marijuana, which was more than any other demographic.

“What we’re hearing from older voters is not a lot different from the electorate as a whole,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, which landed the issue on the ballot. “For the most part, it’s not a controversial topic…If their doctor recommends a particular treatment plan, whether it’s a medication regimen, a new diet, exercise, yoga or medical marijuana, they should be able to follow their doctor’s orders without being treated like a criminal,” he said.

However, older voters who believe marijuana can act as a painkiller are just as misinformed as the rest of the population who believe that, said John Anderson, 87, of Cocoa Beach. Anderson is a former chairman of the Brevard GOP and a retired nurse anesthetist who does not support the initiative.

“There are many people who think marijuana relieves pain. Marijuana is not an analgesic. You can get more pain relief from aspirin than marijuana, if you’re talking about it in that sense,” he said.

Floridians will vote in November on whether to legalize medical marijuana.


July 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm Comments (4)

Illinois House Approves Medical Marijuana for Minors with Epilepsy

The Illinois house has passed, by a vote of 98-18, a bill allowing minors with epilepsy to use medical marijuana to reduce seizures.

It even solicited the support of several Republicans, such as Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), who initially voted against the marijuana law.

medical marijuanaThe bill, sponsored by Democratic state representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie),  expands the state’s medical marijuana law to include epileptic children and specifically stipulates that it may not be smoked. “These people are not interested in getting high. These are folks that are interested in alleviating their seizures,” Rep. Lou Lang told the Chicago Sun-Times.

In the 1970s, federal law classified marijuana as an illegal drug with no medical value. In recent times, however, more and more states are passing laws legalizing medical marijuana, and some even for recreational use, such as in Colorado and Washington.

Parents with children suffering from different forms of epilepsy and other debilitating medical conditions continue to exert political pressure to help push medical marijuana laws that would allow children access to a form of marijuana with proper doses of its constituent cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin also allow medical marijuana for children with seizure disorders.

May 22, 2014 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment: Another Breakthrough For Medical Marijuana?

Growing popularity of legalizing the use for medical marijuana seems to have created another breakthrough with the latest discovery that it could lead to relieving patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS).

medical marijuanaThis latest development was published in the journal Neurology, and is based on a review made by a team of researchers from the American Academy of Neurology who conducted the study on the effects of using medical marijuana. However, according to a report from The Boston Globe, they immediately dismissed the effects of marijuana to give relief of Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy or seizures.

Dr. Barbara Koppel, who heads the study and is a neurologist from New York Medical College in New York, disclosed that the marijuana plant contains cannabinoids, which provide relief of multiple sclerosis and with fewer side effects than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary component that causes the feeling of being high. However, it was suggested to take the compound in a pill or spray form rather than smoke it, because it is harder to measure the exact amount of active compound that the patient could get when inhaled.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society welcomes this new development and puts its support on the basis of fulfilling the rights of MS patients who want to try medical marijuana. They also advised their members to coordinate with health providers in accessing marijuana because it was not specifically determined in the study if smoking marijuana is helpful or safe for the treatment of MS.

May 9, 2014 at 1:00 am Comments (0)

Michigan Mulls Possible Roadside Saliva Testing for Marijuana Use

Michigan lawmakers are debating a measure that would allow police to conduct roadside saliva tests to help them detect marijuana usage among drivers.marijuana legalization

The proposed legislation has some medical marijuana users concerned that the saliva tests would inadvertently catch medical marijuana users, even when they’re not under the influence.

“These tests are very flawed,” said Adam Macdonald of Grosse Pointe Farms, chairman of the National Patients Rights Association, a nationwide advocacy group for medical-marijuana users.

“I’ve heard this will kick the ability to drive right out from under anyone who uses medical marijuana for up to 20 days” before the test, Macdonald said.

However, the real aim of the bills is to catch repeat offenders of drugged driving, said State Rep.  Dan Lauwers, a Republican from Brockway Township near Port Huron, who co-sponsored the bill.

Saliva testing is “not critical to this legislation” although Michigan’s police officers deserve to have it available, he said. ”We need to look to the future.  This kind of testing has been approved in California.”

The saliva tests have not been approved throughout California but are being used in field trials by Los Angeles police to see if results can qualify as court-admissible evidence.

Under the Michigan proposal, motorists would not be arrested simply for failing the saliva test but only after being pulled over for “erratic driving.” Then the saliva test would add confirming evidence, just as portable breath testers do in cases of drunken drivers to justify an arrest.

“What we’re really after is repeat offenders,” Lauwers said.

Saliva testing detects a subject’s level of active THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It is performed by taking a swab from inside a person’s mouth and testing it for a chemical reaction that detects the presence of THC.


April 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm Comments (0)

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)

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