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Hawaii Adds ALS as Qualifying Medical Cannabis Condition

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 20:55
The Hawaii Department of Health has added Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use.

According to the department, the decision “was based on a rigorous review and analysis of written and oral testimony, a public hearing, and peer-reviewed scientific evidence.” Of the 29 states and U.S. jurisdictions that permit medical cannabis, 19 include ALS as a qualifying health condition.

During its review, the department determined “medical cannabis may be appropriate for patients diagnosed with ALS after receiving a comprehensive assessment by a patient’s physician or APRN and a risk-benefit discussion.”

In April 2017, the Department of Health opened the petition process to allow patients, physicians, and advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) to petition the department to add new debilitating medical conditions to the existing list of conditions that could benefit from the use medical cannabis. Soon after, a petition to add ALS was filed.

“Unlike prescription medications that undergo rigorous clinical trials for the treatment of certain health conditions before being released to consumers, medical cannabis does not have that same level of evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration”, states the department. “Under Hawaii Revised Statutes, all new conditions must be thoroughly reviewed from an evidence-based perspective and be subject to a public hearing. This year, the Department of Health received two such requests and began the review process.”

The other condition submitted for consideration was general anxiety disorder (GAD). The Department of Health unfortunately declined this request because “at this time there is inconclusive medical evidence that cannabis has beneficial use in the treatment or alleviation of symptoms of anxiety, social phobia, and social anxiety disorder (SAD), and no evidence specific to GAD.”

Next year’s deadline to request the addition of new health conditions is Feb. 19, 2018. The petition form is available online for patients, physicians, and APRNs and must be submitted by the deadline to be included in the public hearings tentatively scheduled for May 2018. Any petitions received after Feb. 19 may be considered the following year.

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Norway Decriminalizes Drugs

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 07:28
The Norwegian Storting (legislature) has approved historic legislation that will decriminalize the possession of all illegal drugs.

According to the Independent, the legislation to decriminalize drug possession was supported by the Conservatives (Hoyre), Liberals (Venstre), the Labor Party (Ap) and the Socialist Left (SV).

“The change will take some time, but that means a changed vision: those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals with classical sanctions such as fines and imprisonment”, said Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee, following the vote.

Nicolas Wilkinson, the SV party’s health spokesman, told VG that parliament’s goal was to “stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment”. He says aim is to transfer responsibility for drug policy from the justice system to the health system.

The move follows a 2006 scheme drug that was intended to replace custodial sentences with treatment programs for drug addicts in the cities of Bergen and Oslo. Last year the scheme was rolled out to all Norwegian courts.

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Study Finds CBD has Beneficial Effects in Patients with Schizophrenia

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 05:37
Cannabidiol (CBD) has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia, according to a new study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry

“Research in both animals and humans indicates that cannabidiol (CBD) has antipsychotic properties”, begins the study’s abstract. “The authors assessed the safety and effectiveness of CBD in patients with schizophrenia.”

In an exploratory double-blind parallel-group trial, patients with schizophrenia were “randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive CBD (1000 mg/day; N=43) or placebo (N=45) alongside their existing antipsychotic medication.” Participants were “assessed before and after treatment using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS), the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF), and the improvement and severity scales of the Clinical Global Impressions Scale (CGI-I and CGI-S).”

After 6 weeks of treatment, compared with the placebo group, “the CBD group had lower levels of positive psychotic symptoms (PANSS: treatment difference=-1.4, 95% CI=-2.5, -0.2) and were more likely to have been rated as improved (CGI-I: treatment difference=-0.5, 95% CI=-0.8, -0.1) and as not severely unwell (CGI-S: treatment difference=-0.3, 95% CI=-0.5, 0.0) by the treating clinician.” Patients who received CBD “also showed greater improvements that fell short of statistical significance in cognitive performance (BACS: treatment difference=1.31, 95% CI=-0.10, 2.72) and in overall functioning (GAF: treatment difference=3.0, 95% CI=-0.4, 6.4). CBD was well tolerated, and rates of adverse events were similar between the CBD and placebo groups.”

The study concludes by stating that; “These findings suggest that CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia. As CBD’s effects do not appear to depend on dopamine receptor antagonism, this agent may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.”

The full study, published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health, can be found by clicking here.

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North Dakota Initiative to Legalize Marijuana Approved for Circulation by Secretary of State

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 05:24
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Friday approved for circulation an initiative to legalize marijuana for everyone 21 and older.

Proponents of the initiative must now collect around 13,500 signatures from registered North Dakota voters in order to put it to a vote of the people during the November, 2018 general election. The proposal would legalize the possession, personal cultivation and licensed distribution of recreational marijuana for everyone who is at least 21 years old.

The measure would also seal the records of anyone who’s been convicted of a marijuana-related crime that would be made legal under the initiative.

If advocates of the measure are successful in placing it on the ballot, and voters approve it, North Dakota would become the ninth state to legalize cannabis.

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Bermuda Senate Approves Legislation to Decriminalize Cannabis, Sending it to Governor

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 00:57
Just days after the Bermuda House of Assembly overwhelmingly approved legislation to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis, the Senate has done the same.

The legislation, titled the Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act and tabled by Minister of Social Development and Sport Zane DeSilva, will decriminalize the possession of up to seven grams of cannabis for personal use. Given the measure has been approved by Bermuda’s full Congress, it now goes to Governor John Rankin for consideration. Rankin is expected to sign the measure into law.

Under the proposed law cannabis possession up to seven grams would no longer be a criminal offense, though police would still have the authority to seize any cannabis found on a person. Charges could also still be applied if it’s determined that the cannabis was intended to be distributed, rather than consumed for personal use. The minister will also be tasked with determining regulations for substance abuse education or treatment for those caught possessing cannabis.

According to a Profiles of Bermuda poll released in 2015, 79% of voters in Bermuda support either decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis.

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First Recreational Marijuana Business Licenses Issued in California

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 00:40
Yesterday California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control issued the first licenses for recreational marijuana businesses, paving the way for legal marijuana sales to begin the beginning of next year.

“This is a great Christmas present,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. “Licensing is an inevitable necessity of the modern bureaucratic state. I’m just happy to see the stores open and people be able to walk into a store — any adult including tourists and guests in California — and get cannabis just like they can get alcohol, cigarettes or all sorts of wonderful things in California.”

Altogether 20 licenses were issued to cannabis businesses located throughout the state, including multiple located in San Diego, Lynwood and San Jose. The most – seven in total – are located in Santa Cruz.

Below is a list of the 20 licenses issued yesterday (list provided by GreenState.com):

 

Legal Business Name Record Type Status Pure CA, LLC Adult-Use – Distributor Temporary License Active LYNWOOD CA 90262 Pure CA, LLC Medicinal – Distributor Temporary License Active LYNWOOD CA 90262 Buddy’s Cannabis Medicinal – Microbusiness Temporary License Active 1075 10TH ST N, BLDG, SAN JOSE CA 95112 HERBL Distribution Solutions Medicinal – Distributor Temporary License Active SANTA ROSA CA 95403 Buddy’s Cannabis Adult-Use – Microbusiness Temporary License Active 1075 10TH ST N, BLDG, SAN JOSE CA 95112 Golden State Sciences Medicinal – Distributor Temporary License Active  KING CITY CA 93930 Yes Cannabis – Laboratory Testing Temporary License Active 181 HUNTINGTON DR W, SUITE 106, MONROVIA CA 91016 Torrey Holistics Medicinal – Retailer Temporary License Active 10671 ROSELLE ST, SUITE 100, SAN DIEGO CA 92121 KindPeoples (formerly KindPeoples Collective) Medicinal – Distributor Temporary License Active SANTA CRUZ CA 95060 KindPeoples (formerly KindPeoples Collective) Adult-Use – Distributor Temporary License Active SANTA CRUZ CA 95060 Torrey Holistics Adult-Use – Retailer Temporary License Active 10671 ROSELLE ST, SUITE 100, SAN DIEGO CA 92121 KindPeoples Medicinal – Retailer Temporary License Active 140 DUBOIS ST, SUITE C, SANTA CRUZ CA 95060 KindPeoples Adult-Use – Retailer Temporary License Active 140 DUBOIS ST, SUITE C, SANTA CRUZ CA 95060 KindPeoples (formerly KindPeoples Collective) Medicinal – Microbusiness Temporary License Active 140 Dubois ST, SUITE A, B, C, Santa Cruz CA 95060 KindPeoples (formerly KindPeoples Collective) Adult-Use – Retailer Temporary License Active 3600 SOQUEL AVE, SANTA CRUZ CA 95062 Hueneme Patient Consumer Coop Medicinal – Retailer Temporary License Active 501 CHANNEL ISLANDS BLVD W, SUITE 302, PORT HUENEME CA 93041 530 CANNABIS Adult-Use – Retailer Temporary License Active 1550 LOCUST AVE, SHASTA LAKE CA 96019 530 CANNABIS Medicinal – Retailer Temporary License Active 1550 LOCUST AVE, SHASTA LAKE CA 96019 KindPeoples (formerly KindPeoples Collective) Adult-Use – Microbusiness Temporary License Active 140 DUBOIS ST, SUITE A, B, C, SANTA CRUZ CA 95060 KindPeoples (formerly KindPeoples Collective) Medicinal – Retailer Temporary License Active

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World Health Organization Says CBD Shouldn’t be a Controlled Substance

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:04
The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) says that current information doesn’t justify cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in cannabis, being a controlled substance.

“There is increased interest from Member States in the use of cannabis for medical indications including for palliative care”, states the WHO report released yesterday. “Responding to that interest and increase in use, WHO has in recent years gathered more robust scientific evidence on therapeutic use and side effects of cannabis and cannabis components. To that end, the ECDD [Expert Committee on Drug Dependence] did an initial review of a cannabis compound called cannabidiol (CBD).”

The report claims that “Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. The ECDD therefore “concluded that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol”.

The committee “postponed a fuller review of cannabidiol preparations to May 2018, when the committee will undertake a comprehensive review of cannabis and cannabis related substances.”

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Bermuda House Passes Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis Possession

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:40
Bermuda’s House of Assembly has overwhelmingly approved legislation to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.

The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act, tabled by Minister of Social Development and Sport Zane DeSilva, would decriminalize the possession of up to seven grams of cannabis for personal use. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration. Passage in the Senate would send it to Governor John Rankin who could sign it into law, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it.

Although police would no longer be able to arrest individuals with up to seven grams of cannabis under the proposed law, they could still seize it. The minister would also be tasked with drawing up regulations for substance abuse education or treatment for those caught possessing cannabis.

According to a Profiles of Bermuda poll released in 2015, 79% of voters in Bermuda support either decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis.

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Study: Cannabis May Help HIV Patients Keep Mental Stamina Longer

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:15
A new study published in the journal AIDS has found that THC can potentially slow the process in which mental decline can occur in up to 50% of HIV patients.

“It’s believed that cognitive function decreases in many of those with HIV partly due to chronic inflammation that occurs in the brain,” says Norbert Kaminski, lead author of the study which was conducted at Michigan State University. “This happens because the immune system is constantly being stimulated to fight off disease.”

According to Science Daily, Kaminski and his co-author, Mike Rizzo, a graduate student in toxicology, discovered that the compounds in marijuana were able to act as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing the number of inflammatory white blood cells, called monocytes, and decreasing the proteins they release in the body.

“This decrease of cells could slow down, or maybe even stop, the inflammatory process, potentially helping patients maintain their cognitive function longer,” Rizzo said.

The two researchers took blood samples from 40 HIV patients who reported whether or not they used marijuana. Then, they isolated the white blood cells from each donor and studied inflammatory cell levels and the effect marijuana had on the cells.

“The patients who didn’t smoke marijuana had a very high level of inflammatory cells compared to those who did use,” Kaminski said. “In fact, those who used marijuana had levels pretty close to a healthy person not infected with HIV.”

Kaminski, director of MSU’s Institute for Integrative Toxicology, has studied the effects of marijuana on the immune system since 1990. His lab was the first to identify the proteins that can bind marijuana compounds on the surface of immune cells. Up until then, it was unclear how these compounds, also known as cannabinoids, affected the immune system.

HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, infects and can destroy or change the functions of immune cells that defend the body. With antiretroviral therapy — a standard form of treatment that includes a cocktail of drugs to ward off the virus — these cells have a better chance of staying intact.

Yet, even with this therapy, certain white blood cells can still be overly stimulated and eventually become inflammatory.

“We’ll continue investigating these cells and how they interact and cause inflammation specifically in the brain,” Rizzo said. “What we learn from this could also have implications to other brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s since the same inflammatory cells have been found to be involved.”

Knowing more about this interaction could ultimately lead to new therapeutic agents that could help HIV patients specifically maintain their mental function.

“It might not be people smoking marijuana,” Kaminski said. “It might be people taking a pill that has some of the key compounds found in the marijuana plant that could help.”

The full study and its abstract can be found by clicking here.

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Pennsylvania: Permitted Hemp Crops to Grow From 50 to 5,000 Acres in 2018

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 05:53
Pennsylvania officials plan to increase the number of acres permitted for the cultivation of industrial hemp next year from less than 50 acres to over 5,000, reports 90.5 WESA, a National Public Radio station.

This year marked the first time since the 1930s that farmers in Pennsylvania could legally grow hemp, thanks to legislation approved by state lawmakers in 2016. Although less than 50 acres were permitted for hemp cultivation in 2017, State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding says the agency plans to increase this 100-fold in 2018, to around 5,000 acres. Redding believes the crop could increase the productivity of existing farmland.

“Research … at Penn State (showed) that you can actually use industrial hemp as a double crop, behind wheat”, said Redding. “I think if that plays out to be real, that is a game changer. You immediately change what options farmers have and you open up new markets.”

Individual growers or higher education institutions can apply for permits to grow the crop, with applications for next year due by January 19th.

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Over $4 Billion in Marijuana Sold in Colorado Since Start of Legal Sales

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 04:25
Effective today, the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) released statewide historical sales data on marijuana sales from January 2014 to present, and will release monthly reports going forward on the seventh business day of every month.

According to this data – dubbed the Marijuana Sales Report – there has been over $4 billion in marijuana and marijuana products sold since legal recreational sales began in 2014. The data shows that this year (up to the end of October) there has been $1,259,861,988 in marijuana sold, just shy of the $1,307,203,473 sold in 2016. In 2015, there was just shy of $1 billion sold ($995,591,255), and in 2014, the first year of legal sales, there was $683,523,739 sold. For comparison, there has been $2,951,855,447.08 in legal marijuana sold in Washington State, though sales there began in July of 2014, not January like Colorado.

According to the CDOR; “The Marijuana Sales Reports show unaudited monthly sales as self-reported by businesses on State sales returns and do not use Metrc® data (the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Marijuana Inventory Tracking System). The Marijuana Tax Data reports show tax revenue collected monthly as posted in the State’s accounting system.”

Below is a marijuana sales chart provided by the CDOR:

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New Ohio Initiative Would Legalize Marijuana, Advocates Hope to Place it on 2018 Ballot

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 22:14
Proponents of legalizing marijuana in Ohio have announced a new initiative that would do just that.

Advocates of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment are attempting to put their measure to a vote of the people during the November, 2018 general election. The initiative, described by supporters as a “free market” approach, would allow anyone 21 and older to possess and use marijuana and hemp, while establishing a system of licensed retail outlets and cultivation centers. Home cultivation for personal use would also be allowed.

“If you can own a bar, or make beer, wine or spirits, you will be able to own a marijuana dispensary, processor or cultivation,” says initiative supporters, who need to collect 305,592 signatures from registered voters in order to place the issue on next year’s ballot.

Although those behind the initiative are the same as those behind a failed 2015 initiative to legalize marijuana, supporters say the measure is quite different, and was developed after months of research and discussion.

An overview of the initiative – uploaded to Scribd by marijuana journalist Tom Angell – can be found by clicking here.

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Federal Survey: Teen Marijuana Use Down in Colorado and Washington, Now Lower Than it Was Prior to Legalization

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 21:46
According to survey data released by the federal government on Monday, the current rate of marijuana use among Colorado and Washington teens is now lower than it was prior to the states legalizing marijuana for adult use.

The rate of past-month marijuana use by individuals ages 12-17 dropped nearly 20% from 11.13% in 2014-2015 to 9.08% in 2015-2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is now lower than it was in 2011-2012 (10.47%) and 2012-2013 (11.16%). Marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in December 2012, and legal adult marijuana sales began in January 2014.

The rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds also dropped in Washington (from 9.17% in 2014-2015 to 7.93% in 2015-2016), and it is now lower than it was prior to legalization in 2012 (9.45% in 2011-2012 and 9.81% in 2012-2013).

“Colorado is effectively regulating marijuana for adult use”, says Brian Vicente, partner at Vicente Sederberg LLC, who was one of the lead drafters of Amendment 64 and co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana. There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs. The days of arresting thousands of adults in order to prevent teens from using marijuana are over.”

Vicente continues; “These survey results should come as welcome news to anyone who worried teen marijuana use would increase following legalization. As a proponent of Amendment 64 and a parent of two young children, they certainly came as welcome news to me.”

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President Trump Signs Bill that Protects State Medical Marijuana Laws

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 04:36
A day after the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate approved legislation that extends protections for state-level medical marijuana laws, President Trump signed the measure into law.

President trump signed the legislation into law this morning, temporarily preventing a government shutdown. The measure extends legal protections that prevents the government from using funds to enforce federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized the substance for medical uses (including those with a licensed dispensary system). The extension, however, is temporary; it will be valid until December 22nd, at which point lawmakers will need to pass another extension to avoid a shutdown of most government funding and to prevent invalidity the medical marijuana protections.

These protections – passed in 2014 as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – prohibits the Department of Justice and DEA from using federal funding to enforce federal marijuana laws in a state that has legalized medical cannabis.

The bill signed into law by President Trump also extends protections on state-level hemp research programs.

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Congress Votes to Extend Federal Medical Marijuana Protections

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:49
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have both approved legislation that will extend protections for state-level medical marijuana laws.

The legislation, which prevents a government shutdown, now goes to President Trump who is expected to quickly sign it into law. The measure only extends the protections and prevents a shutdown for two weeks, to December 22nd. Congress must approve another extension by then or most government spending will be halted and the federal law that prevents the government from attacking state-level medical marijuana laws will become invalid.

The medical marijuana protections currently in place and extended by Congress stems from an amendment introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former Representative Sam Farr (D-CA). The provision prohibits the Department of Justice (which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration) from using funds to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized the plant for medical purposes. The amendment was first approved in May of 2014.

Congress’ vote also extends protections on state-level hemp research programs.

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LA City Council Votes Unanimously to Make City the Largest in the U.S. with Legal Marijuana Stores

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 01:01
The Los Angeles City Council has approved legislation establishing a regulatory framework for marijuana outlets, which become legal in California next month.

The council voted 12 to 0 to approve the regulations, which will soon see the city distributing licenses for marijuana stores. Residential neighborhoods will be mostly off limits under the new rules, with buffer zones created to ensure that cannabis outlets aren’t located too close to parks, schools or libraries. It’s unclear if the regulations will be in place in time for outlets to begin cannabis sales next month.

“As lawmakers we have a responsibility to reasonably regulate this industry in a manner that is safe, inclusive, and practical,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. earlier today. In addition to Los Angeles, San Francisco officials also recently approved regulations for the legal marijuana industry.

Under Proposition 64, approved by voters last year, those 21 and older are allowed to possess and use up to an ounce of cannabis for any use, and are allowed to purchase it from a licensed retail outlet. The portion of the initiative that allows legal sales to begin takes effect next month.

Los Angeles, with a population of almost 4 million, is the most populated city in California and the second most populated city in the United States.

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Over 250% More Marijuana Waivers Granted by U.S. Army in 2017 Compared to 2016

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:40
The number of waivers granted by the active-duty Army for marijuana has increased by over 250% this year compared to 2016.

(Photo; HempBeach.com)

According to the Associated Press, the number of waivers granted for past marijuana use rose to more than 500 this year from just 191 in 2016, a 260% increase. Three years ago, no such waivers were granted. The large increase is due to officials dealing with orders to expand the Army’s size.

“Provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long,” said Major General Jeff Snow, head of the Army’s recruiting command. The marijuana use exclusions represent about one-quarter of the total misconduct waivers the Army granted in the budget year that ended September 30th. They accounted for much of the 50% increase overall in recruits who needed a waiver for some type of misconduct.

Snow said the figures probably will rise further as more states legalize or decriminalize marijuana.

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Medical Cannabis Bill Approved by Paraguay Congress

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:30
A bill to create a legal system to import marijuana seeds and grow the plant for medical uses has been approved by Paraguay’s Congress.

On Tuesday Paraguay’s Congress overwhelmingly approved legislation to establish a system allowing marijuana seeds to be imported and grown for medical use. The voted comes roughly seven months after officials authorized the importing of marijuana oil, with oversight given to the nation’s health ministry.

“We are very happy because this will also allow for the import of seeds for oil production,” says Roberto Cabanas, vice president of Paraguay’s medicinal cannabis organization. Cabanas daughter has Dravet syndrome which has required their family to pay hundreds of dollars each month to import cannabis oil.

In South America Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia have already legalized marijuana for medical purposes, while Uruguay has fully legalized growing and selling marijuana for any use.

Paraguay, the 9th most populated country in South America, has a population of around 6.7 million.

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Oregon Group Aims to Legalize Medical Magic Mushrooms

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 09:04
A group called the Oregon Psilocybin Society is putting together an initiative that would legalize the medical use of magic mushrooms. 

“It enhances creativity, it enhances openness,” says Tom Eckhert, who founded the Oregon Psilocybin Society with his wife Cheri Eckhert. The two have spent the past two years creating an initiative that would legalize psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms for medical purposes. The two expect the issue to be put to a vote of the people by 2020.

“We envision a very regulated production center that the state keeps track of inventory and things of that nature, so we know that it’s not getting out where it shouldn’t be getting out to,” says Chris. If he and his wife are successful in putting the forthcoming measure to a vote, and it’s passed into law, Oregon would become the first state to legalize magic mushrooms for any use.

In California proponents of an initiative to legalize magic mushrooms were recently cleared by Secretary of State Alex Padilla to begin collecting signatures in attempt to place the measure on next year’s general election ballot. Unlike the proposal being formulated by the Oregon Psilocybin Society, California’s initiative would remove all criminal penalties for “possession, sale, transport and cultivation”, allowing it to be used for recreational – and not just medical – purposes.

 

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AG Jeff Sessions May Be Just a Few Days From Declaring War on the Legal Marijuana Industry

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 18:20

By Sean Williams, Motley Fool

When it comes to the fastest-growing industries in the United States, legal marijuana is certainly in the discussion, if not at the top of the list. According to Marijuana Business Daily’s latest report, “Marijuana Business Factbook 2017,” U.S. legal weed sales are expected to increase 30% this year and 45% in 2018, and to quadruple between 2016 and 2021 to $17 billion. That type of growth is a big reason why marijuana stocks have doubled or tripled in value over the trailing year.

But it’s not just sales growth that’s been impressive — it’s the shift that underlies cannabis’s expansion. An October-released Gallup poll showed that an all-time record 64% of respondents now want to see pot legalized nationally. This is up from just 25% in 1995, the year before California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis for compassionate-use patients. Even stronger favorability is seen with medical cannabis. A survey conducted by the independent Quinnipiac University this April showed that an overwhelming 94% support legalizing medical pot, compared to just 5% who oppose the idea.

Sessions loathes the marijuana industry but has been kept at bay

But not everyone is on board with the expansion of cannabis in the United States. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just might be the most ardent opponent of marijuana in the country. Having previously said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions has argued on numerous occasions that marijuana use isn’t a viable substitute for opioids and that pot use correlates with increased crime rates. He has also leaned on the fact that marijuana is still a schedule I drug at the federal level, meaning that it has no recognized medical benefits and is wholly illegal, just like heroin and LSD.

However, medical and recreational pot businesses have taken solace in the fact that both the Cole Memo and Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment have thus far protected their right to operate in the 29 states that have legalized medical cannabis and eight states that voted to green-light recreational weed.

The Cole Memo, named after former Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who served under Barack Obama, outlines a series of “rules” that states have to follow in order for the federal government to maintain a hands-off approach. These rules include ensuring that minors don’t gain access to pot, that drivers under the influence of cannabis are dealt with harshly, and that cannabis grown within a state stays within that state.

Meanwhile, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which was introduced in 2014 and has been included in every budget proposal since, disallows the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute marijuana businesses operating in the aforementioned 29 states.

But these protections may soon disappear, allowing Sessions to officially declare war on the U.S. pot industry.

Is this the end of the green rush in the U.S.?

In September, Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown by lifting the debt ceiling and passing a budget extension through Dec. 8, 2017. However, talks to formulate a new budget, or at least another extension, haven’t gone well in recent weeks. In just four days, the deadline could be hit without a new budget, leading to a government shutdown.

But there’s even more at stake for the marijuana industry.

Back in September, the House Rules Committee blocked a vote on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (this is the same as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment), which would provide protections for pot businesses against federal prosecution. Keeping this amendment out of the House GOP’s budget proposal is bad news, but it’s certainly not the end of the world for the industry. As long as the Senate includes the amendment in its budget proposal, the pot industry would still be protected. Yet, as noted, the Senate and House, as well as Democrats and Republicans, aren’t seeing eye to eye. If Dec. 8 passes without a deal, or if the Senate introduces a budget proposal that also excludes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, Sessions would be free to wage war on the marijuana industry and begin prosecuting companies. In other words, he could use federal dollars to go after marijuana businesses.
Furthermore, Sessions recently announced that the Justice Department would halt the practice of guidance memos and is reviewing the Obama administration’s guidance memos, including the Cole Memo, to see if the administration overstepped its bounds.

While it’s tough to tell exactly how Sessions would approach reinstituting federal law, the assumption is that he would first tackle the largest offenders (i.e., the largest marijuana grow farms). This would suggest that smaller grow farms and dispensaries would possibly be off the radar for some time, but it would be a crushing defeat for big business and investors who’ve taken a chance on marijuana stocks.

In other words, let the nail-biting begin for U.S.-based pot companies and marijuana-stock investors.

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