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The issue of marijuana has always been sensitive as far as youth are concerned. For years, the failed “War on Drugs” focused on the reported ill effects of marijuana, both in and of itself and as a gateway drug to harsher substances. Every recreational marijuana law that has passed has been careful to prohibit use of the drug by those under age 21. marijuanabuds

As a form of child medicine, marijuana has been even more controversial. Parents who sought relief for their children’s seizure disorders or chronic pain or nausea/ lack of appetite due to cancer were sometimes accused of child abuse. Some were forced to move out-of-state to obtain the treatment their kids so desperately needed.

Yet even in states where leaders have been forward-thinking on the issue, there have been hurdles to overcome. In Colorado, school officials had refused to dose medical marijuana to young patients on school grounds – even if those children had a prescription.  Continue reading

A recreational marijuana ballot measure this November is one step closer to reality for California voters. A coalition driven by former Facebook president Sean Parker has garnered 600,000 signatures in favor of putting the issue to a vote – a number that far exceeded the obligatory 365,880 that were needed. voterinformation

The “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” would legalize possession of small increments of the drug for those over the age of 21. It would also set a tax rate for sales and a structure for farmers who cultivate the drug. It would also establish a framework for streamlined distribution across the state. Although it still needs the certification of state elections officials, that is not expected to be an issue.

Already, the proposed measure has the support of Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who called this move, “A game-changer.”  Continue reading

For years, the biggest threat for small-time marijuana dispensaries and collectives in California were the authorities – namely, the federal government. Now as that threat is waning, a new one has emerged: Big business.cashbriefcase1

California was the first to legalize the drug as medicine in 1996, but those who dispensed marijuana were never allowed to make a profit. Until now.

Well, actually, two years from now. That’s when the measure that will pull marijuana off the black market will fully go into effect, and the new California medical marijuana czar will initiate the licensing, product testing and tracking seed-to-sale of the drug. And for the first time, dispensaries will be allowed to make a profit.

The New York Times reported that last year, the California medical marijuana industry generated some $2.7 billion in sales. But all of that was funneled through non-profits. Now, companies will actually be allowed to profit from it, and there will be no limitation on how many plants farmers can grow. Continue reading

In states that allow citizens access to marijuana as medicine, the rates of opioid abuse are significantly lower. That’s according to a recent study conducted by Castlight Health, a workers’ health benefits provider.pillswhite

Researchers dove into five years’ worth of prescription abuse information reported anonymously by employees.

What they found was this:

  • In states that did not allow workers to have access to medical marijuana, 5.4 percent of those who were taking opioid medications were deemed “abusers” of that drug.
  • In states that did allow workers access to medicinal cannabis, just 2.8 percent of those taking opioid drugs were deemed “abusers.”

Continue reading

A proposed state assembly measure would give landlords the authority to ban tenants from smoking medical marijuana inside their residences. smoke

The measure was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood, the Democrat from Heraldsburg who pointed to a study by the University of California San Francisco indicating secondhand smoke from marijuana could result in damage to the cardiovascular system, similar to what has been identified with tobacco.

Although landlords already have the authority to prohibit smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products on their properties, this development is troubling for the fact that it involves medicine. Tobacco is not typically used for its medicinal properties. In fact, it has proven a massive public health threat. On the other hand, despite the fact marijuana is considered a Schedule I narcotic by the federal government, it has many known medicinal benefits.  Continue reading

The California marijuana industry just scored a stunning victory as federal prosecutors announced an end to a years-long fight to shutter and seize the assets of Harborside Health Center in Oakland. With some 100,000 patients, the center is the biggest marijuana dispensary in the nation.marijuana2

Now, federal prosecutors say they are giving up.

The center had been the subject of scorn by former U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag since 2012. The effort to shut down the dispensary was part of a bigger mission to close down the entire medical marijuana industry in California. This decision has shown that effort now to have been unsuccessful.  Continue reading

Marijuana research has been stifled for decades by U.S. government leaders. A recent report by The Brookings Institute went in-depth to explain the ways in which federal authorities have blocked the medical community’s ability to conduct the sort of key research on the drug that is considered the “gold standard” in guiding medical practice.cannabisflower1

Part of the problem is the fact that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has contended for years that the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs treaty allowed only a single license to grow marijuana for research purposes. That license has only ever been given to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

That could now change now that the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement has clarified: Numerous licenses for marijuana cultivation for medical and scientific research purposes could be issued without violation of the international treaty. That blows a huge hole in the DEA’s position.  Continue reading

Most in California are ready to say “Yes” to legalization of recreational marijuana. It’s been more than 20 years since we were the first state to allow medical marijuana. But at least one group has historically sided firmly against legalization of the drug: Law enforcement.police

Today, law enforcement groups and individuals are divided.

As The Los Angeles Times reports, many in law enforcement do still staunchly oppose making the drug available for recreational use, others recognize it could be a benefit to the state. Continue reading

A man awaiting sentencing following a federal marijuana cultivation conviction is arguing on appeal that a Congressional action should have halted his prosecution long before he was convicted. handcuffs6

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is expected to rule on the case soon, and the outcome could have a significant impact on the future of federal marijuana prosecutions of medical marijuana dispensaries and users in the eight Western states that allow them. It also would overturn or stop half a dozen federal marijuana convictions/ prosecutions in both California and Washington.

Last year, a jury in a Washington state federal court convicted Rolland Gregg, his former wife and his mother for growing about 70 marijuana plants on their property in Washington. The family has insisted in the three years since their arrest that they were doing nothing wrong because that all the marijuana they grew was for the purpose of their own private medicinal use. They insist their actions 100 percent complied with state law. The problem, in the eyes of the government, is that marijuana cultivation is not legal under federal law. So according to prosecutors, it didn’t matter that the actions of Gregg and the others met state law standards.  Continue reading

Medical marijuana is very much a drug that can help millions of patients who often have tried many United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs and saw no major relief.  However, marijuana is not like these FDA-approved drugs. Because there is no legal way to produce medical marijuana under federal law, it is not regulated by FDA.  This means there is no safety testing or approval process.

marijuanaWhile on the one hand this is a good thing, as real life evidence might not line up with FDA clinical trial requirements, there are some legitimate concerns about safety.  There are also other issues that arise as a result of the fact that marijuana is a also a plant – a plant that is grown on a farm like corn, or wheat, or tomatoes.  Continue reading