Archive for October 2017

Legal Marijuana is Saving Lives in Colorado

Colorado — Marijuana legalization in Colorado led to a “reversal” of opiate overdose deaths in that state, according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health. “After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years,” write authors Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar.

The authors stress that their results are preliminary, given that their study encompasses only two years of data after the state’s first recreational marijuana shops opened in 2014.

While numerous studies have shown an association between medical marijuana legalization and opioid overdose deaths, this report is one of the first to look at the impact of recreational marijuana laws on opioid deaths.

Marijuana is often highly effective at treating the same types of chronic pain that patients are often prescribed opiates for. Given the choice between marijuana and opiates, many patients appear to be opting for the former.

From a public health standpoint, this is a positive development, considering that relative to opiates, marijuana carries essentially zero risk of fatal overdose.

Now, the study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that similar findings hold true for recreational marijuana legalization. The authors examined trends in monthly opiate overdose fatalities in Colorado before and after the state’s recreational marijuana market opened in 2014. They attempted to isolate the effect of recreational, rather than medical, marijuana by comparing Colorado to Nevada, which allowed medical but not recreational marijuana during that period.

They also attempted to correct for a change in Colorado’s prescription-drug-monitoring program that happened during the study period. That change required all opioid prescribers to register with, but not necessarily use, the program in 2014.

Overall, after controlling for both medical marijuana and the prescription-drug-monitoring change, the study found that after Colorado implemented its recreational marijuana law, opioid deaths fell by 6.5 percent in the following two years.

The authors say policymakers will want to keep a close eye on the numbers in the coming years to see whether the trend continues. They’d also like to see whether their results are replicated in other states that recently approved recreational marijuana, such as Washington and Oregon.

They note, also, that while legal marijuana may reduce opioid deaths it could also be increasing fatalities elsewhere — on Colorado’s roads, for instance.

Still, the study adds more evidence to the body of research suggesting that increasing marijuana availability could help reduce the toll of America’s opiate epidemic, which claims tens of thousands of lives each year.

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

 

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Located in Henderson Nevada, we are a trusted, discrete and highly trained medical office of the most notable and well-respected licensed and board-certified Cannabis Physicians who specialize in providing only the most safe and affordable access to patients seeking a medical marijuana evaluation, certification and card within the state of Nevada. Our staff is here to attend to each and every patient’s questions, and we also help assist patients with every step of acquiring their Nevada medical marijuana card. If anyone is currently suffering from a chronic or debilitating condition or disease and feel they can benefit greatly from the use of medical marijuana as an alternative medicine, then we welcome them to personally be evaluated by a Las Vegas Marijuana Physician who understands the medicinal value of medical cannabis.
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MMJ Patients Report Reduction in Use of Drugs

Illinois — Some medical marijuana patients in Illinois say the drug has allowed them to reduce or eliminate their use of other prescription medication, a new study reports.

The study by DePaul and Rush universities was small, with 30 participants, and involved only those who volunteered to respond to the topic, so researchers conceded the results might be biased in favor of marijuana. But it’s believed to be the first peer-reviewed, published research of medical marijuana patients in Illinois.

And it provides direct anecdotal evidence of what has been suggested by previous studies, that marijuana may contribute to reduced use of opioid drugs, lead author Douglas Bruce said.

“One of the most compelling things to come out of this is that people are taking control of their own health, and most providers would agree that’s a good thing,” said Bruce, assistant professor of health sciences at DePaul. “But the lack of provider knowledge around what cannabis does and doesn’t do, the difference in products and ingestion methods and dosing, is all kind of a Wild West.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared opioid abuse an epidemic. Overdoses from prescription opioids like methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone killed more than 15,000 people in 2015, and President Donald Trump called it a “national emergency.”

And the study results come as the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, a trade group of growers and sellers, is starting a push for legislation allowing marijuana for any condition for which a doctor would give opioid drugs.

“This study confirms exactly what we know from patients,” said alliance Chairman Ross Morreale. He also founded Ataraxia, which runs a cultivation center and a dispensary. “A patient could use both (marijuana and prescription drugs) and see what works — that’s between the doctor and the patient.”

But Kevin Sabet, a former White House adviser on drug policy who now runs Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes broad legalization of medical marijuana, said the study “reeks of problems.”

“One of the worst I’ve seen in a while,” he said via email. “It was an uncontrolled observation of 30 people who were mixing pot with other drugs.”

Since marijuana contains numerous compounds, some of which have medicinal properties, Sabet said they should be isolated, tested and approved individually through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, like any other legal drug.

Bruce, the study’s lead author, responded that Sabet has his own bias against marijuana.

“There’s power in people telling their stories in a way you can’t get in a survey,” Bruce said. “It’s important to do qualitative research to understand how people are using cannabis, then figure out how to measure it.”

Illinois is one of 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana, despite a federal prohibition on the drug.

About 25,000 people have been certified as having at least one of about 40 serious medical conditions that qualify them to receive medical cannabis in Illinois. Patients bought about $8 million worth of marijuana in August, the most recent month reported by the state.

The most common conditions for which cannabis was certified were fibromyalgia and cancer, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported. Those were followed by post traumatic stress disorder, which was just added to the list of qualifying conditions last year.

In the DePaul-Rush study, the average age of participants was 45 and typically used marijuana to treat pain, seizures or inflammation.

The patients, who were anonymous, reported concerns about side effects, addiction and tolerance with prescription drugs, and said they believed marijuana managed certain symptoms better and was faster-acting and longer-lasting.

The researchers concluded that more patient study is needed to determine what doses relieve symptoms and to assess patients’ medical conditions.

One medical cannabis patient who did not participate in the study but said she used marijuana to get off prescription drugs was Shea Evans, 26, of Chicago, who works for Modern Cannabis dispensary in Chicago.

Evans said she was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia in 2011, was prescribed a fleet of 18 drugs, including opioids and sleeping pills, and within a year developed a dangerous dependency on painkillers such as Percocet.

“Medical cannabis is the reason I’m opiate free now,” Evans said. “It really gave me my life back and makes my pain manageable, without inebriating me or forming another dependence.”

Study participants quoted in the report struck a common theme in their deep dissatisfaction with many of their prescription medications. One 58-year-old man called the side effects of his seizure medicine “frightening to say the least. I would not like the way I felt taking it.”

One patient said she used to take 180 Vicodin a month. Another took ibuprofen by the hundreds over time. A woman with HIV and cancer said marijuana was helping her after years of trying to get off the anti-inflammatory Prednisone.

And a 33-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis said marijuana helped relieve “unbearable” pain to let her sleep, in contrast to her prescription medicine, which made her feel like a “zombie.”

Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)

About Dr. Reefer:

Located in Henderson Nevada, we are a trusted, discrete and highly trained medical office of the most notable and well-respected licensed and board-certified Cannabis Physicians who specialize in providing only the most safe and affordable access to patients seeking a medical marijuana evaluation, certification and card within the state of Nevada. Our staff is here to attend to each and every patient’s questions, and we also help assist patients with every step of acquiring their Nevada medical marijuana card. If anyone is currently suffering from a chronic or debilitating condition or disease and feel they can benefit greatly from the use of medical marijuana as an alternative medicine, then we welcome them to personally be evaluated by a Las Vegas Marijuana Physician who understands the medicinal value of medical cannabis.
Go to http://www.drreefer.net for more info!
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Marijuana Is Burning in the California Wildfires

California — Fatal fires that have consumed nearly 200,000 acres in Northern California, devastating the region’s vineyards particularly in Napa and Sonoma Counties, are also taking a toll on a fledgling industry just months before its debut: recreational marijuana.

Many of the region’s farms, including those that harvest cannabis, have been scorched, including those in Sonoma County and in Mendocino County, the center of California’s marijuana industry. Mendocino is one of three California counties that comprise Emerald Triangle, where much of the United States’ marijuana is produced.

Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, said Thursday that at least seven farms had been destroyed, and that he expected the number to “increase significantly” as people returned to their homes. Tens of thousands of cannabis growers live in Northern California.

The owners of the seven farms include small-scale growers who put their life savings into their farms over the past year, he said. None of them have insurance, he said.

“They leveraged themselves entirely,” Mr. Allen said. “It’s going to hit some families really hard.”

Since marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government, the industry works entirely in cash, said Josh Drayton, a spokesman for the California Cannabis Industry Association. That makes reliable insurance difficult to acquire and banking impossible to use.

Even the crops that were not in the direct line of fire could lose value or become unusable because of smoke damage, soot and ash. Growers will have to sort out whether the damage is merely aesthetic or whether it could include contaminants that would present a health risk to consumers, Mr. Allen said. Smoke tends to stick to the plants, which is bad news for a product that depends largely on flavor and scent for its value.

“If it’s supposed to smell like lemon and it smells like wildfire, that’s going to be a significant detractor,” he said.

Mr. Drayton said October is the end of growing season in Northern California, making it a disastrous time for the fires to hit.

“A lot of these crops have not been harvested at all, so that means a total loss on those farms,” he said.

Photos of scorched land have started appearing on Instagram, including one from Sonoma Cannabis Company. “We have all been touched by this tragedy. One of our Team members lost their home, their crop and everything in the fire,” the caption read.

The state has long been the country’s illicit hub of growing marijuana, and its market alone is estimated to be worth about $7 billion, according to Arcview, a company that conducts cannabis research.

California voted in November to legalize recreational marijuana, allowing adults 21 or older to possess limited amounts for personal use and have up to six plants in private residences. The law is set to take effect in January 2018, and officials expect legalization to bring about $1 billion in tax revenue. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996.

California has been at odds with the Trump administration on the state’s marijuana industry. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has equated marijuana use with heroin, has asked Senate leaders to roll back protections for the medical marijuana industry. And in February, the White House said it would consider enforcing federal law against recreational marijuana businesses.

About Dr. Reefer:

Located in Henderson Nevada, we are a trusted, discrete and highly trained medical office of the most notable and well-respected licensed and board-certified Cannabis Physicians who specialize in providing only the most safe and affordable access to patients seeking a medical marijuana evaluation, certification and card within the state of Nevada. Our staff is here to attend to each and every patient’s questions, and we also help assist patients with every step of acquiring their Nevada medical marijuana card. If anyone is currently suffering from a chronic or debilitating condition or disease and feel they can benefit greatly from the use of medical marijuana as an alternative medicine, then we welcome them to personally be evaluated by a Las Vegas Marijuana Physician who understands the medicinal value of medical cannabis.

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MMJ Shield Against a Crackdown is Under Assault

Washington, D.C. — The 85 words almost seemed an afterthought when Congress hurriedly crammed them into a massive budget bill late in the Obama administration, as if lawmakers wanted to acknowledge America’s outlook on marijuana had changed, but not make a big deal of it.

Almost three years later, a multibillion-dollar industry and the freedom of millions to openly partake in its products without fear of federal prosecution hinge on that obscure budget clause. But now, Congress may throw it overboard amid pressure from an attorney general who views marijuana as a dangerous menace.

What has become known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment constitutes a single paragraph of federal law. It prohibits the Justice Department from spending even a cent to prosecute medical marijuana users and sellers operating legally under state laws. Since its passage, it has largely shut down efforts by federal prosecutors or drug enforcement officials to interfere with otherwise legal sales of marijuana in 29 states and the District of Columbia that have passed legalization measures.

The prospect that the ban on prosecutions could expire has spread anxiety across the marijuana industry.

In California, the freedom of an attorney facing jail time for advising a marijuana operation hangs in the balance. In Washington, a pro-marijuana GOP congressman ponders whether to use the White House access he has gained to enlist President Trump’s help preserving the pot amendment.

Pot sellers and patients wonder if federal raids are next.

“It is shocking to think that this is at risk,” said Sarah Trumble, deputy director of social policy and politics at Third Way, a centrist think tank that advocates easing federal restrictions on cannabis.

“This would give the attorney general a blank check to go after medical marijuana. Without it, he might try, but it would be really hard for him.”

The first big sign of trouble for pro-marijuana advocates came in September, when the House balked at preserving the amendment. GOP leaders refused to allow a vote on it in a committee chaired by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who is no relation to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, but is as fiercely anti-marijuana.

The Senate has already reaffirmed its support for the provision in an affront to its former colleague, the Sessions who runs the Justice Department. But both houses must agree for the measure to remain in effect.

The hedging in the House followed an aggressive lobbying campaign by the attorney general, who complained in writing to lawmakers that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was hampering law enforcement and endangering the public.

“The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives,” Sessions wrote.

The uncertain fate of the pot provision has created tension among Republicans, dozens of whom have cast votes to prevent the federal government from a crackdown on medical marijuana. Many would like to do so again.

The most vocal is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, the amendment’s namesake, who along with former Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat from the Central Coast, got the ban into federal statute in 2014 after trying for a decade.

That victory wasn’t long ago, but came during a very different time. The Obama administration had just pledged to let states go their own way on medical and recreational pot. The measure reflected a Congress subtly backing off its war on marijuana and nudging the Justice Department to do likewise.

After it passed, Rohrabacher began calling judges to insist they dismiss cases.

“I told one of them, ‘If you have in your courtroom a federal prosecutor who is now trying to convict someone for possession of medical marijuana, there is only one criminal in your courtroom, and that is the prosecutor,’” he said.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last year put the Department of Justice on notice that as long as the prosecution ban is in place, marijuana charges filed against defendants operating legally under state law won’t fly, at least in California and the eight other western states under the appeals court’s jurisdiction, all but one of which have legalized marijuana in whole or in part.

Sessions warned in his letter to Congress that the ruling threatened to immunize drug runners and gangs.

Rohrabacher finds such claims absurd. The attorney general, he said, is out of step with the president, who has expressed support for medical marijuana. Rohrabacher insists Trump would step in to protect medical pot if someone could get him to focus on what is going on.

The congressman, who is a strong Trump supporter, is potentially a good candidate to do that. But like so many other things around pot politics – and the Trump administration — the dynamics are complicated, and strange.

Rohrabacher said he doesn’t want to “mess up … something really important to the president” that he’s working on by throwing marijuana into the mix.

Rohrabacher wants to broker a deal between the Trump administration and Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of Wikileaks. According to Rohrabacher, Assange told him he has “absolute proof” that emails stolen from Democratic operatives during last year’s campaign did not come from the Russians.

“That is proof he will provide if we can work something out so Assange leaves the Ecuadorian embassy” in London, where he has taken refuge for more than five years, Rohrabacher said. Assange’s evidence would “disprove the accusation that our president stole the last election in cooperation with Russia,” he asserts.

Much of the rest of Washington is skeptical, and White House officials have kept Rohrabacher away from Trump.

Meantime, the dalliance with Assange isn’t keeping lawmakers from working with Rohrabacher on pot. His most prominent partner is his otherwise political opposite, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a liberal Democrat from Portland, Ore., who is co-sponsoring the latest version of the Rohrabacher amendment.

“There are dozens of Republicans who realize this is a really bad political move,” Blumenauer said, referring to Sessions’ effort to block the amendment.

Marijuana got more votes than Trump. There are millions of Republicans and independents who voted for it. There are 20 million people a month who use it.”

Both Blumenauer and Rohrabacher said they know how many lawmakers have reconsidered their support for the prosecution ban amid lobbying by Sessions.

“None of them,” said Rohrabacher.

That’s all cold comfort to Troy Dayton, co-founder of ArcView, a San Francisco group that connects deep-pocketed investors with promising cannabis startups. The prosecution ban has been a boon to business. The stalling in the House, Dayton said, was another wake-up call to the marijuana industry that anything can happen at any time.

“It was revolutionary when it passed,” Dayton said of the ban. People were skeptical at first, he said, asking whether it would really halt prosecutions. “For the most part, it has,” he said.

The impact if it were to vanish?

“Chilling.”

Perhaps even more so for Nathan Hoffman, a lawyer facing prison time and disbarment for his role advising a large marijuana growing and sales operation that was busted in 2011. The recent court rulings give Hoffman’s attorney, Ronald Richards, hope that Hoffman’s law license and freedom can be saved.

“In a brief I field last night, I said why are they in a rush to disbar my client and convict him when these prosecutions are becoming archaic?” said Richards.

But if the ban goes up in smoke, that argument likely goes along with it.

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L.A. To Be a Hot Market for Marijuana Sales

Washington, D.C. — Compared with a year ago, times may seem tough for those banking on the legalization of marijuana.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has raised “serious questions” about legalization, appears less friendly to the cannabis industry than his predecessor. Even after the District of Columbia permitted recreational use of the drug in 2015, arrests in the city for public use of marijuana are on the rise.

Yet a panel of speakers who gathered Wednesday at Howard University said entrepreneurs — particularly women and minorities — should not fear what those in the marijuana industry call “the cannabis space.”

“It’s a good business — we’re at the start, it’s brand new,” said Lisa Scott, a former chef who runs Bud Appetit, an edibles company based in the District. “So many minorities are locked up — white people are getting filthy rich from it.”

The panel, “Minority Leaders in Cannabis,” came together through Women Grow, a national for-profit group founded in Denver in 2014 “as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale,” according to its website.

Chanda Macias, head of the group’s D.C. chapter and owner of a dispensary in Dupont Circle, said cultivating diversity in the marijuana business is vital.

“We are the leaders — the minority leaders — in cannabis, and we make cannabis look good,” Macias said at the event.

The hurdles to people of color seeking to produce and sell marijuana products are significant, those on the panel said. The war on drugs disproportionately targeted minorities, and criminal histories can complicate applications for dispensary licenses.

Meanwhile, communities destroyed by the crack epidemic are not always eager to welcome a pot business to the block — even though those communities could benefit economically and physically from marijuana products, advocates said.

“Prohibition is built on a racist formula,” said Rachel Knox, a member of a family of doctors in Portland, Ore., whose practice focuses on cannabis. “The health-care disparity between blacks and whites is large.”

After the election of Donald Trump, some in the industry worry about the specter of federal action against the marijuana industry. The drug, a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance, has a “high potential for abuse” and “no medically accepted use” in the eyes of the federal government.

“I can’t say I feel comfortable,” Macias said. “As the industry continues to change, less minorities participate because of their fears.”

But according to Marvin Washington, a cannabis investor and former New York Jets defensive lineman, minorities have a historic chance to turn a bad break into a good one.

“We have the opportunity to do this right and make sure the people that suffered when cannabis was in the black market . . . have the opportunity to participate in the upswing,” he said.

Washington, a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the Justice Department that seeks marijuana legalization, also discounted the possibility that Sessions would somehow re-criminalize marijuana across the nation after legalization in the District and elsewhere.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” he said. “I’m not sure how you get it back in.”

As the issue winds its way through the courts, Gia Morón, Women Grow’s communications director, said it’s important for a new industry to address diversity early — and avoid the battles that Silicon Valley is fighting over minority representation.

“We are calling it out early,” Morón said. “We’re starting out saying, ‘You’re going to do better.’ . . . I hope in five years we’re not talking about diversity.”

Justin Wm. Moyer is a reporter for The Washington Post.

 

Las Vegas Get A Medical Marijuana Card

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