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Medical Marijuana

Medical Experts View Marijuana As The Future of Therapeutics

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medical marijuana

Medical marijuana has become the answer to illnesses and ailments of many Americans, but debates are still ongoing as to its benefits and hazards.

McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) recently hosted a symposium featuring medical experts in the U.S. the U.K. to delve into the rise in popularity of medical marijuana and how it has changed the world’s perspective on treatment. The gathering was in line with this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in California, according to a news release.

A number of doctors may not be able to guarantee the effectiveness of cannabis to treat illnesses, but they say that patients must be informed about their choices. “I don’t think that every physician should prescribe medical cannabis, or that every patient can benefit but it’s time to enhance our scientific knowledge base and have informed discussions with patients,” according to Dr. Mark Ware, who heads the health center’s Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit clinical research.

Ware believes that now is the perfect time to be open-minded about medical marijuana, although he admits that more studies need to be conducted to understand the drug further. “We need to advance our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education for patients, physicians and policy-makers,” Ware added.

Dr. Igor Grant, who serves as director of the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR), sees the potential of medical marijuana to advance neurological treatment. “Despite a commonly held view that cannabis use results in brain damage, meta analyses of extensive neurocognitive studies fail to demonstrate meaningful cognitive declines among recreational users… Bain imaging has produced variable results, with the best designed studies showing null findings,” Grant said.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active potent ingredient of marijuana, is approved as a drug for pharmaceutical purposes in several U.S. states as well as selected countries around the world.

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Real Drug Stories

Top Doc in the US Says Marijuana May Have Medical Uses

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US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently said “marijuana can be helpful” for some medical conditions and symptoms.

“We have to see what the science tells us about the efficacy of marijuana,” Vivek told CBS News. “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful. I think that we have to use that data to drive policy-making. I’m very interested to see where that data takes us.”

Marijuana legalization and medical marijuana advocates were quick to jump on the Surgeon General’s comments.

“Dr. Murthy’s comments add to a growing consensus in the medical community that marijuana can help people suffering from  painful conditions,” said Tom Angell, head of the pro-legalization Marijuana Majority. “It’s crazy that federal law still considers marijuana a schedule 1 drug, a category that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value. In light of these comments from his top medical adviser, the president should direct the attorney general to immediately begin the process of rescheduling marijuana.”

However, rescheduling marijuana is a bit of a catch-22 situation. In order for it to be rescheduled, it must have large-scale clinical trials to back up the claims that it is medically useful. But, because it’s currently a schedule 1 drug — the same as heroin — the Drug Enforcement Administration limits the supply of marijuana for research. To obtain it for studies, researchers must get their studies approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, FDA, and DEA.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Law For Veterans Lobbied in Congress

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Medical marijuana was a hot topic during the vote earlier this month, and it seems that some members of the government are planning to push for wider coverage.

marijuana legalizationHouse representatives Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Earl Blumenaur, D-Ore. are pushing the Veterans Equal Access bill, a legislation that gives medical professionals in the Veterans Affairs Department the opportunity to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients. At present, the department has disallowed its doctors from giving marijuana prescriptions to retired military personnel.

Rep. Rohrabacher believes that veterans must be given equal rights as other U.S. citizens. “Our antiquated drug laws must catch up with the real suffering of so many of our veterans… This is now a moral cause and a matter of supreme urgency,” Rohrabacher said in a news release.

Meanwhile, Rep. Blumenaur emphasized the dire need of veterans to a wide variety of medical options. “We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows,” the Oregon lawmaker said.

Many of the war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is supposedly a qualifying condition for issuing medical marijuana in selected U.S. states. According to VA records, roughly one-sixth of the veterans are diagnosed with PTSD, with some of them assigned to war-stricken areas such as Afghanistan and Iran in the past.

Medical Marijuana

Smartphone App Developed For Alcohol and Marijuana Home Deliveries

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An iPhone app to send marijuana directly to your doorstep?

nestdrop smartphone app alcohol marijuana delivery

The clamor for marijuana in California continues to rise as a new smartphone app offers medical marijuana deliveries. Nestdrop, the company behind the alcohol delivery service in California using a mobile app, has now pushed its software further by selling medical marijuana and sending it to a California address.

According to the company, Nestdrop is the first app of its kind. Other delivery service apps require other online stores to process the sale and delivery, but Nestdrop is a purely app-based service.

Ordering medical marijuana through the mobile app requires the users to upload a snapshot of their medical marijuana card or a doctor’s prescription along with their ID card. The users then select their desired pot variant and enter the amount that they want to purchase. Within one hour, the product is delivered to the address specified in the order. The source of the marijuana will depend on the collective the buyer belongs to.

Service coverage for Nestdrop is currently confined within a section of Los Angeles, but the company is planning to expand depending on the demand. Michael Pycher, co-owner of Nestdrop, explained the company’s drive to move towards the medical marijuana business. “After our initial success with alcohol deliveries, we decided to expand when we saw how this platform could be used to bring difficult-to-obtain products to people who really need them,” Pycher said in a news release.

The current iteration of Nestdrop is available in iPhones and Android devices, with the iOS app pending approval by Apple.

Real Drug Stories

Majority of Seniors Support Medical Marijuana Legalization in Florida: Report

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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.

 

Medical Marijuana

Illinois House Approves Medical Marijuana for Minors with Epilepsy

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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.

Medical Marijuana

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment: Another Breakthrough For Medical Marijuana?

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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.

Drug Testing

Michigan Mulls Possible Roadside Saliva Testing for Marijuana Use

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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.

 

Medical Marijuana

Canada puts medical marijuana decisions into hands of doctors

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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.

Medical Marijuana

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

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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.