By Steve Elliott
A doctor who held a medical marijuana authorization clinic at a hotel and failed to adequately document examinations has been reprimanded and fined by the board that licenses physicians in Maine.
The board announced on Monday that Dr. William Ortiz accepted an agreement under which he'll pay a $2,000 fine and reimburse the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine $1,412 for its investigation, reports CBS News.
According to the board, Ortiz saw 59 patients during a "medical seminar" at a hotel in Orono, Maine, in March 2013, but there was no documentation of an exam for 44 of them. Ortiz charged the patients $200 cash to issue a three-month medical marijuana certificate, then $175 more for a one-year certificate on a follow-up visit, the reprimand said, reports David Hench at the Portland Press Herald.
The board also said Ortiz kept "odd hours," including appointments at 3 a.m.
Ortiz, who has been licensed to practice medicine in Maine since 2012, promised not to engaqe in such conduct in the future. His practice has offices in Caribou, Maine, and in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
In the midst of the worst drought in California's history there comes good news from the world of marijuana. Cannabis cultivator George Bianchini is set to unveil his "Wicked Wicking System" this Wednesday, September 17, at his private, ultra water-conserving garden in Marin County.
Founder of Medi-Cone and recent Hempcon winner Bianchini himself, at a private event, will guide visitors through the garden's seven stations explaining how his "Wicked Wicking System" works.
George Bianchini is an entrepreneur and Oaksterdam graduate who has innovated a gardening/watering system that provides him with a thriving garden in spite of the drought. This system for growing high quality marijuana as well as fruits, vegetables, and other herbs uses the exact amount of water that a plant needs, and not a drop more, according to the cultivator.
Using a wicking method that he said dates back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and combining it with modern day materials and processes he has created a system that decreases the amount of water lost with conventional methods to upwards of 75 percent.
Bianchini plans to give the information away for free by posting an online video showing Do-It-Yourselfers how to construct their own systems. For those less handy, kits will be made available for purchase.
George's high-CBD strain took first place, triumphing over 25 other competitors at San Francisco's Hempcon recently. High-CBD strains have been making news because of their medicinal value in reducing seizures in young children without getting them "high."
Well-known Wisconsin medical marijuana activist Gary Storck and two companions were briefly detained by law enforcement at the Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo on Saturday, but were ultimately released after one of the group showed the officers an Oregon medical marijuana card.
"Around 1:20 p.m., we decided to leave, with Karen [Kinsley] stopping at the vending barn to grab some campaign materials while Greg [Kinsley] and I headed to the car," Storck posted on Facebook Saturday. "Upon returning to the car, we were contacted by a Baraboo officer.
"Sadie's barking had made them concerned she was in an overheated vehicle," Storck posted. "But Sadie was not barking because she was hot. A delivery device and a tiny crumb of alleged medicine was spotted, the officer told us.
"Now I have had pets my entire life, and I treasure them more than most people, so I keep aware of the temperatures and conditions I subject my pets to, as many other owners will," Greg Kinsley explained. "Knowing we would only be at the event for about an hour, we walked around for about 20 minutes in a housed barn/shed where we talked to a few folks and wandered by the tables and then to the outside again."
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana should be grown and distributed in Iowa, a committee of state lawmakers narrowly recommended on Thursday.
The 10-member bipartisan panel of senators and representatives also backed changing state law to reclassify cannabis to make it easier to obtain as medicine, reports Tony Leys at The Des Moines Register.
The committee was formed to examine the complications and logjams in a new law that was supposed to have helped people with severe epilepsy get marijuana extract containing only cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.
The Iowa Legislature voted in May to let patients with severe epilepsy possess CBD oil to treat their seizures, but the limited law provides no method for producing or distributing the oil in the state.
Reports from other states have suggested that many seizure patients can gain significant relief from CBD oil, which doesn't produce a high.
But the same parents who lobbied for the CBD bill have now told legislators that the law is unworkable. Several of them testified on Thursday that most states where medical marijuana is legal don't allow sales to nonresidents; besides, any Iowans buying it would have to break federal law if they brought it back home.
By Steve Elliott
Pennsylvania lawmakers will begin discussing a medical marijuana bill when the Legislature convenes next week, according to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
Pileggi, a Republican from Chester, Pennsylvania, said on Wednesday that he plans to caucus a medical marijuana bill after lawmakers return for the fall session, reports Christina Kauffman at The Patriot-News.
Senate Bill 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County), passed 11-0 from the Senate Law and Justice Committee in June.
Pileggi said the medical marijuana bill has "broad support" in the Senate, and next week's discussion will decide whether to go forward with a vote of the full chamber.
Folmer on Wednesday said he believes he has the votes of 45 of the state's 50 senators, but the bill could face tougher going in the House of Representatives and with Governor Tom Corbett, who must sign it before it becomes law.
The final document is expected to be broader than a version the Governor previously said he would support, according to Pileggi.
Pharmaceutical companies are among the bill's strongest opposition, according to Folmer (no surprise there, medical marijuana threatens their profits), but Folmer said cannabis-derived treatments come without the life-threatening side-effects of many prescribed pharmaceuticals.
By Steve Elliott
A mysterious group of men has been raiding medical marijuana plots in Mendocino County, California, and local residents are mystified about the identity of the camouflage-clad group, who aren't police officers.
The men dress in combat camouflage, reports Joe Vazquez at KPIX 5, and some of them hide their faces.
Some say the men, on missions to eradicate marijuana, work for a security company called Lear Asset Management, according to Vazquez.
Lear Asset Management "works with law enforcement," according to their promotional poster, but Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said "The sheriff's department doesn't hire any private security to do our job."
Allman said all of his men -- unlike the mysterious marijuana raiders -- wear badges and clearly identify themselves. And Lear Asset Management President Paul Trouette said his company had nothing to do with the raid on Susan Schindler's garden.
Schindler said her medical marijuana garden was hit last month. "They took hand saws and just cut the trunks," she said.
The armed men in camouflage dropped into her garden from an unmarked helicopter and refused to identify themselves, according to Schindler. "There was no paperwork, no copies of any warrants, they didn't leave any inventory of what they took," she said.
By Steve Elliott
Georgia lawmakers on Wednesday held a hearing at Mercer University in Macon to gather information about medical marijuana and help decide whether to legalize it in the state.
Efforts failed last year to pass a CBD-only bill which would have allowed the medicinal use of cannabidiol oil (which doesn't produce a high), but parents are determined to fight for a different outcome, reports 11Alive. Legislators heard story after story from parents who are desperate for effective medical treatments for their children.
The Calloways were one of the families who told their stories to the legislative committee at Mercer University. They are spending their last weeks together as a family before Beth Calloway and her daughter Maggie move to Colorado so that Maggie can get cannabis oil treatment for her daily epileptic seizures.
Aaron Klepinger already moved his family to Colorado to get effective treatment for his son Hunter; he said it's had a dramatic effect. "In Georgia we got an average of one or two EMS calls every month, saying that the school was calling EMS for a seizure that lasted beyond five or 10 minutes," he said. "In Colorado, not one."
By Steve Elliott
A Maryland state panel on Tuesday worked on the final details to create a medical marijuana system from scratch, but a few points remain unresolved as the commission moves toward next week's deadline.
The Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission on Wednesday released a second draft of regulations to create the program, reports Erin Cox at The Baltimore Sun. The 81 pages of rules were reworked after the first draft came under fire at a public hearing last month.
Among the many changes in the second draft was removal of a provision that would have effectively banned medical marijuana growers or dispensaries within Baltimore city limits.
The panel also decided to create a digital registry of medical marijuana patients, in an effort to assure only patients receive cannabis. It also tweaked the rules about how patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can access the herb.
But still missing from the revisions are details about how much patients and distributors will pay to participate in the program.
The Maryland Legislature passed a medical marijuana law earlier this year which allows for up to 15 growers and about 100 dispensaries across the state. It is up to the Medical Marijuana Commission to decide how to implement that law.
By Steve Elliott
An Iowa man who had faced 15 years as a habitual offender and a mandatory three-year prison term for treating his cancer with cannabis oil has been sentenced to probation, as a district judge used his sentencing discretion.
Benton Mackenzie, 48, was charged along with his wife, Loretta, and son, Cody, reports Brian Wellner at Quad-City Times.
A jury found the Long Grove couple guilty of manufacturing marijuana, a Class C felony, at their trial this summer. District Judge Henry Latham barred Mackenzie from mentioning to jurors that he grew the marijuana to treat his cancer, or anything about his medical condition.
Mackenzie suffers from late stage angiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels in which tumors appear as skin lesions. Several lesions have grown from the size a pea a year ago to larger than a grapefruit now.
His backside and right leg are covered in lesions, and Mackenzie has had severe swelling recently. He was in the hospital on Sunday and has trouble walking due to the swelling, according to his wife.
Mackenzie said he grew marijuana at home until his arrest a year ago, treating his cancer with oil derived from the plant. The treatment kept the lesions small and prevented the cancer from spreading for two years, he said.
Site closes an education gap since the science of medical cannabis is generally not part of today's medical training
Scitent, Inc., a provider of eLearning business solutions for healthcare organizations, nonprofits, and associations, on Monday launched The Medical Cannabis Institute, a website featuring continuing medical education (CME) on medical cannabis topics.
The site is designed to help educate a growing global community of healthcare professionals, caregivers, and patients who want and need to learn about the science behind and clinical application of medical cannabis, according to Scitent.
The Medical Cannabis Institute's charter group of content providers includes Patients Out of Time, the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, and Healthy Choices Unlimited, and comprises distinguished faculty and healthcare professionals who are experts in medical cannabis.
As of September 1, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana and three states have pending legislation. As the legalization of medical cannabis advances across the United States, The Medical Cannabis Institute brings together content from experts in the field to close the education gap.
By Steve Elliott
The Oregon Health Authority has levied its first fines against medical marijuana dispensaries for violating the rules.
Portland Compassionate Caregivers this week paid $6,500 in fines for 13 "serious" violations, including poor record keeping and evidence of cannabis consumption on the premises, reports Anna Staver at the Statesman Journal. The state subsequently ordered the dispensary to close, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.
"This penalty sends a message in no uncertain terms -- you must comply with Oregon law or you will pay the price," said Tom Burns, director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority.
The shop was cited for violations during an unannounced, mandatory annual on-site inspection. OHA's regulations to enforce the state's 2013 medical marijuana dispensary law require an on-site inspection of each facility within six months of receiving a license, and annually thereafter.
William Lupton, the operator of Portland Compassionate Caregivers, paid the fines on August 26. According to the state's agreement with Lupton, the dispensary, at 4020 SE Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, may reopen, but must first be inspected again.
By Steve Elliott
South Carolina lawmakers earlier this year passed one of those "CBD only" bills that allow parents to possess cannabidiol oil, derived from the marijuana plant, for treatment of epileptic seizures. But CBD oil can't be legally made in South Carolina, and it's against federal law to transport it across state lines, so a new Medical Marijuana Study Committee is working out the details of how, exactly, to implement their new law.
That committee met for the first time on Wednesday at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, reports Robert Kittle at WSPA.
CBD oil doesn't have the mind-altering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the which gets users high. As written, South Carolina's CBD-only law is just for patients in a clinical trial to treat epilepsy, and it provides no way for them to legally obtain the oil.
Janel Ralph of Myrtle Beach, whose five-year-old daughter Harmony has lissencephaly, which causes seizures, wants the law expanded so that it's not just a clinical trial and not just for epilepsy. She said the law, as written, doesn't really help.
"You're saying you can get it," she said. "You're saying you can give it to your child, and yes we're going to let you do this. But then they're not giving you any way to actually get it legally."
By Steve Elliott
Lancaster may soon become the first municipality in Pennsylvania to officially support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The Lancaster City Council on Tuesday debated a resolution calling for medicinal cannabis, reports Bernard Harris at Lancaster Online. The nonbinding resolution comes in support of bills which are pending in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
A vote could come next week at the council's regular meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, September 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Southern Market Center, 100 S. Queen Street, Lancaster.
City Councilman Tim Roschel said he agreed to bring the resolution before the council for consideration because of the experience of a friend with cancer in Arizona. The friend's husband bought her cannabis with a doctor's authorization.
Roschel said he would not have wanted for his friend to be called a criminal.
Council member Pete Soto recalled both his parents dying of cancer. He said he wished medical marijuana had been available to relieve his mother's suffering after chemotherapy. "The remedy was worse than the disease," Soto said.
Former Mountville Mayor Connie Guy told the council that marijuana can be used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, seizures and fibromyalgia, from which she suffers. "We're not stoner potheads," Guy said. "We're mothers and fathers and children ... and we suffer."
By Steve Elliott
A Princeton University employee and cannabis legalization activist who said he was told to choose between his job and using medical marijuana is now on paid leave as university officials decide what to do next.
Don DeZarn, 48, of East Windsor, New Jersey, said on Tuesday that Princeton officials told him he couldn't continue working in his job as senior operations manager of campus dining if he used medicinal cannabis, reports the Associated Press. DeZarn said he doesn't use medical marijuana on the job, but had let the university know about it in case he ever needed to use it for an "emergency situation."
Princeton officials claimed DeZarn wasn't being forced to choose between his health and jis job. University spokesman Martin Mbugua said DeZarn was placed on paid leave and invited to discuss "reasonable accommodations" for his disability; the university met with him on Tuesday to begin that process.
After being placed on leave, DeZarn said he was directed to leave the campus.
"It's the best job I've ever had," DeZarn said, reports Mike Davis at the Times of Trenton. "It's a great place to work. I'm just hopeful that this whole thing has just been an oversight on someone's part."
Gordon Says "Ask Your Doctor" Stance Has Been a Cruel Joke For Dying Patients
Bermuda’s Public Safety Ministries have, for nearly 10 years, have been paying money to train Bermuda’s doctors and nurses to reject all medical cannabis, according to local marijuana activist Alan Gordon.
If Gordon's allegations are true, this flies in the face of government promises to let doctors decide patients’ fate, and to review applications fairly under Premier Michael Dunkley's "Ask Your Doctor" stance.
Gordon claims 76 percent of doctors worldwide will recommend medical cannabis, compared to less than 10 percent in Bermuda, and attributes this bizarre difference to Ministry-funded mis-training of local doctors.
“In the U.S., doctors can take accredited courses in cannabis medicine, while our doctors locally are following the advice of a former U.S. Drug Czar who now works for a Pharmaceutical company, GW Pharma, with a significant conflict of interest, “ Gordon said.
Gordon referred to former U.S. Deputy Drug Czar Dr. Andrea Barthwell, a heavily criticized speaker who came to the island numerous times over the past 10 years -- funded by the Public Safety Ministry, mind you -- making headlines and leading courses for medical professionals with a message that all herbal medical cannabis is a “sham”.