By Steve Elliott
An injured auto mechanic who uses medical marijuana to treat pain can have his former employer and the company's insurance provider reimburse him for the cannabis, a New Mexico appeals court ruled on Monday.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals voted unanimously to uphold a previous workers compensation court decision, also in favor Gregory Vialpando, the 55-year-old former mechanic, who suffered a lower back injury back in 2000, reports Joseph J. Kolb at Reuters.
The Santa Fe man's former employer, Ben's Automotive Services, and its insurance provider, Redwood Fire & Casualty, had tried to get out of reimbursing the mechanic for using medicinal cannabis as a pain treatment, pointing to marijuana's illegal status under federal law.
New Mexico is the first state he's aware of where a workers compensation board has approved insurance reimbursement for medical marijuana, according to Albuquerque attorney Peter White, who represents Vialpando.
"It's an important decision for workers so seriously injured they would be bound to a lifetime of narcotic medications," White said.
"It might be fairly unique," said Drug Policy Alliance staff attorney Tamar Todd of the ruling.
New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge James Wechsler's written opinion found the employer and its insurer had failed to cite a specific federal law they'd be forced to violate by reimbursing the man for his medical marijuana.
Worlds Online Inc. (“WORX”) announced this week it has entered into a agreement to have its subsidiary, MariMed Advisors, Inc., acquire Sigal Consulting LLC, a Massachusetts-based developer of medical marijuana licenses and operations. It is anticipated that the closing will occur in three to four weeks, according to a press release from both companies.
Sigal is the company that designed the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center cultivation and dispensary facility in Providence, Rhode Island, and works with other medical marijuana growers and dispensaries throughout the United States. The acquisition offers Sigal access to the public markets that can provide expansion capital and a first-to-market advantage, according to Julie Shepherd of Accentuate PR.
Upon closing, Sigal Consulting will operate through MariMed Advisors, Inc., as a majority-owned subsidiary of WORX. This acquisition will serve to diversify WORX’s operational business into the growing licensed medical marijuana industry.
“Medical marijuana is a rapidly expanding market that is expected to double in the next five years,” said Worlds Online CEO Thom Kidrin. “The combination of this large emerging market opportunity and Sigal Consulting team’s years of successful experience and industry leadership will provide an opportunity for us to add significant value to our shareholders and a potentially great opportunity for growth.”
New York Takes Major Step Toward Becoming Medical Marijuana State
Patients and Families Cheer Step Forward, Call for Vote in Full Senate
The New York State Senate Health Committee on Tuesday passed a medical marijuana bill, the Compassionate Care Act, by a bipartisan vote of 9–8. This is the first time in years that the Senate has taken up the issue of medical marijuana.
The bill (S.4406-B/Savino) would alleviate the suffering of thousands of seriously ill New Yorkers by allowing the use of marijuana to treat debilitating, life-threatening illnesses under a doctor’s supervision, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. The committee room was packed with patients from across the state, and the room erupted into applause when the Committee voted the bill in the affirmative. The bill now goes to the Finance Committee.
“Today the Senate Health Committee sided with cancer patients when it voted to move the Compassionate Care Act forward,” said Andi Gladstone, executive director of the New York State Breast Cancer Network. “We know that medical cannabis can help alleviate the pain and nausea that many cancer patients experience from chemotherapy, and we are thrilled that the Senate has moved one step closer to make this treatment available to them.
"It’s time for the Senate to bring this bill to the floor for a vote so that patients can finally get the relief they deserve," Gladstone said.
Dozens of Patients, Caregivers, and Healthcare Providers from Across New York Come to Albany to Attend Hearing, Demand Passage of the Bill
The New York State Senate Health Committee on Tuesday will vote on the Compassionate Care Act-- S.4406-B (Savino), marking the first time it has taken up the issue in years.
The Compassionate Care Act is New York’s comprehensive medical marijuana bill and will help provide relief to thousands of New Yorkers who are currently suffering with debilitating medical conditions such as, cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe seizure disorders, and other serious conditions.
Traveling from New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Central New York, and Western New York, patients will gather in Albany for an advocacy day and hear the Health Committee debate the bill.
The bill would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs and allow some seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
Patients and caregivers will attend the Health Committee hearing.
What: Compassionate Care NY Advocacy Day
When: Tuesday, March 20th – Hearing at Noon – Press Conference Immediately Following
Location: New York State Capitol, Room 124, Albany, NY
Who (patient and providers, including):
Holly Anderson, Rochester -- Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester
Dawn Carney, Mount Vernon - Person living with HIV/AIDS
New law will allow some people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana, but will leave many behind
The Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate gave final approval Friday to legislation that will allow some people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The measure will now be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, who said he plans to sign it into law.
The final version of the legislation will not allow individuals suffering from intractable pain, nausea, wasting, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to access medical marijuana.
“We applaud the Minnesota Legislature for taking action on this important issue,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which began lobbying in support of medical marijuana legislation in Minnesota in 2005. “It reflects the strong and growing public support for safe and legal access to medical marijuana."
“The vast majority of Americans agree seriously ill people should have legal access to medical marijuana,” Capecchi said. “Twenty-two states and our nation's capital now have workable medical marijuana laws on the books. We expect to see that number continue to grow.”
Rapidly Building Republican Support for Bipartisan Bill Comes as Republican Senator Phil Boyle Introduces Inadequate Measure
Patients, Families and Advocates Respond: Good that Boyle Supports Medical Marijuana; Now He Can Support Patients by Endorsing the Compassionate Care Act
In a Friday meeting with patients, caregivers and providers, New York State Senator John Bonacic (R-Middletown) has announced his support for the comprehensive medical marijuana bill known as the Compassionate Care Act ( S.4406-B (Savino) / A.3567-A (Gottfried)). With this announcement, Bonacic becomes the fifth Republican state senator to publicly endorse the bill, which would allow eligible patients with serious and debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
Patients, healthcare providers and advocates with the statewide Compassionate Care NY coalition praised Bonacic and called on more Republican leaders to take their cues from the growing list of GOP supporters.
By Steve Elliott
Democratic Senator Diane Savino has more than enough votes to pass her medical marijuana bill in the New York State Senate, according to press reports on Friday.
Sen. Savino has lined up 39 votes for the Compassionate Care Act, reports Teri Weaver at Syracuse.com, which is seven more than the 32 she needs to win passage in the Senate for the first time. Time after time, medical marijuana bills have passed the Democrat-controlled New York Assembly only to stall in the more conservative, Republican-controlled Senate.
The video and social media blitz by Sen. Savino seems to be making an impact. She has filmed a public service announcement urging New Yorkers to contact their state lawmakers and tell them to support the bill.
"This shouldn't be about politics," Savino said in the video. "This should be about science. We shouldn't handcuff our doctors from making the best decision on how to treat their patients."
The list of supporters is "growing every day," Sen. Savino said earlier this week on "The Capitol Pressroom" with Susan Arbetter.
Compromise would allow some people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana, but would leave many behind
A conference committee composed of members of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday announced a compromise on legislation that would establish a medical marijuana program.
Each chamber adopted medical marijuana bills last week with overwhelming bipartisan support. The committee is expected to sign off on a report later in the day that will then be sent to both chambers, which must concur with the report and then adopt the amended bill.
Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement Thursday saying he intends to sign it.
“We commend our representatives and senators for coming together and producing compromise legislation,” said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. “There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure this law accomplishes what it was intended to accomplish."
“This is a big step forward for Minnesota, but it will leave a lot of Minnesotans behind,” Azzi said. “Some aspects of the law raise serious concerns about the extent to which many seriously ill people will be able to access medical marijuana. We hope legislators will be ready to address them next session.”
Under the compromise:
Canada's new medical marijuana rules eliminate home growing by patients, and require them to buy their cannabis from licensed providers. To aid in the transition, a company called CanvasRx has launched what it is calling "the first comprehensive database for medical marijuana today. The database matches strains to symptoms, and connects patients with licensed cannabis producers.
The new regulations have made it easier for Canadian patients to get a prescription for medical marijuana, but many are still left with questions. Different strains of cannabis relieve different symptoms, and patients often aren't sure which marijuana producer to use.
CanvasRx says it solves that problem by helping both doctors and patients navigate the new legal landscape.
"CanvasRx operates much like an online marijuana pharmacy," said cofounder Ronan Levy. "Because pharmacies in Canada cannot carry marijuana and the dispensary model is prohibited by the regulations, we step in to fill the knowledge gap by providing patients and doctors with the information and resources they need to best utilize this treatment option."
With no cost to patients or doctors, CanvasRx says it marks the creation of a new sub-industry: businesses existing to support patients, doctors, and licensed marijuana producers. Patients can now research which exact strain best suits their symptoms, and download a medical document to bring to their doctor and then mail to the licensed marijuana producer.
By Steve Elliott
Two different medical marijuana plans went to a legislative conference committee in Minnesota on Tuesday, with advocates hoping for a compromise agreeable to Governor Mark Dayton as the clock winds down.
"It's up to the legislators at this point," said Angela Garin, 26, of St. Paul, reports Mike Cronin of the Associated Press. Her five-year-old son, Paxton, suffers from intractable epilepsy.
"I hope that the House and Senate work with what's best in both versions and come up with a workable compromise," Garin said. She is among parents who have spent months at the Capitol arguing for medical marijuana to alleviate their children's symptoms.
But major differences separate the House and Senate versions of the legislation, with just days left in the session. House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) was included on the six-person conference committee, showing just how closely Minnesota House leadership is watching the bill.
Gov. Dayton and law enforcement favor the more restrictive House measure sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing). That version would limit its cultivation to one facility and the number of dispensaries to just three statewide. It identifies eight medical conditions that would quality for medicinal cannabis.
Recreational marijuana has created an influx in tax dollars -- millions of dollars, in fact -- since January, which are being used to benefit Colorado’s public school system. This altruistic notion has carried over to one of Denver’s own recreational and medical dispensaries, Walking Raven.
Walking Raven says it is on a mission to give back to the local community by participating in donation campaigns. For the past four months the dispensary has been collecting goods, including toothbrushes, deodorant, and clothing, which are then donated to the Harm Reduction Action Center (HRAC), according to management.
HRAC is a local organization in Denver that uses harm-reduction principles to reduce the negative consequences of drug use impacting individuals, families and the greater community. The non-profit depends solely on donations from individuals and organizations like Walking Raven.
"We are just like any other business in the area, and we care about the well being of our neighborhoods and the folks living in them," said co-owner and Managing Director Luke Ramirez. "By participating in volunteer groups and supporting donation drives, we hope to make a positive impact on all citizens in our area, regardless if they consume cannabis or not."
Since the first of this year, Walking Raven has already collected more than 200 items, which they will be donating directly to HRAC. More than 60 Walking Raven patrons have already been participating in the donation process, and continue to do so on a daily basis.
By Steve Elliott
The Epilepsy Foundation, after voicing its support for medical marijuana research in February, announced last week that the 4th Biennial Epilepsy Pipeline Conference will highlight the most pressing issues faced by the epilepsy community, including the evaluation of medical marijuana.
This year's conference will also feature the annual "Shark Tank" competition, where new ideas from researchers and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for funding that will advance their product concepts with the promise of improving the lives of people with epilepsy, according to the Foundation.
The Epilepsy Pipeline Conference will be held June 5-7 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. Pharmaceutical, biotechnology and device industry executives, investors, clinical scientists, technology transfer executives and the epilepsy community are invited to hear directly from leader sin the field. You can register to attend the 2014 Epilepsy Pipeline Conference at http://bit.ly/PipelineConference. Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of early bird registration rates, available through May 12.
By Steve Elliott
Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark Dayton on Friday sent a letter to state lawmakers saying he's willing to sign medical marijuana legislation the House has passed.
The Governor's letter came shortly after an 86-39 House vote for a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, but under tighter restrictions than in a bill passed by the Minnesota Senate earlier in the week, reports Mike Cronin of the Associated Press. Neither the House nor the Senate versions of the bill allow patients to legally smoke cannabis.
Gov. Dayton sent the letter to Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) and Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), who sponsored the medical marijuana bill in their respective chambers. Dayton said components of the House version of the bill made it superior, including an observational study, consumer assistance and fewer medical marijuana dispensaries.
The Senate can accept the House version or open conference committee negotiations. If the House and Senate reconcile their versions and Dayton signs the bill, Minnesota would become the 22nd state, plus the District of Columbia, with some form of legalized medical marijuana -- but it would be the only such state where smoking medical marijuana is officially prohibited. (Vaporization would be allowed.)
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana will be on the ballot this November in Florida -- but a high school student in Lakeland is fighting for permission to report on that story after being told it couldn't appear in the school newspaper.
Abbey Laine, 18, was denied permission to publish an article about Amendment 2, the medical marijuana ballot question that would appear in the Lakeland High School Bagpipe, reports WTSP 10 News.
"The story that I was pitching to write about was a neutral, non-biased, breaking news story on medical marijuana," said Laine. But her teacher shot the idea down. "(They said) it would be inappropriate and unacceptable," she said, reports Jorge Estevez at WFTV.
"She basically acted as if it was just preposterous that I would try to include a drug-related article in a high school magazine," Laine said.
Appealing the case to the high school principal didn't do any good, Laine said. "They were both as vague as possible without really giving an answer," she said.
By Steve Elliott
A Vietnam-era Army veteran wants to give away marijuana to others who have served in the military. It's a simple matter, the way Roger Martin sees it.
"True patriots support cannabis for heroes," he said, reports CBS Denver.
Martin, 61, said he's on a mission to help veterans in Colorado -- and by helping them, he means giving them free cannabis. "To help them be in a position where they can lessen the drug use they're taking and hopefully live a more productive life," he said.
He's the executive director of Operation Grow4Vets, a nonprofit that gives away free marijuana and growing supplies to Colorado veterans who are hooked on prescription drugs or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Martin said that years ago, he was hooked on Oxycontin. He said that his life changed when another doctor switched him to cannabis.
His website, www.grow4vets.org, says cannabis is a "safe alternative to deadly drug cocktails." The group only went online for the first time on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning more than 200 veterans had already applied for free marijuana.
Veterans and companies are donating marijuana, edibles, cannabis oil, and grow supplies, according to Martin.
"We owe these veterans," Martin said. "When you enlist in the military they promise to take care of you. A lot of times they don't."