Two activist groups of medicinal cannabis advocates are calling on Michigan's Department of Human Services to conduct "a complete review of practices conducted by Child Protective Services, and enact reforms that improve public and family safety."
According to The Human Solution and Michigan Moms United, an ever-growing number and variety of communities and parents have been targeted and victimized by CPS. Parents, grandparents, foster parents and anyone impacted by the overreaching Michigan Child Protective Service agency are invited to attend to speak to media and call for reform.
"The attacks of CPS are far-reaching and affect people from every walk of life," said Maria Green of the Free Bree Foundation. "CPS has a pattern of moralizing their own beliefs to families across the nation by removing children from parents with alternative lifestyles, such as homeschooling, homosexuality and transgenderism, vaccination-free medical choices, and all-natural living, among others."
The recent Bree Green medical marijuana custody case in Ingham County generated a great deal of interest regarding actions committed by Child Protective Services, but for years advocates and victims have been calling on a national level for a complete reform of family court laws.
By Steve Elliott
Hundreds of paid signature gatherers are fanning across Florida as part of a petition drive for the legalization of medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Advocates have until February 1 to get 683,149 signatures to qualify their proposal for the 2014 general election ballot.
The People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) campaign has already collected about 200,000 signatures since July, with more than 100,000 of those already being validated, reports Steven Nelson at U.S. News.
That leaves just 90 days to get signatures from half-a-million more voters, meaning the campaign must average just more than 5,555 valid signatures per day from now until February.
"It's a big number we have to get between now and the beginning of the year, but we're confident we can do it," said campaign manager Ben Pollara. "We have a statewide grass-roots volunteer effort going on that's brining in five to 10,000 signatures a week, and we just kicked back up our paid petition-gathering effort, which by the middle of November should be pulling in about 60 to 70,000 signatures a week."
Paid petitioners can earn between $15 and $30 an hour, according to a Facebook page advertising the positions, well above Florida's $7.79 minimum wage.
The third trial against medical marijuana dispensary operator and Navy veteran Jovan Jackson is coming to an end Friday in San Diego Superior Court, before Judge Louis R. Hanoian. Closing arguments were underway Friday morning and the jury was expected to begin deliberations on the verdict after lunch.
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a staunch -- nay, fanatical -- opponent of medical marijuana, has waged a years-long effort to rid the county of dispensaries, and Jackson has borne the biggest brunt.
After a 2008 law enforcement raid, Jackson was tried in 2009 for possession and sales of marijuana, but was acquitted by a jury. Dissatisfied with that result, District Attorney Dumanis tried Jackson again on the same charges stemming from another raid in 2009.
At his second trial in 2010, Jackson was denied a defense and ultimately convicted. However, with the help of patient advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Jackson appealed and overturned his conviction with a 2011 landmark decision that gives dispensary operators the right to a defense in state court. Instead of admitting defeat, Dumanis is choosing to retry Jackson for a third time.
By Steve Elliott
A group of medical marijuana patients in Lynnwood, Washington, this week got more than six pounds of cannabis back from the police after it was seized more than a year ago. Also returned were 202 dead marijuana plants.
The Lynnwood Police Department seized the marijuana, along with lights and other growing equipment, in a May 2012 raid, reports The Associated Press. The patients were following Washington's medical marijuana law, attorney Aaron A. Pelley said, and no criminal charges were filed.
Pelley and two other attorneys demanded that city officials return the items, or pay nearly $1 million, the estimated value of the property. The mayor didn't like the sound of that, and signed off on the return of the marijuana.
Pelley picked up the marijuana on Tuesday. He said it's no longer good for smoking, but it might still be usable to make cannabis oil or marijuana-infused products.
The police weren't pleased that they had to return the weed, according to Deputy Chief Byran Stanifer, but also didn't want to face a lawsuit.
(Photo: KING 5)
By Steve Elliott
New Jersey's youngest medical marijuana patient, two-and-a-half-year-old Vivian Wilson, left the Compassionate Care Foundation medicinal cannabis dispensary Monday in a stroller, holding a stuffed toy dog, with her parents Brian and Meghan Wilson of Scotch Plains.
It was a moment to remember for the dispensary, which finally opened on Monday, nearly four years after the state passed its medical marijuana law, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. It was perhaps an even more important moment for the Wilsons and for other families with critically ill children in New Jersey.
Monday marked the first time a New Jersey family was able to buy the form of marijuana that in other states has helped quell the severe seizures that have stunted Vivian Wilson's development, and could take her life. Vivian has a rare and dangerous form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, and conventional medicine just hasn't helped much.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana extract has been the most effective treatment for their son's seizures, according to the parents of a 5-year-old boy in Arizona who on Monday filed a lawsuit to force state officials to include cannabis extracts as legal products under the state's medical marijuana law.
Arizona's medicinal cannabis act, approved by voters in 2010, allows patients to use "any mixture or preparation" made with dried marijuana flowers, reports Fernanda Santos of The New York Times. The parents, Jacob and Jennifer Welton, have been crushing flowers and mixing them in with applesauce, but they say that's become difficult for their son, Zander, to eat after brain surgery last year.
They don't want to buy cannabis extract -- available on the black market -- for fear of being arrested.
"We're not criminals," said Jennifer Welton, 30, who works in the enrollment department of the University of Phoenix. "We just want what's best for our son."
Zander's parents decided to ask for medical marijuana for him after seeing a CNN documentary featuring the story of a girl from Colorado whose seizures were almost eliminated after using a cannabidiol-rich (high CBD) strain of cannabis. CBD, while non-psychoactive (there's no "high" associated with it), shares many of the medical benefits of THC.
By Steve Elliott
The Florida Supreme Court on December 5 will hear arguments on whether a proposed initiative to amend the state constitution, legalizing medical marijuana, should go before voters on the November 2014 general election ballot.
The announcement came just before supporters and opponents of the measure were to gather at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College for a debate, "The Great Debate! Marijuana Legalization: Make An Informed Decision," reports Alex Sanz at WPTV.
The debate will pit Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), against Kevin Sabet, who director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and a notorious anti-cannabis whack-job.
"It's needed now because there are people who are ill now," said William Deans, an organizer at Medical Marijuana Petition Palm Beach. "We're going to have 900,000 petitioners before it is said and done with, who have signed to indicate that they want this issue on the ballot."
Jeff Kadel, executive director of something called the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, wasted no time in displaying his ignorance on the subject.
By Steve Elliott
Endocan Corporation, a U.S. company specializing in cannabis and cannabinoid formulation-based health and wellness solutions, on Friday made public its ongoing negotiations with third parties in Colorado to start cooperative and joint venture arrangements for production, testing and distribution of Endocan brand products.
"This includes the long-awaited Endocan product line expected for release in early 2014, with Colorado seen as an early target market in the United States for testing in several critical ailment categories," a company press release states.
According to the company, Endocan's presence in Colorado "stems not only from the legal medical cannabis regulatory environment but also from the general openness with which Colorado has embraced cannabis, including the extension of legalization to recreational cannabis use for individuals over the age of 21, with a forward looking regulatory and taxation policy."
"This environment speaks highly of the future of Endocan Corporation's development opportunities in the state, with an estimated $200 million medical cannabis market at this early stage," the press release states.
"Colorado has now been my home for three years, my family having relocated to Colorado Springs," said Robert Kane, chief financial officer and senior vice president of business development at Endocan. "We have found Colorado to be a progressive, open-minded state with a compassionate position on improving the quality of life of its citizens.
By Steve Elliott
With more and more older people being affected by neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, a link has been found between excess levels of iron in the brain and neurodegeneration. Researchers in Brazil looked at how the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) can help those suffering from such conditions.
The researchers, from Pontifical Catholic University, focused on the mitochondria, which are found in most cells and housed inside a membrane, reports Drake Dorm at MedicalJane.com. Mitochondria generate most of a cell's energy; they are often called the "cellular power plant." They control cell processes including apoptosis (programmed cell death).
It had already been found in previous studies that CBD is able to treat some symptoms of neurodegenerative disease, stopping immune cells from attacking the insulating covers of the nerve cells (myelin sheaths) in the spinal cord.
One problem associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is less energy at the brain's synapses, where neurons pass signals to each other. Excess iron seems to disrupt the dynamics of the mitochondria, causing them to initiate more cell death than usual.
By Steve Elliott
A scientist at the University of London's St. George School of Medicine has found that cannabinoids from marijuana can kill cancerous cells found in people with leukemia, a form of cancer which kills 24,000 people each year in the United States.
"Cannabinoids have a complex action; it hits a number of important processes that cancers need to survive," said study author Dr. Wai Liu, an oncologist, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. "For that reason, it has really good potential over other drugs that only have one function.
"I am impressed by its activity profile, and feel it has a great future, especially if used with standard chemotherapies," Dr. Liu said.
The study was recently published in the journal Anticancer Research. It was funded by GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes a marijuana-derived nasal spray, Sativex, that is used to treat spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
The study examined six different non-psychoactive cannabinoids, which unlike THC, don't get you high. The cannabinoids were examined alone and in combination; they displayed "a diverse range of therapeutic qualities" that "target and switch off" pathways, preventing cancer from growing, according to U.S. News and World Report.
By Steve Elliott
Three months after the District of Columbia's medical marijuana program became operational, dispensaries in the nation's capital say they are losing money.
"All medical marijuana businesses are operating at a loss," David Guard, general manager at D.C. dispensary Capital City Care, told Andrea Noble at the Washington Times.
The District's medical marijuana regulations are among the strictest in the nation, and that is part of the problem. The D.C. program is under close scrutiny because of its proximity to federal lawmakers and agencies.
"We are not far from the attorney general's office and other offices, and we want to make sure we are running an airtight program," said Dr. Feseha Woldu, a senior deputy director at the D.C. Department of Health. "The continuity of the program is much more important for us. We want to make sure the program is sustainable and has a future."
Of course, for that to happen, the dispensaries can't continue operating at a loss.
"We were prepared to see up to 200 to 300 patients showing up into our offices," Dr. Woldu said. "That did not happen."
"So far, all we have been doing is bleeding cash," said Bob Simmons of Alternative Solutions, one of D.C.'s six approved medical marijuana cultivation centers.
Only 59 patients have been added to the registry of legal buyers in D.C. in the three months the program has been operational.
By Steve Elliott
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging a proposal to put a ballot measure which would legalize medical marijuana before state voters in the November 2014 general election. Bondi on Thursday sent a petition to the Florida Supreme Court, along with the campaign's ballot language and petitions.
Atty. Gen. Bondi claims that People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), led by Orlando attorney John Morgan, filed misleading ballot language in describing how widely medical marijuana would be allowed under the measure, reports Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel.
Bondi also complained that the ballot language failed to note that even if Florida voters approve the measure, marijuana will still be illegal under federal law.
"Its true scope and effect remain hidden," Bondi claimed in her petition to the Supreme Court.
She charged the wording was too broad and would allow doctors to authorize medical marijuana for almost any condition, and additionally argued that medical marijuana could not be called "legal" as long as it's illegal under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in federal law.
Bondi's arguments would come as quite a surprise to the patients of California, who have had safe access to medical marijuana for 17 years under state law, and to patients in 19 other states which also passed medical marijuana laws without asking for federal permission.
Kush Bottles, the largest wholesale distributor of pharmaceutical grade containers for the natural health and medical marijuana industry in the United States, on Wednesday announced that they will be opening a new division to serve the Canadian market.
Canada is ushering in what it projects to be a $1.3 billion medical marijuana market, as it replaces small and homegrown cannabis production with marijuana produced by large farms (courtesy of the Stephen Harper's Conservative government). The market could eventually serve up to 450,000 Canadians, according to government estimates.
Health Canada is placing no limits on the number of these new capital-intensive facilities, which will have mandatory vaults and security systems. Already 156 firms have applied for lucrative producer and distributor status since June, with at least two already receiving licenses.
"We look forward to providing dispensaries with the highest quality packaging materials, bags, bottles, and labels in the newly established Canadian legal marijuana market," said Nicholas Kovacevich, COO of Kush Bottles. "With our experience in the industry and our high quality product line – including the world's finest child-safe bottles and vials, we are confident that we can help Canadian businesses in their quest to operate safe and successful ventures."
Kush Bottles said will be offering their products and their consulting services in Canada within the next few weeks.
Liquor Control Board Announces Its Intention To Ban All Personal Cultivation and Collective Gardens; Eliminate Affirmative Defense; Void All Current Doctors' Authorizations
"Health Before Happy Hour" campaign seeks state legislation to protect patient rights, preserve and license dispensaries
Medical marijuana advocates will hold stakeholder meetings across Washington State next week in advance of submitting written public comments on regulations being developed for I-502, the state's recreational marijuana initiative passed last November. Meetings hosted by the Washington chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will be held from October 27th-30th in Bellingham, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, and Yakima.
Beginning Monday, a working group established by I-502, which includes the Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health, and the Department of Revenue, will be accepting public input on draft regulations between October 21-November 8.
Among the work group’s proposed changes:
• Ban all personal cultivation and collective gardens
• Lower possession limit from 24 ounces to 3 ounces
• Eliminate the affirmative defense for proving medical necessity above possession limits
• Void all current doctors’ recommendations and require new evaluations under harder-to-meet definitions of qualifying conditions
• Restrict medical professionals to eliminate specialty cannabis practices and make recommendations equivalent to prescribing opiates
Proposed rules would create supply problems for patients
The Marijuana Policy Project on Tuesday submitted comments recommending revisions to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ proposed medical marijuana compassion center regulations. MPP is particularly concerned that the proposed rules would result in an inadequate supply of medical marijuana by allowing only a single compassion center — instead of the three provided for in the law — and allowing it to grow only 150 plants.
Failing to allow for an appropriate and consistent supply will cause qualifying patients to either have to continue frequenting the criminal market or suffering without a medicine that can improve their quality of life, according to MPP. It will also seriously compromise the financial sustainability of successful compassion center applicants, according to the organization.
Delaware is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia to allow patients to use marijuana to treat certain medical conditions, but development of compassion centers to provide safe access to their medicine was temporarily halted in 2011. In August, Gov. Jack Markell decided to move forward with implementing a more limited program and tasked the Division of Public Health with setting the rules for compassion center licensing and operation.
Since Gov. Markell’s announcement, the U.S. Department of Justice has released a new memo that provides that federal prosecutors should not target dispensaries based on their size alone.