Licensing regulations for medical marijuana establishments were determined Wednesday by the Las Vegas City Council.
Most of the licensing ordinance had been tweaked already and approved by most of the council, but there were eight issues still hanging, and it took the council five hours to decide them.
Among the decisions:
■ Hours of dispensary sales will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. as the county allows. The council turned down allowing some dispensaries to remain open for 24 hours with a special use permit.
■ Strict restrictions limiting advertising were eliminated from the ordinance, and instead the advertising plan will be approved by the business license director with the understanding advertising will not be aimed at minors. The state must approve any advertising plan.
■ If a shortage of medical marijuana products exists in Clark County, the products can be obtained anywhere within Nevada. The original language said the products must be produced in the county.
■ Home delivery to Nevadans with medical marijuana cards will be allowed. Delivery to card holders staying at hotels will not be allowed. Originally, no deliveries would have been permitted.
■ Medical marijuana licenses will be reviewed by the council every two years.
■ The idea of funding research grants for drug resistance education and research was dropped, but a portion of the business license fee was increased 1 percentage point. A gross revenue fee of 4 percent from cultivation will increase to 5 percent and a 6 percent fee for cultivation, production and dispensary will increase to 7 percent.
■ Negative language about medical marijuana use was left in the preamble.
■ A required $500,000 surety bond was cut to $250,000.
The entire bill was approved unanimously with many sections taken from state regulations and already approved county regulations.
Public speakers complained the licensing requirements and fees will drive patients away from legal dispensaries and into the arms of street dealers.
Since the first version of the ordinance, fees were cut by 60 percent in reaction to previous complaints. City Manager Betsy Fretwell said the staff started with “the most conservative bill we possibly could as far as fees.”
Annual fees for licenses would be $75,000 for a dispensary, $10,000 for a lab and $25,000 for an edible products facility. A cultivation facility starts at $20,000 for the first 5,000 square feet and $10,000 for every additional 5,000 square feet of cultivation space.
Asked for specifics about how the program will affect the city’s budget, Fretwell said, “You’re going to make big decisions today that will define the program … but at this point it’s a lot of supposition. It’s too early to project staffing impact, and it’s premature to estimate how much it’s going to cost and how much it’s going to generate.”
We already know dolphins like to get high, but do dogs enjoy it too?
Medical marijuana is commonly used by people to alleviate chronic pain, reduce chemotherapy nausea, and calm epileptic convulsions.
As cannabis grows widely accepted across America — it’s legal in 22 states — pet owners and vets are now using it to treat their sick dogs and cats.
Seattle-based Canna-Pet and Canna-Companion, are just two companies that are selling cannabis-based supplements for pets.
According to CNBC, Canna-Companion uses ground up hemp plants to make capsules that contain as little delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as possible.
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Instead, Canna-Companion uses cannabidiol, or CBD, which is the ingredient found in cannabis that is more useful in treating pain.
By using CBD instead of THC, pets get relief from the pain they’re feeling without actually getting high.
But why use cannabis on animals? Because it works, apparently.
Dr. Douglas Kramer, a veterinarian from Los Angeles, used cannabis on her dying dog Nikita after she had surgery to remove tumors from her body.
After ingesting it, the dog lived for six more weeks — she even gained weight and showed signs that she wasn’t in pain.
And now Dr. Kramer feels that it’s his duty to speak about the benefits of the drug to animals.
“I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn’t doing everything I could to make their lives better. I felt like I was letting them down,” Dr. Kramer told the Daily Mail.
But don’t just take one doctor’s word for it. Sometimes it’s better to get a second opinion.
Dr. Cynthia Graves in Philadelphia practices alternative veterinary care, and she told NBC that she recommends hemp-based supplements for dogs experiencing pain or anxiety.
“There’s no question that it’s a benefit to some patients,” Dr. Graves said.
What do you think? Should medical marijuana for pets become a more widespread (and legal) veterinary practice?
Editor’s Note: Following a press conference at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 66th Annual Meeting, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from April 26 through May 3, 2014, Medscape correspondent Andrew N. Wilner, MD, interviewed Barbara S. Koppel, MD, Professor of Clinical Neurology at New York Medical College, about the new AAN systemic review of medical marijuana for neurologic disease.
Dr. Wilner: Dr. Koppel, we just had a press conference during which you and Dr. Gary Gronseth summarized the findings of the new AAN systematic review of medical marijuana for selected neurologic disease. What did you find?
Dr. Koppel: We found that certain forms of marijuana — pills and oral spray, primarily — were useful in treating some systems of multiple sclerosis, especially spasticity, pain, central pain and painful spasms, and overactive bladder. Medical marijuana was not found to help tremor in multiple sclerosis, nor did it reduce other bladder symptoms. There wasn’t enough information to comment on whether smoked marijuana was useful. There were only 2 studies, and no conclusions could be reached from them.
Dr. Wilner: There has been a lot in the news about medical marijuana for epilepsy. What did you find in your review of the published research?
Dr. Koppel: Marijuana didn’t reduce the number of seizures in the 2 very small, old studies that we looked at. The new information coming out on epilepsy is usually from patient support groups or patient testimonials, and these are not the kind of studies that we could use for this type of analysis. However, they do bring attention to the fact that more research needs to be done in that field.
Dr. Wilner: Some studies have begun, isn’t that right?
Dr. Koppel: Yes. Various epilepsy centers are taking a look at the cannabinoid-enhanced oral spray.
Dr. Wilner: What about side effects?
Dr. Koppel: Side effects were present in all of the studies, and if they were mentioned in at least 2 studies, we brought special attention to them. They included such effects as you would expect: behavioral changes, fatigue, nausea, and weakness. There were some serious side effects such as suicidal thoughts and hallucinations, but these were rare. The other serious side effect was seizures, occurring in 2 patients with multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Wilner: Because many of these neurologic illnesses are chronic diseases, was any attention paid to adverse events from medical marijuana that might occur with chronic use?
Dr. Koppel: Most of the studies were fairly brief. A few long-term studies had higher dropout rates, but it turns out that some people dropped out because it wasn’t working rather than because of side effects. These were carefully controlled in terms of how much tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinoid content the formulations included, so we didn’t see the kind of long-term cognitive effects that are being reported from recreational marijuana. This was a separate kind of study.
We found that dropout rates were higher in the treated groups than in the placebo groups, but in the long-term studies (one of which lasted a year), we are still talking approximately 12% dropout in the treatment group compared with 6% in the placebo group.
Dr. Wilner: Some patients with Parkinson disease have also tried medical marijuana. What did you find?
Dr. Koppel: The studies looked at the drug-induced dyskinesias that patients with late-stage Parkinson disease get from their levodopa. Marijuana didn’t help that, but in terms of treating Parkinson disease itself, it hasn’t been studied.
Dr. William Trescher, a pediatric neurologist at Penn State Hershey, said while some literature in experimental animal research indicates that substances from the cannabis plant can be beneficial to those who suffer from epilepsy, there is limited data about effectiveness in humans.
That is, unless you tap into social media, where hundreds of parents of children with severe epilepsy compare notes and collectively report their results with oral administration of a medical marijuana extract called Cannibidiol, or CBD, oil.
Trescher said it’s hard to know what to make of the informal trials and reports. “There is a tendency among physicians to discount them because they’re not being done in a controlled, scientific way,” he said. “But it would be dangerous to discount them.”
When a child has multiple seizures every week, every day or every hour – and he or she doesn’t respond to medications available to treat epilepsy – parents can become understandably frustrated. “We’re not talking about giving this to the average child walking down the street, but children with serious and severe epilepsy,” Trescher said.
Could there be side effects or serious health problems that result from giving CBD oil to these children? Sure, Trescher said, but the problem goes both ways: “You could potentially harm them by giving them something, but not pursuing something and withholding a treatment that might be beneficial also has problems.”
Although scientific studies backing the benefits of medical marijuana are hard to come by, Trescher pointed out the same is true for say, the effectiveness of acupuncture. “People don’t do things for 2,000 years that don’t work,” he said. “Now we have the experiences of all these parents, and you can’t be dismissive of that.”
Trescher pointed out that what these parents are using isn’t the popular conception of marijuana – a plant that people smoke for its psychoactive properties. The cannabis, or marijuana, plant has several other compounds – including the CBD oil, which does not have psychoactive properties but may have medicinal properties.
He said Pennsylvania parents who want to treat their child with CBD oil face several obstacles right now. Some families are splitting up – one parent taking the child with seizures to live in a state where the CBD oil is legal while the other remains behind to work and care for siblings. Parents who decide to give the compound to their children are also concerned about whether their children will test positive for drugs if given a screen, and whether they would then be reported to child protective services.
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