For Years, Governor Ignored Pleas by Patients and Advocates to Work Together on Legislation
Outraged Patients and Families Demand Governor Stop Playing Politics With Peoples Lives; Senate Should Vote Immediately
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday leaked to the media his list of changes he wants made to New York’s comprehensive medical marijuana bill -– the Compassionate Care Act –- before he’ll support it. The full list of changes, which has been obtained by advocates, puzzlingly includes many demands already addressed in the current legislation.
Additionally, bill sponsors have already agreed to make a number of changes to satisfy the governor. But the list includes “poison pills”, like eliminating serious conditions, including Alzheimer’s, ALS, and muscular dystrophy, and preventing cancer patients and those living with HIV/AIDS from using medical marijuana to treat the side effects of their medications and chemotherapy, such as nausea, wasting, and pain associated with those treatments.
The Governor wants to eliminate post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury, conditions which affect veterans at high rates and for which medical marijuana is beneficial. Cuomo also wants to eliminate any timelines for implementation and add a sunset clause to the bill, despite the fact that the legislation already gives the governor nearly full control over the entire program.
By Steve Elliott
When New Jersey's medical marijuana law was being written and passed, it was often boasted that it was "the strictest in the nation," as if serving fewer patients was somehow something to brag about. Now, after initial predictions that the program could serve tens of thousands of patients, only 2,342 have signed up, a participation rate so small some worry about the future of the program.
Lawmakers, some dispensary operators and patients blame the low enrollment on New Jersey's strict rules, high costs for both patients and growers, and Governor Chris Christie's barely concealed hostility to the program, including his contention that he doesn't need to do anything to boost participation, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger.
One major roadblock, according to almost everyone involved, is that so few physicians in New Jersey are willing to authorize patients for medical marijuana.
"We have a dysfunctional program, and I think it's going to take some sort of 'pot summit' bringing together patients, doctors and legislators to really make this a success," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), one of the lead sponsors of the law.
By Steve Elliott
Two months after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into a law a measure allowing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a marijuana derivative used to quell seizures without getting patients high, nobody has yet been able to access the medicine.
The bad situation is due at least in part because of obstacles foolishly written into the legislation at the last minute, reports Dana Ferguson at the Journal Sentinel.
"It is frustrating," said Amylynne Santiago Volker of the roadblocks between her nine-year-old son, Nicholas, and the experimental treatment. "It's there in paper, but we can't access it."
Unfortunately, Wisconsin's "CBD-only" law appears as useless as most of the rest passed recently by state legislatures who want to be seen as "doing something" in the face of overwhelming popular support for medicinal cannabis, without having the courage to pass an actual medical marijuana law which could help actual patients.
Gov. Walker on Friday told reporters he "wasn't sure" if his administration could do anything to free up access to CBD, but if more could be done through state legislation, Walker claimed he was "committed to working with lawmakers" to do so.
By Steve Elliott
It's been less than a month since medical marijuana advocates collected enough signatures to qualify for the Riverside ballot in 2015, but now the city has filed a lawsuit to stop the issue from going before voters.
Riverside has a ban in place on marijuana dispensaries, through its zoning code; last year, the California Supreme Court sided with the city in a legal challenge to the ban, reports Alicia Robinson at The Press Enterprise.
The ballot measure in question would legalize, tax and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Riverside, allowing a small number of them in restricted locations.
Interim Riverside County Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer said she couldn't comment on the lawsuit, because she hadn't yet been served with it.
The city's move is "the nuclear option to interfere with the democratic process," according to attorney Jason Thompson, who represents initiative backers Riverside Safe Access. Thompson added that cities will typically let an election play out before acting, since the ballot measure has no guarantee of passage.
Riverside spokesman Phil Pitchford said the lawsuit against the registrar was filed at the direction of the City Council. Pitchford would not comment on why officials sued now instead of waiting to see if voters approved the measure.
In a Show of Support for Fellow Cancer Survivors and Other Patients, Etheridge Helps Advocates as They Enter the Final Days of the Legislative Session With Still No Action from Senate Leadership
Legendary rock star and cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge -– who is in the state capital for a concert on Saturday at The Egg theater -- called on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the leaders of the New York Senate to pass the Compassionate Care Act.
Etheridge also arranged for patients and caregivers from Compassionate Care NY -- a coalition of patients, caregivers and organizations working for passage of the bill -- to collect signatures in support of the legislation at her concert. The Compassionate Care Act, A.6357-C (Gottfried) / S.4406-C (Savino), would alleviate the suffering of thousands of New Yorkers with serious and debilitating conditions -- such as cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS -- by allowing them access to a small amount of medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
"Tonight, I am calling on Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to stand with patients across New York and pass the Compassionate Care Act without further delay," Etheridge said. "As a cancer survivor, I know the ravages of a serious illness, and patients who are suffering deserve access to a medication that can provide them relief.
TinctureBelle disputes claim its candies resemble giant chocolate maker’s products
A small, family-owned medical marijuana company in Colorado, TinctureBell, on Wednesday responded to allegations made by the Hershey Company in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, that TinctureBelle is selling marijuana-infused candies that resemble Hershey products.
“The lawsuit from Hershey came as a huge surprise to us,” said TinctureBelle President Char Mayes, “because we changed our entire label line approximately six months ago, long before these allegations surfaced last week. Our new packaging looks nothing like Hershey’s or anyone else’s.”
Hershey did not contact TinctureBelle before filing suit, according to Mayes. “The first we heard of it was from a reporter, who called last Thursday for a comment on Hershey’s lawsuit,” said Mayes.
“We were unable to comment because that was the first we had heard of the suit," Mayes said. "We have yet to be served.”
Colorado Springs-based TinctureBelle is licensed by the State of Colorado to manufacture and distribute cannabis-infused products.
“Our mission is simple,” said Mayes: “We wish to contribute to the health and well being of all MMJ patients, as well as assist our beloved MMJ community in building a positive reputation for the community and the many dispensaries in the state of Colorado that carry our quality line of products.”
By Steve Elliott
A recent poll in Florida has shown support for medical marijuana at almost 90 percent. The medicinal cannabis question on the ballot could even affect the gubernatorial race. But in a move of questionable political wisdom, deep-pocketed Republicans have raised more than $7.7 million to fight Amendment 2, a proposal to allow doctors to authorize seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana.
The latest financial reports from the two biggest groups fighting medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State show that the Drug Free Florida campaign alone has raised $2.7 million, including a single $2.5 million contribution from Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP wheeler dealer Sheldon Adelson, reports Bill Cotterell of Reuters.
Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is one of the richest men in the world, and not coincidentally, one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He spent $150 million supporting GOP candidates in the 2012 elections -- almost all of whom lost.
Joining the Republicans in their anti-pot fight this week was the supposedly "non-partisan" Florida Sheriffs Association, which began sponsoring an inane, almost fact-free "educational campaign" against the medical marijuana amendment.
By Steve Elliott
South Carolina voters, on a non-binding ballot question in the Democratic Primary, favored the legalizing of marijuana for medical purposes by a whopping 3-to-1 margin, 75 percent to 25 percent, in Tuesday's voting.
Since the referendum question was non-binding, the vote doesn't mean medical marijuana will become legal; it just means Democratic voters were giving direction to their lawmakers.
"Think of it as kind of a general survey," said South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, reports John Monk at Myrtle Beach Online. "Our House Democratic Caucus wanted to get a good sense of where Democrats were on those particular issues and how to draw up that legislation."
Rep. James Smith, a Democratic legislator from Columbia, said House Democrats will come up with a medical marijuana bill next year, reports Robert Kittle at WLTX. Smith said medical marijuana was "Obviously overwhelmingly supported in the Democratic Primary, but I hear a lot from independents and Republicans who see that as something we ought to think about," Smith said.
More than 114,000 people voted on the medical marijuana question in the Democratic Primary.
Patient Focused Certification program brings quality, safety standards to medical marijuana industry
Three businesses in Arizona and New Mexico were certified on Wednesday by a new nationwide program that verifies the quality and reliability of medical marijuana produced, analyzed, and sold.
The licensed dispensary Harvest of Tempe was the first licensed medical marijuana business in Arizona to be certified, and AZ Med Testing of Phoenix is the first laboratory in the country to be certified by the PFC program.
The PFC program is a project of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the only nonprofit, third-party certification for the medical marijuana industry based on new quality standards issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP).
By Steve Elliott
The board of directors of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based company formerly known as Endocan Corporation, which specializes in cannabis and cannabinoid formulation-based health and wellness solutions, has selected the new name OmniCanna Health Solutions, they announced on Tuesday.
"OmniCanna Health Solutions was chosen by the Board as a direct reference to the latin 'omnis' meaning 'all' and Canna in relation to 'cannabis and cannabinoids'," said Dr. Dorothy Bray, president of OmniCanna Health Solutions, Inc. "The 'health solutions' completes the full meaning and general mission of the Company to provide the wellness solutions using the full spectrum of legal cannabis and cannabinoid extract based products," Dr. Bray said.
The company's website has been changed accordingly to www.omnicanna.com .
According to the company, the name change began with appropriate regulatory filings with the Office of the Nevada Secretary of State, and the next steps are underway with FINRA for a symbol change to match the new name. The new symbol will be announced in the near term.
The company has also hired the accounting firm, Turner, Stone and Company, LLP to review and audit the Company's financials. "The OmniCanna Health Solutions name change will have no effect on the Company's share structure, corporate organization, business model operations, or corporate governance," according to a Tuesday release from the company.
By Steve Elliott
Less than two weeks after the U.S. House passed a measure that would defund Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, reports have begun to surface of DEA agents intimidating physicians trying to work with state-legal dispensaries in Massachusetts.
At least four more Massachusetts doctors recently received visits from the DEA agents, bringing to seven the number who got an unexpected ultimatum from the DEA for authorizing patients to use medical marijuana.
Federal investigators told the doctors they would have to "sever ties" with medical marijuana dispensaries or risk losing their license to prescribe medications, reports Kay Lazar at MThe Boston Globe.
Already, some doctors have been forced to resign their advisory positions with dispensaries, which Massachusetts voters agreed in 2012 to allow.
A spokeswoman at the DEA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., refused requests for an interview. The agency on Friday released a terse statement.
Arizona On the Road to Becoming 12th State to Provide PTSD Patients Access to Medical Marijuana
Veterans, Medical Professionals and Advocates Winning in Three Year Quest To Change Arizona Law and Acknowledge Medical Marijuana’s Benefit for PTSD
After years of hard-fought efforts a coalition of patients, medical professionals, and advocates succeeded in demonstrating the medical safety and efficacy of marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Administrative Law Judge who heard the case. The Arizona Dept. of Health has denied all petitions submitted previously.
On Wednesday, June 4, Judge Thomas Shedden issued his ruling saying that “a preponderance of evidence shows medical marijuana provides palliative benefit to those suffering from PTSD.” The decision is now in the hands of Will Humble, director of Arizona Dept. of Health Services; Humble has until July 9 to accept or appeal Judge Shedden’s decision.
The Drug Policy Alliance’s Freedom to Choose campaign, which advocates for veterans’ access to medical marijuana contributed a compilation of published studies and personal testimony from psychiatrists in New Mexico and veterans who use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms of PTSD.
By Steve Elliott
"Don't be shy," says Amish Parikh, vice president of My Compassion, a Michigan-based nonprofit hosting a medical marijuana conference this weekend in Chicago. "It's OK to talk about marijuana -- cannabis."
As Illinois' medicinal cannabis rules are being finalized, the Chicago Cannabis Conference 2014 is being held this weekend, June 7-8 at Navy Pier. It will feature experts, advocates and businesspeople speaking about issues from the medicinal uses of cannabis to how to cook with pot.
According to Parikh, his group includes a consultant, a doctor and a nonprofit executive. They plan to use the conference to boost awareness of the medical benefits of marijuana, and to boost its image.
"If you respect the law, the law will stay," Parikh said. "We're trying to teach that as well."
Dr. Herman Toney, a medical marijuana advocate, will be joined at the conference by medical and scientific experts including naturopath Dr. Rob Streisfold, pediatrician Dr. Roberet Hicks, and cannabis researcher Dr. David Ostrow, reports Will Schutt at Medill Reports.
Panels will also be included where patients with brain cancer, leukemia, Crohn's, epilepsy and other conditions will speak about their experiences with medical marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
Alternaturals, Inc., on Thursday announced that it has chosen Kush Creams, a Washington-based medical marijuana grower and distributor, to manufacture and distribute what it is calling its new medicinal cannabis product, 5 Hour High.
According to the company, 5 Hour High is a shot-style drink, similar to the energy drinks found in convenience stores -- with one big difference. This juice-like drink delivers a dose of THC, marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient, that it says "has been specially formulated to improve mood and maintain energy levels."
The company said it expects non-smoking methods of ingesting THC to become more popular now that "many states have decriminalized the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry."
Alternaturals said it wants 5 Hour High to be sold in "most" medical marijuana dispensaries where medicinal consumption of cannabis is legal.
"We are extremely excited to be working with Kush Creams on this project because in an emerging market, you really have to go with the best if you want to have a long term stake in this industry," said Emmanual Gyamfi, CEO at Alternaturals. "We haven't found another company like them, and we are confident that we will both be very successful with this product line."
By Steve Elliott
South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley on Monday signed into law a bill to allow limited access to marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
Senate Bill 1035 is written to allow children with severe epilepsy-related seizures to use CBD oil, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, to quell their seizures if authorized by a doctor, reports Celeste Stiles at The Daily Chronic.
The new law establishes a clinical trial at the Medical University of South Carolina to assess the effectiveness of CBD in controlling seizures. MUSC will also be responsible for supplying all the CBD oil for the program.
It is unclear when, if ever, CBD oil will actually become available to sick kids.
The bill passed unanimously in the South Carolina Senate, and by a lopsided 92-5 vote in the House; these vote totals show what low political risk CBD bills have become, even in conservative states. CBD is politically safe because, as a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, it doesn't get anyone high, and better yet, it helps to quell seizures of the kind often found in pediatric epilepsy.
So the combination of "helping kids" and "it doesn't get you high" has proven an "in" for medical marijuana in what would otherwise have been quite forbidding places, such as the halls of power in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and now South Carolina.