Leading Elected Officials, Advocates, and Industry Experts Answer Questions About NY’s Medical Marijuana Law, How to End Marijuana Arrests, and Upcoming Legislation to Tax and Regulate Marijuana
What is the status of medical marijuana in New York? How can one get a medical card or a dispensary license? How can we end racially biased marijuana arrests in New York? Will NY tax and regulate marijuana like Colorado and Washington? Come get the answers to these questions and more.
Join the Drug Policy Alliance on Thursday, along with leaders in the marijuana industry, policymakers, experts, and patients to get an insider perspective on the state of marijuana policy reform in New York. You'll have a chance to learn about New York’s new medical marijuana program and plans to legalize marijuana for adult use and to rebuild our communities devastated by marijuana prohibition.
What: Fundraiser -- VIP reception and program to discuss New York’s marijuana policies and emerging industry
When: Thursday, June 4: 6 pm VIP Reception | 6:45 pm Doors open for general admission | 7:00 pm Program
Where: Deepak Homebase on the mezz of ABC Home. 888 Broadway at E 19th St.
By Steve Elliott
Could using cannabis help protect against parasitic infection? A study from Africa seems to show that it does.
In a population of Congo Basin foragers called the Aka, 67 percent of men—but just 6 percent of women—use cannabis, and the practice seems to protect against infection with parasitic worms.
The large sex difference, which is also seen in tobacco use, might be a consequence, in part, of women's avoidance of smoking during childbearing years.
The results highlight the need for more research on the high rate of cannabis use in Aka men.
“Recreational drug use is rarely studied in hunter gatherers,” said Dr. Edward Hagen, senior author of the American Journal of Human Biology study. "In the same way we have a taste for salt, we might have a taste for psychoactive plant toxins, because these things kill parasites," he said, reports Science Daily.
“We’re intrigued by the possible link between cannabis use and parasitic worms, which resembles the self-medication behavior seen in numerous species.
"We need to be cautious, though, in generalizing from one study in a unique population to other populations,” Dr. Hagen, a Washington State University anthropologist, said.
The Aka, as one of the world's last group's of hunter-gatherers, offer anthropologists a unique window into a way of life covering some 99 percent of human history; they might also offer an alternative hypothesis explaining human drug use.
By Steve Elliott
Florida regulators said they expect to provide access to a strain of non-euphoric marijuana for medical purposes by the end of this year after a Tallahassee judge last week dismissed the final challenge to the long-awaited rule.
The Florida Department of Health is expected to start accepting applications within three weeks from eligible growers within three weeks for the strain of cannabis that is low in THC, the main "high"-inducing component, and high in cannabidiol (CBD), which, like THC, also has medicinal effects, reports Mary Ellen Klas at the Miami Herald.
Growers could start selling to eligible patients who are put on a state-run "compassionate use registry" within months.
"I am one happy legislator," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar), one of the sponsors of the 2014 bill designed to allow the development and cultivation of the "Charlotte's Web" strain of low-THC cannabis to help patients suffering from epileptic seizures and other ailments. (The clueless legislators passed the law naming a specific strain of low-CBD marijuana, evidently unaware that there are lots of low-CBD medicinal strains, but in the process making the Stanley Brothers -- who control the supply of Charlotte's Web -- very happy.)
SB 339 is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; advocates hope to fix the flawed measure in next legislative session
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to sign a bill into law Monday that recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is intended to allow patients with intractable seizure conditions to access marijuana extracts containing high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and only trace levels of THC.
SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” low-THC marijuana extracts to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” or "authorize" patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia.
Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations, certifications and authorizations are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.
The bill also only allows for extracts with very little THC, and some seizure patients say a greater ratio of THC to CBD is necessary for it to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures. The bill also fails to allow access to any medical marijuana products for people suffering from other debilitating conditions, such as PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.
DigiPath Labs of Las Vegas, a subsidiary of DigiPath, Inc., on Thursday announced it has entered into a one-year agreement with Euphoria Wellness to conduct comprehensive safety and potency tests on the products Euphoria will sell in its Las Vegas medical marijuana dispensary.
Euphoria Wellness, expected to be the first cannabis dispensary to open in Las Vegas, said it chose to partner with DigiPath Labs as part of its strategy to set the highest medical marijuana patient safety and education standards in the industry.
"DigiPath Labs will analyze samples of products sold by Euphoria Wellness for unsafe levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, microbes, mycotoxins, pesticides, and solvents, which can exacerbate patient health issues," says Todd Denkin, president of DigiPath Labs. "We will also quantify cannabinoid and terpenoid levels and deliver detailed reports that Euphoria's staff can use to help patients."
Comprehensive cannabis potency testing is critical for patient care, according to DigiPath. Cannabis is believed to contain over 400 medicinal compounds, most notably cannabinoids and terpenoids, each of which affects the body differently.
One compound, THC, is known to induce cancerous cell death. Another compound, CBD, keeps certain cancers from spreading. Different compounds can reduce tissue inflammation, treat epilepsy, and fight methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.
A U.S.-based company on Thursday announced that it has filed an exclusive patent application with the United States Patent & Trademark Office on a system designed give personalized anti-tumor treatments to cancer patients using cannabinoid therapy.
Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CNBX) announced announced the patent application on "a System and Method for High Throughput Screening of Cancer Cells."
In this proprietary system, biopsies are treated, in-vitro, with numerous plant extract combinations and the anti-tumor effects are screened and calculated. The results could enable cancer patients to receive cannabinoid based therapy with a potential of reducing their tumors, according to the company.
Cannabics Pharmaceuticals announced it plans to complete the development of this novel and sophisticated technology and license it by the end of 2016.
"Cannabinoids are known for their anti-tumor properties, and this natural personalized therapy could be highly effective and without side effects, thus benefiting millions of patients worldwide," said Dr. Eyal Ballan, chief scientist of the company.
By Steve Elliott
The Oregon Senate on Wednesday voted 29-1 for a harmful bill tightening regulations on medical marijuana cultivation, with the claimed intent of reining in diversions to the black market.
The measure, Senate Bill 964, has encountered spirited opposition among many medical marijuana patients and growers, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. But lawmakers -- echoing their northern neighbors in the Washington Legislature -- claimed the success of Oregon's new recreational cannabis market depends on clamping down on marijuana grown for patients.
Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), chair of a House-Senate joint committee on implementing the legalization initiative approved by voters last November, claimed the "large amount" of marijuana diverted to the black market makes it harder for licensed sellers to compete, and could result in federal action against the state.
Oregon now produces an estimated $1 billion a year of "largely black market medical marijuana that ends up all over the country, a problem which is far worse than I ever dreamed," Sen. Burdick dramatically claimed.
Compassionate Care Center of New York™ (CCCNY™), a biopharmaceutical company applying to become one of five registered organizations authorized in New York State to serve the condition-specific palliative needs of qualifying patients with safe and accessible pharmaceutical-grade therapeutics derived from the cannabis plant, has announced the formation of a leadership team.
The team consists of medical, regulatory and law enforcement experts, including gastroenterologist Dr. Larry I. Good; former executive vice president and vice chairman of CVS Corporation, Jerald Politzer; former New York State prosecutor Richard W. Lerner, Esq.; leading medical cannabis PTSD researcher Dr. Suzanne Sisley; regulatory affairs expert Dr. Bruce Burnett; former chief security officer of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Joseph Dunne; and former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III.
"CCCNY will serve as a vital resource for qualifying patients in New York in need of palliative care," said Dr. Good, CEO of CCCNY. "By assembling a world-class team of cultivators, medical experts and researchers, along with New York State's top two highest ranking police officers to retire in 2014, and the former executive vice president and vice chairman of CVS Corporation, we will be able to provide organic pharmaceutical-grade whole-plant extracts, with consistent cannabinoid profiles, at our Compassionate Care Centers throughout the State -- built to function like pharmacies, but equipped with the most state-of-the-art security available.
By Steve Elliott
Las Vegas police and federal drug agents brought in dogs and a SWAT vehicle, occupied the roof, arrested 10 people and seized marijuana and psilocybin over the weekend at Hempcon, a marijuana education convention at the Cashman Center.
Attendees described seeing police dogs around the event, as well as officers on the roof of the building, apparently trying to find people smoking marijuana, reports Eric Hartley at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Event organizers were outraged by the heavy-handed arrests, and some attendees said patients were left frightened as Nevada's first legal medicinal cannabis dispensaries prepare to open.
"It's disheartening for our whole community," said Jennifer Solis of the Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada (WECAN), who attended the event.
Officers shut down five booths from Friday to Sunday, arrested 10 people and cited three others on charges of drug possession, possession with intent to sell and transporting a controlled substance, according to Officer Laura Meltzer, a Las Vegas Metro Police Department spokeswoman. Meltzer claimed officers had seized marijuana, hashish, cannabis seeds, edible products containing THC, and even some psilocybin mushrooms.
Meltzer claimed Metro narcotics detectives had warned Hempcon organizers before the event that attendees had to "follow the law."
By Steve Elliott
Apparently not content to wait for the scheduled extinction date of medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington -- set for July 1, 2016 -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday proposed legislation that could shut down dozens of dispensaries in the city.
Mayor Murray's plan would create a new business license specifically for medical marijuana dispensaries and create enforcement priorities for unlicensed shops, reports Evan Bush at The Seattle Times.
The plan follows the Washington Legislature's attempts to "fold" medical marijuana into the state's recreational cannabis system established under I-502 and SB 5052. The latter law, approved last month, calls for the Washington State Liquor Control Board (which will be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board) to "assess the merit" of medical marijuana dispensaries are license those which qualify by July 2016.
The LCB still hasn't come up with the rules for grading medical marijuana dispensaries, and many observers believe the ultimate goal isn't to license the businesses anyway, but rather to shut almost all of them down. It's not yet clear how many additional licenses Seattle might get, or which businesses could get those licenses.
By Steve Elliott
A South Dakota medical marijuana activist said she hopes to begin gathering signatures within a month to put a medical marijuana proposal on the 2016 ballot.
Melissa Mentele, 38, said on Tuesday that her ballot measure language is currently under review at the South Dakota Attorney General's office, reports James Nord at the Associated Press.
People with conditions such as cancer could be helped by cannabis, according to medical marijuana proponents. Mentele herself suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
Mentele said she's taking the ballot proposal route because state legislators haven't been willing to enact a medical marijuana program. Her proposal would allow patients with a doctor's authorization to buy or grow cannabis, and to possess up to three dried ounces.
"We're trying to bring compassionate access onto the ballot, because that's what we need in South Dakota," Mentele said. "If somebody doesn't fight to change the law, it's going to stay a bad law."
Two previous attempts to legalize medical marijuana have fallen short in South Dakota. A 2006 effort got 47.7 percent of the vote, but a 2010 attempt got just 36.7 percent.
Other organizers are sponsoring 2016 ballot initiatives that would prohibit the sale and transfer of alcohol and tobacco in South Dakota. It's "about consistency" in the law, according to marijuana activist Bob Newland, 67.
With marijuana legal in more and more states, one issue that arises repeatedly is child safety.
Stashlogix wants to help keep marijuana where it belongs — in the hands of responsible adults.
With an integrated combination lock and strong odor barriers, Stashlogix says its container prevents kids from stumbling across a cannabis-infused hard candy that Dad uses to ease his back pain, or to stop a teenager from not only finding the stash of Maui Waui, but smoking it.
This simple solution to a serious problem pulls it off in style, too. These are not bags emblazoned with pot leaves and Rastafarian colors. Instead, Stashlogix line of three containers look more like cases for high-end camera equipment, or smartphone accessories.
“As a family man, I hunted for a container that could hold cannabis products discretely, and that would stop my kids from ever gaining access to it,” said Stashlogix founder Skip Stone. “But I could not find anything that was lightweight, lockable and portable.
"Most of the products were heavy boxes," Stone said. "The others were gaudy with nods and winks to stoner culture. Neither of these options appealed to me. So I designed Stashlogix.”
By Steve Elliott
A mother in South Carolina is manufacturing cannabis oil, legally. The oil is high in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive but medicinal component of marijuana that is now legal in the state under S. 839, which allows for consumable hemp products with less than .3 percent of THC.
"I'm building my company here," said Janel Ralph, reports Molly Grantham at WISTV.com. "I think it'll be up and running in maybe six months. But I'm an optimist. I guess I can't say exactly on the timeline."
Janel's company, Palmetto Synergistic Research, will specialize in CBD oil.
Because of the controversy surrounding marijuana, Ralph is keeping her location secret.
"There will be people who would intentionally try to steal it not knowing that it's hemp," she said. "Criminals could hear I'm manufacturing medical marijuana and think they could take it.
"They wouldn't understand that what I'm making has such a low THC, that even if they took they plants they couldn't smoke it or sell it as marijuana," she said. "You can't get high on what I'm making."
Ralph started it all last year because of her five-year-old daughter, Harmony, who has a genetic condition called lissencephaly. Harmony's brain is missing one of her chromosomes, and she has lots of seizures. Multiple pharmaceuticals didn't work.
By Steve Elliott
Things are getting crazy in Ohio. One recreational marijuana legalization proposal, which appears headed for the ballot, would hand over control of all growing in the state to just 10 companies. And now Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he has staff looking into a medical marijuana proposal which they'd draft themselves.
The proposal would be "very limited" and "tightly controlled," DeWine told Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch. A Republican who opposes recreational cannabis legalization, DeWine wouldn't commit to saying he supports legalizing medical marijuana.
But the Attorney General did grant that there are people who definitely could use it; he said he's having his staff work up a proposal before consulting with state lawmakers.
Staffers are reviewing medical marijuana systems in other states to see if it's possible to set up rules that can't be exploited by recreational pot users, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said on Friday, reports Jeremy Pelzer of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Specifically, Tierney said staffers are investigating methods of administration such as ointments or pills, which don't involve smoking.
Tierney said it's still "far too early" to say if or when DeWine will take such a step. The Attorney General still has "grave concerns" about full marijuana legalization, according to Tierney.
A cannabis documentary called Pot (the movie) recently had its world premiere at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. The film is unlike any other on the subject, covering the most common misconceptions and under communicated aspects of marijuana. While the medical side is slowly becoming better understood, the movie also brings to light the public health aspect of the recreational side, presenting cannabis as safer than alcohol.
Michael Hope is an artist, musician and the independent filmmaker behind Pot (the movie). He is on a grassroots mission to educate the public and inspire change when it comes to the perception and legislation of cannabis.
“For the last 90 years or so, there has been a huge misinformation campaign against marijuana,” said Hope. “There are people struggling with disease and disabilities who could benefit from legislative changes related to cannabis use.”
Hope’s goal is to deliver widespread viewing of his movie, which advocates for pragmatic laws for recreational and medicinal use while introducing people to some of the exciting science about cannabis in a digestible and entertaining way. Through a crowdfunding campaign themed “Hope for Liberty and Justice,” he plans to raise $150,000 to help promote the film and make it as accessible as possible with a town-hall style tour offering low or no-cost screenings.
“I firmly believe that once people are informed and understand the benefits, they will stand up and support this movement,” said Hope. “People will care if we educate them.”